Are Gift Cards the Best Gift?

January’s retail sales strength is reflected in people redeeming their Christmas gift cards. The average adult received 3.2 gift cards this holiday season, up from 2.5 gift cards last year. Gift cards are more popular and this also moves spending into January. Consumers are also interested in receiving gift cards at other times that just at Christmas.

A survey by Deloitte & Touche USA found:

  • 80{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} of adults received at least one gift card to an apparel or food store
  • 33{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} received at least one gift card to a restaurant
  • 14{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} received one gift card to a mall or shopping center
  • 10{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} received a gift card that could be used at a variety of stores (e.g., an American Express gift card)
  • 5{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} received at least one for a personal service such as a manicure or massage
  • 5{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} received at least one gift card for an Internet site (e.g., ebay, Amazon)

Price ranges for gift cards ranged from $78 for an American Express card, while the lowest was for a $32 restaurant card. Bank gift cards are more likely to be used in January. Nearly 74{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} of these gift cards have been redeemed or partially redeemed by the end of January.

People were more likely to buy full price retail items with their gift cards. Many analysts believe the “gift” aspect allows consumers to treat themselves to new full-priced merchandise.

Retailers also benefit when consumers redeem a gift card, nearly 62{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} spend more than the face value of the card. This is an opportunity for retailers to increase sales, as sales cannot be reported until the gift card is redeemed.

Consumers also expressed an interest in receiving gift cards for other holidays. For example, a gift card for an “experience” is widely received as a result of people being time-pressed. Getting a gift card for a trip to a restaurant or massage or even a weekend getaway seems to be a trend people are enjoying.

Teens enjoy gift cards because they are more eager to shop with their friends and are more apt to redeem their cards quicker than adults. The survey showed teens redeemed 76{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} of their gift cards vs. 61{ccdfc561878e9246e1a18999d5a21dd519dc1b039f0564ab04c9b3978134babb} of adults.

Gift cards keep on giving, after the holidays, especially for retailers. Gift cards are here to stay. Consumers enjoy using them and retailers enjoy getting them. Gift cards are an appropriate gift for all occasions.…

Benefits of Bolu Cookies for Health

Sponge cake is one of the foods that you often encounter at certain occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and other events. This food has a sweet taste that fits well in the mouth and has a very soft texture. These foods have different types of shapes and flavors. Then, this food is one type of food that everyone likes.

Talking about this food with its soft texture and delicious flavor, it makes you addicted to trying it. Although this food is sold in many places, you also do not hurt if you want to make your own in an easy way because these foods have a variety of health benefits for the body, bolu cookies receipe is also easy to find anywhere, ranging from various bookstores, also you can look it up on the internet. For those of you who want to know what are the benefits and efficacy of this sponge bun, here are the benefits.

  1. Good for eye health

Efficacy of the first sponge bread can help you in maintaining eye health. Apparently not just carrot vegetables that can keep your eye health. But this food is also very good for maintaining eye health. Therefore, to anticipate bad things can happen, as well as you eat these foods that can help you in maintaining better eye health.

  1. Help the diet program

If you have excessive weight would want to lose weight somehow. In this case, the diet is one way that many recommended so that no impact for health. In reducing body health, it turns out to eat sponge bun is one solution for your weight loss.

  1. Good for bone health

Sponge bread in it has vitamin D content that serves as a vitamin to help the absorption of calcium for bone. No wonder if this food becomes one of the foods that are useful to prevent the occurrence of bone loss.

  1. Immunity

The content of selenium in the sponge bun is very good at maintaining the health of the body. You need to know the many different types of diseases, should be anticipated by eating healthy foods, such as these foods and exercise regularly.

  1. Muscle formation

Sponge bread has a high enough protein compound that can be used in healthy and helps muscle growth. Because in the processing of this meal is much in fermentation with a variety of foods that are using one of the eggs in this food. while the egg itself is very good for you who are the process of muscle formation.

  1. For the maintenance of body cells

Sponge bread is also able to maintain healthy body cells. This is because the content in this food has a protein compound. While the protein has a very good role to produce and replace the body cells that have died.

  1. Maintenance of body cells

The ingredients in this food can help you in the process of metabolism. Metabolism will form a healthy body because all the process of digestion, absorption of nutrients and the processing …

Walt Disney World Fine Dining – Jiko The Cooking Place

When you first think of dining at Walt Disney World you would be forgiven for not first thinking of the opportunities for a fine dining experience. In reality Walt Disney World offers some excellent restaurants which are more than worth a visit by tourists and locals alike.

