Blog Posts by Emily Hsieh, Shine staff

  • Luxurious but low-cost, last-minute gifts you can make right at home

    Unbelievably, it's less than 48 hours till Christmas. In the event that you still have a few people to check off your list, consider giving the gift of relaxation by whipping up your own all-natural, spa-worthy concoctions. Here, a few super-pampering, crowd-pleasing, inexpensive, make-em-yourself items that can be put together in just a couple minutes with only a handful of ingredients (none of which should require you to zig zag your way through a super-crowded, hectic mall!).

    Bath Salts. These really couldn't be easier to assemble. Head to the craft store, or possibly even just a nearby grocery store, and load up on the following: epsom salt or dead sea salt (you'll need 2 cups total, and you can combine the two if you so desire), baking soda (1-2 teaspoons per batch, which helps make skin soft), and essential oil in the scent of your choice (you can't go wrong with super-relaxing lavender if you ask me, but this is of course completely subjective-you'll want 10-12 drops per

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  • Easy, inexpensive, and eco-friendly DIY gift wrapping ideas

    You're finally (or at least, almost!) finished with your holiday shopping, and now it's time to give a wee bit of thought into packaging your spoils so they reflect all the time and energy (not to mention hard-earned dollars) you spent in choosing them. Before you get frustrated at the thought of one more chore, we're here to remind you that gift wrapping doesn't have to be a time suck, nor do you have to be an origami expert or shell out a small fortune in fancy paper and ribbons to get presents looking pretty and presentable. Here, a few of our favorite DIY ideas, using materials that most of you probably already have at home.

    In lieu of rolls of printed wrapping paper, make use of all those extra paper grocery bags you likely have lurking under your kitchen sink. The solid, interior side will give parcels the same rustic-cool look of plain craft paper. To finish it off, use pieces of masking tape (painter's tape, which usually comes in a bright blue hue, works especially well

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  • Unique—and refreshingly inexpensive—hostess gifts under $10

    Chances are you've been invited over to a friend's house for a party or meal sometime over the next two weeks, and naturally, you don't want to arrive empty-handed. But after all the gift shopping you've done this month, I'm guessing you-like me-have neither the inclination nor the budget to spend a ton. Here, a slideshow of ten chic, unexpected, super-affordable (everything is under $10) tokens of thanks that nearly any host or hostess would appreciate.

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  • 10 ways to keep your holiday party costs super-low

    The holiday social swirl is in full swing, and if you're one of the gazillions of people who's playing host these next few weeks, you're already well aware of how fun and gratifying party planning can be-and how stressful, especially if you're worried about overdoing it on your spending. To take the edge off, read on for an array of pointers to keep you on budget, so you can enjoy your own get together to the fullest.

    Go paperless. The least expensive, most hassle-free way to corral guests is via electronic invite. There are plenty of sites-from to to you can design, send, and keep track of RSVPs, either for free or at least way, way less than the stamps would cost to mail a paper invite. Plus, having a system to manage your guest list and that can even send automatic reminders on your behalf will save you loads of time too.

    Bargain hunt. In the week preceding your get together, look out for mailers and coupons from different

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  • How to choose a Christmas tree—plus, tricks to make it last

    If you haven't already done your Christmas tree shopping, now is the perfect time to go for it. And before you make your way over to your local tree lot, there are certain things you should know to score the healthiest, freshest, best-looking tree possible. Read on for a re-cap on how to prep for picking the perfect specimen, along with a host of guidelines for making it last the entire season.

    Take Measurements. Do yourself a favor and figure out exactly how much space you have to work with, so you know what size tree to buy (you really want to spare yourself the hassle of buying one that's too big and having to wrestle with a chainsaw in your front yard!). Not only do you need to know your ceiling height and the width of the spot where you plan to stick your tree, but you'll also want to factor in your tree topper and how tall your stand is, too. Bring your tape measure with you to the lot so you can check the diameter of the trunk, since you'll need to make sure your stand is

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  • The easiest way to hang twinkly lights—and other holiday decorating conundrums, solved

    We've covered some of the fun, chic holiday decorating options here already, and now it's time to address some of the fundamental challenges we all encounter when trying to get our homes looking merry and bright. Like, how does one hang Christmas lights on your trees with minimal hassle? And what's the best way to hang a wreath without making a mess of your front door? Here, a few simple solutions to address these issues and more, so you can get on with celebrating the season.

    How To Hang A Wreath (Without Making Ugly Holes In Your Door): To avoid unsightly nail holes smack dab in the middle of your front door, try cutting a piece of ribbon (usually at least 3 inches wide, so you know it's got enough heft to support your wreath) that's long enough so that you can loop it around the back of your wreath and secure it to the top of your door with a few flat, heavy-duty thumbtacks (available at hardware stores).

    How To Hang A Garland: Depending on where you want to put it,

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  • The ultimate in chic holiday décor—and it’s all under $10

    Adding a few extra decorative touches around your home this time of year is such a lovely, happiness-inducing thing to do for you, your family members, and any guests that pass on through. It makes the season that much more special and memorable, and you don't need to go hog wild-either in terms of time or money-in order to get into the spirit. Here, we've compiled a slideshow of more than a dozen chic and festive items to infuse your home with holiday cheer. And best of all, none come in at more than $10.

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  • How to survive the mall on Black Friday

    Here we are: the biggest shopping day of the year. And while now is certainly a prime opportunity to stock up on hot deals and cross off most of your holiday gift getting in one fell swoop, trying to navigate a super-crowded mall packed with overzealous shoppers isn't for the faint of heart. Here, ten guidelines to get you through the day without having a meltdown, while saving you as much time and money as possible in the process. Happy Shopping!

    Make A List. It's easy to get distracted in the thick of the sale chaos. To help stay on course, before you hit the mall, comb newspapers, coupon books, and the websites of the stores you know you want to hit up and make a list of the sale items you'd want to track down. Pay attention to the timelines too: some sales only last a couple hours, while some last for a few days.

    Get Your Priorities Straight. If what you really want is a new flatscreen for your family, make sure to start there come shopping day. Keeping track of what's

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  • How to shop online to find the best deals

    These days, it's hard to think of anything that can't be bought online. So much so that the breadth of options, both in terms of products and sites to buy them, can be a bit overwhelming. And while the internet is definitely a great place to score a great deal, there are certain tricks one should be aware of to hunt down the best possible price. Here-just in time to kickstart (and hopefully minimize) your holiday spending spree-a re-cap of all you need to know before filling your online shopping cart.

    Look out for flash sales. The biggest thing to revolutionize online shopping in the last couple years has been the introduction of flash sale websites, where you can buy heftily discounted merchandise as a limited time offer. You'll need to subscribe for membership, and every day you'll get an email in your inbox notifying you of the daily specials. Different sites have different focuses, so for clothing there's,, and; for children's clothes and

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  • How to save money on big ticket electronics

    Whether you're toying with buying a new living room flatscreen, or getting ready to spring for the latest video game console your kids have been pining for, it's a good time to be shopping for electronics. This being the end of the year, retailers are about to get antsy about clearing out their inventories, and will be baiting us with some big-time sales. To maximize your dollars, read on for a range of money-saving strategies to keep in mind before you pull the trigger.

    Comparison Shop. This goes without saying at this point, but you should check several different retailers, both bricks-and-mortar and online, to see how prices vary from one place to another. The internet is the best place to start. Use sites like,,, and to see what deals are out there. Make sure to factor in shipping costs and taxes when comparing prices.

    Double-Check For Coupons and Rebates. Lots of manufacturers offer mail-in rebates on top of a

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