Monthly Archives: December 2012

My 5 tips on Surviving Holiday Returns



Why is it always so much fun to shop and so annoying doing a return? Well, during this time of power shopping, it’s extra important to be on top of the holiday return policies so you don’t get stuck with a gift you can’t return.  Here are a few simple tips and personal examples that I am sharing to try and help you keep your sanity and your money safe.


My 5 Tips to Simple Holiday Returning

#1. Know the Policy & Last Day to Return. Most stores offer extended holiday returning (usually the first week of January) and almost no ones takes returns on Boxing Day. Find out when the last day for returns and exchanges is so you can tell the person who gets the gift. It’s up to you to find out each store’s holiday return policy before you purchase. Some are posted behind the cash registers but I usually just ask so I can ask questions and clarify as they are sometimes confusing. The policies are different from store to store and some don’t offer full refunds, only credit notes. I avoid those stores as I find that policy works in their favour, not mine and frankly, that’s not consumer friendly. Some policies are strange too, as I found out during my travels. I like these stores but don’t like these particular policies…

Personal Examples of Strange Policies: 

  • * The Children’s Place – After 45 days, The Children’s Place will only offer you a gift card (this I found to be reasonable as I waited too long) BUT even if you have the receipt proving the price you paid, they will only give you the last sale price on that item. So even though I paid $34.99, I now get a gift card for $15.99 which I did not like and you won’t either.
  • *Aeropostale – If you ask for a Gift Receipt with your purchase, the person receiving it CAN NOT get a full refund on that item — only a store credit. BUT if you get a regular receipt instead, you can get your money back 100%. So why would anyone even want a gift receipt? Very strange policy..


#2. Proper storage. Don’t store receipts in the bags — ask for them and put them directly in your purse or other folder for safe keeping. It’s too easy for the bag to be thrown out with the receipt stuck inside leaving you stuck. It’s a simple step but an important one.

#3. Be organized. Write the name of the person and the gift name at top of the receipt before you store it. It only takes a few seconds at the cash counter and it will make it so much easier later on when sorting through the pile.

#4. Create a Special Folder. Keep all your receipts in a special envelope or folder labeled, for example, Christmas 2012. I then keep this envelope in my purse so that it’s there when I need it. If you are a super savvy shopper you might notice something you have already bought going on sale before December 25th and they should refund you the difference simply by showing your receipt. (if not, just return it and rebuy it).  No matter what, it’s best to keep them handy at all times since there is nothing worse than waiting in the long Customer Service Desk line only to find that you left the receipt at home. Been there – done that.

#5. Giving the gift receipt to the receiver. I used to include the gift receipt with my gift but from experience, I’ve learned that it can easily get lost in the shuffle of wrapping paper and end up in the garbage. Now I keep it in a safe spot until after the opening frenzy is over. I then hand it to the person at a quiet moment so they can put it in their wallet or purse or some safe place. Once you hand it over, it’s their responsibility and you can relax. If you have any suspicion that someone might not like the gift, I think it’s a nice gesture to hand it over with a smile adding “I will not be offended in any way if you want to return it”. Some people are just too polite and are embarrassed to ask for a receipt even if they hate your gift and nobody wins there.

 If you do lose a receipt, which is inevitable, don’t panic. Most major retailers will most likely give you a gift card in this situation, sometimes at the most recent sale price and sometimes not. Whatever you get in this case you will have to accept as ‘better than nothing’ since the only alternative is that they don’t accept the return at all.

Happy Shopping!


  • Do you have any tips to share?
  • Have you encountered any strange policies this holiday season?
  • Please share so we can all learn together and become smart shoppers!

My Top Two Holiday Family Events this weekend in Waterloo Region!


Well the pre-Christmas holiday celebrations are now in full swing with only 2 1/2 weeks until the BIG DAY, what are you waiting for? This weekend is really loaded with some great events to get you in the spirit of the season…between the Kristkindel Market in Kitchener City Hall,  the Bethany Nativity Scene and a lovely holiday concert in Bloomingdale I know I will be one busy lady! I have highlighted my two top picks for this weekend to share with you with the hopes that you might enjoy them too!

2009 Pageant Cast

PICK #1 – * Bethany Live Nativity Christmas Pageant  

WHERE – Bethany Church – 160 Lancaster Ave Kitchener (between Krug Street and Frederick near Centre in the Square area)

December 7, 8, 9th-  2012

4 FREE Shows Nightly at 6pm, 7pm, 8pm and 9pm

This pageant really has it all and if you have not seen it, you should totally go. You will be amazed by the detail and effort this church puts into this show which retells the story of Christmas right from the bible. There is a cast of 145 volunteers wearing elaborate costumes and the show also features 40 live animals and a fantastic set and props. You actually feel like you are in Bethlehem on Christmas Eve watching the birth of baby Jesus.

This show is appropriate for anyone of any age and children in particular will be captivated by this incredible show. I know many local people who attend the show every year and have made it part of their Christmas tradition. Why not start a new tradition this year and check it out?

