Tag Archives: gifts

‘Tis the Season… for Christmas returns!!!

26 Dec

Just a day or two ago, there were piles of presents that lay beautifully under the Christmas tree – full of the promise of happy times.  After the dust settles on the Christmas holiday, your eye naturally turns to the new piles of “stuff” that seems to have exploded in your house.  Here are some survival guide tips on how to sort through the piles and restore your home to some normalcy.


Step 1:  Separate the gift from the wrapping supplies….

Half of the volume of stuff in your house is the packaging that the presents were delivered in.  You can easily weed down the piles by simply removing the gifts from the gift boxes and tissue paper that seem to take over the house on Christmas day.


If you tend to save the gift boxes like I do (not every store offers gift boxes anymore), I immediately fold the boxes down flat and put them in a single neat pile.  Tissue paper gets thrown away – or if it’s not too wrinkled – it can be folded neatly to make tissue paper poms (refer to this link for a tutorial on how to make these fun decorations https://baptismalgownsplus.wordpress.com/2013/06/06/make-your-own-tissue-paper-poms/


Step 2:  Make sure everything fits properly….

If you haven’t done so already, have everyone in your family try on the clothes that they received for Christmas.  If the item fits, put it away in a drawer or closet right away.  If it doesn’t fit, or they just don’t want it, put them in a pile to be returned/exchanged.

photo 1

Step 3:  Make a plan to handle the returns/exchanges….

If these items were purchased by someone in your home, pull out the receipts and put them with the items.  If they were purchased by someone outside your household, decide if it’s appropriate to ask for the receipt for the item so you can get the proper value that the gift giver paid for the item (and any sales tax they may have paid).  If you think the gift giver would be offended or upset by the thought of you returning the item, then you will probably need to just get a store credit for the current value of the item (less any state sales taxes paid).


Step 4:  Sort the items by store…

I put all of the items that need to be returned in one bag per store and pile them up in a busy spot in my kitchen.  Just the thought of tripping over these items each time I walk by helps give me the push to actually go out there and make the return/exchange.


Step 5:  Make a driving plan to return the items – and get out there and actually do it!

After the craziness of the holiday, I am not usually in the mood to spend a whole day going from store to store returning items.  I tend to group the stores by their location to each other and tackle one direction at a time.  Writing out a list helps me to organize my thoughts and remember all of the things I have to do.


If I am feeling really ambitious, I will put all the bags in my car in order to get the piles out of my house.  After all, if the items aren’t in your car, you can’t ever make the return – right?

HAPPY RETURNING from all of us at BaptismalGownsPlus!!!

This family friendly blog is provided by www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com.  We specialize in high quality, affordable Baptismal gowns, rompers & suits, First Communion dresses, girls headpieces and boy’s suits.  In addition, we have a full line of Confirmation robes for churches to choose from with sizes to fit any size Confirmation candidate.


Last Minute Christmas To-Do’s

19 Dec

It’s Not Too Late!

OK, it is just a week before Christmas and you are not ready.

Where do you start?

What do you do?

busy christmas

Before you throw your hands up and surrender, stop for a minute and evaluate what you CAN get done to make this holiday memorable. Here is a step-by-step guide on guide you through so you get the basics done before the holiday.

santa - xmas list

Make a List and Check it Twice

The first thing you should do is make a list of what you need to do. Let’s face it, you don’t have time to run around like a chicken with your head cut off!  Every minute counts and the more organized you are, the more productive you will be.

I am including a copy of a last minute To-Do list to be sure you get the basics done.

last minute - decor

Last Minute Decor

It’s not too late to make the house look festive

There are just a few simple steps (ok, except the step abut putting up the tree) that can be done in just a few minutes of your time.

Hang Wreath on Door – 5 minutes – tops

Hang Stockings – another 5 minutes

Candles in the Windows – 10-15 minutes – depending on how many windows you have in your house…

Set up Tree – whether real or artificial, this is a ‘must do’ for the holiday! Although this isn’t a 5 minute project, setting up a tree this weekend is a perfect opportunity to spend time with family

Cookies for Santa – don’t forget to put the cookies out for Santa! And a glass of milk! And don’t forget carrots for the reindeer!

Gifts Under the Tree – the final touch to make Christmas morning special

last minute - errands

Last Minute Errands To-Do

The better you are organized when leaving the house, the more effective your errands will be. Before you leave the house, make sure you take with you any coupons or lists you have. One of the biggest time-savers I have found is being able to buy stamps AND gift cards for many retailers right at the grocery store. So you may have to be a bit flexible when it comes to store selections or gift card amounts, but seriously, IT’S JUST A WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS!!!

