Christmas Shopping Season 2017

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Christmas Shopping Season 2017

Make a list for Christmas Shopping

He's making a list, he's checking it twice
This is a famous line from one of the most beloved Christmas songs. Everyone who celebrates Christmas knows all about Santa’s good and naughty lists. Most people do their best to stay off of Santa’s naughty list. While the concept of Santa’s lists is a fun way to convince children to be on their best behavior during the Christmas season, the concept of a list should one that all Christmas shoppers depend on while they are doing their Christmas shopping. In fact, your Christmas shopping should be filled with a variety of lists. You can create lists for everyone you plan to give gifts to this year. You should make lists of potential gift ideas and narrow them down to the actual gifts you’ll buy. All of this list making may sound tedious but we’ll see how all of these lists can be very helpful.

Making a list of everyone you plan to give a Christmas present to should be the first step in any Christmas shopping expedition. This list is important because it gives you a handy reference to all the people you want to surprise with a holiday treat while you are shopping. It also gives you a tally of the number of people on your Christmas list. Knowing how many people are on your list is important for setting a budget. Determine how much money you can afford to spend and divide this amount by the number of people on your list and this will give you an idea of how much you can spend on each person on your Christmas list.

After you make this list and set your budget, it is a good idea to make a new list of potential gift ideas for each person on your Christmas gift list. It’s a good idea to brainstorm and come up with a couple of viable gift ideas for each person on your first list. When you are out Christmas shopping, it will help you to know where to start your search. You’ll have a few choices on hand if you are having difficulty finding just the right presents for someone. You may find items that are not on your list but are perfect for the person you are shopping for. It’s okay to buy gifts that are not on the list as long as you stick to your budget. Your list of gift ideas is just a point of departure. If you find a more appropriate gift that is not on your list, go ahead and roll with it.

When Christmas shopping, you should also keep a list of the items you actually purchase. This is particularly helpful if you have a very long list. You might have difficulty remembering all the items you already bought if you don’t mark them down. Keeping an updated list will minimize this problem. This list also comes in handy when it is time to start wrapping all the Christmas gifts you’ve purchased. If you have a closet full of gifts, you may have trouble remembering which one goes to whom. However, if you kept an accurate list while you shopped, this should not be a problem.

Setting a Budget for Christmas Shopping

GiftingIt is never too early to start thinking about setting a budget for Christmas shopping. As much as we would like to be able to purchase anything and everything we want for our friends and relatives, most of us have to budget carefully to be able to get Christmas gifts for all of our friends and relatives withouth breaking the bank. As such, it is very important to set a budget for Christmas shopping and to do your best to really stick to it.

Some people take an interesting approach to setting their Christmas shopping budget by waiting until they are ready to start shopping to actually set the budget. They usually do this because they are saving specifically for the purpose of Christmas shopping. Whether they open up a bank account specifically for Christmas shopping, set aside money in a piggy bank each week or plan on using a percentage of their income from the month of November for Christmas shopping it is important to set your budget and determine a plan for purchasing all of the Christmas gifts without exceeding your shopping budget.

Other people take a different approach to setting a budget for Christmas shopping. They do this by shopping throughout the year and incorporating their spending for Christmas presents into their monthly budgets. These individuals may designate a percentage of their monthly income to Christmas gift giving. They might either purchase the gifts on a monthly basis or simply set aside the money for a Christmas shopping spree later in the year. Those who spread out the Christmas shopping by doing a little bit of shopping each month not only keep their budget in control but they also eliminate a great deal of the stress which often accompanies last minute Christmas shopping.

Another interesting approach to setting a budget for Christmas shopping is waiting for an end of year bonanza. Those who typically receive a financial bonus at work around Christmas time may base their budget on the amount of money they are awarded in this bonus. This strategy may work out well since it does not cause them to alter their normal monthly spending. These bonuses are independent of their regular monthly budgeting. However, unless these bonuses are guaranteed annually, there is some risk involved. Often, annual bonuses are awarded based on criteria such as the company’s earnings and the individual employee’s contributions to the success of the company. The company may not enjoy financial success or the contributions of the employee may not be highly valued. There may be either no bonus or a bonus much lower than expected. When this happens, those who count on bonuses for Christmas shopping may find themselves in a pinch with no recourse but to stack up debt on their credit cards instead.

