Christmas schedule – and a first-ever after-Christmas Sale at the store!

I’ll be off the next two days, wrapping presents and baking my famous triple layer cheesecake, then opening said presents and eating said cake on Christmas day!  I’ll be back on Friday to give you a run down of the holiday.

Oh, and I’m announcing that we are having our first-ever After-Christmas Tent Sale on Friday and Saturday, 12/26 and 12/27!  We’re putting up a tent in the courtyard and filling it with lots of lovely things, and it will be open for sales from 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  Also, everything that’s on sale in our stores will be a little bit more on sale – we’re taking an additional 10% off already-marked-down prices.  This is a great opportunity to get started on next year’s decorations – and help us clear out the stockrooms before the dreaded inventory days.  If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by and see what we’ve got.

Merry Christmas, Jouyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, and Mele Kalikimaka, everyone!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Committed to green practices at The Inn

Green. Green. Green.  Carbon footprint (as in, minimize it).  Reduce, reuse, recycle.  Is paper or plastic worse for the environment?  Printing paper content and green manufacturing of same – what are your standards? 

I am one who is delighted with the renewed and growing focus on protecting our environment and resources – I’ve brushed my teeth with the tap off for decades.  I took my own shopping bags into every store – even Wal Mart – long before it became so popular (yes, that was me, holding up the line).  In high school, I researched and wrote about solar energy.  My Hondas have given me 35 mpg city/40 mpg highway for years – I’ll get a hybrid when my current car wears out, no reason to give it back to the environment just yet.

Over two years ago, while the Inn was still in the planning stages, the owners were already thinking green, too ~ and to spectacular effect.  Take a look at the ponds area in front of the Inn.  Even though we border  the main street in town, when you are on the Inn side of the ponds, flowers, and trees, there’s the surprising feel of relaxing in a luxurious oasis of earth, color, and sky.  It’s quiet charm will delight you.

The best aspects of our pond installation are not visible, though.  Together, the small pond on the right and the larger pond on the left manage up to 31 cubic feet per second of storm drainage in an environmentally responsible way.

First, we filter sediments and grease out of the runoff water from the bordering street and our parking lots (yeah, I know, icky to think about that part).  Then, water flows into a basin filled with water plants that further remove contaminates before the water enters the larger pond.  Finally, overflow feeds into the city drain, but at a manageable flow rate and with much-improved water quality.  Our storm water filtration system is the first of its kind for a commercial property in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Don’t you think it’s wonderful how beautiful green can be?

Of course, we do all that other stuff that demonstrates our commitment to being good environmental stewards ~ self-regulating room thermostats, fluorescent bulbs, LED Christmas tree lights, Green Seal-certified paper and chemicals at the Inn.  The washers use an oxygenation system that virtually eliminates bleaching, and the ironing machine eliminates the dryer cycle.  Silverware, china, and glass instead of paper and plastics for food service.  We’ve even got a saltwater system for the indoor pool that dramatically reduces the use of chlorine in the water.

It’s really cool that, in addition to being the most beautiful hotel in town on the outside (and having the friendliest staff!), we’re also doing great things to take care of, protect, and improve the parts that you don’t see…for a more beautiful tomorrow.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Beautiful Courtyard

The tulips and flowers in the courtyard are spectacular this week! Here are a couple of pictures.

And our master gardeners have not overlooked the hotel grounds…

Redbud trees in the area have been particularly outstanding this year, and the dogwood are just beginning to unfurl.  The Dogwood Arts Festival is under way here in East Tennessee, with flower trails, open gardens, and a celebration of the arts in all disciplines – photography and visual arts, performance including music and dance, and even a cardboard boat race – something for all ages and interests.

Hope it’s as lovely in your part of the world.  Have a great almost-Monday day!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

The 2008 Christmas gauntlet is thrown!

Okay, big news.  I’m weird.  I gave my first Christmas gift for 2008 – in March.  weeks ago.  it may even have been the last week of February.  and I’ve given three or four more since.  Yes, I know, I should probably be sending it in to PostSecret…specialists might identify this as a problem…just a little co-dependency issue.  Bless her heart, she can’t help that she’s already giving Christmas presents. 

Just look at this cute red sled with stars for every member of the family – and the artists here at the store are the best at personalizing!  See, I have a friend who asked me “what Christmas stuff do people buy in March?” -which I naturally considered to be a throwing-down of the gauntlet.  Went straight down to the Ornament Gallery and picked this one out, plus an adorable penguin with a big red heart for each of his girls.  He thanked me (sincerely) a week later for having to pull out his tree again so that the girls could immediately hang their penguins.  You’re welcome.  by know, you should know better than to test me.

