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Tag Archives: Gifts To Go

Blustery Pre-Game Day Prep

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Blustery Pre-Game Day Prep

So this blustery, damp Saturday finds me in our shop in what is normally sunny Surprise, AZ working through the oddities (known as ‘enhancements’) to the newest USPS system installed this past Thursday.  And, I’m chilled to the bone looking at our newest NFL dip dishes thinking about what we’re going to be munching on tomorrow.

Being a native Buffaloanian, I’ve decided its going to be a baked Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Dip using a portion of a packet our Halladay’s Harvest Barn dip  of the same name (available here at Gifts To Go for $3.75 a packet or three packets chosen from a selection of 9 varieties for $11).

The recipe is quite simple and with a quick stop at my local Fry’s for a roasted chicken and a few easy pantry items, it will be a  cinch.  Mix following ingredients and bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling:

  • 1 cup cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (maybe mozzarella or cheddar or monterey jack or as I do a mixture of whatever’s in the fridge)
  • 2 TBSP Halladay’s Buffalo Chicken & Blue Cheese Dip
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup mayo
  • if desired, garnish with crumbled blue cheese and/or sliced green onions.buff-halladaysbaked-chicken-dip

Great with baguette slices or celery or pita crisps or taco chips or…  Enjoy!

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Holiday Help: Getting Started – Part 1 of a 4 Part Series

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Holiday Help: Getting Started  –             Part 1 of a 4 Part Series

This is the time when we cling to the last glimmer of summer. The kids are back in school. The big box stores have, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas merchandise available.  But why do ‘they’ rush the holidays so much?  It’s time to start thinking about the holiday season you think.  Why can’t Thanksgiving goodies not appear on shelves until October 31st? Why can’t the Christmas and Hanukkah season kick off on Black Friday?  After all there is the better part of four months to do all that needs to be done to make the holidays special and create memories.   Why rush life away?  Why all the commercialism? Why be a pawn of some number crunching merchandiser tucked away in a big box home office?

Being relatively new to retail sales, I initially held firm to the thought that the end of one fall holiday signaled and actually permitted the next fall holiday to appear on shelves. During my first few years, I had a new shop in an developing area and witnessed people came in starting the last week in August ‘to just look’.  They indicated they’d ‘be back.’  Didn’t see them until the New Year.

I slowly came to realize that ‘just looking’ in August is code for ‘I-want-to-get-my-holiday-gift-giving-shopping-done-but-I’m-not-admitting-that-to-anyone-yet’ and their lives really did get so busy where they didn’t have time to come back until the Christmas wrapping papers had been recycled.

The truth is both retailers and consumers have pushed and pulled one another to the current reality where you can (and should) do your fourth quarter shopping by early September.

The 100 days will fly by and be filled with lots of “to-do’s” including those that get added to your list at the last minute by other people.  Gifts To Go has developed a four part approach to helping you stay sane by pacing yourself looking at the entire holiday season and developing your personal plan of attack. We’ll publish one of the four parts each month now through early December.

The series posts will appear as follows:

  • September 2016 – Holiday Help: Getting Started
  • October 2016 -Holiday Help:  Budgeting, Shopping and Traveling
  • November 2016 –   Holiday Help: Shipping and Packing
  • December 2016 – Holiday Help:  Gift Wrapping and Presentation

And now, let’s get started .   This month’s task is to sit quietly with a pen/paper or iPad and think through each of the bullet points we raise below. Once you have your responses sit with your significant other (and anyone else with the clout to alter your plans) to combine your thoughts and resolve any differences.  Here goes:

  • To whom will you be giving gifts?  Immediate family/household? Extended family within an hour’s drive?  Extended family living more than an hour away? Friends? Kids’ friends? Co-workers? Teachers? Service providers such as hair stylists, delivery persons, landscapers, drivers?

It’s too early to be overly-concerned about what those gifts will be, you want to determine who gets gifts first and then work on Budgeting and Shopping in Part Two.

