christmas music

Holiday Playlist 2011

by Jamie Sanford on December 19, 2011

Holiday Playlist!

Apologies for the randomness of posting on the blog lately. December is a terrible month for consistent blogging, I will need to prepare for this next year.

Anyway, after a discussion on holiday tunes over the weekend, I wanted to share a post with some of my favorite holiday songs!

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Wham, “Last Christmas”
The song is great, but closeted George Michael in this video is an 80s fashion extravaganza.

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David Foster, “Carol of the Bells”
My parents had the CD with this version of “Carol of the Bells” and I just always really enjoyed it.

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Mariah Carey, “All I Want For Christmas Is You”
Mariah Carey served up an instant Christmas classic in 1994 with this song that I think everyone loves now.

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Andy Williams, “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year”
Another fabulous classic, if I were making a movie set during the holidays, it would definitely open with this version of the song.

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Nat King Cole, “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting…)”
I think I never realized until now that most of the Christmas songs I like are mostly older than I am. Anyway, Nat King Cole kills it with a holiday classic.  My dad then changes the words to something much less appropriate, and my Christmas is perfect.

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Bobby Helms, “Jingle Bell Rock”
This song is fun and everyone knows the words, which equals a big holiday win.

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Elmo & Patsy, “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer”
A hot mess of holiday tragedy, it still makes me laugh, but not nearly as much now as it did when I first remember hearing it.

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Jose Feliciano, “Feliz Navidad”
“I WANNA WISH YOU A MERRY CHRISTMAS!” I looooove singing along with this song, so it has to be on the list.

Alright everyone, chime in and leave a comment. What are your favorite holiday tunes?

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Track Your Holiday Gift Spending

by Jamie Sanford on November 10, 2011

Let’s get into some holiday preparation ideas for the holidays!  I am going to revisit some of my gift-giving tips soon, but in the meantime, I wanted to share the spreadsheet that I use for tracking all of my gift purchases.  If you are like me and try to buy holiday gifts all year, the tracker is the best way to remind yourself that you already bought a gift for Cousin Sally, back in February.

So, here we go.

So, it’s a spreadsheet, it isn’t rocket science.  However, as simple as it looks, it took me a while to get all of the columns and formulas that I wanted, so here it is.  Let’s break it down.

The first columns are the very basics.  I think that filling this in early in the calendar year will create a little mental reminder that you’ve committed yourself to shop for gifts all year and not just at the last minute.

In addition, defining an absolute budget will help you stick it it.  One of the biggest problems with early shopping is that there is a possibility that you will find something else for someone after you’ve spent your budget.  If you can return something you have already bought, then fine.  If you can’t, then you need to remember the item and go back for it in the next calendar year.

There are 3 columns for gifts to purchase for each person(s).  In this area, you describe the gift, list the price, and note whether or not it has been purchased.  As you can see here, the cells are blue.  Once I have a gift that is “done” (i.e. in my possession), I go ahead and make it another color so I can gloss over it.  When I have completely finished with obtaining gifts for a person(s) on the list, the whole row gets a single color.

And of course, the budget tracking portion of the spreadsheet.  The columns will automatically add up in the “total spent” column, and “remaining in budget” will show you what you have left, if any.  It will show a number in parentheses if you have a negative remainder!

I would love to hear if anyone ends up using my little creation to track their holiday gifting and spending, but mostly, it is designed to use all year, for birthdays, anniversaries, baby gifts, Hanukkah and whatever other gift-giving happenings are in your life.

Track your holiday gift spending here with the spreadsheet in Google Docs.

Good luck!

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My Holiday Wishlist: Renae from The Bubbly Black Girl

by Jamie Sanford on December 13, 2010

Today’s guest blogger for the My Holiday Wishlist series is Renae from The Bubbly Black Girl. I’ve worked with Renae in the past and her blog is a candid and funny look at her journey through life.


I didn’t get anything for Christmas last year. Save for a grab bag from a family get together. Of course, I tried to play it off by saying that I was happy to be with my family on Christmas. But I won’t lie, I was a little jealous when I saw my sister-in-law open her jewelry set from Tiffany & Co.

I wanted my blue Tiffany & Co. box too! But what did I get? A Publix recyclable bag filled with $1 and under items. The smile said, “It’s about family and the spirit of Christmas” but on the inside, I was mad that NO ONE (mother, father, sister, brother, trifling ex) got me anything for Christmas. You may think I seem bitter (in contrast to my usual bubbly nature). But bitter is an understatement. I was upset. Because it wasn’t the only time this has happened. I haven’t gotten ANYTHING for Christmas in a long time. It’s been 3 years since the last time I counted.

So I can’t help but think, “Damn Santa, am I really that bad?!?”

This year, forget Santa and his bourgeois reindeer too! For every person I had to get a gift for, I got something for my damn self! I bought my nieces their gifts and then I went to Victoria’s Secret and got a fancy new bra ($45). Games in one hand, the sexy pink bag in the other.

