Monday, November 30, 2009

Thinking of buying a games console for Christmas?

Nintendo WiiImage by Goins via Flickr

Here's a blog post that explains in layman's terms what you should be looking for in a game system.  This is a hot item this year, so you really need to be informed.  Kids today are very sophisticated when it comes to electronics and computers, so you need to know what they are capable of using now and also plan for their future maturation.

Read the blog here>DADDACOOL

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Sunday, 29 November 2009



Games consoles are often the most requested thing for Christmas for kids from about age 5 upwards. The range of consoles from 3 major manufacturers encompass handheld machines and ones that sit under the telly and can be more than a bit baffling.
So to start with, we’re going to have a look at handheld machines. Nintendo’s effort is called the Dsi and Sony’s is called the PSP.
ndsiThe Nintendo Dsi is the top selling handheld out there. It retails for £149.99, which if you think is steep, is still cheaper by a fair margin than the PSP. The older version, the DS Lite, is still available at £99 and at the moment is pretty much the same as there are very few games available that make use of the extra features in the Dsi. The range of games available is huge and although new releases aren’t cheap, a lot of the games are specifically aimed at kids so there should be a lot to choose from. The console itself has two screens, one of them a touchscreen which is used via a stylus and even though its made of plastic, it is pretty sturdy- it closes like a book to protect the screens when its shoved in a coat pocket or bag.
pspgoSony’s PSP is available in two versions, the new PSPGo (pictured) which retails at £249.99 (currently £199.99 on Amazon) and the older PSP 3000 (snazzy name there Sony!) which is a much more reasonable £140. Things now get confusing as where the Nintendo Dsi and DS Lite share a common game format and can more or less share games, things are different with the PSPgo and the PSP 3000. The PSPgo relies totally on downloads for its games, where the PSP 3000 uses a little minidisk style disc called a UMD. The PSPgo doesn’t have a UMD drive, so all the old second hand games you could pick up from GAME or Blockbusters for a bargain price for the PSP 3000 aren’t worth even looking at on the PSPgo. I’ve owned a PSP for over 5 years now and I have to admit it doesn’t get played as much you would think it would. Technically its miles ahead of Nintendo’s offering, the graphics are better, the screen is lovely, but somehow it just doesn’t quite work. The controller gives anyone of any age hand cramp after about 15 minutes of play and there just aren’t enough games. Given the choice, I’d turn back time and un-buy it but they are definitely popular with youngsters. They also have the typical Sony build quality too.
If you don’t want to buy something that your offspring could lose or smuggle into school and have it confiscated or stolen, you’re best bet is a home console that sits under the telly. There are basically 3 to chose from here, the Nintendo Wii, the Sony Playstation 3 and the Microsoft Xbox 360. Each has its strengths and weaknesses and is probably more suitable for certain age groups. All the 3 consoles have wireless controllers as standard now days, so you can rest assured you wont be tripping over cables.
wiiThe Nintendo Wii is such a small cute console that its hard not to love it from the outset. It’s the only one of the 3 consoles not to be designed specifically for HDTV’s and the games on it certainly don’t look awesome but the one thing it does have is fun games. It also has a unique motion control system. Basically you put a little bar on top of your television and point a controller at the screen and it tracks your movement. That’s not to say you can’t control games in a a conventional manner but it is certainly a different take on it. Although there are some fiendishly difficult games on the Wii, it definitely has the best range of games suited for children on it. It’s also got the rather fab BBC iPlayer too, which is nice. Our two year old likes the odd game of Mario Kart.
xbox_360The Microsoft Xbox 360 is available in several different versions but the only real difference is whether you get a hard drive with it and how big that hard drive is. A hard drive is used to download demos to, to save game progression on and to download films onto, so to my mind is pretty much essential. I’d recommend the 60gig Xbox 360 Premium which you can pick up for around £160. The Xbox 360 will play DVD’s as well as games, and as mentioned will let you download films (for a price). It allows you to easily play games online against your friends (or strangers- so make sure your kids console is located in a communal place) but there is an annual subscription for this service, RRP £40. The range of games is the best of all 3 consoles and if a game comes out on more than one format, it tends to be better on the Xbox 360. There are a lot of games for kids and older teens but there are also a lot of games that are aimed at adults- the average age of a games player in the UK is over 25 you know- so make sure you look at the age ratings on games you’re buying, if it says 18, there’s the likelihood it will contain graphic realistic violence.
ps3The final machine is the Playstation 3 from Sony. It follows on from the astonishingly successful Playstation 2 but watch out, while the Nintendo Wii can play old Nintendo Gamecube games, the Playstation 3 cannot play Playstation 2 games. This means you either have to keep both machines out or pack away all those PS2 games. At £250 it is pretty expensive too. It doesn’t have a range of games as good as the xbox 360 but it does have another trick up its sleeve in the form of a BluRay disc player built in to it. So if you have a high definition television, you can watch BluRay movies on your PS3. Considering that stand alone BluRay players can easily cost more than the PS3, it is definitely worth considering it, especially if your (older) child likes watching films. The PS3 does allow you to play online against your friends for free but the trade off is a system no where near as slick as the xbox’s xbox live system.
So there you go, 5 consoles to chose from, you must choose wisely. And that’s before your 7 year old asks for an iPod Touch for Christmas too, as the daughter of one of my work colleagues did last week.
(Originally posted on Mummy Reviews)

