Free Things to Do in London

This year London will be under the global spotlight as it prepares to host the 2012 Olympics. As England’s capital city, London is a popular destination for tourists both from abroad and around the UK. However, its capital city status is often reflected in its prices, and many visitors are looking to experience the city while saving money wherever possible, particularly in the light of the recent economic downturn.

If you want to see London without the spending, check out some of these fun and free things to do:

Markets
You’ll find markets all over London, but to name just a few:

Borough Market is great for produce and foodstuffs both British and International. There are often events including demonstrations and themed evenings, and plenty of the stalls have free samples!

Columbia Road is most famous for its fabulous flower market, where you’ll see everything from bedding plants to 10ft banana trees. As well as this, the road itself is composed of sixty independent shops and is one of the most interesting shopping experiences to be had in London.

Broadway Market has over 100 stalls selling everything from lemons to lingerie, tucked away down a small street in the East End of London. A great place to people-watch among the trendy Shoreditch crowds.

Take a Sightseeing Stroll

Walk along the South Bank of the Thames, from The London Eye to Tate Modern and you’ll see all manner of London landmarks as well as some impressive street art and performances. You’ll eventually arrive at the Tate Modern, where you can explore 5 floors of contemporary art and design for free.

Walk the 2.5 miles by the canal from Little Venice, where the Puppet Theatre Barge and Cascade Floating Art Gallery are moored, to Camden Lock. You’ll pass by Regents Park and London Zoo and end up at Camden’s famous markets.

The Wellcome Collection

A fascinating museum described as a “free destination for the incurably curious”, the Wellcome Collection houses medical and scientific objects amassed by pharmacist and collector Sir Henry Wellcome. The exhibitions are always changing, and visitors can even take free guided tours.

Free Lectures

Gresham College in Holborn has given free public talks for over 400 years, on a range of subjects from art to politics and mathematics to film, often featuring up to five speakers a week.

Hampstead Heath

Escape the hustle and bustle of the big smoke in this 800 acre park which includes a zoo, swimming ponds and forests. With fabulous views of the city, the Heath is perfect for picnicking on the grass in the summer months and sledging in the winter snow!

Holiday Gifts – Home Parties

Shopping the stores for holiday gifts can be a real hassle what with the stores being so crowded, and shopping online you really don’t get to “see” what you are getting.

Home parties have come a long way since the Tupperware Party days and they are no longer something you “have to go to and buy something” because your sister-in-law is hosting it – they are a great gift buying venue. Whatever you are looking for there is probably a home party that will provide it. No crowds to fight they bring the product right to you in the comfort of your own home where you can see exactly what you are buying, they deliver your order to you and best of all you can pick up several items at little or no cost to you!

Hosting a home party is simplicity itself. You can contact any company online or by phone and they will give you the name of a representative in your area or you can go to parties demonstrating the kinds of products you are interested in and let the representative know that you are interested in hosting your own party. The latter has the added benefit of giving your host credit for a booking, which usually results in their being eligible for free, or discounted items. Once you have picked a date for your booking the representative will either give you invitations that you can send out or some will just take your guest list and they will send the invitations out for you.

The day of the party all you have to do is make sure you have enough seating and a table for the demonstrator to display her items on and have some drinks and snacks handy. How fancy you get is up to you. You can just serve some chips and dips or you can make appetizers and put them out. One of the advantages of the parties that sell food products are they bring lots of food samples for you and your guests to try.

The demonstrator will come in and set up, do her demonstration take all the orders, figure out how much you have coming in free or discounted items, let you know when the delivery date is. Some companies deliver everything to the hostess and she delivers them from there and others deliver directly to each person who places an order.

So many of the companies have branched out and sell a great variety of items that you can probably do a lot of your holiday shopping at one or two different parties. There are companies that sell clothing and lingerie, cookware, bake ware, food products, jewelry (including “pearl” parties where everyone gets a chance to pick an oyster and if your oyster has a pearl you get to keep it – of course they are hoping you will pick one of their settings to put it in!), country style furnishings and décor, wrought iron décor, candles and the list just keeps going.

There is one last advantage to doing your holiday shopping at home parties; you may very well run into one that you like enough that it could become a part or full time income for you!

4 Secrets to Selling Your Gift Baskets

You may create extraordinary gift baskets, but unless you have customers who know about them and buy them, your gift basket business will not make any money. With proper planning and focus, finding your customers does not have to be difficult, and you do not even have to be a salesperson.

Since these custom designed gifts can be purchased by many different types of customers (individuals, businesses, men, women, last-minute shoppers, etc..) the first step is to figure out the target market for your gift baskets. Who will want to buy your products? And where do they normally shop? Gift baskets can be sold online, through mail order catalogs, in retail malls, gift shops, even grocery stores. It is difficult and time-consuming to try and sell to everyone, so pick a niche and focus your efforts there.

Putting together a marketing plan actually takes less time than struggling at the last minute with trial-and-error promotions. Marketing plan templates are widely available on the internet, and you can complete a professional plan yourself without the cost of hiring someone to do it for you. A plan will also help you establish a marketing budget and timeline, so you are better able to manage your business.

So what are some of the promotional techniques that you can use to sell your gift baskets?

One option is to work with local retailers like gift shops or boutiques where salespeople can promote your products for you. Choose establishments where shoppers are likely to be looking for gifts and that the business owner does not already sell gift baskets. Think about the clients and create a custom product for their ideal client. For example, a lingerie shop would not likely sell the same type of gift basket as a florist or local bookstore.

Approach the shop owner with some samples and an attractive business proposal so that the person can quickly see a benefit to working with you. The less work they have to do, the more likely they are to do business with you.

A second option is to sell your creations directly without going through a middleman, either from your home or in your own shop. You can announce the grand opening of your business in your local paper, but instead of paying for an ad, you can submit a press release for free.

You do not have to be a professional writer to submit a press release to your local newspaper. You can get a substantial amount of free publicity simply by sharing the story of how you started your new company. Not all stories get run, so to increase your chances, include information on how your services benefit the community and submit a photo with your press release.

If you are selling to individuals, you can advertise in coupon mailers to residential neighborhoods. Displaying your items at farmers markets can also get you good exposure. Hosting a free workshop on making gifts or gift baskets can also help you reach your target market, and let them meet you face to face. Many times organizations are looking for people to present workshops, so with the right group, you can meet many potential buyers at one time without having to go find them.

If you prefer to work with businesses, it may be worth your while to drop off sample gift baskets with the appropriate office staff, including information on your services and price rates. You will want to provide professional brochures and business cards as well, as this is the first impression you will likely make on a company. Professionalism counts, especially with businesses, as they are usually sending gift baskets to clients. You can save money and still achieve professional-looking print materials by using do-it-yourself design and print companies online.

Speaking of the internet, a third option is to sell your gift baskets through your own website. Many gift baskets are sold online, so you will need to make your company stand out by creating unique items and offering your baskets to a specific niche market. Get a local listing on Google for free and list your company in local directories, so you can attract local clients. Similar to above, you can write a press release, but this time submit it online through internet press release distribution sites and direct people to your website. Before you establish a substantial clientele, you may want to advertise on high traffic websites that sell gift-type items.

A fourth way to get noticed is to donate some of your gift baskets to community organizations when they have raffles or are trying to raise money. You can establish goodwill and give people the opportunity to try your product at the same – without much effort. If you select a group that closely matches your target market, this can be a very effective marketing method – and you do not have to feel like you are selling.