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Gift Card Rush Will Boost Holiday Sales Figures

(category: Holidays, Word count: 484)
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While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another "rush" for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption.

According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches containing the words "gift card" was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget.

Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience.

But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer.

For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift.

There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs.

Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

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Black Friday Is Coming

(category: Holidays, Word count: 273)
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A day is soon coming that some folks are looking at with dread, for others in eager anticipation, while the rest of us are scratching our heads not knowing what to make of it. So, what am I talking about? Why, Black Friday, the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day in the US.

So, why so black and why on a Friday? Traditionally, the day after Thanksgiving used to mean one thing for retailers: it was the first day in the lengthy retailing calendar where a store could make enough money [move merchandise] to see yearly losses [for bookkeeping purposes represented by the color red] turn into gains [represented by the color black]. Supposedly, all the sales completed throughout the year were done at a loss until that one big day, Black Friday, whereby enough merchandise is sold to reverse course and to begin to turn a profit for the year.

Today, retailers don't rely on just one day, even though some news reports still seem to indicate that the day after Thanksgiving is so vital to them. In reality, retailers have long since spread their reliance on Black Friday further out; now it is an entire season, Christmas, that ultimately determines whether a merchant turns a profit for the year or not.

Of course, if you are part of that one small, but significant part of the population who must rouse themselves up at 5 a.m. one day after eating Thanksgiving dinner and schlep over to a local retailer to wait on customers for twelve straight hours then the day is, understandably, black to you. Happy Black Friday!

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Christmas Gift Shopping Why Not Use The Favorites Secret

(category: Holidays, Word count: 587)
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Christmas can be a pretty stressful time as we are all rushing around trying to make sure we have everything in hand for when the great occasion arrives. Now though with the aid of the internet the chore of buying all those Christmas gifts for your loved ones can be done with both speed,ease and sometimes at a fraction of the cost.

Before we would simply walk into a store and match a product to whoever we were buying it for. Now with the help of the internet we can within minutes track down the product that we "know" a person will want and in theory our shopping time should be shortened and the end result should be a present that is truly wanted and received with great joy. The other benefit of Christmas gift shopping via the internet is the fact that we can easily and swiftly compare the different prices that the various vendors have on their websites. It is not unheard of to find a price difference of up to fifty percent so do not be rushed into buying the very first product your eyes lay focus on as you could surely be paying a far lower price elsewhere.

The trick with all internet shopping and one that many folk forget is "save that site to your favorites" , This single action alone can save you a fortune. How many times on the past have you found a product or service never to see it again? why? simply because you visited a few different websites and could not remember how you found the item/product in the first place. Christmas gift shopping entails visiting far more sites than usual so simply create a new folder in your "favorites" folder and add the sites as you go.

Another advantage of this is that if you do this well before Christmas you can even line up a variety of different Christmas gifts in order that when you do decide to buy you will not be stuck for choice. You will not believe how easy this can make your online Christmas shopping experience and no longer will you dread the Christmas gift hunting season as it approaches.

In addition to using your "favorites" folder as your secret Christmas shopping weapon the next tip is this. Start your online information gathering as early as you think you can handle. Start in October and build up a list of different gift options, Work on one person at a time and if possible even sound them out regarding what it is that they might wish Santa to bring them for the jolly old Christmas occasion.

Also remember this. At this time of year there are so many stores and businesses fighting for your custom that bargains will be plentiful and the need to buy the very first time you see a target item should be absolutely the last thing on your mind.

remember these key points and you won't go far wrong.

Start as early as possible.

Use your favorites to store website and product details.

Sound your friends and relatives out to see just what they would wish for at Christmas.

Do not buy from the very first website you visit, Shop around.

With all this information your Christmas chores should be far easier than once they were and the presents you buy will be more gratefully received.

Merry Christmas and a Happy new year..... I think I hear sleigh bells.

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Halloween Ecards How To Chose

(category: Holidays, Word count: 281)
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Halloween is fun. It is a day of fun. Everybody across all the age groups enjoys Halloween. On such a day, it is fun to send ecards. With so many ecards available, it becomes difficult to get ecards that make you feel good and give joy to the recipients. After all the ecards are supposed to spread joy. Let me tell you how to do this.

Get Free - with so much free content available on the net, it is no use paying for ecards search for websites that are offering free ecards.

Flash - In this age, to use static small JPG ecards looks little out of place. Look for flash ecards that have lot of movement in them.

Size- Don't chose very small or very large sizes. Chose sizes that nicely fit in the screen. Your recipient will be able to view the ecard easily and enjoy it.

Music - Use ecards with scary music. The flash with music will add to the fun of Halloween.

Message - chose a service that gives space for putting your message and a notification to you that your ecard has been viewed.

