Thursday, November 19, 2015

Christmas calendars ANYONE can make (and enjoy!)

Just as soon as our clocks fall back, I like to spring forward and soak up every single merry second of the holiday season.  It's just so much easier than starring bleakly at a cold, damp, darkened, leafless streetscape at 5pm dreaming of April.

In our family, once the Halloween candy is still freshly wedged into tiny molars, the kids are already addressing envelopes to the North Pole and dotting the "i"s on their wish-list of Apple products.  As parents, we know that December means answering the thrice daily question, "how many more days until Christmas????"  A Christmas calendar makes the countdown (or count-up) fun and making your own reusable calendar can be a really nice way to kick off a new tradition as well as usher in the festive season. 

With budgets in mind (you won't need a credit card for these purchases!), I've come up with two easy (I promise), fast (I promise) Christmas calendars using supplies that cost less than $30 total- one is focused on receiving and the other on giving.  In our house, we'll use both this year.

Receiving: The Jute bag/Loot bag Christmas calendar (wall calendar)
This wall-hung calendar has a very earthy, organic feel and allows you to stash all sorts of fun little treats, gifts, gift-cards and notes in all 24 pockets.

Supplies needed:
24 small jute bags from Dollarama (2 for $1) or Craft store (likely more $)
3 x 3' branches (I used birch logs from the cottage, but you can use any 1/2" - 1" log/branch
Roll of twine (Dollarama $1)
24 Chalkboard stickers (Dollarma, $1/pack of 10)
Chalkboard marker (Craft store)

How to:
Place a chalkboard sticker on each bag and number them 1 to 24.
Weave a 4' length of twine through the handle on each of bag 8 bags and secure ends to first branch/log.
Repeat steps with next 8 bags and hang second branch/log from first log.
Repeat steps with final 8 bags and hang third branch/log from second log.
Tie a small twine loop in centre of first log (for hanging).
Decorate or embellish with Xmas balls, bells or bows to suit your taste/decor.

Giving: The Little Box of Christmas Kindness (table-top calendar)
This table top centrepiece does double duty as a reminder of what the holiday season is really all about: giving!  Numbered envelopes reveal a daily to-do that focuses on family, friends, fun and sharing.  You fill in the cards to suit your life so it is totally personalized and completely re-useable for years to come!

Supplies needed:
1 festive box from Dollarama
24 x blank cards and envelopes
Pen or metallic marker
Household Xmas decorations to suit your tastes.

How to:
Number envelopes 1 to 24 (I used a stamp and ink pad to decorate mine)
Fill in cards with fun ideas like, "Shovel a neighbours driveway", "Make your brother's bed", "Bake cookies for a friend", "Buy someone a coffee", etc...
Fill box with cards and envelopes and place on a decorative tray.
Arrange and style to suit your tastes.

If you're still a sucker for store-bought, ready-made, treat-filled calendars, tune into my Advent Calendar segment on CTV's Canada AM, Friday November 20th @ 8:40am for more great ideas!
Click here for BIY (Buy-It-Yourself) and DYI ideas!!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Arena readiness 101: A parents guide to surviving minor hockey (and other chilly sports)

315 long, cold, endless, bum-numbing hours.  

From September to March, each year, it's the same routine, every day of the week and most weekends: load up the gear, get in the car, drive, drive some more, keep driving, arrive at arena early, sit, wait, watch, freeze, cheer, freeze some more, load up gear, get in car, drive, drive and drive some more.  Then repeat.

Yes, this is life in Canada as a rep hockey parent, and I am not alone.  If you add up the parents of kids in house league hockey, rep hockey, figure skating, speed skating, skating lessons, curling and other ice sports, hundreds of thousands of Canadian parents are doing much of the same - essentially freezing their baguettes off for what can amount to (in my case) 315 hours, 13 entire days of one's life spent in an arena (not including playoffs and tryouts and summer camps).  And it is awesome!!!

If you're spending approximately 11.25 passive hours per week in a vast, steel, fluorescent-lit meat-locker desperately searching for cell phone coverage, scarfing a Jamaican patty purchased from a heated concession carousel, let me help you.  This is an intervention.  I'm here to not only tell you that there is a way to survive this dreary parenting fate,  there's a way to thrive in an arena setting!!!

Here are some tips and tricks that every parent (or spectator, carpooler, angry-tag-along-sibling, relative and friend) needs to know in order to make the best of what I like to call, Canada's 5th season.
It's that time again...

