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Gift Card rush Will Boost Holiday Sales Figures

While online and retail holiday shopping sales have met or exceeded expectations for most retailers in 2005, there is another “rush” for all retailers to prepare for: gift card redemption.

According to Hitwise, an online intelligence service, the market share of U.S. Internet searches containing the words “gift card” was up 32% for the week ending December 10, 2005 as compared to the previous week. In fact, the National Retail Federation expects gift card sales to increase 6.6% this holiday season to 18.48 billion dollars, with consumers spending an average of $88 dollars on gift cards or 15.6% of their holiday shopping budget.

Gift certificates have always been a popular gift choice for the hard to please recipient or even for the lazy shopper. For the gift giver, it allows a quick purchase at whatever store or online merchant they select, with a dollar amount that fits their budget. For the recipient, they can select what they want from a particular merchant and for the most part use the card at their convenience.

But for some, giving a gift card is a cop-out, reasoning it is too impersonal and opting to hand pick a gift and selecting something special and unique for a loved one or friend. However, for some, the gift card is the ideal gift choice, with family or friends even suggesting the store or online merchant they prefer.

For the merchants, it has extended the holiday shopping season because they cannot record the sale until the recipient uses the gift card to make a purchase. This holds down sales figures in November and December, but provides a boost in January when most cards are redeemed. An additional boost is provided by the fact that most of the shoppers who redeem their gift cards typically spend 15% to 50% more than the face value of the card when they select their holiday gift.

There are some downsides to gift cards. Some retailers clear unused gift cards off the books by subtracting off of the face value of the card, an inactivity fee (usually $2.50 per month) after a certain amount of time. Some gift cards have an expiration date and others come with special conditions or restrictions. However, consumer outrage has prompted many states across the country to introduce legislation limiting or banning the fees. Additionally, there is no federal law on gift cards but, two Republican congressmen, Joe Barton of Texas and Charlie Bass of New Hampshire, have requested that the Federal Trade Commission investigate the way retailers conduct their gift card programs.

Is giving a gift card too impersonal? Is it the best gift choice? That question is up for debate and is a personal preference. But with annual gift card sales projected to reach 90 billion dollars by 2007 (Ernst & Young 2005), the gift card is here to stay.

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Holiday In A Houseboat

Have you ever been on a houseboat holiday? If not, you should just pack your bags, gather your family and friends hire a houseboat and head towards a holiday which you will cherish for ever. From India to Australia, there are many fascinating holiday spots where you can find houseboat for hire for an exciting holiday.

Vacation by a beach, lake or river is an exciting experience, but vacationing on a water body is something very different and mesmerizing. With large number of people going for houseboat vacation, houseboat hire has become a common practice and houseboat rentals have become very popular. Many travel agencies rent out houseboats for different facilities which will suit every budget.

Spending a weekend in midst of nature surrounded by water on a houseboat either with your family and kids or only with your partner can be a delightful experience. However, its upto you to decide if you want to meander down the backwaters of India or cruise on Australia’s Coast, a well equipped houseboat is enough to fulfill your expectations of a marvelous holiday.

Holiday in a houseboat has many advantages apart from fun and excitement. It saves you from the hassles of carrying stuff that you require on a day trip, change transport every now and then and keep looking for place to stay when you are tired. Houseboats can be used as your mode of transport, your den to stay n have fun, a well equipped kitchen where you can cook and have a lazy and relaxed vacation. You can enjoy activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, fishing while on board, or lazily lay on the deck. You can go hiking or camping on the shore by stopping the houseboat wherever you like.

However, before deciding upon the houseboat rental agency to take houseboat for hire, ensure if the boat is in good condition. BoatHire.com.au provides different types of boats for hire or on rent for different reasons like sailing, fishing and holiday. All you need is to look out for boats which suit your needs.

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Swift Holiday Homes

The Swift Group has been around for over forty years, but have been making holiday homes since 2004. Their award winning designs have made Swift market leaders.

Swift has an extended range of contemporary holiday homes that offer contemporary design which skilfully combines an abundance of home from home comforts with innovative designer touches. Swift holiday homes have won numerous Industry awards in 2008 and 2009 including Best Lightweight Caravan and All Time Classic Award.

South Lakeland Parks have holiday homes for sale at all nine of their holiday parks in the Lake District and Lancashire and only supply holiday homes of outstanding quality. The range of Swift holiday homes available through South Lakeland Parks includes the Burgundy, the Chamonix and the Moselle models.

The Burgundy model is practical, spacious and incredibly good value. Featuring an open-plan lounge area with ‘L’ shaped seating that makes it great for entertaining. The stylish domestic kitchen is well equipped and has good storage and worktop space. Appliances include an oven and grill, both with electronic ignition, stainless steel sink and drainer.

