An economy that seems to still be in the doldrums and the post-holiday need to regroup may have curbed your visits to the mall. Bone-rattlingly low temperatures encourage the urge to nestle under an afghan on the couch.
But you can still shop, get some goodies at discount - or free! - and keep the home fires burning by hosting a home sales party. If you don't want to sweep up the dust bunnies from under the coffee table, some companies offer options like their own homey showroom or online party.
And while Tupperware may be what comes to mind, you can take advantage of lots of newer product lines. Here are a few suggestions:
What it sells: Toys; equipment for mealtime and bath time and more; supplies for parents-to-be
Local rep: Danielle Eber
Host perks: A percentage of total party sales in free products; discounts if friends decide to book a party; a chance to enter tots in the Baby of the Month contest, which could result in kids appearing in Baby Crazy's catalog.
Baby Crazy, launched in 2002, now has representatives in 48 states. Among its products is Food Face ($11.95), a ceramic plate packed with "food art" that encourages kids to play with - and swallow - their mashed peas, and Mommy Bling ($24.95), a necklace of geometric shapes that does double duty as a teething ring. And if your kids have wrecked your house beyond the point of inviting company over, Baby Crazy will host your party online. You can also host baby showers or fundraisers.
What it sells: Mostly dog products, like health and beauty aids, treats, toys and apparel - harnesses, collars and leashes for pooches, and baseball caps, slippers and fleece tops for pet owners. The company also has some cat, ferret and horse offerings.
Local rep: Donna Shybunko
Host perks: Credits toward their own purchases (based on sales).
Among the unique offerings from Shure Pets is a terra-cotta "Whine" cookie jar ($85), an urn for a beloved pet's remains ($50) and an aromatherapy Aromutt candle in Barking Berry scent ($12). Pets are welcome at parties, and Shybunko encourages hosts to have at least one dog on hand to model products. Shure Pets, which launched in 2002, also hosts fundraisers and hosts parties online.
What it sells: Spa parties where you can test-drive the company's botanical products, which include anti-aging and other skin-care items; weight-loss products; makeup; aromatherapy offerings; vitamins, and more.
Local rep: Victoria Meagher (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Host perks: Discounts and free products based on party sales; as a preferred client, they get 20 percent off products and a free gift with $150 purchase.
Meagher says Arbonne's spa parties are very popular, and stations can be set up depending on what the hostess wants to offer - facials, foot soaks, hand scrubs and more. The sales representative can apply the products or guests can test them out themselves if they're more comfortable with that. The company was founded in Switzerland and began selling in the United States in 1980; among Arbonne's newest offerings is its FC5 (for Fresh Cell) line of skin care that contains five fruits and vegetables including kiwi, mango and pumpkin: FC5 scrub is $28, shampoo is $18 and hand cream is $28.
What it sells: Eco-friendly, high-fashion accessories
Local rep: Rita Mahoney
Info: 516-356-3031, uniqueboutiquelongisland.com
Host perks: A free Itsy Bitsy candy-wrapper bag; discounts based on party sales.
Mahoney's company is Long Island born and bred; she's been selling handbags for seven years. You can enjoy the comforts of a home party or have your get-together in Unique Boutique's cozy, living-room-like Commack showroom if you want a little time away from the family. Mahoney's offerings are mostly fashion handbags made from recycled goods: Nahui Ollin's candy-wrapper bags ($25-$300); Escama Studio's aluminum can-tab bags, such as the Chica Rosa mini-clutch ($40), Littleearth bags ($38 to $350) made from recycled automobile license plates, some decked with Swarovski crystals.