You've been there - 20 minutes from home, at the arena, racing frantically and rooting around a smelly equipment bag with junior in the locker room searching for ______(fill in the blank) and you know darn well in the pit of your stomach that said-missing-item is sitting on the floor in your front hall. That's why savvy parents always keep an S.O.S. bag in the car, for those "uh oh" moments.  Canadian Tire sells all sorts of neat items that will save the day on more than one occasion (if not yours, then another parent/child's!).  Keep a bag stocked with a hand-held skate sharpener, extra skate laces, hockey tape (which can MacGyver you in and out of many situations!), a repair kit for helmets, extra hockey socks and neck guard (these items are almost always missing from someone's bag).

My grandmother used to warn that sitting on a cold bench would give you haemorrhoids.  And while there's no scientific research to support that claim, I can assure you that "numb-bum" is a very real, very uncomfortable condition affecting all spectators sitting on metal bleachers in ice-cold arenas.  But there is a cure.  Have a grab-n-go arena bag in your car at all times that you can count on for comfort.  Stock it with a large fleece blanket (preferably in team colours!), a large insulated mug (you will be consuming a ton of hot liquids - I bring my own box of peppermint teabags), toe-warmers, hand-warmers (Zippo Hand Warmer is amazing or you can have those throw-aways), fluffy mitts, and a warm scarf to kill the chill from the refrigeration unit that inevitably ends up blasting directly onto the back of your neck.  You can even buy seat-warmers - a soft microwaveable cushion to keep your tookus toasty.

Forget fashion.  Arenas are no place for trends and coiffed tresses.  Get yourself to Sportchek and snag some ultra warm boots (Sorel, North Face), some knit pants for her (Under Armour), a fleece hoodie and gloves for him (Nike Tech Fleece Hero Hoodie $210.00, Under Armour ColdGear gloves, $29.99) and hunker down against the cold. Some arenas have button-activated, gas-powered overhead heating units for "spectator comfort".  However, I think that they are engineered to function the same way as crosswalk buttons (i.e., they don't function, but it sure is fun hammering the button endlessly while trying to quell your inner rage).

So now that you've got 13 days of your life to kill in an arena, might as well make it productive, right?  Wrong - most arenas are so chock-full of metal bits, beams and roofing that even the smartest of smartphones will fail to carry any signal whatsoever.  Plus, many phones with a metal casing will often just run dry of battery power trying to maintain warmth.  What's a social-networking butterfly to do?  First off, find a hot-spot - likely the lobby, parking lot or huddled in your car.  Resign yourself to the fact that you may have to (gulp) disconnect from technology for the next 1-2 hours. If that thought terrifies you more than a slimy mouth-guard covered in black-fuzz, make your way to the rec centre's reception area and inquire about free Wi-Fi, or parent-lounges (yes, these do exist in some ultra-modern, wonderfully rare arenas!! Like unicorns, I want to believe in them but I've never actually seen one for myself).

If sitting on your duff endlessly just isn't your cup of peppermint tea, then why not make the most of your hours at the arena and get fit?  I recently purchased a Nike Fitbit, laced up my sneakers and walked laps of the arena while my son did his team practice.  Not only did I log 10,000 coveted steps, but I also got a bit of sweat going too.  Some arenas also have full gyms connected to them (as part of a community centre).  See if they offer a daily or hourly guest pass, or ask other parents on your team if they'd like to join you for a 30-minute walk outside.  How much better would you feel knowing that you and your kid are getting exercise?  Sometimes I get a full cardio and weight-training workout just hauling my son's 70 pound goalie bag around a parking lot aimlessly when I've forgotten where I parked the car!  You should try it!

Parents of kids who play arena sports, we're in this together!  I would love to know what your survival tips are so please share them with me on Twitter @KasieSavage

Catch my segment on CTV's Canada AM: Wednesday, November 4th at 8:40am!
Click here to watch!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Happy Halloween and a Merry Haunting: A once humble evening is now a multi-billion dollar indutry

            As far as my three boys are concerned, there are only 2 days in a calendar year that matter: Christmas and Halloween.  And they’re not alone - according to consumer stats, Halloween ranks second in retail spending.  That’s HUGE!!!  From Halloween recipes, to drinks, to décor, to costumes, wedding-themes (huh?), licensed merchandise, how-to-videos, pyrotechnics, outdoor lighting, inflatables and more, Halloween is no longer a one-night trick-and-treat.

