December 8, 2011
Holiday Gift Ideas For Local Shoppers Cheshire Businesses Dish On What They Expect This Holiday Season By John Rook and Josh Morgan Herald Staff
Are you ready?
Is your list fully flushed out? Do you know exactly what to get each person this holiday, no matter if they’ve been naughty or nice? Chances are, you’re still searching for that perfect gift
for that special someone. Whether it be for mom, dad, baby Jane, or Uncle Fred, there’s probably at least one or two people that are never easy for which to shop. Well, if you’re staying local, there are plenty of places to frequent that will offer great opportunities to pick up that perfect gift, and The Cheshire Herald asked a few local vendors exactly what they expected for this holiday season, and what they believe will be the “hot items” for interested shoppers. Mary Taylor, owner of Holly’s Hallmark at 191 Highland Ave., said there are a few “hot items” this holiday season that she expects will be selling throughout the store. Merchandise, such as the Willow Tree brand of figurines, and Lolita brand glasses remain popular items. One of
the hottest items for this year, said Taylor, are interactive story books, such as “Elf On The Shelf,” which has been out of stock recently. The interactive book “Jingle” also comes with a husky dog toy as a story buddy. Taylor, who has owned the store for more than 30 years, said that, traditionally, after Thanksgiving and leading up to Christmas, business really increases, so she has to make sure there is enough in stock. “It always picks up,” Taylor said. “I carry a lot of (the items) all the time, but it takes off.” A completely different type of present this time of year, and one that is always popular, is liquor. Bob Brown, owner of Cheshire Package Store at 151 HighSee ELECTRONICS, page 18
the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
Learn How To Create New Traditions For Your Family Much of what makes the holiday season so special are the traditions that people hold dear. While families have traditions that stretch back decades, there is plenty of opportunity to embrace new means of celebration to breathe new life into christmas, chanukah, or the season’s other holidays. chances are you’re already hanging stockings or going caroling this year. You can add some of these and modify as they fit for your family. 1. Feed the wildlife. during the cold days of winter, birds and small animals that don’t hibernate may find it difficult to forage for food. By trimming an outdoor pine tree in edible snacks you’ll have a beautiful tree and one that benefits the wildlife as well. string peanuts and other nuts for the squirrels. Make little ornaments out of suet and string for the birds. Berries and corn can be enjoyed by all. Be sure to choose a tree that is far enough away from the home, so you don’t have too many scavengers hunting and pecking around the house. 2. create a photo advent calendar. Make your own advent calendar that has small doors that open up to photos of different family members. Or use a col-
p o h S
lection of children’s pictures that showcase how they’ve changed as they’ve grown older. 3. “adopt” a child for holiday gifts. each year you can bring a smile to a child in need by purchasing a present for an underprivileged kid. some post offices sponsor “letters from santa” events where participants can respond to one of the thousands of letters mailed to the North Pole. Or work with a local charity that organizes events to bring gifts to children in hospitals or in foster care. 4. holiday story countdown. every night in december watch a movie or read a story that tells an uplifting holiday tale. Use this as a method of counting down until christmas. On the night prior, reading “’twas the Night Before christmas” should suffice. 5. remember someone who has passed on. the holiday season is one made beautiful by lit candles and twinkling lights. remember a loved one or a friend who has passed away by lighting a remembrance candle in his or her honor. it’s a way this person can still be part of the festivities. 6. have a holiday sing-a-long. sure it may be tradition to go around the neighborhood singing carols, but it’s just as fun indoors.
have a singing party where guests are given lyrics to popular tunes they can sing around the piano or karaoke machine. 7. Bring some joy to a public servant. Police officers, firefighters, military personnel; many of these workers do not get off for the holidays. there are a certain number of public servants who must remain on call in the event of an emergency. treat these people to something enjoyable when they may be missing their own festivities. cook or cater a meal for a fire house, deliver cookies to the police station or put together care packages for people living on a military base. 8. Banish the holiday blues. When the holidays are set to go for another year, many people find they become a little down. after all, a home that was once filled with merry trinkets may now go back to the bare essentials. create a tradition where everyone in the family receives one more gift -- a personalized ornament that can be packed away for use next year -- that’s given in January before the decorations are packed away. it’s another opportunity to open a present, and it symbolizes looking forward to the joy of next year.
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‘Tis The Time For Holiday Shopping Photos by tracey harrington
The St. Bridget Guild held its Shopper’s Delite in November, where customers had a chance to come and get some quality holiday items (left) from an assortment of local vendors and crafters, which included the likes of Emily Henley and her grandmother Rosalie Fountain (right), who came to the event to show off, and sell, some of their handcrafted candles, all designed out of homemade beeswax.
