With the holidays approaching, it is only fitting that I dedicate the cool finds of the month to stuff that can make this lovely season more bearable ;-) No, seriously, with the shopping, the cooking, the planning, the spending, by the time we get to the part where we are supposed to let go and have fun, we don't want to be too tired to enjoy it, do we?
So this first installment of the Holiday Edition will focus on gift-giving and other holiday-related activities – I hope you find it helpful.
Multitaskers tend to get lots done but we also have the highest stress levels, and the holiday season is stressful enough as it is! If you are trying to cramp a whole lot of stuff into your lunch break, and you find yourself trying to catch up on unreplied text messages while out shopping, here's something to make things easier: install Vlingo on your Blackberry and you'll have your very own text-messaging assistant. Just say what you want to send and Vlingo will convert it into a text message. It's easy to use and it's a free service!
If you, like me, are expecting house guests for the holidays, and are getting everything ready for them, here's my tip: give THEM your pillow and get yourself a customized pillow from Sleep Number! Their Create Your Perfect Pillow program allows you to personalize the exact outer comfort, inner support and pillow protector materials in their pillow. I recently upgraded to one of these pillows, and I was very surprised to see what a difference something so small makes in the quality of my sleep.
Pillow prices start at $90, and gift cards are also available for purchase – check it out at any of the Sleep Number stores nationwide or online.
How gorgeous are Nancy Gonzales handbags? But who can afford them? Well, maybe you don't have to. Enter the Sweepstakes (hosted by Neiman Marcus) for your chance to win a $3000 Nancy Gonzales shopping spree!
Going on a trip for the holidays? Taking your little one with you? If you are staying at a Hyatt hotel, you can travel a lot lighter by using the Hyatt Travel Lite service, which allows you to order anything you might need, from formula and baby food to strollers and carriers, and have it delivered it to your Hyatt destination.
Need to get your home ready for the holiday parties you'll be throwing? Check out Amazon's Home and Garden Holiday Markdowns, to score kitchen equipment, cookware, table linens and tableware at 30-50% discount.
Also save on decorations on Amazon's Get Ready for the Holidays section.
If you think your sister or best friend would love to find something cute from Bebe under the tree, make sure you use coupon codes to get it for them: through November 30th, get $20 off your purchase of $125 or more with coupon code BBSAVE20 – heck, get something for yourself too, and get $100 (!) off your purchase of $300 or more with coupon code BBGET100.
If your favorite jewelry is feminine but edgy, you'll love Meredith Kahn's Made Her Think line. And you'll love even more that she has a lot of fantastic pieces on sale, up to 60% off! Perfect time to get a present... especially if it's for you ;-)
Women are so easy to shop for! Another example: makeup. Clinique is, in my experience, the brand with the best "gift with purchase" offers. This year Clinique has teamed up with leading designer Trina Turk and has a great offer at one of my favorite stores, Nordstrom. You will receive Trina Turk’s first-ever cosmetics bag, filled with 6 beauty essentials, plus a mirrored lipstick case, FREE with any Clinique purchase of $25 or more — exclusively at Nordstrom, until supplies last.
Or – if you already have too many make-up bags – you can shop at Clinique online get a free tote with your purchase of $50 or more.
This year, Drugstore.com is giving Clinique a run for their money! Their Kooba Beauty Bag is filled with goodies from Stila, Boscia, Sue Devitt, Oscar Blandi, and many more - a $200 value for just $85. The products sound lovely, but the Kooba wristlet is the real catch!
Another great, "no-brainer" gift is pre-packaged gift sets with products already paired up, where you can pick the type of product and/or the scent and get several items already in a lovely gift box. Origins is definitely my favorite place to get gift sets, because they products look and smell lovely, and the gift packages are always so pretty (in fact, I think some of them also make great hostess gifts) – check out this year's Holiday Sets!
Bliss is another popular brand, especially here in the NYC area; and their gift sets are very affordable, like The Big Orange set, which includes two products and a tote.
If you prefer natural and organic makeup and beauty products, you'll be excited to know that Lavera, one of the top natural brands in the world, is now running a Clearance Sale on their website where you can save up to 90%! There is also an Anniversary Sale going on, with newly released products at 15% off. Personally, I think their lipgloss is one of the best I've ever used, and that includes both natural and not-so-much ones ;-)
Send a positive message by gifting your favorite tot with a lovely organic slogan tee by Eco Ike, and enjoy free shipping on any order of $50 or more, and free holiday packaging (including a card) on all orders. My favorite is the "bee green" tee!
And for the mom of the eco-tot, you can't do better than a gift from NIMLI, which is possibly the most fabulous eco-friendly fashion online store! Right now you can enjoy the extensive selection in the fall sale (check out the pashminas!) as well as 20% off your order with coupon code FALL08, and free shipping on all orders over $100.
I don't know about you, but I usually do most of my holiday shopping online. You get great deals, can find coupons to apply (like those at RetailMeNot and CouponNerds) and you can even get money back when you purchase through Ebates. And on top of that, you don't need to go out with the baby in the stroller and fight the madness of the holiday crowds. There is one problem though: some items you really want to see before you buy them. I found a solution, at least as far as toys are concerned: Amazon's Holiday Toy List lets you narrow your choices by age or by price, and then actually see the toys in action! Check it out here.
If you don't know what to get as a Christmas gift for someone on your list, consider a magazine subscription. Get $5 off a one-year subscription to Cooking Light, Elle, Martha Stewart Living, Men's Fitness and others by using code MYPOINTS5OFF during checkout.
Get your little ones gorgeous wooden toys and playroom furniture for Christmas and save by shopping the Pottery Barn Kids online sale, with items up to 65% off.
One for the men: girls like jewelery. But we don't necessarily like the classic stuff, maybe we like more interesting pieces, pieces that will still be lovely years from now, but never boring. You can't go wrong with pieces from Melissa Joy Manning – and you can get 15% off any purchase by using coupon code ARTISAN.
You know what else girls like: bags.
Luna Boston is having a great handbag sale on designer handbags! Foley + Corinna, Hayden Harnett, Botkier, Gryson and more - great chance to snag a designer bag at a discounted price. LunaBoston.com also ships offers free same day shipping on all orders over $100, and free returns – can't go wrong.
But if your budget doesn't allow you to splurge on a designer bag, check out the wide selection of designer-inspired handbags at Baghaus. Through December 1, take $10 off purchases of $50 or more with coupon code TENOFF.
If you'd like more tailored recommendations, you cannot go wrong with GiftGirl. Provide some details about the recipient, and Jean will recommend several fantastic gifts. Whether you choose the 24-hour access option for $5, year-round access ($20) or a personal consultation with Jean ($200), you will get tailored, honest, unbiased suggestions (no paid endorsements!). Here's a little freebie from Jean:
Happy Holidays - and happy shopping!