Best Shopping Season

afterxmas saleThis is my favorite time of the year for Christmas shopping.  I know, I know, Christmas was a few days ago, but hear me out.  This is the time of year where things are so deeply discounted that you can stock up for all of your 2018 birthdays, celebrations and yes Christmas.  Most of your stores are trying to get rid of not only their Christmas inventory but their winter inventory as well.  So why not stock up now and save money on your 2018 Christmas budget.

Stores like Bath and Body Works and the Body Shop are my favorites.  The Body Shop has a seasonal scent, cranberry that is only available during this time of the year and I stock up on this scent EVERY year.  Last year I purchased several gift sets valued at $45 for $5.  They made great gifts this year.  Also at Bath and Body the holiday scented lotions are normally marked down to less than $5 so why not stock up.  Lotions last a long time and you don’t have to worry about them getting watered down or not lasting through the year.

Also stores like Walgreens and Walmart have gift sets that are drastically reduced during this time of year.  I remember hosting an event during this time of year and being able to provide all of the participants with great gifts because of the reduced rates during this time of year.  This is a great opportunity to purchase gifts for everyone on your list.  This is also a great time to shop if you have birthdays coming early in the year, buy a great gift without breaking the bank.  I know personally my dad’s birthday is in January and I can normally find great valet sets or cologne sets for a fraction of what they normally cost.

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This is also the best time of year to stock up on hats, scarves and gloves.  Most stores have these so deeply discounted that I purchase gloves in all colors and I purchase additional sets to give to local shelters or to people in need.  For those with kids, especially kids who always lose gloves, this is the perfect time to prepare for the rest of winter as well as next winter.  You can always find great sales on these items and if you live in a cold weather area like I do, hats, scarves and gloves are a necessity.

Additionally, this time of year is great for holiday decorations.  I love to switch up the color scheme on my trees each year (even though it has been awhile since I actually put up a tree).  This is the time where stores like Michael’s and Hobby Lobby discount their ornaments and other décor sometimes as much as 90%.  I have found some amazing deals on ornaments, tree skirts, baskets, wrapping paper and gift boxes.

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Another tip.  Valentines Day is around the corner.  If you make gift bags for schools or friends or send care packages, holiday candy is holiday candy.  You can always use the chocolates and other items that go on sale right after Christmas for your Valentines day goody bags.  And since red is a popular color for both Christmas and Valentines Day you are in a position to win either way.  The key is to think outside of the box and to find items that are holiday neutral.

After my after holiday shopping is complete, I simply store all of the items in a box or tote and everything is on hand once the holiday season returns.  It is really that simple.  Shop with the people that you gift in mind and you can sit back and relax next December because your holiday shopping is complete.  The only things you may have to buy is for kids because of new toys and changing sizes.

Holidays are a great time to give and show those you care that you are thinking about them.  The truth of the matter is far too often people find themselves stressed after Christmas because those Christmas bills begin to roll in.  Why not save yourself some frustration and some money by preparing (yes a year in advance)  and get use the money you save to donate to a great cause or add to your savings or vacation fund.

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I hope these tips helped you as much as they have helped me over the years.  I used to drive myself crazy attempting to shop for everyone and often ended up spending money I didn’t have.  Once I broke the habit of trying to please everyone and focused on how to get more for my money without going broke, I learned that it was quite easy to give great gives and not go broke attempting to do so.

Be Blessed!  Be Fabulous!

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Sullivans Fall Tasting

One week ago, I found myself at a wonderful lunch with great company and amazing food.  Organized by Beth Engelman of @momonashoe, Sullivan’s Steakhouse in Naperville had a fall tasting and I was happy to be on the guest list for this awesome preview of the delicious food that will be offered on their menu.  Thanks to Beth and Sullivan’s general manager Randy Deguzman for and afternoon of great food, great drinks and great company.

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We were welcomed by Sullivan’s Knockout Martini’s.  What girl wouldn’t want a martini for lunch?  I love martini’s and any opportunity to try a new one is never passed up.  This citrusy and light martin would definitely be on the menu for me when I return to Sullivan’s. Even though it was lunch time this day, it was Happy Hour somewhere right?

We then learned from the chef how they create their famous Sweet Potato Casserole.  This is a seasonal dish that is often ordered by customers who take the dish home as an addition to their holiday meals.  While the recipe was not as complex as you may think, because it surely tasted like it was a complicated dish to create, I will allow you to visit them and experience for yourself what the chef served up straight from the oven.

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However before we had the opportunity to feast on the Sweet Potato Casserole we were treated to another seasonal drink.  The Apple Bourbon mule, Sullivan’s take on the traditional Moscow Mule. What is lunch without more than one cocktail right?  And again it had to be Happy Hour somewhere.

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While we were enjoying the company a getting to know a little more about each other we were treated to a demonstration on the proper way to cook and open crab legs.  We were then shown the largest crab legs I have ever seen on my life.  We learned that proper scissors that will allow you to cut through the shell are the best way to open your crab legs.  This way involves less labor and more eating.  We were also able to learn a little about cooking, such as how long do you cook the crab legs and the difference between a yam and a sweet potato.  What was lunch without a little learning included?

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I believe by this time we were all waiting with baited breath to partake in the items on the fall tasting menu.  Shortly after this demonstration we were treated to a scrumptious lunch which included steak (one of the best steaks I have had in some time), crab legs and sweet potato casserole.  The lunch was divine.  The portions were filling and the food was tasty and ensured that I would be back for more.

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As if the food and drinks were not enough, Beth and Sullivan’s provided us this parting gifts to take home.  My bottle of wine will come in handy during this holiday season.  Beth’s thoughtfulness and creativity will ensure that there are some holiday craft projects going on in my house this holiday season.

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Thanks again to Beth, Randy and Sullivan’s staff for an awesome afternoon.  This was the perfect kickoff to my weekend and a great way to spend a Thursday afternoon.  Sullivan’s Steakhouse is highly recommended for those who live in the Naperville area as well as those like me who live in the city.  There is ample parking, you may have a short wait for a spot, and great ambiance.  Sullivan’s gift certificates or reservations for a date night, family night or girls brunch would a great way to spend some downtime this holiday season.  I am already looking forward to my next visit.