365 Days of Christmas is keeping the spirit alive
all year to enliven your world.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Wreath Factory

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Check out all the beautiful and striking wreaths, from traditional to modern, at The Wreath Factory at Otter Creek.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Letters By Santa

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Letters by Santa offers parents, grandparents, and loved ones the opportunity to send a personally created letter to whomever they choose. The letters come postmarked from the North Pole (Alaska) with a write up of a few good deeds that the child or person has done in the past year. It's a great way to keep the spirit of believing in Santa alive and kicking. Come check out the site.

Letters by Santa is offering my readers a special coupon code -- STORM -- for $3.00 off the regular price.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Stocking Stuffer Ideas

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Need some stocking stuffer ideas?  Not sure what to put in your loved one’s stocking this year?  For those that want to be creative and personable, think of what would make the other person smile.
You can make your loved one's holiday extra special this year, by adding in a mix of useful stocking stuffers, sentimental stocking stuffers, and personable stocking stuffers.

To make Christmas last a little bit longer, open stockings later in the day.   To make the festive feeling last even longer, wrap each stocking stuffer before filling up the stocking on Christmas Eve.

Young Kids (Elementary Age) Stocking Stuffers:
  • crayons
  • coloring book
  • markers
  • pencils
  • yo-yo
  • Matchbox cars
  • punching ball/balloon
  • small action figures
  • stuffed animals
  • stickers, sticker book
  • paint
  • glue
  • glue sticks
  • lip gloss
  • chapstick
  • comb
  • brush
  • mirror
  • costume jewelry
  • hair ties
  • hair bows
  • hair clips
  • mini photo album
  • notepads
  • small baby doll
  • Polly Pockets
  • Silly Bandz
  • Christmas socks
  • balls
  • Play Doh
Teen Girl Stocking Stuffers:
  • lipstick
  • fingernail polish
  • fake nails
  • compact mirror
  • necklace
  • bracelet
  • ring
  • bobby pins
  • travel-size hair spray
  • brush
  • perfume
  • lotion
  • body wash/shower gel
  • CDs 
  • concert tickets
  • pens
  • notepads
  • note cards
  • gift cards
  • cell phone cover
  • MP3 cover
  • cell phone charm
  • photo frame
  • craft kits
Teen Boy Stocking Stuffers:
  • cologne
  • aftershave
  • body wash/shower gel
  • pocket knife (for fishing or hunting)
  • comb
  • concert tickets
  • pens
  • cell phone cover
  • MP3 cover
  • CDs
  • boxers
  • gag gifts
  • flashlight
  • key chain
Women Stocking Stuffers:
  • perfume
  • body wash/shower gel
  • lipstick
  • mascara
  • blush
  • eye shadow
  • fingernail polish
  • lotion
  • candle
  • photo frame
  • necklace
  • bracelet
  • ring
  • earrings
  • barrettes
  • hair clips
  • CDs
  • gift cards
  • cell phone charm
  • pens
  • notepads
  • note cards
  • homemade coupons (bubble bath without interruption, back massage, breakfast in bed, do chore without being asked, etc.)
Men Stocking Stuffers:
  • wallet
  • lottery tickets
  • gift cards
  • cologne
  • aftershave
  • boxers
  • game tickets
  • concert tickets
  • key chain
  • flashlight
  • pocket knife
  • pens
  • CDs
  • bumper stickers
  • office supplies
With a bit of planning, it's easy to give your loved one a Christmas stocking that's extra special this year.

Suite101: Stocking Stuffer Ideas 
Suite 101: Christmas Stocking Stuffers for Children
Suite 101: Dollar Store Stocking Stuffer Ideas

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Real Magic of Santa Claus

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Is Santa Real?  Eventually all kids will ask. This time need not be one of sadness and disappointment for the child or the adult.

The Real Magic of Santa Claus, will answer their questions honestly, but in a way that won’t leave them disappointed. The book is a lesson in love and sharing. Children come away realizing they are part of something special.

Not only does the author tell a bit of the history of the man (who lived over 1,000 years ago), but he offers fun statistics about Santa (like how much milk he must drink if he gets a glass at every child's house) that make it clear to children Santa can't be real.

Or can he? The author gently explains how Santa Claus is real.
This is an excellent resource to introduce children to the real meaning behind the magic of Santa Claus.  Anthony answers questions truthfully.  The book allows the reader to come to their own conclusion.  Readers soon discover that the answer opens up a new chapter in their lives. 