The Chamonix is elegantly styled and beautifully finished, offering the kind of luxury usually reserved for more expensive ranges. Offering a relaxed, contemporary style, the Chamonix has a spacious lounge that features a luxurious free-standing sofa incorporating a pull-out double bed, two armchairs and a pouffe. The double bedroom features a king-size bed, luxurious carpeting, overhead cupboards, bedside cabinets, vanity area and designer style headboard.

The Moselle is a class leading holiday home that combines contemporary design, high specification and affordable quality. This model successfully combines light, airy interiors and home-from-home comfort that can sleep up to six or eight. The lounge and dining areas are spacious, stylish and inviting with new modern designer soft furnishings making it great to entertain guests. The master bedroom has bedside lights, a vanity unit light and the main bed lifts up to allow access to generous storage space.

If you’re looking for a luxury holiday home to escape to whenever you want, then look no further than the exquisite range of Swift holiday homes available to buy through South Lakeland Parks.

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Spending Christmas In A Holiday Lodge

The main benefit of being away from home is the wonderful fact of putting all chores on hold for the duration; a significant plus to anyone who has laboured mightily on Christmas Day, barely snatching ten minutes to listen to the Queens Speech before collapsing in an exhausted heap and going to bed before the children!

Amongst the drawbacks are that spending Christmas away from home can induce homesickness and the general unfamiliarity with foods and traditions can be a problem; even something as simple as knowing where the milk and sugar are for that necessary cup of tea! Sun-worshippers may like the idea of lying on a beach somewhere, sipping a tropical cocktail while snow and robins are the furthest thing from their minds; however many people prefer to stay in the United Kingdom for Christmas, if for no other reason than to have authentic Christmas weather, maybe even a snow flurry or two to create picturesque tableaux. Another drawback could be that family pets will need to be catered for, either at a boarding facility or having someone pet-sit for them.

Norfolk lends itself admirably to being the location for a holiday away from home; particularly one of the holiday lodges available in the area. Norfolk is absolutely beautiful; miles of flat countryside which should be dull but are not due to the wonderful diversity of plant, animal and birdlife to be found in the area. Rolling heaths interspersed with the occasional evergreen, windmill or church spire are plentifully watered by the many rivers and waterways that provide a vital ecosystem for the birds that flock here from all over the world. Coastal paths and the seaside do not have to be the property of summertime only; wintry walks will reveal a precious private shore life not hinted at in tourist-busy summer.

Many of the lodges come with a housekeeping service meaning that the family can go out for a lovely morning walk to explore the area or stock up on snacks and treats and come back to find everything beautifully clean and tidy. The lodge will provide sufficient privacy for everyone to relax and feel properly at home, in a way not always possible in a hotel or even at a relatives house. Imagine snuggling down in front of a genuine wood-fire on Christmas Eve, the flames sparkling off the tinsel and baubles, beautifully cosy while the frosty wind whistles outside what better setting for the best family Christmas ever? Some lodges may even have a provision for pets to accompany their owners; how wonderful to have the whole family all together for one of the best days of the year.

Norfolk holiday lodges at Christmas can provide a wonderful setting for a memorable holiday, a time of laughter, relaxation, family fun and giving magic!

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Business Holiday Cards Etiquette- When Professional Translation Is Necessary

There are written rules and unwritten rules that go with sending holiday cards both nationally and internationally. Several rules overlap when it comes to common sense and basic manners. When it comes to sending off international holiday cards for businesses- when is it okay to trust in basic translation or when to hire a professional translator to write those very important messages?

One very important rule of thumb- purchasing pre-made holiday cards with a message in the foreign language already printed on the cards is most likely written and spelled correctly. You can order these cards online from multiple locations and feel good about what message you are sending out.

Basic Business Holiday Card Etiquette

Maybe the most important thing you can do is pay attention to traditions and religions. If you are unsure if your client celebrates Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Christmas , send a Happy Holidays, Seasons Greetings or Winter Wishes
Make sure your list is up-to-date with correct names and addresses. If you do this on a regular basis. Not only will you save on postage by avoiding return to sender, you wont want to forget new clients that you will want to stay in contact.
Even though you may have 2000 holiday cards that you send out- be personal and sign each one. It makes a huge difference professionally and personally. Going a step further and writing a personal message can make the world of difference. Only make sure your message to foreign countries is properly translated.
Dont forget to include the staff or the spouse in the greeting portion of the card and always use proper titles.

