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A supplement to The

Eunice News

Christmas

Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

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2

Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Eunice News www.eunicetoday.com

Photo by Myra Miller

Photo by Myra Miller

Susan Christ of Eunice selects a yellow angel off of the Angel Tree at Sacred Heart Gifts Store. The Angel Tree gives customers an opportunity and privilege to purchase a gift or gifts for a resident at Oak Lane Wellness. There are three wishes on each angel written by a resident. The customer picks an angel, chooses a gift wish, purchases the gift, wraps the item and returns the wrapped gift to Sacred Heart. Blue angels represent male residents, pink and purple angels represent female residents, yellow angel wishes can be either female or male. The deadline to return the wrapped gift or gifts is Dec. 19 in order for OakLane residents to enjoy during their annual Christmas party.

Set a plan of attack for Black Friday shopping Black Friday is one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Every year thousands of shoppers flock to area malls and shopping centers in the wee hours of the morning attempting to get the best deals on their holiday gifts. Because shopping with the crowds and sales can be confusing, setting a “Black Friday” shopping strategy can add some organization to the chaos. Visions of Black Friday shopping may call to mind frenzied shoppers beating down the doors of area stores to get heavily reduced prices at the register. This day of bargain basement deals certainly will bring out scores of people, but there is a way to manage the mayhem. * Make a shopping list. Think ahead of time about what to look for. Knowing what will be bought can help shoppers determine which stores to visit. It helps to only choose one or more stores at which to shop instead of traveling all over and getting caught in traffic. * Preview ads a week in advance. Many stores will start advertising their Black Friday hours and some sneak peaks at sales a week or more in advance. There could also be some “spoiler” web sites that leak information about Black Friday sales. Shoppers can know what’s available and plan their shopping accordingly. Also, some stores have “rules” to follow, such as wristband dispersal or a numbering system, for shoppers to avoid crowds

Plan a smart attack for Black Friday shopping. rushing the doors. * Start saving early. While deals are to be realized on Black Friday, that doesn’t mean it’s wise to blow the entire budget on this day alone. Save months or weeks in advance to be prepared for shopping this day. Set a limit on what is to be spent -- heading home after the money is gone. * Get rest. Set an early schedule for Thanksgiving revelry so that it’s possible to head home early enough to rest. Those who plan to do Black Friday shopping should head to bed early enough, considering many sales begin at 4 a.m. * Eat a hearty breakfast. Shoppers should be sure to eat breakfast so they’ll have enough energy to survive the morning shopping. * Pack a lunch or snack. Chances are fast food res-

taurants and food courts will be mobbed on Black Friday. Avoid some of the crowds by packing food in a bag and bringing it along. It will save time and money. Why not make a sandwich of that leftover turkey? * Wear comfortable clothing. Crowded stores tend to be hot and chaotic. Dress in layers so that outer layers can be removed. Try to leave bulky coats at home because they can be a nuisance while shopping. Shoppers should also wear very comfortable shoes for long hours of walking. * Be sure to know stores’ return policies. Even the best-laid plans may result in one or two gifts that need to be returned. It pays to know what stores will take back discounted items bought during Black Friday.

Gift certificates to The Eunice News makes a great gift idea. Now available at front office.

Pam Cooper is one of the many Eunice Food Bank volunteers. She places some frozen products in one of the freezers. The Eunice Food Bank’s annual drive is set for Wednesday, Dec. 8.

Did you Know?

The gift of relaxation-

Though turkey on Thanksgiving might seem like the most American of traditions, chances are the United States at least indirectly owes one of their more beloved traditions to the country’s roots in England. While there’s no absolute way of knowing why the Pilgrims sat down to a turkey dinner way back when, one theory dates back to England’s Queen Elizabeth choosing roast goose for a harvest festival in the 1600s. Upon learning that the Spanish Armada had sunk, the Queen then ordered a second goose, and a new tradition was born. Roast goose then became the favorite bird during England’s harvest time. As the theory goes, upon arriving in what eventually became the United States, the Pilgrims looked to continue the “fowl” tradition in their new land. However, geese proved elusive in the Pilgrims’ new home, while wild turkeys were more abundant and much easier to find. So while the tradition of eating turkey on Thanksgiving might seem as American as apple pie, this theory suggests it’s actually deeply rooted in English history.