Santa is not a man in a red suit -- he's based on a true figure who has taught us to be generous and caring -- but readers do find that Santa is real.

Written and Illustrated by Anthony Canamucio

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Food Safety Tips for Preparing Your Turkey Dinner

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‘Tis the season to be jolly and Christmas is just around the corner. Have you started planning the all-important Turkey dinner?

Whether you've got the whole family coming round or you're just cooking for two, you’ll need to remember a couple of food safety tips to ensure that your cooking is safe and stress free.

Defrosting the Turkey

Put your turkey into a dish, one large enough to catch ALL of the juices as it thaws. Be sure to remove the giblets too, as soon as possible, as this will help speed up the thawing process.

Place your turkey in the refrigerator ensuring it doesn’t touch any other foods. If you don't have enough room in the fridge, you can place the turkey in any cold room, i.e. the garage.

As your turkey thaws, pour away the liquid regularly. This will stop it overflowing in the dish and dripping onto other surfaces. It's a good idea to keep your children and pets away as you do this.

Important Tips

· Ensure you’ve left enough time in your plan for defrosting.
· Make sure your bird is properly defrosted all the way through.
· Check the middle cavity of the bird for ice crystals.

How to Store the Turkey

You must remember to keep your raw turkey away from other foods; this will stop harmful food bacteria from spreading. Ideally, you should keep your raw turkey at the bottom of the fridge so it can't drip down onto any other foods.

How to Prepare the Turkey

· Always wash your hands after touching raw poultry.
· Remember to clean anything the turkey has touched thoroughly.
· Don’t use the same knifes or chopping boards for raw turkey and vegetables

Cook the Turkey

If your turkey isn't cooked properly it will be full of harmful bacteria that will make anybody that eats it ill with food poisoning.

A large turkey can take hours to cook through properly, so make sure you plan well in advance.

Is your turkey cooked?
· Is all the meat white (not pink)?
· Do the juices run clear after piercing with a fork?
· Is the turkey boiling hot all the way through?

Adapted from Highspeedtraining.co.uk.  Highspeedtraining.co.uk compiled this guide to help you cook a safer Christmas dinner. We also award real, accredited food hygiene certificates to people who take part in our online food hygiene and safely courses.

Christmas Banner

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How excting it was to receive my very own Christmas banner, personalized exactly the way I wanted!

You can personalize your sign by color, by type of material (vinyl banner, corrugated plastic, static cling, poster paper, PVC, matte vinyl banner), by size (12"x18" to 24"x48" to custom sizing), by template, and by adding your individual wording and graphics.

To order your own Christmas sign, go to Signazon.

Nicole, the SEO Manager of Signazon, was very patient and treated me like I was their number one customer.  My order took less than a week to arrive. 

The great thing about the vinyl banner is that it is a low cost decoration that is completely weatherproof and can be reused for many years.

The website is quite easy to navigate.

Some of my favorite banners/signs are:
Christmas Banner
Holiday Party
Holiday Wishes
Christmas Peace

The banner I chose:

Christmas Ornaments

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Christmas Ornaments is a new website but the owners have been in the Christmas ornament business since 1983, providing discerning holiday shoppers with unique and distinctive holiday gifts, collectibles, and Christmas ornaments. Their holiday decorations and ornaments come from more than five dozen companies.

Some of my favorite ornaments:
Holy Family
Paw Print Dog Bone
Close Brother and Sister
Angel Bell
Tasty Tudor
12 Days of Christmas Set
Ornament Stand
Holiday Around the Tree

The ornament I picked:

I picked the Noah's Ark ornament since I am an avid Noah's Ark Collector.  It's part of the Old World Christmas Collection.  I can't wait to hang my new ornament up on my tree.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Celebrity Holiday Cards that Make a Difference

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Tiny Prints holiday cards are known for standing out, but this year they're also taking a stand against a painful childhood disease. These stylish ornament cards were designed by some of your favorite celebrities to benefit the Epidermolysis Bullosa Medical Research Foundation, a volunteer organization dedicated to researching and curing the genetic skin disorder that affects thousands of children each year. It's your chance to send these holiday ornament cards that stand out and make a difference. Select any of the exclusive designs from the collection created by Reese Witherspoon, Courteney Cox, Rachel Zoe, Jennifer Garner, Kate Beckinsale, or Brooke Shields.

