Dec 112011
 

Gift cards are functional gestures that accommodate any special occasion or holiday. They help shoppers give a gift that allows the recipient to choose what they like best. This method comes in handy for people that have no idea what to get someone, and also saves the day with a last-minute gift idea. However, some people turn their noses up at gift cards because they feel they are impersonal or too small in size. They are sometimes left with a feeling that they “didn’t do enough.” Luckily, dressing up a gift card is a good way to add personal touches and show someone how much you care.

Say ‘goodbye’ to the little envelope and consider the following suggestions:

Helium Balloon

The colorful display and endless number of decorative shapes, sayings and themes make helium balloons a delightful accompaniment to a gift card. Opt for a bouquet of ‘Happy Birthday’ balloons or choose the shape of your nephew’s favorite superhero. When presenting your gift, you can attach to the end of the string or tape the gift on a part of the balloon that conceals the card. Just make sure the balloon doesn’t float away with your gift card before you have a chance to give it to your loved one.

Box of Candy

For the loved one with a sweet tooth that is hard to shop for, consider slipping a gift card inside the lid of a decadent box of chocolates. Amazon.com and Barnes and Nobles gift cards go well with chocolate. If you can stand the suspense, place the gift card underneath the chocolates so as they start to nibble – your sweet gesture is revealed.

Stuffed Animal

Who can resist an adorable teddy bear holding a gift card to Victoria Secrets as a Valentine’s Day gift? A friendly stuffed animal face can also make the transition into a new home more pleasant – especially when holding a gift card to the Home Depot, Pier 1, or Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Hide It in another Gift

You can always purchase a smaller gesture to hide your gift card. For example, coffee lovers will squeal at the added bonus of a Starbucks, Panera Bread, or Dunkin Donuts gift card hiding in a bag of gourmet beans. For the small business owner, slip an Office Max or Staples gift card inside a personalized business card case. Hide a gift card to Michaels or Jo-Ann Fabrics in a basket full of yarn.

Gag Gift

There are plenty of ways to distract and add a laugh to the gift-giving process of your small-sized present. All you have to do is think outside the box and settle on an unusual gesture that opens the door for a welcomed sigh of relief. A few suggestions include:

  • Gift an ugly Christmas sweater with a gift card to their favorite department store taped to the label.
  • Offer one used shoe from a thrift shop with a gift card to a footwear store, such as Nine West or Zappos slipped inside or taped to the bottom of the heel.
  • Wrap a slice of cheesecake with a Cheesecake Factory gift card tucked inside
  • Box a Big Mac with a gift card to their favorite restaurant taped to the hamburger’s wrapper
Jul 132011
 

The Internet offers a wide range of opportunities to save money on gifts with a multitude of websites geared towards shoppers looking for deals, discounts, clearances, and super sales. FatWallet.com is a well-rounded online resource that makes it easy to find the bargains you seek.

Today’s Best Deals

FatWallet.com has a section called Today’s Best Deals, which offers customer-selected leads on the best online deals and coupons. The bargains range from flat-screen televisions to clearance sales at your favorite clothing stores. Some deals are Buy 1, Get 1 free offers. Many selections offer low or free shipping. FatWallet.com also makes it easier to gauge how much money you will save because they list the original prices for the items. An example of what you may find is a Samsung laptop for $599.00 + $4.99 shipping (originally priced at $849.00).

Save with Store Coupons

With stores such as Disney, Sony, Barnes & Noble, and Finish Line, FatWallet.com posts the coupons that can help you save money on gifts. A lot of popular coupons in this section provide discounts on electronics, such as flat-screen televisions, computer monitors, and laptops.

Hot Deal Forum

With tips on how to save money on brand name products, this forum provides additional details on some of the offers found in Today’s Best Deals, as well as other advertised sales. Here, you can communicate with someone who has dealt with a specific company before, purchased the same deal, or can give helpful insight on a particular product.

Cash Back Opportunities

If you are interested in receiving cash back on your online purchases, FatWallet.com offers commission opportunities that go into your own account. The more gifts you purchase through their cash back store links, the more money you stand to get back. There are hundreds of stores that offer cash back savings, such as Lenovo, Sears, Macy’s, and FTD.com.

May 302011
 

Everyone always orders Gift Baskets for a special occasion. Whether it is fruit, chocolate, cookies, bath/spa, plant/flowers baskets, etc… Why not just make one on your own?

