Travel is a staple of the holiday season. Many men and women find themselves spending a significant amount of time in the air or on the road, whether traveling to visit family or embarking on a holiday getaway.
Use the right box. Boxes come in all shapes and sizes, and there are packing methods to ensure gifts arrive intact. The gift should not have much wiggle room inside the box, as the more the gift can move around the more likely it is to break. Gently shake the box before closing it, adding any padding if the gift is moving around too much, otherwise move the gift to a smaller box. A box also should not be too small, as it may break before reaching its destination.
Wrap each individual item. When shipping holiday gifts, it's often most convenient to include several items in one large box. When doing so, wrap each item separately in air-filled wrapping or newspaper. This reduces the risk of items breaking during shipping.
Line the interior of the box with a garbage bag. A garbage bag lining along the inside of the box can help to prevent potential water damage from rain, snow or other leaky packages.
Tightly tape the box. Once items are inside the box, be sure to use professional packing tape. Though there are cheaper alternatives available, professional packing tape is far more likely to hold up as the item travels from your home to its ultimate destination. Low quality tape could split or tear, resulting in a situation where boxes break open and items fall out.
Pay attention when reusing boxes. Reusing boxes is a great way to benefit the environment when shipping holiday gifts, but carefully examine the box before shipping it. Old labels and bar codes should be removed so packages ultimately end up in the correct destination. In addition, check any boxes for wear and tear before reusing them. Avoid using any boxes with previous water damage or tears.
Double check addresses. Before shipping items, double check the address, making sure the name, address and ZIP code are correct. Confirm the information with the recipient as well. Be sure to write the address and full ZIP code in the method the shipping company requires to ensure prompt delivery.
Include an extra mailing label inside the box. Inclement weather is common come the holiday season, and some packages may fall victim to the elements. In such situations, shipping labels can be compromised, and some shipping companies have admitted they will open the box to look for a backup label if the exterior label has been soiled. Include an extra mailing label inside the box as a backup plan.
- Metro Creative Connection
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
But returns should not be taken as a personal slight, and men and women can take steps to make the process of returning gifts a lot easier.
GiversThere are many ways to facilitate the process of exchanging gifts or making returns, including finding a gift that is less likely to be retuned. In a survey for the popular department store Kohl’s, researchers found that clothing, items for the home and beauty and fragrance items were the gifts most likely to be returned. So shoppers may want to avoid such gifts this holiday season.
Another way to make returning or exchanging gifts easier is to make note of the policies governing such returns and exchanges. Such policies are often posted near checkout areas and are outlined on the back of printed receipts. Before embarking on a shopping trip, shoppers can visit a retailer’s Web site and familiarize themselves with its return policies. If rules are unclear, ask an employee.
Shoppers also can shop at stores that allow consumers ample time to return or exchanges gifts. This allows your loved ones to return or exchange a gift when it’s most convenient for them.
Many retailers have recognized the advantages to having more liberal return policies. A recent survey by ConsumerWorld.org identified which retailers have made changes and which have maintained the same return policies. Amazon, Best Buy, Costco, Kohl’s, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx were found to be the retailers with the most generous regular or holiday return deadlines. Choosing retailers with more lenient return and exchange policies can make things easier on your loved ones.
Shoppers also should include a gift receipt with gifts. This shows recipients that you have their needs in mind and want to make the process of exchanging or returning a gift as easy as possible. Without a receipt, recipients may not get the full value of the item at its time of purchase and only get credited with the current price of the item. Prices are often slashed in the days following the holidays.
Many stores have become more stringent with their return policies in an attempt to avoid fraud. As a result, receipts are essential because without a receipt stores cannot verify purchases or issue a refund or exchange. Certain stores will allow a certain number of returns without a receipt, but these are carefully recorded and linked to a shopper’s driver’s license number. This makes it easier for retailers to monitor serial returners. Some retailers even refuse returns without receipts.
RecipientsTry to make returns during less busy times of the day. Long lines at the customer service counter are commonplace in the days after Christmas. Check the receipt for the return deadline, and try to wait at least a week or two after the holiday rush is over, eventually visiting the store in the early morning or late evening when crowds typically have thinned.