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the cheshire herald, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Want To Host The Best Holiday Party? Follow These Tips
The holidays are the most festive time of the year, and no holiday season is complete without a party or two with family and friends. Be it to celebrate a religious holiday or to ring in the New Year, a holiday party is an essential element to the holiday season. While it’s always great to be a guest, hosting a holiday party is a great way to show friends and family how much they mean to you. This holiday season, consider the following tips to ensure your holiday party is as memorable as the season is merry. * Make it a themed party. The holiday season is filled with festivities, from office parties to neighborhood gatherings to gatherings with family. For more casual affairs, set your party apart with a theme. For example, a Christmas sweater party, where
each guest wears a Christmas sweater, can be a fun way to excite guests and inspire a few laughs. Give a prize to the guest with the most ornate sweater. If sweaters aren’t your thing, then encourage guests to dress up like some favorite holiday characters, including Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman, or even Rudolph. * Don’t forget the holiday fare. Just like parties are a staple of the holiday season, so, too, are certain foods and types of music. Few people indulge in some eggnog outside of the holiday season, so make sure there’s plenty of eggnog on hand. And don’t forget the gingerbread cookies, either. As people enjoy holiday goodies, make sure they do so with holiday music playing in the background. Choose songs that guests know and to which they can sing along. Such sing-alongs might
become especially memorable once guests have a glass or two of eggnog in them. * Host a holiday giveaway. Though it can be fun to do a Secret Santa, chances are guests already have enough gifts to buy. But hosts can spice things up with a holiday giveaway that rewards guests. Host a holiday-themed round of Trivial Pursuit or a holiday movie trivia game that encourages guests to compete for prizes. Prizes can be small and inexpensive, but guests will be sure to enjoy some friendly competition for holiday-themed prizes. * Don’t be afraid to take it outside. For those who live in regions with significant snowfall, consider inviting guests outside to have some fun in the snow. While fun in the snow is often left to the kids, don’t assume adults won’t enjoy building some
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snowmen or a good old fashioned snowball fight in the backyard. If outdoor fun is going to be on the docket, be sure to remind guests to dress appropriately. And make sure there’s plenty of hot chocolate ready once everyone goes back inside to warm up. * Prearrange transportation home for guests. A successful hol-
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iday party is one that is safe, so be sure to prearrange travel home for guests just in case anyone overindulges in holiday cheer. When sending out invitations, seek volunteers to be designated drivers, and avoid drinking alcohol yourself. For larger parties, call a taxi service and arrange for a couple of cabs to be on call.
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Traveling Doesn’t Have To Be A Challenge This Year
Traveling during the holiday season is a mixed blessing. school vacations and time off from work provide great opportunities to spend a “White christmas” with faraway family and friends or sneak in an end-of-year getaway via “the Polar express.” at the same time, holiday travel can be both expensive and stressful. While it’s all but impossible to avoid the costs and crowds completely, with these time-honored travel strategies, travelers can prevent “the Nightmare Before christmas” and find yourself uttering “it’s a Wonderful life.” Book now, go later. the first rule of thumb for holiday travel is to make travel plans as far in advance as possible. By booking months ahead of your departure date, you can lock in lower airfares and seat assignments. For
christmas travel, make every effort to purchase tickets by early October. Go off-peak: Weekend travel, which often includes Fridays and Mondays, is almost always more expensive than travel during the week. if possible, schedule both departing and returning ﬂights for tuesday, Wednesday, and thursday. Timing is everything: typically, there is less demand for the first and last ﬂights of the day, which means less competition for seats
and the possibility of lower fares. if you can ﬂy on the big day itself, even better. While you may be able to snag great deals on thanksgiving or christmas day ﬂights, January 1st tends to be a more popular travel day. another option? Plan your trip for the week between christmas and New Year’s, when many travelers have already settled into their destinations. Be ﬂexible: if you know you want to get away, but aren’t sure where to go, let availability and price be your guide. and don’t
forget to check ﬂights to and from alternate airports. For example, you may be able to save on a ﬂight to san Francisco by ﬂying into san Jose. and when heading to the New York city area, ﬂights to laGuardia and JFK might be less expensive than those bound for Newark. Mix and match: Great deals can be had by using different carriers for incoming and outgoing ﬂights or by booking two one-way ﬂights rather than a round-trip. By checking a variety of sites — including both individual airlines and aggregator sites, which search several different travel sites simultaneously — you can rest assured that you got the best available prices and ﬂights. in addition, by booking ﬂights, hotels, and rental cars through the same travel site, be it a single site or
a travel aggregator, you may be able to score even better deals. Don’t dodge the details: these days, airlines are once again charging passengers for a variety of items that were once included in their posted airfares. Be sure to note whether a published airfare includes all taxes and fees and check each carrier’s baggage policy. and when reviewing airfares, make sure that you are comparing “apples to apples.” in other words, be certain that the two airfares both include or exclude taxes, fees and baggage charges, snacks, and things like upgrade fees for additional legroom. Do delay: sometimes waiting until the eleventh hour isn’t such a bad idea, especially when lastminute fares can save you money or open the door to a spur-of-themoment vacation.
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the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
Make Your Overnight Guests Feel Welcome And Comfy Thousands
of people travel far and wide to visit family and friends for the holidays. chances are many holiday hosts and hostesses will open their homes to overnight guests. although visions of cousin eddy from “National lampoon’s christmas Vacation” and his band of misfit family members come to mind, most holiday guests are more of a pleasure to have around. it might be mildly inconvenient to host guests for a day or two, but preparation can help alleviate such inconveniences. there are a number of ways to get ready for holiday guests.
