Of Course We’re Going to Decorate!

Every other year we go to Connecticut to spend Christmas at my sister’s house.  I’ve lived in Florida for twenty-five years and before I got married I’d only spent one Christmas in Florida – and that was when I was so desperately sick I didn’t get out of bed for a week, and was out of work for three.  It’s  just not Christmas unless it’s cold, and snow is preferred.

Even though I’d go away for Christmas this  Jewish girl still wanted a tree.  I really prefer live trees, but they were not very practical since I would not be there to water it.  So years ago I bought a small, 4 foot artificial tree for those Christmases I’d be away.  Now that I’m married and only get to go North for Christmases on alternate years the faux tree comes in handy.

Husband, of course, thinks it’s ridiculous that I want to decorate for the holidays at all on those years we head north.  Sill man.  I don’t go all out, but a few favorite decorations go up, and yes, Virginia, there will be a tree.

Husband is a bit of a Scrooge.  He’ll be somewhat less so when we have a home where he doesn’t have to use a ladder to go into the attic to get the decorations down.

Well, I can hope.

Deal of the Day December 17, 2008

There are over 200 merchants signed up for “Free Shipping Day.” Free shipping day is a day when participating merchants  offer free shipping to their customers and guarantee delivery by Christmas Eve. You can find the whole list of participating merchants here. I hope the merchants put out some good deals to maximize the savings!
Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Deal of the Day December 16, 2008

Despite the bad press that certain gift cards have gotten this holiday season, it’s a great time to pick up dining gift cards because many restaurants are giving you a little something extra to say thanks. Check out the holiday gift card promotions with the national eatery chains below.

Applebee’s: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card free

California Pizza Kitchen: Buy a $100 gift card, get a $20 CPK Rewards Card free

Denny’s: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card free

IHOP: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 off $5 coupon free

Max & Erma’s: Buy a $50 gift card, get a $10 gift card free

Outback Steakhouse: Buy a $100 gift card, get a $20 bonus card free

Papa John’s: Buy a $25 gift card, get a free medium pizza

Red Robin: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 gift card free

Steak ‘n Shake: Buy a $20 gift card, get a $5 off $5 coupon free (Thanks, Cincinnati Cents!)

Texas Roadhouse: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 off $5 coupon free

T.G.I. Friday’s: Buy a $25 gift card, get a $5 Bonus Bites gift card free

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Holy Moly

This brought tears to my eyes.  I hope it does the same for you…

Deal of the Day December 7, 2008

Buy a dozen donuts at Krispy Kreme by December 25 and get 12 free holiday gift tags.

Certainly free gift tags are nice on their own, but there’s a free donut coupon on the back of each gift tag. Nice! The free donut coupons are valid the entire month of January.

And don’t even THINK about not using those gift tags and keeping those free donut coupons for yourself!

Hee hee.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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Holiday Tipping? Not So Much

I read an article today that provided guidelines as to what we should tip people who provide services to us throughout the year.  It told whom to tip and how much, whether to give a tip or a gift, and as usual when I read these articles I was surprised at who tips whom and how much they recommend you give.

Perhaps this is a more regional thing, but I just don’t do much of this.  True, I don’t have pool maintenance people, a personal trainer or a dog walker – I do these things myself.  Still, if I did I would figure that I pay these people for their services, so unless they go above and beyond the call of duty I don’t see any real reason to tip them.

Of the twenty-two service providers mentioned in the article, I only receive services from four: mail carrier, newspaper carrier, hair stylist and teacher(s).

My mail makes more than Husband, so I don’t think he (she?) will be getting a tip.   I have a newspaper carrier, but only have it delivered on the weekends so no way am I going to follow the article’s advice and give the tip of a full subscription period, especially when he/she has an uncanny ability to toss the paper right next to the sprinkler.

Isn’t that telling.  I don’t even know if my carriers are male or female.  It was different years ago, when the mail carrier was a neighbor and the newspaper carrier was my friend’s little brother.  In those days we seemed to have closer relationships with our service people, so tips and gifts felt more like giving and less like obligations.  It just shouldn’t feel that way…

My hairdresser has been doing my hair for 22 years, and even once set me up on a blind date with his brother.  If I wind up getting a service from him around the holidays I’ll probably bring a bottle of wine, but I consider the fact that I still tip him even though he now owns his own salon generosity enough.  Come to think of it, my new hair color had to be applied twice and is AWFUL, so perhaps this year he should be giving ME a gift.

Who else will be getting a gift or tip from me this year?  Well, Son’s teachers will be getting tote bags that hold photos, and I’ve filled the slots with shots I took at the Halloween party.  Inside will be a thank you note from me along with some cookies or other baked goods.