Budgeting for Christmas shopping is especially important for those who plan to use credit cards to make their purchases. In the case of credit card purchases, it would be worthwhile to spread the Christmas shopping out over the entire year in order to repay the debts associated with the shopping on a monthly basis. This will help to prevent carrying a huge balance and being charged interest on that balance each month. However, if must do all of your Christmas shopping at one time, it’s best to save up during the year instead of running up your cards. Before you begin shopping, evaluate the amount of money you have saved and set the budget for your Christmas shopping. This way even though you are using a credit card and will receive a large bill the following month, you will already have enough money to pay the bill in its entirety and avoid paying interest on the debt.

Even those with the best of intentions can find themselves going over their Christmas shopping budget. When this happens, it’s important to keep your generosity under control and avoid going too far over budget. You may spend too much on one or two people on your Christmas list but you can offset this by purchasing less expensive gifts for a few other people to stay within the overall budget.


We hope this has helped you keep a bit of a tight rein on your shopping forays. Be kind and courteous to family and friends, but be kind to yourself by not burying yourself in debt.

2017 Black Friday Shopping

2017 Black Friday Shopping

The day after Thanksgiving is known as “Black Friday”. This day is typically one of the busiest shopping days of the year. For many, this signifies the first day of Christmas shopping. While the term Black Friday was originally used to represent the day on which retailers return to profitability, many retail workers use this term to describe the chaotic crowds who do their Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving. Likewise, consumers expect killer sales to go along with the madding hordes who invade the stores.

Black Friday

For many, shopping on the day after Thanksgiving is a tradition they wouldn’t miss for the world. These folks look forward to the sales and start their shopping as a way to get into the Christmas spirit. These intrepid shoppers can be counted on to arrive before the malls and shopping centers even open in order to get a great parking spot so they can make multiple trips to their cars to drop off packages before returning to the shopping area to make even more purchases and to almost literally shop until they drop. These are the diehard shoppers who retailers count on each year to boost their quarterly earnings and to help them lock in profitability for the year.

People enjoy Christmas shopping on the day after Thanksgiving for a variety of different reasons. Some enjoy shopping on this day for the promised tremendous sales. Others enjoy shopping on this day because they like to take things one season at a time, figuring now that Thanksgiving is over; it is time to start focusing on Christmas. There are some others who like shopping on Black Friday for the sake of the excellent opportunity to do some people watching. Whether or not they get any actual shopping done, these individuals flock to shopping malls on the day after Thanksgiving because they know there will be tons of other shoppers to observe. Finally, there are those who start their Christmas shopping on Black Friday out of a sense of tradition. These individuals have simply always started their Christmas shopping on Black Friday out of habit. Perhaps their parents started Christmas shopping the day after Thanksgiving. Perhaps they simply learned this as the way to start Christmas shopping. Perhaps they will pass the habit on to their own children.

sales

On the other hand, there are other shoppers who absolutely refuse to step foot inside a mall or shopping center on the day after Thanksgiving. That would be me! For us trying to get any shopping done on Black Friday is nearly impossible. We are perfectly willing to sacrifice the opportunity to buy some items as gifts at excellent sale prices in order to avoid the insane throng of shoppers who swarm the stores on this one hectic day. However, it is worthwhile to recognize that just because shoppers like myself avoid shopping centers on the day after Thanksgiving does not mean that we don’t enjoy great sale prices on the Christmas gifts we purchase. We take advantage of sales throughout the year and online to complete our Christmas shopping within our budget.

Whether you are an early bird Christmas shopper, a down to the wire last minute Christmas shopper or just a people watcher, you surely expect large crowds in malls and shopping centers on the day after Thanksgiving. It is up to you to decide whether or not you choose to join the shoppers on this hectic day.

