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Page 12, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Holiday giving for special needs children Everyone wants to get the perfect gifts for people on their holiday shopping lists. Shopping for a child with special needs can make giftgiving a bit more difficult. After all, buyers want to ensure the gift is practical as well as thoughtful. However, there are many great gift ideas for special needs children. Buying gifts for kids with a disability or other special needs make take a little more time, but shoppers who consider a child’s developmental readiness as well as personal interests can still find the perfect gift.

• Consult with parents and caregivers. Parents often know best when it comes to their own children and will make the most reliable source as to which gifts to buy for special needs children. Parents may have a list of items a therapist or teacher has suggested, and these learning tools could make good gifts, particularly if parents’ own budgets are stretched. If you’d like to make the gift a surprise for everyone involved, go directly to a therapist or teacher and ask for suggestions. There may be classroom aides that can be bought to con-

tinue the learning experience at home. • Assess developmental level. When it comes to special needs children, age does not always dictate the proper developmental level. A pre-teen with special needs may not be on the same level academically and socially as his or her peers, while some special needs children may be more developed in a particular area than other special needs kids their age. Assess a child’s developmental level to help you select toys that he or she can play with. For example, a nonverbal child with

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autism who likes marine life may benefit from a colorful picture book where he or she can point to the animals.

ably like a Lego(R) or Mega Bloks(R) set that can be transformed into cars, trucks or even space stations. Most children benefit from art sets where they can explore their creativity and also master greater dexterity and imaginative thinking.

• Think about interests. Most children gravitate to certain types of toys and have specific interests when it comes to play. A music lover may enjoy a learner’s guitar • Consider making a or keyboard. Those who financial donation. like to build would prob-

Page 2, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Shopping locally benefits merchants and consumers alike. member. • Buying locally helps the environment. Buying within your community reduces the amount of fuel you’re likely to use for a weekend shopping trip while also reducing pollution. In addition, many local store owners use local materials and ingredients, reducing the amount of fuel consumed to get products into the store. • Buying locally creates a more closely knit community. Juggling a career and a family can make it hard for men and women to get to know their neighbors and other members of their community. Buying locally is an opportunity to strengthen that bond with your neighbors, creating a close knit community in which residents may feel safer and more comfortable.

Buying locally is a great way for consumers to find the products and services they’re looking for and help their local economy along the way. The small businesses in your community may be owned by your next door neighbor, who relies on his or her fellow towns-

people to keep the business going strong. Buying locally is not only beneficial for local business owners, but buying locally benefits consumers and members of the community in a number of ways.

jobs. The number of unemployed men and women has gradually declined in recent years, but those figures are still high in many communities. Buying locally creates jobs in your community, potentially creating a job for you or a • Buying locally creates friend or family

• Buying locally is more convenient. Convenience is paramount to many consumers, and buying locally saves both time and money. Driving to a faraway mall or shopping center or paying costly online shipping fees is not nearly as quick or convenient as shopping within your community, where you can purchase and take home items on the same day without using a full tank of gas or paying for shipping.

• Buying locally benefits your local economy. In 2004, the consultancy Civic Economics was commissioned by Chicago’s Andersonville Chamber of Commerce to examine the economic impact of 10 local businesses against that of chain businesses. The study found that of every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 remained in the local economy, while only $43 of every $100 spent at chain stores remained in the local economy. That’s a significant boost to your local economy, and all it requires is shopping at local retailers. • Buying locally can increase your property value. Homeowners might be able to increase the value of their homes by buying locally. A joint study from Independent We Stand and Civic Economics found that cities with a strong centralized small business district had a 54 percent greater increase in property values than communities that did not have such a district. A more thriving local community, including a thriving shopping district, is no doubt attractive to prospective home buyers. The reasons for shopping locally are many. In addition to helping local business owners, consumers who shop locally

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 11

Has gift wrapping become a lost art? Have we become a society that is too busy for gift wrap? When a birthday arrives or the holidays come around in full force, where do most people turn? To the ultraconvenient gift bag, that’s where. Gift bags have largely taken over the party aisles at most stores, where rows and rows of gift bags in all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. If you’re trying to find a roll of wrapping paper, good luck. For birthdays, anniversaries and even baby showers, paper designs have essentially become obsolete. It’s true that wrapping paper seems to make a rebound come the holiday season, when stores begin to devote aisles of space to holiday supplies. But even when shiny foils and smiling Santas beckon customers from the tightly packed rolls, many people still choose gift bags. Gift bags do have many advantages. They are easily portable, generally inexpensive and come in some very clever designs. They’re also touted as a “green” product because they can be reused. But there are plenty of people who feel that the

elimination of intricately wrapped presents takes some of the magic out of the holidays. Carefully wrapped gifts show that a person put in time and effort to present a gift in a way that is sentimental and personal. Although it may take mere minutes to pry away the paper and find a treasure inside, there’s something to be said for paper-wrapped gifts. It means the gift-giver sat down, pondered the paper design and carefully chose the bow or ribbon with the recipient in mind. Before you choose wrapping paper for a gift bag this holiday season, think about all of the advantages to spending some time and reacquainting yourself with the art of gift wrapping. Here are some reasons to save the gift bag for another time. • Wrapping can be green, too. Wrapping paper can be reused if it is carefully removed from a gift. You also can create your own wrapping paper by decorating brown postal paper with a rubber stamp or having children color their own special murals. Don’t overlook newsprint as wrapping as well.

Many people have turned their backs on wrapped gifts in favor of gift bags. However, there’s something to be said for intricately wrapped presents under the tree.

• Paper is more costeffective. You are bound to get more bang for your wrapping buck by choosing wrapping paper. Although there are scores of discount stores that sell lowpriced gift bags, often the quality isn’t the same, and the handles could tear after one or two uses. Wrapping paper per inch is definitely more affordable than gift bags, particularly when purchased on sale. • Wrapping paper lets you be creative. Cover a box with a patchwork of different paper scraps, choose to stagger colors of paper with boxes towered one on top of another or tie on the

biggest bow you can find. • Paper is traditional. Look back to the classic stories of yuletide and you are bound to find images of Santa Claus pulling wrapped boxes out of his enormous gift sack. Also think about how department stores used to (and some still do) offer complimentary gift wrapping. • Wrapped gifts travel better. When carrying your bounty of gifts to friends and family, carefully wrapped boxes tend to stand up to travel better than gift bags. No one wants to receive a gift bag that has been wrinkled and crushed into some amorphous

shape. Plus, wilted tissue paper can be off-putting. • There’s something magical about wrapping paper. The anticipation, the drama, the build-up to peeling aside wrapping paper and revealing the gift has brought smiles to children’s (and adults’) faces for generations. It is hard to improve on something that has been successful for years and years. Although the public may be swept up in rushing from here to there, there are traditionalists who appreciate sitting down and spending time creating holiday magic by way of beautifully wrapped gifts.