Jiko – The Cooking Place is a particular favorite of mine. It is located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. Chef de Cuisine Anette Grecchi Gray presides over this AAA Four Diamond Award winning restaurant. The origins of her creations for the menu were her participation in 1999 in the 25th anniversary of the South African Cook’s Society in Johannesburg. She cooked for African dignitaries and traveled into the bush to learn the cuisines and culture of the South African tribes.

The Jeffrey Beers designed interior is a fabulous mix of warm colors,taking it’s inspiration from The Lion King, and creating an inviting and sophisticated atmosphere. You are warmly greeted by African students who are participating in the Disney one year cultural exchange program. The focus of the restaurant are the twin wood burning ovens in the open kitchen. Diners can choose to sit at the bar and observe the chefs prepare the food for the restaurant.

The style is American cuisine blended with influences from Africa, Europe, the Mediterranean and India. This is an unusual mix, but it works beautifully. There is not anything too challenging here though. I found the originality refreshing. Familiar dishes are offered with a different blend of flavors and ingredients. Appetizer offerings include Green Asparagus Soup, Tikka Marinated Ahi Tuna, and Kalamata Olive Flatbread a particular favorite of mine. The signature dish is the Wood Grilled Filet Mignon with macaroni and cheese and red wine sauce. An unusual combination, but it works wonderfully. Other items include Durban Shrimp Curry,Tamarind Braised Beef Short Rib, and Wood Grilled Pork Tenderloin. I recommend that you order the cheese plate which has selections of goat and sheep’s cheese.

Many of the waiters are sommeliers and will be glad to offer samples of wine before you decide on a bottle. They will expertly guide you through the exclusively South African wine list. With over 1800 wines, Jiko has the largest collection of South African wines of any North American restaurant.

Not forgetting the dessert, my favorite is the Flourless Chocolate Mocha Cake Stack with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. Other current offerings include spiced fruit sorbet and Green Apple Mascapone Trifle.

This fine dining restaurant has an unusual feature. A children’s menu. My young children, who are very familiar with and enjoy dining out in high quality restaurants, appreciated the quality of the food. The menu has the usual kid’s offerings of macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese and pizza but they are cooked from scratch with high quality ingredients. Our family is always very happy at Jiko.…

Taking a New Look at Restaurant Chairs

Nutritionists have been warning people not to go to restaurants and eat because it contributes to weight gain. They instead recommend that people buy groceries and cook their own food. They stress the fact that it is always healthy to eat home-made food. However, people always like to go out and eat in a restaurant. It is a common now a day practice to take your friend or family members to a restaurant. Restaurants have never been a new phenomenon to people. In the olden days, restaurants used to cater to the needs of foreigners who embark on long journeys and also to the needs of people who want a change in their regular food habits.

There are many reasons why the people chose to go to restaurants. For some people, it's always been a time consuming activity to buy the groceries and cook the food by them. Some others can not even find time to cook the food. Other people simply want a change in their regular diet. Here, people always look forward to eating out at restaurants.

There are people who visit another town or country once in a while for various reasons. This is another reason why people chose to eat at restaurants. They actually are away from their homes and so they can not phone home and order the food to be transported over for them. So, the only option for them is just to go to some restaurant and eat.

People are always drawn to variety. Here, need for variety is also one of the important reasons why people love to eat out. They want to taste the food of different countries and cultures around the world. It is interesting to note down the fact that restaurant and culture have become harmonious. For example, it is so common to find American, Japanese, Chinese restaurants in a given city. Most of us know the cooking of only our traditional food. But, we also have to satisfy our taste buds that demand for some exotic foods. So, we all try to taste the inter-cultural food items to know more about other cultures.

Generally, there are many things that make the restaurants memorable. The first and foremost thing is obviously the food items. The food items should properly be cooked and served. But, another important point to take care of is the look of the restaurant. The restaurant 'look can be enhanced by having interior d├ęcor by placing beautiful wall paintings, etc. More importantly, restaurants chairs must be properly designed. The look of the restaurants can either be enhanced or decreed by the restaurant chairs. There are some restaurants that offer other social events such as live band. So, people spend more time in restaurants and so restaurant chairs must be properly designed to make them comfortable. This makes the customers to give mouth publicity to the restaurants. …

Fine Dining With Children – What You Need to Know

Dining at a luxury restaurant is a wonderful way to relax and have great wine and food. Many parents have concerns about taking their children to a fine dining restaurant. Below are a number of tips to help make your fine dining experience with children pleasurable and not embarrassing.