Goodness knows you won’t find me anywhere near a store on Black Friday. God bless you if you do go Black Friday shopping. Everybody has their own tolerance level for such things. Mine is really, really low. I’ll be home with a cup of cocoa and a nice quiet book to read.

Santa’s Here!

Santa’s Here!

It’s been a couple of hours already, but Santa has arrived in New York City at the conclusion of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His arrival kicks off the official Christmas Shopping Season. Goodness knows that merchants far and wide have been shelving holiday items for weeks already, but in the eyes of many people the Christmas season doesn’t begin until after the turkey and pumpkin pie have been devoured and the leftovers stashed in the fridge.

Now that we’re into the magical Christmas season, let’s remember that from its revamp in the mid-Nineteenth Century it’s been all about kids and they sure do love it. It might be the thought of some long-anticipated time off from school, the glamor of the lights and decor, the pristine beauty of the snow that often accompanies Christmas or just the anticipation of Santa and his toy-filled sleigh that so excites the children but it is obvious that most kids are totally captivated by Christmastime. Whatever the reason, the children’s joy is why many adults truly enjoy shopping for kids at Christmastime.

While Christmas shopping for kids is a great deal of fun, there are some things to consider when Christmas shopping for your kids. An important consideration is selecting age-appropriate toys. Select toys that are not too noisy or too big for the child’s living space. Select toys the child does not already have. Select toys their parents will consider to be acceptable. Finally, select toys the children will enjoy. This can make Christmas shopping for kids challenging, but it doesn’t make shopping any less fun.

Selecting age-appropriate toys is crucial when Christmas shopping for kids. This is important for a number of reasons. First of all, it is important because toys which are designed for older kids could potentially be dangerous for the child. For example, toys that are designed for children over the age of three might include small pieces that would pose a choking hazard. Children under the age of three still have a tendency to put toys and other objects in their mouths, so they must receive toys only containing pieces large enough not to be a choking hazard. Also, toys for a different age category may not be as much fun for a kid as they would be for kids of the appropriate age. If the child is too young for the toy, he may become easily frustrated because he can not use the toy appropriately. On the other hand, a kid who is too old for a particular toy may become bored with the toy quickly.

When shopping for Christmas gifts for kids, it is also important to consider the children’s parents and their living situation. This includes the size of their home or apartment and their proximity to the neighbors. Toys which are really noisy may not be appropriate for a kid living in an apartment building. Also, large gifts such as a trampoline may not be appropriate if a child does not have a yard large enough to accommodate it. Likewise, large indoor items such as a foosball table aren’t appropriate for kids who do not have a dedicated toy room big enough to accommodate such a large item. As a general rule, it is best to stick with small items that don’t make a lot of noise when you are Christmas shopping for kids.

It’s also important to consider the personal beliefs of their parents when shopping for children’s Christmas gifts. Specifically, you should not purchase a gift for a child if you know their parents are ethically opposed to particular items. Guns and violent video games are obvious examples of Christmas gifts that could offend certain parents. There are many parents who do not allow their children to play with items of this sort because they believe the toys promote violence. If you’re not certain about the parents’ point of view, it is best to avoid these kinds of toys.

Finally, when Christmas shopping for a child, it is best to check with the parents beforehand. This will be beneficial for a couple of reasons. First, the parents can give some insight into the child’s hobbies and interests. This will make selecting an appropriate gift easier. They may even suggest a specific item from the child’s Christmas list ensuring you are giving that kid something she really wants for Christmas. Consulting her parents can also save you from giving a toy she already has. Check with the parents before you make a purchase to see if they will suggest another item. They can let you know if they think their child will enjoy the gift or if the child already has it.

Here are some all-time favs. Feel free to sing along!

Kinetic Sand Sandbox & Molds

Kinetic Sand Sandbox & Molds

Wacky-tivities brings you Kinetic Sand!

Kinetic Sand is squeezable sand that never dries out. It’s creative, stimulating fun for children 3 years and older. They can mold, squeeze, drip and shape artistic creations over and over again.

Kinetic Sand cleans up easily because it sticks to itself, not you.

