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Impressive Holiday Entertaining That Won’t Break the Bank!

While some people wait with anticipation for the snow to fly and holiday lights to appear, others get a knot in their stomach just anticipating the rush of the holiday season. Of course, there is always things for everyone to look forward to; few people are downright Scrooges. However, if you could have all the holiday cheer without worrying about how much you’re spending, wouldn’t that be ideal? Entertaining is an important part of many holiday traditions and you can impress family and friends without breaking the bank. Holiday entertaining doesn’t have to cost a lot to make an impact.

Deck the Halls
Whether you are hosting a holiday event or just want to get your home and family into a festive mood, your holiday decorations are important. However, when you’re entertaining on a budget, it just doesn’t make sense to go out and buy an entire new set of holiday decorations. The good news is that there are plenty of sources for free holiday decorations. If you need to trim your tree a bit, save the cuttings to fashion into a wreath. There’s no way you can consider this technique passe when it’s recommended by none other than Martha Stewart. If you don’t have enough leftover greenery to fashion an entire wreath, try stopping by a local Christmas tree farm; many will give away the cuttings and trimmings for nothing. Add in a few berries or decorative balls for Christmas, or some fruit for Thanksgiving, and you’re good to go. You can also arrange the greenery into a swag or lay it on a tablecloth for a centerpiece.

White Goes a Long Way
Creating a beautiful tablescape can be one of the hardest parts of entertaining. However, don’t go out and buy all new china just to host the event. In fact, you may be surprised to find out that most people can create a beautiful setting with what they already have. If you feel you really don’t have anything suitable, invest in one complete set of simple white china. White china can be mixed and matched with any theme and still stays fresh and beautiful. For Thanksgiving, pair it will deep oranges, red and gold tones with a pumpkin, fall floral arrangement or fruit bowl in the middle. Use the same dishes at Christmastime with a deep cranberry color theme. White always looks elegant and never gets old. Once you know how this works, it’s easy to pick up white dishes and serving pieces throughout the year at tag sales and thrift shops; these can particularly stunning when used as a holiday centerpiece. You can mix and match to your heart’s content using white as the base.

Entertaining is mainly about making the people you love feel cared about. Few people even bother to ask what you spent on the event, so the impact is much more important than the budget. Don’t be afraid to use the same supplies for several different events, especially if the guest list is different. Keep it simple and your holiday events will wow the crowd without causing you to hyperventilate.

We know you have your own unique way to save on holiday entertainment; share your tips and tricks by commenting below.

November 18, 2010   No Comments

Top 5 Most Popular Christmas Gifts

It’s not easy to find a Christmas gift for the person who has everything. A lot of people are just hard to buy for, but that doesn’t mean you should give up and stuff coal in their stocking. If you’re looking for the perfect Christmas present for someone in your life, check out this list of the top five most popular Christmas gifts for inspiration.

Movies
Movies are one of the easiest Christmas presents to give. Blockbuster hits are a popular way of saying, “I don’t know what you really want for Christmas, so let’s just watch a movie.” DVDs are easy to wrap, inexpensive, and fun for both the gift-recipient and the gift-giver…if the gift-recipient is up for a movie night, that is. Just pay attention to his or her personal collection; independent films are often a safer bet, because people are less likely to already own them.

Flannel pajamas
During those chilly winter nights, flannel pajamas are the next best thing to a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Because they are a classic style, they’ll never go out of fashion, and they’ll last forever. You don’t have to stick to the red and black pajamas either; look for printed options or colorful fabrics that will best suit your friend or family member.

Gift baskets
Gift baskets are popular Christmas presents for teachers, older female relatives, and neighbors. For some reason, gift baskets full of body lotion, scented spray, and other pretty bottled liquids that will make your bathing experience more fun are popular Christmas gifts. Although giving someone a gift basket might be a not-so-subtle commentary on their personal hygiene, most people at least appreciate the pretty basket.

Candles
Who wants a candle when we have full access to electricity? The truth is, no one really asks for candles for Christmas, but particularly sweet smelling candles are versatile; they can make an appearance at the dinner table or in a romantic bedroom. The candles that come in glass jars are not only functional, they also double as a nice decoration after the candle has melted down.

Candy canes
There’s nothing that gets you in the Christmas spirit more than the all-time favorite candy cane. Although candy canes are traditionally red and white with a peppermint flavor, candy makers have come up with all sorts of crazy flavors over the years. Try mint chocolate, bubble gum, or fruity flavors such as strawberry, cherry, or banana split.

