Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

July 28, 2012

Christmas in July

Hello my name is Sarah and I’m addicted to ornaments.

We weren’t able to make the Hallmark Ornament Premier this year. In fact until today I’ve only left the house twice since Nicki arrived, and that was only for quick errands (under thirty minutes)! My parents are still in town, and offered to watch Nicole while Domingo and I ran out to the store. After we resupplied diapers and wipes, I checked in with my mom. Everyone was doing fine. So we decided to swing by Hallmark and do some fun shopping.

I purchased Cookie Cutter Christmas and Postal Penguins. I felt pretty confident I would not be able to get either one in an after Christmas sale, and they were both so darn cute. Postal Penguins was one I was considering waiting on, but it ended up being nicer than it was in the dream book.

I considered Making Mother-Daughter Memories, since I have Merry Kitchen Magic and King of the Grill aprons, but I don’t like it nearly as much. I think for this one I’ll hold off on for an after Christmas sale. If it’s still available, cool. If not, I won’t be disappointed. I’m also considering A visit from Santa. I do like the ornament, and I like the series, but I don’t feel very attached to any one ornament from the series. I’m perfectly happy with a subset of the series, and not the full series and was able to find the 2010 and 2011 ornaments in an after Christmas sale. I’m sure they will continue to make nice ones that I will be just as happy with if I don’t get this one. I’m definitely not getting the 2012 Season’s Treatings, even in an after Christmas sale. I didn’t like it at all.

I’m still thinking about the The Merry Is in the Making and Baby Makes Three, but there not available until October. I’m not sold on either. Whether I get them will really depend on how they look in person. Of course, I will be getting Deer-ly Loved Cookie. I love the gumdrops!

So it looks like I will wrap up this hallmark season with 3 full priced ornaments, and 2 to 4 half priced ornaments. I got to use my rewards points, so that saved me $3. (I would have saved $5 if I had gone to the premier, but I was having too much fun cooing at my baby girl!)

I’m still on the hunt for a good “Baby’s first Christmas” ornament. I previously thought I’d get the American Greetings 2012 Baby’s first Christmas. Well scratch that, it’s so not my style. Which leaves me with a bit of a dilemma – what should I do for Nikki’s first Christmas? The hunt is on!

While I was searching for the Baby’s first ornament I found the American Greetings “New Home” ornament dated the year we moved in to our first house together. It matches our “First Christmas Together” bride and groom bear, so I promptly purchased it. Nearly half a decade after the fact. Why? Because I’m addicted to ornaments!

Initially, when we started purchasing Hallmark ornaments we used ornament hooks. Hooks are convenient, but can scratch the ornament. While I don’t intend for my ornaments to remain “collectables”, I do want them to stay nice. They will get scratched from use, but we can reduce the exposure to scratches. So every year we remove the hooks before packing up our ornaments back in their boxes.

Between the eBay, Amazon and in store purchases of Hallmark ornaments, our collection has finally grown to a non-trivial number of ornaments. It was time to replace the standard hook with something that could be more permanent, ribbon.


2008 Grillin and Chillin and 2009 Snow Much Fun to Cook

I wanted a color that would disappear from view, and not detract from the ornaments, a “Go Away Green.” For those of you who aren’t Disney fans, “Go Away Green” is the dull green color term for the color they pain the trash cans, fences and other things they don’t want to emphasize in their parks. The color helps the objects blend into the background and go unnoticed. We wanted something similar with our ribbon.

Green hooks are also a dull green, designed to blend in with the tree. I took a hook to JoAnns and found a matching thin green ribbon for our ornaments, and spent the afternoon adding ribbon to each. and. every. ornament. It took forever, but it’s done and now I will only have to add ribbons to new ornaments. I was a little worried about clashing, but the greens used on the ornaments are designed to complement the ever green color, which matches the ribbon pretty closely.

I singed the ends of the ribbons so they wouldn’t fray. Singing the ends also makes it less likely that the knot will unravel, since the edge is now a bit firmer and can’t slip through the knot. After all, a scratch from a hook is far better than a break from a fall!

August 13, 2011

Hallmark on a Budget

I’m totally in a Christmas mood lately. It doesn’t help that the weather has dropped 20 degrees, or that I’ve been getting advertisements this past month for a “Black Friday in July” and two early Christmas decorations sales (also, coincidentally starting in July). I am so ready for the hot coco and fuzzy socks! One of the summer Christmas activities is the release of the hallmark ornaments. They usually have quite a few adorable ones.

