8 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving to Save You Time and Money—Part 2

 

Last week I gave you the first 4 tips for your holiday gift giving. Here’s the rest of the tips that are designed to save you time and money this holiday season.

 

 

5. Embrace one for all.

 

The idea here is everyone receives the same kind of gift. Talk about consolidating your holiday gift giving list! A visit to just two departments or a single website could satisfy your entire list.

A teddy bear Christmas c. 1983.

Probably the most magical and memorable Christmas my family ever had was the year that my mom decided that everyone—from my 7-year old cousin to my 65-year old aunt—would receive a teddy bear. But not just any teddy bear, a “personality bear” (many of which I understand were embroiled in a lawsuit by the personalities impersonated by the bears).

It was especially easy to wrap them—because they weren’t wrapped! My mom and I set them out around the living room with name tags. Finding your own bear was part of the fun on Christmas morning!

Other years, Mom would pick a general item for the girls and women, and another for the boys and men. Within that general category, she selected something that fit each person’s personality. For example, one year all the women folk received nightshirts and all the men received wallets. One of my favorite years was the one where all women received Coach purses.

A recent trend in the “all for one and one for all” gifting idea is getting the family together for dinner and a show (or, the more inexpensive option, lunch and a matinee). It helps create a sense of family, it’s festive and it creates shared memories which are the best gifts of all.

Other great family gifts include a subscription to an online movie services or a “fruit of the month” club—each of which continue to give throughout the year.

6. Harness the power of the Internet.

Recently I was watching a show on BBC that traced the development of digital currency, and I was shocked at how recent so much of the technology of online shopping really is. Can it be that the iPhone was only introduced 10 years ago?  Click here for a brief recap of e-commerce from the National Retail Federation.

Now of course everyone seems to have a smartphone and consumer behavior has radically shifted to mobile shopping and online cashless payment.

Attendees at Shop.org—e-commerce’s annual convention—say that smartphones aren’t just for browsing, and they’re the best point of contact between a merchant and a shopper.

Simply put, more people are shopping online and via apps these days and skipping the malls and big box stores. With exclusive online merchandise and sales, periodic free shipping promotions and the option of delivering the gift directly to your recipient, what’s not to love?

Plus, you’re not tied down to regular store hours—perfect for the busy person! You can shop in your robe at 2 a.m. and still find just the right gift for everyone.

Another way to use the Internet to save you time is to comparison shop online before heading out to survey several stores for the best deal. In addition, many retailers allow you to order and purchase online and pick the item up at a store if you need it right away or want to save on shipping.

Personally, I love the convenience of buying online and picking up in the store, and use it frequently, even for everyday items.

Remember to download your free gift tracker to keep your holiday gift giving on track, because being organized is key to a lower-stress holiday!

 

7. Ask adults for a “bye.”

For better or worse, holiday gift giving has become an expectation—even if we never use the gift card or you put that too-small sweater right into the donation bin.

But sometimes (even following the tips in my book), you may run out of steam or ideas for gifts for everyone on your usual list.

As bizarre as it may sound, ask each of the grownups on your list if the two of you could not exchange gifts this year. After all, the holidays spark the most wonderment for children, so keep them on your list.

You may be surprised at how relieved and agreeable the adults are! Instead of gifts, take the money you would have spent and donate it to a local charity that provides food and gifts for the needy in your area.

8. Use a system to find the perfect gift.

To paraphrase Maya Angelou, it’s how you leave them feeling.

How do you feel when someone gives you a gift that is just “you”—your style, your color, your interests? It feels great, doesn’t it? Like, wow, this person gets me. They know me.

We feel special, seen and understood when we receive the perfect gift.

Wouldn’t you love to give people that feeling with your holiday gift giving?

Find the perfect gift, gift giving made easy for holidays and beyond.

It is possible to find the perfect gift; all you need is a system! In Gift Giving for Busy People, I give you a simple but effective series of questions that all lead you to the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list, and on any budget.

It can take just minutes to run through the questions, and readers all over the country have gotten great results using the method in Gift Giving for Busy People.

Recently, a reader sent me a message on Facebook, saying that, she had been giving her friends the same present for their birthdays (that’s the “one for all” concept in action!) for a year. Now she needed a new idea for this next year of birthdays starting with her first recipient, who loves to bake cookies for her son and friends.

“I was having a tough time coming up with a new idea, so I looked through your eBook and thinking through her hobbies was just the ticket.I went to Barnes & Noble and got her a recipe book with lots of gorgeous photos of cookies. She loved it and said her son was telling her he was tired of the same old cookies. They like the photos so he can point out which ones he’d like her to make, and she’s planning to try a few new ones this weekend. Just wanted to say thanks!”

