‘Tis The Season: Why Not Add Santa To Your Guestlist

  • November 28, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell
Religious traditions aside, the legends surrounding Santa Claus are considered to be the beating heart of most Christmas celebrations throughout the world.  This “ho-ho-ho” spewing jolly old elf is known by many different names throughout the world.  Santa can be known as Father Christmas, Pere Noel and St. Nikolaus, just to name a few.  Here in the USA, the cheerful, sleigh-riding man of toys is just good ol’ Santa Claus.  No matter what you may call him, this ebullient and joyful character is undoubtedly one of the most beloved in the entire world.  And what’s not to love about dear old Santa Claus?  Santa only gently asks for reasonably good behavior and in return, Christmas legend states that Santa will leave toys, goodies and presents underneath one’s Christmas tree. Making Santa’s “good” kid list becomes most boys and girls top priority over the Christmas holiday season.  No child ever wants to be passed over by Santa Claus! Because Santa Claus has become such an integral part of our Christmas culture, over the years many various rituals and traditions have come about, embracing Santa’s festive legend of gift giving.  Many children will pen letters to Santa, making special toy requests for themselves or they may ask Santa to bring something needed by a family member.  Visits to Santa Claus in person have also become very popular in every community, with parents taking children to malls and shopping centers in order to visit the local version of Santa Claus.  Kids make personal visits to Santa to make specific gift requests, of course, but it’s also quite a magical moment for children to see Santa Claus up close and personal, and feel of his jovial yuletide spirit.  Visiting Santa Claus is an annual ritual for many families and is also one that kids get pretty darn excited about. During the Christmas season, obviously the “real” Santa Claus is very busy at the North Pole, supervising his very lively crew of elves who are busily making toys that will be distributed to the world’s children during the night of Christmas Eve.  Because he is so engaged, Santa needs many helpers throughout the holiday season to ensure that kids everywhere have a chance to sit on a Santa’s lap and whisper their hearts desire into his ear--all while creating a very special Christmas memory (not to mention photo op!) that will last a lifetime. What could be better this year than dressing up as a Santa Claus character of your very own this Christmas?  Whether your version of Santa is used to surprise and delight your own children or to bring some extra jolly Christmas spirit directly into what could likely be the best Christmas party ever; inviting “Santa” to come into your home or event is a quick and easy way to make your holidays truly unique, special and very memorable. Santa Claus Suits come in a wide range of styles and price points so you can find the absolute perfect Santa Claus ensemble that best meets your holiday needs.  From professional to playful, we have many styles of Santa Suits for you to choose from.  Still have questions about creating that perfect Santa Claus look?  Don’t miss our detailed How-To Video that will take you through the step-by-step instructions necessary to build an amazing Santa Claus look from start to finish.  Our video covers every detail from how to get that perfect “bowl full of jelly” belly to getting the traditional Santa hair and beard on just right.  You simply can’t go wrong!  You will be saying HO, HO, HO in no time! Make this year’s Christmas celebrating truly unique and special by inviting the most cherished character of all time to come to your holiday party.  Santa Claus is in the house!

Cyber Monday: Easily Navigating Yourself Through The Christmas Shop-o-sphere!

  • November 26, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

Yes, there are always going to be those people that get some kind of weird thrill out waiting in long lines, navigating through crowds of cranky people and endlessly searching in mall parking lots for any kind of parking spot.  Kudos to these brave souls, but I am not one of these type of people.  Because of my general disdain for these types of shopping experiences, I have embraced online shopping with a passion.  I know my UPS driver on a first name basis.  My idea of hands-on shopping is the mild euphoria I get from opening up brown corrugated boxes.  It’s a beautiful thing. 

Most people are with me these days when it comes to the virtues of shopping online, even if they aren’t willing to admit it.  When asked if any of their holiday shopping will be done online while at work, most people say “no” even if the reality is that the opposite is true.  Let’s face it, there is very little not to love about online shopping.  Cyber Monday, the biggest day of online shopping ever is happening today-- so in its honor, I am here to extol the virtues of being a savvy cyber shopper.  Even if you aren’t a shop-o-phobic like me, there are many reasons why taking care of your holiday shopping list online is a piece of cake!

Deals:  Today and throughout the entire holiday shopping season, retailers are going to try to lure you into their cyber stores with fantastic deals and deep discounts on merchandise.  Free shipping is pretty standard fare at this time of the year as well, so not only can you save on gas money by not going to the store (not to mention a few headaches) but also your merchandise will be sent right to your front door.  Sounds good right?  It is.