November 17, 2010   No Comments

SBA Backed Loan Offering to Help Small Business Owners

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Phoenix, AZ – November 2010 – This month, leading online B2B wholesale distributor DollarDays introduced a partnership with Superior Financial Group to help business owners secure Small Business Administration loans.

DollarDays is the premiere online wholesale and closeout company that helps small businesses to compete against chain retailers by offering more than 140,000 high-quality goods at prices close to those at which large enterprises purchase. Through this new lending program, people will be able to access the application for a small business loan ranging from $5k to $25k directly through the DollarDays website. The loans, provided by federally licensed SBA lender Superior Financial Group, are geared towards start-ups, home-based businesses, and small businesses.

“With lenders giving preference to larger businesses with more assets, there are less dollars for small businesses like start-ups and mom & pop stores,” says DollarDays Founder and President Marc Joseph. “DollarDays’ main principle is about helping small businesses stay competitive with larger retailers, and this program offers a solution many business owners can’t find elsewhere. It’s an affordable way to help people secure SBA-backed loans of up to $25,000 and continue to grow and scale their businesses.”

There is no collateral required to secure a loan, and it is possible to get funding within days of completing the online small business loan pre-qualifier application. There is no risk obligation, no prepayment penalties, or balloon payments, so the loans can be paid off at anytime. There are also special loans available for Export business.

“We are excited to be teaming up with Dollars Days and help provide much needed capital to help small businesses grow in these challenging economic times,” says Tim Jochner, CEO of Superior Financial Group.

To apply for a small business loan through Superior Financial Group, you can visit the DollarDays website and click on the banner in the right margin to apply. DollarDays members can also apply for a loan through the fast and easy SBA loan pre-qualification process.

ABOUT DOLLARDAYS
DollarDays International is a Web-based virtual warehouse, where small business owners and charities can find great deals on small business-sized orders from more than 140,000 consumer products, like wholesale jewelry, wholesale clothing, household décor, electronics, and seasonal merchandise. The company’s unique, innovative business model enables small business owners to offer quality merchandise, membership free, while reaping the same kinds of discounts and margins routinely offered exclusively to the largest retailers. In 2006, DollarDays made its debut at number 158 on Inc. Magazine 500 list of fastest growing private companies and recently was named one-of-50 second-stage Arizona “Companies to Watch” by the Arizona Small Business Association. Feel free to contact DollarDays at any time at sales@dollardays.com or 1-877-837-9569.

November 16, 2010   No Comments

Week in Review (November 12)

Etsy: An Online Business Alternative – November 8, 2010
Etsy.com is an alternative to eBay and other auction sites for those who wish to start an online business. Etsy is specifically for those with handmade or unique products. Etsy collects a fee for each listing and receives a percentage of the final selling price of each item. Like other online retail sites, Etsy offers multiple product search options so that customers can locate items. For those new to online retail and trying to sell unique merchandise, Etsy can be an easy way to begin a business and promote a product.

Social Media Marketing: Get AddThis FREE for Your Dropship Business! – November 10, 2010
AddThis is a tool available that can allow online retailers to know which social sites customers are using to share the retailer’s content. This then assists retailers in knowing which social media share buttons to incorporate on the site, keeping the site purposeful and less cluttered. AddThis is easy to install and is available free of charge.

E-commerce Emerges from the Recession with a Larger Share of Consumers’ Wallets – November 11, 2010
E-commerce sales are continuing to increase and now make up nearly 10% of all consumer spending, with the top 25 e-retailers claiming almost 70% of all online sales in the 3rd quarter of 2010. The largest increase in online spending was from middle income households, those making between $50,000 and $100,000. And the products that saw the most growth in sales were books and magazines, computers and personal electronics.

What Makes So Many Startups Fail – November 11, 2010
Only 30% of all new businesses see a ten-year anniversary. In order to ensure that a business is successful and can stand the test of time, it is essential to have a fully-developed business model that is able to be modified depending upon the needs of the business. In addition, it is critical to pay close attention to all expenditures as well as income. Finally, it is recommended to be constantly seeking outside advice and perhaps even instituting a board of directors for the business.

When Disaster Strikes, Customer Relationships Can Be Critical – November 11, 2010
Recently, Hannats, a British business, was susceptible to fraud as its credit card company’s security was breached. Hannats handled the incident very well and gained respect from its customers because of their appropriate response to the breach. All companies should keep the following in mind in the event of such a crisis: do not be deceptive, contact all customers and continue to update them until the situation is resolved, avoid placing blame, thank others for their patience as the matter is being handled, try to implement partial solutions until the full matter is resolved, and work to create relationships with customers prior to such an event so that they know to trust your word and your business.