  • Where will you be spending the holidays (consider Thanksgiving and Christmas or Hanukkah)? Will your significant other and other immediate family members be with you? Will you be the host? Will you be traveling? Will you need a pet-sitter? Do you need extra chairs for the dining room table?  Do you have sufficient place settings? Will you want to repaint the living room?  If you’re not at home, will you be staying with friends or family or hotel? Will inclement weather possibly affect your plans?  Do you have a celebratory back up plan if so?

It’s important to iron out the ‘where’ and ‘who’ question with everyone who might have an opinion that could impact you (spouse, college aged children, in-laws, close friends).  Don’t wait for them to start the conversation with you.  We recommend getting this one settled early as we’ve seen too many holiday plans turned upside down and budgets blown when a sister and her new husband decide at the last minute they were joining you at your home.

  • Will you participate in multiple celebrations?  In different locales?  Are you aware of all the people involved in each festivity?  When will each occur? Will you need a ‘divide and conquer’ plan where you and your significant other are in different locations on the holiday due to family/friends in different areas? Will you then celebrate again when you reunite?

When you’re comfortable you have identified and resolved the ‘who, where and when’ questions, start to tackle the ‘what’ question before we take your holiday planning one step further next month by establishing a budget and creating the to-do lists.

 

 

 

Can’t Thank Our Clients Enough!

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We are honored to have been voted one of  five Local Favorite Retailers in the City of Surprise and want to thank our shoppers and shippers for having faith in us and returning time and time again to purchase our products, use our services and to share life’s ups and downs in a friendly environment.  In our mind, that’s what being a local gift shop and post office is all about.

We accept this honor humbly along with what we both hope for and fear will be increased scrutiny and raised expectations.  Gifts To Go has intentionally developed slowly so as to get to know our patrons and to evaluate each step toward our ultimate goal of offering a comfortable, convenient gathering spot where life’s joys and sorrows are embraced within the context of local retail establishment.  So, while we’re proud today we’re also buckling down for the next steps along the development.  Thank you for your recognition and please continue to tell when we’re putting smiles on faces and if we should misstep along the way.

 

 

 

 

Letter To Satin Ribbon

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May 23, 2016

Dear Single and Double Faced Ribbon,

It is with heavy heart that I advise I will not be using you in my bow-dacious bows.

Your silky sheen will no longer adorn my baskets or gift wrapping.  I’ve not mastered your use despite your simplicity and beauty.  I’ve given you my best efforts and countless hours all  for years for naught.

I’m not a quitter but I’ve discovered the versatility and ease of use of wired ribbons which were previously only available in limited colors, fabrics and patterns and always costly.  With time all things change and the selections are vast and pricing much improved.  Perhaps supply and demand has created this solution because maybe people than I have called it quits with you.

When I’m not using wired ribbons, I find my go-to choices are vibrant grosgrains.

Wishing you all the best in the pile of no-longer-trendy gift embellishments.

Sincerely,

Tammy at Gifts To Go

Procrastination: Friend or Foe?

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Came across an interesting tweet this afternoon which posed the question whether procrastination furthers or hinders creativity.

The original tweet is https://twitter.com/grantdraws/status/460764353961013248.

As a student and as an employee, I admitted to being a procrastinator, explaining it away as doing my best work under pressure. Now as a business owner, I  do the more interesting tasks before I focus on the less intriguing.   But, I assign and meet deadlines for the undesirable tasks because they must be done in order to keep the business g(r)owing.

The tweet struck another chord, though, as I now describe myself as a ‘ponderer’ or ‘muller over’ when it working on new custom basket designs.  Gifts made for actual persons and orders are easy for me; the creativity stems from a conversation, in person or through email, with the customer.  Even with just a snippet on information, I’m able to focus on the recipient and reason for the order.  I’ve been told that my creations show great insight into the gift giver, the recipient and the purpose behind the gift.

My problem arises when as a result of wanting to grow the custom gift basket line, I need to fill up our shop with custom gifts for shoppers to both browse on the shelves and purchase not because they ordered it but because once seeing it they realize it fills a need in their world to put smiles on someone special’s face.