The Internet Never Closes:  Yes, it’s likely that most stores are extending their hours to accommodate Christmas shopper’s crazy schedules.  That said, do you really want to go anywhere at midnight?  Any time of the day or night it’s easy to hit an online store, make a quick purchase and be back to life within minutes. 

Searching Made Easy:  Shopping sites offer a feature that is almost like having your own personal shopper.  Do you know what you want, but in a store you have no idea where to find it?  (Just try to find a sales clerk in circumstances like this!)  By entering a keyword into the search box on a website, the search feature will search out and bring you up a page full of merchandise that meets your keyword criteria within seconds.  Now that’s what I call customer service!

Impulse Buys:  You know all those items you don’t need that are piled up right near the checkout stands?  You can easily avoid these with shopping online.  Impulse buying can be kept to a minimum without all the extra temptations so you end up only buying what you intended to purchase.  Simply put, this is cash in your pocket!

Returns:  Online retailers are well prepared for returns as they do realize that is part of doing business in cyberspace.  Online returns are easier than schlepping merchandise back to a store and waiting in a long line (again) just to return something.  If you are worried abut returning something purchased online, don’t be--it usually goes seamlessly, without a hitch!

Hopefully you will put Cyber Monday (and the days that follow!) to good use and get your Christmas shopping done quickly and easily.  Most seasoned online shoppers feel that they spend much less overall when they shop online; additionally they enjoy the shopping experience far more, and experience far fewer hassles.   Want to really set the perfect mood for your holiday shopping adventure?  Settle in to your most comfy chair, whip up some hot chocolate and turn on some holiday music!  Those Christmas gifts are just a few mouse clicks away! 

Thanksgiving Playbook: Get Your Thanksgiving Game Plan Ready

  • November 22, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

Thanksgiving is upon us.  With so many fun as well as exciting ways to celebrate this beloved holiday, be ready with your plan of attack to enjoy some (or all) of these exciting Thanksgiving weekend options! Food-a-Palooza!  Let’s face it; Thanksgiving is one of those days where it’s fully sanctioned to eat with reckless abandon and to fully enjoy it.  You are more than likely to have all your traditional Thanksgiving dishes cooked and ready to dive into; give yourself permission to do just that!  Whether you are having turkey and all the trimmings or something more novel and innovative for your feast--just enjoy it guilt free! Sports-a-thon!  Thanksgiving weekend has sports aplenty to watch for you sports fans out there.  Between the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day triple-header and a whole slew of college teams playing over the weekend, any die-hard football fan will have plenty to cheer about.  Check your local listings for college basketball too--early season tournament play has begun in many locations. Get Outta Dodge!  You…and everyone else…might want to do some traveling this weekend. If you are brave enough to weather it, just know that this is one of the most heavily traveled weekends of the year.  If you decide to go somewhere you won’t be alone!  The good news is that gas prices have been inching downward a bit, perhaps it may be a good time to take a road trip to Grandma’s house or go check out some beautiful fall scenery.  Plan ahead and give yourself extra time no matter where your Thanksgiving traveling takes you.  There will be extra people on the road, in the airports, virtually everywhere.  Bring a smile and a cheerful attitude to help out any potentially frustrating circumstances. Lights…Camera…Action!  It’s a fantastic weekend to see a movie, as many big blockbuster films will be set to hit the theatres this weekend.  If you are a movie buff, there will be many fabulous options available to Thanksgiving weekend moviegoers, and it’s a great way to dodge the crowds that are clamoring for bargains over at your local mall.  Our favorite picks?  Lincoln, Wreck It Ralph, Skyfall, Life of Pi and Rise of the Guardians. Get Ready…Get Set…Shop!  Black Friday is now rapidly becoming Black Thursday.  Many retailers are offering amazing sales and discounts beginning as early as Thanksgiving Day.  Not feeling brave enough to put up with the crowds?  Many deals are just a mouse click away and you can capture them quite easily from the comfort of your couch while you munch leftovers and watch football.  How can you beat that?  Don’t miss out on our amazing discounts on everything you will need to make your Christmas incredibly unique and special.  Fantastic Black Friday as well as Cyber Monday specials are to be had right here at Halloween Express, you won’t want to miss them!  This is your time to score Christmas character costumes, decorations, festive accessories and even a few practical necessities, such as rotating Christmas tree stands.  The best part of it is you don’t even have to leave the house to shop! Now that you have your Thanksgiving game plan ready to rock, go out and have the best turkey day ever!  Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Five ways Kids Can Show Gratitude This Thanksgiving

  • November 19, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

When you think of Thanksgiving, what comes to mind?  Feasting, friends, family, and lots of great shopping deals are all likely a part of the equation. Your kids may also have been learning about the very first Thanksgiving in school, including Pilgrims, Indians as well as an entire Cornucopia of Early American characters that have passed down to a modern generation a wonderful traditional holiday based on gratitude.  There is much for our children to glean from Thanksgiving other than what they learn about in school.  The lessons of living a life of gratefulness are far-reaching and will bode well in every child’s future.  Here are a few ideas to help you pass on to your kids an attitude of gratitude!

