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Azle News &

Springtown Epigraph The


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

2 Blended family makes for more Christmas 4 Maximize time spent on holiday shopping


Have some merry fun this season

12 13

How to go green when holiday shopping


Surprise Christmas gift was music to my ears


Frugal gift wrapping ideas

Are cash gifts tacky or ideal?

5 Dos and don’ts for holiday shopping 6 Holiday shopping on a budget 7 My best Christmas gift 8 Is your child ready for a tablet? 9 Gifts to rev auto lovers’ engines 10 In the spirit of giving

Did you know?


ccording to the American Bankers Association, many merchants view debit card purchases in the same light that they do purchases made with cash or personal checks. That’s an important distinction for holiday shoppers to consider before making purchases, as any items bought on their debit cards may only be worthy of store credit instead of a full refund should such items need to be returned.

Shoppers buying gifts for friends and family members should understand that, even if they remember to include gift receipts when wrapping gifts, those items may only be eligible for store credit if purchased with a debit card. When buying items with credit cards, consumers can withhold payment if they are not satisfied with the product. No such option exists when using debit cards. In addition to more restrictive return policies, shoppers who use

debit cards may incur debit transaction fees, This means they are charged each time they use their debit cards, or such fees may be triggered when users use their card too often. Debit card users can check the agreement signed when they opened their accounts to determine if they will be subjected to debit transaction fees. Holiday shoppers whose purchases are subject to such fees may want to avoid using their debit cards during the holiday season.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blended family makes for more Christmas by carla noah stutsman Christmas is my favorite time of year, so it’s ironic (to me, anyway) that my family seems to be somewhat lacking in Christmas traditions. Other than the decorating, which my hubby says I do to the extreme, we don’t really have any. Well, there is one. We watch the Channel 5 weather broadcast at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. They have cool graphics of Santa’s sleigh approaching the Metroplex that the kids – and now the grandkids – find believable enough to go straight to bed. I think Channel 5 should be grateful for this Christmas Eve viewing. I shut them off on March 6, 2008 when I learned they did not renew their contract with meteorologist Rebecca Miller. After 48 years of watching their news channel exclusively, I now tune them in for exactly 30 minutes each year, and that’s on Christmas Eve. I’m really sorry about that, Mr. Taft, but things went downhill once you were gone. Oh, yeah -- there’s also the Christmas Casserole. As soon as the grandkids nod off, but before finishing the wrapping, stocking stuffing and a gillion other last-minute mustdos, I head to the kitchen to put the casserole together. It’s something like a savory bread pudding using lots of eggs, milk and bread along with sausage, bacon and cheese. I let the bread soak up the egg mixture all night, and pop it into the oven first thing Christmas morning. I never really thought of it as a Christmas tradition until the first year I didn’t make it – I caught plenty of heck from the kids, who made it clear not having the Christmas Casserole (their name, not mine) was unacceptable. My husband brought a new tradition into my life when we married just before Christmas in 1999. His kids had traditionally opened their gifts from his parents – who still live in his hometown of Elkhart, Indiana – on Christmas Eve each year. My in-laws accumulated two additional granddaughters and two

great-granddaughters as a result of our marriage and they look forward to opening their gifts from Grandma and Grandpa Stutsman on Christmas Eve as much as do their step-siblings and cousins. Grandma and Grandpa are great sports about it, too – especially considering their advancing age and limited income. There’s always a gift for each of the kids and grandkids packed into a huge box and delivered to our doorstep by the UPS man weeks prior to Christmas. As I’m writing this, I’m beginning to understand that a Christmas tradition might not mean going caroling as a family, or sitting down to a huge meal together. Sometimes it’s more about the little things – often involving food – that make Christmas what it is. In our blended family, for example, my husband has left in the middle of the best day of the year to go to work every year but two – the year he was on active duty after 911, and the year during which he left his job as a police officer to work for another company. Four of our six children have in-laws now, so their holiday schedules have to be divided. That means there is never a time when the whole “fam damily” can sit down together for a meal or to open gifts. My two granddaughters are the children of divorced parents. The holiday schedule is determined by a court order that says they are with us before Christmas some years and after Christmas in alternating years. So we roll with it. Christmas at our house sometimes lasts two weeks, and I sometimes don’t finish my Christmas baking until New Year’s Day, depending upon who’s coming when. We just keep replenishing the dips, chips, cookie and candy trays – we’ve even cooked a second ham or turkey on occasion. It’s a lot of work, and I’m tired when it’s over. But it’s Christmas, the season that celebrates the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. I think that deserves more than just a day!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Maximize time spent on holiday shopping


