Stocking Stuffers? Amazon Add-ons has what you need

hutzler-banana-slicerMelissa Guynes Kirkner posted a link to a “Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer” on her Facebook page with the cryptic comment:  “I know what everyone is getting for Christmas this year!”  I took the bait and clicked through to the Amazon link.  Melissa suggested we read the customer reviews–and she was right.  There’s enough satire there to browse for a while–and for an English teacher to use as a future lesson:  “Root cause for our obesity” and “Threat to Our Democracy.”  All humor aside, the Amazon Add-On program is a gem of an idea for you to find easy stocking stuffers at little cost.

The Add-On program is simple.  Amazon offers free super-saver shipping for orders over $25, but many of us manage to select items that bring us to within five dollars of that amount.  For just a few dollars more, you can meet the free shipping minimum and stock up on unusual stocking stuffers–like bacon flavored toothpicks.

Today, there are 263,165 Add-On items for you to browse and buy.  Look for the little blue “Add-on” flag.  Waste of a Sunday afternoon?  To each his own.  I spent a while browsing the Add-Ons and came up with some gems that are silly, practical and/or odd.  Somehow I shopping wandered all of the way to mustache chip clips.

Then, I began clicking through the seasonal decor, all on deep discount.  Heaven help me!

You still have a full 11 months of shopping before 2013. The next time you’re making an Amazon purchase, consider adding something on from Santa.

Christmas Light Exchange

Today I did a little searching to find out more about LED Christmas lights.  I discovered that for the last three years Home Depot has offered an exchange program for new LED lights.  The program is designed to replace your old lights with new energy-efficient lights.  In 2011 Home Depot offered a $5 off new lights coupon in exchange for your old lights.  You could get up to 5 coupons, a $25 value.  Here’s the catch: the 2012 trade-in event only lasted for ten days (11/3-11/13)!  Home Depot hasn’t announced any details for a 2012 exchange yet.  Keep your eyes open on those flyers for the dates and specifics for an exchange this year.  Lowe’s is expected to have a similar offer this fall.  I don’t currently own any LED lights.  I am considering a trade, but we’ll have to see what the offers are.  Maybe we should use LED lights for our Festival of Trees entries too, hmm…

Yes, Natalie, There is a Santa Claus!

Yesterday and today I visited the same yard sale.  I was eyeing the huge display of Christmas balls and ornaments, artificial trees and lights.  I had in mind to purchase some for our massive tree decorating project, but, frankly, even at yard sale prices, I would have spent too much.

At lunch, Jeremy said, “Why don’t you just ask?”

As Shakespeare would say, “Screw your courage to the sticking place!”  I did just that.  I returned to the sale and explained our Yule Log charity project to the homeowner and asked if she would consider a reduced price.  Not only did she reduce the prices, she threw in extra Christmas balls and ornaments for free!  Who would have expected such enthusiastic generosity?

Coincidentally, at lunch I had mentioned that the Newseum tweeted yesterday that September 21 was the anniversary of the most read and re-printed editorial of all time:  “Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus.”  This letter was first published in 1897 in the New York Sun in response to an 8-year-old’s letter to the newspaper.  Virginia O’Hanlon wrote that her father told her, “If you see it in The Sun, it is so.”  While all of us have heard the memorable line, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus,” have you ever read the inspirational words of the letter? They’re worth a second look.  I have included the Newseum’s link to the letter here.

In part of the famous letter, newsman Francis Pharcellus Church wrote, “He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.”  

Here it is, a very warm day in late September, when just about no one is thinking about snow and Christmas.  All the same, I had my proof of Santa’s existence at a yard sale!


Do it yourself Christmas Potpourri


Pinterest is a guilty pleasure, and this week i noticed more and more Christmas crafts and ideas are being added to the regular feed of clothing, wedding ideas and cute pets. Today, I stumbled across holiday potpourri. I can’t wait to try it.

Right about now, Michaels craft stores fill their foyers with red mesh bags of cinnamon scented pine cones that make my eyes water. I’m excited to make real holiday potpourri. Two years I a row, I received a homemade gift of potpourri. It smelled terrific and lasted at least 30 days before I decided it had lived a fully scented life.