Used to be, when I was a kid, Mom took an old worse-for-wear bed-sheet (likely one that you permanently soiled during that nasty stomach flu), cut out jagged eye holes and a mouth, tossed it over your head casually and announced, “you’re a ghost – that’s your costume”.  One pumpkin on the porch was standard décor and kids excitedly tossed their pillows loose from their cartoon-themed pillowcases with the intention of filling them until the seams burst with good ol’ fashioned stick-to-your-silver-fillings candy. 

            My how the times have changed.  It’s estimated that in the U.S. alone, 22 million dollars will be spent on dog costumes…not costumes that make you look like a dog, costumes for your dog!!  I can hear the helpless whimper of pooches across Canada getting pried into ill-fitting Star Wars suits. 

               Instead of letting all of this Halloween consumerism turn me into an evil witch, this year, I’m committing.  I’m getting on-board this orange-painted bandwagon and riding it like a deranged diabetic rancher on an all-you-can-eat sugary cattle call (Costume Alert: Deranged Rancher! You’re welcome!).

 I recently went to Michael’s craft store (a mecca for all things awesome and wonderful and inspiring) and filled my cart with all sorts of fun D.I.Y projects as well as some pre-made décor items.  I made a Halloween door wreath, spider web votive candle holders, tattooed pumpkins, spray-painted other gourds white and added golden glitter, stocked up on all sorts of entertaining accessories for the huge party I am having Saturday night (oh yeah, you read it right – party at my place!) 


             Then I stopped in at Canadian Tire and bought a variety of outdoor projectors to convert this lame-o suburban abode into a spooky haunted manse of mayhem.  I have goose bumps just writing this.  That’s how pumped I am about finally taking Halloween to the next level.

            Let’s talk safety – without safety, Halloween could become a real-life nightmare.  In most of Canada it’s now dark outside come 6/6:30pm.  Add to that, reduced visibility with falling leaves, a bit of rain, dark costumed goblins and you’ve got a potentially dangerous mix of kids darting about the streets and nervous drivers hoping to avoid them.

Tips for parents/kids:

 Light those kids up: From reflective tape strips to glow bands for wrists or necks, kids need to be seen.  The local dollar store usually sells both so a buck or two per kid is all you need to spend in order to make them stand out.

 Costumes: My son’s mummy morph-suit looks so creepy and cool.  What’s not cool is that he can barely see out of it.  Pretty sure a face-plant on the neighbours driveway is not how he hopes to kick-off the candy collection.  Make sure that the kids can see – even if it means not wearing a mask, or slipping it off between doorbells. I have seen first-hand too many kids crying on the sidewalk with skinned hands and knees. There’s no place for real blood on Halloween.

 Candy: As a kid, we always had to empty our haul onto the counter for parental inspection before we could even consider licking a lollipop.  Same rules still apply.  Immediately toss perishables (sorry sweet old lady who gives out apples), candies with damaged or compromised wrapping and anything else that gives you a not-so-confident feeling.

 Allergies: It’s very likely that there’s a neighbourhood child who has a severe nut allergy and for whom Halloween is not so fun because Mom and Dad have to toss or give away most/all of their candy.  There’s a fantastic teal pumpkin campaign out this year, encouraging you to place a teal pumpkin on your step, notifying kids with allergies that you offer nut-free treats at your door (much of the candy sold for Halloween purposes has the nut-free symbol on it – check the box/wrapper). Teal paint is available at any dollar store or craft store if you’d like to participate.

 Drivers: The easiest tip is to avoid driving, if possible, during peak trick-or-treat hours (7-8:30).  If you are out and about, common sense dictates that you should be extra vigilant and patient behind the wheel…remember how much you loved Halloween as a kid?

 Shutting it down: If you’re like me, then reams of costume-less 16-year olds rapping at the door at 9:45 demanding candy in a chorus of awkward pubescent voices is not high on your list of “fun”.  Generally, lights extinguished on pumpkins and external house lights turned off, means “no candy here”.  If late-night junk-seeking revellers ring the bell, a polite “sorry, we’re all out” is much better than a rude door slam…especially if you do not wish to awaken to an egg-smeared house.

 Catch the segment on CTV’s Canada AM for craft ideas, how-to’s and lots more fun, Friday, October 30th at 8:40am.