he holiday season encompasses several weeks of frenetic activity, as men and women look to juggle abnormally busy social schedules with holiday shopping. While you might not be able to add hours to the day, there are certain measures anyone can take to make the hustle and bustle of the holiday season more efficient. Shopping swallows up a significant amount of time come the holiday season. According to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll, the average person will spend 15 hours shopping for presents. Women tend to spend twice as long as men in stores and online, with women logging 20 hours of holiday shopping compared to the 10 hours the average male spends shopping for holiday gifts. Making the most of holiday shopping trips can free

up moments and reduce overall stress during the holidays. Condense your gift list How much time you spend on holiday shopping depends largely on the number of people on your gift list. Shortening that list can save time and money. This may be the year for adults to collectively decide to forego exchanging gifts in lieu of devoting more funds toward gifts for youngsters. Distant friends may no longer need to feel obligated to buy presents for one another. Opting to do a “Secret Santa” or another grab-bag style gift exchange can reduce the number of gifts you need to buy, saving time along the way. Keep a spreadsheet of your shopping list stored on your computer or smartphone so it can be easily modified year-toyear.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dos and don’ts of

holiday shopping


hanks to sales featuring heavily discounted items, millions of people wait to start their holiday shopping until the season hits full swing. But in spite of such bargains, overextending budgets during the holiday season is too tempting for many shoppers to resist. However, shoppers need not risk financial peril if they shop smartly and heed some dos and don’ts of holiday shopping. • Do set a budget. Establish what you can afford to spend on gifts and other seasonal trimmings early on. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average consumer will spend around $700 come the holiday season. But not every person needs to be a big spender. The “buy now, pay later” mentality that credit cards offer lands many shoppers in trouble, a sticky situation many only notice once the first bill comes due. If you cannot afford to pay

your entire credit card balance off once the bill arrives, you face steep interest charges that can quickly add up. Instead, pick a set spending limit and keep to it no matter how tempting it may seem to overspend with a credit card. • Don’t be fooled by false sales. Retailers understand that a good advertised deal lures shoppers into their stores. As a result, some retailers mark up the cost of certain items in order to slash the prices for holiday sales. Even if you are saving the assumed 50 to 60 percent, the final cost of the item still may be higher than normal. Comparison shop and do your research so you don’t fall victim to clever pricing. • Do schedule time for shopping. Hectic schedules sometimes result in last-minute shopping that leads to impulse purchases. Schedule some distraction-free time for your

holiday shopping so you’re less likely to rush into purchases before thinking them through. • Don’t double buy. Some shoppers use the holidays as an excuse to buy more for themselves than the people on their lists. While it’s tempting to treat yourself come the holiday season, this is a great and quick way to deplete your budget. If you plan on using holiday deals to supplement your own wardrobe or household needs, reduce your spending the rest of the year and save money for year-end purchases. • Do collect coupons and look for purchasing incen-

tives. Comparison shopping not only helps you get the best price, but also it can shed light on coupons, shipping discounts and other incentives that lower the overall cost of products. Search online for Web sites that publish coupons and codes for online discounts, including free shipping. Join a store’s marketing list and receive emails with deals sent directly to your inbox. • Don’t be afraid to delay some purchases if need be. If hosting a post-holiday

gathering where gifts will be exchanged, it’s perfectly acceptable to delay buying those gifts until after Christmas or Chanukah, when many items can be found at even lower prices. Many stores reduce prices on merchandise come December 26, so you can wait until after the holidays to shop for items that will be exchanged with distant friends and relatives. This enables you to save more money and use any received gift cards toward shopping.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Holiday shopping