When I don’t know who is going to purchase it nor who is going to receive it, I spend too much time and energy trying to gather and display items, struggling over which container to select, the color and fabric for the bow, how it should be wrapped and on and on.  I strive for stunning and practical selection of items to include and a presentation that wows but expend lots of effor to  work, re-work, do and re-do every step of a basket design when there is no person or story attached to it.

Would appreciate your help in creating these stories, givers and recipients so I can fill the shop with delightful gift options by answering the following few questions that will prompt my creativity and gift problem solving.  Thanking you in advance.

The Gift of Writing Spaces

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The Gift of Writing Spaces

Summers in the Valley of the Sun (metro Phoenix) mean slower sales and less foot traffic for retail establishments.  Our winter visitors have left us  and our residents manage their days around the heat and in accordance with available air conditioning. Most tasks are accomplished in the early morning when it’s the coolest and nearly everyone is indoors during the 4pm – 6pm time slot when it is often the hottest.

This is the season I then clean up, re-organize and evaluate the winter season in terms of processes and products.  It  is also the time I gear up for the next winter season by selecting new products for the shop and for our custom gift baskets.  I also determine what additional equipment we need. As an aside, this year I anticipate we’ll be added a ribbon printer and another portable register.

I’m also ramping up our online presence (social media, website and blog) to be more responsive to our current and future shoppers and shippers.  This effort includes participating in a 20 part Everyday Inspiration Challenge from the WordPress folks.

Today’s challenge is to write about our favorite writing space; I have two.  I am most productive at the kitchen counter perched on a bar stool with an afghan under me (I’m just 5’4″ and like to peer down the laptop).  My alternate space is a handy pull out writing desk tray that husband Scott added to our gift shop register table a few years back.  I use that particular space nearly all day but generally for gift shop immediate tasks such as getting online orders, answering emails, working in QuickBooks, tracking and  crunching sales numbers and for placing supplier orders.

The kitchen counter space is my preferred writing space because it is generally free from distractions.  I keep either the television news or music on at a low volume for some constant level of background noise but never really focus on it.  The fact that I am out of the shop and post office also reduces distractions as I can’t glance at a post office trash can that needs emptying or a gift shop shelf that needs dusting or re-stocking.  It’s just me and my afghan booster seat, the laptop and my phone for time-blocking each writing task. Again, as an aside, that time-blocking thing doesn’t generally work as planned but it does stop me from wandering down different rabbit holes – especially when I’m doing anything in Facebook!

We will be given a follow-up task in a few days regarding our writing space(s); I look forward to seeing what that challenge holds.  Until then, happy gifting and happy writing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gift Giving Quote for the Day and Beyond

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We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

If you’ve visited Gifts To Go you know I intend to make a living helping people give; by helping them find the exact right sentiment to express what they want to say about a particular human situation.   I then help them prep the gift for presentation with wrappings, bows and bags and all the things that agitated The Grinch.

Sometimes the gift-giver can put the exact sentiment into words and we just look for a something to express the feeling.  Many times the giver arrives looking for a something that will give them words to express the sentiment once they’ve uncovered the item that calls to them.

Neither approach is unusual.  Our lives are not defined by the one gift or even the something that represents the sentiment.  Our lives are defined by the series of interactions we’ve had with other individuals.  A single gift will never significantly alter the recipient’s response to a set of human interactions whether that’s during a lifetime or a short relationship.

This approach is especially relevant as we enter summer graduation and wedding season. Those events are generally the kick offs in a life long game of gift-giving. As you ponder your upcoming gift challenges, I wish you good choices but also acceptance of what you select and no regrets in terms of your budget or (lack of) timeliness.  After all, as we say, gifts are all about putting smiles of faces and I’m sure that’s what yours will do.

 

If you’re ever in our neighborhood, please stop in to introduce yourself.  We’re at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, AZ and can be reached at 602 403 0646.  And if you’re looking for a gift basket please check out the Gallery on our site.