Before we get to that, let's talk about Brad's Deals. I met them at BlogHer'11 and they offered me an Amazon gift card if I'd run their badge on The Burrow for a while. Selling ad space on my blog was sorta cool, and sure enough they were right on time with the code for the gift card. A company which pays its bills on time is a company with which I will do business. There are all sorts of positive blurbs on the website, but I like their own description of what they do.
Every day, we sort through thousands of coupons, sales and promotions but only publish the best 100 or so for our readers. Our standards are high. We publish only what we would recommend to close friends and family membersBrad's a personal assistant. He's there to make your life easier. You fill in the box labeled "What are you looking for?" and coupons and deals appear before your very eyes. They are for stores and sites and items you might actually be interested in - Macy's, Land's End, Canon cameras - and they always tell you that "this is the best deal we could find by $40" so you know they've checked around.
They will send you a daily email if you ask. Beware: the deals are so amazing and the shopping interface is so seamless your credit card balance may grow and grow and grow. Doing the research for this post cost me $120.... so far.
For something a little different, I direct you to an offshoot of Brad's called Strange Deals. This is the place to find custom painted Nikes
not Gingerbread Men Cookie Cutters
but NINJAMEN Cookie Cutters
and, my personal favorite,
the $11 Yodeliing Pickle
Tell me you are not smiling right now.
On a practical note, I've been thinking about gifts for the people who tend to my life. The manicurist, the UPS and USPS and FedEX people, the dry cleaner and the grocery cashier and the masseuse. For some, it's a financial transaction, for others it's merely fresh home made brownies and a smile, but this year I'm making it just a little bit more personal. CTG's Foundation has these very small, very pretty, very useful butterfly magnets and I'm going to add one to each gift this year. You can, too, by clicking here. They aren't up on the website, but an email request will work.
I'm going to suggest that you look around you for a neglected school and consider dropping off one of those tiny Christmas trees or poinsettias that are appearing in the grocery stores right now. Attach a card thanking the staff for educating our children and sign your name or A Grateful Neighbor, and ask the lovely people behind the front desk if they would mind placing it in the staff room. I guarantee that you'll make some very worthy people feel very special, even if just for a moment. And I promise, it is better to give than to receive.
Now, for the favor: Next Saturday is Small Business Saturday. Shoppers are encouraged to patronize their local merchants .... and that's where I need help. I'd like to highlight local small businesses, but how can I find them without you? If you comment below, anonymously or pseudonym-ously or actually as yourself, and leave the name and contact information I'll do the rest. Don't worry about keeping up with the comments; I'll research them and post them next Friday so that you can shop on Saturday. I know you are in Bloomington and Brooklyn and Chicago and Marin, you are in DC and its environs, Boston and Charlotte and Charleston. You can't be the only ones there.... share the love...... let us in on your secrets.