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Friday, November 27, 2009

The 12 Weeks of Christmas: A Yahoo! Survey

Here's another article that points out the benefits to online shopping this Christmas.  This survey shows that buying online is now an accepted mode of buying gifts and will be a large portion of the Christmas spending market this year.

To me it is a "no brainer"--if I can get what I want and have it delivered where I want without having to drive across town and stand in lines, without being accosted by numerous strangers, without having to deal with tired, underpaid sales people who are just a little irritable, then I want to do it!

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When and what consumers will be buying this holiday season 
christmastreeIt wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that the recession has changed the way consumers think about spending, but the question on your minds right now is likely, “How will it affect my holiday sales in 2009?”
To help answer that question, Yahoo! worked with Decipher, Inc. to create the “12 Weeks of Christmas” Consumer Survey. The survey, conducted in October, polled 2587 online Americans . They told us when they’re planning to shop, what they plan to purchase across retail categories, where they plan to purchase, and what offers/promotions people are likely to take advantage of this holiday season. We’re broken it down a bit, to bring you the highlights:
Fears affect shopping
The majority of people polled (76%) said they were worried about the rising cost of basics such as gas, food and services. More than half (55%) said they felt the government isn’t doing enough to fix the economy and 52% of people polled said they that they were worried that the US won’t be able to get out of the recession. Almost half of people polled (48%) said they’re worried that something will happen to their income and they won’t be able to support their families.  So clearly the economy is weighs on consumers’ minds.
Now let’s take a look at how these concerns may impact holiday shopping. More than half of all people surveyed (53%) said they’re planning to cut back on holiday shopping because of the current economic situation. And 21% of people polled said they planned on making gifts, rather than buying.
According to the survey, the outlook for 2010 is more positive than negative, with 40% of people interviewed saying they were somewhat hopeful that the economy will improve in 2010. 18% said they were very hopeful for improvement and 9% said they were extremely hopeful. All told, the “hopefuls” totaled 68%, which far outweighs the “not hopefuls.”
Keeping pace with last year’s spending
The poll also found that holiday shopping is well underway for Yahoo visitors, with 35% saying they’ve already begun shopping, 27% saying they planned to start right after Thanksgiving and 15% saying they planned to actually start on Thanksgiving weekend. A brave 9% will start just days before Christmas, most likely those without children.
As for who’s getting what, the survey indicated that the majority of people polled (58%) planned to give gifts to spouses or significant others, followed up by parents (54%), children (54%), friends (44%), siblings (43%) and of course, themselves (28%). Interestingly, nearly a quarter (23%) of people polled said they’d spend on gifts for pets, which should make for some very happy cats and dogs this holiday season.
Despite sentiment about the economy, many consumers polled plan to keep pace with their budgets from last year. 64% of people polled said they plan to spend about the same on their spouses/significant other as they did in 2008. 68% of people polled said they planned to spend the same on parents and 63% said they planned to maintain the same spending amount on their children. Of all the potential recipients, planned spending was down the most for friends (31%) and the consumers themselves (33%).
Internet buying is big
Internet shopping is expected to be big in 2009. 58% of people polled said they planned to shop/research purchases both online and in stores for the 2009 holidays and 58% said they plan to actually purchase gifts both online and in stores. 31% of people polled said they shop and research online only and 9% indicated they planned to actually purchase gifts online only. Additionally, the time that consumers will spend shopping online is on the rise: 50% of people polled said they intend to use the Internet more this year to research holiday gifts than they did last year and 48% said that the economy is a direct reason that they intend to more shopping online in 2009.
The study also indicated that coupons and promotions are a huge factor in holiday shopping, with 84% of people polled indicating that they’re likely to take advantage of price discounts or sales this holiday season. 73% said that they plan to take advantage of free shipping and 61% said that they would likely use coupons from magazines and newspapers. Over half of people polled (55%) said that they planned to take advantage of online coupons or discounts for their holiday shopping.
Lastly, the study also indicates that Yahoo! shoppers appear to be the heaviest shoppers and buyers across multiple retail channels.
So what does all this mean? Well it means that the Internet is becoming critical to the shopping process. Nearly 90% will be using the online space for shopping/researching and more than 70% will use it to purchase gifts. Without a doubt, online shopping is on the minds of consumers, so advertisers should be prepared to take advantage of it, come the holidays.
We may not be out the tunnel just yet, but as the 12 Weeks of Christmas survey indicates—there is absolutely a light at the end of it.