Page 10, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Safety should be a holiday tradition, too Celebrants and shoppers annually spend billions of dollars during the holiday season. With so much money exchanging hands, it is imperative for shoppers and revelers to use caution to avoid incidents that can put a damper on such a festive time of year. Though many people who look forward to the holiday season for all the right reasons, there are some who see this time of year as a prime opportunity to prey on the generosity or distraction Christmas brings. Thieves know that the holidays can be hectic, and they use this to their advantage, knowing full well people tend to store highpriced items in their homes during this time of the year. Heeding certain safety tips during the holidays can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

you venture out to shop, do so at different times so you’re not establishing a recognizable pattern that gives a thief a sense of security and a perfect window of time to break in. Triple-check your home Security experts warn that most burglaries occur during daytime hours when homes are empty. The main point of entry is on the ground floor via a rear or a side door. Access through a garage door is another common way thieves gain access to a home. Before leaving the house, make sure that all doors and windows are locked and that the garage door cannot be opened. Many times thieves are able to simply enter a home through an unlocked window. The key is to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to get inside your home. Running out of the home for parties, shopping and other social events could derail safety precautions. If need be, leave a checklist by the front door to remind you to safeguard the home before exiting.

Stagger shopping times Being a creature of habit may not be advantageous come the holidays. Oftentimes, potential burglars monitor neighborhoods to see when residents come and go. It can take mere minutes for a thief to get into a Park in well-lit areas home and then abscond Cars are prime targets for with valuables. burglaries. Many times shoppers visit the car freCreating a situation quently during shopping where there is always excursions and store gifts someone home or at least in the trunk, only to return the appearance that for more shopping. someone is home might Thieves recognize there dissuade a thief from tar- may be a bounty of mergeting your home. When chandise inside.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 3

Great gift ideas for seniors

First and foremost, all items in the car should be stored out of sight to deter interest in your vehicle. Secondly, make sure that the car is locked and that the security system (if there is one) is engaged, as merchandise in a car is not often covered by standard auto insurance policies. In addition, park as close as you can to the store entrance or beneath a bright light. Poor visibility encourages thieves. Watch your wallet Cash is a very attractive prospect for thieves because it is largely untraceable and easily spent. While shoppers who want to curb high credit card bills might favor cash, it is important not to carry too much around. Spread out purchases over a few days so that you do not have to carry large quantities of cash. When using an ATM at the mall or at the bank, always be aware of your surroundings, including fellow customers. It may be worth paying multiple service fees to withdraw small amounts of cash rather than withdrawing a large amount of money that thieves can target. Remove extraneous credit cards when shopping. Should your wallet be stolen or go missing, this will eliminate the number of accounts that thieves can use and also cuts down on the number of

Including seniors in a family cellular phone plan so they can easily keep up with their children and grandchildren is one way to put a smile on their faces this holiday season.

While shoppers who want to curb high credit card bills might favor cash, it is important not to carry too much around. accounts that need to be closed out. You should never carry your social security card in your wallet because this increases your risk of being victimized by identity theft. Request to sign for packages Many shipping carriers have eliminated the need for package recipients to

sign for merchandise. Recipients can now choose to have boxes and bags left outside the front door. To decrease the risk of theft, always choose to sign for packages, regardless of how safe your neighborhood may be.

Exchanging gifts has become synonymous with the holiday season. Family members exchange gifts with one another, men and women trade gifts and greeting cards with their coworkers and students participate in grab bag gift exchanges in the classroom. Giving gifts is such a big part of the holiday season that shoppers may run out of gift ideas before they have crossed everyone off their lists. For example, it might not be easy to find the perfect gift for the senior citizen on your holiday shopping list. Seniors might not be up-to-date on the latest gadgets or might

have downgraded from a home to a more manageable living arrangement, so knickknacks or decorative items for the home may not be too practical, either. The following are a few tips for gifting seniors this holiday season. * Warm things up. As men and women age, many develop medical conditions that require m e d i c a t i o n . Medications like blood thinners can make seniors feel the cold more than others, so a gift that can keep seniors warm through the winter can make a great gift. A thick wool sweater or a fleece blanket is both prac-

tical and thoughtful. * Open a senior’s eyes to e-readers. Many seniors find that maintaining a household is simply too much work once all the kids have grown up and moved out. As a result, many move from private homes into apartment complexes geared to the senior set or even into assisted living facilities that make it easier to deal with the daily demands of life. When seniors make such a move, they sacrifice space for convenience. Personal libraries may no longer be possible or practical, but an e-reader such as Amazon’s Kindle or the Nook(R) from Barnes

and Noble allows seniors to store their favorite books in one small and convenient place. * Give the lap of luxury. Many seniors are on fixed incomes, which greatly limit how much disposable income they have to treat themselves to something nice. But seniors still love a trip to the spa or a round of golf just as much as their younger counterparts. Savvy shoppers know that deals can be had on such luxuries, and it just takes a little patience and research. Sign up for a service like GrouponTM to gain access to exclusive discount offers to a variety of luxury offerings, including spa treatments, cruise vacations and rounds of golf. Signing up is free and easy, and you might just find a deal that makes a senior’s holiday season. * Go healthy. Many men and women embrace a healthier lifestyle as they age. Seniors who might have been too busy raising a family to focus on their own health are typically encouraged by their physicians to exercise and embrace healthier eating habits. Giftgivers can help seniors on their quests to become healthier by

buying them a membership to a local fitness club, many of which provide classes designed specifically for seniors. Fitness clubs typically offer discounted memberships to seniors, who might even be eligible for rebates from their health insurance providers if they meet established attendance requirements. Seniors who suffer from arthritis might benefit from a membership at a nearby yoga center. * Give the gift of communication. Sometimes the best gift is the simplest gift. Seniors love to speak with their children and grandchildren, so why not give the gift of communication? If you haven’t already, alter your cellular phone plan to a family plan that gives seniors unlimited minutes when calling family members so they can speak to their grandkids as often as possible. You can even go the extra mile and upgrade a senior’s computer so he or she has access to instant messaging and videoconferencing services such SkypeTM, allowing seniors to see just how fast their grandchildren are growing even if those youngsters are on the other side of the country.

