Your holiday list is made. You know exactly the ideal item for everyone on your list. Where do you head first? If you’re smart, Marshalls! Or TJ Maxx! Or Home Goods — three off-price retailers where you can save 20 to 60% off all kinds of incredible items, from apparel, to shoes, to beauty items, to home accessories! A solid 75% of my wardrobe comes from off price retailers. When it comes to saving money on fashion, beauty, housewares and more, I’m a true believer.

Last week I hosted my first ever in-store Marshalls/TJ Maxx event, and it was SO awesome! Together with some of my best blogging buddies in Chicago, we spread the gospel of off-price shopping and shared the love with Afrobella readers and Marshalls/TJ Maxxinistas!

afrobella marshalls

The lovely Tia of Chi Bakery and Cafe provided decadent chai tea and her incredible mini cupcakes — she’s known for her moist, delicious red velvet cupcakes and cookies. Their retail location recently closed, but Chi Bakery is delivering cupcakes, cookies, and holiday cakes all holiday season — click here to order yours!

The concept of this special holiday shopping party was to get the attendees ready to tackle their holiday shopping lists while avoiding ridiculous retail markups. I was there to welcome everyone and to speak to my main areas of expertese — beauty, and plus size fashion!

Luvvie Ajayi of and shoe blog (@MustLuvvShoes, @iLuvvIt) was there to speak about shoes, of course!

Renisha James of (@renisharenewed, @renewedfitness) was there to speak on fitness gear, activewear, and great items for the fitness fanatic in your life (or for those of you about to embark on New Year’s resolutions!)

Aramide Esubi of (@thesassypeach) was on hand to lend her opinion as a professional stylist, and to discuss the hottest holiday designer fashion trends.

And awesome photographer Chuck Olu-Alabi (@chuckstr) came to photograph the fun!

The day before the event, we visited Marshalls on Michigan Avenue to choose THE hottest merchandise in store, to put together displays of our picks of the must-buy-now items, to show everyone who attended the kind of hot stuff they could find in store and then of course to shop the displays we’d put together.

Renisha’s fitness rack featured super affordable items by major brands like Under Armour and Nike, in fabrics meant to wick sweat away from the body while still keeping runners warm in winter temperatures. During her part of the event, I saw women in the audience taking notes on the fabrics and brands to look out for!

Aramide chose sequins and jeweled accents as THE hottest trends for holiday dress season.

For outerwear she shared some truly killer pieces! You can see the lust in my eyes for this winter white coat!

And this poncho was a coveted item — as soon as we wrapped up the presentation part of the party, one of our guests snapped it right off the rack!

Aramide really focused on faux fur, slouchy hobo bags, sequins and jeweled accents. And capes!

Luvvie’s shoe picks included wedges, lots of leopard, and of COURSE, a hot pair of red pumps!

Did I mention lots of leopard?

My beauty picks included Marc Jacobs Lola perfume (cheaper here than elsewhere!) and super flashy Betsey Johnson Betseyville makeup bags.

THE find of the day in terms of beauty? All three Shady Lady eyeshadow palettes by The Balm. Retail price, $40. At Marshalls? $12.99!! And TRUST me, these palettes are SO awesome! They went super fast, once I let everyone there know about them!

For plus size fashion I chose a rack full of finds by Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, and Calvin Klein.

Loved the zipper accent on this Calvin Klein dress! Great work to cocktail party piece. Dress it up, dress it down!

Of COURSE we had some giveaways! This lovely lady was so hoping to win a prize!

The gorgeous @AuthenticNoise from Twitter correctly guessed the Marshalls price of this Michael Kors clutch and won it in the Off-Price is right game!

Tia correctly guessed the original retail price of this AWESOME iHome iPod player that also works as a kitchen timer!

This lovely lady guessed the price of Cranium, and won it for her kids this Christmas!

Some of Chicago’s coolest bloggers and fashionistas came out to support and show love!

The ever-stylish Nikia of Chitown Fashionista looked awesome as usual!

Venita of Girl Get a Life came out to support, show love, and shop.

Jasmin of Jasmin Mitchell Jewelry was there, and so was adorable mommy blogger Windy City Mama (and her super cute little one!)

Even if the attendees didn’t win a prize in our contests, just by RSVPing for the event, Marshalls generously provided everyone a $25 gift card. So after we presented, everyone did a little shopping!

After we shared our fashionable finds, we all helped the attendees find the kind of items they were looking for, mingled, chatted, gave hugs and took photos.

And tweeted!

It was super fun, and even people who didn’t RSVP or even know my blog at all stopped by to say hello, introduce themselves, have a cupcake, and ask about the items we had chosen (and buy pretty much all of the items we chose right off the displays we’d put together).

The event went REALLY well, and I hope to do more events like this in the future! Twas awesome indeed. Thank you Marshalls and TJ Maxx for the opportunity!

Attendees of the event already know — this post ends in a giveaway for you if you RSVP’d and came out! If you were there, please leave a comment and let me know — how did YOU share the thrill of off-price Christmas shopping with your friends, after you learned everything you needed to know at the shopping party? A winner will be chosen in a week and you’ll get a Marshalls gift card!!



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