How to Shop on Boxing Day

Boxing Day is just around the corner, filled with sales and LOTS of people. Some of you will go and find just what you want. Others will fail at every store and give up. I’ve had many a successful money-saving Boxing Day experiences so I’d like to share my strategy with you.

1. Make a list of what you need
Have you been eyeing something that’s just not worth the original price or perhaps is priced beyond your budget? Do you need something for work, formal events, or skiing? Are you running out of socks?

2. Find out where to find these items
Give yourself a few possible places, preferably with walking or convenient travelling distance. Include store hours for that day.

3. Prioritise the list
What is the most needed item? Is it a hot item (will it sell out quickly)? Which store has queues for entering? Make that the first destination. In the past, for instance, The Bay and Sears in Vancouver were the least busiest. I visited those stores last.

4. Research online
Read reviews on products or items. Is it really that great? Is it cheaper online? Is the item cheaper at some stores?*
*You may have to visit the stores that carry the item to compare prices.

5. Try on the items
Never wait until Boxing Day to try something on. There are long queues and you’re not maximising the time you have. Try on the jacket, dress, or shoes now. Does it fit? Do you like it?
Check to see how many are available and which other stores carry them.

6. BOXING DAY: Shop!
Wake up early and head out before noon! Follow your list and make sure you find the item and purchase it immediately. Queues can take 30-60 min long (or longer).
When you’re done and you think there might be some good things around that you might need or could use, you’re now free to take your time.

Hope this helps! 🙂 Happy Christmas!

More great tips

Here’s the Deal: Boxing Day shopping tips (Lena Sim – The Province)

120th Anniversary of The Nutcracker Ballet

Ballet dancers and enthusiasts,

My 300th post is dedicated to today’s 120th anniversary of The Nutcracker ballet, an annual Christmas favourite for people around the world. This is one of my favourite Tchaikovsky ballets, along with Swan Lake. My favourite part is the No 14 Pas de Deux. Something about the music just makes me tear up!

Google's 18 Dec 2012 Doodle

Google’s 18 Dec 2012 Doodle

According to Wikipedia, the ballet was first premiered in the [Imperial] Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg on Sunday, 18 December 1892. What is particularly interesting is that the original production was not a success and the ballet only became popular from the late 1960’s on. Below is a photo from the original production, where the children characters were actually played by child students from the Imperial Ballet School of St Petersburg.

English: Photo of Stanislava Belinskaya as Cla...

English: Photo of Stanislava Belinskaya as Clara (left), an unknown performer (center), & Vassily Stulkolin as Fritz (right) in the Imperial Ballet’s original production of the Petipa/Ivanov/Tchaikovsky ballet “The Nutcracker”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

May we enjoy many more years of The Nutcracker! 🙂

Christmas in Vancouver

Update: I’ve compiled a list of Christmas events around Vancouver for December 2012. I have now pushed the past events to the bottom of the post. These do not include: the Lights of Hope by St Paul’s, the free Robson Square ice skating, charitable drives, or most craft fairs (see community list here).

Thank you to @SuperVancouver, @Miss604, and @VancityBuzz for some of the Christmas events! 🙂