on a budget


he economic downturn that began in late 2008 forced many holiday shoppers to curb their spending on gifts for friends and family. But even though the economy has since recovered, savvy holiday shoppers are still taking a conservative approach to their shopping, and saving lots of money along the way. Shoppers often struggle with how much to spend on gifts for their loved ones come the holiday season. The quest for the perfect gift leads many to overspend, but there are ways holiday shoppers can give great gifts without breaking the bank. • Leave credit cards at home. Stretching a budget when holiday shopping can be tempting, especially when shoppers come across “can’t miss” gifts they know their loved ones will treasure. Succumbing to such temptation typically finds holiday shoppers using their credit cards to make purchases they otherwise cannot afford, and that only lands shoppers in post-holiday debt that can be difficult to pay off. Leaving credit cards at home when shopping for the holidays significantly reduces the likelihood that shoppers will overspend, and it guarantees they won’t be mired in debt come January. • Whittle down your shopping list. Many holiday shoppers find themselves in financial hot water come the end of the holiday season thanks in large part to seemingly endless holiday shopping lists. Lists may include coworkers, distant cousins, neighbors, and a host of other acquaintances. Whittling down holiday shopping lists can save shoppers money. Contact loose acquaintances and distant relatives to suggest you stop exchanging gifts come the holidays, saving both parties time

and money. • Make a list of gifts. Blindly shopping for holiday gifts can prove disastrous to your finances. Before heading out on a holiday shopping trip, make a list of gifts you intend to buy for each person on your list. This can help you focus your search and reduce the likelihood that you will make potentially costly impulse purchases as you wander around the mall for hours on end. • Avoid last-minute shopping. Last-minute shopping may unearth some great deals, but it’s far more likely to back shoppers into corners as they race against time to complete their holiday shopping. When shopping is put off until the last minute, shoppers don’t have time to comparison shop and find better deals, and that can quickly turn a holiday budget upside down. Begin your holiday shopping as early as possible, and take advantage of holiday sales. • Spread out your shopping. Holiday shoppers with especially long shopping lists can spread out their shopping over several months to reduce the likelihood that they will accumulate credit card debt or run out of cash during the holiday season. Begin shopping in late summer or early fall, periodically buying gifts for loved ones when you have the cash to do so. This has the added benefit of freeing up time during the often hectic holiday season, and it greatly reduces the risk of compiling post-holiday debt. Many people stretch their budgets during the holiday season. But savvy holiday shoppers can employ several strategies to keep themselves out of debt this holiday season.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My best

Christmas gift by mark k campbell The best gift I ever got was initially my worst. In December 1968, there was just one thing I wanted for Christmas – The Beatles, aka The White Album. Every list I submitted to anyone who would take one had that album at the top. A double-LP, the record was also jammed with cool stuff when its gatefold was opened – glossy photos of each Beatle and a huge poster that included the lyrics to all the songs! Plus, each solid white album was stamped with a unique number in the lower right hand corner that would make mine – only mine! As the holiday approached, no album-shaped present with my name on it appeared under the tree. One package was suspicious, but it had “Mike,” my little brother’s name on it. A tall, thin gift had a tag with “Mark” on it, and I could not imagine what it was; it matched nothing I had requested. Christmas Eve arrived and, still, no skinny, square present with my name on it was anywhere around. Since we were Christmas Day gift openers, I figured it was being brought by Santa. Rising around 4:30 a.m., Mike – a master at waking up early – and I dashed and pestered the parents to get up then sped to the tree. No White Album. And what was that weird, tall present with my name on it? I ripped the paper off. A BB gun. I could hardly imagine a worst gift. What in the world would I do with a BB gun? I never shot birds or cans or my little brother. I might’ve sighted in a jolly elf right then, however. Guns didn’t interest me – John Lennon did! Then Mike opened his thin, square package. It was The Beatles. You have got to be kidding me! Mike looked as unhappy with John, Paul, George, and Ringo as I did with a gun. Was this my parents idea of a joke, modern-day lumps of coal? Had I been that naughty? Before we could work some sort of trade – Mike would have the hammer, knowing how badly I wanted the White Album – Mom spoke up. “Oh, we forgot to switch the tags. The record’s yours and the gun is Mike’s,” she said. Suddenly a disastrous Christmas became the best ever! I plopped the first of the two records on the turntable inside our gigantic console – about the size of a VW Beetle – that was a TV in the middle, a record player on the left hand side, and a storage unit on the right. Then I heard a jet engine, the first sound that begins the initial track of The Beatles, “Back in the U.S.S.R.” That was my merriest Christmas...eventually.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Is your child ready for a tablet? T