Keep these tips in mind as you prepare your home: * set aside space. Not every household has a spare guest room available, but there are ways to make guests feel like they have their own private area. there’s the possibility of giving up your own room for the night or set up a space in an out-of-the-way den or a child’s bedroom for the time being. People who live in the house may be more comfortable bunking with one another than an outside guest. * Offer individual linens. a fresh set of sheets and towels contributes to a hotel’s comfort
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level. Welcome guests with a set of fresh sheets and soft towels. * stock extra toiletries. the holiday season is a busy time, and it’s easy for travelers to forget a thing or two. Keep an extra toothbrush and some spare mouthwash at the ready. travel-sized soaps and shampoos may be more convenient for guests and might help them feel more comfortable and
less burdensome staying in your home. * accommodate guests’ needs. some guests may be allergic to certain foods, while others may prefer to watch the late-night news before bed. Find out their preferences beforehand so you can do your best to make them feel comfortable. * have laundry services avail-
able. Give guests their own laundry bag so they can wash clothes if they’ll be staying for an extended period of time. Fresh clothes make anyone feel better. * invest in an air mattress. having extra places for guests to sleep often comes in handy. air mattresses are easy to inﬂate at a moment’s notice for an unexpected guest and can be quickly deﬂated and stored in a closet or under a bed. * Bend house rules. While certain rules may be set in stone, bed times or meal times may have to be changed to accommodate guests who aren’t used to the goings-on of the household. it can be fun or frustrating to have a guest stay over for the holidays. But being prepared can make the time go by much more smoothly.
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the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
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Make Sure Your Online Purchases Arrive Right On Time When faced with the prospect of long lines at the store and hours driving around finding a parking spot at the mall, many shoppers turn to the convenience of their personal computers or smartphones to shop online for holiday gifts. today the array of businesses that offer online retail opportunities create boundless options. it’s possible to find obscure gift
items that are very unique or even personalized items not readily available in stores. Online shopping enables shoppers to price-check almost immediately, comparing the costs of one retailer with another. according to eMarketer estimates, from 2010 to 2015, nearly 30 million consumers will join the ranks of online buyers. another advantage to shopping online is the ability to have items shipped directly to you or to the
recipient. however, this same advantage can also be a detriment if you do not understand shipping policies or lag times during the holiday season. Gifts may not arrive on time if you don’t plan accordingly. all shipping policies are different for online retailers and it pays shoppers to know their estimated shipping times. Oth-
erwise items ordered for christmas may arrive much later than desired. shoppers should also factor in that shipping companies are often overwhelmed during the holidays. although seasonal staff may be hired to help meet shipping demands, the fact remains that delivery dates cannot be set in stone. One way to secure a firm delivery date, though, is to pay
for it. Outlets that offer next-day delivery often charge a premium for overnight shipping, but it may be worth it if the gift must be somewhere by a specific date. something shoppers can also consider is the ship-to-store option that some retailers offer. if a brick-and-mortar store has an online shopping site, it may enSee ONLINE, page 19
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the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
Holiday Shoppers Aren’t Expecting To Buy As Much In 2011
Many people, including retailers, have high hopes for the 2011 holiday shopping season. as much of the country and world continues to gut it out through an economic recession, speculation reigns as to just how much consumers will spend this holiday season and whether such purchases will help businesses rebound after another tough year. * Forty-one percent of consumers are planning to spend less on holiday and christmas-related activities, which marks an increase
over the percentage of people who planned to scale back for the 2010 season. (alix Partners) * retail sales are expected to rise just three percent, which is less than the 4.1 percent gain of last year. (international council of shopping centers) * consumers will shop online more and use their mobile devices rather than stepping into malls and other brick-and-mortar stores. (shopper trak) * twelve percent of survey respondents said they will use so-
cial media to find and share good holiday deals. (steelhouse Marketing consultants) * internet sales are estimated to grow by 12 percent in 2011, despite the uncertainty of the economy. (emarketer) * shopping on smartphones and tablets is expected to be significant for this holiday season. (National retail Federation) * Purchasing a real christmas tree can be less expensive for consumers. the average dollars spent on a real tree is about $37, while
the average artificial tree costs roughly $60. (National christmas tree association) * Many people plan to shop the
day after christmas. roughly 20 percent did so in 2010. (international council of shopping centers)
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the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
Midnight Mass Remains A Sacred Tradition For Christmas
Christmas is one of the most celebrated dates on the christian calendar. commemorating the birth of the savior Jesus christ is only surpassed in importance by the celebration of easter, a time when christians remember christ’s sacrifice of life for his people.
christmas is often celebrated with much joy and fervor all around the world, with exchanges of gifts and special acts of charity all month long. One component of the christmas celebration that has long been tradition and holds special meaning to celebrants is the Midnight Mass. churches all around the world hold four different christmas celebrations, including three masses and a christmas vigil. the Midnight Mass is perhaps the most cherished. Mass, a christian liturgical rite that often involves the sacrament of the eucharist, may begin prior to midnight and include Biblical readings that focus on the story of christ’s birth depending on the church. at midnight on december 24, carols may be sung and the ringing of church bells to signify the birth of christ as december 25 arrives. in israel, a procession takes place from Jerusalem to Bethlehem on christmas eve. in the catholic Pope’s home of Vatican city, the Pope himself heads the Midnight Mass and people in large numbers pray for peace among mankind. Many theologians say that the Midnight Mass evolved from individuals making pilgrimages to israel and the actual birthplace of christ. Because the Bible states
p o h S
that Jesus was born at night and in a manger, to fully immerse oneself in the story and the liturgical significance of the moment, a Midnight Mass seems the best place to achieve these goals. the darkness and the gentle hush that nighttime provides helps set the scene and enhance the spiritual component of christmas. the Nativity of Jesus takes place in two Gospels of the Bible: the Gospel of luke and the Gospel of Matthew. the version of luke goes much more deeply into the story of Mary’s virgin conception through the time of christ’s birth in Bethlehem. here is christ’s birth according to the Gospel of luke: ‘in those days a decree went out from caesar augustus that the whole world should be enrolled. this was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of syria. so all went to be enrolled, each to his own town. and Joseph too went up from Galilee from the town of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of david that is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of david, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. While they were there, the time came for her to have her child, and she
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and lord. and this will be a sign for you; you will find an infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.’ later, the Gospel continues, “he was named Jesus, the name given him by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.” Midnight Mass has become an important component in the celebration of christmas for the religious faithful. While secular celebrations focus on the arrival of santa claus at the midnight hour, religious celebrations often involve filling churches at midnight to spread the word of christ’s arrival.