Christmas Gift Alternatives to Video Games

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Everyone knows that kids love video games. They're on nearly every child's wish list between the ages of 7-17. But at some point, you have to wonder if kids play video games just a bit too much. So this year, instead of getting them another Xbox 360 or Wii game, consider these electronic alternatives to video games.

Christmas Collectibles for the 2010 Holiday Season

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Everyone knows about the typical Jesus nativities for Christmas, but what about a Santa nativity? Sometimes the best Christmas decorations are the unique ones that few other people have or the ones that you make yourself. Traditional Christmas decor with Jesus and other religious themes is definitely beautiful, but when you are looking to spice up the holiday season with more than eggnog and a wreath, swapping Santa for other more traditional Christmas characters is a new and exciting way to accomplish this.

Read more.

10 Regrettable Christmas Toy Crazes

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As if the travel and family commitments didn't make Christmas crazy enough, the holiday season is often marked by a conspicuous consumption and pursuit for certain random products that's downright insane. Every year or two, some new fad hits the scene and sends kids into a frenzy and their parents into a fury, and just as quickly, those crazes are forgotten as shoppers move onto the next big thing. In a sense, every toy craze is regrettable, but the ones listed here are probably the worst.  Go to Online Degree for the full story.

Thanks, Anna, for sharing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Personalized Free . . . and a Giveaway!

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You can find over 1,300 personalized Christmas ornaments at PersonalizedFree.com. There is a HUGE sale going on NOW so don't miss out. All orders ship in 2-3 days and they ship worldwide.

About Personalized Free

Wendy Simonsen runs her own business of personalizing Christmas ornaments at home with her family.

Personalized Free is proud to boast their 11th year in business online. Their family-run, home-based business is owned and operated by an entrepreneur stay-at-home mother and father team. Real people personalize each adorable ornament by hand with precision and love.

My Review

I love this ornament (though, this is not the ornament I originally picked). . . the personalization that includes my favorite hobby and my name makes this ornament the perfect gift for me.

At Personalized Free, the ornaments are cute, whimsical, fun, and, of course, personalized.

The site is super easy to navigate. You can search by occupation, hobbies, pets, sports, state, transportation, and many other themed categories. You can search by person -- grandparent, child, aunt, friend, etc.

The customer service provided by Wendy is top-notch. She is very patient and kind.

Personalized Christmas ornaments make great gifts for everyone on your gift list.

I have ordered from Personalized Free for several years because of the unique, heirloom-quality, personalized Christmas ornaments.


Wendy wants to help you jump-start either your Christmas decorating or Christmas shopping by giving you a chance to win one ornament of your choice, personalized however you wish, shipped to you for free!

To be entered into this giveaway, go to Personalized Free, check out the enormous selection, come back here, and tell me what ornament you want in the comments section. This will be the actual ornament you receive if you win, so take your time and pick out your favorite ornament.

This giveaway is open to all entrants, in the U.S. only, ages 18 and over, until 9 PM EST on Saturday, November 13th. A winner will be chosen by random number generator, notified by email, and posted online shortly thereafter. Have fun and good luck!

Bonus Entries (you may have one additional entry for each task you accomplish):

Some of the NEW original ornaments available:

Some of my favorite ornaments:

Hotel Chocolat

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The Christmas chocolate gift collection at Hotel Chocolat is brimming with exquisite gift ideas for everyone on your list this Christmas season, from stocking stuffers to jaw-dropping chocolate hampers for those extra-special people in your life.

What I Received
  1. Ultimate Milk Chocolate Advent Calendar
  2. Fruit & Nut Dark Chocolate Mini Wreath
  3. Tiddly Caramel Chocolate Santas
  4. Dasher the Chocolate Reindeer

My Review

When the package arrived, the festive atmosphere was  instantly set with the smell of chocolate in the air and the wonderfully decorated packages; no wrapping paper needed. I felt very spoiled and royal to receive such luxurious chocolates. The chocolates themselves are adorable, classy, ravishing . . . and oh so delightfully delicious. Yum!

Included with the package of chocolates was a thank you card . . . how sweet!