November 12, 2010   No Comments

Enjoy the Simplicity of the Holiday Season

The holiday season is once again upon us and what was once in youthful times a joyous and happy time has become a dreaded season of commercialism, overspending and unmitigated stress. Many people can only recollect the magical feeling of joy during the holidays of their youth. They are exceedingly jubilant watching carefree children blissfully enjoying the spirit of the season devoid of responsibilities and free of stress.

Thanksgiving and Christmas bring families and friends together every year to celebrate the exalted traditions of the season of thanks and good will. For those who spend hours working to make everybody else’s experience wonderful, their own often comes up short. There are several ways that some of the work and stress can be reduced, and the enjoyment extended to all by simply increasing everyone’s participation and contribution in the preparation of the victuals. Planning a Pot-Luck or partial Pot-Luck allows for the delegation of many of the smaller tasks, such as providing desserts or appetizers. After all if everybody always has to hear about Aunt Betty’s famous apple pie, she might as well bring it. This way, everyone can enjoy the pie, and make Aunt Betty happy by showcasing her gift of culinary artistry.

There are many ways to consolidate work, stress and expenses of the holidays. There is no way to avoid the expense of buying gifts, but it can be stretched over the course of time. Picking up a present here and there during the course of the year is the smart way to shop but few people are inclined to practice this. For those who enjoy Christmas shopping, buying the first present for themselves is a veritable reliever of stress. This may seem a bit cynical, but it is a delightful incentive to go shopping without the anxiety brought on by the pressure. Perhaps buying a decorative piece to use every holiday can lower costs for future holiday celebrations.

Decorating can be simple for those inclined to the creative arts. Simple pine cones, fallen leaves, pine needles and other natural gifts of nature, combined with glue, interchangeable colored ribbons, wrapped up gingerbread figures, and other decorative items purchased at the dollar store can serve as both Thanksgiving and Christmas wreaths and table settings. These can easily be transformed between holidays with a few minimal changes like candy canes and assortments of figurines and trinkets. Getting the children involved with these kinds of projects not only gives them the opportunity to participate, but also stimulates their creative instincts, and can lead to the elevation of their spirit of the season. Children will appreciate their own creations over the artificial store bought decorations. It also endows them with a sense of pride as they have made a contribution in a direct and personal way. This is far more satisfying for them than just participating in the perfunctory tasks of placing artificial nick knacks in designated locations around the house. Creative thinking is the key to abating costs and stress.

November 11, 2010   No Comments

Thanksgiving Recipes for 2010

Thanksgiving is always a time of year that people put pride into their cooking. They may use recipes passed down the generations from their great-grandmother, or they might just use recipes they find online or in recipe books. You have to have a turkey and grandma’s famous stuffing, and the family favorite green bean casserole. Of course, no Thanksgiving is complete without the pumpkin pie and the cranberry sauce either. We’re pleased to give you the top 5 Thanksgiving recipes of this year.

Stuffing
Your grandma probably made her stuffing from homemade bread. Your mom probably made hers with store-bought bread, croutons, or with store-bought mix. They both tasted just as good. You can make a delicious stuffing using day-old bread, cornbread, butter, finely chopped celery and onion, and seasonings. Stovetop stuffing is very easy to make and very good, but you will need proper pots, such as the set you can find here, . Melt the butter over the stovetop and sauté the onions and celery. You then chop up the breads into cubes and toast it in the oven, and mix the bread with the sautéed onions and celery and seasonings; moisten with chicken broth as necessary. Put this into a baking pan and bake at 350°F for about 45 minutes.

Turkey
The turkey is usually a big deal. Some people will take a whole week to prepare their turkey. Most people do not care for turkey and just throw it in the oven, but if you prepare your turkey right, you will have a very delicious juicy bird. You should start by soaking your turkey in brine overnight. This will help to make it more tender by absorbing salt and break proteins down. To make great brine, rub down the turkey in a cup of salt, place in a big pot, and cover with a gallon and a half of cold water. Add a lemon, an orange, and an onion, all cut into wedges. To this, add three cloves garlic, four bay leaves, a tablespoon of dried thyme, and tablespoon of ground black pepper. Let this sit in the refrigerator overnight. On the big day, take the turkey out, rinse it, and throw away the brine. Place in a roasting pan, such as the one you can find here here, brush with 1/4 cup of butter, and stuff with the stuffing.

