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TB Articles: Early Christmas Gifts August 26, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Blog Giveaways, Christmas, life, thoughts.
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3 comments

In about 4 months, Christmas will be upon us. We think about getting our shopping done early, but end up waiting until the last minute. It’s pretty normal and there are ways to get it done super early without worrying whether you’ll get exactly what you want.

In fact, there is a way to get your Christmas presents early without having to spend ANY money. Impossible, you say? Nonsense! Thanks to sweepstakes and blog giveaways, you are able to at least cross one or two gifts off of your list. Online-Sweepstakes.com is a sweepstakes community where new giveaways and sweeps (sweepstakes) are posted daily. If you enter a few every day, your son will eventually get that new guitar for Christmas without you having to spend the money to buy it! Pretty neat, huh?

QVC is offering “Christmas When You Want It”, which is one of the coolest things they’ve ever come up with. Essentially what it is, you can look at the products that are part of the offer. If you have no place to store it until Christmas, you can reserve it to be delivered on November 2nd or now. If you opt for the November delivery, you don’t pay anything until it is shipped. For more information, check out their website.

It is NEVER too soon to purchase (or in some cases, win) those Christmas presents. Procrastination is a big problem when it comes to early Christmas shopping. Now you don’t have to with giveaways and “Christmas When You Want It”!

CIJ: Pet Gift Ideas July 20, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Animals, Beds, Cat Furniture, cats, Christmas, Christmas in July, dogs, family, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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2 comments

christmas-kitten-cat-756396Don’t forget our furry friends this Christmas! Our 3 cats and 1 dog are as much as a part of this family than anyone else and we have always given them some sort of gift (unwrapped, of course) so that they don’t feel left out at Christmas.

There are TONS of gifts that you can give your doggy or your kitty at Christmas! What my family always does, even if they receive something else, is get our fur babies treats. Since the Holidays are filled with sweets and pets can’t usually have them, we give them treats so that they don’t beg for that piece of chocolate. There are numerous treats out there pretty much everywhere so pick up a bag/can of your pet’s favorite treats for Christmas!

Toys are another great way to celebrate the Holidays with Fido or Fluffly. Smokie and Patches (Smokie is my cat and Patches is my Mom’s) enjoy catnip-filled mice and string while Princess (Manders’ kitty) enjoys the feather and fluffy toys. Zeus will play with practically anything but really loves to play tug-of-war. So depending on your pet’s favorite game(s), giet them a toy they will enjoy!

Even though Fido loves to sleep on your bed or Fluffy wants to sleep on your favorite couch, get them the gift that keeps on giving! Instead of losing your couch or bed to your pet, give them their own! At PetCo, they have all shapes and sizes to choose from. They even have dog couches and cat cradles for your loved one to sleep in on those extra cold nights. Fido will feel happy that he has his own bed that no one else can sleep on and Fluffy will be glad that she has her own quiet place!

If you have a friend that has pets and you want to give them something, give them the gift of a gift card. If something happens and they need to run to PetsMart or PetCo, they won’t have to worry if they have enough money to get what they need. Maybe they’re thinking of getting a pet and giving them the giftcard will make them feel more confident in their choice, since it won’t be for just a dog or for just a cat.

Every year at Christmas at Wal-Mart, they sell animal Christmas stockings that are filled with toys and treats. So take the guesswork out of wondering what your pet will enjoy and get them a Christmas stocking. They will be so excited, they’ll play with more than one of the toys included! I know we have given our pets a Christmas stocking for years and every year, they play with it like it will be their last! Sometimes they even play with it months after. I know Fido and Fluffy will enjoy it!

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CIJ: Stocking Stuffers July 16, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Beauty, Candles, candy, chocolate, Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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I love Stocking Stuffers. To me, they are always useful in one way or another. Even if it’s for entertainment, I consder it well worth the heavy stocking.

In fact, one thing I love to receive in my stocking in candy. Every Christmas, Mom puts chocolate  in our stocking, which makes a great breakfast. If someone is allergic to chocolate in your family or (yikes!) doesn’t like chocolate, put in some of their favorite candies in their stocking and a few in the others so that they don’t feel left out because they can’t have/don’t want chocolate.

Books and CDs are another wonderful stocking stuffer. As a bookworm and music lover, any books by my favorite author or CD by my favorite band are always welcome. Books are a great stocking stuffer for children who are learning to read, and music is a great item for those who have a deep love for music. Either way, books and CDs should always be on a stocking stuffer list.