Page 4, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Gift baskets make an easy, affordable option The go-to gift of late is the gift card. Chance are, though, that recipients -although thrilled that they can do their own shopping -- may find gift cards a bit impersonal. Statistics indicate that around $100 million in gift cards are purchased every year : in the U.S. Despite being a popular gift item, roughly six to 10 percent of all gift cards go unused, according to the Tower Group. Some even come with inactivity fees. As an alternative to gift cards, gift baskets may be a welcome change. Gift baskets are relatively easy to put together and sometimes, especially around key holidays, can be purchased readymade. Grouping similarly

themed items together to fit a particular interest can fit the bill when shoppers can’t decide on a gift to buy. The advantage to gift baskets is that they can be assembled for just about any hobby, interest or occasion. They don’t even have to be in a traditional “basket.” Here’s a look of some easy gift groupings to fit a wide variety of events. • New baby: A collection of baby-themed items works when wishing new parents well. It can also be a good solution for when all of the biggerscale items on a baby registry have already been purchased and only the smaller, lower-priced things are left. Put together infant T-shirts,

wash cloths, outlet safety plugs, shampoo, diapers, and the other things new parents may not immediately think to buy. Wrap it all up in a portable baby bathtub for a container that has utility. • Housewarming: Kitchen essentials are good ideas for newlyweds or those who just bought a new home. Scour the kitchen tool aisles of department stores or specialty shops. These can be themed according to what is purchased as well. For example, fill a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, a box of paper muffin cups, cake mix, and mixing spoons for the person who loves to bake. • Travel: Getting ready to take a trip can be a bit

hectic, and a traveler may overlook some of the essentials that can make the vacation more pleasurable. Items like a travel alarm clock, miniature size toiletries, traveler’s checks, gum, a journal, travel guides, and a memory card for the person’s camera are good ideas. Pack all of these things inside of an expandable tote bag. • Kids activity bag: A simple gift that fits the needs of kids is a backpack or tote bag filled with boredom-busters. These can include portable manipulative toys, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, puzzles, DVDs, a disposable camera, and any other toys that fit the interests of the recipient.

• Host/hostess gift: Saying thanks to a friend or family member who has invited you over for a dinner or overnight stay can be as simple as grouping a few things together. Put together a basket with a set of sheets, hand towels, pillow and other essentials that can be appreciated by future guests. • Food: One gift idea that goes quite well in a gift basket is food. Pick a theme and put the items together. Barbecue lovers can appreciate sauce, shish kabob skewers, spice rubs, a cookbook, hickory chips, grill tools, and other similar items. Gift baskets are personalized gifts that are easy to assemble and can be a viable alternative to gift cards.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 9

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Page 8, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Tablet computer shopping tips Tablets are the musthave portable computing device of the moment, making them a top holiday gift. In just a few short years, the number of people with tablets has increased dramatically. Within a year of the iPad’s introduction into the technological lexicon, 11 percent of Americans already owned one. As other tablets and upgraded versions of the iPad entered the market, tablets became more and more popular. A study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group found that the majority of tablet owners (77 percent) use their

tablets every day, using them for an average of about 90 minutes. When shopping for a tablet, there are many different features to consider. Size Tablets come in different sizes, weights and screen offerings. When the iPad was released, it set the standard screen size at around 10 inches, weighing slightly more than a pound. Tablets made by other manufacturers range in sizes from 12-inch screens to 5-inch screens, giving shoppers the ability to choose a device that is as mobile as they need it to be. Battery Life Many tablet users are interested in the portability of the device. Battery operation makes

that portability possible, so it makes sense that battery life is a big draw for consumers. Many tablet reviews cite Android products and the iPad as the best for battery life. Flexibility Flexibility is also important to prospective tablet buyers. Tablets that are only able to connect to the Internet via a Wi-Fi service will be much more limited in use. Many tablets now come with 3G or Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling the device to work even when you are away from home or a Wi-Fi connection. Storage Some consumers are interested in the amount of data they can store on their tablets. Some

Technology and it’s accessories are always popular

reviewers have complained about the inability to add more storage space to the Apple iPad, forcing consumers to purchase a more expensive device just to add more storage. Android and Windowsbased tablets have removable storage options and may be better buys for those

who need to save a large number of apps or photos and video. Price As with any purchase, price is often a big component of decisionmaking. Therefore, the tablet that offers the most features at the most affordable price may win out.

The right age to gift children mobile phones Gadgets often top the list of desired gifts for the holiday season. Adults and children alike fawn over the latest technology, and giving a loved one a new phone, portable video game console, tablet or e-reader for the holidays is sure to please. When gifting children with the latest tech gifts, parents typically ask themselves if a child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of having his or her own mobile phone. There is no clear-cut answer to this question, and it is up to the gift-giver to assess the maturity levels of the gift recipient as well as his or her behavior when considering giving the gift of a mobile phone. Today’s cellular phones are much different from the ones that flooded the market 10 to 20 years ago.

Although the concept of a mobile phone has been in place since the late 1940s, it wasn’t until 1983 that mobile phones became commercially available in North America. Phones once did little more than just dial a call, and even then service was spotty. Now phones are mini-computers, able to make and receive calls, take photos, access the Internet, download photos and text, provide GPS positioning, give directions, check e-mail, and so much more. Such cell phones can be invaluable, but their accessibility often makes parents and guardians think twice about gifting children with a mobile phone. Those who are carefully considering purchasing a phone as a holiday gift for a tween may want to consider the following. • Reliability: How well

does the child take care of his or her belongings? Are keys constantly being lost? Are you often replacing items that were just purchased? If so, the child may not be ready for a cell phone. Although many mobile phone companies offer promotional prices on phones this time of year, buying a phone can still be a considerable expense. Adding insurance to that phone will cost even more. Cell phones may only be for children who have a good track record of caring for and keeping important belongings. • Maturity level: Some children seem to be born wise beyond their years. Others are eternal Peter Pans. It is unwise to base a cell phone purchase simply on age alone. Parents typically have a grasp of their child’s maturity level, so it

should be easy to determine if they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of a cell phone. • Features: Mobile phones, particularly smartphones, offer a bevy of different features. From social networking to mapping physical locations, these phones can make children widely accessible from a communications standpoint. It can be quite easy for a child to take and share a photo with someone inappropriate, and vice-versa. Find out the reasons behind why your son or daughter wants the phone. Is it simply for texting, or is it to have emergency contact with home? Knowing the reasons why a child wants the phone may make the decision easier. • Safety: Cell phones make it easier for parents to monitor their children when they are away from home,

providing some peace of mind. • School rules: In many institutions, cell phone use is prohibited during school hours or phones may not even be allowed on school property. This is something to keep in mind before purchasing. • Accessibility: A child does not need a smartphone, so parents should buy a phone that doesn’t offer all of the bells and whistles. Not only will this cut down on the cost, it could help prevent irresponsible behavior as well. Many children want their own cell phone, in part because they see their parents and others on the phone. But it’s wise to consider the pros and cons of giving children cell phones before telling children they can have one.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 5

Proper etiquette for gift-giving The rules of etiquette have loosened a bit from centuries past. No longer are people held accountable for the slightest misstep, and sometimes the rule-breakers are revered. However, when it comes to holiday gifting, erring on the side of caution and following proper etiquette can make exchanging gifts go more smoothly. Being considerate when gifting helps make the holidays enjoyable and as stress-free as possible. Some may find it unfortunate that so much pressure is placed on giving gifts this time of year. When exchanging, heed these suggestions. • Gift-giving is about the recipient and not you as the giver. The idea is to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for the person on the receiving end of the gift. Think about the person’s interests and find a gift that pertains to these interests. It may not be the easiest to find a rare book or those collectible golf clubs, but putting forth the effort will mean more to the person getting the gift.