Kinetic Sand is sand bound with a special, non-toxic, hypoallergenic polymer. Some children with very rare allergies to polymers may suffer a reaction, but it is casein, gluten, nut and wheat free.

  • 98% Sand
  • + 2% Polymer
  • 100% Fun!

Exposure to moisture can affect the consistency of the sand. If mixed with water, spread it out on a baking sheet and allow it to dry. Pet hair will not stick to it, but if you mix different colors together they will not separate.

Kinetic Sand is particularly good for kids with special needs as it provides a soothing tactile experience.

The Kinetic Sand Sandbox & Molds playset comes with:

  • 1lb of Kinetic Sand (Green, Purple or Blue)
  • 4 plastic molds
  • 1 plastic sandbox tray

We think your kids will love the hours of creative play that the Kinetic Sand Sandbox & Molds provides.

How to handle a real Christmas tree

Festive Fridays

How to handle a real Christmas tree

Personally, I grew up with artificial trees. I consider them more humane than killing a live tree for decorative purposes, but I recognize that some people love the tradition of going out and cutting your own and I fully support all of the local tree farms that provide an opportunity for people to have natural greens in their houses for the holidays. The following is a guide to finding your perfect tree and some tips for what to do with your greens after the holidays are over.

For those who put so much time and effort into selecting the perfect Christmas tree, due consideration should be given to giving your tree the best possible care. If not, you will surely be disappointed when the needles start to turn brown or yellow, or branches begin to break days or weeks before the season is over. Safety is also an important reason to take proper care of your Christmas tree because a drying Christmas tree also presents a serious danger as a fire hazard. An average Christmas tree should last for about five to six weeks if the proper care is taken.

After selecting your Christmas tree, the first thing that should be done when you get it home is to make a fresh cut and place it into a stand with water. A Christmas tree shouldn’t be mounted dry. The water in its stand should be refreshed regularly. A fresh cut is made by cutting about an inch from the bottom at a slight diagonal to help the tree to absorb water. If a fresh cut isn’t made and the Christmas tree is left exposed to air, the vessels for transporting water can become blocked. This could lead to premature browning and the tree could become a fire hazard due to drying out. Your Christmas tree should be secure in its stand and it should stand away from open flames or sources of heat such as furnaces, fireplaces and air vents, all of which may dry it out.

Decoration of the tree should begin after it has been mounted in its stand. Take sensible precautions when decorating to lessen or avoid your Christmas tree becoming a fire hazard. Ornaments that have an open flame or candles should never be used as decorations.

Christmas tree lights should be checked to make sure the bulbs are working properly, the connections are intact and that no part of the cord is damaged. If there appears to be any exposed wiring or bulbs that are not working or which are working intermittently, that string of Christmas tree lights should not be used.

Select a good Christmas tree stand because water is the most important ingredient to getting the longest life out of your Christmas tree. When selecting a stand, find out how much water it can hold when your tree is placed in it. Some water will be displaced by the base of the tree, so it is important that your decision is not based on the total volume of water the stand can hold.

According to the National Christmas Tree Association, an average Christmas tree can absorb as much as a gallon of water every day. Therefore, it’s important to check the water everyday and refill as needed. To make sure your Christmas tree gets enough water, the Association recommends that one quart of water is provided for every inch in diameter of the tree’s trunk.

After Christmas is over and your wonderfully decorated Christmas tree has provided such holiday joy, it is important to remove it before it dries out. Options to discard your Christmas will likely depend on the services offered by your local government. Some municipalities will pick up Christmas trees on specific days. Some towns may require that residents take their trees to a specific location. In others, Christmas trees will be picked up with the trash on certain dates.

Christmas trees should never be burned in your fireplace! It can cause the build up of creosote, a colorless, oily substance that can lead to chimney fires. A much better alternative is to make mulch of the tree by cutting it to pieces yourself.

If you prefer live trees to artificial ones, please keep these important safety tips in mind to ensure a healthy and happy holiday season with the splendid, natural scent of a pine or fir tree.