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gave birth to her firstborn son. she wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. Now there were shepherds in that region living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their ﬂock. the angel of the lord appeared to them and the glory of the lord shone around them, and they were struck with great fear. the angel said to them, ‘do not be afraid; for i proclaim to you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For today in the city of david a savior has been born for you who is Messiah
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the cheshire herald, deceMBer 8, 2011
Chanukah Much More Than Traditional Candles And Gifts
Chanukah is a Jewish holiday that occurs around the same time as christmas, making it one of the better-known holidays of Judaism. although chanukah is now much about ﬂickering candles and eight days of celebration, there are many lesser known traditions and facts about the holiday. to non-celebrants, chanukah is commonly considered the “Jew-
ish christmas.” however, the holiday actually predates christmas by several years and has a very different origin than what christians celebrate at christmas. also, even though chanukah is more talked about than other holidays, including rosh hashannah or Yom Kippur, it is considered by some religious scholars to be of less religious significance than other holy days. in fact, for most
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of its history, chanukah was a very minor holiday. however, from the late 1800s on, its popularity grew. eventually chanukah became one of the most celebrated Jewish holidays. the story of chanukah isn’t even mentioned in the torah. the events that led to the holiday occurred after the torah period in 164 Bce. here are some other lesserknown facts about chanukkah. * although many people refer to the chanukah candelabra as a “menorah,” a true menorah has seven branches to hold candles and is associated with the temple. the nine-branched candelabra that holds chanukah candles is known as a “hanukkiah.” * chanukah can be spelled in many different ways, including hanukah, hanukkah, chanukah and chanukkah. * chanukah is a communal holiday. it is best to light the hannukiah where others can see it and hear you recite blessings. * chanukah is based on the struggle led by the Maccabees, a Jewish tribe family, against the hellenistic overseers of the land of israel. hellenized Jews, including King antiochus epiphanes, had decreed that local religions, including Judaism, cease practice and that their traditions be outlawed on penalty of death. hellenistic rituals and sacrifices defiled the holy temple in Jerusalem, which eventually had to be cleaned and rebuilt. * Jewish tradition concerning chanukah isn’t cut and dry. as said, it’s not included in the torah, and much of the history of Maccabean events survived into modern times only through texts written in Greek. For the classic Jewish view of chanukah origins, individuals must turn to the talmud, a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history. What can be found is this: “On the 25th day of Kislev [begin] the eight days of hanukkah, on which lamentation for the dead and fasting are forbidden. For when the Greeks entered the temple, they defiled all the oils in it, and when the hasmonean dynasty prevailed over them and defeated them, they searched and found only one bottle of oil sealed by the high Priest. it contained only enough for one day’s lighting. Yet a miracle was brought about with it, and they lit [with that oil] for eight days. the following year they were established as a festival, with hallel (prayers of praise) and thanksgiving.” * it has been said that the Maccabean war was the first war of ideology. the Maccabees weren’t warriors by nature. they were pious men stirred to action by beliefs. * there are actually two miracles associated with chanukah. First is that a ﬂask of oil was found at all. the second is that the scant amount of oil found was See CHANUKAH, page 19
THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
No One Will Ever Forget These Hot Holiday Toy Sellers
ʻTwas the night before Christmas when all through the store; parents seek the hottest toy, while sales clerks shout, “No more!” Few holiday seasons have come and gone without a must-have toy causing pandemonium among shoppers. In the months leading up to Christmas, one toy always seems to grab kids’ attention and become a must-have item. These could be quirky digital-voiced animals or video game consoles. Naturally, children put these gifts on their letters to Santa or
wish lists. But, as the days wind down to Christmas, manufacturers often cannot meet the demand for the season’s most popular item. It’s then left to parents to ﬁnd the toys and gadgets by whatever means necessary. Certain toys throughout history have caused a frenzy that results in desperate parents scouring wiped-out toy stores or making black-market deals to land themselves a hot toy. Here is a list of them, courtesy of MSNBC. * Shirley Temple Doll (1934): Shirley Temple was the inspira-
tion behind the ﬁrst recorded toy to cause a shopping frenzy. The demand for the doll elevated after the actress’ breakout ﬁlm, “Bright Eyes,” was released three days before Christmas. * G.I. Joe (1964): Hasbro came up with the male action ﬁgure after watching Barbie dolls become such a popular toy for tots. The action
ﬁgures were an instant hit, garnering over $16 million in 1964 alone. * “Star Wars” Action Figures (1977): No one expected George Lucas’ franchise to become such a smash hit. The merchandising company associated with the project didn’t have time to make associated toys beyond a few board games and coloring books once “Star Wars” fever took hold. Therefore, “Early Bird Certiﬁcate” vouchers
were sold and the action ﬁgures were shipped out a few months later. These action ﬁgures can still thrill, with eBay auctions bringing in $1,200 and up for ﬁgures that once retailed for just a few dollars. * Cabbage Patch Kids (1983): What little girl in the mid-1980s didn’t want a chubby-faced Cabbage Patch Kid to adopt as her very own? The demand for this fad doll became so heated that adults fought over them and price gouging ensued. See ELMO, page 19