HOW TO

If you go to your local craft store then, you can get all of the items you need to make a homemade gift basket. Of course, pick the size of the basket: small, medium, or large. Then, accessories you can add on are ribbons, flowers, sea shells, etc… If you pick flowers you have the option of real or fake silk texture. With silk ones there is the traditional boutique, mini bundle stems, or a floral chain garland. You can insert the flowers into the side of the basket or if you use the garland so it can go all around the side in a circular position. Then, you can attach birds all around the handle and have a bow in the center. Or if you prefer, rabbits, sea shells, bells, little pillows, etc… just use your hot glue gun.

INSIDE THE BASKET

Then, you can have favor box sets in turquoise, sage green, fuchsia, or an eggplant color. Inside each one you can have a little treasure of your choice. Some examples can be animal statues, a charm necklace, a little vase, etc…Teas, flavored coffees, small frames, fruits, cookies, soaps, lotions, etc… You can also toss around some confetti within the basket.

FINAL TOUCHES

Take a round tulle wrap and cover the entire basket. Start from the bottom, work your way up, and around. Tie it with a pretty bow and it’s ready for delivery!

BACKUP

Of course, if everything fails you can always go to 1-800-Baskets.comicon. Another great online store is GiftBaskets.com where you can get Free Shipping on Everything – Use Code EB-4374.

In the image above: Candlelight Bubble Bath Spa Gift Basket.

Dec 312010
 

Start the New Year Off Right (Photo courtesy of Ginnerobot)

There are few better reasons to party down than the start of a new year. Millions of Americans will be heading to holiday bashes this New Year’s Eve, ringing in 2011 with friends and family. Start the new year off on the right foot by making sure you show gratitude to your party host. Here are some easy ways to say thanks.

Champagne Glasses That Won’t Break

Champagne glasses are lovely and delicate. But when mixed with tipsy party guests, that can create a bad combination. Give your party host some inside out champagne glasses. A pair sells for just $39.95 at RedEnvelope.com. And nothing says “happy new year” quite like champagne. With a gift like this they’ll be toasting your friendship year around.

Assistance with New Year’s Resolutions

Starting a new year is about launching new goals. Help your hostess do that with a New Year’s resolution pack that includes a custom journal, countdown cards, a bookmark, pencil and more. It’s made by Etsy artist Cookstah and sells for $35.

Distinguishable Wine Glasses

As a party host, it can be annoying when guests use multiple glasses because they forget which one is theirs. Help your host keep down on the dirty dishes by giving them a set of wine charms like these from BedBathandBeyond.com. A set of six is only $19.99 and they’ll help each guest remember which glass their lips have touched.

A Sweet Treat and Cute Display

You can never have too many yummy treats at parties. Bring an extra one to share along with a cute pedestal to display it that will serve as a lovely gift to your party host. The white scalloped pedestal from Rosanna.com comes in three sizes and will fit with virtually any party decor.

Help for the Morning After

Your host will likely need help starting off the new year after after a long night of celebration. Give them something to help them wake up on the first morning of 2011 with a cute coffee mug from Pier1.com. The monkey mug and the elephant mug are creative and affordable at just $5 each. These African animals will always serve as a reminder of your wild night of ringing in 2011.

Dec 202010
 

Crazy Gifts are Best for White Elephant Gift Exchanges (Photo Courtesy of Thirteen of Clubs)

Lots of holiday parties have them– white elephant gift exchanges. It’s festive and fun and can be incredibly entertaining. A white elephant gift exchange is a great way to break the ice with guests and get people talking. Not sure how to organize one at your Christmas party? Here are some tips.

Set Up the Rules

Let guests know ahead of time that you plan to have a white elephant gift exchange at your party. Set a spending limit. This typically can be anywhere from $5-$25. Just keep your guests in mind and what they may be able to afford. Be sure to tell them to bring the gift wrapped. That way it will be a surprise.When guests arrive, put the presents in a pile in the middle of the room.

Draw a Number

Have guests each draw a number. This will determine the order in which you open presents.

Start Opening

The person who draws number one will start. They get to choose any gift they want from the pile. Have them open the gift and show it to everyone else. The person who drew number two will then get to decide whether they want to steal number one’s gift, or choose another one from the pile. If they choose to steal number one’s gift, number one will then get to choose another gift from the pile to open.

Give Everyone a Gift

This continues until everyone has a gift– either one that they opened from the pile or stole from another guest. Keep in mind that you’re not allowed to steal back a gift that was just stolen from you. As the party host you may want to have some extra wrapped white elephant gifts on hand in case someone forgets to bring one.