Here’s the link to the blog, Make It Do, where I found the recipe and three cute ways to wrap the potpourri for gift-giving.

Back-to-School = Christmas Savings!

You’d have to be living under a rock to not notice all the sales and displays set up for the annual Back-to-School season.  Every retail store from Staples to CVS and including the big box sites of Wal-Mart and Target are targeting the needs of students and families for the return to the school routine.  If you are a savvy Christmas shopper and being prepared for all your needs these sales can be a great help.  Here at the Yule Log we see any saving and shopping season as a way to prepare for Christmas and these sales are no exception.  Check out some hints on how to shop now to support your successful Christmas efforts.

1.  Buy extra school supplies to use as gifts or stocking stuffers.  Small notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, and markers make great stocking stuffers.  Kids of all ages enjoy these supplies and the prices now can’t be beat.  Desk organizers, binders, and more can be made into great gifts for family and friends.

2.  Get some tape, glue, and scissors.  Buy these supplies cheap now to help with all your wrapping needs.  Safety scissors are a great get for the younger helpers and I have found there is no such thing as too much tape!

3.  Stock up for crafting.  All kinds of school items can help with your craft projects.  Consider brown lunch bags, sandwich bags, felt, glitter, stickers, poster paint, and more.  If you’ve been doing a good job planning your craft projects you should have a list ready to go.

4.  Bags and Packs.  Time to buy back packs, computer bags, and lunch boxes to use as gifts for the holidays.  Take advantage of sales to get these items now.  You might be able to find these even cheaper at clearance sales once school starts.

5.  Scoop up tax-free clothes.  Maryland and other states offer those tax-free clothing purchase days now.  Buy some gifts and hide them away until Christmas.  Maryland’s tax-free window begins tomorrow, August 12th and runs through the 18th.

Time is running out to get prepared for Christmas.  Avoid the rush and the high costs and take care of things early!

Podcast #22- 208 Days to Go!

Podcast #22- Click here to listen to this week’s podcast- Time for the Yard Sales!

Over the weekend Natalie and I hit up a whole mess of yard sales.  Listen as we discuss the various types of yard sales, our quest for Christmas finds, and how we did finding some treasures to give as gifts.  We have garages, historic homes, estates, churches, and career yard salers.  Four hours of fun and less than $50 spent.  Check out our plans for next week too- we need your help to make it happen.

Yard sale season opens today!

There must be some unspoken rule that the first weekend after Easter is the start of yard sale season.  In addition to the deafening roar of every busy lawn tractor, the weather today was perfect for garage sales.

When my children were younger and I wanted to stop at a yard sale, I used to tell the boys that the car was out of my control, veering on its own toward a lawn full of useless stuff.  Auctions are my favorite, but a yard sale, for me, is like the therapy of shoe shopping for other women.

I spent part of the day browsing over someone else’s Christmas leftovers.  The formula for most yard sales is one quarter old tools and household appliances that may or may not work, one quarter children’s clothing, one quarter old books and miscellaneous stuff, and one quarter old Christmas decorations.  It’s hard to believe how much we squirrel away—and how much I am willing to squirrel away other people’s gently used stuff.

I don’t think I’d ever buy Christmas lights–one woman had a tangled mess in a large cardboard box for 50 cents—because I haven’t figured out the secret of getting the string to light and stay lit with any consistency,  even when it’s fresh out of the box.

I avoid wreaths and other dried holiday arrangements.  They are prone to looking dry and brittle, and I have enough of my own dry and brittle arrangements in need of a fix.

I like vintage holiday tablecloths and unusual glass items that I can use for gift giving, especially if I perfect the shortbread cookies (see yesterday’s post). Today, I hovered over a family of carolers with electric candles but settled for a Hallmark trivet still in the packaging.  Total expense: $1.00.

No sign of those Christmas books by Susan Waggoner, but I’ve got the whole yard sale season.  I’m just getting started!