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It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas In Cheshire The Christmas season has arrived in Cheshire! The town’s annual Tree Lighting Ceremony took place on Sunday, Dec. 4. Over 100 residents turned out to ring in the holiday season, where the tree was lit on the green in front of First Congregational Church (left), right across from Town Hall. There was also food and beverages, such as hot cocoa, offered to those interested in warming up from the frosty weather (right) and, of course, carolers treated residents to a few favorite Christmas tunes before the tree was lit (below). Photos by Tracey Harrington
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THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Your Holiday Meal Doesn’t Have To Be A Budget Buster
With so many people looking for alternatives to costly holiday fare, newspapers, magazines and online cooking sites are overﬂowing with great ideas. But the key to hosting a successful seasonal meal is not simply ﬁnding interesting recipes and purchasing lower-cost foods, but in creating and organizing a menu that works from start to ﬁnish. The easiest way to do that? Make a plan and stick to it. Share the cooking and the cost. Rising food costs and tighter budgets have prompted many people
to host potluck holiday dinners. As the host, you might prepare the main dish and have your guests ﬁll in the rest of the menu. Either ask participants to contribute their signature salad, side dish or dessert, or plan a meal along a particular theme and give guests choices from among a list of menu items. Simplify. There is no rule stating that holiday dinners have to be fancy, so don’t be afraid to plan a menu that has fewer and less costly components. For example, serve a hearty and ﬂavor-
ful turkey stew or soup in place of a more expensive roasted turkey. Pair it with a simple salad and loaves of crusty bread, then ﬁnish up with homemade apple cobbler. Your guests will leave happy and well nourished, and you will have served up a ﬂavorful and frugal holiday feast. Cook and freeze. Another option is to build your menu around a few dishes that can be prepared ahead and frozen. Cooking ahead saves money by spreading out food expenditures and avoiding last-minute shopping, which of-
ten leads to spending more money. Go meatless. Vegetarian dishes can be far less expensive, especially when feeding a crowd. Consider replacing the turkey or roast with a pasta or risotto dish, roasted vegetable tart or veggie lasagna. Great sources of vegetarian recipes include vegkitchen. com, epicurious.com, vegetariantimes.com, and allrecipes.com. Go ethnic. While tradition tends to rule at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s menus are wide open. How about a Mexican
ﬁesta or an Italian feast? With a large pan of enchiladas or a big bowl of spaghetti and meatballs, it’s easy to feed a crowd and stay on budget. Stick to homemade. As a rule, anything you make at home will cost less -- and likely taste better -- than prepared foods from the grocery store or a restaurant. If you stick with simple recipes that don’t require an array of exotic ingredients, your homemade holiday meal will hit the spot and you won’t hit the ceiling when you add up the food bill.
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THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
How Much Is Too Much When Buying For Your Children? Despite the many messages
from all corners promoting a “more is better” philosophy when it comes to holiday gifts, the truth is far more complex -- especially for children. While most parents work hard to give their kids everything they need and much of what they want, it is often hard to draw the line, prompting many well intentioned moms and dads to ask, “How much is too much?” In general, the answer lies within each family. Parents should purchase what makes sense to them and what they believe their children will use and appreciate. However, in recent years, child psychologists and experts in child development have returned to these questions as economic conditions have forced many families to scale back, both throughout the
year and during the holiday season. Books such as “The Pampered Child Syndrome” by Maggie Mamen and “Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me” by Donna Corwin and
several others on the same topic offer similar conclusions: When children are given too much over the course of their childhoods, they can develop a serious case of entitlement, become unapprecia-
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tive of what they have and begin to equate love with “stuff.” And for younger children, receiving a huge pile of gifts in one sitting can be both overwhelming and overstimulating. If you have been wondering about these issues, here are some general guidelines for having a fun-ﬁlled holiday with just enough stuff. Make a gift plan Before setting out on your ﬁrst shopping expedition, devise a plan that makes sense for your family. If you have younger children, decide on the number of gifts for each. With older children, you might want to establish a dollar amount rather than a gift amount. Once you’ve made the plan, stick to it -- no matter what. Draw names Particularly in bigger families, gift-giving can become a ﬁnancial and emotional burden if everyone buys for everyone. Drawing names not only reduces those burdens, but often results in more meaningful gifts all around. Opt for a shared experience Consider pooling the money
you would have spent on individual gifts and putting it toward a special outing, vacation or shared item for your home. Long after the toys have broken and the electronics have stopped working, your children will cherish their memories of a holiday that focused on sharing time together. Communicate If Grandpa Mike or Aunt Emily has a reputation for heaping on the presents at Christmas or Chanukah, let them know ahead of time that one will do, then offer a suggestion that is sure to please your son or daughter. If they insist that they want to do more, consider asking them to make a donation in your child’s name to a charitable organization or to purchase a gift for a local child in need. Collaborate Sometimes one big gift makes a lot more sense. If your child would love a new bike or a trampoline or horseback riding lessons, consider asking extended family members to contribute to that item or to items that go with it, such as a helmet or other gear.
