Shopping tips

Why You Should Start Your Holiday Shopping Now

sandy the snowman (Image)

The sun is shining. The beach is calling. It’s close to a hundred degrees in most parts of the country. Hell, Santa is probably catching some rays at his favorite vacation spot. The last thing you’re thinking about is the upcoming holiday season.

However, with Christmas in July marking the official holiday halfway point of 2016, this is actually the perfect time to do a little preliminary planning for the most wonderful time of the year. You’ll save yourself some of serious headaches and financial stress that always seems to come along with scouring the malls and Amazon during the month of December.

Here are some great tips for getting a jumpstart on your holiday shopping before the first leaf changes color.

Organize your preliminary gift list and budget.

While there will always be those last-minute gifts that pop up, we all have a core group of people that we buy for every year. Make a list of everyone you need to buy for. Consider each person’s hobbies and interests and what you have bought them in the past. Be sure to add a column for how much you are willing to spend on each person. Use the highest amount you think each gift will cost. From there, you’ll be able to get an idea of what your overall shopping budget will be for this year.

Sign up for store rewards programs.

If you plan on hitting certain store to do the bulk of your shopping like Barnes and Noble, Kate Spade or Sephora, consider signing up for any offered rewards programs especially if you shop there frequently throughout the year. You’ll earn points for freebies that can be used as stocking stuffers, and you’ll be discounts and be sent exclusive coupons and given early access to certain sales, like when Kate Spade has its sporadic 75% off secret sales.

Spread your shopping out over the next few months.

Avoid the financial stress the holiday season always seems to bring by spreading out your purchases over the next few months instead of waiting until Black Friday to start. You’ll be able to spend a little bit here and there instead of putting out serious cash all at one time. You make even be able to score some better deals than you’ll find in December depending on what our buying. Designate a specific area, like a closet shelf or under the bed, to store purchases, and use your recipient list to keep track of what you have and what you still need to get.

Start stocking money away.

Can’t bring yourself to start actually buying those holiday gifts before the trick-or-treaters come knocking on your door? Start stocking a little bit of cash away from each paycheck from now until the first of December in a special account specifically for the holiday season. You’ll build up a nice little nest egg that will allow you to shop during the holiday season without feeling the financial pressure on your wallet.

Place your Etsy orders.

If you plan on doing a lot of shopping on Etsy, getting an early start is the best way to go. Depending on what you order or who your order from, you could be facing close to a month between when you place your order and when your order actually ships. You’ll beat the holiday rush and give yourself plenty of leeway for custom orders and items with long lead times.

Start working on your crafty gifts.

Have your heart set on creating handmade gifts for your loved ones this year? Start preparing now. Once you decide on what you want to make, start stocking up on supplies and set up a schedule so you can spread out the work into manageable chunks. Planning on something edible? you the next few months to perfect the recipes you want try, so you can create your masterpiece with ease.

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Heading to Philadelphia? Here’s Some Places to Check Out on Your Next Visit

XOXO Philly

The birthplace of independence, home of Rocky, and land of the cheesesteak, Philadelphia truly is one of a kind. Every year, tourists flock to this historic city to immerse themselves in the story of the American Revolution and walk in the footsteps of our forefathers. Living right outside the city of Brotherly Love, one of my favorite things to do is hop on the train and right into the heart of the city. I love exploring the boutiques of Old City, soaking up the sight and sounds of Independence Mall, catching a show on the Avenue of the Arts, and grabbing a bite to eat at the Reading Terminal. While I’m constantly stumbling upon something new every time I’m in town, there are a few places that hold a special place in my heart.

Here’s my top favorite places to shop and eat when I head down to the City of Brotherly Love to add to your must-visit list next you come to Philadelphia.

Smak Parlour, located at 219 Market Street

Girly to the max with a sophisticated rock and roll edge, Smak Parlour is a must-see for any fashionista. Started by best friends Abby and Katie, this bright pink dollhouse-inspired boutique houses an eclectic collection of vintage-inspired tops, pinup-style dresses and deconstructed band tees, as well as a variety of luxe accessories that will a little retro glam into any look. (Their black cherry-printed pinup dress is one of my go-to pieces.) Not only does Smak Parlour have a brick-and-morter location, but they are also taking their style city-wide with their mobile fashion truck. Abby and Katie, along with their fashion-forward and friendly staff, definitely bring some serious style to the city one neighborhood at a time.

Smak Parlour summer

Never Too Spoiled, located at 57 N 3rd Street

With earthy, laid-back vibe, Never Too Spoiled is a little piece of heaven for the bohemian in all of us and one of my favorite places to shop of all time. In addition to being an official carrier of Lokai bracelets, Giving Keys and Loova soaps, they house a collection breezy pieces from lines like A’reve, Blu Pepper and Entro. Their staff is super sweet and always ready to help, whether their starting a fitting room for you or providing recommendations for items to try on or pair with what you’ve already picked out. However, this boutique isn’t just all about shopping. They host workshops and offer an event space that can be rented out for parties and showers. This boho paradise is a testament to the fact that no girl can ever be too spoiled.