What are you waiting for? Find the perfect gifts this holiday season! And don’t forget to download your free holiday gift giving tracker to write down all of the gift ideas you’ll have once you read the book!

All of the tips in this series were adapted from Gift Giving for Busy People which goes more in depth on finding the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list. You can get the Kindle version for a limited time for only $1.99!

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8 Tips for Holiday Gift Giving to Save You Time and Money – Part 1

Start your holiday gift giving engines with these smart tips that save you precious time and money!

The holiday season will soon be upon us, and consumer surveys show that most holiday gift givers start shopping in October.

If you’re among those who start their holiday gift giving now, here are the first of 8 tips to help you get the most of the time you’re devoting to your holiday gift giving. Plus, I’ve got a free gift tracker for you to stay organized with your holiday gift giving.

 

1. Shop where you are.

Getting as much done as possible in one place is a secret that time managers and professional organizers tell their clients. And shopping for gifts is no different—no matter where you are, from a hardware store to a discount megastore to a car dealership waiting room—gift ideas are all around you.

For example, let’s say you’re grocery shopping on Saturday afternoon and you realize there’s no time to sprint across town to the chic boutique to buy a hostess gift for the dinner party you’re attending that evening. No problem. Head to the floral department for a gorgeous bouquet or a healthy house plant; add a beautiful ribbon when you return home. Or, find a nice bottle of wine in the liquor department or box of quality chocolates.

The next time you’re in a time crunch and need a gift, no matter where you are, if you look at things from a gifting perspective you will find something prefect.

 

2. Shop when you are.

You know when Christmas is. You know when Hanukkah, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and your mom’s birthday are. If you find the perfect gift for someone but the occasion is months away, buy the gift now.

I used to think, “oh, I’ll remember” and even if I did remember, the item was usually gone when I went back. Buying a gift “when” you are will save you time and stress later.

Who knows, maybe you will be swamped with work or a family situation when the holiday or birthday comes around; by shopping when you are, you will have the perfect gift stashed away in your gift drawer.

To help you stay organized with your holiday gift giving, use a gift tracker. You can write down who you’re buying for, ideas for gifts and where to find it. Then, wherever and whenever you are, you’ll know what you’re looking for! Click the graphic below to download the gift tracker for free.

 

3. Create a signature wrap.

One of the best ways I’ve found to reduce stress in any area of life is to simplify and streamline. To adapt these concepts to holiday gift giving, develop your own personal style to present every gift you give.

Select one or two coordinating gift wraps (or gift bags), one or two colors and styles of ribbon, and one style of gift tag and keep these items in stock and handy. My mom often did this, purchasing multiple rolls of wrapping paper all at once (usually at a discount shop), even going so far as making sure everyone in the family has some of that year’s wrap.

Doing this decreases the amount of space required to store your holiday gift wrapping items, ensures you’re ready to wrap even the most last-minute of gifts and makes your gifts memorable. (Get more tips on creating a signature wrap.)

Plus, wrapping all your holiday gifts in a signature wrap creates a festive and cohesive look under your Christmas tree. There’s nothing like it! You can get creative with ribbons, bows and tie-ons.

 

4. Re-gift with confidence.

If you’ve ever asked, “Is re-gifting OK?,” think about these questions:
– Do you think recycling is OK?
– Is living without clutter OK?
– How about blessing someone else with a useful item?

As much as you strive to select the perfect gift, sometimes your recipient just won’t like it. Her tastes may have changed. She may not have room to store it. It may be a duplicate.

Whatever the reason, sometimes your recipient will pass your gift on to someone else. Is it OK? If the gift is perfect for someone else, then absolutely it’s OK. Your recipient appreciated your efforts and your remembrance of her occasion. Your gift will find the perfect home; just maybe not with the exact recipient you intended.

And by the way, the same goes for gifts you receive. Cherish the thought of your well-wisher, and let go of what would otherwise be clutter.

I once received a three-panel, brushed nickel picture frame. A nice frame, but I didn’t have space for it, and it did not coordinate with my home décor. I put it in my gift drawer, knowing that the perfect recipient would come along.

A few months later, a friend was visiting and while we were out shopping, she expressed a need for a brushed nickel frame. I pointed out a frame similar to the one I had unopened at home, she loved it, and it saved her some money!

***

Next week I’ll bring you 4 more tips for time-and-money saving holiday gift giving tips. Stay tuned! Be sure to download the gift tracker to get started!