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THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
A Tight Budget Doesn’t Have To Mean Less Presents
As global economic woes continue, holiday spending remains difﬁcult to predict. In 2010, holiday spending rose more than ﬁve percent from the year before, according to MasterCard AdvisorsTM SpendingPulseTM. That increase surprised forecasters, many of whom predicted holiday spending would decline for the ﬁfth straight year. With the holiday season on the horizon once again, no one truly knows what consumer response will be. But many consumers ﬁgure to exercise some restraint this holiday season, sticking to a budget when buying gifts for family and friends. While budgets are good ways to limit spending, a holiday spend-
ing budget doesn’t mean shoppers can’t still put a smile on their loved ones’ faces. In fact, with a few tips, holiday shoppers can stick to their budgets and still enjoy a happy holiday season. * Get creative. Holiday gifts don’t have to be bought at the local mall or from an online retailer. Gift-givers with unique talents can create their own gifts and save some money along the way. For example, shoppers skilled at woodworking can create a personalized wood carving for a friend or family member. Good at knitting? Knit a scarf, mittens or even a blanket for a loved one who lives in a cold weather region. Such personalized gifts are often especially meaningful to their recipients, who appreciate the time and effort such keep-
sakes take to create. * Be patient. Nowadays, many families are so spread out geographically that they don’t always get together on Christmas Day. If that’s the case and you won’t be seeing your family until a few days after Christmas, take advantage of the special sales offered in the days after the actual holiday. Items are often heavily discounted, and if you can stay patient, your patience might just pay off with substantial savings. * Establish spending rules with family members before the shopping season begins. In an effort to reduce some of the ﬁnancial bur-
den of the holiday season, many families have begun to place spending limits on holiday shopping. This saves everyone money and ensures no one ﬁnds themselves with substantial debt come the new year. * Do a gift exchange with family and friends. Many larger families have also begun to do a gift exchange rather than asking members of the family to buy gifts for each and every member of the family. In a gift exchange, each member of the family draws a name out of a hat and then only buys a gift for that speciﬁc person. This even has the added ben-
eﬁt of allowing shoppers to buy something a little more expensive for a family member since they aren’t obligated to buy gifts for anyone else. * Start early. The earlier you begin your holiday shopping, the more you can spread out your spending. This reduces the ﬁnancial stress of the season while still allowing shoppers to get something special for everyone on their shopping list. Holiday spending may or may not increase this holiday season. But savvy shoppers can still make the most of their spending without breaking the bank.
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THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Ensure That Your Pet Stays Safe From Holiday Dangers
While people are ho-hoho-ing and hustling and bustling, pets may not be as enamored with the holiday season as their human counterparts. That’s because, amid the blur of activities that ﬁll the season, there are potential sources of stress and dangers to pets. What can be so dangerous about holiday festivities and decorations? A lot, according to veterinarians and pet advocacy experts. The ASPCA, among other groups, warns of the toxic items and unhealthy treats that abound this time of year. Approximately 1,300 people
are treated each year in emergency rooms for injuries related to holiday lights. Another 6,200 are treated for injuries related to holiday decorations and Christmas trees. These injuries are occurring to people who know better. Just think about the pets that do not understand the dangers around them. Pet parents have to be responsible for their animals’ safety, too. Know What’s Toxic Everything from snow globes to tinsel can wreak havoc on pets’ delicate intestinal systems. Many holiday plants, like holly and poinsettia, contain oils that can be Call for Hours CLOSED SUN & MON
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fatal to pets if consumed. Snow globes often contain antifreeze, which is well known as toxic to pets. Snow sprays and snow ﬂock contain chemicals that can be irritants if inhaled or consumed. Tinsel and pine needles can cause choking and intestinal obstruction if consumed by smaller animals, like cats and rodents. Decorating Dangers Decorative glassware, trinkets and other breakables can prove hazardous to animals. Inquisitive dogs and cats may break glass ornaments and be cut by shards of glass. It’s easy for lit candles to be knocked over and even Christmas trees to be pulled down by boisterous pets. Water kept in Christmas tree stands and other decor may
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harbor harmful microorganisms or chemicals that become dangerous if lapped up. Cords and lights may look like chew toys to rodents, dogs and cats, who can become electrocuted or strangled while investigating. Goodie Gluttony Many pets have stolen a piece of people food from here or there or have been offered some table scraps. There are some items that can be dangerous during the holidays and year round. Beware of feeding pets fatty meats, gravies, poultry skin, poultry bones, chocolate, and alcohol. These items can cause illnesses from vomiting and diarrhea to highly serious pancreatitis and other toxic reactions. Remove trash from the house regularly while entertaining to ensure pets don’t get inside of garbage cans
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and trash bags to steal scraps. When eating, keep pets out of the dining area and maintain a close eye on scavengers who might leap for dishes at the edges of tables. Gifts, like food baskets and boxes of chocolates, should be kept out of reach of pets. Buy pet-safe treats this time of year to reward animals so they will not be inclined to steal snacks. Holiday Stress Having a houseful of people can be stressful on pets that are not used to the company. Talk with a veterinarian to see if a mild sedative or anti-anxiety medication might be helpful. Otherwise, keep pets contained in a quiet room away from guests if they are prone to skittishness. Try to keep feeding and watering schedules consistent so the pets will have the comfort of their routines. Be sure to spend time with the animals so they are not feeling neglected while you’re running here and there. The holidays can be a wonderful time of year to share with your pets, but safety should never be too far out of mind when preparing for the season.