ablets are poised to grow more popular in the years to come, and many children are anxious to get their very own tablet. But many parents wonder if their kids are ready for a tablet and if such devices would make good gifts for their youngsters this holiday season. According to a 2012 report from Pew Research, 22 percent of American adults now own some type of tablet, while In-Stat research estimates 65 percent of Americans, or more than 200 million people, will have a smartphone and/ or tablet by 2015. According to a Fall 2012 report by the Media Technology Monitor, an estimated 26 percent of the Canadian population has a tablet, more than twice the amount of tablet owners just a year earlier. As tablets become the device of choice, many different manufacturers have entered the tablet market, and children have begun to ask for tablets for holiday gifts, leaving parents wondering if their children are responsible enough to own a tablet that may cost several hundreds of dollars. Price-wary parents should realize that tablet prices vary greatly depending on the device. But a growing number of child-friendly tablets have entered the market, and such devices are designed to be more durable for children who have a tendency to drop and destroy things. Those on the fence about whether or not to purchase a tablet for a child can consider these options. • The Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 Kids is a tablet that comes with a selection of educational functions, games and ebooks. The device allows parents to decide which apps can be accessed on the device and restrict use to certain periods of time. The Galaxy Tab 3 Kids boasts a seven-inch screen and will run Android 4.1 or Jelly Bean. The front and rear facing cameras are considerably lower in quality than Samsung’s

previous products, down to 3-megapixels and 1.3-megapixels, respectively. • The VTech InnoTab tailors apps to children in a compact device. The screen is just five inches in size, and the tablet comes packed with interactive e-books, learning games and other creative tools. It also has a modest price tag for a child’s first foray into the world of tablets. • The LeapFrog Leappad Ultra is a kid’s learning tablet designed for children between the ages of four and nine. It comes with a seveninch screen, Wi-Fi with kidsafe Web access and the ability to connect to a library of more than 800 educator-approved apps, books and more. • The nabi is an Android tablet that is geared entirely toward kids. The nabi comes in several different incarnations (nabi Jr., nabi 2 and nabi XD) depending on the age of the child and the desired features. In July of 2013, Fushu, Inc., creator of the nabi tablet, was received the “Best Tablet 2013: For Kids” award from Laptop magazine for its nabi 2 device. • The Amazon Kindle Fire is quickly becoming a go-to option for parents interested in acclimating their children to a tablet. Less than half of the price of its biggest competitor, the Kindle Fire still allows kids to access a bevy of features. Music, movies and Amazon’s ever-growing trove of e-books are just some of the features that make the Kindle Fire a popular choice. • Though small, the iPad mini has all of the features of a larger iPad but in a more kid-friendly size. Many parents prefer the iPad mini for their children because they have Apple products and appreciate being able to share with their kids apps and information among all of the devices. Determining if a child is ready for a tablet is a difficult decision for parents, who must assess how well the child handles

responsibility, toys and electronics in the home. Adults may opt for a more durable, less expensive tablet as an introduction to tablets for children and then gravitate toward more “adult” options as their children prove they can be responsible with the device.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gifts to rev auto lovers’ engines

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uto lovers tend to consider their cars their most prized possessions. While it may not be possible to buy the auto lover on your holiday shopping list a new car, there are many gifts that are sure to please those people who can’t get enough time behind the wheel or in the garage. • Global positioning system: Often referred to as a GPS, a global positioning system is a satellite-based navigation system providing location information no matter where drivers find themselves on their next road trips. If a GPS is within range of a GPS satellite, drivers will never again find themselves pulling over on the sides of roadways in an effort to find out just where they are. Though many new vehicles come with GPS, vehicle manufacturers tend to offer them as accessories and not standard features. So if your favorite driver is driving an older vehicle or did not splurge on a GPS when purchasing his latest ride, this gift is sure to please. • Car wash kit: Auto lovers not only love to get behind the wheel, but they also love to get behind the wheel of a goodlooking automobile. A car wash kit, complete with a wash and wax that repels water and protects a good polish, is an ideal gift for auto enthusiasts who like their vehicles to look as good as they drive. • Customized floor mats: Many auto enthusiasts consider their cars an extension of them-

