Lessons Learned: Holiday Shopping Tips

Yesterday I went shopping to run a few errands and quickly realized that the holiday season had arrived.

Christmas music blared from the speakers. Ornaments and ribbon hung from the ceilings. Glitter and sparkle adorned the many signs advertising low prices or the perfect gift. And Shoppers milled about to find those perfect gifts. Even the parking lots were full with vehicles parked to the end of the row. I was pretty lucky, hitting the stores at the right time. I found parking without any trouble, and I didn’t have to wait in long lines. With the season now upon us, I will have to schedule my shopping trips wisely.

In my earlier years, I worked in retail. I learned to shop early and avoid any retail store after Thanksgiving. After working long hours and usually every day of the week until Christmas, I wanted nothing to do with shopping centers, stores, or people. Today, I don’t mind shopping during the season. I have my own way to shop and here’s some tips:

1. Know what you want to buy for gifts. Make a list of potential gifts for that special someone. I have a list for my mom. She needs clothes, a telephone, humidifier, and slippers. I have options so if the store is out of one item, I can select another item.

2. Shop before the season starts. Try to buy items throughout the year when they’re on clearance or sale. Stockpile them in a closet. Those items can also come in handy when you need a spur-of-the-moment gift.

3. Know what you want to buy. If the item is going to be a hot seller, buy it early. Decide the best route for buying it. Check out the internet. I’ve searched Amazon and then local stores to see where I can get the best price. See if it’s in stock at the store before going out there. You could save yourself a trip.

4. Stay away from shopping in stores on the weekends. Unless you go real early in the morning or real late at night, I’d totally avoid it. Who needs the headache?

5. Don’t shop on Thanksgiving. Have family time. There’s enough days in the season to not have to shop on the holiday.

6. Avoid big stores with huge Black Friday savings. You don’t need to wait outside in the freezing cold for the doors to open to get that one freakin’ toy that’s already sold out before you finally get inside. Wait until their birthday and get it then. And if you’re looking for electronic bargains, those items are usually pieces that they couldn’t sell pre-holiday season. In my book that means why would I want to buy it now?

7. Don’t shop on Christmas Eve. You’re really crazy if you do. Most of the stuff is gone, the employees are cranky, and your budget takes a beating.

I have to admit that I have shopped on Black Friday. I haven’t ventured out in two years, but I think I may go out this year. I like grabbing a cup of coffee and seeing what type of bargains I can find. The caveat is that I don’t go out to buy Christmas gifts. I consider the event as my own personal treasure day. I buy stuff, like clothes, for me. I avoid the stores with long lines that snake around the aisles. I take advantage of the sales because they can have some really good sales. I also love to people watch.

And last of all, remember to reward yourself. An ice-cold beer or a glass of wine is a perfect way to help ease any frustrations associated with holiday shopping. So let the fun begin.



Lessons Learned: Romance Never Sells

I love when I hear men, even a woman, say that romance never sells. Usually it’s in conversation of movies. When I tell them that I write romance and my novel “Gitana – Life Plan” would make a great movie, they usually wave their hand and say, “Romance doesn’t sell.” I’ve heard that three/four times now.

My father-in-law’s recent email to my husband was perfect and triggered me to write this blog. He wrote:

Tell Beth I have read over 300 free eBooks mostly published from 1850 to1935. The genre varies from detective, mystery, action/adventure, classics, war, political, espionage, Si Fi, historical fiction, western, horror, etc. They almost all have one thing in common – they’re ROMANCE NOVELS! Damsels in distress is the common theme.

Now these are stories that men would read and go to the movies to see. Think beyond 1935: “Casablanca (1942)” or “An Officer and a Gentleman (1982).” Both movies have romance. “No,” the naysayers argue, “that’s not romance.” If you consider the romance genre and how romances end in happily ever after, I agree that they are technically correct for “Casablanca.” The movie isn’t a “happily ever after” for Ilsa and Rick; however, the movie does have strong romantic elements.

Romance provides the emotional element needed to keep the story moving forward and to keep the reader or moviegoer engaged. Next time you watch a movie or read a western or horror story, see if you can find the romance. Even “King Kong (1933, 1976, 2005)” had strong romantic elements to it. Oh yes, let’s see how “Fifty Shades of Grey” does this winter when it arrives in movie theaters in February.

Romance sells.

Lessons Learned: Veterans Day – more than you realize…

When you see a veteran tomorrow, or any day, remember to thank them for their service. They deserve this day…and then some.

For all those who served our country and fought in a war, there was the immediate risk of danger. Our vets from previous wars and those still in active duty have seen things and been through experiences that we can’t even imagine. I think of the soldiers being attacked, having bullets come at them and not know if they’ll get out safely. I think of the soldiers who have been exposed to biological or chemical warfare. They may not have known about the exposure or seen the damage it caused until years after the fact.

And for those who served our country but did not have to fight during war, they were able to prepare, strategize, and train. They were ready to take action. Their work moved the military forward.

Tomorrow the veterans deserve their day.

To all who have and are serving, I thank you.

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