Casserole and Cranberries
Two of the most overlooked dishes at a Thanksgiving dinner are often the best. These two dishes are the green bean casserole and the cranberry sauce. Green bean casserole is very simple to make, you just have to decide whether you want to use fresh green beans or canned beans. It is simply mixing a can of cream of mushroom soup with green beans, a little bit of onion, some milk, a dash of soy sauce, and some French’s French fried onions. Cranberry sauce can either be bought in a can, or you can make a traditional homemade sauce. This is a simple sauce made from 4 cups of cranberries, one cup of sugar, and 1 cup of water. You dissolve the sugar in the water, and then add the cranberries, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Some people add pecans, orange zest, cinnamon or blueberries. It is up to your preferences what you add. You will probably want a casserole dish though, and one that will look good on your table, such as this gorgeous white Corningware dish.

Pumpkin Pie
The best part of the dinner is the dessert. Of course, this is what pumpkin pie fanatics would say. Pumpkin pie a simple to make, whether you make it from a can or you make it from scratch. A simple delicious pumpkin pie can be made using a 15 ounce can of pumpkin, three fourths of a cup white sugar, 1-12 ounce can of evaporated milk, two eggs, a teaspoon of cinnamon, a half a teaspoon of salt and ground ginger each, 1/4 teaspoon of ground cloves. Don’t forget the whipped cream on top!

So this thanksgiving, cook up, eat up, get fat and be happy! Then it’s off to the gym again. But you won’t regret it with these delicious recipes.

November 10, 2010   No Comments

A Small Business Suggestion for the Holiday Season

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, many small business owners are looking to do something special for their employees, something for their customers to carry on the holiday spirit. Beyond being fun, beyond being an effective way to further endear your business to your clients and employees, this also helps to sort of “legitimize” a newer business.

Think about it. Suppose it’s December fifteenth and there are two local shops that only opened their doors for business a few months ago. One has their Christmas decorations up, the other doesn’t. Clearly the one with some decorations up is going to look a little more professional than the other, a little more like the management really cares and is trying to put every effort into their business.

So, if you’re looking for something special to do but can’t make up your mind, take one of these suggestions and see if you can work it into your own plans. These are all designed to go a step beyond simple decorations to spread the holiday cheer, but without forcing you to dig deep into the corporate account.

Red and Green Paper
This is just a little thing, but you might be surprised what a difference it makes. Clearly you’re not going to replace all the printer paper with red and green Christmas themed stationary, but if you get a roll of red or green receipt paper, some red and green post-it note pads and so on, it can really brighten up the atmosphere around the office.

Secret Santa Gifting
The whole secret Santa thing is a longstanding workplace tradition. The anonymous gifting allows workers to give away only one present, as few people can really afford a present for each and every person at the workplace on top of all of their own family and friends. The Secret Santa tradition gives employees something to look forward to when they get to work and encourages a friendlier atmosphere around the Holidays.

Thanksgiving Office Pot Luck
The problem with the holidays is that people tend to skip right from Halloween to Christmas when it comes to decorations and parties and so on. Other than the family feast, you’d almost think Thanksgiving was just another Thursday. Well, with an office pot luck as a warm up dinner about a week or so before the big day, it’s easy to encourage the notion of treating your co-workers as family and boost the office morale. Just provide the paper plates and maybe a treat of your own and you’re good to go.

The bottom line is that running a business can’t all be boiled down to spreadsheets and numbers and business intelligence and so on. There’s also a human element that is often neglected, and the holidays are when that human element becomes very important. If you have employees and clients who are happy around December, you can consider office morale to be far above and beyond average.

November 8, 2010   No Comments

FREE Shipping Ends Today!

Get your orders in now and take advantage of the FREE SHIPPING offer going on. This offer ends today(11/8)

All orders over $349 receive free shipping, giving you the opportunity to take advantage of huge savings on large orders.

How It Works

1. Add products to your cart until you reach the minimum order or more.
2. Appropriate discount will automatically calculate in your shopping cart.
3. Proceed to checkout as normal.

November 8, 2010   No Comments

Week in Review (November 5)

E-Commerce Evolution: Beyond Traditional Search – November 1, 2010

http://www.ecommercetimes.com/story/ecommerce/71144.html

Any online retailer knows that position on a search correlates to customers and sales. And currently, an increasing number of consumers are beginning product searches on retail sites as opposed to a search engine. Manufacturers are taking advantage of this and searchandising, where they are paying for position on a retail site just as they would on a search engine or a store shelf. Manufactures and retailers alike need to be looking at searchandising as a way to increase customers and sales.

Your Dropship Business: How to Avoid Internet Fraud – November 1, 2010

http://blog.dropshipaccess.com/bid/49720/Your-Dropship-Business-How-to-Avoid-Internet-Fraud

As online consumers and sales have increased this year, so have online scammers. To keep an online business secure, it is critical to use a program designed to detect credit card fraud, be aware of phishing scams as they can put not only the retailer but also an entire customer database at risk, and keep current with up-to-date anti-virus protection.