Selection of ecards requires little search if you know what you are looking for. The card size/weight should be small so that the ecard opens easily. The ecard should have a click to view in the beginning. Halloween offers you a grand opportunity to connect with all friends and family members. Send more than one ecard to most of them. The ecards are free. Why not send more? Halloween is fun. Ecards for Halloween add to that fun and make your day really enjoyable.

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Easter Easter Eggs Are The Sorrows Of Our Tomorrows

(category: Holidays, Word count: 580)
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Just an Easter thought that needs to be shared that some of you may find very beneficial for you and your family.

The season of spring is a time for new beginnings, new life and new tomorrows - our lord Jesus Christ proved that to the world with his miraculous rising on Easter Sunday.

Out with the old and in with the new (removing clutter followed by a lick of paint) was a mission undertaken by people the whole world over when the great spring clean took place. It is all well and good that the house be in ship shape order and tip top condition with the new facelift - but what about you.

How about this Easter be focused on keeping you and your family in tip top condition.

Now the house has a new image after the service of fresh linen - mopped floor and polished furniture then now it is time to service your self. Health farms and beauticians can make your Easter extra special by giving you the (it takes 2 factor) Number 1 is the feel good factor and number 2 is the look good factor. Both of these factors combined are with out doubt a sure way of finding the real inner you.

Health at Easter time can be a major concern for those looking to stay prim and trim should they over indulge with the intake of their Easter fix of chocolate easter eggs. Obesity in children should not be encouraged by to many of these easter goodies.

The fragrant aroma fills the air from the cherry pink blossom - in spring. The smell of the fresh cut grass lingers aloft also - in spring. Then we have seasonal baby lambs and yellow fluffy chicks hatching in great numbers again also - in spring. So why don`t you spring into action this easter and take control over your health.

Out with the old (remove waste body toxins) and in with the new (inner feeling of health) by taking up yoga this Easter. Yoga is normally performed to music compilations made up of nature sounds but why - when at springtime you can exercise to the real thing.

On a fine day - take you and the kids out into the garden or Local Park and introduce them to a little gentle exercise showing them what they need to know on body awareness. Preferably the park - the reason for this is you may also gain interest from the public who may just want become aware too.

This could be the start of a new craze at Easter where you get the both of both worlds. Chocolate eggs and bunnies can be eaten with no feeling of guilt because you get to shed the excess pounds all at the same time.

You will find the children involved with your new easter trend will not only have taken their first steps in gaining a more healthier out look on life but furthered there education on the birds and the bees so as to speak. In other words they can tell you what bird whistles the happy tune and name the flower that sways in time with the gentle spring breeze air as you exercise.

Your health and that of your family should be first and foremost in your mind. Because new tomorrows can only bring sorrows if health matters are ignored.

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How To Spice Up Valentines Day By Changing The Direction Of Your Love

(category: Holidays, Word count: 1272)
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Another Valentines day is upon us and as we spread the love this month, how about starting right at home with your self? I want to talk about loving your self.

I am sure that you have encountered loads of people who both professionally and personally tend to put the needs of others before themselves. For many people it is an integral aspect of their work whereas some people learn that way of being during their younger years.

The variety of carers in our society learn how to minimise taking notice of their own feelings in order to take care of their clients and patients. People that tend to drive themselves into fatigue, depression or even illness include individuals such as hospital doctors working ridiculously long hours, high ranking city executives responding to their bosses, mothers to their young children, teachers within schools and colleges, managers of large companies with lots of employees.

With these kinds of people, because of their beliefs about what their role entails, they have a habit of putting the needs of the company or the client first. There can then come a point where these kind of people do not even notice their own feelings.

Where is the love? It is being expended everywhere else. I would go as far as to say that this is potentially dangerous.

This kind of attitude to oneself produces conscious and unconscious attempts to take care of the self in short term ways or ways that are detrimental to our own well-being, including smoking or drinking alcohol or eating too much or the wrong things. These things then replace the good, direct and long-term ways of taking care of ourselves. People often try to give themselves quick treats, but in a way that can erode your self-esteem or your ability to attract love as you find that you cannot go without it, and also these things do not create natural good feelings most of the time.

So then what happens is that the teacher leaves the profession, the executive gets burnt out early, the nurse goes sick with constant illness, the doctor chooses to work in a private clinic with regular hours and pleasant surroundings. All of these may well be valid, but if they are not the individual's choice and they are forced decisions, it really does nothing for your sense of self. Without a good sense of self, it is hard to attract love.

So we want to spread some love.

Putting oneself first actually means that we are then of course in a far better position to look after others. If we are fit and well and happy, we have plenty spare for others. We can give generously without minding. Putting time and energy into loving your self is one of the most wonderful investments that you can make. So, we want to start getting you to notice you.

What do you like about you? What is there to love about you?