These tips are adapted from my book Gift Giving for Busy People which goes more in depth on finding the perfect gift for anyone on your holiday gift giving list. You can get the Kindle version for a limited time for only $1.99!

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Answer to a Holiday Entertaining Question

 © John Saunders – Fotolia.com

© John Saunders – Fotolia.com

Just in time for holiday parties, a reader sent in a frequently asked, and sometimes tricky, question about entertaining. AM in Michigan writes:

Q.:

I’m tentatively planning appetizers for an “around the world party” – how many different apps. should I have for 4 adults (and 1 child)?  One adult has a severe food allergy (no dairy, and no most kinds of meat), so I want a least a couple options for him, but I do like cheese so I want other things as well.

A.:

What a great theme!!

A great rule of thumb for a cocktail party is, “make 3, buy 3.” So 6 different apps gives a good variety while not being overwhelming for either the hostess or the guests. Plan at least 4 pieces of each app per guest – more for the options that your allergy guest can consume, since he will have fewer options.

Hope this helps!! Enjoy the party!

If you ever have a question about party planning, home decorating, gift giving or smart living, please post your questions on the Facebook page.

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Easy Christmas Snack: A Merry Mix Up

Easy Christmas Snack recipe

Putting together your own snack mixes takes just a few minutes, and you have complete control over the ingredients. Substitute dried fruit and nuts of your choice, add cereal pieces … it is all up to you! This seasonally–minded mix is perfect as a festive nibbler for those holiday parties. It pairs well with everything from hot mulled cider to sparkling wine!

Ingredients:

1 16 oz. bag of pretzels (use the square waffle-like pretzels; they catch more chocolate)
6 T. butter, melted
1/3 c. sugar
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ c. cinnamon sugar* (see below)
1 c. white chocolate chips or melting disks
1 c. dried cranberries
1 c. shelled pistachio nuts

Directions:

1. Pour the pretzels into a large microwave-safe bowl. (I divided them into two large mixing bowls.)

2. Whisk together the melted butter, sugar and cinnamon. Pour the mixture over the pretzels. (Divide the butter mixture evenly if you’re using more than one bowl for the pretzels.) Gently stir the pretzels until they are completely coated with the butter mixture.

3. Microwave the pretzels on high power for 1 minute; stir. Microwave for another 45 seconds.

4. Pour the pretzels onto a parchment-lined tray in a single layer. Sprinkle generously with the reserved cinnamon sugar. (If you have any leftover cinnamon sugar, save it in an airtight container and sprinkle it on toast or oatmeal.) Allow the pretzels to cool completely.

5. Microwave the white chocolate morsels or disks in a microwave-safe bowl on high power in 30 second increments, stirring after each increment, until almost completely melted. Stir until it’s completely melted.

6. Using a tablespoon, drizzle the melted chocolate generously on the pretzels. Top immediately with the cranberries and pistachios, so the toppings stick to the chocolate. When cool, break into pieces and pile into a serving bowl or divide to use as favors or gifts.

*To make the cinnamon sugar, combine 1/2 c. granulated sugar and 1 t. cinnamon in a small bowl.

Gift ideas:

  • Make it a party favor: package the mix in clear cellophane bags tied with a festive ribbon and a Christmas poem or verse.
  • Package the mix in mason jars; use scrapbook paper to make labels; top it with a bow.
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Entertaining Essentials: The Pantry

Snack bar

Keep hungry holiday guests happy by giving them something to nibble on while you finish dinner or set out heartier snacks. Create a “snack bar” on the kitchen counter or coffee table. Arrange a variety of covered candy jars and vintage nut and candy dishes on a tray.

With the holiday season drawing near, I’m continuing my series of posts on entertaining essentials: those indispensable items that every home entertainer needs to make any gathering look and feel effortless. Previous entries in this series include setting up the essential bar and essential utensils for the home chef.

Today it’s time for the goodies! Whether you plan to bake up a storm or you have unplanned visitors arrive for a quick holiday chat, keeping these items on hand will allow you to spend more time with your family and friends, and less time running to the market or searching the cupboards at the last minute.

For baking:

Tips: Keep nuts in a zipper bag in the freezer; they’ll keep longer. Keep baking supplies together on a shelf or in a basket or bin, so everything is in one place when you’re ready to bake.