Need some creative ideas for white elephant gifts? Usually the crazier the better, but do keep the crowd in mind. Here are some wacky white elephant ideas:

  • Cheap figurines
  • A picture frame with a photo of you inside
  • Half empty bottles of liquor
  • A funny t-shirt
  • A poster from the movie Twilight
  • Cheesy Christmas music
Dec 202010
 

Don't Like the Gift? Don't Show It. (Photo Courtesy of TomPagenet)

Gift giving is rampant. It’s no longer just reserved for spouses and close relatives. Chances are you’ll get gifts from your neighbors, second cousins and your Sunday school teacher. And we can bet not all of those gifts will hit the nail on the head as far as what you want and like. A recent Women’s Health poll showed that 63% of women have faked enthusiasm for a gift they hated. If you find yourself in that position, here are some tips for getting through it without hurting anyone’s feelings.

Use the Right Expression

What matters more than what you say is how you say it. Keep your eyes wide open. Examine the gift closely. Stay focused on it for a few minutes before allowing the attention to turn elsewhere.

Choose Words Carefully

The gift may be so bad it leaves you speechless, but don’t let the giver know that. Have a few words ready to go. Say things like “I’ve been wanting one of these”, “I just admired this in a store a few days ago”, and “How creative!” Explain how you plan to use it or where you’ll show it off.

Try It Out Right Away

If it’s an accessory that your niece made by hand or a sweater your colorblind aunt Sue knitted, slip it on. Run to a mirror and look at yourself in it. If it’s a pair of slippers, put them on and gush over how comfortable they are. If it’s a gift you can use right then and there– do.

Give Them a Hug

Most people don’t give bad gifts on purpose. Give the gift giver a big hug, make eye contact and say thank you. Remember, it’s the thought that counts.

Follow Up with a Thank You

Sending a thank you to someone who gave you a gift is common courtesy. Write a nice note and let them know you appreciated their generosity. Because even though you may  not have loved their gift, you can still appreciate their kindness.

Dec 092010
 

Why buy party invitations, gift tags and even wrapping paper when you can find it for free online? There are plenty of extra expenses during the holidays, but we discovered there are also lots of freebies! Here are some free holiday printables that will make your packages prettier and your parties even more festive.

Make Your Packages Look Extra Pretty (Photo Courtesy of Spin Spin)

Wine Bottle Labels: It doesn’t matter if you bought that bottle of wine at the discount super store because it will still look fancy with this free printable wine bottle label from Martha Stewart.

West Elm Party Packs: West Elm has a bunch of great printable freebies that include everything from menu cards to gift tags. There are four different designs for entertaining and four designs for gifting.

Printable Wrapping Paper: This may not be practical for big gifts, but for tiny packages you can definitely use this free printable wrapping paper from designer Mae. It comes in six colors and designs. There are also two sets of free printable wrapping paper with coordinating tags from designer Kellie Medevitz.

Holiday Party Invitations and Matching Address Labels: Here’s a fabulous freebie from designer Emmy Lu. Rather than buy fancy invitations here are some great ones you can print for free. The designs also come with coordinating address labels that can be printed on a full sheet label and cut out. There’s no doubt that your invites will appear far more fancy and festive with the help of this great designer.

Custom Gift Tags: These free gift tags from Life As Mom come in two designs: snowflake or Christmas holly. They are especially great because you can type in the name of the gift recipient and the name of the giver. No need to ruin a pretty package with messy handwriting.

Simple Free Gift Tags: Here’s another style of free printable gift tags from TipJunkie.com. So no matter what color your wrapping is you should be able to find a free coordinating gift tag.

Martha Stewart Monogrammed Gift Tags: Here’s another great freebie straight from one of the world’s most creative people. Print out these cute monogrammed gift tags at MarthaStewart.com. Cut out the letters you need for each of your holiday packages.

Dec 072010
 

Use Nature to Throw a Woodland Theme Baby Shower

Lots of baby shower themes seem more suited for spring and summer dates. Struggling to find a theme that works during cooler weather? Why not try a woodland theme baby shower? It works whether you’re celebrating the arrival of a girl or boy. So if your bundle of joy is on its way, use these tips to try this unique theme.