Never Too Spoiled

Philadelphia Independents, located at 35 N. 3rd Street

Looking for a unique souvenir to commemorate your trip? Want a cool way to show off some Philly pride? Check out Philadelphia Independents where founders Jennifer Provost, Tiffica Benza and Ashley Peel Pinkham have brought together some of the most talented local artists the city and surrounding areas have to offer. From graphic throw pillows to wire necklaces to wood cutting boards, your guaranteed to find that perfect little something for everyone, while supporting some awesome local artists.

Philadelphia Independents

Meltkraft, located inside the Reading Terminal Market at 12 & Arch street

While Philadelphia may be synonymous with the cheesesteak, Meltkraft is all about another cheesy delicacy: the grilled cheese sandwich. However, this isn’t your average sandwich. Handcrafted with artisan cheeses from their creamery Valley Shepard Farm, they are elevating this comfort food staple with bold flavors. There’s the Valley Thunder that incorporates brisket and mac and cheese, and the Brielle, a mix of brie, cranberry chutney, caramelized onions and nuts. I’m more of a classic girl, so for me it’s all about the Avenue D, a plain and simple sandwich bumped up in flavor with the amazing Valley Shepard cheeses. (For something a little more luxe, you can have cooked with truffle oil.) With a side of regular or dill-flavored kettle chips, this is the perfect place for a quick and filling lunch.

Meltkraft

The Franklin Fountain, located at 116 Market Street

Who among us doesn’t love ice-cream? To get you ice-cream fix, head over to the Franklin Fountain. This vintage-style soda fountain is serving up sundaes, splits, shakes, and old-fashioned ice-cream sodas. Flavors range from the classic, like vanilla and chocolate, to the more exotic, like teaberry and green tea. Whether you get it a cone or one of their Chinese takeout container inspired cups, there is something to satisfy every sweet tooth. Need a recommendation? My personal favorite is the green tea ice-cream with chocolate sprinkles. (It’s amazing. Trust me.)

Franklin Fountain

Got a favorite place in Philadelphia you love to go? Share it below or on the Will Write For Boots Facebook or Twitter pages! 

‘Tis the Season: 5 Reasons Why You Should Start Your Holiday Shopping Now!

(Image: Flickr)

Yes, you read the title of this post right, and, no, it’s not December yet.

So why am I bringing up the holiday season before we’ve even hit Halloween? After spending four years cramming all of my holiday shopping into roughly a week thanks to finals, lack of a car on campus and many other commitments associated with college, I made a vow last year-my holiday season as a college grad-that I wouldn’t put myself through that torture again. So, I started early, and you know what? I had a much smoother holiday season. I know it sounds like common sense, but it can be hard to put into practice. (It’s pretty easy to say you’ll pick up that scarf for mom a couple of months from now.) However, by beginning now, you’ll reap plenty of benefits and save yourself a ton of headaches.

Here are fives good reasons to start stocking up for the holidays now while malls and boutiques are relatively calm.

1. You’ll avoid ridiculously long lines.

Okay, we’ve all been there. You only need one thing from a store-for me it was a Jeff Dunham CD for my dad from FYE-and you get caught in a line 20 people long, turning your quick trip into an unwanted long excursion, cutting into the time you need to spend in other stores. Avoiding the lines alone is enough to get a jump start on your holiday shopping now.

2. You can avoid sticker shock by spacing out purchases.

One of the things that can really damper your holiday spirit is the total you get at the register, especially during these tough economic times. By starting now, you can spread out purchases over a couple of months rather than a couple of weeks giving you time to really compare prices to get the best deal and avoid one big lump sum at one time. You may even be able to carve out some extra funds for a few purchases that fall in a slightly higher price range.

3. You’ll be able to get more attention from salespeople.

Having worked in retail for the last year, I can attest that December is one of the hardest times to get one-on-one time with a salesperson. It’s not that we don’t want to help you, but it’s difficult to really give customers our full attention when there’s so many vying for it. If you come in now, you’ll be able to have all your questions answered with little interruption and may even score some great gift recommendations for the people on your list.

4. You have time to get crafty.

If you’re the type who likes to give homemade gifts rather than store-bought, starting on your holiday gifts is even more vital. You’ll have time to plan out your projects, price out and purchase supplies, and map out your time frame. You’ll also give yourself a window to purchase gifts if you run into problems with your projects.

5. You’ll avoid a lot of dreaded holiday stress.

While everyone else is running around like crazy, you’ll be able sit back and enjoy the holiday season knowing, with the exception of a few last-minute items, you have the majority of your holiday gifts purchased. Hey, you might even be able to squeeze in a little personal shopping. (If you’re willing to deal with the lines.)