1. If you have made a reservation several days or a week before, you can practice good behavior and manners with your children at home. Help them learn to say ‘thank you,’ and ‘please.’ Use positive reinforcement techniques. As well, if they are old enough, you will have to teach them to use cutlery and drink a beverage without spilling it. As well, if they are old enough, you can teach them how to properly order food. When you reserve a table, ask for a corner table for privacy.

2. When you arrive and park at the restaurant, it is time to have one more gentle and positive talk about how the children are to behave. Explain that they cannot yell, scream, and run around at the restaurant. Remind them that they have to consider the other people dining.

3. It can be a real hassle and distraction taking children to the restroom at a fine dining restaurant. Before you arrive, make sure the children have gone to the restroom.

4. When most people attend a fine dining restaurant, it tends to be between 7:00 PM and 9:00 PM. This can be very late for children who may get hungry and cranky. Bring some snacks such as carrots or apple pieces for them to munch on while waiting for the main meal. While you are waiting for your meal, have some activity books such as crossword puzzles or coloring books to keep them occupied. Include the children in the table conversation. You can also ask your server for some bread or crackers for the children. To make ordering faster and easier, make sure you know what your children like and don’t have them experiment with new or spicy foods.

5. Children are curious and love to pick things up and put them in their mouths. Keep candles, sugar packets, cutlery such as knives and forks, and flower displays out of their reach. For very young children, take along a bib, bottles or a child’s special ‘sippy’ cup for drinking. Use high chairs safely.

6. When the meal arrives, look after the children first. Cut the meal up in small pieces for better eating. Make sure you have ordered the beverage to come with the meal. When the children are finished, ask the server to take their plates out of the way. If your children are anxious, skip dessert.

7. Very young children do not like to sit for a long period of time. Once everyone has finished eating, it may be a good time to leave. Older children will be able to sit for a certain period of time before they start getting fidgety and want to leave.

8. Be patient …

Restaurant Trends For 2009

The restaurant industry is one of the industries affected the most by the bad economy. The reason is simple – restaurant face rising costs, while consumers looking to save money cut out discretionary spending. Fuel costs make all prices go up especially food, which must be transported to restaurants, and when trying to trim the budgets, many consumers start cooking at home to save money. Restaurants will need to get pretty creative to entice patrons to part with their cash. Here is a look at some restaurant trends you can expect to see next year.

Locally Grown Food

Expect to see more locally grown food next year. With recent scares from tainted food, especially the salmonella incident which mistakenly figered tomatoes as the culprit, restaurants will need to be extra careful with the food it serves its diners. After all, even though they do not know if they bought tainted food, if it makes a customer sick that customer will always remember them as the restaurant that keep them food poisoning. More restaurants will end up souring their food from local farms and Farmers Markets to ensure fresh ingredients.

More Pasta Please

Pasta is one of the most inexpensive menu items for a restaurant to make. For the most part, sauce ingredients are cheap, so restaurants can get away with charging $ 15 for an entree that probably only cost them $ 1. And they can get away with hardly putting any meat in the dish as patrons fill up quickly on pasta.This, coupled with the fact the pasta is a great comfort food, which is big now, will only add to the menu offerings of pasta dishes .

Super-size Me No More

This is one that both patrons and restaurants can agree on. Restaurants are looking to cut back by offering smaller portions. And Americans are only too happy to go along as they attempt to eat healthier. But this comes with a caveat. Although Americans are willing to pay the same amount of their hard earned money for smaller portions, they expect bold flavor in return. They will expect chefs to use in season vegetables and more of them to pack in loads of flavor to their entree.

Forgo the Foie Gras

Another way restaurants will attempt to cut costs is to get rid of the really expensive items like Foie Gras and expensive cuts of beef. Get ready to be introduced to a whole slew of new cuts you never thought you would eat. Like what? How about chicken livers, tongue, pigs cheeks, etc, etc.

Deals, Deals, Deals

Restaurants are really trying to get creative to get customers in their door. I have seen many more couples and BOGO deals than I have ever seen before. You will probably see more Fixed Price or Prix Fixe deals, which used to be relegated to dining week or those restaurants in the theater district. I think you will start to see more of these in the burbs and some …

How Do You Redeem a Gift Certificate?

When you receive a gift certificate, you may want to wait until you see a sale or when a special occasion comes up to use it. Most certificates can be used a year from the purchase date. This is one way to plan ahead instead of using the card right away.

Depending on what the card is for, you will be able to wait until you are ready to spend the day shopping or when you have time to eat at your favorite restaurant. These gift cards are convenient and a nice present for those who have special tastes or who enjoy different kinds of activities.