 Follow me @KasieSavage

Thursday, July 30, 2015

How to plan to perfect (fuss-free) picnic

We Canadians spend so much time indoors hiding from the miserable cold, that once the sun shows itself, we hit the patios, terraces, backyard decks and cottage docks with a vengeance. A bevie in hand and munchies in reach, there's nothing quite like an alfresco dining experience to rejuvenate the soul and boost any mood.  So why then do so few of us picnic?  If your definition of a picnic is eating a 12"cold-cut combo on a park bench, let me redefine the meaning for you:

A picnic is a pre-planned, eating and/or drinking experience, typically between two or more people, in a casual outdoor setting surrounded by an inspiring natural environment (think trees, not traffic), whereby food and drink are toted to said location in a packed carry-all supplying linens, edibles, beverage, possibly tunes (via portable speaker or you and your acoustic guitar) with the intent to relax and soak in conversation and scenery.

Now if the idea of picnicking sounds like it's going to mean a heck-of-a-lot of planning and hoopla, let me assure you, it only requires a maximum of 1-hour of planning/prepping if you follow my tips:

1: Think outside the basket
No need to buy a designated picnic basket - save time and money but grabbing any hard-bottomed tote or decorative basket from home - like the one you have for those display-only birch logs by the fire.  Hard bottoms (think flat tray not Olympic hurdler) keep items stacked, neat and secure from toppling over.

2. Pick your spot
Make sure that first and foremost, you are legally allowed to picnic in your desired location.  Mrs. Hubbard's immaculate English garden with the pond and swans may appeal to you, but be respectful of private vs. public areas.  Choose a nice flat area (if you plan on using a picnic blanket), free of ant hills (trust happens) and with a desirable view of whatever you find desirable - for some it's a meandering creek nestled in a conservation area with birds singing their little birdie songs.  For others, it's a smokestack next to the cement plant (not recommended, but to each their own).

3. Boomerang it
Not the actual game, but the concept: make sure that your supplies, containers, cutlery, etc... are all re-usable and going right back home with you afterward.  It's better for the environment to leave nothing behind and will save you from having to buy plastic utensils or disposable napkins.

4. Make it, don't break it
Always use, whenever possible, non-breakable containers.  Avoid glass and porcelain/stoneware - not only is it heavier to lug around, but your fine Olde English Rose china from Aunt Edna won't be of any use, or appreciated by others, if it's shattered into a zillion pieces along a hiking trail.  There are many great, high-quality acrylic dinnerware options available at HomeSense or Williams-Sonoma that you can reuse, put in the dishwasher and store for years to come.  Even Aunt Edna would have a hard time telling the difference (bifocals or not!).

5. Add the pizazz
A picnic is all about connecting and conversation.  By adding a few easy personal touches, not only will you impress (yourself and others!), but it will help set the tone for your picnic - one that says, "I went the extra mile without walking an extra mile" (speaking of which, try not to venture too far off the beaten path or too far from your car - if you need to use your GPS to get in or out of your picnic spot, you've gone too far!).

Steal these ideas:
  • Use hollowed out baguette slices as napkin rings! (Then eat them! Bonus!)
  • Pre-fill mason jars with lemonade and add a handful of frozen berries to keep it cool.
  • Grab that faux-fur throw you're not using in summer and lay it out as  picnic blanket - soft, luxe and plush!
  • Use tea-towels as serviettes.
  • Pre-skewer fruit or veggie kabobs for easy munching.
  • Bring a small portable Bluetooth speaker and find a streaming picnic play-list (Songza has a ton of picnic-themed playlists for any music-lover!).
6. Keep it chilled
Ice cubes are not a reliable long-term method for keeping foods cold, so do pack some freezer packs if you're planning on enjoying some perishable or heat-intolerant foods.  No freezer packs?  No biggie - but avoid meats, mayo-based salads or egg sandwiches and opt for mixed greens with vinaigrette or crackers and brie instead!  Freezing an acrylic container of punch or a plastic bottle of lemon water can act as a freezer pack and keep drinks chilled too!  Double-duty!

Have fun on your next picnic and watch the segment on CTV's Canada AM for more great ideas!  Would love to hear your picnic stories: what's your fave picnic spot?