Get Tree – chop one down, get one pre-cut at a lot, buy an artificial one – whatever you prefer

Pick Up Christmas Cards – if you ordered them online, swing by the retailer that is printing them for you

Shop for Gifts – If you live near a Wal-Mart or Target, you can seriously knock off a bunch of your list in these type of department stores…

Shop for Meals (don’t forget cookies for Santa & carrots for reindeer!) – Hmmm, one trip to the grocery store can help you with: food, beverages, items to include in a gift basket for a hostess, gift cards, stamps

last minute - correspondence

Last Minute Correspondence

Last Minute Correspondence For everyone that thought it was just way too later to properly wish your family & friends a Merry Christmas & Happy New Year – it’s not! The US Postal Service is working really hard to help folks spread their holiday cheer, but you need to ACT FAST so your wishes get there in time.

Christmas Cards – If you live near a store that offers a 1 hour photo service (Wal-Mart is my favorite for price, quality and speed) you can easily create a Christmas card in the comfort of your own home on their website. Don’t think you need to go through all the hassles of taking a picture of the kids all dressed up in their Holiday finest to get this card done. Lot’s of folks use family pictures from their vacation, or from when they cut down their tree, or any other time of the year when everyone looked happy. My standby holiday card includes a collage of my son playing basketball, baseball and football…

Facebook/Twitter Post wishing everyone a Merry Christmas – While Christmas cards can be sent to your closest family & friends, a lovely heartfelt post on Facebook or Twitter can reach more distant friends.

Thank you notes to staff – A must-do for this time of year. Taking a few moments to write a heartfelt card expressing the gratitude you have for your staff goes a long way for making them feel appreciated. The key here – handwritten notes. Your staff will know and appreciate that even at this busy time of year you took the time to focus on them.

Thank you notes to customers – Another must-do for this time of year. A heartfelt card expressing the gratitude you have for your customers is necessary to maintain relationships you have taken all year to build. If possible – handwritten notes to your largest customers. For companies with many, many customers, a printed card will have to do – if possible, a handwritten signature perhaps?

last minute - miscellaneous

Last Minute Miscellaneous Tasks

Last Minute Miscellaneous Tasks You could probably write a list of things you want to get done that is a mile long, but there is no sense getting caught up in the miniscule details that won’t let you enjoy your family time this holiday. Focus on the biggest things and be happy! Key words there – FOCUS and HAPPY!!!

Write up a menu and shopping list – remember, the better your list when leaving the house, the more productive your time will be while you are out and about

Wrap gifts – prioritize your gift wrapping by doing the gifts that need to be handed out first – teachers, bus drivers, staff – and then move on to the gifts for your hostesses and finally your family since those gifts will be given out last. And yes, you won’t be alone if you are wrapping gifts after the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve!

Put out cookies for Santa & carrots for reindeer – don’t forget to do this before the kids go to bed on Christmas Eve! You don’t want to give anyone an excuse to get out of bed on Christmas Eve because they realize they forgot to leave a treat for Santa. Especially if the elves are still wrapping gifts!

Follow Santa on a Santa Tracker – There are several apps and online websites that track Santa’s journey around the world on his way to your house. This has proven to be the best way to get kids to bed on Xmas Eve! They have to be asleep so Santa can actually come!!!

last minute - gifts

Last Minute Gifts

Sorry, I had to save the biggest task for last…

Last Minute Gifts Gift buying can actually take the longest time of all the tasks you have left to do. Remember that the most memorable gifts you can give are possibly to most unexpected. A generic gift card is nice for most folks, and I certainly love to get a gift card to Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks, but have you ever thought to give a gift certificate book to the local car wash, or how about the local movie theater? Gas cards are also a nice treat that most folks might not think of.

Keep in mind that people who get gifts from many folks (teachers, bus drivers, hair dressers) might very well appreciate even the ‘generic’ gift card over a tchotchke (aka chachki) item like a Worlds Greatest Teacher mug filled with hot chocolate fixings… although the hot chocolate might be nice, they really don’t need 30 mugs from this Christmas alone….

Here is a list of the people you may want to remember at this time of year:


School Teachers

Religion Teachers

Bus Drivers


Cleaning Lady

Postal Worker

Garbage Removal

Hair Dresser

Door Man



Kids (from parents)

Kids (from Santa)



Grab Bag Gifts (Gift Exchanges)

Don’t forget to have a few extra gifts stashed away for that awkward exchange when someone hands you a gift and you just weren’t prepared to give them something…. some items that you can have ready include – bottle of wine, gift cards, tin of cookies and nice ornaments. Go as far as actually wrapping these gifts (including a bow) and marking them with a post it note with the contents. This will help to disguise the fact that you didn’t think there would be a gift exchange with them this year….

Merry Xmas-Happy New Year from BGP

This family friendly blog is provided by www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com.  We specialize in high quality, affordable Baptismal gowns, rompers & suits, First Communion dresses, girls headpieces and boy’s suits.  In addition, we have a full line of Confirmation robes for churches to choose from with sizes to fit any size Confirmation candidate.

I Got What I Wanted – Did You?