  • Openly express your own gratitude.  Kids may not always listen to what you say, but they are always watching what you do.  Adopting basic gratitude skills in your everyday life is an important way to pass these values on to your children.  Saying simple thank you’s and showing sincere appreciation for jobs well done is a great place to start.
  • Stop The Entitlement Train.  Kids often haven’t learned yet that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  They often want what they want and sometimes want it NOW!  Teaching kids to wait their turn or that other things may need some attention first is a critical life lesson.  When kids learn to appreciate what is done in their behalf, everyone wins.
  • Count Your Blessings.  It may sound cliché, but the act of writing down a list of things that kids are thankful for is a good lesson for them.  Recognizing all the things they have going for them and learning to have sincere appreciation for them is important, especially in a world that may be teaching them to always want more.
  • Send Thank You Notes.  Teaching your kids to express their gratitude this way is almost a lost art in our world of instant email and text messaging.  Taking the time to pen a sincere note of appreciation when something is done in their behalf makes the message sink in a bit more.
  • Give Something Back.  Part of recognizing and appreciating what one is blessed with is found while giving back to others that are less fortunate.  When kids have the opportunity to help others through acts of charity, they learn to have more gratitude as well as appreciation for their own lives and may also find surprising levels happiness in these acts of complete selflessness.

Thanksgiving is a great time to reconnect with friends and family as well as to pause and take a moment to really be grateful for life and it’s rich bounty.  Taking the time to show gratitude and teach kids the value of appreciation is what Thanksgiving is all about.  That, and of course, turkey and all the trimmings--but you can be grateful for that, too.

Need one more thing to be thankful for?  How about some Black Friday deals that will really make your head spin!  Make sure and check out our Black Friday special sale where you can gobble up some great savings on amazing costumes, holiday decorations and fabulous accessories.

Santa's Workshop - Open for Business!

  • November 14, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell
Believe it or not, this time of the year, things really start to heat up at the very top of the North Pole.  Even in one of the earth’s most bitterly cold climates, the frenzy and mayhem of warp-speed toy making has Santa Claus, as well as his crew, working at a sweaty, furious and very frenetic pace.  The North Pole is simply ablaze with activity! The toy manufacturing biz will continue for weeks, right up until Christmas Eve, when Santa Claus, along with his elite squad of legendary reindeer, will take off on their annual epic Christmas sojourn.  Meanwhile, Santa and his team of dedicated Elves are working diligently around the clock in order to ensure that children all over the world have their Christmas dreams come true.  Are you tired just thinking about all of this?  So are we! Perhaps it’s time to give ol’ Santa Claus a bit of a much-deserved break.  In order to assist the rotund jolly old guy himself, we’ve come up with a solution that will help you and Santa Claus alike.  We here at Halloween Express have set up our own version of Santa’s Workshop, and unlike the wares of the North Pole, our Christmas supplies are only a few mouse clicks away.  Creating the best Christmas ever just got a whole lot easier on Santa--and you. Our Santa’s Workshop has a wide assortment of unique Christmas items that will add a new level of fun as well as magic to your holiday season.  Imagine, a Christmas tree stand that rotates 360 degrees around!  The majesty of your Christmas tree can then be seen from all its beautiful angles!  You can also add a whimsical holiday-style electric train that will traverse joyfully around your Christmas tree for some truly old-fashioned and nostalgic yuletide charm. One of the latest trends in Christmas decorating is found in inflatable decorations made just to highlight your holiday yard display.  These pieces inflate virtually in minutes with a built in fan, so nearly instantaneously your house will come alive with light, bright color and lots of seasonal character! These adorable creations are a super quick and easy way to get your home into the full Christmas spirit! If you want to bring your Christmas characters a little closer to home for a more personal touch, we have a huge selection of the best Christmas costumes available.  From super plush, deluxe Santa Claus suits, to some clever and mischievous Elf costumes, you can easily make dressing up in a Christmas costume part of your newfound holiday traditions.  For you gals looking for some Christmas spice, we have some very sexy, come-hither holiday looks that are going to melt hearts under the holiday mistletoe.  Not sure how to put a holiday look together?  Check out our how-to videos for super easy ideas and instructions that will help to get you started! Make your plans now to shop our Santa’s Workshop early, because just like that first holiday snow, these seasonal items will soon be simply melting away!