Popular gifts cards are usually used for spa treatments, meals, clothing, online shopping, fast food, and coffee at local coffee houses. Bookstores and yoga centers also offer a gift certificate for those who enjoy reading and who are curious about yoga and other forms of exercise. Most businesses offer some type of gift giving option in order to bring in new business or encourage people to return often if they are regulars.

Redeeming one of these certificates or cards is very easy. All you have to do is present it to the cashier at the beginning or end of your transaction and you will not have to pay for whatever you buy. Many cards can also be used again if you want to add some of your own money to them. This is a good way to recycle old cards so they can be used again.

Receiving a gift certificate or gift card for you birthday, holidays, graduation, wedding, and many other occasions will allow you to purchase exactly what you want. You can also redeem a lot of these cards online for added convenience. You will be able to shop online, browse catalogs, and make purchases by entering in the numbers on the card. This is very similar to a credit card transaction. Even if you have to spend a little bit of your own money, it is still worth it. Waiting until summer or fall clothing sales will save you even more money which means you will be able to use the card to buy even more merchandise.

Using a gift card is a good way to boost self confidence when you are depressed and you will enjoy not having to pay for something. If you have always wanted to buy something, buy you were unable to before, you now have the opportunity.

Many people use their gift cards to buy items they would not normally purchase. If you have your eye on an item or want try a new meal at your favorite restaurant, you should take advantage of this opportunity. A gift certificate that can be redeemed at any time is a wonderful gift to give and receive.…

Top 5 Cheesecake Factory Restaurant Menu Item Recommendations

The Cheesecake Factory has some of the best food in the country. According to Wikipedia, they operate over 160 restaurants in the United States. I personally have dined at the there several times, and it is one of my favorite restaurants. They have some of the finest recipes in the country. If you are thinking about making a visit, here are five recipes you should consider ordering on your visit.

My first recommendation is the Louisiana Chicken Pasta. I know that a chicken pasta recipe doesn’t sound like an original idea, but you need to trust me on this one. If you like chicken, and you like pasta, you need to order this delicious entrée. The official website describes this menu item as follows: “Parmesan Crusted Chicken Cutlets Served Over Pasta Tossed with Mushrooms, Peppers and Onions in a Spicy New Orleans Style Sauce.” The spicy New Orleans Style Sauce made all the difference for me. The sauce isn’t as spicy as you might think, so don’t be scared away from this dish if you don’t like spicy food.

My second recommendation is for those of you who love chicken but aren’t in the mood for pasta. You definitely need to try the Orange Chicken. Many of you have probably tried the Orange Chicken at Applebee’s. If you like the Orange Chicken at Applebee’s, you are going to love the Orange Chicken at The Cheesecake Factory Restaurant. This recipe is listed on their specialties menu and includes white rice covered with invigorating Sweet and Sour Orange sauce.

My third recommendation is the Shrimp Scampi. If you’re into shrimp or seafood, this is the choice for you. This recipe is served with Angel Hair Pasta. If you go to the official website, there is a photo of this delectable recipe!

My fourth recommendation is the Pasta Da Vinci. This is one of the most popular menu items at the Cheesecake Factory. Customers are always asking about this recipe for good reason. You can find the recipe for this delicious recipe on various websites across the internet. The menu description for this fine entree states that the Pasta Da Vinci includes “Sauteed Chicken, Mushrooms, Onions and Garlic in a Delicious Madeira Wine Sauce Tossed with Penne Pasta and Parmesan.”

My final recommendation includes another popular entrée. Evelyn’s Favorite Pasta is named after the restaurant founder Evelyn Everton along with her husband Oscar Everton. This recipe is really all about the vegetables. If you like pasta and vegetables, this may be the best choice for you. The dish includes many ingredients including Penne, Garlic, Olive Oil, Roasted Eggplant, Olive oil, Roasted eggplant, Pine nuts, Kalamata olives, Sun-dried tomato, Broccoli, Peppers, and Parmesan cheese.

If you are planning to go to the Cheesecake Factory, be sure to block out a few hours of time. I recently went there on a Saturday afternoon about 5 pm, and there was a 45 minute wait! The wait is surely worth it, but make sure you have plenty …

Type 2 Diabetes – Maintain Stable Blood Sugar With These Thai Food Classics

Thai food is one of the fastest growing cuisines in the West. And with dishes more flavorful and rich than most other countries can offer, it’s no wonder more and more Type 2 diabetics are turning to Thai food to eat healthy without needing to choke down bland salads and sandwiches.