All of these tips will ensure your dont embarrass your company as well theirs. To make sure your national and especially international cards are delivered in time, send them out early! Make a goal to have your cards out December 1st. When thinking if you should send anything besides a holiday-appropriate card, like sending chocolates, fruit cake or other edible packages, think about the shelf-life and how the food will be received. More than likely if you wanted to send smoked fish, tightly wrapped chocolates or canned nuts will always ensure that the food is fresh. Sending spoiled or stale food is much worse than not sending anything at all!

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Country Vacations India Provides The Royal Abode For Its Members

There are several growing advantages for the country vacations India member, the option of travelling in style is just a small fragment of these advantages. The Country Vacations India member can enjoy his holidays with his whole family right inside a castle which is designed according to the lines of a Bavarian Castle-Schloss Neushwanstien, the perfect medieval European architectural style. This country vacations India property is one of the best for reasons that is like an advantage for the country vacations India member. Mainly because of the quality that the country vacations India provides and because of the well located property too. This country vacations India property is located right in the middle of the city and provides the best of accessibility for all the country vacations India members from all over. This fine hotels interiors are well designed to create the perfect blend for the all the country vacations India members. This hotel is one of a kind in all the country vacations India network of hotels and resorts because of the way the rooms are built and designed to make the country vacations India member feel like a king of the castle. This beautiful property is perfect for every country vacations India member who are located all over India and the world across. the country vacations India members can have the best of the Hyderabad city while they enjoy their stay. This city is known for many things.
Hyderabad, the capital of Andhra Pradesh, INDIA, is the city of Love and Joy ! Hyderabad city has lot of Charm, and the people who live here have an Intrinsic Goodness in them that touches one and all. Hyderabad is renowned for Hospitality, Hyderabad Biryani, Charminar, Irani Chai and Pearls.
Hitech City is considered Hyderabad’s Silicon Valley and has in fact been named Cyberabad. Lots of new buildings are popping up here and there around the Hi Tec city — all connected with IT. All the same, once bandwidth is sufficient, several US firms are likely to locate a part of their operations here ‘Hyderabad, “south to the north of India and north of southern India”, often referred to as the “Gateway to the South”. When food becomes the landmark, you are in Hyderabad. In the matter of Food, Grace and Elegance are Imperative and become Hyderabad is second nature. All this can be experience by the Country Vacations India member staying at the one of the trendiest country vacations India properties in city of Hyderabad. This exclusive hotel is perfect getaway for all the country vacations India international members too.

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Yes You Can Afford The Maldives With An All Inclusive Holiday Plan

Maldives holidays may seem too good to be true with crystal clean waters, colourful fish and picture postcard beauty at every turn. This surreal place not only exists, but is also more affordable than ever with Maldives all inclusive holiday deals. Offering warm and inviting weather all year round, the Maldives is the ultimate in beachfront holidays at the price you want to pay.

Cool and breezy, light and easy is the antidote for civilization with a ready made all inclusive Maldive holidays escape. Your next holiday can be something special with surreal sunsets, turquoise waters and beachfront luxury at an affordable rate. Not just for the rich and famous anymore, Maldives holidays are easy to book and one of the best values in the Indian Ocean.

An all inclusive holiday plan is the smart way to travel, cutting the major expenses down to size. Your all inclusive Maldives escape covers the international airfare, fabulous waterfront accommodation, all you can buffets, and a rich array of water sports and beach activities for all ages and fitness levels.

Your all inclusive Maldives holiday allows you the freedom and flexibility to take on all the sights and sounds around town or luxuriate your cares away on a sugar sand beach. No schedules and no time tables to adhere to, the Maldives holiday is off the clock for timeless bliss on the best beaches in the world.

Twenty-four atolls gives you plenty of unique places to explore with island hopping fun on private sailboats, cruisers and sea planes. These small passenger vessels take you from port to port for surfing, jet skis, fishing and land you near to town to meet and greet new friends. And when love is in the air, your sailboat skipper knows where to whisk you away to for a pleasure picnic on a private pristine island for the ultimate romantic getaway.

Booking your all inclusive Maldive holidays is easy and stress free. No hassles, no reservations to make, and no worries getting to and from the airport. All inclusive means just that: you get it all at one rock bottom rate. Independent travel arrangements or the best offer from a local travel agent cannot undercut the all inclusive package deal. Group airline and hotel rates will not be undersold to bring you the luxury and total travel efficiency found only in an all inclusive package. Out with the old and in with the new, all inclusive travel is the wave of the future making piecemeal holidays obsolete.

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San Diego Pool Builders Makes Your California Holiday A Beautiful Experience

The moment we think of venturing out for a holiday the tickle bone of our body seems to have teased and we break out in a pleasant smile. Holidays brings extreme happiness and peace at our minds. Getting that first thought of leaving all the tension, worry and chores of day to days life and going out far from all the noise of the town to some cozy place where rest will be the only job makes us jump with joy. Vacation can be long, short, big budgeted, extravagant or very small budgeted, but the memories and enjoyments are priceless always.