Have you started your 2008 Christmas list or shopping yet?  If not, you’re already behind – two or three curves!  Even 5-year-olds are already working on their lists, and the end-of-season sales for winter stuff are long gone.  Came across some folks with tons of great shopping ideas to help you get started, if you’re not like me.  Too, I really like the idea of spreading out the cost of Christmas so I’m not so afraid of December.

Consider the gauntlet thrown!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

before and after…

Here are a couple of pictures of the transformation taking place in our Department 56 gallery this week.  It’s been great fun to watch Bryon Shroats at work – we’ve learned how to make iceburgs and icicles so far (sweet new power tools we just have to buy now).

First, clear some space and lay down a fresh blanket of “snow.”

First, remove everything and lay down a sheet of

Add some ice mountains, trees, fences, lamposts, figures, candy banners, and a few stores to create the North Pole Village ~ and enjoy the beautiful results!

And after, the beautiful results!

Remember, we’re hosting a reception for Bryon this Friday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., so come on in to see and enjoy all his work.

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  I am currently engaged in a rigoruos quality control process for the cookies for Friday…will report results as soon as I run out of milk.

Unbelievable rooms at The Inn at Christmas Place!

First, I hereby declare that I work for the company that owns The Inn at Christmas Place.  That said – WOW!  I had my first complete tour of the hotel and first look at the guest rooms yesterday, and my brain is just saying ~ WOW!  They are outstanding.  I have visited my share of hotels around the country and the world, and this one is truly very special and quite fantastic.

Before you get to a room, there are bellmen at the front door, and plenty of staff to help and direct you.  They are all so friendly and welcoming, it made me feel good just walking in – and I’m so new to the company, they did not know that I was an employee (I work at the store across the street from the hotel) – so no “co-worker bounce”.

I have written a separate page about the Inn (look to the right on this page), so I won’t pools_1_l.jpgdescribe the public areas again here, just the rooms.  Except I will tell you that I found out yesterday that one guest so enjoyed the figure-eight slide at our pool that he bought one for his own swimming pool.  {{party at Doug’s place next Friday, bring your own towel}}

On to the rooms ~ and custom-made mattresses, which are a dream.  So my coworkers tell me.  I don’t have first hand knowledge of this.  Everyone else got to stay at the Inn this winter.  I did not.  I’m not bitter about it, either.  However, they have all truly said great things about the bedding – no peas under the mattress.

Flat-panel HD TVs, microwaves, and refrigerators in every room, along with the usual appliances.  Also, free Internet access in every room, so you can spend your vaca e-mailing home to let everyone know just what they are missing!

Now for the really good stuff – the bathrooms.  Normally I don’t spend excessive amounts inn-at-night-2.jpgof time in the bathroom (shut up, you know who you are)…except for that one trip to Encinada, Mexico… darn that agua fria…but nothing is worse than having a fabulous room with a yucky bathroom.  Me, when I’m away from home, I want something better than home – and these rooms deliver.  Gorgeous granite counter tops – and they’re big, too.  With decorative ceramic star-shaped trays holding the Gilchrist & Soames toiletries and a ceramic sleigh holding the hair dryer, the sink area is really attractive (can I write glowing things about a bathroom sink?).  The showers are really grand as well – some are traditional tubs, and others have walk-in showers with glass doors – that’s cool stuff in a hotel room.  And everything is very well lit – no gloomy caves.

The best rooms of all come with a fireplace with a granite surround and hearth, and a king-room-with-fireplace.jpgtwo-person whirlpool in the room.  The suite with a living room and full kitchen (including stove) has an enormous bedroom, with an arched entryway leading to separate areas for the whirlpool and bath.  Wicked sweet!  With a view of the mountains on one side and the courtyard grounds on the other ~ I see me moving in tomorrow.  Like I said at the beginning, WOW!  I’ll send you my new address.

lobbies_2_l.jpgOn top of all these beautiful features, add the lovely Christmas decor of wreaths, swags, trees, figurines, and winter prints throughout the rooms and public areas ~ icing on the cake.  It really is a magnificent property, and I can’t wait for an excuse to book a room for myself!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

and I didn’t even get to the private balconies and handicap-accessible rooms…

Department 56 designer in store next week

799920e-rubber-duck-factory.jpgStarting Monday, April 7th, a Department 56 village designer will be with us in the store, rebuilding several of our village displays from the “deck” up.  If you are a collector, this is a fantastic time to come in and watch Bryon Shroats at work recreating complete villages, and to ask any questions you have about display techniques and ideas.