Gain Customers and Sales With Like-Minded Businesses – November 2, 2010

http://blog.toptenwholesale.com/b2b-retail.htm

To help increase both customers and sales, consider partnering with similar businesses in regards to referrals and advertisements. Depending upon the specifics of a particular business, it can be quite beneficial to partner with another business who provides a service or products to similar clients in order to glean more referrals and, ultimately, sales.

News: Retailers Strap Down Returns – November 3, 2010

http://www.wholesalematch.com/blog/news-retailers-strap-down-returns/4341/

Due to the current recession, the return rate of both in-store and online holiday purchases are expected to rise. Many businesses are requiring information such as a phone number, address or driver’s license in order to return a product in order to stop fraudulant behavior. An online business, of course, already has access to much of this information due to the checkout process. Customers need to be aware of return policies, and business owners need to be sure they have reasonable and beneficial return policies to product themselves while not steering away customers.

How To Create A Compelling EBay Auction Listing – November 4, 2010

http://www.wholesalematch.com/blog/how-to-create-a-compelling-ebay-auction-listing/4344/

To ensure an eBay listing stands out from the competition, heed the following tips. Be sure the listing is readable; keep the descriptions simple. Select one, easy to read font type, and use italics rather than capitalization when striving for emphasis. Choose appropriate font sizes, and be sure that the header and body fonts are proportional. Use no more than two contrasting colors on the page for easy reading. Search through other eBay listings, decipher which seem to be the most successful, and utilize some of those aspects in your own listing.

November 5, 2010   No Comments

Use the Internet to Save Money on Holiday Shopping

Online shopping can be tricky. Shipping charges alone can eat up a Christmas budget before the season gets going good. There are, however, countless opportunities to save money by purchasing online. It just takes a little organization to take advantage of them all.

Sign up for e-mails
This is a first and vital step, and to maximize the money saved, it should be done at the beginning of the year. This allows a shopper to take advantage of sales all year around. To begin, make a list of stores that you enjoy shopping from. Then go to each store’s website and sign up for their e-mails. To minimize spam, create a whole separate e-mail address for this, using a free service such at yahoo, hotmail, or Gmail.

These e-mails will ensure that you are alerted to sales when they happen and sometimes give you early access. It also means that occasionally you will receive promotion codes for percents or dollars off, or free shipping. Take advantage of these deals as they come along throughout they year, rather than waiting until the last minute to make purchases when these deals may not be available. This is especially true of free shipping. Shipping charges can ruin a great online sale.

Do a code search
Never complete an online purchase without first doing a search for coupon codes. Sites such at retailmenot.com and currentcodes.com list hundreds of stores alphabetically along with currently available coupon codes. A simple search can sometimes save up to 20%.

Shop through a cash back service
Sites such as Ebates.com and shopathome.com offer cash back on purchases from hundreds of online stores. This is paid quarterly by check or PayPal. Taking advantage of this all year long can yield a nice little nest egg at the end of the year to go toward Christmas or to be used as a special holiday treat.

Swagbucks
Sign up for Swagbucks and search, search, search. Searching through Swagbucks.com earns points called “swagbucks” that can be redeemed for all kinds of merchandise, including gift cards that can be used to buy Christmas gifts, or can be given as gifts themselves.

The scenario
Utilizing the tips above, an online purchase may look something like this:

  • ABC Company is one that a shopper enjoys to shop at. Back in January the shopper signed up for ABC Company’s e-mails. Now it is October and they have sent and e-mail that they are having a huge sale and offering free shipping through the end of the week.
  • The shopper goes to Ebates.com and enters the store’s website there. ABC Company happens to be offering 4% cash back through Ebates.
  • Once on ABC Company’s website, said shopper selects several gifts at sale prices that allow him or her to purchase gifts worth $100 for $70, or 30% off.
  • Now the shopper opens a new tab and goes to a coupon code site to do a search for ABC Company. They happen to have a code out for 20% off an order of $50.
  • The shopper clicks over to the checkout and enters the code where it is requested. The total drops to $56.
  • The sale includes free shipping on orders over $50 through the end of the week. After taxes the order goes up to $60.
  • The check out process is finished, and in a few days $2.40 is deposited into the shopper’s Ebates account. This shopper just spent a net of $57.60 on $100 worth of products.
  • The tips and scenario above should encourage all holiday shoppers to take advantage of resources available online to maximize their dollar during the holiday season, and all year long.

    November 4, 2010   No Comments