You Spent HOW Much?!

 Spending, spending, spending!                                                                                                                             

The economy, gas prices, food costs…..and oh boy, holiday gift shopping, Christmas cards, stamps, decorations, OH MY! I hear it while walking through stores, restaurants and of course, hammering it home on TV News! So, let’s take a look at some overlooked sources and ideas, shall we?

Ever notice how kids and pets have similar actions at times? Ha! How many times have you given your cat a treat and soon found he/she began sitting in and playing with the box, rather than the intended toy? Now think of the kids, take a trip down memory lane. Ribbons and boxes were about as entertaining or more to the little tikes as the intended (expensive) gifts at times.

Adults are an odd lot! As we age, we forget the “simple” pleasures that caught our eyes as wee ones. Remember, it isn’t how much you spend on a child, it’s seeing those wide eyes, smiles and squeals of excitement!  So, if you can hold off on your over-indulgent spending sprees and come down to earth, you’ll find happy campers all around and a wallet still padded when all the hoopla comes to an end in January.

Take the time to cruise through a Dollar Tree/Dollar Zone/Family Dollar, etc. OK OK, now stay with me here!! Eye-hand coordination, dexterity & creativity are important in development for all children, so why not build on these in fun ways? The ideas are endless with markers, beads, pastels, crayons, paints, coloring books and a plethora of wooden arts & crafts for ALL ages. The supplies are endless and, most are $1.25!! Don’t overlook puzzles, cards and games as super ways to get kids to interact with others as opposed to one one-on-one with a cell phone or video games alone. The options are endless, a must-visit BEFORE blowing the budget. A 20-dollar bill can catch a lot of stocking stuffers & gifts that the kids would love.

One of the most incredible shopping destinations is Ollie’s Good Stuff Cheap! We’ve been shopping Ollies for 20 years and found it hard to believe so many local Jersey Shore residents have never heard of or visited!? I was just there at the Toms River location last week and bought wood stain, pillowcases, dog toys, suet blocks, spices, coffee and a new winter jacket for my husband. (Shhhh, don’t tell.) I can’t tell you how many pairs of jeans, slacks & sweatshirts we’ve found for $12 and under.

Toys for all ages from 1 – 100 are piled up, row after row. Books for every age & taste including beautiful coffee table books. One year I gave my mom of Scottish heritage, a wonderful book of Scotland for her Christmas day birthday. Here’s an example of the sort of major deals to be had compared to other stores. My girlfriend had purchased 4-5 high-end collector’s horse statues for her daughter from a mall store at over $30 each. I stumbled upon the SAME collection of individually boxed horses for $12 each at Ollie’s. I took pictures & sent them to her phone. She responded, “Buy all, I’m returning these and will pay you back”. Shocking? Nope, you’ll be overwhelmed by the products. Kids clothes, toys and books, fun slippers & colorful rain boots are all waiting to make someone happy. And don’t forget to be a lil goofy when it comes to gifts.

My dad was a funny guy and always had us smiling. As a kid, I loved ketchup, yep, even put it on corn on the cob, much to my parents’ dismay. One year I unwrapped a case of ketchup! Another year, Hawaiian Punch, while my brother found a case of fruit cocktail! Always a favorite was found under the tree along with other packages.

Dad used to make artistic gifts and one tradition growing up was a little money tree. One year Dad sculpted a copper wire tree with dollar bill “leaves”. Another year a branch attached to a wooded base. The “leaves” coincided with our age. A dollar for every year. My copper wire tree held 8 dollars.

So, before you get out of control with elaborate, over-the-top, over-the-budget, check out these suggestions. What’s that? Does Ollies have adult gifts? Sure do! Tons of fishing tackle, automotive supplies, paint & stains, tarps of ALL sizes, cord, ropes, hardware, tools, kitchen equipment, rugs & mats of all shapes and sizes, bedding, curtains & drapes, bath items, vitamins, spices, boxed and canned foods, sauces and very cool gift boxed items for $5 and under.

Remember the array of “As seen on TV” products? Copper-infused body braces, socks, etc. all avail at Ollie’s. Need something for the cell phone? Most likely you’ll find it. Are you a coffee junkie? The mountains of assorted cases of K cups are amazing. Isles are packed with a variety of toiletries, shampoos, creams, notions and lotions. Then one can follow their noses to the candle isles!

 Lastly, I have two more suggestions:                                                                       

1. Have you been to an Aldi’s lately? The gift isles are literally spilling over! Something for everyone, all ages, male or female can be found, even live plants.

2. Tractor Supply, although a tad pricey on fantastic clothing (dressing room available) deals are found. Hit the back of the store near the restrooms for the Clearance section. Yellowstone T’s are on sale now! Have pets? A huge assortment of cat/dog food brands as well as every need for feeding wild birds. In checking the sale racks up front I found ”The World’s Smallest Lincoln Log Sets”!! LOL! Greeting cards, outdoor & indoor décor, lawn & garden, and quality unique items are waiting for you. And you thought it was all tractor/farm supplies??                        

 As I bring this bit of a read to a close, this could be the year not to break the budget!

Before you check out at Ollie’s, join the “Ollie’s Army” and receive bonuses and discounts on top of the low prices! Set your GPS to 1256 Indian Head Road, Toms River and get ready to be wowed! A new Tractor Supply can be found along Rt. 70, Tom’s River sharing a parking lot with….Aldi’s!

Merry Christmas to all and pinch that penny to see how far it’ll go!

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