Canada AM: Perfect Picnic

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Daddy Dearest: Cool gift ideas for the main man this Father's Day

Why is it that it's SO easy to shop for Moms, but when it comes to Dads you always find yourself scanning a 96 piece ratchet set (just like the one you bought last year) or combing the shirt-n-tie aisle with a glazed-over look in your eye.  B-O-R-I-N-G.  I mean come on, this guy helped to create you!  Get him something with a little oomph!  I recently took to the park, streets, sidewalk and backyard and asked a bunch of cool-looking local Dads what they desire more than anything in the world for Father's Day.  Their responses were all identical.  It was almost as if they had formed a secret society of listless, down-in-the-daddy-dumps Dads, some night, in some garage, where they pledged to only ask for one simple thing - the whole strength in numbers routine.  100% of respondents replied:

"All I want on Father's Day is for an entire day to myself where nobody barks orders at me, or has me working on a project or running an errand.  I want just a single day to do what I please without answering to anyone."

Ouch.  Sounds like the wives and kids in my neighbourhood rate above-average in the nagging department. 

Well, besides a day where my husband/father-to-my-three-boys can golf non-stop from dawn to dusk without so much as a text from me, there are oodles of great gift ideas and experiences for any Dad - gifts that will truly drive home how much we care, faster than a Big Bertha off a long tee (golf reference...don't worry, I have no idea what that means either).

I've broken it down into Dad categories and you can watch me live, on CTV's Canada AM, Thursday June 18th at 8:40am for some Dad-erific ideas and huge dream-gift surprises!!! 
Click here to watch!!!

     For the "Debonair Dad"

     Canada Goose jackets  ($395 - $595)

     Scotch-Whisky (Bunnahabhain)  $100

     Harry Rosen
  • Pocket squares x 3, $55
  • Shaving Set x 1, $198
  • Swim trunks x 2, $98
  • Daniel Buchler lounge shorts and t-shirt, $120 each
  • Burberry London check cufflinks, $120
Burberry cufflinks from Harry Rosen

         Body Shop
    • Shaving kit, $35
    • Bathroom kit, $40

         For the "Devoted Dad"

         Canadian Tire

         For the "Daredevil Dad"

         TryThat{!} vouchers ($99 - $250)
 for Beer Appreciation Classes, Exotic Car Track Experience,
         Flyboarding in the Muskokas and much more!!!

    If Dad likes adventure, visit

         Sporting Life
    • Nike Speed Jump Rope, $17.99
    • Under Armour Men’s Flux Half-finger Gloves, $27.99
    • Garmin Forerunner 620 Monitor, $589.99
    • Fitbit Surge Performance Fitness Wristband, $299.99
    • Fitbit Charge Everyday Fitness Wristband, $149.99
    • Reebok Men’s All Terrain 2 Shoes, $129.99
    • Asics Men’s Gel-Nimbus 16, $189.99
    • Oakley Holbrook, $139.99

         Dream Gifts for Dad (in his dreams!!!)

         Tesla (see dealer for pricing)

         Kalamazoo BBQ, $27 000

         Private golf course membership, starts at $30 000
    Sweet ride - fully electric too!

    This BBQ is boss!

    Monday, May 4, 2015

    Mom's Day Shopping 101: Here's what she wants...

    Along with a lifetime of stress, worry, stretch-marks and that abdominal pooch that won't go away, becoming a Mom entitles you to everlasting appreciation by each and every one of your offspring, to be celebrated in uber-thoughtful ways on Mother's Day!  Or at least that's the fantastic ideal. 

    In reality, most mothers of underage kids spend Mother's Day doing everything that they did the day before Mother's Day...but often in larger doses:  more cleaning because the whole fam-damily is coming over, more shopping because now we need to feed a crowd, more cleaning because there are more people we need to prove we aren't slobs to....ugh.  I'm not proclaiming to be a Mom's Day clairvoyant here, but even though there are millions of different Canadian Moms across this vast land, I can tell you with unfaltering, 100% certainty what NO MOM WANTS for Mother's Day:
    1. More cooking, cleaning and food shopping
    2. A package of frozen meat submarine sandwiches (don't's still too raw to discuss).
    It's a short list.  So remember it!

    On the other hand, I feel pretty confident telling you that I also know what ALL MOMS DO WANT:
    1. Thoughtful cards, notes or gifts (that clearly didn't involve a last minute trip to the pharmacy's gift card swivel display 20-minutes prior).
    2. Displays of appreciation (hugs, kisses, kind gestures and such, without having to beg for them).
    3. Gifts however big or small, hand-made or store-bought that clearly demonstrate that the giver has even the slightest clue as to who we are and what we love (ahem...frozen meat subs?  I don't even eat beef....).
    4. Anything pretty
    For those of you that need specific direction on what and where to buy, I've compiled a list of just some of the great Mom-worthy gifts for the four main Mom archetypes: Adventure Mom, Book Club Mom, Party Mom and Nature Mom. 