Yule Log Has Rich History
The burning of a yule log has been a Christmas tradition in many European countries for centuries. It is believed to have originated at pagan winter solstice festivals or yule festivals among Germanic people. Eventually it turned into a Christmas tradition -- one where a piece of wood is burned in the hearth, oftentimes overnight until Christmas arrives. Even now, people who have ﬁreplaces in their homes often participate in the yule log tradition. But for the many others who don’t have a ﬁreplace, an enterprising television executive devised a solution back in 1966. Fred M. Thrower, President and CEO of WPIX, Inc., a local television station in New York, was inspired by a commercial showing Santa Claus in front of a roaring ﬁre. He came up with the concept of airing a continuous loop of a yule log burning so that viewers without ﬁreplaces could enjoy the magic of the yule log with seasonal music playing in accompaniment to the mesmerizing ﬂames. The original piece of ﬁlm was a loop of only 17 seconds of ﬁlm and individuals could tell it was artiﬁcial by its jerky appearance. Eventually the yule log was reﬁlmed. Annual airing of the yule log took place up until the 1990s. But fans of the holiday staple protested and, after 11 years of being off the air, the yule log returned in 2001, a few months after the 9/11 attacks. Television executives cited that people wanted “comfort food television” and restored the yule log.
THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Make Sure To Be Careful When Stringing Up The Lights Perhaps no holiday tradition is more visible than decorative lights. Whether on the house or on the tree in the front picture window, holiday lights help create a festive mood for all. While aesthetically appealing, holiday lighting displays can also be quite dangerous. Older lights or poorly planned lighting projects can quickly turn tragic. However, this much beloved holiday tradition does not have to cease and desist. Instead, some simple safety precautions are all it takes to ensure this year’s lighting display is both stunning and safe. - Make sure exterior lights are designed for outdoor use. Not all lights can handle the elements, so those old Christmas tree lights might not be able to enjoy a second life as part of a home’s exterior lighting decor.
- Plug lights directly into the electrical sockets rather than relying heavily on extension cords. Employ surge protector strips if there are not enough outlets available. Before plugging anything in, consult the fuse box to determine how much each circuit can safely handle. - Don’t used damaged lighting sets, including those with frayed strings, unstable connections, exposed wires, or broken or cracked sockets. - Make sure all external lights are securely attached. Wind can do signiﬁcant damage to bulbs, which can lead to additional safety risks. As a precaution, attach all lights ﬁrmly to walls or anything else that will not blow away when a stiff wind arrives. - Inside the home, be extra careful when using an artiﬁcial
Christmas tree. Electric lights should never be used on a metallic tree. - Routinely check all cords’ temperatures. If a cord feels too hot, unplug it and ﬁnd a replacement. - Don’t leave the lights on when no adults are home. If the home is empty or if just kids are home, make sure the lights are off. Avoid using timers that automatically turn the lights on, as it’s possible they will turn on when no one is home. Unplug all cords when going away for the holidays just to be safe. - Make sure all cords are visible. Don’t bury cords underneath rugs or ﬂoor mats to avoid personal injuries. - Hanging lights shouldn’t be a solo project. Whether hanging lights inside or outside, never do
so alone. A stiff wind might come along and blow the ladder away or an unstable ladder might lead to a fall. Accidents happen when hanging lights indoors as well, so make sure to have an adult partner on hand to avoid injury. - Make sure kids cannot reach lighting displays. Kids often adore holiday lighting displays and their natural curiosity is to reach for lights. Avoid potential accidents by keeping them well beyond the reach of children.
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THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Electronics Remain At The Top Of Most People’s Wish List
continued from page one land Ave., has seen holiday trends come and go and he recently stated that, in previous years, holiday gift packs that included vodka or other spirits were the popular item. Over the past 26 years he’s owned the store, however, that has changed. Recently, the “hot” liquor was Grey Goose Vodka, but even that has fallen off. Now, bottles of wine appear to be the gift of choice around Christmas. Brown explained that pre-packaged gifts are a thing of the past, as customers like to pick and choose their own items. The store is now offering gift bags and boxes for its customers.