selves, and a customized accessory, like a new set of floor mats, can add a personal touch to drivers’ rides. If your loved one has a special nickname for his or her vehicle, consider inscribing that nickname on a set of customized floor mats. Auto enthusiasts who have an equal passion for a certain sport may appreciate floor mats with the logo of their favorite team. • Hands-free headset: Car lovers spend lots of time in their cars. Though such time might once have afforded auto enthusiasts an escape from the daily grind, nowadays the prevalence of smartphones has made it easier than ever for the outside world to find its way into vehicles. As a result, auto enthusiasts may appreciate a hands-free headset that allows them to take calls while driving without compromising their concentration on the road. Some hands-free devices even allow drivers to stream music from their smartphones directly to their car stereos, allowing drivers to hit the open road while enjoying their favorite tunes. • Auto show tickets: Many auto-lovers keep an open eye for their next vehicle purchase. Auto shows are often the best places to learn about new vehicles and what motorists can expect in the future, so why not give your favorite car guy or gal tickets to an upcoming auto show? He or she may find his or her next vehicle or simply enjoy walking around and seeing all the latest automotive industry upgrades and gadgets.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

In the Spirit of Giving I found the perfect natural paper and free handed a festive pattern of holly and swirls on it. Then, I cut off a sprig of holly from my mother’s holly tree (but don’t tell her) as the finishing touch and admired my work. It wasn’t fancy, or terribly expensive, but I had planned it all with my cousin in mind. I was happy with the way it had turned out. Christmas day arrived and after a morning full Mama’s yummy cinnamon rolls and wonderful gifts, we all gathered at my aunt’s house for Christmas dinner. Gifts continue to be exchanged as family members arrive. I couldn’t wait for my cousin to get there. Finally she arrived, new boyfriend in tow. We hugged and caught up on the drama (or lack thereof) in our lives. Then it was time for the gifts! I couldn’t wait, so I gave her mine first. She oohed and awed over the paper, laughed about the holly (don’t tell mom), and absolutely adored the lotion bar. I had been using my bar for the previous couple of weeks so

I gave her my review and a few tips on when was best to use it. Then she handed me my gift. It has always been so much fun to receive gifts from her. The paper is typically unexpected and fun and I’ve always felt that the gifts were chosen or made especially for me. Needless to say, I was a little underwhelmed by the paper, but maybe she didn’t have time to devote to the wrapping. No big deal. I pulled the paper off, gazed at my present, and tried to fight back the tears welling in my eyes. This is when I began to berate myself. Christmas is about giving, and I should be thankful for anything I receive. But then I saw my sister’ expressions and new they were taken aback too. The item in my hands was a framed picture of my cousin and her boyfriend. Not a professionally taken photograph, but one taken by her mother, printed at her home, and placed in an inexpensive, albeit cute, 4 by 6 inch frame. I love my cousin, and I still have the picture in the frame

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I love giving gifts. It makes me feel warm and bubbly when I find the perfect present for a family member or friend. On the other hand, I feel rotten when I don’t like a present I receive for Christmas. After all, it’s the thought that counts, right? But there are times when I have torn away the brightly colored paper to find an item that left a boulder in my stomach and a frog in my throat. I received one such present about 7 years ago. My cousin and I are both crafty, both competitive, and we both try to out do the other with the awesome presents we give. It’s friendly competition between us. I got to work. I had read about homemade lotion bars online and thought that would be great for her (and me too) because the dry, cold winter air in Kentucky wreaks havoc on hands. Besides, my cousin was all about “being green” and the lotion bars were all natural. It would be perfect for her. Well, I scoured dozens upon dozens of recipes and found just the right one. The light scent of the essential oils would add just the right amount of olfactory delight, while the mixture of oils and bee’s wax would leave her hands smooth and hydrated. I had to order the supplies, because nothing holistic or crafty can be found in the little town where I lived. After 5 to 7 work days, all of the ingredients arrived and I set about creating the lotion bars. For those who don’t know me, the mere fact that I enter the kitchen to cook is a reason to fear for my safety. Simply put, saying I’m accident prone is an understatement. But it was Christmas, by Jove, and I was going to make these lotion bars if it killed me...or perhaps blew up the house. Either way, I was making them! I’m happy to say that I survived the process virtually unscathed. I did blister my right index finger slightly, but I blame the double boiler for that. While the bars cooled and hardened I searched for the wrapping paper.