• Don’t up the ante. When exchanging gifts with a person, do not try to anticipate what he or she will spend and then go above that price. This may come off as petty and make the other person feel uncomfortable. Instead, choose a price that you can readily afford and find the nicest thing within that range. If a person with whom you hadn’t anticipated exchanging gifts gives you something, simply offer thanks and don’t feel uncomfortable that you do not have something to offer in return. • Gift receipts are very thoughtful. Including a gift receipt with your gift tells the recipient that you tried to find something that he or she will enjoy, but that you’re comfortable with them returning the gift if it’s not just right. Again, this conveys your feelings for the recipient. Do not, however, use gift receipts as a “get out of jail free” pass. That means, don’t simply grab anything off the rack, attach a gift receipt and attempt to pass it off as a meaningful gift. • Do not e-mail thank

you notes. If you are not able to thank a person in person for a gift, it is in better taste to send a hand-written note than to fire off a quick e-mail. While writing letters has become a lost art, a handwritten thank you note stands out and shows how much you appreciate the gift. • It’s unnecessary to give your boss a gift. Gifting your boss may come across like you are trying to win favor. It also may create a competition within the office. Stick to gifting colleagues, but leave the boss out of the holiday pool. • Gift cards do not break etiquette rules. Although gift cards may seem like the easy way out of gifting, they’ve become more acceptable and popular. If you want to personalize a gift card, try using a photo or special memory that correlates to the gift card. Otherwise, package the gift card with a few inexpensive items to create a gift basket. • When in doubt, stick with non-intimate gifts. Perfume, cologne, intimate apparel and similar items say that you know a

Find a gift that pertains to the interest of the recipient

person on a deeper level and are extremely personal. For friends and acquaintances, stick with safer gifts that do not give off intimate undertones. • Don’t regift. Whenever possible, graciously accept gifts and do not try to

pass them off as your own to other people. If caught, you will be more embarrassed than if you had not given a gift at all. Following a few guidelines on gift-giving etiquette can help to make the holidays even happier.

Keep kids engaged and occupied during holiday shopping trips Holiday shopping with kids can be fun. Kids enjoy giving gifts, and bringing them along on shopping excursions to offer their input can make the season that much more special for youngsters. But bringing the little ones along on a holiday shopping trip also can be tricky, as kids can easily grow tired or bored at the mall. The following are a few tips to ensure kids and adults enjoy their

holiday shopping trips together. • Bring backup. Kids might find shopping enjoyable at the outset, but visiting store after store can drain them of that enthusiasm. To quell the inevitable boredom, bring along some backup, such as a handheld video game or a tablet or e-reader on which kids can watch a favorite film or television show. • Choose your shopping

destination wisely. All malls and retailers are certainly not equal, especially when kids will be accompanying you for a day of shopping. Some malls offer attractions for kids, such as a merry-go-round or a live performance with a holiday theme. Such attractions provide some balance to a shopping trip, giving kids something to look forward to between store visits. • Don’t be a Scrooge. An

ice cream cone, some holiday cookies or a hot chocolate might not be the healthiest fare for youngsters, but such items can make a shopping excursion that much more enjoyable. When shopping with kids in tow, relax a youngster’s dietary restrictions so they can enjoy some holiday treats while shopping till they drop. • Give kids some spending money. Kids are

more likely to engage themselves in a holiday shopping trip if they have some spending money of their own. Offer children some money before leaving the house, and tell them the money is theirs to spend on gifts as they see fit. Kids might just enjoy looking for the perfect gift and hunting down a holiday bargain as much as Mom and Dad.

Page 6, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Season Survival Tips It’s upon us -- the holiday season. During this hectic season, people take on more responsibilities and commit to more events and gettogethers than any time of the year. All of this extra work can put a strain on the body if the average person is unprepared. Surviving the holidays requires thinking of them as athletic activities and training for the work ahead.

the on-the-go speed and long days may find they suffer frequent ailments this time of the year, including physical injuries.

• Holiday decorating may entail climbing up and down a ladder or bringing heavy boxes out of the attic.

• People may keep Think about how the long hours traveling to holidays are akin to an social engagements, athletic event: taxing their bodies. • During shopping a These are just a few person can unknow- demands on the body. ingly walk several miles In order to prevent in a store or mall. fatigue or more serious • Individuals often tote injury from holiday around heavy packages activities, consider these and/or lift weighty pointers.

The added responsibil- items. ities of the holidays, • Long hours are spent including shopping, on one’s feet. decorating and hosting, • Fast decisions have puts added stress on to be made on pureveryone this time of chases. year. Those not used to

• Stretch out before you hit the stores. Warm • Don’t carry around up stiff muscles to pre- more than you can pare for the day ahead. handle. Plan frequent • Drink plenty of water trips to the car to drop off purchases. If lockers throughout the day. are available in the mall,

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Dehydration can tax use them. the body and lead to • Take breaks every feelings of sluggishness hour and sit down to or even induce head- rest feet and de-stress. aches. • Eat light, healthy • Wear comfortable foods. Greasy fast food shoes with plenty of could strain overstressed cushioning to withstand organs. Heart attacks the impact of walking during the holidays are all day. common. Healthy foods • Use a backpack to can also help combat tote essentials along. the average 6 pounds Plus, packages can be of weight a person gains stuffed into the back- during the season of pack to free up hands overindulgence. or balance the weight • Caffeine can stress of purchases. the body even more, so try to limit intake. • Know your limits. If your body is telling you enough is enough, call it a day.

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Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 7

Making your list Making a list when holiday shopping can help you avoid spending more than your budget allows. Rather than be caught off guard, carefully make your shopping list and include everyone you intend to gift. Purchase one or two extra generic gifts just in case something comes up. It is much easier to afford holiday giving when you can

divide your budget by the number of gift recipients rather than having to add on gifts after the fact. Also, in the event you are left with extra gifts that were unnecessary, you can return them after the holidays and use the money to treat yourself to something nice or donate the gift or the returned funds to someone in need.

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Page 6, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Season Survival Tips It’s upon us -- the holiday season. During this hectic season, people take on more responsibilities and commit to more events and gettogethers than any time of the year. All of this extra work can put a strain on the body if the average person is unprepared. Surviving the holidays requires thinking of them as athletic activities and training for the work ahead.

the on-the-go speed and long days may find they suffer frequent ailments this time of the year, including physical injuries.

• Holiday decorating may entail climbing up and down a ladder or bringing heavy boxes out of the attic.

