I’m excited to start today by talking about the upcoming NCHE Conference. (See the bottom for info on the details of the conference!)
One of the most exciting, and yet challenging, parts of the conference is the Book Fair. Vendors from around the country come together with all of their finest books, hands-on tools, and resources for every part of homeschooling, as well as parenting and family. It’s an incredible place! It’s also overwhelming.
So, here is some wisdom from one who has been there on how to navigate the Conference Book Fair successfully ….
10 Tips for Navigating the Book Fair:
1. Go with a list.
Plan out what you will need before you set foot in that convention center. Even if it’s general like “Spelling Curriculum” and has two or three kinds that you want to look at. Type or print that list and have it in hand as you walk through the doors.
2. Visit the first time but don’t buy.
I never buy anything the first time I go in to the Book Fair. My husband and I try discuss items that we see before we purchase. This helps me get over the mental “high” of the situation.
3. Think about transportation.
Once you buy those books, you are going to have to cart them around with you, so plan out WHEN you are going to buy items, especially heavy textbooks. You also have to consider when you will return to your car/room. After my first conference, I learned to bring a rolling square cart that I picked up at Office Depot ($20) for purchases. I don’t use it for the whole conference, but just for that shopping trip.
4. Pay with debit/cash … Don’t use Credit Cards.
It’s hard to bridle the wild mustang of credit cards at the Book Fair. Paying with cash or with a debit card will keep your spending in check.
5. Keep receipts.
Keep your receipts and at the end of the day, total up how much you spent. It’s good to keep an eye on how much money you are spending on your schooling. It’s easy to not be aware of how much you really spend and what does to the rest of your budget at home.
6. Do I need this material this year?
I know that I have been guilty of shopping for year’s ahead. It goes like this … I see a great book. We don’t need it this year, but we’ll need it … in the future, so I pounce. Then, I have to get it home, store it, and then remember to use it when the time comes. Not a good idea! Focus your spending on this coming year. Jot down notes for the future and put them in a file at home that you can pull out for conference next year!
7. Don’t buy for your ideal.
Too often, I shop with a wishful heart of what life might be like. Think about how this material would really work out in your home. Does it fit your children’s personalities? Is it doable with the stage of life that you are in? Where will it live at home? It’s better to make it work in reality than in fantasy homeschool world.
8. Pick up catalogs and contact info for vendors.
Make sure that you pick up catalogs, flyers, and business cards of those companies that you are interested in. When you get home and have a question, it’s great to be able to find the phone number or website easily. Also, picking up info doesn’t cost you any money. If you’re not completely sure, get their info and wait to get home before you make a purchase.
9. Take a gallon size ziploc bag or file for those papers.
Plan to pack and take a gallon size baggie or file to hold all those papers as you cruise through the Book Fair. Otherwise, you end up having all of these pieces of paper, all different sizes in your pockets, purse, bag, shoes, etc.
10. Enjoy the conference, not just the Book Fair!
There is always a point when you hit overload and need to step away from the booths. The Book Fair is intended to be a resource, not a gauntlet. Make sure that you don’t get burned out by spending all of your time there.
A few questions that ask yourself:
What need does this material meet?
Did I feel this need before the conference?
How will I feel about sharing this purchase with my husband (If I can’t talk freely about it with him, then maybe we don’t really need it.)
Do I have something like this at home?
Who do I know that uses this that I can talk to?
Is there any price motivation for buying here at conference? (Sometimes there is a book fair “sale” price, sometimes not.)
If money is limited, can I purchase this used back at home?
What tips would you add?
What are your goals for conference ?