—Noah Belson, Content Quality Editor
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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Will there be enough stock to last until Christmas?

It seems that everywhere you look, you will find someone or something telling you that stores have a short supply of items this year due to the recession.  It's in every newspaper you read, on every computer screen where you read news, or on the television nightly news.  What you hear is that if you haven't already bought your Christmas items, you may be out of luck.

So, with Thanksgiving here and only 29 days left until Christmas, you may succumb to suggestion from the press and run right out to buy, buy, buy!  What you really should be doing is taking a long look at your Christmas list and giving careful consideration to the likes and dislikes of those on it.  If indeed store's stocks are limited and we are in a recession so money is tight, then you need to tailor the gift to the recipient, now more than ever before. 

If you are buying for a student, a scholar,  someone who commutes, someone who reads a lot, or just a book lover this year, then consider buying The Kindle Reader from Amazon.

One of the hottest items this season is the electronic reader.  This is a device that holds entire books, newspapers, magazines and such and can fit into small spaces for easy toting.  The news has been telling us about a shortage of these readers since before Thanksgiving.  Maybe you need to look into the original reader from the source, Amazon.  This is a company that prepares for the holiday season as they ship all over the world. 


For more information about this item, please visit The Kindle reader, or stop by Christmas Shopper's Delight now to order yours before these are all gone, too!
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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Friday Deals: Do You Know Where the Sales Are?

 In two days it will be BLACK FRIDAY and everywhere you go or look will be having huge sales in preparation for Christmas.  The crowds will the large and possible anxious because the news has been telling everyone that there may not be enough stock to go around this year due to the recession.

Because so many people look to this day for price-slashed deals to do Christmas shopping, it is necessary that you be prepared and know exactly what you need to do.  This article shows you some tactics to use in your preparations.

Go to the original article to read the other stories as well.  You can get more useful information to make this Christmas season a great one!


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Mellody Hobson Brings You the Best Deals, Online and Off This Holiday Season

By KATE McCARTHY

Nov. 24, 2009—

Millions of shoppers will hit the stores this weekend in search of the best Black Friday deals. This holiday season the average household is expected to spend $683 on gifts, according to the National Retail Federation.
But where should you head to find the best buys?
"Good Morning America" financial contributor Mellody Hobson tells you where you can find the best holiday sales on black Friday and beyond.
Do You Have a Black Friday Strategy? Share Your Story With ABC News.
Hobson suggested Best Buy's "Doorbusters," which offer deals on everything from laptops to digital cameras. For instance, there is a 10 megapixel digital camera for $49.99, down from $99.99
Or try Walmart, which is offering a $78 blu-ray player.
But if you prefer clothes to gadgets Hobson suggested looking at Target. It is selling men's jeans, khakis or dress pants for $8.
But Hobson cautioned that because retailers have cut their inventories this year there may not be as many discounts as last year and some items may be hard to find.
For example, Hobson pointed to one of this year's most popular gifts, a Zhu Zhu Pets Hamster. It is a battery-operated toy hamster which was selling for $8. But because of its popularity most stores are sold out and now these Hamsters are being sold upwards of $60 on E-Bay or Amazon.
Hobson said that although some retailers will have those popular items in stock, she warned that they might only be available in the store, not online, and quantities could be limited to one per person.

How to Keep Track of the Sales

Retailers have been advertising their black Friday sales in newspapers and online, but keeping track of all of them can quickly become overwhelming.
Hobson suggested a few helpful Web sites which compile the information for you.
CyberMonday, Black Friday Ads and BlackFriday.info all post ads, special offers and other helpful shopping information for a variety of major retailers. For example, Hobson said shoppers can search more than 550 retailers on CyberMonday by item to find the best deals.


How to Brave the Black Friday Crowds

If you decide to fight the crowds Hobson has a few suggestions on the best way to shop.
First, be sure to read the fine print in the circulars. Some items may come with a caveat such as "while supplies last" or "one per person."
Hobson said it can also help to team-up and arrive early. Stores such as Best Buy hand out tickets for their most popular items in an attempt to control the post-Thanksgiving chaos.

