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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.





Fall 2013 Meet The Local Author Series In Full Swing

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SURPRISE, Arizona (October 17, 2013) Gifts To Go, located at the Bell Mar Plaza, announces their Fall 2013 Meet The Local Author series.  The free events, held mid-day on Mondays, Thursday and Saturdays, provide an opportunity for area writers and residents to interact in a relaxed, convenient setting.
“Our Fall series is always popular,” says owner Tammy Fraser, “because many people believe that the best gift is always a book.  And this season is even better with some a variety of  great returning authors and some that are brand new to us.”
The season kicks off with John L Ketchum on Saturday, October 29, 2013 and Rev Susan Henley on Saturday, October 26.  John Ketchum will be discussing his latest political thriller (2020 A Patriot’s Revenge) and Rev Henley will be sharing her Sara, Beyond the Veil A Spiritual Look at Dementia).  On Thursday, October 31, 2013, Oscar Case will join us with his western fictions.
Denis O’Rourke, who has written an adult thriller, appears on Saturday, November 2.  Saturday, November 9 brings both Gale Leach and Jerry Travis in to share their books for young readers.  Mickie von Boening,  will be available on Saturday, November 23 to share her Christian children’s book.   Ann Goldfarb and Susan Krueger will both visit on Monday, November 25 to discuss their novels for young readers and teens.  On Small Business Saturday, November 30, Emily Slonina, author of a guide to yoga for everyone,  will join returning authors Rev Susan Henley and Gale Leach.The December line up of authors focuses on kids’ books.   Conrad Storad,  Anita Elco and Katherine Stelmach will appear on Monday, December 9 from 2pm to 4pm.  Conrad Storad has a variety stories featuring  Sonoran Desert creatures and will read from the latest, Fang and Stinger.  Authors Elco and Stelmach will be talking about  hermit crab chapter book,  Who’s in That ShellOn Saturday, December 14, Fran Orenstein will be available to discuss three of her young adult books.  The season closes with another visit from Anita Elco and Katherine Stelmach on Saturday, December 21, 2013.

As additional authors  are scheduled the details, including titles and exact times, are available on Gifts To Go’s Facebook Events page.
Gifts To Go and the recently opened US Post Office operate inside the Barnaby Street Shoppes, adjacent to the 5 & Diner Delux at 11340 W Bell Road, Suite 128, Surprise, AZ and is open Monday – Saturday from 10am to 5pm.  For more information, including extended holiday and post office hours, please call 602 -403-0646. 

Time Travel Authors Interview – June 9, 2012

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Had a great time hosting two incredible time travel authors on Saturday, June 9, 2012.  Decided it would be a good idea to record author interviews during these book signings.  Anivarya Kumar and Ann Goldfard agreed to be part of our first interview.  We learned they are even more interesting than we originally thought and that it would be a good idea to invest in a simple tripod.  You’ll see the benefit of the tripod in the next interview but can enjoy meeting Anivarya and Ann right now by clicking the link.

Enjoy and keep reading!

2 authors travel to Gifts To Go in Barnaby Street – Your West Valley News: Surprise

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Gifts To Go, inside of the Barnaby Street Shoppes in Surprise, will host two Valley authors whose works focus on mystery time travel.

via 2 authors travel to Gifts To Go in Barnaby Street – Your West Valley News: Surprise.

Surprise shop welcomes authors – Your West Valley News: Surprise

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Gifts To Go, located inside of the Barnaby Street Shoppes in Surprise, will host two Valley authors whose works focus on mystery time travel.

via Surprise shop welcomes authors – Your West Valley News: Surprise.

Arizona Authors Event: Who’s Who

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Gifts To Go was a bit quiet on the blog during July 2011 because I were consumed with running the day-to-day operation at  The Barnaby Street Shoppes and hosting the AZ Authors Weekend on July 15 and 16, 2011.  I’ve previously shared that I was working on a labor of love which it was.  I absolutely loved having twelve authors attend the weekend event.

So, let’s catch up.  I’ll start by sharing  who was here and what they write about.  The entire weekend sprang from an idea that Ann Goldfarb shared in April 2011 that Barnaby Street use the space that is currently vacant to provide authors a brick and mortar venue in which to meet people, talk about their work and perspective as well as sell some books.  Thanks to Ann for the concept, encouragement and tireless efforts in promoting the event.  Last year, Ann  published her first time travel book for the teen audience, The Face Out of Time.  And, just before the weekend event,  Ann’s second time travel for teens, Ripple Rider: An Anguillan Adventure in Time, was released.  And coming next year Ann’s third book, The Last Tag, will be available.  Check out Ann’s website at 

Ann’s first two books are available for purchase at Gifts To Go’s retail shop and soon will be available through my overhauled website.

Early on Ann Goldfarb connected with Toby Heathcotte, President of the Arizona Authors Association, on behalf of the proposed event.   Toby was quick to put out a call to authors soliciting their participation in the weekend event.  I’m grateful to her efforts because  that’s when things started to get exciting and the event really started to take shape.  Toby’s works, also for sale at Gifts To Go, are intended for adult readers (meaning mature, skilled readers; does not mean  ‘adult’ content).  She has five books within her Alma Chronicles series.  In Toby’s words, “souls, in the Alma Chronicles, bound together in a circle of love, passion, betrayal, and murder, reincarnate lifetime after lifetime from the ancient Celtic world through twenty-first century America.”  The series starts with Alison’s Legacy followed by Lainn’s Destiny, Angie’s Promise, Luke’s Covenant, and The Comet’s Return.  Each work is a standalone book but an  important component of the series.

In addition to the Alma Chronicles, Toby Heathcotte has made three  non-fiction works available at Gifts To Go.  

  1.  Program Building – A Guide for High School Speech and Drama Teachers (blogger’s note to self: why didn’t I know about this work when I was building the Somerset County (NJ) Park Commission’s outdoor Therapeutic Recreation Theatre Works program ?);
  2.  Out Of  The Psychic Closet: The Quest To Trust My True Nature – “A self-help handbook that will show the reader how to step out of the psychic closet, to rise above anxiety and distrust, and to incorporate psychic abilities into a more honest model of personal reality.”
  3. How I Wrote My First Book:  The Story Behind the Story – Toby is one of “twenty authors (who) tell amazing stories about the efforts that went into writing their first book.”  Toby’s story is called “The Manuscript from a Mystifying Source”.

Visit with Toby through or  These are wonderful sites that give visitors a real connection to author and very interesting person, Toby Heathcotte.

Enough Who’s Who for today but before I depart I want to once again extend a thank you to both Ann and Toby for all their work, for being the truly interesting people they are and for dedicating some many hours to this event. 

Next update will introduce the both Susan Krueger and Floyd Allen.