10 Quick Tips to Save You Time and Money Storing Your Decorations

10 Quick Tips to Save You Time and Money Storing Your Decorations

Okay, maybe inviting the kittens to help isn’t terribly productive but the process of putting Christmas away for the year doesn’t need to be drudgery. Taking a little time and following these ten tips will help you…

luggage

  • A. Save time by getting your Christmas decorations organized so you can find them quickly and easily next holiday season
  • B. Save space by using boxes that can be easily stacked and organized.
  • C. Save money by storing your Christmas lights and decorations in a way that preserves their quality and extends their life span.

10 Quick Tips

1. Use Clear Plastic Boxes – These are great because you can see the contents without having to spend time labeling each box. Plus the plastic helps protect from moisture better than cardboard. When stacking, be sure to place the largest and heaviest boxes on the bottom and smaller boxes on the top.

2. Box your Beads – Pack the beads in small boxes such as plastic shoe boxes. If you use many strands of beads, larger boxes could become too heavy. To keep the beads from becoming tangled, place individual strands in baggies. If you prefer, you can wrap each strand around empty paper towel rolls and tape the ends.

3. Don’t Heap Up the Christmas Lights – Use reels to wind your strands of lights so they don’t get tangled. You can use Santa’s Bags that include stackable reels. Another way to go is to use a kind of wind up like you’d use for a power cord. If you’re sticking with the clear plastic boxes, you can roll individual light strands into a gallon zip-lock bag to prevent them getting tangled.

4. Save Space with Re-Shapeable Decorations – Bows made of wired ribbon can be flattened and reshaped next year. Wired ribbon garlands and streamers can be tightly rolled. They don’t need to be flattened unless you need to conserve space.

5. Don’t Crush Your Wreaths – Wreaths can be stacked in larger boxes but each wreath should be wrapped with bubble wrap. If they aren’t wrapped then they shouldn’t be stacked. Bubble wrap can be purchased where office supplies are sold. Wreath boxes can also be purchased and are readily available on the Internet and in stores.
Twinkling Strand
6. Wrap Christmas Ornaments Properly – Ornaments should be individually wrapped in white tissue paper or where greater protection is needed, wrap in bubble wrap. Since most ornaments are lightweight they can be stored in large boxes. If you still have the original boxes the ornaments came in, then store them in these and then place them in the storage container.

7. Protect Christmas Decorations from Moisture – If you live in a humid climate using plastic containers may not be enough to protect from moisture. Place packets of silica gel in each container to avoid damage from humidity. Silica gel can be purchased at arts and craft stores. If you cannot find individual packets, you can make your own by wrapping several tablespoons of silica gel in white tissue paper and securing with tape. Several packets should be placed throughout the box.

8. Guard Against Temperature Extremes – Delicate decorations such as ornaments made with photos or wax can be temperature sensitive. Store them in a climate-controlled area or they could deteriorate, melt or stick together.

9. Clearly identify Christmas Storage Boxes – Attach a red ribbon or tag to each Christmas storage box. This will make them easy to identify next Christmas if they have been stored with other boxes unrelated to Christmas decorations.

10. De-clutter – Some people have a tendency to just “hang onto stuff” in hopes that they’ll find a use for it later. Don’t waste space by holding onto old ornaments you know you’ll never use again (unless of course it has some sentimental significance). Just toss out the trash.

christmas wreathA final note: You may also want to consider Christmas ornament boxes and wreath boxes for especially fine ornaments and wreaths instead of clear storage containers. They are available in stores and on the Internet. They are very convenient and some are even acid free for even greater protection for your fine collectibles. They are more expensive, but for high quality, valuable ornaments this may be a worthwhile investment.

A little organization today will take some of the stress out of Christmas decorating next yuletide. Happy un-decorating!

What Star Is This, With Beams So Bright

What Star Is This, With Beams So Bright

The Gospel of Matthew 2:9-11

9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

Every bit as famous and central to the story of Epiphany as the Wise Men is the star they followed to find the Christ-child.

Three Wise MenWhat star is this, with beams so bright,
more lovely than the noonday light?
‘Tis sent to announce a new-born King,
glad tidings of our God to bring.