Use Nature

A lot of your decorations can come from Mother Nature. Find a log that’s about three inches in diameter and saw it into different lengths. You’ll be able to use it to hold candles at various levels and perhaps even some food plates. Find stems of leaves or pine needles to use with fresh flowers in arrangements. And of course you’ll need lots of pine cones. These can either be painted or left natural. Stack them in large vases or use them as place holders for food names so your guests will know what you’re serving up.

Stick with Theme Food

Think about food that fits in with the theme. Try dipping marshmallows in melted chocolate and serving them up on a stick. Set out a bowl of homemade trail mix or serve up a cheese ball covered in pecans. The more you can stick with the theme the more memorable it will be.

Marshmallows on a Stick Fit the Theme

Party Favors

There are lots of options for party favors for a woodland theme baby shower. An easy one is to make up your own batch of homemade trail mix. Include a variety of nuts, chocolate chips and even some raisins. Put a scoop into a small plastic bag. You can decorate the plastic bag or put it inside a paper lunch sack embellished with stamps or ribbon.

Have a Hoot

Owl ornaments are very popular right now. You can use these to help decorate for your woodland baby shower. Hang them from the mantel or give them to guests as party favors along with a note that the party was a hoot. There’s no chance they’ll forget such a creative baby shower.

Photo courtesy of Alison Storm

Nov 262010
 

Make Your Gifts Memorable (Photo Courtesy of craftapalooza)

You spend lots of time picking out the perfect present. You toil over whether to buy the crimson shirt or the maroon one. You stress about the decision of whether your grandma would like gloves or mittens better. But often when it comes to wrapping those lovely presents we just shove them in an old gift bag or pull out last year’s wrapping paper and hope there’s enough left on the roll to make it around the box. This year, resolve to put a little more thought into what’s on the outside. Here are some tips for adding flare to your holiday packages.

Stick with a Color Theme

Rather than adding a hodgepodge of wrapped gifts under the tree, pick a color scheme. It doesn’t have to be the traditional red and green, either. By sticking with your color theme you’ll create a cohesive look with your gifts and make more of a style statement.

Always Include Ribbon

A Christmas package without ribbon just seems incomplete. Stock up at your local craft store. Buy ribbons that work well together and on their own. Try stacking a thicker ribbon under something thin and sparkly. And don’t be afraid to recycle the ribbon once you’re done with it.

Head to the Office Supply Store

Gift tags are like earrings for a package. Don’t overlook this important accessory. You can even get creative with them. Simply head to an office supply store and purchase some jewelry tags. Embellish them with stamps, glitter, or even by stitching on some ribbon. Get as creative as possible.

Use “Green” Tissue

Instead of buying tissue paper, try something more creative, cheaper and more green. Put old, discarded wrapping paper through the paper shredder. You’ll end up with a colorful and earth-friendly alternative to tissue paper.

Put a Gift on the Gift

Use your ribbon to tie a small gift onto your package. Include a Christmas ornament, small picture frame or even a gift card holder onto the top of the box. By making the outside so appealing, you’ll build even more excitement for what’s on the inside.

Nov 252010
 

Planning to host a holiday feast this Thanksgiving? Not only are you opening your home to loved ones for one of the biggest meals of the year, but you want them to feel welcome. One way to do that is by offering your guests a favor that will serve as a piece of memorabilia for Thanksgiving 2010. Here are some ideas for finding favors for your Thanksgiving guests.
iconTurkey Lollipop

Handmade chocolates are always a nice gift– even when you’re feeling stuffed. Give your guests a chocolate lollipop in the shape of a turkey from RottiePrincess.com. It comes decorated with M&Ms.

Fall Leaf Cookie Cutter

Your guests will “fall” in love with these leaf-shaped cookie cutters from FavorAffair.com. Guests will be able to roll out memories of your fabulous meal when they pull out this cookie cutter at home. These run $1.70 each.

Fingerstache Tattoos

Want to bring some light-hearted fun to the dining table? Give guests the Fingerstache Tattoos from Patinastores.com. You’ll snag some great photos and make some unforgettable memories at the same time.

SnackTAXI

Send guests home with a turkey sandwich or a leftover treat stored away in the super cute SnackTAXI. The Silverware print is perfect for your food-themed gift. Not only will it help guests remember this special day but it will save thousands of plastic baggies from ending up in the landfill.

Party Games for Adults

Give each guest their own copy of the Party Games for Adults book from SpoonSisters.com. Inside you’ll find icebreakers and party games that will help you burn calories and share some laughs at your Thanksgiving feast.

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