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*While the most widely known American version of Santa Claus is often credited to the 1823 Clement Clarke Moore poem “The Night Before Christmas,” Santa as we currently know him can be traced back even further, with origins dating as far back as the 4th century. An early Dutch depiction is based on legend of Sinter Klaas, which was brought by Dutch natives when they settled in New York in the 17th century. In “History of New York,” famed author Washington Irving, writing under the pseudonym Diedrick Knickerbocker, provided detailed information about the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. This Saint Nicholas would arrive on horseback every year on the Eve of St. Nicholas. The Christian-era Santa Claus owes much of its origins to Bishop Nicholas of Smyrna (now Turkey).

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The Eunice News www.eunicetoday.com

Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

3

Use credit wisely when shopping With the holiday season upon us, shoppers across the nation are gearing up for another season of swiping their credit cards. And if statistics are any indication, more people could be swiping those credit cards this season than ever before. According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of credit cardholders in the U.S. is growing. In 2000, there were 159 million credit cardholders in the U.S., a figure that had risen to 173 million by 2006 and was expected to grow to 181 million by the end of 2010. With so many cardholders across the country, it’s no wonder during the holiday season so many swipes are seen. While it can be tempting to put it all on plastic when holiday shopping, it can also be dangerous -- leading to nearly unmanageable debt that can result in serious consequences down the road. To manage credit wisely this holiday season, consider the following tips. * Avoid shopping sprees. Shopping sprees are especially common during the holiday season, when parents are tempted to go overboard and get their kids more gifts than they can afford. While most parents can relate to that, going overboard won’t do

the family or the kids any good come January when the bills are due. What’s more, most adults who remember the holidays don’t recall what they received as gifts, but do recall how those holidays were spent with family and friends. So the lasting memory won’t necessarily be what’s under the tree but who was sitting around it. * Avoid juggling credit cards. According to a 2010 survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, the average credit cardholder has 3.5 credit cards. And in many cases, cardholders feel the most successful means to using credit during the holidays is to evenly distribute debt over each of their cards as opposed to putting it all on one card. However, this isn’t really a solution as much as it is a way to mask the problem of accruing too much credit card debt during the holidays. Just because debt is piling up in shorter stacks on three cards instead of one large stack on one card doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. If a credit card must be used, use the one with the lowest interest rate at the time of purchase. * Always know the card’s limit. As mentioned above, many people have more than one credit card. But not all cards have the

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Keep kids’ needs in mind while holiday shopping In a perfect world, holiday shopping would take place free from crowds, with low prices on all the items, and with no crabby children in tow. However, reality often means that time-pressed parents have to brave the crowds to get their presents purchased -- and often with children along for the ride. Holiday shopping can be stressful enough when an adult does it alone. With children factored into the mix, it can turn into an adventure. Unable to dart from store to store and squeeze through milling shoppers, parents must pilot the stroller or shopping cart and battle through. Others must attempt to keep an eye on a youngster flitting through a sea of much-taller people in the mall or store. Without having a breakdown or throwing in the towel and skipping shopping all together, what can parents do when they have to shop with children? Be patient and follow a few ideas to minimize the confusion. One of the key things to remember is that children -- especially toddlers -- have short windows of time of good behavior and patience. While an infant in a stroller may be content to sleep the entire shopping trip away, a boisterous toddler or schoolaged child may become anxious when faced with crowds and long hours strapped into a carriage or car seat. Plan for short bursts of shopping so that children will not become overwhelmed or bored by the experience. Rushing out to shop with a tired or hungry child is another way for parents to set themselves up for disaster. Hunger pangs and sleepiness can turn a normally amenable child into one prone to tan-

the merchant from whom the item was purchased is all that is typically required. In general, the dollar limit for return protection is $300 per item. Those who often need return protection the most are early shoppers who buy gifts for loved ones in advance of the typical holiday shopping season. Many retailers only offer full cash refunds for 30 days, so early shoppers should call their credit card companies to determine their eligibility for return protection.

recent statement to learn the card limit and to determine the available balance, which is listed on the statement as well. * Determine if the card offers “return protection.” When a credit card offers “return protection,” that means the card issuer, and not the retailer, will take back items in new condition up until 90 days after the original purchase. This is done to protect buyers when the retailer will no longer accept returns. The original receipt, the item itself and the name and location of

in bustling stores. Unfortunately, child predators also can be lurking during the holiday season because they know it's easier to kidnap a child or take advantage when parents are distracted and there are large crowds. Although it may seem inhumane, kiddie harnesses are effective means to keeping young children close by. Most harnesses are equipped with a plush toy backpack and a plush lead with handle. This gives the children some freedom to walk without having to constantly hold Mommy or Daddy's hand, but not enough slack to run off into the crowd.