Cyber Monday is the New Black Friday for Online Retailers

If you decide to avoid the crowds and stay home to shop online you should know that Cyber Monday is to online retailers what Black Friday is to traditional stores, according to Hobson.
The Monday after Thanksgiving is considered the kick-off day to the online holiday shopping season. But Hobson cautioned that if you shop online for popular items that have limited quantities you may receive an e-mail after you place your order that your item is on backorder or that it's out of stock.
CLICK HERE to return to the "Good Morning America" Web site.
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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

10 reasons you should do your Christmas shopping online

Walmart on Black FridayImage by joanieofarc via Flickr
For your pleasure, here is an article about reasons to shop online--as if you really needed to see reasons in black and white!  There is a good point here, I think at #6.  With all the ruckus about H1N1 and Flu season, who wouldn't want to avoid all that unknown exposure?

Anyway, read the article and then get crackin' online.  Time's a-wasting!
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By COUPON SHERPA
http://www.couponsherpa.com/
The crowds, the fluorescent lights, the sales clerks who ignore you and the lines, lines, lines. Some people love Christmas shopping. I assume they also like sleeping on a bed of nails.

Here are 10 reasons you should consider shopping online.

1. Unique gifts: You can find the coolest and most unusual stuff online. From remote-controlled Ferraris at hipstergifts.com to Gummi Army Guys at stupid.com, it's all out there. You just have to look. And as with all shopping, looking is half the fun.

2. Find exactly what you want: Need a Hello Kitty purse for your niece or a Transformer action figure for your nephew? It's all there and Google makes it easy to find. The "toy of the year" may be sold-out early on toy sites, but check eBay and you'll probably find it. Of course the eBay price will be higher than retail on that hot item, but your daughter won't be disappointed come Christmas morning - if that's your goal.

3. Crowds: IMHO, not having to fight overzealous crowds is the very best part of shopping online. Plus, you can cook dinner while sitting at your computer, so no pizzza dinner after an exhausting day of dealing with overzealous shoppers.

4. Sleep in: It's beyond my understanding why anyone would camp out in front of Best Buy on Black Friday, only to find the five rock-bottom-priced laptops advertised in the Thanksgiving newspaper were picked off by employees before the doors opened. Online shopping allows you to sleep in and leisurely stroll to your computer at a reasonable hour. Heck, you can even shop at midnight, after the kids are in bed and you have some private time.

5. Keep it secret: Have your gift-wrapped purchases delivered close to Christmas and you don't have to worry about hiding them from inquisitive little fingers (or the bigger fingers of nosey spouses).

6. No germs: How many people ignore a cold and still go shopping, where they spread all those yucky germs? There's no chance of catching swine flu (sorry, H1N1) from your computer, although you can catch a virus.

7. No snarky clerks: Sure many of the clerks have a reason to be irritated. Shoppers can be nasty, aggressive and cheap. Worst of all, many clerks know they'll be canned immediately after post-Christmas sales. Blessedly, there are no clerks online and, thus, no one to hassle you.

8. Dress code: You can shop online in your pajamas or sweat pants. Need I say more? And that coffee your drinking is homemade - not an expensive mocha drink from Starbucks that you waited half an hour in line to buy and the "barista" got it wrong.

9. Better deals: Super hot deals offered by brick-and-mortar stores are picked off by the first 10 people in line. You can easily compare prices and find great deals online without the chance of being trampled.

10. Shipping: Have your gifts shipped directly to your home or to the recipient; whichever works best for you. If you like, online stores will even gift-wrap presents and slip in a personalized card. You'll reduce your holiday stress and avoid the lines at the post office. Many online stores offer free shipping.

(Coupon Sherpa is the penny pinching, coupon clipping, deal digging, Himalyan haggling, he-man of bargains. Visit http://www.couponsherpa.com/ for more shopping advice, insider tips, and coupons.)

© 2007 Belleville News-Democrat and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.belleville.com

Go here to see the original article
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday is Coming!!!


I received this in my email today from Amazon.com.  I know that many people will be up before dawn on Friday this week to begin their Christmas shopping.  There is always another way to do your shopping and that is to do it online.  You can avoid the traffic, parking, crowds, finding your item out of stock, etc.
Yes, you do have to pay postage, but how much is all the aggravation really worth to you?  What is your time worth?