I brought someone a new pair of shoes (don’t get happy, because it wasn’t you!), and turned right back around and brought myself that Sephora Makeup Kit ($48) and their $$ primer ($52) too! Do I wear make up much? Yesterday, I didn’t. But tomorrow, I will.

I have 2 more people to get stuff for, but I already matched their gifts with the things I wanted most this year, but knew the only way I’d get them was to what? Get it my damn self!

Check out Renae at her blog, The Bubbly Black Girl! There are still more instances of the “My Holiday Wishlist” series to come!

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Upside Down Christmas Tree!

by Jamie Sanford on November 12, 2010

This is a great item. I have been dreaming about having my own upside down Christmas tree for years. I thought about it again about a month ago and started plotting an elaborate rig made of plumbing pipe with zip ties, floral wire, 2x4s, duct tape and spray paint.

Surprisingly, it took me a few days to just Google the term “upside down Christmas tree” and HOW IS IT that I hadn’t looked on Amazon to find one?  I’m an Amazon Prime member!

Someone else has made this holiday conundrum so much easier to deal with.


Pretty straightforward, right? It’s even pre-lit, so there’s that much less work to do.

The downside to this fabulous find is the price – this particular tree costs $399.99.  It is quite expensive, but given all of the thought that I put into making my own version of this with my existing artificial tree, I’m not sure that I would end up spending the same amount, if time also counted as money (which it should).

My decision is now to just hold out on this upside down tree business and see if one goes on sale after Christmas.

The upside down Christmas tree is available on Amazon for $399.99.

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Shopping for Holiday Gifts? 5 Tips To Get Moving!

by Jamie Sanford on August 13, 2010

I asked a group of my colleagues the other night if they had started their holiday shopping and they were shocked that I had suggested it. I had a similar encounter on Twitter where I talked about having started my holiday shopping already and getting messages back saying things such as “WHAT?”  I knew immediately that I needed to offer my tips on fulfilling your holiday shopping list to my readers.

The Tree at Rockefeller Center.

This famous tree will be up in no time!

Why is everyone so surprised by this? There’s no reason why holiday gifts need to be purchased around the holidays, unless you’re shopping for someone who must have the absolute latest gadget—some tech toy purchased in July may conceivably be outdated by December, sure. But most other gifts have staying power. In addition, I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys going to a store after Thanksgiving.

So, I’ve purchased 3 or 4 holiday gifts so far, smallish things but I’m working through my list. It’s not as if the major holidays won’t come around this year, so why not start gift shopping now?

Here are my top 5 tips for getting into early holiday gift shopping. (Note that these ideas can also apply to your year-round gift shopping, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.)

1.  Keep notes! Your friends and family probably drop subtle and not-so-subtle hints all the time about things they like and are interested in. If you think someone is consistently hard to shop for, remember this tip and it will be much easier in the future. My husband saves emails that I send him about things I like and revisits them later when it is gift time.

2.  Expose yourself to opportunities for saving money! I have been having a ball checking out the daily sales from the following websites. The first 5 are mostly focused on product purchases, but Groupon has daily deals on things to do or see in your area – and most of the experiences you can buy can be redeemed within long period of time, completely making this viable for holiday gift shopping.

Ideeli
Gilt Groupe
RueLaLa
Beyond The Rack
Swirl by Daily Candy
Groupon

Leave a comment below if there are other sites in this category that readers should check out.

3.  Set a budget. This process is much faster in general if you have a hard number in mind as a budget for each gift you are going to give. It makes snap decisions very easy, especially when using the deal-a-day websites. If it is above your budget, let it go. If it is below your budget, great – this can work especially well if you get a really hot deal on something. Keep in mind that smart shopping means that a small budget can go a long way!

4.  Go “shopping” in a real store, or at the mall. As much as I love the Internet, you can’t see everything online. There is a lot to be said for window-shopping, and it can really help to jog your memory—passing a display of perfume can remind you that your mother-in-law mentioned liking/wanting it. I highly recommend doing this memory-sparking shopping early in the week, at night. This is the time I find the mall to be the quietest. Feel free to take notes (or photos with your cell phone if you prefer), and order the items online when you get home. You might be able to find a much better price online, but the experience will help you nonetheless.

5.  Have fun! I know I’m not the only one who really gets a kick out of giving gifts that really makes the other person happy. I’ve been told that I’m great at finding holiday gifts (hence this blog), but for the most part, anyone can do it if you put some thought into it.  It really does bring a great feeling and it is worth the effort—there really is no need to default to buying holiday gift cards!

Here’s a great 30-second clip from 30 Rock, where Jack discusses the beauty of gift-giving. It pretty much sums it all up. The clip is gone now and I can’t find it anywhere. The best quote from Jack Donaghy is this:

“Gift giving is the purest expression of friendship. I’m going to think about what I know and like about you and that will lead me to the perfect gift, and you do the same.”

Please post your early shopping tips in the comments!

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