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in someone’s When taking kids along for holiday shopping, make sure kids are well fed ahead of time so they don’t grow hungry and restless at the mall or store. trums rather quickly. Parents should time shopping jaunts for after naps and meals to eliminate these factors from the things that might trigger poor behavior from children. With the many toys, trinkets and other items on display for sale at area stores, children may beg and plead for certain things, making shopping more challenging. Try to avoid the stores that can be big temptations for children to times when shopping can be done sans kids. If a child is allowed to bring a toy, book or other distraction from home, it could help minimize the number of "I want that" requests made. When possible, talk to older children during the

shopping experience. Mention how much things cost and how they are being paid for. Kids can learn valuable life lessons about managing finances by mimicking their parents. Allow children to help with some decision-making processes, such as, "Should we buy grandma the blue or green blouse?" Being involved can make the shopping trip more tolerable and children will feel proud if they're involved in the process. While shopping with kids can sometimes be a headache, minor irritations can turn into tragedy quickly if parents do not keep safety in mind when kids are along for the trip. It is very easy to lose track of children

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4

Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Eunice News www.eunicetoday.com

Workplace gifting Dos & Don’ts Exchanging gifts goes beyond friends and family members every year. Many coworkers exchange gifts come the holiday season. The rules that govern gifting workplace acquaintances may differ from those involved with gifting family. Well-meaning employees can send the wrong message when choosing gifts inappropriate for the workplace. Here are some dos and don’ts to serve as guidelines when choosing presents for the office. DO find out if the company has a gift-giving policy. This will help establish the rules regard-

ing exchanges and can make the process easier. DON’T assume the people in the office share your tastes. Try to choose a generic gift that will appeal to the masses. Gift cards can be versatile. DO set a spending limit on gifts.

turned if necessary. DON’T exchange gifts in front of others with whom you didn’t choose to exchange gifts. This can be uncomfortable for all involved. DO participate in a Secret Santa or holiday grab bag if the entire company is doing so.

DON’T buy something extravagant for coworkers or the boss simply to show off.

DON’T select gifts that are political or religious in nature.

DO stick to gifts that are not overly personal. DON’T buy gag gifts or those that are offcolor.

Use guidelines when choosing gifts at workplace. DO include a gift re-

DO shop in advance so you’ll have ample time to select the best gift for coworkers.

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Do pets make good gifts? To the millions of pet owners across the globe, pets are more than just furry friends around the house. Pets put many people in a good mood and can also make for a valuable addition to families with children, instilling a sense of responsibility in kids they might otherwise never learn. But pets are also a very personal choice. Such a reality makes giving a pet as a present during the holiday season a difficult proposition -- one that requires careful consideration of the pros and cons before making a final decision.

their first pet, the holidays make a great time to surprise them with a Fido or Morris of their own. * Cost: Particularly in the current economy, not all families can afford to adopt or buy a new pet. While they might be able to afford to feed and care for a pet, the initial costs (some adoptions can cost several hundred dollars) might be well beyond their budget. For gift givers who can afford the costs of adoption or the purchase price from a breeder, giving a pet can be a gift the family will greatly appreciate.

The Pros * Companionship: Pets make fine companions, and many people think giving a pet as a present during the holiday season is a great way to put a smile on a lonely friend or relative’s face. However, when giving a pet in the hopes it will provide companionship, be sure to find a pet that’s known for liking attention, such as a golden retriever, and not a pet that doesn’t require much care or appreciate the attention. * The surprise element: Oftentimes, when a family pet dies it takes awhile before the family is ready to get a new pet. However, if sufficient time has elapsed, the surprise element of a new pet at the holidays can make it one of the more memorable holidays ever. The same can be said when giving a child their first pet. For moms and dads who have decided the kids are ready for

The Cons * Personal choice: Pets don’t take long to become a member of the family. And that’s often because pets are a deeply personal choice made by the pet owner and his or her family. Giving a pet as a gift might be a nice gesture, but many people would prefer to pick their own pets. * Timing: Not all families are ready for a pet. Even parents who want to add a pet to their home should consider if the timing is right. Are kids ready for the responsibility of a pet? Is the family ready to add another member? Timing should also be a consideration for those thinking of giving a pet to someone they don’t live with. It might be a nice gesture to give newlywed friends a pet, but they might also be trying to have a baby and might not have the time to care for a pet.