• People may keep Think about how the long hours traveling to holidays are akin to an social engagements, athletic event: taxing their bodies. • During shopping a These are just a few person can unknow- demands on the body. ingly walk several miles In order to prevent in a store or mall. fatigue or more serious • Individuals often tote injury from holiday around heavy packages activities, consider these and/or lift weighty pointers.

The added responsibil- items. ities of the holidays, • Long hours are spent including shopping, on one’s feet. decorating and hosting, • Fast decisions have puts added stress on to be made on pureveryone this time of chases. year. Those not used to

• Stretch out before you hit the stores. Warm • Don’t carry around up stiff muscles to pre- more than you can pare for the day ahead. handle. Plan frequent • Drink plenty of water trips to the car to drop off purchases. If lockers throughout the day. are available in the mall,

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Dehydration can tax use them. the body and lead to • Take breaks every feelings of sluggishness hour and sit down to or even induce head- rest feet and de-stress. aches. • Eat light, healthy • Wear comfortable foods. Greasy fast food shoes with plenty of could strain overstressed cushioning to withstand organs. Heart attacks the impact of walking during the holidays are all day. common. Healthy foods • Use a backpack to can also help combat tote essentials along. the average 6 pounds Plus, packages can be of weight a person gains stuffed into the back- during the season of pack to free up hands overindulgence. or balance the weight • Caffeine can stress of purchases. the body even more, so try to limit intake. • Know your limits. If your body is telling you enough is enough, call it a day.

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Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 7

Making your list Making a list when holiday shopping can help you avoid spending more than your budget allows. Rather than be caught off guard, carefully make your shopping list and include everyone you intend to gift. Purchase one or two extra generic gifts just in case something comes up. It is much easier to afford holiday giving when you can

divide your budget by the number of gift recipients rather than having to add on gifts after the fact. Also, in the event you are left with extra gifts that were unnecessary, you can return them after the holidays and use the money to treat yourself to something nice or donate the gift or the returned funds to someone in need.

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4 Mark Twain Court • Johnson City (Off N. Roan behind Sonic) Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9-9 and Sunday 12-6

11 Year Winner

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www.broylesflorist.com or www.broylesfloristinc.com

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Page 8, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Tablet computer shopping tips Tablets are the musthave portable computing device of the moment, making them a top holiday gift. In just a few short years, the number of people with tablets has increased dramatically. Within a year of the iPad’s introduction into the technological lexicon, 11 percent of Americans already owned one. As other tablets and upgraded versions of the iPad entered the market, tablets became more and more popular. A study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism in collaboration with The Economist Group found that the majority of tablet owners (77 percent) use their

tablets every day, using them for an average of about 90 minutes. When shopping for a tablet, there are many different features to consider. Size Tablets come in different sizes, weights and screen offerings. When the iPad was released, it set the standard screen size at around 10 inches, weighing slightly more than a pound. Tablets made by other manufacturers range in sizes from 12-inch screens to 5-inch screens, giving shoppers the ability to choose a device that is as mobile as they need it to be. Battery Life Many tablet users are interested in the portability of the device. Battery operation makes

that portability possible, so it makes sense that battery life is a big draw for consumers. Many tablet reviews cite Android products and the iPad as the best for battery life. Flexibility Flexibility is also important to prospective tablet buyers. Tablets that are only able to connect to the Internet via a Wi-Fi service will be much more limited in use. Many tablets now come with 3G or Wi-Fi capabilities, enabling the device to work even when you are away from home or a Wi-Fi connection. Storage Some consumers are interested in the amount of data they can store on their tablets. Some

Technology and it’s accessories are always popular

reviewers have complained about the inability to add more storage space to the Apple iPad, forcing consumers to purchase a more expensive device just to add more storage. Android and Windowsbased tablets have removable storage options and may be better buys for those

who need to save a large number of apps or photos and video. Price As with any purchase, price is often a big component of decisionmaking. Therefore, the tablet that offers the most features at the most affordable price may win out.

The right age to gift children mobile phones Gadgets often top the list of desired gifts for the holiday season. Adults and children alike fawn over the latest technology, and giving a loved one a new phone, portable video game console, tablet or e-reader for the holidays is sure to please. When gifting children with the latest tech gifts, parents typically ask themselves if a child is mature enough to handle the responsibility of having his or her own mobile phone. There is no clear-cut answer to this question, and it is up to the gift-giver to assess the maturity levels of the gift recipient as well as his or her behavior when considering giving the gift of a mobile phone. Today’s cellular phones are much different from the ones that flooded the market 10 to 20 years ago.

Although the concept of a mobile phone has been in place since the late 1940s, it wasn’t until 1983 that mobile phones became commercially available in North America. Phones once did little more than just dial a call, and even then service was spotty. Now phones are mini-computers, able to make and receive calls, take photos, access the Internet, download photos and text, provide GPS positioning, give directions, check e-mail, and so much more. Such cell phones can be invaluable, but their accessibility often makes parents and guardians think twice about gifting children with a mobile phone. Those who are carefully considering purchasing a phone as a holiday gift for a tween may want to consider the following. • Reliability: How well

does the child take care of his or her belongings? Are keys constantly being lost? Are you often replacing items that were just purchased? If so, the child may not be ready for a cell phone. Although many mobile phone companies offer promotional prices on phones this time of year, buying a phone can still be a considerable expense. Adding insurance to that phone will cost even more. Cell phones may only be for children who have a good track record of caring for and keeping important belongings. • Maturity level: Some children seem to be born wise beyond their years. Others are eternal Peter Pans. It is unwise to base a cell phone purchase simply on age alone. Parents typically have a grasp of their child’s maturity level, so it

should be easy to determine if they are mature enough to handle the responsibility of a cell phone. • Features: Mobile phones, particularly smartphones, offer a bevy of different features. From social networking to mapping physical locations, these phones can make children widely accessible from a communications standpoint. It can be quite easy for a child to take and share a photo with someone inappropriate, and vice-versa. Find out the reasons behind why your son or daughter wants the phone. Is it simply for texting, or is it to have emergency contact with home? Knowing the reasons why a child wants the phone may make the decision easier. • Safety: Cell phones make it easier for parents to monitor their children when they are away from home,

providing some peace of mind. • School rules: In many institutions, cell phone use is prohibited during school hours or phones may not even be allowed on school property. This is something to keep in mind before purchasing. • Accessibility: A child does not need a smartphone, so parents should buy a phone that doesn’t offer all of the bells and whistles. Not only will this cut down on the cost, it could help prevent irresponsible behavior as well. Many children want their own cell phone, in part because they see their parents and others on the phone. But it’s wise to consider the pros and cons of giving children cell phones before telling children they can have one.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 5

Proper etiquette for gift-giving The rules of etiquette have loosened a bit from centuries past. No longer are people held accountable for the slightest misstep, and sometimes the rule-breakers are revered. However, when it comes to holiday gifting, erring on the side of caution and following proper etiquette can make exchanging gifts go more smoothly. Being considerate when gifting helps make the holidays enjoyable and as stress-free as possible. Some may find it unfortunate that so much pressure is placed on giving gifts this time of year. When exchanging, heed these suggestions. • Gift-giving is about the recipient and not you as the giver. The idea is to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for the person on the receiving end of the gift. Think about the person’s interests and find a gift that pertains to these interests. It may not be the easiest to find a rare book or those collectible golf clubs, but putting forth the effort will mean more to the person getting the gift.