I’ll also give a some baked goods or a small, special gift to the teller at the bank who is always so cheerful and helpful, the girl at Costco who always chats with me and the Office Manager at Son’s doctor’s office who always, always goes above and  beyond.

I’m not going to feel obligated to give a gift to someone just because “that’s what’s done”.  Perhaps if I lived in a New York highrise I’d pay the price for not tipping my super or doorman (remember Ross getting shunned by his neighbors on Friends?), but I never expected a gift from any of my clients for doing my job.  Those that did give me a gift felt that I’d gone above and beyond my job duties in my dealings with them, and that’s because I did.

If people go above and beyond for me I shall give them a gift from the heart.  Not because some nebulous “they” say I should.

How to Not End the Year Fatter than You Are Now

Did you know that the average American consumes 4500 calories on Thanksgiving Day? And if you’re like me you gave two different Thanksgiving dinners to attend.  That reminds me – put Pepto-Bismol on the shopping list!

For many of us, the six weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day become one long excuse to eat and drink to our heart’s content  I’ve taken that to the Nth degree and have been on the 12 month plan.  Not my  best idea.  Time to make some changes.

Holiday parties and gatherings with family and friends can take a toll on our willpower and our waistlines which is why millions of us pledge to go on a diet come January 1st. Here are some tips to make the holidays less weighty, and perhaps start the new year with a few less pounds to lose.

  1. Exercise. Not only is exercise a great way to burn off a lot of those extra calories you’ll be consuming, but it’s also a great stress reliever. Have a houseload of guests? Too many obligations and not enough time to get it all done? Take a break and take a walk, each and every day.
  2. Eat before you go out. Lots of us think that by not eating before we go out, we’re saving calories that we can use up while we’re out. Makes sense but often, we eat more than we normally would because we’re starving. Have a healthy meal, or even an apple and a glass of water before you go out and you’ll likely eat less later.
  3. Adapt old traditions. Make the traditions you’ve always enjoyed healthier.  Here’s an idea: use those cookie cutters to make fun holiday shapes out of cheese instead of cookie dough.
  4. Start new traditions. How about a healthy recipe exchange amongst your friends and family?  Everyone can bring their favorite healthy dish and written copies of the recipe to taste and share.
  5. Listen to you. If you feel stressed out and want to leave a party or get away from your family and friends for a bit, do it. Don’t force yourself to be uncomfortable, neither you nor any-one around you will have any fun.
  6. Remember what’s important. We all wish we were thinner and that our houses were cleaner, but that’s not why we get together with family and friends and it shouldn’t diminish our enjoyment of these social events. If you’re going out, don’t obsess over how you look; no one else will notice that you’re less than perfect. If you’re having people over, don’t frantically clean if you don’t have the time (except the toilet – that must be done, especially of you have a four-year-old with less-than-perfect aim). The point is to spend time with the people you care about, celebrate life and have fun.

Adapted from an article in Husband’s company newsletter.   Some are theirs as I found them, some of theirs I changed, and  some are all mine.  Please don’t sue me.

I got over 5 pounds of Omaha Steak burgers for $1.98!

There are lots of wonderful blogs out there that tell you how tto get free stuff from CVS and Walgreens, and how to find freebies. Most of them involve clipping coupons, which I am still not consistent about.

These bloggers will list items and tell you what date the coupon appeared in the newspaper, and tell you how to use Extra Care Bucksand special rewards to get items for free or almost free. I admire them, I just don’t want to work that hard.

Yesterday I ran across a deal that wasn’t too complicated, and way too good to pass up. I went to a Geico website and signed up for a $25 gift certificate to Omaha Steaks. Then I went to Omaha steaks and got 5.5 lbs of their hamburgers for $1.98, including shipping. Not $1.98 per pound, $1.98 total.

You don’t have to do what they recommend – you can use the gift certificate for anything on their site. Their food quality is terrific, and they often do great package deals. We got one for Christmas last year, and the year before that we sent one to Husband’s Dad.

You want to do this? I don’t blame you. Read Catherine’s post and she’ll tell you how.

Shut UP, Kaybee Toys

Taken by Meg, a Comsumerist reader.

Taken by Meg, a Comsumerist reader.

Halloween.  Christmas.

Two separate holidays.

No Christmas hats on pumpkins.  And before you go there, no witches lighting Menorahs.  K?

Get it?

Good.

Deal of the Day September 10, 2008

Did you know that Hickory Farms is open all year – not just at Christmastime?

Well, apparently they are. And to help you remember.

Send a Hickory Farms gift pack for birthdays, anniversaries, as a than you, or just because while saving 20% on an entire purchase. Use coupon code ONLINE20 when checking out. Famous for their beef sticks and cheese, you can also find terrific gift sets that include fruit, desserts and nuts. Coupon expires 09/30/2008.

Check back tomorrow for another great deal!

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