Returns for online purchases may be challenging. Some retailers allow returns at their brick-and-mortar stores, while others require consumers to mail back the item. Some stores will only offer store credit instead of a cash refund or replacement of funds on a credit card. Online returns may require the help of the person who gave you the gift.
- Metro Creative Connection
Posted by IWANNA at 7:30 PM
The holiday season means it’s time once again for parents to take their youngsters to visit Santa Claus. Pictures with little boys and girls lining up in their dress clothes with Santa are a holiday tradition, and youngsters are often anxious for their chances to share their Christmas gift wishes with the jolly man in red.
But as integral as such photo sessions are to the holiday season, parents know they are one crying fit or meltdown away from having this tradition turn into trouble. After waiting in long lines to see Santa, it’s understandable when everyone’s patience starts to wear thin. The combination of antsy children and aggravated adults could set off a chain reaction that culminates in tear-stained cheeks and a sullied holiday memory. Pictures with Santa can go much more smoothly when you employ the following tips.
Prep children. While kids may love the idea of Santa, youngsters face to face with a man in a red suit and a big, white beard may be nervous. Begin talking up Santa a few months before Christmas, mentioning how nice and friendly he is. Gauge how kids act around costumed performers at fairs, circuses and birthday parties and help them grow accustomed to people in costumes. If costumes elicit screams of horror, wait another year before seeing Santa.
Visit during off-peak hours. Weekends and evenings are the busiest times to visit Santa. This means long lines and longer wait times. Instead of dealing with the masses, try to get to the mall when the doors first open. Otherwise, let the children skip a day of school and visit during the week when the lines are shorter.
Consider another venue. Many different places of business host events where kids can meet Santa. Families may be able to share a meal with Santa at a restaurant or visit him at a nursery while selecting Christmas trees. A different environment may be less intimidating to children and take the pressure off waiting in line in a busy mall.
Go well-fed. There’s little worse than waiting in line and doing so hungry. Hunger pangs can turn even the most placid child into a menace. Pack snacks to enjoy while waiting. Opt for items that will not stain lips and teeth or drip onto clothing.
Make it a family photo. Sometimes the only way to entice a little one to take a picture with Santa is to provide some added security. Dress your best and be prepared to have to step in and cozy up to Santa to ensure your child is all smiles.
- Metro Creative Connection
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Thousands of eager shoppers will leave their homes in the early morning hours and wait in lines at stores in order to grab the best prices of the season, while retailers will be gearing up to lure the greatest number of shoppers. Surviving the day unscathed and arriving home with discounts galore involves having a game plan for success.
Know the prices of the items you want to buy. Scour advertisements in advance of Black Friday to gauge the regular retail prices for common items, including electronics. Comparison shop for the best prices and make notes to help you when Black Friday arrives.
Understand the fine print of “door busters.” Door buster sales are meant to get shoppers into stores, where retailers hope shoppers will make additional purchases while taking advantage of advertised deals. If door buster items are all you’re looking for, read the advertisements carefully, noting the start and end time of the discounts and if there will be limited quantities. In addition, determine if there is a special return policy for sale items purchased on Black Friday.
Dress for comfort. Wear sensible, comfortable shoes and clothing when shopping. Leave a large purse at home and opt for something compact that can be draped securely over your shoulder and body to navigate the crowds. Keep your coat in the car or make use of a coat check service if available. Dress in layers if you will be waiting outside for stores to open. This way you can shed clothing as the mercury rises or when you get inside.
Arrive together but shop separately. The “divide and conquer” method of shopping allows everyone in your shopping party to score good deals. Split up shopping tasks and then head to different areas of the store. Share and collect your purchases when you meet up after the rush.
Make a list and stick to it. Buyers’ remorse come Saturday morning is common for those who have over-extended their budgets and purchased items they did not need. Know ahead of time what you plan to purchase and do not veer off course.
Scout the stores ahead of time. Visit the stores where you plan to shop a few days before Black Friday. Learn the layout of the store and where everything is located. Try on certain clothes or read over the labels of big-ticket items you plan to buy. Knowing where items are located and having all of your information in advance will cut down on the time it takes to find items on Black Friday.