Hair accessories and beauty products will always be a wonderful Christmas gift, whether it’s under the tree or in a stocking. Women already know what it feels like to receive those items at Christmas, because we are always looking for ways to make our hair look better or our skin. Some women might be offended if given beauty products they don’t use or hair accessories that they don’t enjoy, but a lot of women accept them with open arms. I personally love hair accessories, but not so much beauty products. So ask them if they enjoy beauty products or hair accessories before taking that plunge- you don’t want to upset a woman on Christmas!

Believe it or not, a TickleMe Plant is probably one of the COOLEST gifts ANYONE could receive! If you don’t know what a TickleMe Plant is, it is a plant that closes its fronds when you touch it. I  am not lying! Go to TicklMe Plant.com, look for the I Love My TickleMe Plant video and watch it. I love the TickleMe Plant and have always wanted on! At the website, you can actually get party favors so you can get one for each kid or even get a few for your friend’s kids! Pretty cool, huh?

Of course, we can’t forget the scratch-off lottery tickets and gift cards. I know I am hard to shop for, so I wouldn’t be surprised if I got a gift card every Christmas. And with the lottery tickets, it just makes it that much more fun scratching the stuff off and realizing you’ve won $10- on Christmas morning! True, you’ll have to wait until Dec. 26th or later that evening to cash it in, but hey, that’s $10 you didn’t have before!

Candles and Incense are another great stocking stuffer. No, this isn’t a way of telling your friend her house stinks. It is the gift of light and smell, even for those who have no sense of smell (Anosmia). Most candles these days are beautiful to look at and incense just brings a calming  sensation over the person(s) within 5 feet of the scent. There are TONS of places to buy candles and incense, especially on the web.

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CIJ: Creating a Christmas Wishlist July 12, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Friends, holidays, life, shopping.
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Santa and His Wish List

It happens every year, even before it can become summer- everyone starts coming up with a Christmas wishlist. That new phone comes out and everyone wants it. That new video game system comes out and everyone wants one. That new DVD comes out and they want to be surprised with it at Christmas. Well, help your friends and family take out the guesswork of figuring out what you would like for Christmas!

At Amazon, you can create your own wishlist with whatever you find you want on Amazon and even send it to all your friends and family. Nothing is limited to your wishlist. And you can even put how many you want of a certain item, how many you’ve received of that item, and that priority of it. So let’s say you put a Kurt Adler Irish Large Nutcracker (that’s in my wishlist). They go for about $30 and you want 2 for whatever reason. Under Desired, you put a 2. If you’ve received 1 a few weeks after, put a 1 under Received. You have a choice of Highest, High, Medium, Low, and Lowest for Priority so choose wisely!

If the item you want isn’t at Amazon, but another website or store, go to Christmas Wishlist and register. This is quite simple because all you have to do is add a short description, a longer one (if you choose), the optional URL and the “Rank by Importance”. Like the Amazon Wishlist, you can e-mail to all your family and friends. You can also invite others to join you in the search for that perfect gift.

Wal-Mart and Target both have Wishlists, though I haven’t used them. Hot Topic and other stores also have a wishlist, but Hot Topic changes their inventory on their website so often that what you want could possibly be sold out by tomorrow. If you are interested in see if Macy’s has a wishlist, Google “Macy’s Wishlist”.

Wishlisttr is another great place to hold your Christmas wishlist, as well as a Birthday wishlist or even your anniversary wishlist. You can give it any title you want. It’s pretty simple. All you have to do name your wish, give the link URL, and a short description of what exactly it is you want, though the description is optional. Dream of This Wishlists will seem a little more complicated at first but they give you so many choices, especially Item Category and Price so you can tell your family and friends exactly how much it costs so there aren’t any surprises. You can move and item from list to list, you can send it to everyone, and they even have a page for Gift Ideas. Though it is based in the UK and they offer Pounds for a price, it looks like a good place to put a wishlist of any kind.

But I still prefer the Amazon Wishlist.

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CIJ: Shopping Memory July 9, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, family, holidays, life, shopping, thoughts.
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I love Christmas shopping. Just the idea that I am buying for someone else and they have no idea just makes me want to shop even more! But a while back, I had developed the habit of not getting my Christmas shopping done early enough to beat the people who shop a week before Christmas Eve. I am one of those persons that shop a week before Christmas Eve. What is funny is that I can get done with birthday shopping for Manders relatively early. In fact, I already have her gift! I already know what I’m getting her for Christmas so it would seem plausible to go ahead and get it, right?