Some good company, music and loads of positive outlook make the vacation worth, but the most important things about a vacation is the place we lodge in. Half of the worries take a back seat the moment we get booked in some good hotel. The usual services that we search in a good hotel is comfy stay, good food and swimming pools, as vacations are incomplete without spending time in a good swimming pool. The Pool Companies in San Diego is the best in world for providing great swimming experience in hotels as they have the best Pool Builders in San Diego.

U.S.A is one such country where each state is full of fun and adventure and very attractive for the travelers. And California is one major state for tourism and travelling, and San Diego is its main city as the tourist spots it has created a stir among the minds of the travelers with its scenic beauty, hospitality and extreme comfortable enjoyment. San Diego though tops the list in its hotels and the facilities it provides to its guests and it is also preferable over the other cities as the hotels provide great swimming pool services with the help of San Diego Pool Builders.

The San Diego Pool Builders are excellent in their services they make your hotel stay a beautiful experience by providing superb swimming pool experience. They make the swimming pool a dream pool to dive in with all the facilities available in and around it. All the big and trusted hotels in San Diego have their pool built by them only. Just like California, other states of USA also have loads of fun, excitement and enjoyments to offer to its travelers. California has some awesome cities that one could visit and explore the beauty and its diverse culture out there.

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Post Holiday Blues

Okay we ate to much. Junked out on sweets. Had a week maybe two of enjoying all those holiday foods we only make for holidays. So what now? Feeling tired, a little fatter then before, yeah, now we start rethinking about those diets and watching what we eat. Welcome back to reality!

Lets be smart about how we go about it. Don’t hit the gym hot and heavy. Work at a little slower pace, ease into it. Its known that if you have a weight issue that cutting back on the snacks an extra sugars will help you feel less bloated.

Make yourself drink plenty of water to help flush your system out. Plan ahead those meals as we all get back into the work habits of everyday life. If you think you need to diet then be smart and set reasonable goal for yourself. Cut back on your calorie intact and do some exercise.

I’m by far not an expert on diet or exercise either. But as an average person I do know and I do watch what I eat. I never miss a meal but watch what size portions I have and try to exercise a little every day. Funny studies show that people who keep food diaries tend to lose more weight and keep it off longer than those who don’t.

Now is because maybe they are more intense on losing that weight and keeping off or have less time to eat? I think although it might be true, you have to have the right reasons and mind set to do it. That’s no difference than life is.

Over the month of January I will post a few simple easy to fix type meals for those that just don’t have the time to eat a well balanced meal. Like all at the beginning of a new year things seem to take a mind of their own. Here’s to good health from Back to my Kitchen

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Signs You Need To Book A Holiday

If you can’t remember the last time you had a day off work, or took the children out for the day, then perhaps you need a holiday.

Here are 10 signs that you need a holiday.

1.You’re stressed and want a break from work. If you book a holiday now, you’ll have something to look forward to. When you come back from your time off, you’ll feel invigorated and look forward to going to work again.

2.You don’t get to spend much time with your family. Perhaps you only see your children for a few minutes in the morning and the evenings, and your weekends are taken up with shopping, and all the other errands you need to run. Why not spend some quality time with you family on holiday instead?

3.For many people, better weather is a reason to go on holiday. If you’re fed up of the cold and wet weather here, why not book a holiday somewhere warm and sunny?

4.Maybe you’ve always wanted to go somewhere, or visit somewhere again. Why not treat yourselves to a fantastic holiday in stead of just thinking about it?

5.If your friends and family are always taking about having been somewhere, or are forever looking at travel guides and holiday brochures, perhaps it’s your turn to get excited.

6.If you want your children to make good use of the languages they’re learning at school, why not take them on holiday where they can talk to native speakers? As well as giving them a chance to enjoy themselves, it’ll be educational too.

7.You might want to experience new cultures. Perhaps you’re thinking of going to somewhere completely different from your normal European destinations.

8.Trying new food is an exciting part of being on holiday. If you enjoy cooking and food programmes, then why not go to where your favourite dishes originate from?

9.Spending time on the beach, round the pool, or outdoors will allow you to relax and unwind, and to recharge your batteries. If you feel like you could do with getting away from it all for a couple of weeks, you need a holiday.

10.If the adverts for holidays are starting to tempt you, why not book a holiday, Instead of just wishing you were going away this year? With cheap flights, hotels, car hire and hotels, available, it will be cheaper than your think.

Now you know why you need to go away, isn’t it time for you to book a holiday?