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sitting on my end table. Although she is no longer with the guy in the picture I keep it there. I’m not actually sure why I keep it. I guess it is a reminder about expectations, and family, and being truly thankful for what I receive. One thing is sure though, I learned a lesson that Christmas. I learned how to put on a believable smile when I didn’t feel like smiling. I also learned that it’s more gratifying if I invest myself in the act of giving than in the thrill of receiving. Merry Christmas!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Have some merry fun this season Looking for something to do this holiday season? Here are some cheery ideas. Azle’s annual Christmas Parade is a town tradition and this year it’s on Saturday, Dec. 7. Sponsored by the Azle Chamber of Commerce, the event begins with a 5 p.m. tree lighting at the Azle Historical Museum at 124 West Main Street. From there, a string of bands and floats merrily head west to 404 West Main. Along the way, parade watchers can see businesses illuminated. They vie for several awards, including Best Theme and Most Creative. Floats also are in the running for honors, including Best Texas Christmas and this year’s theme, “Christmas Around the World.” At 404 Main, Santa Claus awaits! Kids can have pictures taken with Saint Nick and Mrs. Claus will read stories to the tots. There’s face painting, cookie decorating, and ornament making areas – all while visitors enjoy hot chocolate, cookies, and entertainment from the Azle High School Drama Club. The highlight of the Azle Christmas celebration comes when 25 bicycles are given away!

In Springtown, the town again is awash in Bonus Bucks. A project that encourages residents to shop locally, Bonus Bucks can pay off big for some. Buckets arrived in Springtown businesses where customers drop their Bonus Bucks entry blanks. All those entries are collected Monday, Dec. 9. Then, at the end of Christmas on the Square Dec. 14 at 5 p.m. – the holiday gathering begins at 11 a.m. – big winners are chosen. Those lucky folks win either $300, $200, or one of five $100 awards to be spent by February 2014 at local merchants. You must be present at the Tabernacle stage to win. Another Springtown tradition involves the police department. Tickets for Toys began Nov. 18 and runs through Dec. 23. For minor infractions, instead of a citation, SPD officers will issue a “ticket” that encourages the violator to donate a new, unwrapped toy to a needy local child. Those donations can be dropped off any time at SPD or at The Dog House Pet Salon. So, it’s easy to get in the holiday spirit around here! Merry Christmas!


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

How to go green when holiday shopping


he color green is synonymous with the holiday season. But as holiday revelers deck their halls with green this season, they also can go green when shopping for loved ones.

Many shoppers are concerned by their carbon footprints. In an effort to embrace a more ecofriendly lifestyle, such shoppers may look for ways to continue their holiday traditions, but do so in a way that’s more considerate of the environment. Though the holiday season is often associated with excess, holiday shoppers can still find ecofriendly ways to put smiles on their loved ones’ faces this year. • Purchase energy efficient products. The holiday season is a great time of year to find deals on major appliances, which may be on sale to make room for next year’s models. When shopping for appliances this holiday season, shop-