‘Tis now fulfilled what God decreed,
“From Jacob shall a star proceed;”
and lo! the eastern sages stand,
to read in heaven the Lord’s command.

While outward signs the star displays,
an inward light the Lord conveys,
and urges them, with force benign,
to seek the giver of the sign.

True love can brook no dull delay;
through toil and dangers lies their way;
and yet their home, their friends, their all
they leave at once, at God’s high call.

O, while the star of heavenly grace
invites us, Lord, to seek thy face,
may we no more that grace repel,
or quench that light which shines so well!

To God the Father, God the Son,
and Holy Spirit, three in One,
may every tongue and nation raise
an endless song of thankful praise!

This Endris Night

This Endris Night

The earliest manuscript containing this traditional carol is from 1475 in the period of the later reign of Henry VI and the beginning of the reign of Henry VII. “This endris night” is a term from the period meaning something that happened recently.

NativityThis endris night I saw a sight
A star as bright as day;
And ever among a maiden sung,
“Lullay, by by, lullay.”

This lovely lady sat and sung,
And to her Child did say:
“My Son, my Brother, Father, dear,
Why liest Thou thus in hay?”

“My sweetest bird, thus ’tis required,
Though Thou be King veray;
But nevertheless I will not cease
To sing, By by, lullay.”

The Child then spake in His talking,
And to his mother said:
“Yea, I am known as Heaven-King,
In crib though I be laid.

“For angels bright down to Me light:
Thou knowest ’tis no nay:
And for that sight thou may’st delight
To sing, By by, lullay.”

“Now, sweet Son, since Thou art a king,
Why art Thou laid in stall?
Why dost not order thy bedding
In some great kingès hall?

“Methinks ’tis right that king or knight
Should lie in good array:
And then among, it were no wrong
To sing, By by, lullay.”

“Mary mother, I am thy Child,
Though I be laid in stall;
For lords and dukes shall worship Me,
And so shall kingès all.

“Ye shall well see that kingès three
Shall come on this twelfth day.
For this behest give Me thy breast
And sing, By by, lullay.”

“Now tell, sweet Son, I Thee do pray,
Thou art my Love and Dear—
How should I keep Thee to Thy pay,
And make Thee glad of cheer?

“For all Thy will I would fulfill—
Thou knowest well, in fay;
And for all this I will Thee kiss,
And sing, By by, lullay.”

“My dear mother, when time it be,
Take thou Me up on loft,
And set Me then upon thy knee,
And handle me full soft.

“And in thy arm thou hold Me warm,
And keep Me night and day,
And if I weep, and may not sleep,
Thou sing, By by, lullay.”

“Now sweet Son, since it is come so,
That all is at Thy will,
I pray Thee grant to me a boon,
If it be right and skill,—

“That child or man, who will or can
Be merry on my day,
To bliss Thou bring—and I shall sing,
Lullay, by by, lullay.”

Wonder Tidings

Wonder Tidings

A 15th Century poem describing the splendor of the Incarnation was set to music by composer Stephen Paulus and titled Wonder Tidings.

What tidings bringest thou, messenger,
Of Christ’s birth this jolly day?

A babe is born of high natureNativity
The Prince of Peace, that ever shall be
Of heaven and earth he hath the cure
His lordship is eternity
Such wonder tidings ye may hear,
That man is made God’s peer
Whom sin had made but fiend’s prey.

A wonder thing is now befall;
That King that formed the star and sun
Heaven and earth and angels all
Now in mankind is new begun:
Such wonder tidings ye may hear,
An infant now of but one year,
That hath been ever and shall be ay.

That seemeth strange to us to see,
This bird that hath this babe yborn
And Lord concieved of high degree
A maiden is and was beforn;
Such wonder tidings ye may hear,
That maiden and mother is one in fere,
And she a lady of great array.

Thou loveliest gan greet her child,
Hail, son! Hail, brother! Hail, father dear!
Hail, daughter! Hail, sister! Hail, mother mild!
This hailing was on quaint manner:
Such wonder tidings ye may hear
That hailing was of so good cheer
That man’s pain is turned to play.

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