Wrong. If I get it now, I would be so tempted to give it to her and I’d rather see her surprise on Christmas morning!

But let’s go back a couple of years. Oh, I’d say about 4. Manders and Mom might remember this.It was about a week before Christmas. I was working at a church daycare and I had just finished picking up my check. I went to the bank to cash it. As soon as I had come out of the bank, a brilliant idea caught me- Christmas shopping! So I called Manders and Mom to tell them my brilliant idea. I knew of only one place I could get everything- Wal-Mart! Now I realize that was a stupid idea on my part but I hadn’t taken into consideration how extremely busy it would be. I was just excited to be shopping on my own.

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So I drive around the Wal-Mart parking lot. I should have realized that it would have been impossible to find a close parking spot at Wal-Mart one week before Christmas. But I didn’t realize  I would have to walk half a mile just to get into the store. Now that was a different story. It was EXTREMELY busy and you always had the chance of bumping into someone with your basket. To make matters worse, my family back then was the hardest people to shop for. They aren’t particular in what they get so I ended up getting Manders a Family Guy DVD (because she loved Family Guy) and I got Dad an electric razor. I didn’t get Mom anything because I didn’t see anything she’d like!

So later that night, Manders and I went to ROSS where we found this floating candle stand that was so beautiful. That was also the night I found my first nutcracker that would, hopefully, someday become a menagerie of nutcrackers.

I hate shopping so close to Christmas.

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CIJ: Christmas Decor July 7, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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Another thing I love about Christmas is the decorating. I love decorating for Christmas because it just puts me in the Christmas mood. While I’m not one of these that leave Christmas decorations up all year long, I do enjoy the look of Christmas decor at Christmastime because I think it’s absolutely beautiful.

Aside from the normal Wal-Mart or Lowes for Christmas decorations, there is always the internet! Believe it or not, a lot of Christmas places are popping up, selling nothing but Christmas decorations! One of my favorite places to visit is Bronners, which is an actual store in Michigan. They have everything from trees to light displays to thousands of whimsical tree ornaments. They also have a few seasonal items including Halloween and Graduation gifts. You can request a catalog but I do warn you: you’re better off shopping online instead of their catalog because their catalog is mostly filled with ornaments.

A great place for Christmas decor HAS to be the Maine (pun not intended) store, 365 Days of Christmas. You have the choice of shopping by type (Disney, Bears, Angels, etc.) or shopping by category. They have TONS of decor to choose from. The Penguins~Penguins even have their own category! One thing they do not offer, which is sad for a collector like me, are nutcrackers. Bronners has a slew of nutcrackers to choose from. But Christmas 365 has TONS of other items.

AAAAArdQe9wAAAAAAJRPFgIf you are looking for pretty much anything for a good price, Christmasplace.com is the place to go. They have novelty items like the Texas Gnome Cheerleader, which only sells for about $15. Like the 2 previous places mentioned, this is also a real store that you can visit in Tennessee. They are also the only place that offers a reward program for every $250 you spend. Trust me, it would be super easy to do that! For more information on the Rewards Program, visit here.

Of course, we can’t forget about Amazon. They offer pretty much anything and everything you’d ever want for Christmas decorations and competitve prices. They also offeer items from Bronner’s so it’s easier to choose an item from Bronner’s.

So if you’re ever in the mood to do some early Christmas decor shopping, keep these places in mind because it’ll save you a lot of time!

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CIJ: Etsy Christmas Crafts July 5, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Crafts, etsy, shopping.
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I don’t know about you but I love homemade items, especially homemade Christmas items. It just screams Americana and Christmas at the same time. I also love Etsy and as I was getting ready for Christmas in July, I decided to search on Etsy to see what kind of Christmas items the sellers currently had just for kicks. I guess we’re not the only ones who shop for Christmas items in July. They currently have several items for sale that are Holiday-oriented.

They have drawn prints and cards for sale that are exquisite. I did not know that you could make something like this on PhotoShop.

I didn’t know that you could make something like that on PhotoShop. That’s extremely talented. This particular piece goes for $22, which isn’t bad for the amount of work the artist did.

You can also find wreaths, stockings, and wall vinyl stickers for your home. They also have candles in Christmas scents like Apple Cinnamon or Candy Cane. There aren’t a lot of Christmas items out there at the moment because it is July but as it gets nearer to Fall, everyone will start making Christmas items for the “Day After Thanksgiving”.

Want an elf as an ornament?

*ALL PICTURE LINKED TO ETSY SHOPS.