  • 24 November – 24 December (11AM-9PM): Vancouver Christmas Market– Queen Elizabeth Plaza — $2-5
    • 25 November (2-6:30PM): Bulgarian Day
    • 27 November (4-6PM): Vancouver Westside German School’s Flashmob Dance
    • 29 November
      • Ballet BC Day
      • 7PM: Swiss Choir
    • 1 December 2 December: (4:30-7PM): Polish Zgoda Polonez Dance Troupe
      • 2-6:30PM: Ukrainian Day
      • 7PM: Dal Richards Band
    • 5 December (7-9PM): A French Christmas with Rejean Bussieres
    • 7 December (4:30PM): Vancouver Bach Choir
    • 8 December (12-6:30PM): German Day
    • 9 December (12-6:30PM): Swiss Day
    • 11 December (7-9PM): Estonian Day
    • 14 December
      • Alliance Francaise de Vancouver Day
      • 4:30-6PM: Clarion Highland Dance Studio
    • 15 December16 December (12-2PM): Portuguese Folklore & Dance
      • 12-4PM: Dutch Day
      • 1-2PM: Biggest Christmas Carol Sing-Along
    • 19 December (7-9PM): A French Christmas with Rejean Bussieres
  • 24 November – 24 December: The Peack of Christmas – Grouse Mountain — $13.95-39.95
    • (9am-10pm): SOS Children’s Gingerbread Village Stroll through and vote for your favourite sweet creation.
    • (9am-10pm): ‘Picture Yourself’ as a Reindeer See what you would look like as a reindeer before jumping on the Skyride.
    • (12-8pm): Santa’s Workshop Meet Santa in person to share those holiday wishes.
    • (11am-8pm): Antler Decorating & Reindeer Tattoos Decorate your own antlers and get a reindeer tattoo at the entrance to the Spirit Gallery Gift Store.
    • (9am-10pm): Visit Dancer and Vixen Meet two of Santa’s reindeer in the Wildlife Refuge.
    • (9am-10pm): Outdoor Ice Skating Enjoy the crisp mountain air as you glide atop our magical 8,000 square foot skating pond.
    • (Fridays, 3pm, 4:30pm, 6pm; Weekends and Dec. 17-24, 11:30am, 12:30pm, 2pm, 3:30pm, 5pm, 7pm): Holly the Jolly Reindeer Show See if Holly has what it takes to be one of Santa’s reindeer.
    • (Monday-Thursday until Dec 13th 11:30am, 3pm): Reindeer Ranger Talks Learn about our two reindeer Dancer and Vixen.
    • (9am-9pm, weather permitting): Mountaintop Sleigh Rides Embark on a magical ride through our Winter Wonderland. On Standby
    • (9:30am-9pm): Reindeer Christmas FavouritesWatch fun family Christmas movies on the big screen in our mountaintop theatre.
    • 15 December (1PM & 4PM): Skate with Champions
      “Learn to skate with world champion Karen Magnussen & friends. Photos and autographs available.
    • 15 December (5:30PM): Skating Gala with Karen and Friends
      Karen Magnussen and other top local and international skaters show off their skills.
  • 24 November – 4 January (’til 14th: 12-4:30 /from 15th: 12-9PM)* CLOSED Christmas Eve & Day: Heritage Christmas – Burnaby Village — FREE
  • 29 November – 1 January 2013: Bright Nights in Stanley Park – Stanley Park — $5.50-10
    Miniature train through Stanley Park with lots of Christmas lights all around!
  • 1 December – 5 January (4-9PM)* CLOSED Christmas Day: Capilano Suspension Bridge Christmas Lights – Capilano Suspension Bridge — $12-31.95
    There’s a free shuttle from Canada Place to the Capilano Suspension Bridge every hour on the hour.
  • 1 December (10AM-2PM)Christmas Bazaar – St Mark’s Evangelical Lutheran Church (1573 East 18th Avenue)
  • 1 December (4-7PM): Brighten Up! A Lantern Affair – Place des Arts’ Carré Heritage Square (1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam) — FREE
    Various multicultural activities for children and adults with live music.
  • 1 December: Chez Nous: Christmas with Elektra— $15-28
    • 2PM – Queens Avenue United Church (529 Queens Ave)
    • 7:30PM – Ryerson United Church (2195 W45 Ave)
  • 7 December (5:30-7PM): O Christmas Tree Community Celebration – SW corner of Kingsway & BroadwayFREE hot chocolate, candy canes, children chorus, Santa, hand-made decorations by children.
  • 7-30 December (6:30PM) *EXCEPT Christmas Day: Vancouver Trolley’s Karaoke Christmas Lights – Vancouver Christmas Market (Hamilton St) — $25-40+
    Runs daily. 3hrs long, incl. entrance to 1st stop: Stanley Park’s Bright Nights & 2nd stop: VanDusen Festival of Lights. Prices vary, based on package chosen (7 to choose from).
  • 7 December – 1 January (4:30-9PM)* CLOSED Christmas Day: The Festival of Lights – VanDusen Botanical Garden — $7.75-14.25
  • 13 December (6-9AM): Christmas Wish Breakfast – Pan Pacific Hotel
    Donate a toy (something teens will enjoy too!) and enjoy a breakfast buffet!
  • 13 December (1-4PM): Barclay Heritage Square Christmas Celebrations – Roedde House
    Music, snacks, free admission to Roedde House.
  • 14 (8PM), 15-16 (3PM) December: Vancouver Chamber Choir’s A Dylan Thomas Christmas – Ryerson United Church
  • 16 December (11AM-2PM): Christmas Market – Patio of Market [by Jean Georges] at Shangri-La Vancouver (1128 W Georgia St)
    Christmas Market, Children’s Afternoon Tea, Brunch with Benefits, Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony with performance by 6 y.o. piano prodigy.
  • 23 December (7:30PM): Winter Harp – St Andrew’s-Wesley United Church
  • 15-18 November (10AM-6PM): Christmas at Hycroft – Hycroft Manor (1489 McRae Ave.)