“The industry has changed so much over the years,” Brown said. “You can’t just pick out one item that is going to be hot. People like personalized items now.” No matter the time of year, cellphones, especially the iPhone and Android varieties, sell very well, according to Connie Ciaburri, who owns Simply Wireless, located at 1081 S. Main St. The store, which sells Verizon Wireless products, has been busy year round, she said, but there has been a slight uptick this holiday season. “Phones were previously given as gifts; a speciality item,” she said. “Not so much anymore. Our
business stays steady because people are using these devices everyday. We see a little spike, but it’s not as noticeable as in the past.” This holiday season, Ciaburri said tablets are on many people’s wish lists. Also, the new Android phone, the RAZR, and other 4G smartphones are hot items in the store. On a national level, there seem to be a few select items that are getting everyone excited. Of course, not everyone’s tastes are the same when it comes to gifts, and there may be some people in your life who have about as much need for electronics as they do a
submarine with a moon roof, but all the signs seem to point to these gifts being on a lot of wish lists this year: *Xbox 360 Kinect — You don’t have to be a gamer to want this video game console. That’s because the Kinect, following in the footsteps of the Nintendo Wii, which dominated the Christmas season a few years back, brings the player right into the action. There are no old fashioned remote controls here, and no one stays sedentary for hours on end, sitting on a couch staring blankly at a screen as they pass from one level to another. The Kinect gets people up and moving. This inter-
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active game console turns the person into the controller. Let your movements do the talking as the avatar on the screen imitates your movements. *3D Television — It seems like just yesterday that high deﬁnition ﬂat screen televisions were all the rage for people looking to shop at the high end of their budget. Well, this year, 3D seems to be king when it comes to new TVs. If you want to see the high def images on the screen literally jump out at you, this may be the way to go. Word of warning, however: because they are relatively new on the market, 3D televisions are quiet steep when it comes to price, with the average one costing over $1,000. *Apple iPad 2 — There are plenty of tablets on the market now, and those who are committed to the Android operating system have items from which to choose, but the reigning king remains Apple’s iPad. This year, the second installment of the revolutionary tablet, the iPad 2, promises to be a hot seller. With thousands of apps available, and its ability to connect both the WiFi and 3G networks, the Apple iPad 2 has remained the most sought-after tablet on the market, and there will be a lot of anxious Apple fanatics looking for their new iPad under the tree this year. *Amazon Kindle — Just like tablets, there are a number of Ereaders on the market right now, but the one that seems to generate the most interest is the Kindle. Amazon’s Kindle Fire has garnered a lot of good reviews and top interest, with its ability to provide users with the opportunity to not only download books but also surf the Web. And, considering it is much less expensive than the tablets on the market, many buyers might be opting for the Kindle this year. *Keurig Individual Coffee Maker — If your loved one is a fan of that good ol’ cup of joe in the morning, then the Keurig might just be the perfect gift. No need to worry about making a whole pot of coffee or going through a mountain of ﬁlters each week. With the Keurig, one simply plugs in an individual coffee container and, in a few moments, a steaming cup is ready. In a world constantly on the lookout for an easier way to do things, Keurig certainly ﬁts the bill. Of course, there are the old mainstays that never go out of style, such as tickets to sporting events or concerts, clothing, and golf clubs. And, of course, a puppy or kitten under the tree makes for an iconic moment, but remember, if you’re thinking about adding a furry friend for the holidays, do your homework. Shelters are ﬁlled with dogs and cats that were given as a gift by those who didn’t realize the responsibility that comes with owning an animal. Know what you’re doing before getting that pet this year.
THE CHESHIRE HERALD, DECEMBER 8, 2011
Online Shopping Remains Convenient For Holiday Buyers continued from page 7 able shoppers to buy online and then have the merchandise delivered to the store. Some stores have same-day pick-up option for items that are in stock. Not only does this ensure that items will be available on time, in many cases you can save on shipping costs.
The retailers do not charge shipping fees if the items are delivered directly to the store. When visiting a favorite online retailer, check to see if this option is available. Wal-Mart is one company ramping up ship-to-store efforts. It is sometimes offered as an option during the check-out
portion of the sale. Stores that have the ship-to-store ability may also allow returns to be made at the store instead of having to ship back returns to a customer service department. Keep in mind that this type of shipping is not entirely customer-friendly. Retailers realize that once a shopper is in a
Elmo, Furby Were Hits In Mid-1990s continued from page 11 * Teddy Ruxpin (1985): If kids weren’t seeking a Cabbage Patch doll, they may have been hoping to ﬁnd a Teddy Ruxpin doll under their tree. Teddy Ruxpin was an animatronic bear who interacted with the child and told stories. It was based on the animated ﬁgures kids would see at theme parks or at their local play areas. Shortages around the holidays played into frenzied behavior. The doll was expensive for its day, coming in at around $68. * Tickle Me Elmo (1996): “Sesame Street” fans fell right into the hype offered by Tyco Toys and Children’s Television Workshop. Stampedes occurred in toy stores, people were injured and reports of extreme price gouging ensued, all in an effort for people to get
their hands on the giggling, red furball. * Furby (1998): This creature, reminiscent of the popular 1980s ﬁlm “Gremlins,” came out of the box speaking its own language and slowly learned English over time. The animated pet/friend became the must-have toy of the year, but production numbers were scant in comparison to demand.
* Nintendo Wii (2006): Video game aﬁcionados were wowed by the motion-sensing game controllers of this new system. This helped push the Wii to the top spot for video game consoles for that year and created a demand that led to limits on units purchased, diminished inventory, and even vouchers or wrist bands being offered by stores to get your hands on the Wii.
Chanukah Has Evolved Over Years
continued from page 10 enough to light the temple for eight days. * Chanukah is celebrated on the same day each year according to the Hebrew calendar. But because the Hebrew calendar doesn’t correspond to our modern calendar, the day seems to ﬂuctuate. * Gift-giving was not traditionally associated with Chanukah, but rather a few sweets or money were exchanged. Eventually it grew into a gift-giving holiday.
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store to pick up an item, he or she is more likely to do more shopping or make impulse purchases. There are some shoppers who simply refuse to pay more for expedited shipping, even if that refusal means their gift will not arrive on time. Gift recipients are often forgiving of items that are in transit. A way around this is to offer a printed image of the gift inside of a gift bag to indicate
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