    To see the complete lineup and shopping specifics, tune in to CTV's Canada AM on Wednesday June 6th at 8:40am.  I've curated a ton of amazing gifts for your Mom, or for you to PVR and play back for your clueless kids.

    Watch the segment - click here!

    Adventure Mom: Loves anything wellness and fitness and most certainly, anything from  (think a Spring jacket from Canada Goose, Fitbit, stylish gym tote, hiking shoes from Salomon, etc...)
    Just one of the many amazing duffel bags at Sporting Life

    Book Club Mom: Loves relaxing in some super luxe, temperature regulating (no more night sweats) loungewear/jammies from Canadian company Lusomé (  Snuggled up in the comfiest chair in the house, she's sipping on David's Tea products (see their "Day At The Spa" collection of teas!), flipping through the latest top fiction from, and inhaling the scent of a bergamot candle that's flickering nearby...ahhhh...
    Patented dryLon fabric technology -
    Lusomé jammies are super soft!!

    Party Mom: Loves all things fashion, fab and food.  Think great new stemwear on a gilded serving tray (HomeSense), a great new clutch from luxury label Mulberry, an everlasting floral arrangement that will never droop or die (HomeSense), a pretty floral silk scarf (Winners), Champagne...

    Campden Clutch in Hibiscus from Mulberry

    Nature Mom:  Loves anything that celebrates the glorious outdoors and gardening, growing and sowing! is a one-stop shopping destination for great outdoor furniture so Mom can kick up her heels in a wicker rocker while you water her new hanging baskets and top up those bird feeders next to the hammock!!

    Regardless of what Mother's Day brings your way in 2015, the best gifts ever are most certainly the people in your lives that call you, "Mom".

    Happy Mother's Day!!!

    Tuesday, April 14, 2015

    Used, new, who knew? Smart tips for saving $$$

    Your neighbours are doing it.  Your friends are doing it.  Your spouse has probably done it, online, more than once, without you even knowing...  Canadians coast-to-coast are saving and earning big-time bucks via our thriving second-hand economy.  To celebrate 10-years in the business, Kijiji, an online marketplace for buyers and sellers of second-hand goods, recently put out some very impressive facts about what Canadian second-hand shopping practices look like. 

    Check out these stats:
    • Every minute, Canadians spend approximately $57,000 on second-hand products.
    • The second-hand economy is worth $30 billion annually (15% of the value of new goods purchased).
    • 2 ads are placed on every second!
    • The average Canadian grants a second life to 76 products annually via buying, selling, trading or donating (the highest numbers being in the Prairies and Alberta - nice going, guys!!)
    • The average family of four saves $1150/year buying second-hand.
    So what the heck is your excuse for not buying pre-loved merchandise? 

    From sporting goods to clothing to electronics to cars (even homes!) to furniture and more, there are thousands upon thousands of great finds online.  But if you're a second-hand newbie like myself, it can be pretty confusing to know how to find great items, that are great quality at great prices. 

    Let's break it down...

    Sellers:  Spring is a great season to dip your toes into the world of second-hand money making. Trust me, that souvenir puck from an NHL game you attended in the 90's or that old set of golf clubs are just waiting to be transformed into dollar bills (or I guess loonies to be more accurate).   Open up that garage, clean out the house, rummage through the basement and surely, there is money waiting to be made.  Not sure whether an online site like Kijiji versus a garage sale is right for you?  Here's my suggestion: higher ticket items ($30 +) do best on sites like Kijiji.  Save the real bargains for a garage sale.  Professional garage-salers will come early, come hungry and with mostly small bills, so do not bother to put an antique hutch on the driveway and expect someone to offer you $500 for it.  If however, you've got some better quality, larger items that you feel could fetch some bigger bucks, then snap some well-lit pics, write a catchy description (be honest) and upload to an online site.  If you've indeed got a great in-demand item, within minutes, your inbox will begin to fill up faster than a hungry kid at a pizza party!!  If you've got any of the below items to sell, there are buyers aplenty waiting in the wings to buy!