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  • 23-24 November: CandyTown, A Yaletown Holiday Festival – between Davie & Nelson St. FREE.
    • (Fri 3-9PM / Sat 12-9PM): Free Outdoor Ice Skating– Scotiabank Yaletown Ice Rink (1152 Mainland St)
    • (3-9PM): Horse-drawn carriage rides
    • (3-9PM): All I want for Christmsa Street Market
    • (6-9PM): CandyTown Cocktail tour
    • 24 November (12-3PM): Trevor Lindon will sign autographs and join in skating activities
    • (Sat 1-5PM): Reindeer barn
  • 24 November (12-4PM): German-Canadian Benevolent Society presents the Annual Christmas Bazaar – German-Canadian Care Home (2010 Harrison Drive)

Charity Spotlight: Operation Christmas Child

This Christmas, I’m not buying any presents for my friends or family. I’m not being selfish. Christmas isn’t about shopping or going broke or the absolute necessity of having to get something for someone. My friends and family will still get their Christmas cards, however. That is a part of me, through my writing, that I will always give.

Today I finally finished my Christmas shopping for my 2 Christmas children. The shoeboxes have been packed and they’re now with our church’s Director of Children’s Ministry.


Every year, about a month before Christmas, Samaritan’s Purse runs an annual project called Operation Christmas Child, which collects shoeboxes with presents for children aged 2-14 from Third World Countries.

To prepare a shoebox, one must determine the gender and age group (2-4; 5-9; 10-14) one would like to prepare for. Then comes the filling:

  • School supplies: pencils, pens, pencil crayons, note pads, pictures books, etc.
  • Toys/Gifts: stuffed animals, small musical instruments, hair clips, toy jewellery, T-shirts, socks, hard individually-wrapped candy* (placed in a bag!), etc.
  • Hygiene items: soap* (in a sealable bag), toothbrush, etc.
  • Personal note: plus a photo if you want!

Don’t forget to include the cash/cheque in an envelope placed inside the box to cover the $7 shipping fee or simply pay the donation fee online.

There are, however, certain items NOT to be included in the shoebox, due to customs regulations:

  • Toothpaste
  • Food and any chewy, crumbly, or soft candy (incl. chewing gum)
  • Used items
  • Playing cards (I don’t know why but other card games such as UNO are allowed)
  • Liquids/items that could leak, melt, freeze or break: i.e. shampoo, creams, lip balm, bath gels, mirrors, glass, etc.
  • Backpack in lieu of a shoe box: we don’t want the other children to be jealous, do we? Not to mention there could be issues with packing a bag with boxes in a carton, as well as Customs.

This week, 19-25 November, is the national collection week in Canada (today is the last day for collection in the States; yesterday was the last day in the UK; Australia‘s was in October). If you are interested in donating some items or preparing a shoebox for a child in need, it’s not too late! You can even pack a shoebox ‘online’ by selecting a gender and age group, with a donation of $37, which includes the $7 shipping fee. The workers/volunteers at Samaritan’s Purse will then prepare the box for you with toys, school stationary and other necessities.

I’m very proud of our church’s school-aged children. Their goal was to prepare 250 boxes and we’ve surpassed it with 300+! Well done! 🙂