Don’t overlook nontraditional stores. Many other stores, from pharmacies to supermarkets, stock items apart from food and toiletries. Consider taking advantage of their sales for some Black Friday deals.
Park off campus. Mall parking lots can get just as crowded as the stores themselves. Save yourself time and the stress of finding a spot by parking near the store but away from the crowd.
Clean out your car prior to shopping. Make room in the trunk or cargo area for all of your purchases. For those who will be buying large, heavy items, find out if the store will ship the merchandise or will hold it aside until you can take it home. Understand that some stores will not hold items and enlist a friend or spouse to help you pack purchases into the car.
Promptly store receipts. Designate a folder or envelope for all of your receipts to keep them organized and handy.
Pack a small snack and drink. It’s easy to become dehydrated and hungry waiting in long lines, which can compromise your decision-making abilities. Bring a snack so that you can recharge your body and continue shopping.
Leave the kids at home. Black Friday shopping can be stressful, and children can easily get lost or bumped around in the fray. It is safer to leave them home so you can focus your full attention on shopping.
Know when to call it quits. Establish a firm cut-off time for ending your shopping excursion. This way you can head home, rest and sort through your purchases.
- Metro Creative Connection
|Make hosting a lot less hectic and a lot more fun!|
All of those gatherings translate to a lot of holiday hosting, and hosts can easily feel overwhelmed as they try to juggle hosting duties with everything else that comes along during this time of year. The following are a few steps holiday hosts can take to make hosting a lot less hectic and a lot more fun.
Enlist help. Just because a holiday party is at your home does not mean others can’t pitch in or will be unwilling to help. If you plan to decorate for the party, invite a friend over to assist. When hosting a holiday dinner party, ask guests to bring certain items to save you some work. Ask one guest to bring some dessert, saving you the time it takes to visit the local bakery or bake your own desserts, and ask others to provide side dishes. This drastically reduces the time it will take you to shop for groceries and cook the meal, leaving you more time to spend with friends and family, both during the party and in the days leading up to the festivities.
Plan well in advance. The earlier you begin planning the party, the less stress you’re likely to feel as a host. Certain items for the party, like decorations and certain snacks and beverages, have no expiration dates, so buy such items well in advance of the party. This leads to one less task to tackle in the weeks and days leading up to the party. Planning early also affords you ample time coordinate with guests and decide who will be responsible for certain party tasks. Planning a party at the last minute can be stressful, so if you know you will be handling hosting duties this holiday season, start preparing for the party as soon as possible.
Hire a cleaning service. One of the more difficult parts of holiday hosting is cleaning the house before guests arrive. A thorough house cleaning can take up a substantial amount of time, which tends to be hard to come by during the holiday season. To avoid a late night cleaning session or the need to spend a valuable weekend afternoon hard at work around the house, hire a cleaning service to come and clean your house in the days before the party. Such services can clean your home in a fraction of the time it might take you to do so on your own, and this removes one of the more time-consuming and arduous tasks from your to-do list.
Have a theme for the party. Holiday hosts may worry about how to entertain their guests throughout the party. A theme party makes it easier to entertain guests, who can show up decked out in holiday pajamas or sweaters or bring along a favorite unique compilation of holiday songs for a sing-along. Such themes set a tone for the party right away and often make it easier for guests to unwind immediately. Seek suggestions for a theme from your guests to make the party even more fun.
Pass the buck. Hosting a holiday dinner party? Consider passing the hosting duties on to a local restaurant, especially if your friends and family members are on board with the idea. If your schedule is especially hectic this holiday season, then move the party from your home to a local restaurant, where the staff can worry about accommodating your guests and you can simply relax and have a good time with your loved ones. When choosing a restaurant, look for one with a menu that features something for everyone. Entree selections should include a pasta dish, a beef dish, a seafood dish, a poultry dish, and vegetarian fare.
Holiday hosting is meant to be fun, but hosts often find themselves scrambling to prepare for the party as it draws closer. Planning early, seeking help and input from your guests and delegating certain tasks can help ensure hosts have as festive a time as their friends and family members.
-Metro Creative Connection
Posted by IWANNA at 10:00 AM