Believe me, there will be more and more of these types of ads online, so you need to do yourself a favor and start shopping online!
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Sunday, November 22, 2009





 

Ready or not, it's here

Posted by Jill Boynton November 20, 2009 11:11 AM
It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but the Christmas season is in full force as evidenced by the commercials, ads and catalogs I’ve seen in the past two weeks. Retailers are hoping that consumers will not scrimp on holiday giving, as this time of year often determines a company’s profit, especially small companies. Many families are on tight budgets or feeling financial constraints, but no one wants to disappoint their family at Christmas. If you’re on a budget this year, here are some tips for keeping the holiday giving in check:

1.Determine an overall budget for the holidays. Make a list of everyone you will be buying gifts for as well as expenses associated with parties, meals, etc. Set a limit on what you’ll spend on gifts. If the total cost is too much for your paycheck, adjust the budget until you’re able to pay for everything from your current income, instead of putting purchases on a credit card and worrying about the bill next year.

2.Consider group gifts. This works really well in large families. I have 6 nieces and nephews on one side of my family. My siblings and I decided years ago to assign one sibling to each niece/nephew. We purchase one gift on behalf of all the aunts and uncles at a reasonable cost, such as $50 or $75. That is less than the cost of 6 gifts, and the child gets one nice gift instead of 6 small ones.

3.Set expectations with your children. Let them know the gifts will be smaller, or less in number than previous years. Talk about things you can do together to celebrate the holidays that doesn’t involve buying “stuff.” You might be surprised at what your children come up with.

4.Pay with cash or a debit card. Leave the credit cards at home.
Let’s here from you – what ideas have you come up with to reduce the budget, but increase the fun for the holiday season?

Even with finances tight, I hope everyone will find one extra dollar here or there to stuff into the Salvation Army kettle, or buy a toy for Toys For Tots. We all need to remember to be thankful for what we have.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Christmas Shopping Advice for Women

MELKSHAM, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 01: Christ...Image by Getty Images via Daylife
Here's an article from the UK, but the information is sound and surprisingly funny!

This article was written by a man to assist women buying presents for the man in their lives by helping them think "like a man".  Most women will tell you that buying for a man is the most difficult present they have to get, so this article comes at the right time.  Read on ladies and learn how to really please your man this Christmas!

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Author: Scott Morein Published: 20th November 2009 10:35
Following our recent article offering some invaluable advice on the subject of how to shop successfully for women this Christmas (Christmas Shopping Advice for Men), regular AboutMyArea visitor Scott Morein offers a riposte on behalf of the menfolk of Neston...

8 out of 10 women in Neston say the single most delightful thing about Christmas is spending fantastically extensive amounts of time in shops, finding the right gift for the man / significant other (delete as appropriate) in their life.

Christmas giftIt has been said that 75% of all statistics are made up on the spot, however this particular little pearl of wisdom is from the informed position of one who has had to so the waiting, whilst women spend extensive amounts of time in shops.
This time is not spent finding the right gift for the man / significant other, it is just time spent being indecisive and preparing a mental inventory of every stock item that might be different from whence they last frequented the store only a day or so earlier.
Some women believe that men are generally lazy and disorganised, and this is the force behind the lack of motivation for the shopping trip. Men generally however, like you to think this, and will use subtle methods to entrench this belief in the fairer mind.
There are of course some women who believe to the very depths of their core that they know what men want from the shops, but on behalf of the more subtle sex, a few hints, tips and suggestions that will not necessarily make your shopping easier, but hopefully, will make it more successful.
Size Does Matter
The thought and beauty of a well-crafted piece of jewellery, or carefully considered book will always receive thanks but inside, he is crushed to the core. Big parcels, regardless of content are always successful. Ideally, big parcels containing multiple items, regardless of any relationship between the items, is even better.
Premature Presentation Is Good
Any parent will know that once it is known a gift exists in the house, great anticipation and anxiety commences within the heart of the recipient. Men prefer to get it over with, and rarely see the point in delaying this with a lengthy exhaustive build up to a certain climactic date and time. If you have it, let him have it.
Apply The Mother Test
If your Mother would either disapprove or not understand, then you are half way there.
Boys And Their Toys
Some oft repeat the axiom that boys don't grow up; their toys just get bigger. A good rule of thumb is that if it requires construction or is self-propelled, and has 'for ages 8 & over' written on the box, then this will be just fine.
Socks, Pants & Jumpers
Socks: Good.
Pants: Fine.
Jumpers: No.
HelicopterIt's Not About Him, It's About Who He Used To Be
Do not under any circumstance proffer anything that is intentioned to change habits, behaviours or interests. He became entrenched in his ways on the way home from school aged 13 so there is no point trying. Self help books, exercise regimes, grooming products etc. will all generate polite thanks to you, and misery in him.
No Car/Motorcycle Accessories
He may have his heart set on some car accessory or similar, but even if you have found the exact manufacturer's specification & barcode for the item that he is considering having tattooed on the inside of his eyelids, do not buy it;  it will not be the right one. Don't ask me to explain, just trust me on this one.
Lingerie
This is a lifestyle choice beyond the remit of these comments.
So to conclude, make it big, make it quick, make sure your mother disapproves, ensure it will occupy great amounts of his time, respect his mental age but above all, ignore what he thinks he wants. Men rarely if ever know their own mind.
Scott Morein

To read the original article>>click here
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Friday, November 20, 2009

Buyer Beware: Holiday 'Must Haves' Could Fly Off Store Shelves

Black Friday, 5am, Best BuyImage by John Michlig via Flickr
Here is an article that explains what to expect this year when you think about Christmas shopping.  It's a good thing I started my shopping early because, as this article points out, if you wait much longer you may not be able to get the gift you wanted to get and will be stuck trying to find something else instead.