There are many chocolates available:
There are many chocolate selections, many exclusive choices to pick from -- who would of thought there were so many different sizes, shapes, and products of chocolate.  There are chocolates available for vegetarians, vegans, and diabetics.  This is the only site where I have seen such a huge selection.

You can search by type of chocolate or by person or by occasion.

The only drawback is the time it took to cross the ocean -- Hotel Chocolat is located in England -- to reach me, but the chocolates were received in plenty of time.  However, I'd suggest ordering early. 

There are two stores now open in Boston, MA, USA.  If you are within driving distance, I highly suggest you go to the store.

Hotel Chocolate, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA

The additional complements of the site are the sharing of chocolate recipes; the many chocolate celebrations available, such as birthday gifts, dinner party gifts, thank you gifts, and more; and the exclusive availability of chocolate products.

Tiny Prints

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Showcase your family at its best with hundreds of customizable holiday and Christmas designs.

Tiny Prints has brand new, beautiful, classy, elegant Christmas cards this year. You can personalize 100s of cards with your photographs and your words. You can choose from contemporary, vintage, classic, and whimsy designs. There are many options, such as color changes, layouts, and formats for each card.

I am so impressed with the variety of cards available for the holidays and Christmas.  I looked at 1,476 cards in the Christmas section because I am fastidious and wanted to give a thorough and complete review.

Some of my favorite cards:
Reindeer Imposter
Crafted Nativity
Caring World
Happy Everything
Chic Collage
Boroque Snowflake
Patchwork Wreath
Merry Circle
Winter Zephyr
Sweet Center
Historic Charm
Posted Wreath
Round Wreath
Beautiful Believe
Precious Tree, and
Graceful Whirls,
and many more (but I won't continue to bore you with my favs).

Can you guess what card is the one I ordered?

After narrowing down the list, which was very difficult to do with so many fabulous choices, my daughter, Cassandra, 9, joined me.  We went through my favorites and picked the one we liked the best.  We chose the card (1.) that most fittingly expressed our thoughts (we were able to chose our own words) and (2.) that was most suitable for the photos we thought were most appealing and enhanced our lives from the past year.

Take the time to browse through the wide variety of Christmas cards featuring traditional holiday symbols such as garland, Christmas trees, gingerbread, snowflakes, wreaths, reindeer, and holly. Whatever your family Christmas tradition may be, they have a card to complement it and your photograph. When you add a picture of your family, the cards are sure to be cherished by those who receive them. Tiny Prints will even mail your cards for you.

Tiny Prints Christmas cards stand apart due to the one-of-a-kind designs!

Your Wish Is Their Command

• If you aren't 100% satisfied, they'll reprint your order for free.
• Their customers rank them in the 95th percentile (for U.S. companies).
• Easily personalize and instantly preview your cards.
• Luxurious, eco-friendly paper, custom-made in Italy.
• Premium printing methods and top quality products.

Need Help? No Problem
• Enjoy online shopping with a personal touch.
• Etiquette experts are ready to answer questions seven days a week.
• Professional designers assigned to almost every order.
• Contact us at 877-300-9256, info@tinyprints.com, or chat.

Designs To Love From Artists You Adore
• Shop thousands of exclusive designs by style, color, or event.
• New items added each week.
• Find cards from famous design studios and independent artists alike.
• More than 11,000 product reviews to help you shop.

My Review

It was a straight-forward process.  The quality is first-rate!  You have the choice to click on "live chat" throughout the process of picking your card and adding your personal touches.  I did not do this since I had no trouble placing the order.  The Tiny Prints site is easy to navigate and well organized.   There are many holidays and occasions to choose from -- birth announcements, birthday cards, invitations, thank you cards, wedding stationary, and much more  -- but Christmas, of course, is my favorite.  There are a lots of extras -- etiquette tips, mail service, party ideas, sample verses, etc. -- that make the site #1 in my book.  Even on the tightest of budgets, these cards are affordable and a great package deal!  I LOVE all the personal touches we were able to add to make the card more precious and more personalized.

Cassandra's Review (in her own words):
• The process was quick and easy.
• There were LOTS of cards to choose from.
• The service satisfied my picky mom. :)
• It was fun to see all the different cards.
• It was exciting to put all the personal touches on the card.
• I had a great time with my mom.

Read more raves and reviews.

Click the box above or in the side column to look at all those wonderful cards and place your order.  Let them know in the comments box that Storm sent you.