Sunday, November 25, 2012

Holiday Gifts That Won't Break the Bank

The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone, especially those people who have an endless list of gifts to buy. Instead of stressing, use your head and think of something creative for the recipient instead of just getting them a gift card or some random gift that they will never use.

1. Art Prints- Find out about their favorite artist and find a copy of the artists' work online. I have a copy of Matisse's "The Goldfish" on my wall that I purchased in college and I love it. Paintings/photography are a great way to start conversations and are very budget-friendly.

2. Candy- By candy I do not mean go to Target and buy a few bags of Swedish Fish and Gummi Bears. Head to a candy/sweets shop and have them make this a memorable gift for you. They will have decorative containers, bags, and ribbons that look like much more effort was put into the gift. Buy a nice little basket or container of some sort to put the candy in and make it look festive.

3. Picture Frame- Head out to TJMaxx or Home Goods and get a collage frame. Make this frame unique, don't just leave it to be black or brown. Buy some paint or scrapbooking supplies and make it special. I am sure that there are thousands of ideas for this type of project on Tumblr and Pinterest.

4. Antiques- Head out to an antique store and find something that pertains to the gift recipient. It doesn't have to be something crazy expensive but it does need to be something that only you will give them this holiday season. Finding something for your sports lover or poster collector will make them feel great and won't be out of your budget.

5. Games- I can thank my boyfriend's family for re-introducing me to board games during their holiday parties. In today's modern age it is important to get away from our phones, TVs, and computers and just have fun. There are plenty of board games that aren't just for kids. They will make you laugh and make memories.

My favorites: Scattergories, Pictionary, Apples to Apples, and Catch Phrase.

What are your ideas for budget-friendly holiday gifts?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Support Your Local Small Businesses

It is "Small Business Saturday" here in the United States. For those of you who are unaware of the term, Small Business Saturday was a recent addition to Black Friday weekend in the hopes of helping smaller businesses "get out of the red".

If anyone has suffered during our recession it is the owners of small businesses. Many boutiques, specialty stores, cafes, and restaurants have closed up shop leaving many buildings empty in towns and cities where these businesses once gave character to the streets.

Take a walk to your local shopping district today or get on Google and find out where small businesses are located in your area. Think about buying a cup of coffee at a local cafe or hit up a local boutique for a great sale item. You don't have to spend a fortune.The owners will appreciate your business because those little sales add up over time and guarantee their longevity.

My personal favorite small businesses are vintage/antique stores. These stores contain curated collections of fabulous items that you cannot find anywhere else but are too often affected by our economic struggles.

Tip for today:

  • If you are an American Express cardholder they are offering $25 in statement credit for a purchase of $25 or more on Small Business Saturday. A true incentive to shop! 
My favorite local small businesses in the Philadelphia area:

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Sometimes Trends Come Back...

One of the hottest fall trends is leather. Whether you can afford a $700 pair of leather pants or a $50 faux leather dress from Topshop, leather is a trend that you can and should try this fall. One of my favorite leather (actually, pleather in Carrie's case) looks is from Sex and the City. 

Pairing a one strap pleather dress with a large flower brooch and gold metallic boots was a daring look then and it is a daring look now. If you want to try something glamorous and sexy for the holidays try this modern update of the look above.

Leather shorts have become a staple in my wardrobe and can be worn wear round. Pair the shorts with tights and add some metallic thigh high boots to keep things glam. On top try a men's style tuxedo jacket with leather trim to complement your shorts. A bejeweled floral pin will keep with the original look but add a modern twist.

Would you try this look?

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Flash Sales for the Holidays

November is here and some people have begun their holiday shopping.

I take that back... A LOT of people have begun their holiday shopping.

One of my top priorities is providing my readers with budget-friendly shopping ideas, whether it be for you or a gift for someone else. That being said, I would like to introduce you to the flash sale. What is a flash sale exactly? Well, the name is very suitable to describe what happens during one of these sales. Merchandise is purchased... in a flash. Companies give goods to sites like Hautelook or Fab.com (my two favorites) at a discounted rate in the hopes of cleaning out their warehouses while still making some sort of profit.

What does this mean for you? It means that you and your wallet will be very happy this holiday season.

All you have to do is simply sign up and shop away. At one point in time some sites were very VIP, but as popularity of these sales has grown accessibility to them has become incredibly easy. With most, an email and password is all you need.

Like me, you probably hate getting spammed with emails about sales but with a flash sites you need these messages. They keep you updated with what is going to be sold and at what time. Time is the most important factor here people. I have seen products sell out in minutes. I am currently waiting for sales to start on Hautelook at 11:00 a.m. and I guarantee you that I am not the only one.

Some advice for using flash sale sites:

  • Read their emails so that you can decide what you really want to focus on without loosing time.
  • Use their holiday gift guides to your advantage. Most sites will break down their merchandise by recipient such as dads, dogs, etc. 
  • Read the fine print! A lot the merchandise sold on flash sales is all sales final. 
  • Make a list of holiday gifts you need and focus on those, this is not a time to be selfish. 
  • Some sites have "cart time limits" meaning after a certain amount of time in your cart the item will go back into the site for someone else to purchase. 
  • On the other end, if an item is in someone's cart "on hold", keep checking back to see if their time has expired. 
  • Pay attention to the time zones listed for the sales. Some are in Pacific time.
My favorite flash sale sites:
On these sites you can save up to 70-80% off the retail price. 

Flash sales might not be the right kind of shopping experience for you but there is no doubt that you will find great deals on some pretty awesome merchandise. 

Happy shopping!