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pers should look for energy efficient products that consume less energy without sacrificing performance. Since the institution of its ENERGY STAR® program in 1992, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has helped consumers invest in energy-efficient products that helped reduce air pollution and energy consumption. The program has since expanded into Canada as well. When purchasing appliances this holiday season, shoppers should look for ENERGY STAR qualified products, which can protect the environment and also save consumers money on utility bills. • Plan shopping trips in advance. The holiday season can be hectic, and as a result many holiday shoppers find themselves getting their holiday shopping done as time allows. But breaking up holiday shopping into several trips can increase fuel consumption and lead to more time spent in traffic, where vehicle emissions can contribute to air pollution. Instead of getting your shopping

done on several quick trips, plan a holiday shopping trip in advance, setting aside enough time to get as much shopping done as possible in a single trip. This can cut back on some of the stress of holiday shopping and benefit the environment at the same time. • Set up a holiday shopping carpool. Many people carpool to and from work, and such a system can be employed when holiday shopping as well. Plan a shopping trip to the mall with neighbors or friends to cut back on your fuel consumption and vehicle emissions. Sedan or coupe owners may want to limit their carpools to two people so there’s enough

room in the car for gifts on the way home, while minivan or SUV owners should still have ample room for multiple passengers and their presents. Remove unnecessary cargo from the trunk or other storage areas before beginning your trip.


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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Are cash gifts tacky or ideal?


hen faced with a gift list a mile long and no idea what to get certain individuals on that list, many holiday shoppers opt to give cash as a present. Cash gifts are easy, one-size-fits all and no one will request a receipt to return a cash gift. Still, some people are not quite sure if it is socially acceptable to give a gift of cash. There are many pros and cons to giving cash as a gift. Once a person weighs the advantages and the disadvantages to giving cold hard cash as a gift, then he or she can decide if cash is an ideal present or one that’s best avoided.

Advantages One of the advantages to giving cash is it eliminates waste. Unlike gifts that will never be used and simply take up space, cash will be used sooner or later. How often have you received a sweater you won’t wear or a trinket you won’t use? Sometimes people return these gifts, but very often they get relegated to a pile of belongings that will end up in the garbage or stashed in the back of a closet. Cash eliminates this waste by giving a person the opportunity to buy exactly what he or she wants. Cash gifts may be ideal for older people to give because they have limited mobility and cannot get out to the store to shop for presents. And grandparents unaware of the latest trends can give cash in a card and instruct grandchildren to purchase something they like. Some people overextend themselves during the holiday season, and a cash gift can soften the blow of holiday spending. Cash is very portable, which can make it easier for those who trav-

el for the holidays to avoid shipping costs or extra baggage fees to take gifts on airlines. People are inundated with a lot of stuff already, and a cash gift might be just what the doctor ordered.

ativity. It does not take much effort to stash a dollar amount inside of an envelope and present it, so gift recipients may question their relationships with gift givers who give cash. For many people, the excitement of the holidays has a lot to do with seeing a giant pile of Disadvantages gifts waiting to be unwrapped. Cash gifts may be considered Gifting cash removes that eximpersonal and lacking in cre- citement of presents under the


tree. Although items can be purchased later on, the immediate gratification of tearing through boxes and bags simply is not there. There are ways to make giving cash a little more acceptable. If you get creative when handing over the money, this may take away from the fact that cash does not make a very dramatic gift.

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013


Christmas gift was music to my ears BY SHIRLEY CASTOR When we moved from Colorado to Texas in 1960, I left my piano behind. It was an old player piano and not worth the expense of trying to move. I always hoped someday I could get another, but that wasn’t too likely any time soon. We lived in Dallas until October 1963, at which time we moved to the Colleyville area. The house we moved into had an old piano in it and I was so excited. But the owner of the house, who was also owner of the piano, came to move it out as we were moving in. I was so disappointed. We were pretty much strangers to this area, but we did know one family there. They were members of the First Methodist Church of Colleyville and invited us to visit church with them one Sunday morning in mid-December. As we entered the church building, people greeted us and made us feel very welcome. One older woman was very taken with our three young daughters (ages 3, 5 and 6 at the time). While visiting with her she casually asked if I played the piano. I told her I did play, but hadn’t touched one in three years. She took my hand and led me

to the front of the church toward the piano and announced to the pastor that we had a piano player after all. It seems their regular pianist, a college boy, was sick. I tried to tell them I didn’t think I was well enough prepared, but they wouldn’t hear it. Fortunately all the music planned involved Christmas carols, which I loved to play. So I sat down and played (maybe a little better than Edith Bunker). Thankfully, the enthusiastic singing of the congregation covered most of my missed notes. My parents came from Colorado a few days later to spend Christmas with us. About 6:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve someone knocked at the door. We all wondered. who that could be (well, most of us wondered anyway). My husband told me to go see who was there. When I opened the door, there stood a man in front of a delivery truck who said he was supposed to deliver a piano to this house. They unloaded the same piano which was moved out a few months earlier. It was an old fashioned upright model, but to me it was the most beautiful one ever. What a wonderful surprise! And what a thoughtful (and somewhat sneaky) husband!