However, not every Thai dish on your local Thai restaurant menu is appropriate for diabetics. A meal with papaya salad, fried noodles and sweetened sticky rice will likely push your blood sugar higher than a kite. Lucky for you there are a few mouth-watering Thai dishes that are ideal for keeping diabetic blood sugar in check.

Spicy Shrimp Soup: Spicy shrimp soup (also known as “tom yom goong”) contains fresh shrimp, Thai spices and coconut milk. Although not as healthy as salmon, shrimp is rich in omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats combat the inflammation that underlies insulin resistance. Research published in the 2009 “FASEB Journal” found that supplementing with omega-3’s from seafood reduced insulin resistance stemming from obesity.

Coconut Curry: Coconut curries such as panang curry are bursting with foods like vegetables and lean meats, which should form the basis of your diabetic diet. Coconut oil is rich in a unique type of fat known as medium chain triglycerides. A paper in the February 2009 “Diabetes Metabolism Research Review” concluded that medium chain triglyceride-rich foods help diabetes manage their blood sugar.

Morning Glory: Stir-fried morning glory is the perfect Thai side dish. Morning glory is a green vegetable that can help you lose weight. Studies show that diabetics that gorge themselves on vegetables tend to weigh less than those that avoid vegetables.

Grilled Chicken: Many Thai restaurants offer grilled or baked chicken. Once you remove the skin, this dish becomes quite low in saturated fat and calories. Research suggests increasing your protein intake from healthy sources like grilled chicken can keep appetite at bay and may even boost your metabolism.

Steamed Vegetables: It doesn’t get much healthier than steamed vegetables like broccoli, tomatoes, onions and carrots. However, Thai people wouldn’t accept a bland dish like steamed vegetables on their own. By adding a dash of salt and a generous amount of coconut milk, a dieting classic turns from boring to mouth-watering.

Fresh Fruit: Thailand offers fruits like pineapple, dragon fruit and mango that are not only flavorful but chock full of important vitamins and minerals. Ask your local Thai restaurants to make a fruit plate consisting of traditional Thai fruits for your dessert. Be sure to limit your fruit intake as certain Thai fruits like mango and pineapple are sugar-rich.…

Proven Ways to Increase Restaurant Sales

The continuous mission for every restaurant owner, even successful ones, is to increase restaurant sales. With so many dining establishments vying for a customers business, effective marketing measures are key ingredients for attracting customer attention, establishing your restaurants identity and enhancing customer loyalty.

Word of mouth is the most cost efficient way to increase restaurant sales. If you present a wonderful dining experience, patrons will naturally refer your restaurant to others. But word of mouth works both ways. Bad reviews often travel faster than positive ones. Thats why its essential to be consistent in providing excellent customer service, quality food and an inviting atmosphere.

While chain restaurants rely on a corporate formula to increase restaurant sales, independent restaurateurs can be more flexible, giving them a greater advantage. One important strategy is getting to know your customers. Theres a reason why clubs, theater groups, business people, or friends who get together weekly only dine at one particular restaurant. Its because the owner greeets them by name, knows their dining preferences and is aware of things going on in their lives. These restaurants have created a trusting, family environment that builds customer retention.

Without a doubt, rewarding repeat customers can lead to increased profits. If you know a customer has referred others to your restaurant or consistently brings in a group of business associates, consider giving a gift certificate for a complimentary dinner or providing a free appetizer or bottle of wine for the table. This is a great sales tactic to motivate your good customers to bring in business to your restaurant.

Your staff is an integral part of building sales. Beside providing impossible customer service, your staff can increase restaurant sales by up-selling to increase the table check. Rather than ask if anyone would like a drink, appetizer or dessert, they should note which ones are house specialties or offer their personal recommendations. They should also promote higher priced dishes with reasons showcasing their value.

A comprehensive advertising and marketing plan is essential in growing and maintaining a profitable restaurant business. Your advertising needs to set your restaurant apart from others and pique a persons interest to try it. Your marketing efforts should be both in-house with promotions and in the community. Have a presence at community events within your service area, network with business and trade groups, or get involved with a charity that is of interest to you. The more visibility you can give your restaurant, the greater your market reach.

Using the Internet to increase profitability is a must. Your restaurants website should be as interactive as possible, allowing people to make reservations, see current specials and easily get directions. Have a presence on social media sites, like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Incentives take on many forms, but all have shown to increase restaurant sales. Some examples of common incentives are discounts, coupons, punch cards, customer loyalty programs, business card drawings, promotions and special events. You may want to try a combination of incentives to enhance business. …