Some important details: 

* Presented outside in our Church parking lot.

* Bleacher seating so dress accordingly

*Optional inside seating also available with live video feed.

* Refreshments to follow inside the church.

* Get there about 15-20 minutes before the show to get a good seat and the entire show lasts about 20 minutes.


For more information visit:


Pick #2 – Koininia Church – “Christmas in Concert”

4 FREE shows to enjoy!

Saturday December 8th 4pm or 7pm


Sunday December 9th – 2pm or 5pm

Inside Kioninia Church, Bloomingdale, Ontario

Last year upon the suggestion of a close friend, our family and some close friends and all our kids headed out to Bloomingdale to this holiday concert expecting a nice family evening. What we didn’t expect was to be blown away by the level of talent and professionalism of the musicians, the choirs, singers and the production as a whole. It was like something you would pay to see at the Centre in the Square – I kid you not – it is that good. The show far exceeded all of our expectations and we are now making it an annual tradition.

I can’t say enough good things about this show and most importantly, it filled my heart with joy and we all left the show feeling inspired and reminded of the real reason for the season and totally in the Christmas mood. It was fun, inspiring, and extremely entertaining. While it was held in a church and some of the songs were spiritual, this was not a religious show and I strongly encourage ANYONE to go no matter what your faith or beliefs. You will never feel uncomfortable and the congregation was so welcoming and kind — a really lovely experience. Our children, who were only 3, 5 and 10 at the time were captivated and sat quietly through the entire show.

On their website, the church describes the show  ‘an annual celebration of the best of Christmas music -a classy, nostalgic concert full of the joy of Christmas! With dance, live band & orchestra and a powerful choir, you’ll hear some of your favourite songs of the season from heart-touching ballads to swinging classics.’ Click on the video below to see a little commercial..

Choose from 4 of our FREE performances for the whole family on Saturday or Sunday. Bloomingdale is a small village just outside Kitchener Waterloo – a 10 – 20 minute depending on where you are coming from. From the Stanley Park area, we are there in about 10 minutes.

Visit their website:

Click here to watch a video about the show..

Map to the show..just minutes from Kitchener Waterloo



Bonus Pick #3 – Kitchener’s Natural Areas Program Winter Bird Nature Walk

Ok …so this one isn’t Chritmassy at all, but what a great way to spend your afternoon!

Discover nature in the city

Upcoming events: Winter 2012-13

  • Saturday, Dec 8, 1 p.m – Winter Birds of the Huron Natural Area          Meet at Huron Natural Area, 801 Trillium Dr.                                Spend an afternoon with friends of the feathered kind!  Join staff from the City of Kitchener on a hike in the Huron Natural Area and learn about some of the birds that remain in Ontario for the winter season. Free – all ages and beginner birders welcome!  Bring along binoculars if you have them.                             
  • Note: Washroom facilities will not be available.


Kitchener’s Natural Areas Program (KNAP) is an environmental program that is focused on the stewardship of natural areas in our community.  This program is funded and delivered by the City of Kitchener.   KNAP was created in 2006 with theKitchener-Waterloo Field Naturalists and Waterloo Stewardship Network as partners.  The City of Kitchener has also recently partnered with Evergreen to further develop this program.

The goals of KNAP:

  • Engage the community in environmental stewardship projects.
  • Educate people about Kitchener’s natural areas.
  • Create opportunities for people to experience nature in the city.

Don’t Miss the CPR Holiday Train rolling through Cambridge & Ayr TODAY!


The CPR Holiday Train 

Making a Difference, One Stop at a Time

Residents of Waterloo Region will get two chances to enjoy the CPR Holiday Train as it rolls through Cambridge and Ayr this afternoon on it’s cross-Canada tour to raise donations for local food banks everywhere it stops.  I encourage you to get out and enjoy this mild weather and check out this awesome holiday excursion and get in the spirit of giving while you are at it.  My kids still talk about it from last year! You can catch it at 4:45 in Galt and 6 pm in Ayr (see exact details below)
The Canadian Pacific Holiday Train will visit over 150 communities across our network.  Each event features a boxcar stage, a lineup of great musical talent and a contribution to the local food bank.  Everyone who attends is encouraged to donate food and money which stays in their community. Since it’s inception in 1999, we’ve raised more than $6.4 million and over 2.6 million pounds of food in the U.S. and Canada.

 Canadian Holiday Train

 schedule and entertainers

The Canadian Holiday Train will embark on its three-week journey on November 28 from Beaconsfield, Quebec, finishing up in Port Moody, BC, on December 18.  This year’s entertainers on the Canadian train include Doc WalkerMiss Emily, and theBrothers Dube.

Sunday, December 02, 2012 U.S. Holiday Train *

Cambridge (Galt)
Former Galt Station, 10 Malcolm St
4:45 pm
CP railway crossing at Inglis St
6:00 pm
Richmond St railway crossing, between Oxford and Central
8:15 pm

Making a difference, one stop at a time