Read this article and then get out there and get busy shopping!  Maybe you need to check out all the bargains online too.  Visit Christmas is coming too soon! for some ideas this year.


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Price Cuts, Reduced Inventory Could Create Shortfalls on Hot-Selling Gifts

By TROY MCMULLEN

Nov. 19, 2009 —

The holiday season won't be very merry for Americans hoping to give -- or get -- Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPod Touch or a top-of-the-line LCD television.
Electronic gadgets are always a big holiday favorite.
But this year, with retailers slashing prices in a tight economy, popular gift-giving items like electronics, video games and TV's are expected to clear store shelves well ahead of Christmas, say retail analysts.
"It's been a very difficult year for retailers and the holiday season isn't expected to be strong," says Nancy Koehn, a professor at Harvard Business School.
Koehn says the harsh sales environment is forcing retailers to slash prices to get buyers in the aisles.
But many big top retailers also are cutting back inventory levels on higher priced items to prevent unplanned markdowns at the end of the season.
"By tightening inventory, stores will be creating demand for popular items, particularly those in a higher price range so you should expect to see a lot of early buzz for popular items in some stores," Koehn says.
Last year, holiday sales were essentially flat and fourth-quarter earnings for many retailers tanked amid a widening U.S. recession.
This year, top stores like Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Sears are well into "Black Friday" price-cutting mode, and the heavy discounts likely will accelerate by Thanksgiving, when items are likely to be marked down 40 to 50 percent.
(Google Trends has been showing strong public interest in Black Friday sales events since Halloween.)
All of this means shoppers looking to scoop up some of the season's most popular items could find themselves out of luck if they wait until weeks before Christmas to venture into stores.
"There may still be good deals if shoppers wait until late December to shop," says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst with NPD Group, a retail consultant firm in Port Washington, N.Y.
"Stores like to create a bit of frenzy on top selling items, but this year they may actually have a real one."
So which products are expected to fly off store shelves this season?
Amazon's Kindle is the clear favorite among many who follow retail trends. The wireless device downloads books, magazines, and newspapers to a high-resolution 6-inch electronic ink display that looks and reads like real paper.
Amazon says the device, which retails for $259.00, can store more than 15,000 books and magazines. And this week, Amazon announced Kindle for personal computers, which allows users to read the 360,000 Kindle books on their laptops or PCs.
Like the Kindle, the iPod Touch is expected to do well this season. Apple boasts that the pocket-sized computer will do almost everything a regular-sized personal computer will do. Users can download movies, music, surf the Web, send e-mail and play video games.
The iPod Touch starts at $199 for an 8 GB model. A 64 GB model costs $399.
Netbooks, the small, portable personal computers, will also be at the top of shopping lists this season. The lightweight, wireless computers allow users to surf the Web and create documents on the go. Retailing for about $200, these devices also are more affordable.
LCD televisions are expected to sell quickly despite a still shaky economy, say experts. Ranging in size from 52 inches to pocket sized, LCD TV screens are already top sellers at places like Best Buy, which have been selling them all year.
Video games have been a hot seller that past few years and this year Activision Blizzard's "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2" is already breaking sales records.
It took in a record $550 million worldwide during its first five days on sale. That tops the previous record of just over $500 million set by "Grand Theft Auto IV" last year. The latest in the "Call of Duty" video game franchise went on sale Nov. 10.
Retailers and industry experts say the simplest way to avoid being shut out of the hottest items is to shop early, of course. Going online is one way to do that, but the National Retail Federation reminds shoppers that many retailers will gladly hold in-stock items for consumers via a phone order.
Modifying expectations this season also will be helpful.
"Let's face it; some of these items well certainly be gone well before Thanksgiving," says Jeff Sweenic, a manager at the video game retailer Game Shop in Denver, Colo. He advises shoppers to pivot now and begin thinking of suitable back-up gifts.
"If we sell out of something like "Call of Duty" there are still plenty of other games people will gladly take as a gift."