Then, come back on Friday, April 11, and join us at a reception for Bryon – free tea and cookies from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

T Department 56 Collectors Club Members – Order your 2008 Limited Editions now – they arrived in the store today!  Check out the new Rubber Duck Factory pictured above – the elf rotates in the duck pool as he inspects each new duck.

The Boutique

Are you ready for shorts and flip flops?  I sure am!  I know some of you probably just wear socks with your flip flops through the winter (they do make socks just for that, you know, yes, they do).

Anyway, I just took a walk over to The Boutique, our newest shop here at The Incredible Christmas Place, and they have the neatest flip flop line – “Switch Flops.”  The sandals switch-flops.jpghave hook-and-loop tape along the straps and you can purchase 30 or so different colored and decorated ribbons to attach to the same pair of sandals – change the color or style of your shoes every day – so cute!  Some have crystals or pearls at polka-dot-ribbon-with-flower.jpgthe toe cleft, some shells, buttons or embroidered flowers.  The ribbons are striped, dotted, lace, all sorts of textures and patterns, some with touches of gold or silver shot through the design. 

To go along with the Switch Flops, we have new boxer shorts and pajama lounge pants from Vera Bradley, in her customary selection of colorful, flowery fabrics!  The shorts and towel.jpgpants are packaged in individual matching fabric pouches, too – another tote to use for suncreen and sundries.  What fun you can have designing a pair of sandals to match your shorts.  We also have new beach towels, can coolers, and iPod covers from Vera to complete your trip to that sunny destination.  (They have matching umbrellas, too, but I don’t want to jinx anyone.)

As I mentioned before, we also carry the Crabtree & Evelyn line, including luxury skin care products for both women and men.  They have great travel sizes, and the scents are delicate and complex, not overwhelming – great stuff!

Here’s a list of some of the other cool stuff in The Boutique: 

  • Swarovski crystal figurines and jewelry
  • Egyptian perfume bottles
  • Novelty hand-painted wine goblets in patterns like Shopaholic
  • Bearington Bears in the most adorable clothes and styles – both boy and girl bears, along with frogs, duckies, and sheep
  • Heritage Lace Brocade hanging lanterns – not only are the fabric shades beautiful themselves, they create wonderful patterns of light throughout your space
  • a collection of picture frames and albums that scrapbookers and artists will love – the frames have tons of dimensional highlights and ephemera (if you know what I mean by this, you know these are for you)
  • ceramic frames and plaques with titles like Mother, Grandmother, Sister – I’m already thinking Mother’s Day
  • Two new collections of journals, pocket notebooks, and mini sketch books – one that is particularly unique – the bindings are by famous artists, living and dead, and each design is described in the back of the journal.   Rembrandt, Mozart, and Laural Birch were some that I noticed.  The bindings are almost jewel-like in color and style, richly embossed and decorated, with metallic fastenings.

Sad for me, I had some money in my back pocket when I strolled over to the store – have to stop doing that, because I tend to leave the cash behind and come away with lovely treasures in exchange – but since I usually give my treasures away, let’s say I’m doing my part for both the business and social economies today.

 Have a great weekend – it’s almost Monday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S. Don’t forget about our garage sale for the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.  It’s going on right now down at the owner’s garage at the back of the store.  I know I still have a few bucks in my pocket, so I’m headed that way for an even better cause.

Garage Sale with a heart!

It’s time for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life 6th Annual Garage Sale at The Incredible Christmas Place.  Each year, store owners donate gifts and decorations and staff bring in personal items for a big garage sale, with all proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society.  This year, the goal for the employees of Christmas Place is $4,000.

If you are in the area on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, March 28-30, between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., come around to the back of the store and check  out the bargains to be found in the owner’s garage – yes, there really is a garage here, so you can be sure that this is indeed a genuine garage sale.  The variety of items for sale will amaze you, and includes toys, ornaments, figurines, decorations, household items, and maybe even some fixtures from the store.  Please come to shop and help us reach our goal – this is one more way we are able to share the spirit of Christmas all year ’round.

Hey, it’s almost Friday!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place