• Don’t up the ante. When exchanging gifts with a person, do not try to anticipate what he or she will spend and then go above that price. This may come off as petty and make the other person feel uncomfortable. Instead, choose a price that you can readily afford and find the nicest thing within that range. If a person with whom you hadn’t anticipated exchanging gifts gives you something, simply offer thanks and don’t feel uncomfortable that you do not have something to offer in return. • Gift receipts are very thoughtful. Including a gift receipt with your gift tells the recipient that you tried to find something that he or she will enjoy, but that you’re comfortable with them returning the gift if it’s not just right. Again, this conveys your feelings for the recipient. Do not, however, use gift receipts as a “get out of jail free” pass. That means, don’t simply grab anything off the rack, attach a gift receipt and attempt to pass it off as a meaningful gift. • Do not e-mail thank

you notes. If you are not able to thank a person in person for a gift, it is in better taste to send a hand-written note than to fire off a quick e-mail. While writing letters has become a lost art, a handwritten thank you note stands out and shows how much you appreciate the gift. • It’s unnecessary to give your boss a gift. Gifting your boss may come across like you are trying to win favor. It also may create a competition within the office. Stick to gifting colleagues, but leave the boss out of the holiday pool. • Gift cards do not break etiquette rules. Although gift cards may seem like the easy way out of gifting, they’ve become more acceptable and popular. If you want to personalize a gift card, try using a photo or special memory that correlates to the gift card. Otherwise, package the gift card with a few inexpensive items to create a gift basket. • When in doubt, stick with non-intimate gifts. Perfume, cologne, intimate apparel and similar items say that you know a

Find a gift that pertains to the interest of the recipient

person on a deeper level and are extremely personal. For friends and acquaintances, stick with safer gifts that do not give off intimate undertones. • Don’t regift. Whenever possible, graciously accept gifts and do not try to

pass them off as your own to other people. If caught, you will be more embarrassed than if you had not given a gift at all. Following a few guidelines on gift-giving etiquette can help to make the holidays even happier.

Keep kids engaged and occupied during holiday shopping trips Holiday shopping with kids can be fun. Kids enjoy giving gifts, and bringing them along on shopping excursions to offer their input can make the season that much more special for youngsters. But bringing the little ones along on a holiday shopping trip also can be tricky, as kids can easily grow tired or bored at the mall. The following are a few tips to ensure kids and adults enjoy their

holiday shopping trips together. • Bring backup. Kids might find shopping enjoyable at the outset, but visiting store after store can drain them of that enthusiasm. To quell the inevitable boredom, bring along some backup, such as a handheld video game or a tablet or e-reader on which kids can watch a favorite film or television show. • Choose your shopping

destination wisely. All malls and retailers are certainly not equal, especially when kids will be accompanying you for a day of shopping. Some malls offer attractions for kids, such as a merry-go-round or a live performance with a holiday theme. Such attractions provide some balance to a shopping trip, giving kids something to look forward to between store visits. • Don’t be a Scrooge. An

ice cream cone, some holiday cookies or a hot chocolate might not be the healthiest fare for youngsters, but such items can make a shopping excursion that much more enjoyable. When shopping with kids in tow, relax a youngster’s dietary restrictions so they can enjoy some holiday treats while shopping till they drop. • Give kids some spending money. Kids are

more likely to engage themselves in a holiday shopping trip if they have some spending money of their own. Offer children some money before leaving the house, and tell them the money is theirs to spend on gifts as they see fit. Kids might just enjoy looking for the perfect gift and hunting down a holiday bargain as much as Mom and Dad.

Page 4, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Gift baskets make an easy, affordable option The go-to gift of late is the gift card. Chance are, though, that recipients -although thrilled that they can do their own shopping -- may find gift cards a bit impersonal. Statistics indicate that around $100 million in gift cards are purchased every year : in the U.S. Despite being a popular gift item, roughly six to 10 percent of all gift cards go unused, according to the Tower Group. Some even come with inactivity fees. As an alternative to gift cards, gift baskets may be a welcome change. Gift baskets are relatively easy to put together and sometimes, especially around key holidays, can be purchased readymade. Grouping similarly

themed items together to fit a particular interest can fit the bill when shoppers can’t decide on a gift to buy. The advantage to gift baskets is that they can be assembled for just about any hobby, interest or occasion. They don’t even have to be in a traditional “basket.” Here’s a look of some easy gift groupings to fit a wide variety of events. • New baby: A collection of baby-themed items works when wishing new parents well. It can also be a good solution for when all of the biggerscale items on a baby registry have already been purchased and only the smaller, lower-priced things are left. Put together infant T-shirts,

wash cloths, outlet safety plugs, shampoo, diapers, and the other things new parents may not immediately think to buy. Wrap it all up in a portable baby bathtub for a container that has utility. • Housewarming: Kitchen essentials are good ideas for newlyweds or those who just bought a new home. Scour the kitchen tool aisles of department stores or specialty shops. These can be themed according to what is purchased as well. For example, fill a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, a box of paper muffin cups, cake mix, and mixing spoons for the person who loves to bake. • Travel: Getting ready to take a trip can be a bit

hectic, and a traveler may overlook some of the essentials that can make the vacation more pleasurable. Items like a travel alarm clock, miniature size toiletries, traveler’s checks, gum, a journal, travel guides, and a memory card for the person’s camera are good ideas. Pack all of these things inside of an expandable tote bag. • Kids activity bag: A simple gift that fits the needs of kids is a backpack or tote bag filled with boredom-busters. These can include portable manipulative toys, coloring books, crayons, colored pencils, puzzles, DVDs, a disposable camera, and any other toys that fit the interests of the recipient.

