Be Merry: 2011 Holiday Guide

The extra chilly nights, the 60 and low 70 degree weather while the palm trees continue to sway – this can only mean one thing for us Californians, the holidays are here! In order to make things a little brighter and merrier, here’s a quick holiday guide to help you spread and enjoy the holiday cheer. Sugarplums are optional.

Christmas Trees:
Based on reviews online, try Todd’s Christmas Trees in Long Beach. They received recognition for excellent customer service and a friendly staff who can shop for you and deliver to your doorstep. They are open 7 days a week until December 24 and their hours are 8 AM to 10 PM. Refer to Yelp.com for reviews and additional information.

For our Orange County folks, stop by the Johnson Brothers Christmas Tree lot. You can order your tree by phone, and they also offer delivery services. The lot is open 9 AM to 9 PM everyday until December 23. Perk: their website offers a $5 OFF coupon, good towards any tree. Best part: they offer custom color flocking –  pink, blue, purple, orange, green or other color, except black.

Personal Favorite: Home Depot. The staff is always busy so you may find yourself waiting a bit for help, but the prices are reasonable. Staff will also trim, wrap and mount the tree of choice to your vehicle. Downside: no snow flocked trees.

A Few Christmas Tree Maintenance Tips (from the National Christmas Tree Association):

1. Remove half an inch to an inch from the base of the trunk before placing your tree in its stand.
2. The temperature of the water used to fill the stand does not affect water uptake.
3. Christmas tree stands should provide 1 quart of water per inch of stem diameter.
4. Go to earth911.com and type in your ZIP code to find a local Christmas tree recycling program.

Christmas Light Displays (in LA County and beyond):
The Santa Clarita Guide  has a great list of some of the most popular holiday light displays in Los Angeles County, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura and Santa Barbara County.

Let’s not forget about Candy Cane Lane in West Torrance as well. The beautiful lights are located near Calle Mayor and Pacific Coast Highway and go on for blocks. I visited during a rainy time last year and was surprised and happy to see residents offering hot cocoa, popcorn and other snacks for sale.

Holiday Apps:
Shop Saavy: This app will help you save money while shopping. Just scan any item’s barcode and the app will display various prices from online retailers. It can also direct you to the nearest store in your area. The app itself is free and available for iPhones and Androids.

Shopkick: Whether you’re just window shopping or spending, this app allows you to reap the benefits. You earn points (or “kicks”) just by walking into stores like Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Macy’s, Toys“R”Us, American Eagle, Sports Authority, Crate & Barrel and many others. You can then redeem your kicks for gift cards, gas cards or movie tickets, or donate it towards a charity. You can download the app for free in the App Store and Android Market.

Looking for more ways to save? Don’t forget to go over our holiday saving tips, part 1 and 2.

ILWU Credit Union Visa Platinum Credit Card:
Take advantage of our special credit card promotion! During the month of December, every time you use and/or balance transfers to the ILWUCU Visa Platinum card, you will be entered to win $250 cash. If you’re not a current card-holder, just apply online to begin the credit card application process. We will select TWO $250 cash prize winners. Quick tip: the more you use your credit card, the better your chances. More information here! Hint: You gain an additional entry in the contest by commenting in the blog post.

Give and Receive:
Remember that it’s also the season of giving, so don’t forget about your local charities. Volunteer or participate in our Holiday Tree of Hope for Interval House – it’s as easy as donating a new, unwrapped toy or providing a minimum donation of $1.

What makes the holiday season merrier for you? Please share your favorite guides, tools or apps.

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About the Author

Alejandra Gutierrez Alex is the new Social Media Specialist for the ILWU Credit Union. She's a 'nerd' at heart who enjoys community building. Her obsessions: baked goods and old mariachi ballads.