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CIJ: Gift Ideas for Kids/Teens July 4, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in children, Christmas, Christmas in July, family, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, Movies, music, shopping, Toys.
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Even with children, they seem to be the easiest to shop for. They can be picky, but they also enjoy unwrapping gifts and squealing with delight as they realized that they got something off their Christmas list (even if it isn’t the exact Barbie doll they wanted). I have realized through tons of TV watching and Christmas shopping, Moms and Dads are going towards educational and personalized gifts to give their children. At Happy Kids Personalized, there are a lot of items to choose from, including personalized music CDs, children’s books, and even personalized T-Shirts. With Hannah Montana and Jonas Brother items on the rise, there should be no surprise that their products will end up on Christmas lists all around the world.

While action figures and dolls are envitable as they are synonmous with Christmas gifts, give them the gift of creativity with arts and crafts. At Michael’s and Hobby Lobby, you can usually find craft kits that includes painting, art sand, and even mosiacs. Letting them use their creative noodle not only keeps them occupied, they’ll use that same creativity and imagination later in life. Trust me- I was big on crafts when I was younger.

I know it’s wishful thinking, but I was hoping vintage toys would make a comeback. I remember getting a Furby for Christmas and a LiteBrite one year. While they aren’t what they used to be, they still sell the Mousetrap game and Simon games at Toys R Us.

But if you’re having problems figuring out what to get your teenager, DVDs of their favorite TV shows/artists and electronics are the way to go. As I went into my teens years, it got harder for Mom to shop for Manders and I because we weren’t particular in what we wanted. We were going through that stage so we had made it difficult. iPods, iPod decks, and even Guitar Hero video games seem to be what is currently popular with this age. If you do decide to get them Guitar Hero or Rock Band, I can say that it will pay for itself. As your teen continues playing, they will continue to keep getting better at it and there are other versions of them to buy so they they never have to play the same song month after month after month. If they’re friends receive a Guitar Hero guitar in the same platform, they can play against each other to see who has the highest score! You can also get the a gift card to iTunes so they can download their favorite music to place on an iPod they already have.

I may not have children but I sure do speak from experience!

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CIJ: Gifts for One Who Has Everything July 3, 2009

Posted by texasheartland in Christmas, Christmas in July, Gift Ideas, gifts, holidays, shopping.
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2 comments

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If you’re anything like me, you have a few family members or friends that have pretty much everything so that when it comes time to shop for them, it can be rather difficult. You could give them gift cards to Wal-Mart or even Sears but that’s not so personable.

If you have a picture of you and your family that you want to give as a gift to your Mom but not sure how do that, go to Photofiddle.com and turn your snapshot into a work of art. You have over 12 designs to choosen from and over 15 categories to choose from. You can take that picture of your daughter with spaghetti all over her head and turn it into a Oil Panting. Prices range from $15 to over $2800 for a 280″ x 70″, depending on the type of product you get.

If they have many things around their home that is personalized, why not add it? Head over to PersonalCreations.com for the foie gras of personalized items. They have EVERYTHING from gifts for babies to even pet ornaments. Manders have used them before and she actually bought me a personalized sister mug and it was of great quality. They have a plethora of items to choose from and if you can’t find that personalized item that they’ll enjoy, you might be choosing the wrong gift because they have practically everything!

If that doesn’t help, try a magazine subscription to their favorite magazine. But only get it for one year. My aunt got me a magazine subscription to a magazine I wouldn’t even consider reading one year. I was thankful because I guess she didn’t know what I liked but she did it again last year, and every since then, the magazines have ended up in the trash or they were given to someone else. Be VERY careful on which magazine you sign them up for otherwise they won’t get read.

Don’t forget that hobbies go unnoticed at Christmas because everyone wants that hot new gadget instead of something they can actually use like a new snowboard or garden tool. It really depends on what their hobby is and how often they do activities related to it. Do some research to find out the best place to get the gift for their hobby.

Even though it isn’t a material gift, give them the gift of a Star! At the International Star Registry, you can actually name a star in their honor! When you name the star, your recipient receives a Star Naming Kit.

All kits include:

* A beautiful 16″ X 12″ full color parchment certificate personalized with the star name, date and coordinates.
* A Personalized 16″ X 12″ sky chart containing the star name, star date, the constellation and the location circled in red where the star is in the sky.
* A booklet on astronomy written by a professional astronomer with additional sky charts.
* A letter of congratulations/memorial for the recipient.

There is even Star Groups for couples, siblings, parents & kids who want their own 2 stars in space. Sounds pretty cool, huh?

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