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Holiday shoppers should carefully consider the pros and cons of giving pets as gifts before making any decisions this holiday season. * Allergies and additional health considerations: Not everyone can have a pet in their home. Many people are allergic to animals. It could prove a disaster to give a kitten to someone who is highly allergic to cats. Shoppers who are unsure if a friend or loved one has a pet allergy should avoid giving a pet as a present. In addition to pet allergies, another medical concern is some people

might not be physically capable of caring for a pet. Dogs, for instance, need to be taken on daily walks or, at the very least, taken outside to relieve themselves. What’s more, training a puppy is no small task. If a friend or family member does not appear capable of caring for a pet, consider a different gift.

receive an overwhelming percentage of their donations during the holiday season. That said, some actually prefer donations outside of the holiday season. Ask a charity you’re thinking of giving a donation if they’d prefer a donation after the season or at a different time of year. This can provide donors a little financial relief during the expensive holiday season and also be a boost to a charity during its offseason. * Decide on a number and stick to it. This can be hard, as those with a giving heart can find it hard to turn down a needy

charity. However, families facing financial troubles or cutting back should decide on a given amount to donate and once that present has been given, kindly refuse other charities asking for donations. * Be familiar with the charity. Families who can only afford to make one charitable donation this season should consider donating to a charity they’re familiar with. While many charities are worthy of a donation, one that a family is already familiar with will make them feel better about their donation and where it’s going.

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Donation tips for families This year, many families have been forced to cut back on some of their favorite things. Because of the recession, families are making sacrifices in all aspects of life. One such area many families have unfortunately been forced to reassess is their charitable donations. With the holiday season upon us, many families are realizing they might not be able to donate as much this year, which only highlights the importance of making a donation as meaningful as possible. The following tips should help families ensure their donation is

the right one this holiday season. * Ask for documentation. Because many families can only afford to make one charitable donation this year, it’s important when choosing a charity to ask for documentation that specifies just where your money will go. If no documentation can be provided, inquire as to how the money is used and what percentage of each donation goes to the cause of the charity and how much goes toward the charity’s operating costs. * Ask if the holiday season is the best time to donate. Many charities

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Christmas Gift Guide

The Eunice News www.eunicetoday.com

Thursday, November 25, 2010

5

Holday season survival tips Did you know?

Christmas is right around the corner. If you have to purchase last-minute gifts, be sure they don’t look like an afterthought.

Gift ideas when you’re pressed for time The Christmas countdown has begun, and the days will no doubt fly off the calendar like they do every year. Before you know, it’s only a few days until the holiday is here. Those who haven’t yet started shopping may feel pressed for time and worry that they will not be able to find gifts for everyone on their lists -at least gifts that don’t look like they were afterthoughts. But good gifts can be found in the eleventh hour. Adults * Visit the local liquor store for a bottle of wine in the price range desired. Wrap it in a wine bag or leave it as is with a nice bow. * Pick up passes to a local attraction, such as an amusement park or a museum. Put together tickets for a play paired with a soundtrack of the production.

* Food is often appreciated. A box of fine chocolates or one of those edible fruit arrangements will be a tasteful, and tasty, gift. * Fill a large bowl with a scooper, sprinkles, cherries, and other toppings for making ice cream sundaes. * Pick a gift that embraces the holiday spirit. Holiday music, ornaments or table decorations can be used this year or next. Children * Pop into a toy store or a department store and pick up a cuddly stuffed animal. * Buy an art set for older children, full of paints and markers. If a complete set can’t be found, make an art package with a bunch of supplies packed into a gift bag. * Choose an educational gift that is still fun, like alphabet flash cards or puzzles. A subscription

to a children’s magazine would also work, seeing as children love getting mail. * Few kids will turn down a DVD of their favorite television characters. The DVDs should feature an age-appropriateness rating to make choosing one even easier. Teenagers * Teenagers can be finicky, so a monetary gift will be one-size-fits-all. * Teenage girls may appreciate a gift basket of delicious scented lotions. * Passes for movies can make date night less expensive. * Consider a gift card or e-gift coupon for digital music downloads. * Give a subscription to a teen magazine so that everyone can keep abreast of their favorite celebrities.

