Holiday Package Preparation

christmasYes, it isn’t even Halloween yet. And yes, you should be thinking about the upcoming holiday season. Especially if you plan to ship gifts to your loved ones across the country or across the world. Given the way the calendar falls this year, the holiday season is compressed by one week. You can thank a late Thanksgiving and early Hanukah for that (Did you know they’re on the same day this year?). With one less weekend to shop for deals, that’s one less weekend to prepare your gift packages.

Don’t think it’s a big deal? Well, some of the biggest names in shipping sure do. Amazon plans to hire 70,000 season workers to handle the increased load this year.  That’s up 20,000 from 2012.

Fedex expects an 11% rise in Cyber Monday sales, thanks to the increase in online shopping, making December 2nd their anticipated busiest day of the year with 22 million packages shipped.

UPS also knows that because of the compressed holiday season, that they will be busier than ever. December 16th, UPS’s peak pick-up day will likely see 34 million packages and they’re hiring additional works to handle the load.

If you want to get ahead of the curve, what should you do?

Shop Early. Instead of waiting for December to roll around, head out to the stores now and get your shopping done to beat the rush.

Ship Early. If you’re packing a gift yourself, or buying on the web, it would be best to do it early. The sooner you get your presents out, the shorter the lines and the shorter the wait.

If you’re like most people and wait until the last minute, what should you do?

cyber mondayCyber Monday Deals. Given the short shopping season, the online deals on Cyber Monday (December 2nd) will be worth the wait.

Last Minute Deals. Some companies offer last minute deals if you purchase much closer to Christmas (December 20th or later) such as 75% off the full price you might pay in November.

Whichever route you take, this holiday season is sure to be one of the busiest yet.

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How to Use Renewable Energy in Your Apartment

Generally, apartment dwellers don’t typically get to choose their electricity provider. Whatever company is in the building they lease at is their provider through and through. So for the energy conscious out there, how do you help the environment when you can’t choose your energy source? After all, there is a whole slew of renewable energy out there. Why not use it? If you’re a renewable energy enthusiast, as we all should be, but rent in a community that does not use  any of these solutions, here’s how you can play your part in helping the environment:

Renewable Energy Chargers:

USBcharger

If you’re like most people, you charge your cell phone or laptop at least once a day. Purchasing a portable renewable energy charger allows you to skip plugging those mobile devices into the wall, and save energy on some of the devices you use the most. They’re also great for camping, hiking or long road trips.

Solar Powered Window Thermometers:

thermomete

Super easy to use, this solar powered window thermometer clings to your window and displays the temperature outside. Since it collects power from sunlight during the day, you will never need to worry about taking it down to change batteries.

Wind Powered Outdoor Lights:

windlightRecently, Ikea developed an outdoor lighting fixture that is powered by wind. This clever item is not only trendy and sure to add a uniqueness to your outdoor space, but its functional too. It’s a easy as letting the breeze that comes across your balcony power the lights.

 

Water Powered Alarm Clock:

wateralarmclock

 

Just add water? Well, not exactly. This cute desk fixture is not really powered by water, but in a way it is. The water acts as a conductor for a zinc tablet within the device, essentially creating a battery without having to buy batteries. It’ll save you money and the hassle of finding batteries that fit.

Renewable Energy Toys:

solartoysThere are many options for renewable energy toys, including things the kids get to build themselves. Toy cars, robots, dancing flowers, racetrack sets: options abound. And these are a great way to start teaching kids about being responsible to the environment.

Although these options are not likely to slice your energy bill in half, they are great ways to still use and be involved with renewable energy, even while living in an apartment. And they all make great conversation pieces!

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College Care Packages

care_packageBy now, it’s been several weeks since college students have returned to school and for most, it might be several weeks more before their doting parents get to see them again. The solution to this is simple. Send a care package! If you’re not sure what to include in your college care package, we can help. Here’s a great list of fun and practical items your college student will be happy to receive:

Snacks- Treats and other things to munch on are a given for any college student. Time between classes, or days they don’t want to go to the dining hall result in major snack attacks. Chips and pretzels make great savory snacks while cookies and candy can help recover from a bad day.

Asprin- With all the early classes, study sessions and late nights on weekends, a couple of asprin will definitely come in handy. In all likelihood, they’ll catch a cold during the year (especially around finals) so some cough drops couldn’t hurt either.

Flashcards- Encourage good study skills and send flashcards, or other supplies that might help them earn high grades. Make the gesture fun-loving by leaving a note or two scattered in the box to let them know you’re proud.

Entertainment- Everyone has to unwind at some point and one of the best ways to do that is with a good book, movie or a board game with friends. One or all of these items is an easy way to remind the college student in your life to enjoy themselves.

Stress Ball- College is a fun time for everyone, but it can also be a time of great stress. Maybe your student is worried because of classes, friendships, new loves or big life choices. Whatever it may be, a stress ball will surely help ease any worries.

Air Fresheners- Boy or girl, if they’re sharing a room with someone else or maybe even a group of people, they will certainly need a freshening up from time to time. Send static air fresheners or sprays. While you’re at it, send some cleaning supplies. Who knows when the last time they washed their room was.

Once you’ve collected all your gift items, arrange them in the box however you’d like. We suggest using packing material in the colors of their school. Or stuff it with extra socks and underwear, just in case. Without a doubt, your college student will relish in the gift and eagerly await their next visit home.

Photo credit to timesunion.com

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Affordable Apartment Cities

In a tight economy, everyone is looking to pinch pennies where they can, but more often than not, the place you live isn’t something you can compromise. Did you know that 35% (NMHC) of the US population rents? That’s a big number! And a lot of those renters are living in apartments. So why not make the most of your renting experience and enjoy affordable and comfortable living quarters?

Over the past few years, extensive studies have been conducted on what makes a city affordable. The jobs, the people, the businesses, etc. They’ve even taken into account the housing available in these cities and what the average person pays for rent. And from all that information, Package Concierge has compiled some of the best lists about affordable cities for renting:

Huffington Postcityscape

Zillow

MSN

Time

Kiplinger

 CBS

Although the lists do vary, the unchanging variable is the cost of living. Some cities median wage is higher than others and being able to live comfortably in that city is easily attainable for its citizens. The majority of cities on this list have the luxury of providing their people with a job, a home and a pleasant life, all thanks to a lower cost of living. Regardless, a city near you should definitely be on these lists. If you have the opportunity to move so your home is nicer, your wallet is fuller and you’re happier, take it!

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