    Most Searched Items Online:
    Leafs/Raptors Tickets (events)
    Lululemon Clothing (apparel)
    Lego (toys)
    Nikon (small electronics)
    Fridges (home)
    TV (large electronics)
    BMW (most searched item overall)

    Here's how the second-hand economy can work for you, using my own example:

    Two of my boys need bigger bikes this season.  Instead of handing down their too-small ones, I can re-sell them online, at a garage sale or through word-of-mouth.  I would expect $25/bike to be reasonable.  So that's $50 earned.  Next, I went online to Kijiji and found a seller offering two higher-quality youth mountain bikes for $100 (for both).  I know that I could likely offer him $75.  I went to research the bikes he was selling at a leading sporting goods retailer and they were listed for $299 each, brand new.  Schwinn bikes!!  Factor in the fact that if these bikes were abused like the ones my sons had, then I'll likely need $50 in tune-ups from the bike shop.  In the end, I could purchase new bikes for $600 (which is crazy given how fast my boys are growing), or I could get the 2 for $75, add in those tune-ups at $50 and pay $125.  Don't forget the $50 I hope to earn selling their old that pays for tune-ups!  So we're back at a net loss to me of $75 for two great bikes.  Sounds like a deal!!!

    Just like sellers, Spring is the season to be out with the old and in with the (somewhat) new.  In fact, there really is no good reason to buy certain items brand new.  If the kids need bigger bikes, or the baby could use some bigger clothes, or you're looking for that perfect wrought-iron bench for the garden, your very first shopping destination should be the second-hand market.  Any item that is outgrown quickly can typically be found used/online for a fraction of the price of a brand new item, and in excellent condition too!  If you love home décor then second-hand furniture, rugs and draperies are just a click away.  Every time you see a contractor in someone's driveway, there's a better than good chance that the home-owner has decided that last year's wall-art just won't suit this year's paint colour - which means you could be paying 50-80% less than retail for high-quality items!!  I recently turned to social media to find out why people shop for pre-loved goods online versus at garage sales.  The consensus was that while garage sales are a fun way to pass a lazy Sunday morning, you can't shop with specifics in mind, or you might never find anything you like.  Think needle-in-haystack browsing.  Whereas online, you enter your criteria into a search field and boom - local results are just a few clicks and kilometers away.

    Top 3 reason why people buy second-hand:
    1. Saving money
    2. Ecological benefits
    3. The thrill of finding a great deal
    Best deals:  Let's face it, once out of the store or off the rack, there is a huge depreciation in value on certain items.  You can literally save 50% or more on nearly new items that have barely ever been worn or used.  The hottest deals can be found on...
    • Designer clothes (the boutique charges top dollar, but let the original buyer pay that premium!)
    • Jewellery (especially fine jewellery/gold)
    • Baby Clothes (most baby clothes are worn fewer than 8 times before outgrown)
    • Furniture (my sister-in-law haggled her way to a gorgeous teak dining table for $700, even though the seller was asking $2000!!)
    • Cars (once off the lot, even a car with 1000 km on it will have depreciated by 25%)
    • Sports equipment (a baseball bat is a baseball bat...but a used one is only $10!!)
    • Tools (a hammer is supposed to hit nails, why get a shiny new one?...likewise a used power tool can save you hundreds and still get the job done!)
    • Books & toys (then you can re-sell them when you're done with them!)
    Now, not everything should be purchased second-hand no matter how great our desire to save money, help the environment or how big the thrill of the hunt.  Any item that's purpose it is to provide safety, or where safety can be compromised, should NEVER be purchased second-hand.  The same goes for anything hygiene related...that's just gross.  Would you want to sleep on a used mattress, covered in invisible dust-bites, dead-skin cells, save a few bucks?  Ewww...  If you have bought a used mattress before, do not ever invite me for a sleepover

    Never buy: Cribs, car-seats, helmets, mattresses, bedding, bathing-suits or underwear (do I really need to list these?).

    Ok, so who's ready to shop??  Now you're armed with some info to get the ball rolling on your second-hand buying and selling.  It's a fun, safe and easy way to earn extra money and give a new life to products that somebody wants! 

    Would love to know what your greatest finds were.  Share them with me on Facebook (Kasie Savage) or Twitter (@KasieSavage) and tune into my segment on CTV's Canada AM, Friday, April 17 at 8:40am!
    Click here to watch!

    For more information on Canada's second-hand economy, visit: