Early Christmas Bargains Available Right Now

Getting your house decorated for the holidays gets tougher and tougher as the months fly by. Soon summer will be over, fall will kick in, Halloween will transform into Thanksgiving and you’ll be left staring at the to-do list wondering how Christmas could really be a few weeks away. It’s easier to start shopping when the deals start popping up in summer. Explore LTD’s early Christmas bargains and save yourself some holiday stress.

Christmas Curb Appeal

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The Light Flurries Outdoor Light Show accents the entire exterior of your home with a magical snowfall. Its self-contained design can be easily moved and set up in minutes. The rotating mirrored ball inside the unit reflects thousands of cascading snowflakes on solid surfaces. It covers up to 60 feet wide and 4 stories tall, has variable speed control and can be used inside as well. Put the true meaning of Christmas on display in your front yard with the 3-Pc. Solar Nativity Silhouette Stake Set. Mary prays over baby Jesus and Joseph is holding a solar-powered lantern that lights up the scene with an enchanting white glow. Decorated with red berries, natural pine cones and faux pine needles, the Holiday Monogram Wreath is exactly what you need to freshen up your front door for Christmas. The center monogram and burlap bow give it a personal touch.

Holiday Home Decor Favorites

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Accent a staircase, entryway or almost any other flat surface using the Lighted Holiday Lamppost. Its lighted design adds holiday warmth to your Christmas decor and can easily serve as a focal point in any room. Get ready for a ton of compliments from guests during the holiday season when you set out the adorable Set of 6 Reindeer Tea Light Holders. Each metal reindeer has a spot on its back to hold the tea light or LED tea light candle of your choice. Keep your little herd together or split them up around the house. Nobody will be able to miss the bold and trendy Holiday Marquee Sign. The cheery sign illuminates with white light for a classic movie theater appeal. Incorporate it into your Christmas decor on any flat surface and spread holiday cheer.

Magical Christmas Towns to Visit in America

Whether your highly-anticipated summer vacation is a couple weeks away or already in the rearview mirror, you’ve probably already started planning your next getaway. If you’re looking for a break from the same old Christmas gathering, consider packing up the family and heading to one of these magical Christmas towns.

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Durango, Colorado
This small Rocky Mountain mining town knows how to do Christmas right. Its main attraction is the Durango Polar Express, which recreates the classic Christmas tale. Families can take a ride on the Silverton Railroad at night through snowy winter settings. Hot cocoa and cookies are served while the story is read, ending as the train arrives at the “North Pole” where Santa Claus awaits. During the day, the steam engine also goes on Christmas tree trips where passengers can cut down their own tree and haul it back to the train station.

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Santa Claus, Indiana
Originally called Santa Fe, this tiny southern Indiana town was forced to change its name during the middle of the nineteenth century, choosing to adopt the name Santa Claus. It didn’t take too long for a load of letters to start arriving from hopeful kids trying to send their lists to Santa. Instead of changing its name again, the town started responding to the letters, and has written back to every child for over a century. The town might not be a Christmas destination, but if your kid wants to write a letter to Santa, you’re guaranteed a response.

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Park City, Utah
Utah is home to some of the most festive Christmas towns in America. One of the most visually stunning is Park City. Nestled southeast of Salt Lake City in the Wasatch Back of the Rocky Mountains, the old mining town is known for being one of the main locations for the Sundance Film Festival. But during the Christmas season, covered in snow, surrounded by ski resorts and illuminated with white lights, it looks like a classic Christmas portrait. There’s even a life-sized gingerbread house made out of thousands of sugary cookies.

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New Orleans, Louisiana
With all the commercialization that goes on during the holidays, it can be rare to find a city-wide Christmas celebration that’s structured around the true meaning of the holiday. New Orleans may be known for Mardi Gras, but it’s also home to one of the largest Christmas carol gatherings in the United States. Thousands of people come together dressed in Santa hats and holiday garb to sing Christmas carols by candlelight. The backdrop of the brightly lit St. Louis Cathedral helps set the scene, which gets bigger and bigger ever year.

Does your city, town or village celebrate Christmas in a big way? Have you visited one of these destinations or have one of your own to share? Comment below with your favorite places to celebrate the holidays!

Summer Christmas Special: LTD’s Early Planning Tips

Summer is nearing an end and the holidays are a lot closer than we think. Learn some early planning tips and how to make Christmas work all year long with these informative articles from LTD Commodities.

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4 Non-Christmas Ways to Decorate with Christmas Lights
Few things are as frustrating during the holidays as untangling Christmas lights from the previous year. But there might be a few ways to put some of those Christmas lights to use all year long, or at least during the summer months. Find out if these four non-holiday ways to decorate with Christmas lights work for you.

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Tweaking Traditional Christmas Dishes for Summer Palates
Americans tend to look forward to holiday dishes more than any other type of meal. There’s no denying that most of us wouldn’t mind ripping a few pages out of our Christmas recipe books earlier in the year to satisfy a holiday craving. Take a crack at tweaking Christmas dishes for summer palates with these how-to tips.

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The Mind-Boggling Benefits of Buying Christmas Toys Early
Whether it’s the high demand of a seasonal toy, a last-minute sale or long lines that make us long for an online option, holiday toy shopping can break Christmas spirits. If you’re thinking, “There has to be another way,” these mind-boggling benefits of buying Christmas toys early might be exactly what you’re looking for.

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Christmas Stories with Morals for Any Time of Year
Some of the best stories were created with Christmas as their cornerstones. Not only do these classics bring us back to our favorite memories, they’re also perfect because of the morals they introduced us to. Introduce your kids to the same life lessons by reading these Christmas stories with great morals for any time of year.

Star Wars® Gear for the Next Generation

The Star Wars craze hasn’t really slowed down since the first film was released in 1977. With the franchise rebooting in spectacular fashion last winter, an entire slate of new films already in the works and a stunning theme park under construction, the storied franchise isn’t going away. It’s already capturing the imagination of an entirely new generation. Stock up on some Star Wars gear for the new or die-hard fans in your home.

Great Gifts for Your Guy

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The galaxy is never too far away when they’re wearing Men’s Star Wars Loungewear Separates. The short-sleeved t-shirt features a screen-printed design, while the fleece pants showcase vibrant photo-real images from the franchise. The Star Wars Absolutely Everything Book is the ultimate guide for new and avid fans of the movies. It makes it easy to explore the world of Star Wars through lively lists, interesting facts and more. It also features charts of the oldest Jedi, a list of Millennium Falcon owners, a diagram of Yoda’s apprentices and much more. Engaging graphics bring the Star Wars universe to life. Stay warm and transform into your favorite hero or villain in the Star Wars Character Comfy Throw. The ultra soft and luxurious fleece throw is designed to look like a full body figure from the franchise, and the oversized sleeves keep your arms free.

Franchise Fun for the Kids

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Kids will love playing or cuddling up with the Star Wars Talking Plush. Press the button to hear some of the character’s unforgettable phrases or sounds. Yoda speaks several iconic phrases, Chewbacca growls and R2-D2 whistles. Darth Vader even showcases his famous breathing. The Ultimate Star Wars Book is a nice intro for young fans as well as a visually stunning encyclopedia for avid fans of the franchise. It’s beautifully illustrated and structured chronologically with key information about important characters and storylines. It also highlights events and insights about the making of the saga. Let your young Star Wars fans test their knowledge of the facts with the Licensed Trivia Box. It contains hundreds of questions to quiz and entertain.

© & TM Lucasfilm Ltd.

Countertop Decor and More: Products to Complete Your Kitchen

Remodeling your entire kitchen is an expensive venture, but most of us don’t need an entire overhaul for the new look we’re trying to create. Whether you’re adding a new feature like a backsplash and need some item to finish off your transformation, searching for some new countertop decor, or trying to add organization back into one of your most essential spaces, check out some of our favorite kitchen items to complete your vision.

Kitchen Goods Too Good to Hide

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Display this Embossed Measuring Spoons with Stand on your countertop and be prepared for any cooking or baking prep right away. Each measuring spoon features a matching design and hangs from the stand for easy access. The finial on the stand coordinates with each spoon’s handle. Keep the stovetop and counter nice and clean while you cook with the Lid and Spoon Rest. It holds most lids, splatter screens and cooking tools, and it’s dishwasher safe for easy maintenance. Give your entire kitchen some down-home charm with the Country Kitchen Collection. Hang towels and utensils with the Wall Hooks. Hold up to 12 plates with the Dish Rack and set out some fresh produce with the 2-Tier Fruit Basket, which also has a hook for bananas.

Organized and Out of Sight

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Easily organize items in your kitchen cabinet or pantry with the 2-Tier Multipurpose Cabinet Basket. The top is divided into three compartments, and the bottom has a sliding drawer. The plastic feet prevent damage to surfaces. Stay on top of your kitchen organization with the Set of 2 Snap-Fit Drawer Dividers. Quickly and easily find what you need when you use these dividers to sort utensils and more. Each snaps into place for easy installation, adjusts to your drawers and features nonslip foam grips on each end for a secure fit. Slide the Slim Can and Spice Rack between appliances, cabinets and other narrow spots for some extra storage in your kitchen. The wheels make it easy to push and pull, and the open shelves can hold a variety of items.

DIY Home Refresh: Kitchen Backsplash Design Styles

Completely remodeling your kitchen is a huge task to add to your home to-do list. New countertops, cabinets and appliances can set you back quite a bit if you want to refresh your entire kitchen with a new look. But it’s not impossible to get the look you desire by changing a few key features instead of remodeling every square inch. One effective way is to install a backsplash. Get inspired with these kitchen backsplash design styles.

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Modern
The modern look is known for its clean structure and overall simplicity. Steel. Glass. Factory produced for a precise function. Preferred by minimalists and always changing slightly to accommodate the preferences of younger generations, modern isn’t just for people who “don’t really cook,” and is great for cooks who like to keep the kitchen spotless. It’s also the perfect design style for people who try hard to stay away from clutter.

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Rustic
The rustic look can please a wide variety of people, from those who easily fall in love with country elements to those who are seeking to turn their kitchen into a warm, inviting space. This comforting design style is the perfect way to transform your kitchen into a relaxing space to spend time with family or cook a holiday meal. In contrast to the simplicity of the modern style, the rustic look is simple in its roots, its materials, its history.

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Traditional
The traditional look is hard to define. Some believe it falls somewhere between modern and rustic. Others believe it has more to do with the contrast between materials. Still others use the term to describe their own style that doesn’t align with anything in particular. Contrary to its name, traditional style can be quite unique.

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Mosaic
The mosaic look can fall under the umbrella of a variety of different design styles. However, it does give off an exotic, historical or Old World impression. The mosaic is also one of the best backsplash styles to make a statement in your kitchen. If you’re unsatisfied with the rest of your kitchen but can’t justify an entire kitchen remodel, adding a mosaic backsplash will draw eyes away from trouble spots better than any other option.

Field Trip Checklist for Summer Discovery

Many of our favorite school memories can be traced back to field trips. It wasn’t just because we didn’t want to be stuck in the classroom. Field trips are exciting because they introduce kids to new places, fresh ideas and interesting people. Even when school is in session field trips are few and far between. But summer is a great time to take kids on educational adventures. Pack up with this field trip checklist for summer discovery.

Take Notes, Snap Pictures, Learn Facts

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Little explorers need something to jot down their ideas and favorite facts from their trip. Give them a Double-Sided Notepad or Refill Set to make it easy for them to take notes wherever they go. The attached pen is an awesome feature that keeps them from losing their writing utensil, and the sticky notes on the other side are great for when you need to make a quick list. If you’re kid is a shutterbug, give them a nice way to protect the camera they use every day with the Point and Shoot Camera Case. It has a soft interior to prevent scratches and a zipper closure for security. The Discovery Kids 5,000 Facts Book is filled with interesting facts that are great for keeping their mind sharp during car rides. They’ll learn about science, animals, space and more.

Store Snacks, Pack Lunches, Quench Thirst

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Parents packing up for a long day need a convenient place to store their gear and a cooler for keeping food nice and cold. The Oversized Insulated Cooler Backpack has a fully insulated interior that can hold up to 24 cans in case you want to use it for tailgating as well. The cinched side pockets and zipper front pocket make it easy to store gear on the go. Keep healthy snacks handy and pack lunches in the 10-Pc. Colorful Locking Lid Storage Set. The clear containers have snap-on lids with flaps that fold down over the sides to lock. The silicone seal around each rim keeps food fresh. The Super Hero Water Bottle helps your kids stay hydrated anywhere. It features a licensed design, twist-off lid and a built-in straw with a folding sip tip to prevent spills.

5 Interactive Children’s Museums from Around the Country

Parents know the difficulty of keeping kids entertained in the summer. It’s hard enough to find a few activities to do, let alone provide them with exciting new opportunities to learn while school isn’t in session. Vacations are great for relaxing, having fun and introducing kids to fresh experiences, but as long as you’re in a certain part of the country, why not combine fun, fresh experiences with inspiring, interactive lessons? Here’s five of our favorite interactive children’s museums from around the country to keep kids learning while school’s out.

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Boston Children’s MuseumBoston
One of the oldest and largest children’s museums in the world, the Boston Children’s Museum is focused on providing hands-on exhibits to spark imaginations and inspire creativity. It focuses on a variety of areas, like science and the arts, but also places a heavy emphasis on the power of play and stimulating brains through the process of self-discovery. And it’s also located in one of America’s most historic academic communities.

Discovery Place, Charlotte
A trip down the Atlantic coastline leads us to Charlotte, North Carolina, where science and technology meet to form one of the best educational experiences in the country. The main facility isn’t as hands-on as others, but there is a Discovery Place KIDS for families looking to get their kids involved in fun, interactive activities. It also has a unique IMAX® Theatre that takes you into the heart of space journeys and earthly adventures.

Museum of Science and IndustryChicago
If you’re kid is getting a little old for some of the hands-on activities at children’s museums, it’s might be time to move them up to an adult museum. Some museums aren’t designed to capture the imagination of young kids, but the Museum of Science and Industry satisfies any age. It’s a great family destination, and with more than 400,000 square feet of exhibits, it’s bound to have something even the most stubborn kids will enjoy.

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Children’s Museum of DenverDenver
One of the top museums for kids when it comes to the interactive fun factor, it has come a long way since the early days sharing scientific mysteries from a simple bus. Now with a wide variety of permanent exhibits that combine state-of-the-art facilities and hands-on experiences, it helps children learn by allowing them to step into the shoes of physicists, agriculturalists, artists, physicians, dentists, chefs, zoologists and so much more.

Exploratorium, San Francisco
Much like the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, the Exploratorium’s mission is tailored to speak to people of all ages and from all walks of life. Branded as a “public learning laboratory,” the museum allows kids and adults to become explorers with hundreds of exhibits that encourage curiosity and inquiry. The hub for scientists and artists alike, it provides educational activities for kids on just about every topic imaginable.

Swimming Pool Essentials for a Splashing Good Time

Nothing cools us off better in the summer heat than a dip in the pool. Waterparks open doors early and don’t close until the sun goes down. Road trips end at sandy beaches lining oceans and lakes. Backyards simmer and neighborhoods are packed with kids trying to cool off in pools or sprinklers, armed with buckets of water balloons. Get ready for the heated days ahead with our swimming pool essentials for a splashing good time.

Entertaining Water Toys 

bunch-o-balloons-water-balloonsTMNT-shell-water-blasterbanzai-set-of-2-flashing-led-beach-ballsPrepare for an epic water balloon fight in minutes with Bunch O Balloons Water Balloons. The 2-pack gives you 210 total balloons that fill up in seconds. Simply attach the clever design to your hose and fill everything at once. When you’re done, give the hose a gentle shake and the balloons tie themselves so you’re ready to go. Keep the water battle going with the TMNT™ Shell Water Blaster. Just fill the pack with water, place it on your back, pump and blast away. The straps on the back are adjustable, and the awesome shell design will make them feel like one of their favorite characters. Play long into the summer nights with the Banzai Set of 2 Flashing LED Beach Balls. The bright, blinking LED light inside the ball flashes red, blue and green when it is hit or bounced, and turns off automatically. It’s perfect for pool games, beach games or backyard games.

Lounging Around the Pool

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Relax by the pool or beach in comfort with the Ostrich Folding Chaise. It has a face cavity with a horseshoe cushion, arm slots and an adjustable leg rest. Comfortably tan your back while being able to read a book or use your smartphone. It has a head pillow to help you relax on your back, and adjust to 4 different positions. Folds for compact storage and comes with a carrying strap. If floating on the water is more your style, try the Banzai Contour Cradle. The hammock-style has a porous bottom to keep you cool and allows your body to dip in the water. The perfect pool accessory for hot summer days, it also has relaxing head and leg rests. If you’re looking for a way to float on your favorite lake or river, end your search with the 53″ Rapid Rider Pool Float. Its mesh bottom keeps you cool while the built-in inflatable backrest provides support. The float also has two handles for safety, an all-around grab rope and two cup holders for enjoying a favorite beverage.

Tips to Keep Kids Clean at Public Swimming Pools

With so many people splashing around in public swimming pools, you’re bound to run into some swimmers who aren’t very hygienic. Sure, there are chemicals like the widely-known chlorine fighting off the bacteria the average swimmer sheds, but how effective are local swimming spots at sterilizing unsanitary bacteria?

As a swimmer or parent of a swimmer, what techniques can you practice to reduce the risk of contracting an illness at the pool? Discover some interesting facts and learn how to stay clean at public swimming pools.

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Public Pool Problems
Yes, chlorine is at work in almost every public swimming pool, fighting off as much bacteria as possible, but it can’t always defeat every wave of germs. To make matters worse, unhealthy practices like urination–that happens more frequently than we’d like to think–counteract chemicals like chlorine, making it more difficult for the chemical to fight off human bacteria at an effective rate. According to research done by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), over ten percent of public swimming pools failed routine inspections and were shut down for violating at least one code that represented a “serious threat to public health.” The large study was conducted on nearly 50,000 public swimming pools across five different states in 2013, but provided a big enough sample to conclude that most pool maintenance around the country isn’t going to be sophisticated.

The Trouble with Chlorine
A major part of pool maintenance involves monitoring the proper chlorine levels. Chlorine is highly effective when added into the swimming pool system properly, but poor calculations or inconsistent monitoring could make it harder for chlorine to get the job done as efficiently as it needs to. While it might just take minutes to kill bacteria like E.coli, more resistant parasites like Cryptosporidium stick around for days. There’s always going to be germs and harmful bacteria in public pools, and chlorine can only be effective if used properly. Thankfully, there are a number of ways to protect your kids even if the pool maintenance isn’t up to par.

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Keeping Kids Safe
Pool hygiene isn’t just about how you behave in the pool. It’s also about actions you can take before or after your swimming session. One of the best things you can do for your kids at the pool is make sure they wash up before getting into the water. This is especially important for young children or toddlers. The CDC study mentioned before concluded that there was a higher rate of health and safety violations in kiddie pools. It’s no surprise that more accidents happen here, so parents taking their kids into these pools should try to take more bathroom breaks during the day, check kids for accidents, never swallow water and shower afterward. Parents can also be sure to dry their kids off properly and provide goggles to protect their eyes from germs.