Is there someone in your life that you truly admire or think a lot of? How about someone that you really love? What is it about them that you like or love so much? Stop and have a think about them for a moment. Really think about the reason you like them so much.

I am sure that some of you may have responded with that old chestnut "I just do." Now whether you are consciously aware of it or not, there are more reasons than that. I am positive that you could come up with lists and lists of amazing qualities that you find likeable in others. Liking someone involves identifying and enjoying certain qualities that you appreciate and think highly of.

This is why we end up liking people that we are unlikely to actually meet but are in the public eye. You can of course respect someone without liking them; liking them is to enjoy them.

This is very similar to the process of liking and loving oneself. Liking and loving comes from having a true sense of self-acceptance; we do not have to be perfect model citizens. Your liking for yourself will increase once you know more about how you function and learning to accept yourself as you are, even if you do have issues or foibles every now and then.

Now have a think about popular public figures. Very often one of the things that continues to draw people to them is not their accomplishments but the fact that they have frailties and foibles. This is what so many of the popular glossy magazines focus on, showing the regular lives and problems of the famous and one of the reasons that people seem to be so drawn to reality television programmes such as "Big Brother." It is as if the message is "look, they are just like us." We see how human other people really are.

Therefore, it is as if this process of being drawn to what makes us human and real shows us to be fallible at times. If this works between us and other people, surely it can also work inside of ourselves. Actually, it can be a relief to allow ourselves to accept any limitations that we may think we have and even become fond of them, even proud, as long as they are not interfering too much with our lives.

Enjoying being your self this Valentines day:

That's right, as of this very Valentines day, you are starting to enjoy being your self, this is where the love is. What are the things that you do enjoy about the way you are? At the end of the day, when taking stock of your day, you can also take some time to ask your self what you most loved most about you today.

Do include everything, even if it was a small, supposedly non-important thing. Perhaps you wore a certain handkerchief (you must have been bought one that is in a drawer somewhere that your great auntie bought you several Christmas's ago!) because it matched a new shirt. Perhaps it was something that you did, an enjoyable or beneficial interaction you had, or perhaps it was even something that you chose not to do or something that you thought. There are so many things to love about the way you have been today.

To really get your love for your self flowing this Valentines day, go ahead and make an official list on a piece of paper that has the heading 'I love myself because...' Then make another list that begins 'I love ... about myself.' Of course, you then have to add to those lists. Make a long loving list of things that can show you all the wonderful things you love about your self.

So think of the people you like and love the most, and the people who like and love you the most. If they like you or love you, dare to trust that you are actually well worth liking and well worth loving and of course you are worth giving some love to, and then dare to like and love your self as they do. Go on, I dare you! By the way, you do not have to only allow that love on your self on Valentines day, do it all the time and notice what an amazingly loving Valentines day you have next year.

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Halloween Ecards Get Best Of The Net Free

(category: Holidays, Word count: 415)
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Halloween is the time to send Ecards to friends. Halloween is the time to send Ecards to family. How to get Free Halloween Ecards? One must share the fun of Halloween but how to get very good quality Ecards that look different and don't cost? Let me tell you.

Free Halloween Ecards - tips on selection

Internet offers paid and free, both kinds of Ecards. How to get the best at no cost? Let me give you few tips.

1. Search for Free Halloween Ecards. It is not necessary that the best Ecards will be always on the first page of search results. That may be even in the third or fourth page. Search engine searches with different criteria and the first result need not be best for you. Therefore look at few websites. The very first page - home of the website should give you idea about the quality of the content. Ask these questions- is the homepage well laid out? Are the fonts and colors pleasing? Does the design look professional? Does the website offer small content or large content? Once you are sure that you have located a good website, click the Halloween Ecards.

2. View few Free Halloween Ecards. Look at the colors. Is the size right? Or the Ecard is very small? Is the Ecard designed in flash or plain JPG? If they are JPG, move to another website.

3. What about the Ecards text? Does it evoke the spirit of Halloween? Listen to the music. Is the music matching the mood of the Ecards? If not, select another.

4. Does the Free Halloween Ecard open and begin playing immediately? Or you have to click the Ecard to play? The later is good because it gives you the opportunity to view the Ecard carefully and enjoy it. The Ecards that begin playing immediately as they open give no opportunity to the recipient to watch it and enjoy. He/she will have to replay it again to view it. Why trouble the recipient? Send an Ecard that has to be played. That will give enough time to watch the Ecard.

5.Write whatever message you want below the Ecard. The message should be personal- between you and the recipient. Make it sound funny and nostalgic. The final test of a good message is simple- will it make the recipient feel good? If yes, go ahead. Send as many free Ecards as you wish.