• Host/hostess gift: Saying thanks to a friend or family member who has invited you over for a dinner or overnight stay can be as simple as grouping a few things together. Put together a basket with a set of sheets, hand towels, pillow and other essentials that can be appreciated by future guests. • Food: One gift idea that goes quite well in a gift basket is food. Pick a theme and put the items together. Barbecue lovers can appreciate sauce, shish kabob skewers, spice rubs, a cookbook, hickory chips, grill tools, and other similar items. Gift baskets are personalized gifts that are easy to assemble and can be a viable alternative to gift cards.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 9

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Page 10, Johnson City Press

Friday, December 14, 2010

Safety should be a holiday tradition, too Celebrants and shoppers annually spend billions of dollars during the holiday season. With so much money exchanging hands, it is imperative for shoppers and revelers to use caution to avoid incidents that can put a damper on such a festive time of year. Though many people who look forward to the holiday season for all the right reasons, there are some who see this time of year as a prime opportunity to prey on the generosity or distraction Christmas brings. Thieves know that the holidays can be hectic, and they use this to their advantage, knowing full well people tend to store highpriced items in their homes during this time of the year. Heeding certain safety tips during the holidays can help keep you and your loved ones safe.

you venture out to shop, do so at different times so you’re not establishing a recognizable pattern that gives a thief a sense of security and a perfect window of time to break in. Triple-check your home Security experts warn that most burglaries occur during daytime hours when homes are empty. The main point of entry is on the ground floor via a rear or a side door. Access through a garage door is another common way thieves gain access to a home. Before leaving the house, make sure that all doors and windows are locked and that the garage door cannot be opened. Many times thieves are able to simply enter a home through an unlocked window. The key is to make it as difficult as possible for a burglar to get inside your home. Running out of the home for parties, shopping and other social events could derail safety precautions. If need be, leave a checklist by the front door to remind you to safeguard the home before exiting.

Stagger shopping times Being a creature of habit may not be advantageous come the holidays. Oftentimes, potential burglars monitor neighborhoods to see when residents come and go. It can take mere minutes for a thief to get into a Park in well-lit areas home and then abscond Cars are prime targets for with valuables. burglaries. Many times shoppers visit the car freCreating a situation quently during shopping where there is always excursions and store gifts someone home or at least in the trunk, only to return the appearance that for more shopping. someone is home might Thieves recognize there dissuade a thief from tar- may be a bounty of mergeting your home. When chandise inside.

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 3

Great gift ideas for seniors

First and foremost, all items in the car should be stored out of sight to deter interest in your vehicle. Secondly, make sure that the car is locked and that the security system (if there is one) is engaged, as merchandise in a car is not often covered by standard auto insurance policies. In addition, park as close as you can to the store entrance or beneath a bright light. Poor visibility encourages thieves. Watch your wallet Cash is a very attractive prospect for thieves because it is largely untraceable and easily spent. While shoppers who want to curb high credit card bills might favor cash, it is important not to carry too much around. Spread out purchases over a few days so that you do not have to carry large quantities of cash. When using an ATM at the mall or at the bank, always be aware of your surroundings, including fellow customers. It may be worth paying multiple service fees to withdraw small amounts of cash rather than withdrawing a large amount of money that thieves can target. Remove extraneous credit cards when shopping. Should your wallet be stolen or go missing, this will eliminate the number of accounts that thieves can use and also cuts down on the number of

Including seniors in a family cellular phone plan so they can easily keep up with their children and grandchildren is one way to put a smile on their faces this holiday season.

While shoppers who want to curb high credit card bills might favor cash, it is important not to carry too much around. accounts that need to be closed out. You should never carry your social security card in your wallet because this increases your risk of being victimized by identity theft. Request to sign for packages Many shipping carriers have eliminated the need for package recipients to

sign for merchandise. Recipients can now choose to have boxes and bags left outside the front door. To decrease the risk of theft, always choose to sign for packages, regardless of how safe your neighborhood may be.

Exchanging gifts has become synonymous with the holiday season. Family members exchange gifts with one another, men and women trade gifts and greeting cards with their coworkers and students participate in grab bag gift exchanges in the classroom. Giving gifts is such a big part of the holiday season that shoppers may run out of gift ideas before they have crossed everyone off their lists. For example, it might not be easy to find the perfect gift for the senior citizen on your holiday shopping list. Seniors might not be up-to-date on the latest gadgets or might

have downgraded from a home to a more manageable living arrangement, so knickknacks or decorative items for the home may not be too practical, either. The following are a few tips for gifting seniors this holiday season. * Warm things up. As men and women age, many develop medical conditions that require m e d i c a t i o n . Medications like blood thinners can make seniors feel the cold more than others, so a gift that can keep seniors warm through the winter can make a great gift. A thick wool sweater or a fleece blanket is both prac-

tical and thoughtful. * Open a senior’s eyes to e-readers. Many seniors find that maintaining a household is simply too much work once all the kids have grown up and moved out. As a result, many move from private homes into apartment complexes geared to the senior set or even into assisted living facilities that make it easier to deal with the daily demands of life. When seniors make such a move, they sacrifice space for convenience. Personal libraries may no longer be possible or practical, but an e-reader such as Amazon’s Kindle or the Nook(R) from Barnes

and Noble allows seniors to store their favorite books in one small and convenient place. * Give the lap of luxury. Many seniors are on fixed incomes, which greatly limit how much disposable income they have to treat themselves to something nice. But seniors still love a trip to the spa or a round of golf just as much as their younger counterparts. Savvy shoppers know that deals can be had on such luxuries, and it just takes a little patience and research. Sign up for a service like GrouponTM to gain access to exclusive discount offers to a variety of luxury offerings, including spa treatments, cruise vacations and rounds of golf. Signing up is free and easy, and you might just find a deal that makes a senior’s holiday season. * Go healthy. Many men and women embrace a healthier lifestyle as they age. Seniors who might have been too busy raising a family to focus on their own health are typically encouraged by their physicians to exercise and embrace healthier eating habits. Giftgivers can help seniors on their quests to become healthier by

buying them a membership to a local fitness club, many of which provide classes designed specifically for seniors. Fitness clubs typically offer discounted memberships to seniors, who might even be eligible for rebates from their health insurance providers if they meet established attendance requirements. Seniors who suffer from arthritis might benefit from a membership at a nearby yoga center. * Give the gift of communication. Sometimes the best gift is the simplest gift. Seniors love to speak with their children and grandchildren, so why not give the gift of communication? If you haven’t already, alter your cellular phone plan to a family plan that gives seniors unlimited minutes when calling family members so they can speak to their grandkids as often as possible. You can even go the extra mile and upgrade a senior’s computer so he or she has access to instant messaging and videoconferencing services such SkypeTM, allowing seniors to see just how fast their grandchildren are growing even if those youngsters are on the other side of the country.

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Friday, December 14, 2010

Shopping locally benefits merchants and consumers alike. member. • Buying locally helps the environment. Buying within your community reduces the amount of fuel you’re likely to use for a weekend shopping trip while also reducing pollution. In addition, many local store owners use local materials and ingredients, reducing the amount of fuel consumed to get products into the store. • Buying locally creates a more closely knit community. Juggling a career and a family can make it hard for men and women to get to know their neighbors and other members of their community. Buying locally is an opportunity to strengthen that bond with your neighbors, creating a close knit community in which residents may feel safer and more comfortable.