  • All-purpose flour
  • Granulated sugar
  • Confectioners’ sugar
  • Brown sugar (light)
  • Light corn syrup
  • Evaporated milk
  • Sweetened condensed milk
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Cocoa powder
  • Baking (bittersweet) chocolate bars
  • Semisweet chocolate morsels
  • White chocolate morsels
  • Vanilla extract
  • Honey
  • Pecans (unsalted)
  • Walnuts (unsalted)
  • Pumpkin
  • Fruit pie filling
  • Refrigerated pie crusts
  • Butter or margarine
  • Eggs

For impromptu entertaining:

  • Salted or seasoned nuts (pecans, almonds, cashews, pistachios)
  • Snack mix
  • Water crackers
  • Flavored crackers
  • Cheese straws
  • Assorted olives
  • Tapenade or other spreads
  • Smoked salmon
  • Imported butter cookies
  • One box of assorted frozen puff pastry appetizers
  • Cheeses
  • One or two bottles of wine

 

With a selection of these items in your pantry, freezer and fridge, you will be on your way to less stressed holidays. Check what you already have on hand, and add any remaining items to your shop-ping list. Make sure to replenish items as you use them over the season.

For more entertaining essential ideas and tips, follow my board on Pinterest here.

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One Stop Holiday Shopping at The Tree Lot

One of my top tips for gift giving is to shop “where” you are. Of course, it helps if where you are has a variety of departments or merchandise!

And that is definitely the case with The Tree Lot at Crate and Barrel, a pop-up shop that opened Oct. 29 at Town Square. The 6,700 square foot space is located just behind Brio, adjacent to the central park.

The Tree Lot is filled with items from Crate and Barrel’s Holiday 2013 collection and features a wide selection of globally sourced, exclusive home decor, gift items, entertaining/tabletop wares, tree trimming essentials and confections. Oh, the confections!!

“This year, we were inspired by the tradition of Christmas tree lots and we wanted to bring the joy and sentiment of that experience with our holiday product and visual display,” said Marta Calle, President and Chief Merchant of Crate and Barrel.

Calle’s Columbian roots bring a fresh, new perspective to Crate and Barrel and that is evident in The Tree Lot, with many rustic textures and ethnic elements from stuffed wool critter tree ornaments to garlands made from sari fabric. One of my personal favorites from the tabletop collection is this ceramic serving tray with a woodgrain texture ($19.95).

 Tray

Tree Trimming

Many ornaments have a handmade quality. The store’s selection includes penguins, deer, dachshunds and foxes along with glittering bells, balls and snowflakes.

Ornaments 2

Ornametns

One hot new trend is a tree ring. These oversized rings ($59.95), available in galvanized metal or hand-braided native palm, slip over the tree stand and eliminate the need for a skirt. (Although the store still offers tree skirts as well.)

Rings

Gift Wrap

Customers who purchase rolls of Crate and Barrel wrapping paper ($7.95) may have their purchases wrapped by a store associate at no additional charge. This year’s washi tape craze hits holiday wrapping with a selection of “ribbon tape” ($4.95 to $9.95) from Japan in a variety of widths and designs from a cute mouse to “no peeking.” Wrap your boxes with tape instead of traditional ribbon!

Tape

Confections

I’ve been buying C&B Christmas confections for many years, so I was pleased to see that The Tree Lot has a good selection of this year’s sweet treats, from traditional hard candy to homemade marshmallows from the Butter Baked Goods bakery in Vancouver. (Try the gingerbread marshmallows!) Bourbon balls, peppermint bark, English toffee, organic hot chocolate mix and the popular mini melts are just a few of the tempting offerings.

Hard candy

Marshmallow

Home Accessories

Shoppers at the The Tree Lot will find plenty of holiday home accessories, including an array of bright pillows, cozy throws, vases and  candle holders. The Jingleberry bowl filler ($9.95) caught my eye, and would be perfect mixed in with my usual pinecone display.

Pinecones

Gift Ideas

Many of the items highlighted here would be a wonderful holiday gift (and I’ll put together my top 5 hostess gift ideas in another article), but The Tree Lot has a dedicated display of interesting, unique and downright quirky gift items for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Even things for your pets! But what interested me was a stack of Japanese notepads. I thought, why on earth would there be a stack of notepads? Well, I felt the paper and it’s sumptuous — like no paper I’ve ever felt, and it’s graph paper.

Paper

Now, who on my list is a paper aficionado? There has to be someone!

The Tree Lot will be open through Dec. 31. The pop-up concept is a first for Crate and Barrel, who is trying the holiday stores in three other locations that do not have a Crate and Barrel retail store. While there’s no concrete plans to bring a permanent store to Las Vegas, we can cross our fingers that The Tree Lot is a good market test!

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