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On Thanksgiving Thank God For Our Soldiers

(category: Holidays, Word count: 949)
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Not many people reading this article will remember the old television serial called "I Remember Mamma" and certainly almost none of the young men and women of our present day armed forces will remember it. I shudder when I think of how old I am getting, because I do remember it very well. "I Remember Mamma" was a TV series on every week about a Swedish family that came to America to start a new life away from the old country. Each episode was a perfect picture of what life was like for a family of immigrants in the new land of opportunity.

It was a typical family of four with mother, father and sister and brother. One unforgettable episode was when the young man of the family decided to join the army because the war had broken out and he wanted to serve his new country. The folks and the sister were devastated by his choice to go, but they seemed to adapt to the idea if only to support his decision although not fully agreeing with it. You could feel the sadness on that family as the young man slept in his bed for the last night. I cried so deeply when his mother came in to give him a good night kiss, perhaps his last. I became so emotionally caught up with the story that I could hardly sleep at all that night.

I knew nothing about war even though my buddies and I often put a nail in a stick for a trigger and played GI Joe with each other. All I was sure of was, that as a soldier someone was very likely to be shooting at you at some time. What I found hard to grasp was, why anyone would put themselves in such a situation of their own free will. I can't say I have ever found a sufficient answer to that question but after more than six decades to ponder it, the question has been rewarded with some surprising and perplexing answers.

One of the answers is that some people really believe that the freedom we enjoy here in America is worth fighting to keep and if possible to share with others. Some of them believe that oppression and injustice should not be allowed to prevail unchecked anywhere in the world, not just here at home. I have heard all the comments about how a soldier is only thinking about saving his own life once the bullets start flying but they have been mostly neutralized by the stories of uncommon heroism on our country's battlefields. There are countless stories of men and women who have risked and in some cases lost their lives while protecting the lives of others around them in their units. For me one story would be enough to prove that not all men are thinking of themselves even after the bullets are flying.

Some young folks still join our armed services for lesser reasons. Perhaps they are enticed by the chance to go to college at the expense of Uncle Sam. In some cases they may just be in that place where they simply don't know what else to do with their lives. These reasons may not seem as noble as those of the young people who signed up after 9/11 but they are still legitimate reasons and they are not open to any ones critical judgment. Certainly all of those who joined for any reason had a moment when they reflected and faced the possibility that they could be thrust into a battle at any given time. They had to deal with that question but for everyone who signed on the dotted line the question did not deter them, this in itself is a form of bravery.

Soldiers once lined up by the thousands willing to fight against one of the world's greatest despots, Adolph Hitler. No doubt there are those in Iraq today who see Saddam Hussein and his Bathist party members as something akin to Hitler. Still others in Afghanistan are still hoping to corral one of the worst terrorists of all time, Osama Bin Laden. Should we not liken their devotion to accomplishing these goals to those who fought in other wars? In today's all volunteer army we have no other choice.

To offer the soldiers in the present conflicts any less than our complete support and gratitude is not only to dishonor them but it equally dishonors every brave soldier who gave their all in the past wars and battles of our nation. We may brag a bit about how well our soldiers are equipped and trained but we must never forget that they also are guided by certain beliefs and principles that are shared in our land by almost everyone. This then, is their purpose and it must be appreciated and respected or we are all fools indeed. They represent us in that purpose and anything less than our full support is to betray them and in my humble opinion is akin to treason.

This thanksgiving season among the other things I will be thankful for is our soldiers. They still give me a sense of awe like the night I cried in my bed trying to understand the young Swedish boy in the "I Remember Mama" series who decided to go and risk life and limb for his newly adopted country, the USA. I will pray that they all come home safely and if any do not, I will always have a home for them in my heart as will millions of other grateful Americans. Thank God for our soldiers this thanksgiving day.

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Thanksgiving Chose Ecards With Care

(category: Holidays, Word count: 252)
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Though thanksgiving is getting associated more with food and enjoyment, the real thanksgiving means to thank each and everyone who has done something good for us. Express gratitude to all of them on this day that is the real spirit of Thanksgiving.

There are few characteristics of those who are always feeling thankful. First, they thank even for the smallest help. Two, they never forget any act of help. Third, they are always obliged to all friends and family who have helped them at any point. This makes choosing Thanksgiving ecards a careful exercise.

What should an ideal ecard have? Text of saying thanks is most important. One should be very humble in expressing thanks and wish for the best. The text should be so chosen that it reflects your true sentiments. The design of the ecard should be delightful. It should be a joy to look at it. The colors should be bright and life giving. The font size and the ecard size, appropriate for the recipient. Please remember to choose large fonts of senior citizens.

Get ecards with music if possible. The music should match the mood of the ecard and increase the pleasure of viewing the ecard. Look for free ecards on the Internet, select one in flash and take care of all I said in the beginning. A good ecard will make the recipient very happy. Express your thanks and make others happy. That is the true spirit of Thanksgiving. Choose ecards accordingly.

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