Buying locally is a great way for consumers to find the products and services they’re looking for and help their local economy along the way. The small businesses in your community may be owned by your next door neighbor, who relies on his or her fellow towns-

people to keep the business going strong. Buying locally is not only beneficial for local business owners, but buying locally benefits consumers and members of the community in a number of ways.

jobs. The number of unemployed men and women has gradually declined in recent years, but those figures are still high in many communities. Buying locally creates jobs in your community, potentially creating a job for you or a • Buying locally creates friend or family

• Buying locally is more convenient. Convenience is paramount to many consumers, and buying locally saves both time and money. Driving to a faraway mall or shopping center or paying costly online shipping fees is not nearly as quick or convenient as shopping within your community, where you can purchase and take home items on the same day without using a full tank of gas or paying for shipping.

• Buying locally benefits your local economy. In 2004, the consultancy Civic Economics was commissioned by Chicago’s Andersonville Chamber of Commerce to examine the economic impact of 10 local businesses against that of chain businesses. The study found that of every $100 spent at local businesses, $68 remained in the local economy, while only $43 of every $100 spent at chain stores remained in the local economy. That’s a significant boost to your local economy, and all it requires is shopping at local retailers. • Buying locally can increase your property value. Homeowners might be able to increase the value of their homes by buying locally. A joint study from Independent We Stand and Civic Economics found that cities with a strong centralized small business district had a 54 percent greater increase in property values than communities that did not have such a district. A more thriving local community, including a thriving shopping district, is no doubt attractive to prospective home buyers. The reasons for shopping locally are many. In addition to helping local business owners, consumers who shop locally

Friday, December 14, 2010

Johnson City Press, Page 11

Has gift wrapping become a lost art? Have we become a society that is too busy for gift wrap? When a birthday arrives or the holidays come around in full force, where do most people turn? To the ultraconvenient gift bag, that’s where. Gift bags have largely taken over the party aisles at most stores, where rows and rows of gift bags in all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. If you’re trying to find a roll of wrapping paper, good luck. For birthdays, anniversaries and even baby showers, paper designs have essentially become obsolete. It’s true that wrapping paper seems to make a rebound come the holiday season, when stores begin to devote aisles of space to holiday supplies. But even when shiny foils and smiling Santas beckon customers from the tightly packed rolls, many people still choose gift bags. Gift bags do have many advantages. They are easily portable, generally inexpensive and come in some very clever designs. They’re also touted as a “green” product because they can be reused. But there are plenty of people who feel that the

elimination of intricately wrapped presents takes some of the magic out of the holidays. Carefully wrapped gifts show that a person put in time and effort to present a gift in a way that is sentimental and personal. Although it may take mere minutes to pry away the paper and find a treasure inside, there’s something to be said for paper-wrapped gifts. It means the gift-giver sat down, pondered the paper design and carefully chose the bow or ribbon with the recipient in mind. Before you choose wrapping paper for a gift bag this holiday season, think about all of the advantages to spending some time and reacquainting yourself with the art of gift wrapping. Here are some reasons to save the gift bag for another time. • Wrapping can be green, too. Wrapping paper can be reused if it is carefully removed from a gift. You also can create your own wrapping paper by decorating brown postal paper with a rubber stamp or having children color their own special murals. Don’t overlook newsprint as wrapping as well.

Many people have turned their backs on wrapped gifts in favor of gift bags. However, there’s something to be said for intricately wrapped presents under the tree.

• Paper is more costeffective. You are bound to get more bang for your wrapping buck by choosing wrapping paper. Although there are scores of discount stores that sell lowpriced gift bags, often the quality isn’t the same, and the handles could tear after one or two uses. Wrapping paper per inch is definitely more affordable than gift bags, particularly when purchased on sale. • Wrapping paper lets you be creative. Cover a box with a patchwork of different paper scraps, choose to stagger colors of paper with boxes towered one on top of another or tie on the

biggest bow you can find. • Paper is traditional. Look back to the classic stories of yuletide and you are bound to find images of Santa Claus pulling wrapped boxes out of his enormous gift sack. Also think about how department stores used to (and some still do) offer complimentary gift wrapping. • Wrapped gifts travel better. When carrying your bounty of gifts to friends and family, carefully wrapped boxes tend to stand up to travel better than gift bags. No one wants to receive a gift bag that has been wrinkled and crushed into some amorphous

shape. Plus, wilted tissue paper can be off-putting. • There’s something magical about wrapping paper. The anticipation, the drama, the build-up to peeling aside wrapping paper and revealing the gift has brought smiles to children’s (and adults’) faces for generations. It is hard to improve on something that has been successful for years and years. Although the public may be swept up in rushing from here to there, there are traditionalists who appreciate sitting down and spending time creating holiday magic by way of beautifully wrapped gifts.

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Friday, December 14, 2010

Holiday giving for special needs children Everyone wants to get the perfect gifts for people on their holiday shopping lists. Shopping for a child with special needs can make giftgiving a bit more difficult. After all, buyers want to ensure the gift is practical as well as thoughtful. However, there are many great gift ideas for special needs children. Buying gifts for kids with a disability or other special needs make take a little more time, but shoppers who consider a child’s developmental readiness as well as personal interests can still find the perfect gift.

• Consult with parents and caregivers. Parents often know best when it comes to their own children and will make the most reliable source as to which gifts to buy for special needs children. Parents may have a list of items a therapist or teacher has suggested, and these learning tools could make good gifts, particularly if parents’ own budgets are stretched. If you’d like to make the gift a surprise for everyone involved, go directly to a therapist or teacher and ask for suggestions. There may be classroom aides that can be bought to con-

tinue the learning experience at home. • Assess developmental level. When it comes to special needs children, age does not always dictate the proper developmental level. A pre-teen with special needs may not be on the same level academically and socially as his or her peers, while some special needs children may be more developed in a particular area than other special needs kids their age. Assess a child’s developmental level to help you select toys that he or she can play with. For example, a nonverbal child with

SOMETHING COLORFUL? SOMETHING SPARKLY? DAZZLING IN Make a statement

DRESSES

A TINKET? A GADGET?

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2011 North Roan Street • Johnson City, TN • 37601 423-282-5312 • www.mallatjohnsoncity.com

autism who likes marine life may benefit from a colorful picture book where he or she can point to the animals.

ably like a Lego(R) or Mega Bloks(R) set that can be transformed into cars, trucks or even space stations. Most children benefit from art sets where they can explore their creativity and also master greater dexterity and imaginative thinking.

• Think about interests. Most children gravitate to certain types of toys and have specific interests when it comes to play. A music lover may enjoy a learner’s guitar • Consider making a or keyboard. Those who financial donation. like to build would prob-


Johnson City Holiday Gift Guide