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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Frugal gift

wrapping ideas


oliday shoppers spend billions of dollars each year on gifts for friends, family and coworkers. But holiday shoppers also spend substantial amounts of money dressing up those gifts with bows and wrapping paper. Shoppers may not want to spend much more on wrapping paper, bags and other ways to dress-up their gifts, and by employing a few tricks of the gift wrapping trade, they may not have to. The following are some frugal, yet flashy, ways to wrap presents this holiday season. • Children’s artwork: Over the course of a school year parents can accumulate dozens of original pieces of art from their children’s time in the classroom. Instead of relegating those pictures to a memory box or temporary glory on the refrigerator, turn them into unique gift wrap. Pair these pieces of art with colored ribbon, and everyone who gets a unique masterpiece will feel special. • Newspaper: Recycle newsprint and comics into wrapping paper. Encourage everyone to wrap in newspaper for a cohesive look come Christmas morning. • Cloth: Leftover cloth from Halloween or cloth purchased to create homemade curtains can be turned into giftwrap for awkward-shaped gifts. Use decorative

ribbon to seal the bundle shut. • Brown paper: Brown paper tied with twine or ribbon is inexpensive and can easily be recycled after use. Use a marker to put the names of gift recipients on each package to save on gift tags as well. • Glass jars: Use mason jars when wrapping smaller gifts, including gift cards, to give them an arts-and-crafts feel. • Fabric gift bags: If you’re handy with a needle and thread, sew sacks out of leftover fabric to make gift bags of various sizes. • Cookie tins: Find unique cookie tins from yard sales or leftover tins from holidays past and use them as gift boxes. • Recipes: If you will be giving a cookbook or food-themed gifts, print recipes that can be used as gift wrap and then later used to make certain dishes. • Baby linens: From blankets to wash cloths, use baby linens to wrap infant-themed gifts for new parents. • Baskets: Wicker baskets are available in various shapes and sizes. They can be used to make a gift collection and then reused over and over again. There are many creative and inexpensive ways to wrap gifts this year instead of relying on preprinted and often expensive wrapping paper.

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Savings for buying New, It’s our gift to you. There is no better reason to buy this season!

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Bring this Holiday Offer In which entitles you to 1 Incentive listed above! Prices, plans, features, options & co-broke are subject to change without notice. Additional restrictions apply. Square footages are approx. Up to $5k in closing costs, prepaids and/or upgrades for homebuyers that use LongTide Properties financing to finance and close on select inventory in select new home communities. Such incentives are subject to change without notice. Holiday offer applies to select inventory that can close on or before 12/31/13. This offer does not apply on Owner finance and REO properties. Holiday offer is valid only on new contracts and does not apply to transfers, cancellations or re-writes. Please contact a community sales representative for additional requirements for the design center upgrade offer. LongTide Homes reserves the right to substitute for equal or higher priced appliance models which may substantially affect final cost of home. Homes are subject to availability. Offer expires December 31st, 2013.



T:10” S:10”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

At Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Azle, we understand the importance of breast care and early detection. That’s why we offer comprehensive services, from digital mammograms to ultrasound-guided biopsies. We also realize you’re busy during the week so we invite you to visit on a Saturday for your mammography screening. We even offer an online Breast Cancer Risk Assessment to determine your risk factors. Because when it comes to breast care, there’s too much at stake not to stay abreast. Please schedule your digital mammogram today.

1-877-THR-WELL |

Doctors on the medical staff practice independently and are not employees or agents of the hospital. © 2013


Schedule a mammogram.



When it comes to breast care, we provide plenty of support.

Azlenewsgift guide 112013  

The Holiday Gift Guide special section published with the Azle News and Springtown Epigraph November 20-21, 2013 editions.

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