Retailers Struggle

The struggling economy has meant that this year Black Friday is shifting from a one-day sale event to a month-long stretch of promotions, as retailers work hard or early holiday sales.
Retailers from Wal-Mart to Amazon already have launched ad campaigns boasting of dramatic discounts.
Kohl's annual pre-Christmas flyer went out last week and Wal-Mart is releasing its Christmas catalog early. Meantime, Amazon is set to unleash an ad blitz for holiday sales this week.
Koehn, at Harvard Business School, says retailers want to avoid a repeat of last Christmas when many sliced prices aggressively just before the holidays, hurting sales margins.
"This environment will certainly force retailers to cut prices early," she says. "What remains to be seen is if this strategy will actually work."


To read the original article>>click here
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

How to Clean Small Ornamental Gourds for use as Christmas Tree Ornaments

Santa GourdImage by orangejack via Flickr
Christmas is fast approaching.  Maybe this year you and the family can have a craft night and make your own gord tree ornaments?  It's really easy and lots of fun.  Read the article below to learn how to do this--then get busy.  Your children will remember this fun time for the rest of their lives.  Who knows?  Maybe you might even start a family tradition.
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In my previous article I shared several important tips for safely carving gourds. With those tips in mind, let’s get started on a gourd or two!
Today, we’re going to clean and prep a couple of gourds for our next project—making Christmas tree ornaments.
You may find that you already have everything you need to get the job done. All it takes is dish soap (Dawn is what I use), warm water, a copper scrubby, at least one dry ornamental gourd, and a dish towel.
Cleaning-Ornamental-Gourds
You won’t be cutting into the gourd at all since it’s going to be a hanging ornament, so I’ll only cover how to clean the outer shell.

How to clean a gourd

Fill a small bin with soap and water and thoroughly soak your dish towel in the sudsy water. Submerge the gourd to get it wet, then take your dish towel and without wringing it out fold it in half and put it on top of the wet gourd.
Let it sit for a minute or two before you turn the gourd over and put the towel over it again. Wait another couple of minutes. This will help soften the mold and dirt on the outer shell, making it easier to remove.
Take the towel and set it aside. Now, with the copper scrubby begin lightly scrubbing every inch of the gourd making sure to get off every bit of mold, skin, and dirt.
If your gourd has a lot of blackish areas on the shell like the gourd on left in my photo, you can try adding a little bleach to the water and letting it soak a bit longer. (The bleach may lighten it considerably, or even get rid of those black marks completely.)
As you scrub, rinse the gourd frequently under cold water. Even if you can’t see any dirt or mold clinging to the shell, your fingers should be able to feel if there is anything left on there—once you start, you’ll know what I mean.
The gourd’s skin will probably look white or yellowish. Your fingers can usually feel the difference between the cleaned shell and shell with skin left on it. (You will have to remove your gloves though to feel any skin left on the shell.)
Because the gourd soaked for a little bit, the shell might have gotten a bit soft. Hold the gourd lightly in your hand so you don’t inadvertently crack the shell or puncture a hole in it. These small ornamental gourds have a thin, fairly weak shells and it doesn’t take much to break them, especially when they are wet.
Please note that if you are going to clean more than one, let no more than a few soak while you are cleaning one. Too many soaking at one time will cause them to get too soft before you can work on them. I usually have no more than three soaking while I work on one.
Once your gourd is completely cleaned, just put it in a dish strainer to air dry.
Not too hard, right? Make sure to come back for my next tutorial where I’ll show you how to engrave and decorate your ornamental gourds with a Walnut Hollow wood burning tool—just in time for the holidays!


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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Christmas buying for the entire family's entertainment!

Now more than ever may be the time to "bite the bullet" and make that major purchase of a new LCD wide-screen TV that you have been eyeing.  With the cost of going out to the movies constantly rising, not to mention fighting the crowds, don't you think you and your family deserve to watch movies at home on your new HDTV? 

I plan to buy a new LG-55-inch-LCD-HDTV for Christmas for my family because we are becoming more of a "stay at home" family since money is getting tighter.  Even the teenagers will be able to enjoy our new set because of the interface capability with their gaming systems.  Check this out!  This offer won't last long.





LG free TV promotion


LG's free gift offer is a little simpler: buy a TV and get a bonus one. This is ideal if you need a second TV for your study or the kids’ room. If you buy one of LG's selected LCD or plasma televisions you're eligible to receive a free 23in LCD television valued at $849. The cheapest eligible television is the $2999 42in LG 42LH50YD LCD television....

View the entire article here>>

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Christmas buying for the readers in your family

Reading listImage by jakebouma via Flickr
Both of my daughters are voracious readers and you will never find them without a book hidden somewhere on their persons.  Because they read, I have been toying with buying them a really special gift this year that they will enjoy for years to come.  Of course, I am talking about a Kindle Reader.  My problem is deciding which size to get them.






