Friday, August 8, 2008

Party Supplies & Oriental Trading Company Substitutes

Arranging kids' parties puts most parents, myself included, into a feverish frenzy of planning. Whether everything comes from CostCo or is made at home with painstaking care, all parents seem to be caught in the fervour of trying to do as much as possible as frugally as possible.

Normally in these situations, I would turn to Oriental Trading Company. They offer a powerhouse of inventory from party supplies to do-it-yourself craft kits plus scrapbooking supplies and more. Plus, if you order through, you get 3% of your purchases back in cash. But, not only did they require me to purchase in increments of 12 for what I needed, but they were going to charge $8.95 for ground shipping (12 calendar days). Shipping alone was about 15% of my total purchase, and all that extra stuff purchased would've just been wasted. Now it's not such a good deal after all!

Then I found Celebrate Express. First, they have a coupon good until 12/31/2008 for free shipping on purchases of $50+ (MWAT2008). Score! Next, they allow you to purchase many things individually. Hooray! Finally, a totally unexpected perk, they have a Thomas Play Tent available for $14.99 - normally $40. Bonus!

So, while I'm still an OTC customer, Celebrate Express is definitely getting some of my business.

How about you? Are you aware of any good alternatives to OTC or Celebrate Express?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Reduce Clutter, Create Time...Costs Nothing!

Whether related to losing weight, saving money, or cleaning house, 'tis the season for making resolutions. Here are a few that will help you create time and reduce a bonus, they also have positive environmental impact and may help you protect yourself from identity theft!

1. Do you really need that phone book to be connected? Two to three times a year, a big fat phone book comes unsolicited to my home - and, with the Internet, I never use it...ever. Instead of chucking it (or recycling it), place a quick call to your local phone company and ask to be removed from the delivery list.

  • Yellow Book: Call 1-800-YB-Yellow. Don't press any numbers, just hang on the line for a human to pick up the call.

  • DEX: Call 1-800-422-1234, and press options #4 and then #2 to speak with a "delivery support representative."

  • Verizon: Call 1-800-888-8448 and dial 0 to speak to a human.

  • Local Phone Directories: If you have last year's, open the cover and look at the first page or two for the publication information. There is generally a Web site URL or phone number to contact, intended for advertisers...but either way you'll get to a human who can help you out.

2. Get on the National Do Not Call list - it's free! Stop receiving irritating, unsolicited solicitations. It takes about a month for all the lists to update and for you to stop receiving calls. Remember that you may still receive calls from companies with which you do business (credit card companies, newspapers if you have a subscription, etc.). If you're not sure whether your number is registered for "do not call," visit the Web site to check.

3. Stop credit card solicitations (and reduce temptation!). Many of us receive pre-screened credit card offers in the mail weekly, and all that paper gets tossed in the mail. Not only is that an environmental waste, it leaves you vulnerable to identity theft and credit card fraud. So opt out of receiving these offers by visiting or make a phone call to 1-888-5-optout. Opting out doesn't negatively impact your credit score or eligibility at all.

4. De-list your name and stop junk mail. Some studies report that the average consumer receives 11-15 pieces of junk mail weekly. Not only is that taxing on the environment (and possibly your garbage bill), but it's time out of your day to sift through the stuff and toss it, not to mention the risk of information about you being readily available in your garbage for anyone to find. Here are some ways to stop the junk mail flow:

  • Direct Marketing Association: Visit http:// complete the form to be removed permanently from mailings sent by association members.

  • Catalog Choice: This free Web site at allows you to opt out of unwanted catalogs. Once you register with the site, you can choose the catalogs you wish to stop receiving, and opt-out requests will be sent to those catalogs on your behalf.

  • Abacus Marketing Association: Send an e-mail to with "remove" in the subject line and your name and address in the message. You will stop receiving mail from all association members within a reasonable period of time (30-60 days).

It is still okay for companies to send mail addressed to "Resident," as well as to send mail to those individuals with whom they already have a business relationship. So, for example, if you purchase regularly through, you may continue to receive an Eddie Bauer catalogue unless you ask to not receive print mailing.

Have a great 2008!