Cyber Monday is over (we got past Black Friday and the weekend) and now there will be a bit of a lul until a week before Christmas Tuesday the 17th and then the madness begins again through New Years Day. The National Retail Federation forecasts marginal sales gains this season and retailers make their black balance sheets the week before and the week after Christmas…they clear the old goods and bring in the new to start the year.   Yes I did go shopping on Black Friday morning…to Lowes…the service was superb, I think everyone that works in the stores were ready to go.  Best Buys did training sessions for their staff on how to handle stress, multiple customers at a time and keep your cool.  Call centers were staffed well and training for polite service was more than ever.  Wal-Mart gave their managers flexibility and a budget to decide specials that would appeal to their customers. The week before was the biggest logistics week moving freight to the stores to hold for replenishment.  Amazon had their IT people there to make sure their site did not crash from intense activity as did Wal-Mart. (If they can do it why can’t ObamaCare?) Tuesday will start the diagnosis by top execs and planning for next year immediately.  This is big! I had the jitters all weekend not working as it is the first for me since college.  I had to visit my buddies at the Crate warehouse and at Burlington…had to be there!

Buy from those that Give… I am looking at big and small retailers, brick and mortar and on line.  I recently have been invited to help plan the 10th Gala for the REACH Beyond Domestic Violence-organization supporting the victims and their families.  Was not in my happy bubble, but I met some great women and men who are passionate about this topic and give their time and resources to help.  The goal was to raise $300,000 for the event and I was successful contributing my time to raise money for the silent auction.  Who responded gladly?  I called people that I had a relationship with to help.

La Morra Restaurant (my hood) dinner, Todd English Figs dinner, BodyScapes Health Club supports their customers organizations, LA Sports Club membership perks and personal training, LuLu Lemon and Lucy merchandise, Simon Pearce  in Vermont dinner and they support all domestic violence issues, Woodstock Inn Vt. weekend, Condo weekend donations, Strong House Spa supports the topic nationally…lessons here, if you are a customer they will support your causes. Of course the big bucks on the auction were sports teams tickets and tours, catering and jewelry.

December is the biggest month in charitable giving.  Brooks Brothers has a video running in their stores with Marlo Thomas and kids St Judes Hospital.  Classy presentation and upbeat, and easy to add donation money to this great cause.  Even Whole Foods has local charities that can be easily done at the register.  Some local drug stores staff support families as their mission and their company matches dollar for dollar contributions.  Many executives in financial services have a dollar amount to spend on the charity of their choice and their company matches dollars.  A TV ad for Wal-Mart has an employee telling they match her charitable contribution. I participated in volunteer training for the REACH Christmas party that support 250 families with holiday gifts. Many of these families are sponsored by local stores.  Food donations are huge as well as warm clothing and toys.  No one likes the phone calls that seem to be a bother at this time wanting money, so deciding where your charitable donation should be in dollars and your passion and what companies are generous with their budgets is key.

PARTY LITE DONATES $1.4 MILLION TO NBC-TV’S TODAY SHOW 2013 HOLIDAY GIFT DRIVE-most of us are not involved with direct selling but  I have the pleasure to have friends who are executives and have educated me on this fine organization.  PartyLite is the world’s leading party plan company for candles, candle accessories and premium home fragrances.  Michael Norris is the President of PartyLite Americas and this is the 8th year donating products to this famous charity. To date their contribution totals over 20 million dollars.  This drive provides holiday gifts to children in need and their parents. Norris will appear on the TODAY show on Dec 13th. PartyLite is sold in 21 countries, has 45,000 independent business entrepreneurs. Since 1997 they have donated more than $14 million to the American Cancer Society. For more info visit http://www.partylite.com

Product for holiday gifts- This weekend Wall Street Gift Guide back page was wrapping paper by Henry Hargreaves and food artist Caitlin Levin…use the newspaper for your gift wrap. Loved it…new twist on recycle newsprint with beautiful design.  Have a good week of Hanukkah celebrations and decorating the tree.

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I buy my tree every year from a generational friend/family business in my neighborhood.  They started 42 years ago, 4 guys who were friends met a trucker that had a load of trees from Albany and wanted to sell them. Now their grown kids are also helping.  They have a website Bostonchristmastrees.com and they contribute to Christmas in the City, a volunteer charity that provides gifts to homeless children throughout Boston.  I love that story…