Since they both carry purses, I may opt for the smaller, 6" reader that can fit in a bag and go anywhere.  The other plus to this gift is that there are so many books and magazines and newspapers available for the reader at a very minor cost.  I could give them the reading materials for birthday gifts.  Hey, what an idea!

I can see my girls sitting on a beach in Cancun reading a book with the reader--that would probably be my youngest daughter.



My oldest would probably be found reading in bed for the most part, but still she would be reading at quite a fast pace.  I think the reader, being small and light-weight would make reading in bed easier and more user friendly.

What do you think?  Do you think I am on the right path with this gift?



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Monday, November 16, 2009

Gifts for the computer person on your list

christmas star
I don't know about anyone else, but I am the grandmother of two grandsons.  They are both VERY into computers--but for different reasons altogether.

My oldest grandson is into music, social activities, gaming, and using the computer for typical teenage fun.
For him, I am thinking of buying him his own netbook computer that he can carry around with him where ever he goes.  I have done some research and I think I will look into getting him the ASUS Eee PC 1000 HE Netbook Computer because it is only 10.1 inches and has a 9.5 hour battery life.  I think this will be a great addition to his arsenal and will be of use to him for years to come.




For the youngest grandson, I think I will look into getting him a Wii consoles game and accessories because he is really a gamer and although he has other systems, I would like to encourage him to be physically active while playing his games.  Besides, he loves sports and this system should enhance his enjoyment of the games.


That will conclude my total Christmas shopping for the grandsons and I think that was the easiest shopping I have done in years.  Now all I have to do is find the money and get busy ordering online!  Yea!  Christmas is coming--and this year I might actually be ready!

 



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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shopping for someone who can get lost at home?

Artist's conception of GPS satellite in orbitImage via Wikipedia
My sister is getting older.  She has always been very independent and capable, after all she reared 4 children pretty much on her own.  Now that she is in her sixties, she seems to have slowed down and her mental acuity seems to have dulled a bit.  She still is very independent and likes to go to her numerous activities around town.

She is actively involved in church and Bible study, she is trying really hard to learn to play bridge, she knits and crochets and goes to her knitting groups and attends knitting crawls, and she goes to book clubs.  Over all she is pretty much of a gad-about.

Until she moved.  Now she resides in a new urban landscape and I have come to see that she is directionally and map challenged.  In six months, she has finally figured out how to get back home from the store; she now knows which way is north and which is south!

Everything else, however, is up for grabs.  So this year for Christmas, I intend to help her out and buy her a Garmin GPS system for the car.  I have my eye on  the Garmin nuvi 265W/WT.  Click on the link to visit a site that tells you all about that model.




If you too are shopping for someone who loves to be independent but can become lost or disoriented when driving to strange or unfamiliar places, I recommend this model.  I have read many of the reviews and feel this is the "best bang for the buck".  After all, independence doesn't come cheap, does it?
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Christmas is coming!

How many more shopping days?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christmas buying for the men in your life!

A typical retail display (in Geneva, Switzerla...Image via Wikipedia
Everyone is stumped when it comes to buying for a man, but really, it shouldn't be too hard.  If you listen to and actually hear what your man tells you, you should already know what he is looking for.

Men rarely enjoy clothes, even though they have to wear them, they are just not excited about them.
Men do not really enjoy flowers or plants unless they happen to be rabid gardeners.
Men do not like to get personal hygiene items because men just aren't into that, even if it is a hint!

Men like gadgets, men like sports, men love electronics.  Men are really just big "boys" and they love "toys"
like the little ones.  They just won't tell you how much they like to play video games, how much they like to watch the game on the big-screen TV at the pub, how much they like to play cards with the guys.

Men, of course, love sex and all the trimmings, but that shouldn't be a big surprise.

So, what to get for your man?  Listen to him; watch what he likes to do in his spare time--those are the clues you need to give him a gift he will actually love!
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Christmas is coming! It will be here way too soon!

Collage of various Christmas images, made from...Image via Wikipedia
Hello,
I hope you enjoy this blog.  I will be reviewing some ideas for your Christmas shopping this year with reviews and comments from previous shoppers.

Christmas buying is always stressful--we spend too much time, too much money and we are never sure if we make the right choices.  Here I hope to have articles and excerpts that will help you make your holiday shopping less burdensome.

The holidays should be about having fun spending time with the people you love who love you.  Whether you choose to have a commercial holiday or a spiritual one, here you should find a few bits and pieces of information to make the holidays what you want them to be.
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