Of course, my favorite time to buy ornaments is the after Christmas sale at Hallmark stores. 50%-66% off and no shipping costs? Count me in! We got our tree topper last year for 50% off that way. I tend to visit the store periodically to ensure there’s enough stock of the ornaments I’m interested in that I will be able to get them in an after Christmas sale. If it starts to become hard to find, I’ll strike early, but only when I’m confident it won’t be available afterwards. Waiting for the after Christmas store is common, so I recommend shopping no later than a day or two after Christmas. We also visit multiple Hallmark stores to get the most selection. What’s popular at one store may not have been so popular at another. Usually the “after Christmas sales” will be after Christmas, but some of the non gold crown stores will discount their ornaments a day or two before Christmas. Traditionally, I have the best luck at these stores. I always have “new” holiday decorations that I purchased in after holiday sales. Sure they’ve been sitting in storage for a year, but their still “new” to us.

Ebay and Amazon are a great place for older ornaments. The selection is better on Ebay, but you can occasionally find better discounts on amazon. (I imaginary some of the sellers on amazon may not be collectors and not aware that buyers might be willing to pay more.) I’ve found major scores, adorable snow men and sleighs for 50-90% off the original list price, but the cost of shipping can bring the total price back the in-store price at Hallmark. If you buy a couple from the same store, you can get a discount on shipping. I will occasional buy from one seller who lists the ornament for slightly more in order to get a discount on the shipping. After all, it doesn’t matter how much of the bill goes to the seller and how much to the post office, it’s all money out of my pocket.

Series ornaments can also be expensive, especially if (like me) you feel compelled to complete the set. I bought the 2009 first in series Seasons’s Treatings ornaments, because it was too adorable not to. I’m hoping they’ll do cinnamon rolls like Grandma used to make. Nothing is says Christmas like cinnamon rolls. The 2010 and 2011 ornaments are not really my style, but all the ornaments in the series have a date on them in plain view. If I only purchase a couple Season’s Treatings, the missing date will bug me. I didn’t want to run the risk of ornament being unavaliable in an after Christmas store, so I bought it in store rather than wait for the after Christmas sale “just in case”. Not the most frugal things to do, especially given that I don’t really like them. If an ornament from the series doesn’t have a date in plain view, I feel free to get only the ornaments I like and no one will be the wiser. I prefer dateless ornaments for this reason. It’s like I’m creating my own series by picking and choosing which ones I buy.

2006 Merry Kitchen Magic & 2007 King of the Grill.

There are lots of singleton ornaments that appear like they belong together in a set – especially his and hers type ornaments like Merry Kitchen Magic and King of the Grill. You’ll generally have to purchase them from a reseller, since they typically come out in different years. It also feels somewhat more unique to create your own set, since they weren’t marketed that way. Other possibilities for creating your own set – Snow Much Fun to Cook & Grillin and Chillin, Cookie Doe and Good Grillings Deer Can you tell I’m a baker and my husband is a griller? There are others for different hobbies, you just have to search.

Popular/rare ornaments are expensive, especially mint still in the box, but you can sometimes find good deals on slightly used ornaments. Why pay for Mint In Box (MIB) if you’re going to put them on your tree? Over the years of use, you will scuff the ornament yourself. If you’re not a “collector”, or like me, not a serious collector, even the box becomes optional. After all, the idea is to decorate my tree, not to have a pretty collection of boxes. If an ornament is typically $20 or more for MIB on ebay, you can usually get 10%-30% off for like new. I’m always weary of the MIB label anyway. The last MIB I ordered had an ornament hook attached to it which had scratched the ornament.

I’m totally going to be the mother who buys the “Babies First Christmas” in an after Christmas sale one day. Here’s hoping my future kids forgive me.

June 4, 2011

Back to Beading

I had some free time today (first time in weeks, wahoo!) so I got out my beading supplies and decided to take a crack at the seed bead nets I wanted to try. After about six hours, and one false start, I finished with this:

Seed Bead Net

I’m very happy with how it turned out, especially for a first attempt. Well, technically second. If you want to try this, I recommend using a beading string rather than any kind of wire or cord, and size 10 needles. For my first pass I used a translucent beading wire, but the wire held its shape if bent, which ended up emphasizing all my mistakes. I’ll post a tutorial later, I plan to make a few more first so I’m sure I’m not leading anyone astray with bad ideas.

About two months ago I talked about the profitability of Etsy stores, and the difficulty of turning a real profit. This project serves a perfect example. Let’s ignore material costs, which were pretty negligible. This net took me 6 hours. Using the 30K a year target, I’d have to charge approximately $90 in labor costs. If I omit the the time spent down a bad path, and the assumption I get faster with practice, I might able to get away with charging $45 in labor. Yet, a search shows they sell for between $5-$35. If I set my price to $35 to match the high end, then my hourly rate gives me $23K a year. And that is, of course, assuming I sell well – 857 to be exact.

Even though I know exactly where the $35 price tag comes from, I still can’t help but think the price is too high. I couldn’t see myself shelling out more than a few dollars a piece for a bead net, and I’m sure many of you feel the same way. At the current rate it would make it one of the most expensive ornaments on our tree. As cool as I think the net is, it isn’t the coolest ornament we have. As with all things combining internet and profit, you have to be in it for the fun, not the money.

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