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…

Fall = Craft Festivals!

Fall has officially arrived!  It is October and that means there’s some type of festival, craft fair, or show every weekend.  This is the perfect time to get out and about and spark your Christmas ideas.  These shows run from the simple to the elaborate.  There are smaller church and neighborhood fairs.  Maybe a local fire company fundraiser or a local PTA night of crafts.  There are larger “shows” that might require an admission or some travel.  These are usually much larger and at some location like a fair or carnival grounds or maybe in a field house or warehouse.  Then there are the mega festivals that are full-on magnets for the craft crowd.  These are the ones that take over a whole town and can be your whole day.  Whatever your taste, get out there and visit one or two.  Your approach can take a variety of angles.  You could just go and watch the people and observe the crafts and creations to get ideas.  This can be of supreme value.  You might find just the right home-made inspiration to spark your own gifts this holiday season.  Maybe you’ll discover a new local candy or cookie that you will introduce to your family and friends come December.  The ideas you can absorb at these fairs is unlimited.  Of course if the idea is that good you might just have to purchase it.  Fairs and festivals can be great places to get amazing gifts.  Unique and original items are everywhere.  Might be the perfect pair of earrings for your sweetie, maybe that awesome wool sweater for mom, an original watercolor for dad, or some clever ornaments for the children.  Believe me- if you can think of it, you can probably find it out there somewhere.  Get in the car and let’s go!  Here are some local possibilities for your upcoming weekend adventures:

Oct 5-7: Sugarloaf Craft Festival in Timonium, MD
Oct 6: Cultural Arts Festival in Oakland Mills, MD
Oct 6-7: Fall Fest Weekend in Mt. Airy, MD
Oct 6-7: Railroad Days in Brunswick, MD
Oct 10-14: Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland, MD
Oct 13-14: Catoctin Colorfest in Thurmont, MD
Oct 13-14: Great Pumpkin Festival at Summers Farm in Frederick, MD
Oct 20: Myersville Harvest Festival in Myersville, MD
Oct 20: Holiday Craft Show at Westminster High School
Oct 20-21: Fall Harvest Days in Westminster, MD
Oct 27: Fall Frolic at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, MD
Oct 27-28: Christmas Craft Fair in Salisbury, MD
Oct 28: Halloween on the Farm at Crumland Farm in Frederick, MD


Boston and Christmas

I have trained my family well. Ian and Lacey are visiting college friends in Boston, and where do they go? Christmas in Boston, a store open year- round, dedicated to Christmas.

Like the Christmas Spirit stores in Ocean City and Rehoboth, Lacey found that every tree was decorated with a specific theme, and she sent photos of her favorites, including the Irish tree.

No time to travel to these distant cities? The website, Christmas in NYC, has all of the ornaments grouped by the same themes. I love how I can select “pets” and have plenty of ornaments and other decorations to choose.


At home, I’ve been working on a project that I saw on Pinterest, turning ordinary assorted tins into extra glamorous gift containers. I’ll post photos as soon as I’m done.

Sears Wish Book Celebrates 60th Anniversary

Roger and I were talking today about Christmases past, and he reminded me that Christmas shopping for us as children was a tour through the Sears Wishbook.  Both of us remember studying the advertisements and turning down pages as hints for our parents.

As of 2009, Sears has put its Wishbook online, but on Friday, August 24, Sears Canada celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the Wishbook.  Sears Canada CEO Calvin McDonald toured his hometown of London, Ontario and hand-delivered the Wishbook to his neighbors.  (I have included a link to the Sacramento Bee news story here.)

There’s a great article summarizing the history of the Wishbook on the Sears Archives. With all the shopping choices we have today, it’s easy to be nostalgic for the past, when 605 pages (1968) was more than anyone could want or imagine!

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!

Lists and Social Networking

Tonight, I decided to explore what list-making software and apps are available to me for Christmas 2012.  Even though I love it when a bride and groom or expectant parents have easy-to-shop lists for their guests and friends, I have a hard time extending it to Christmas.  For an internet shopper, though, there’s something to be said for using one of these apps.

Amazon has a wish list feature that makes saving ideas easy.  I logged on tonight and discovered that I had three items on my wish list (I didn’t remember this at all).  One gift was for me, one for my mother, and one for my niece.  They were nice reminders. Amazon has a plug-in that makes it possible to identify wished for items from other websites.

Wishpot and Wists incorporate more of the social networking that we see on Facebook and Pinterst. Wishpot enables the user to make lists and then designate price alerts so that if the items goes on sale, there is notification for the list maker.  I just remembered that my friend’s birthday is today, and her husband shopped for her using her pins on Pinterest–one pitfall he found was that the items were expensive.   I think Pinterest is more for dreaming.

ReQuall is like a personal assistant.  It incorporates list making with due dates and deadlines, enabling reminders on the phone, computer and tablet.  It could have many uses, Christmas list-making is just one aspect.

I do like the idea of making an list of items and returning to shop for them.  I think that I would prefer to keep my list private, though, with notations of what I would like to buy, rather than enabling the list to be shared.  I think I need more experience with these apps before I can say for sure.

Does anyone else have a favorite for organizing Christmas?

What theme for our tree?


My mom is always helping me to brainstorm great holiday ideas. Today she accompanied me to Michaels for holiday craft supplies, and we made a visit to Christmas Spirit on Rehoboth Avenue in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

In the store entrance we saw this tree decorated in a beach theme. Mom liked the white lifeguard chair ornament. This air conditioned wonderland got me fired up to consider how Jeremy and I are going to decorate our tree for the Festival of Trees in November.


The Coca Cola tree was breathtaking, especially in the cool dim light of the store. I loved the ballerina tree and the wedding tree, but I don’t think I’ll be able to talk Jeremy into these.

A patriotic tree or music tree (there were both in the store) would be great. The Irish tree was really unique–could we assemble a tree reflecting a particular nationality?


A little off the beaten path: how about a gambling tree? I don’t know if all of our readers can support this, but Maryland has a rich horse racing tradition, and this could be enhanced with other games of chance. Items we could collect would be dice, playing cards, Monopoly money and more. I bet I can find some exciting crafts to make out of playing cards.

What I learned from the experience is that The Christmas Spirit store is the springboard for decorating imagination. We bought three ornaments, two with a knitting/crochet theme. How about that for a tree? I know I could ask my aunt or Roger’s sister for help with a crocheted garland!