What You Need to Know About Veteran's Day

  • November 12, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell

Veterans Day is one of only 10 federally sanctioned holidays that are celebrated in the United States.  Even with so few holidays on the annual calendar, how many typical American’s even know what Veterans Day is?  You can bet that if you asked the average person to name all ten U.S. holidays, he’d be hard pressed to remember every single one of them. Veterans Day can easily get lost or overlooked in the pre-holiday shuffle even though it is a very important holiday that deserves some special attention.  Veterans Day is a holiday specifically designated to honor our war heroes, past and present-- those who have served our country while fighting to protect our many freedoms.  Let’s face it, without our Veterans we may not be celebrating any other holidays at all, because life as we currently know it, may not even exist!  We owe it to these great men and women to take a moment of our time in order to honor their great sacrifices while at the same time, paying due homage to their heroic efforts.

Want to make your Veterans Day more meaningful?  Here are a few Veterans Day basics to get you started.

During WWI, a treaty was signed between the Allied nations and Germany.  The treaty went into effect on the 11th hour of the 11th day of November in 1918.  From this day forward, that particular moment was specifically marked as a time for remembrance of those who had served the country during the war.  The holiday was called Armistice Day.  As part of Armistice Day, it was common to have celebratory parades and other community events commemorating this special occasion.  At precisely 11:00 am, it was a common practice for the entire country to cease business for a few moments of silence, in order to pause the days activities and to quietly honor all WWI heroes. 

As the years went by, and with the advent of WWII and other war efforts that occurred after WWI, it did not go unnoticed that there were many other new veterans out there who had also fought for freedom, they too displaying great honor and valor.  These post WWI veterans were most definitely worthy of recognition as well! In 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law legislation that stated that Armistice Day would properly be expanded in order to include all veterans.  Armistice Day, going forward would now officially be known as Veterans Day, a holiday specifically designed to honor each and every US soldier, bothpast and present. 

Veterans Day is not just another holiday.  Veterans Day is a more serious as well as reverent occasion than some of the other special days we commemorate in our great country. Veterans Day is a day to celebrate courage, bravery, honor as well as patriotism. Veterans Day is also very much about gratitude.  This year, take a moment of your time to put your life on pause, and give sincere thanks to those who have given up tomorrow so you can have your today.

Halloween’s Over: What To Do With Those Used Costumes!

  • November 05, 2012
  • Jenna Maxwell
Here’s the rub. Halloween is over and now it’s time to pack all the Halloween gear away. As you sit there staring at a very eclectic mixture of costumes and accessories, you may be wondering what to do with all this stuff. You know your child isn’t likely going to want to be the same character again next year--so is it worth keeping? Here’s our list of great possibilities! Save it: If you have other kids, this is sort of a no brainer. Your younger children often will relish the idea of having several costume options to choose from and if you’ve saved your bigger kids costumes from prior years, they will have a bounty of costume solutions to choose from! You can use your imagination to re-vamp the old costume to fit the child’s personality. Definitely hang onto costume wigs and accessories. These handy items can be used in a plethora of ways down the road; all it takes is a little creativity! Re-use it: Take a good long look at your costume. Perhaps with a few adjustments, you may be able to recreate it into an entirely different character. With the addition of a few accessories, creative makeup, etc. you may be able to completely re-invent the character look altogether. Use your imagination!  Play with it: Children love to wear costumes for dressing up all year round. You may not even need to pack your Halloween costumes away; why not just create a fun dress up box to put your retired costumes in for your kids to use for creative playtime? Costumes might be one of the most imaginative “toys” your kids ever had and are good for hours and hours of fun! Trade it: Get together with your friends and neighbors and have a costume swap or exchange party. Most of the time, Halloween costumes have only been worn once and they still have lots of life left in them. Trading costumes is an easy way of offering something new to kids without having to make new purchases.  Donate it: If you really feel like your costume isn’t useful to you any longer, it may very well be just what someone else is looking for. Don’t hesitate to donate your gently used costumes to charity. Many children’s hospitals or other charitable organizations love costumes and thrift stores will also accept these as donations. Decorate with it: Get creative with your used costumes. Perhaps that Skeleton suit would make a really cool yard decoration next year! Stuffing the costumes with newspapers and topping them off with a spooky Jack-o-Lantern head is just one creative way of making good use of an old costume look. Old Halloween costumes don’t need to die. Like many Halloween spooks they can live on and on--they just need to find a new way to be brought back to life! Find your favorite way to reuse and recycle yours!