16 May

Hurray!  I got what I wanted for Mother’s Day!  Well, let me qualify that by saying “I’m in the process of getting what I wanted for Mother’s Day!!!”

As is every dream of every mother on Mother’s Day, my husband said “Let’s go to the stone yard and pick out the rocks you want.”  If you think is just plain mean for a husband to do to his wife on Mother’s Day, maybe it’s because you missed last weeks post – check it out here.

Mid-morning on Monday I hear the truck in the driveway:


Monday morning delivery….

 Now we just need these landscaping rocks to get from my driveway, to the appropriate parts of our yard…

Considering here are a few examples of the current state of affairs in our front yard:

One of the beds near the street...

One of the beds near the street…

A bed near the house - OUCH!!!

A bed near the house – OUCH!!!

I am more than willing to put up with not being able to park my car in the garage for a little while.

A little inconvenience is OK

A little inconvenience is OK

To his credit, my husband came home and started to work on the first bed right away.  Our priority system is to start with the worst/most visible areas (near the street) and work our way back toward the house which is not as visible to the general public just driving by…  Our house is set a bit higher than street level, although not up high on a hill by any means, but the little height gives us a little visual buffer when choosing where to start with this project.  After day 1, this is what it looked like from the front door:

Looks somewhat done

Looks somewhat done

I was impressed because there was a lot of work to do to get the old junk out of the bed before they could add the stones.    They worked until dark so I didn’t get a chance to go outside and check it out.  It wasn’t until the next morning when I looked outside from the 2nd floor of the house that I got a little bit of an aerial view to see there’s more work to be done:

Day 1 progress - aerial  view

Day 1 progress – aerial view

OK – so it needs more work, and now he has had meetings the past 2 nights so it’s still looking like this as of this writing.  Considering the before pictures, I am so thankful for this Mother’s Day present.  And if I wanted to, I could claim that I got A HUGE (pile of) ROCK(s) for Mother’s Day.  I can’t make that claim every year, but this year, I am grateful for it (them).

What did you get for Mother’s Day?  I hope it was just what you wanted.  Share your Mother’s Day presents with us by commenting on this post.

Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com
Please feel free to visit our website or send us an e-mail at Support@BaptismalGownsPlus.com to let us know what you think.

What I Want for Mother’s Day…

9 May

Well, I got the text I was waiting for a few days ago from my husband…. “anything specific you want for Mother’s Day from your boys?”

text message

After 20 years of marriage, and 11 years of being a mom, my husband knows that randomly picking a gift for me doesn’t always work.

wedding ring

I’ve received several gift certificates to a “spa” for a massage, or facial, or some other luxurious service where I can be pampered for an hour or two, to emerge feeling like a new woman.  Problem is, I’m a busy woman, and ‘pampering myself’ usually falls to the bottom of my very long to-do list.

gift certificate

My greatest satisfaction is doing things for others so I have never enjoyed splurging on something just for me.  I guess the thought of feeling selfish overpowers the ‘relaxing’ feeling of the spa service itself.  I find it hard to actually unplug and relax – and often find myself just running through my ‘to do’ list to figure out what I should be doing once I finish with the treatment I’m in the middle of ‘enjoying’.

to do list

I’ve actually let gift certificates pile up unused for a period of years.  Feeling guilty about not using them, I decided I would procrastinate no longer and actually set aside a day to use them.  I made the call to get an appointment, only to find out that the salon I had these gift certificates for actually closed their doors and were out of business.  Now I had the opportunity to feel guilty that we were losing the money that my husband intended me to enjoy…


Time seems to get away from us… I am always busy running my own business and volunteering countless hours for our town’s Little League organization by running a concession stand and being Parents Auxiliary President.  My husband is Secretary of Little League, coaches our son’s baseball & football team’s and is President of our town’s Youth Football league.  Did I forget to mention he also works full time?  I find that our family is rarely home at the same time.

baseball coach                    football state champshot dogs

This year’s text from my husband made me stop and think about what I really want.  After just a few moments, I decided what I want for Mother’s Day.

Landscaping stones.  Yes, you read that right – what I want for Mother’s Day is landscaping stones… Well, not just landscaping stones, I want landscaping stones AND the time from my husband and son to work on our landscaping together and get this project done.  They aren’t glamorous, they aren’t luxurious, but none the less, it is what I want for Mother’s Day.  I told my husband what I want when he came home for lunch that day.  He just grinned knowing that as ridiculous as it sounds for a Mother’s Day gift, it is what will make me the most happy.

A girl wants what a girl wants…

red landscape stones                    oh well shrug                    Kevin mowing lawn

What are YOU hoping for on Mother’s Day?  Share your thoughts with us by commenting on this post.

Anne-Marie Dunn is the owner of www.BaptismalGownsPlus.com

Please feel free to visit our website or send us an e-mail at Support@BaptismalGownsPlus.com to let us know what you think.