cert for one. If concert tickets are a bit over budget, holiday shoppers can still give music lovers the concert experience. With noise isolating design tailor made for use on the move, Bowers & Wilkins P5 Mobile Hi-Fi Headphone allows listeners to hear concert-sound quality regardless of where they are, be it on the train, listening at home while the baby’s asleep or simply going for an evening stroll. Thanks to a rigid metal faceplate and sealed-leather ear pads, listeners are afforded an enveloping listening experience without completely removing the user’s sense of place. * Let them document it all in a diary. Saving ticket stubs is a popular hobby among music fans, allowing them to look back on, and sometimes laugh at, all the shows they have attended over the years. A ticket stub diary makes storing all these cherished memories that much easier. In addition, a ticket stub diary makes for great conversation, as friends and guests can’t help themselves when it comes to looking through another’s diary, even if that diary is loaded with old concert tickets. * Enhance their favorite products. These days it’s hard to walk 10 feet without seeing someone rocking out on their Apple iPod or iPhone(R). Holi-

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* Holiday decorating may entail climbing up and down a ladder or bringing heavy boxes out of the attic. * People may keep long hours traveling to social engagements, taxing their bodies.

These are just a few demands on the body. In order to prevent fatigue or more serious injury from holiday activities, consider these pointers. * Stretch out before you hit the stores. Warm up stiff muscles to prepare for the day ahead. * Drink plenty of water throughout the day. Dehydration can tax the body and lead to feelings of sluggishness or even induce headaches. * Wear comfortable shoes with plenty of cushioning to withstand the impact of walking all day. Open a Christmas Club * Use Account a backpack to * Duringnow shopping a tote essentials along. & get a Head Start on person can unknowingly Plus, packages can be Next Christmas Season! walk several miles in a stuffed into the backstore or mall. pack to free up hands * Individuals often or balance the weight of tote around heavy pack- purchases. ages and/or lift weighty * Don’t carry around items. more than you can han* Long hours are spent dle. Plan frequent trips on one’s feet. to the car to drop off * Fast decisions have purchases. If lockers are to be made on purchas- available in the mall, es. use them.

Each year, shoppers are greeted by the sights of the holiday season at area stores, including strung garland, lights and masses of bright red poinsettia plants. However, it’s an appearance by the man in red that really signifies the arrival of Christmas. Department stores count on Santa Claus to attract customers to pose for pictures and shop the day away. History suggests the department store Santa made his debut in 1841, when J.W. Parkinson, a Philadelphia merchant, hired a man to dress up in a “Kris Kringle” outfit and climb the chimney of his store. It wasn’t until forty years later that a Boston merchant repeated the idea, hiring a Scottish immigrant named Edgar, who happened to be tall and a little round around the middle and who boasted a white beard, a warm voice and a hearty laugh.

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Gift ideas for the family “music maven” Every family has at least one, and every one has several family members who simply don’t know what to get them come the holiday season. Music mavens are the family music expert, the one family member who can tell you all you need to know about the Beatles and all you don’t want to know about Vanilla Ice. But all that expertise can make it very difficult to find the right gift for the music maven come the holiday season. Shopping for an expert often requires seeking advice from an expert. Bowers & Wilkins, Britain’s leading exporter of loudspeakers and the number one imported brand in North America, offers the following tips to shoppers puzzled about what to buy the family music maven this holiday season. * Send them to the show. Most music afficionados would admit there’s no experience quite like a live concert. Put a smile on your favorite music fan’s face this holiday season with tickets to see his or her favorite band in person. If possible, shop early to find the best seats and the best deals, just make sure the concert hall isn’t too far away from your loved one’s home. And if the tickets prove ultraaffordable, include a few extra dollars for dinner or a commemorative T-shirt. * Give the gift of a con-

It’s almost upon us -the holiday season. During this hectic season, people take on more responsibilities and commit to more events and get-togethers than any time of the year. All of this extra work can put a strain on the body if the average person is unprepared. Surviving the holidays requires thinking of them as athletic activities and training for the work ahead. The added responsibilities of the holidays, including shopping, decorating and hosting, puts added stress on everyone this time of year. Those not used to the on-the-go speed and long days may find they suffer frequent ailments this time of the year, including physical injuries. Think about how the holidays are akin to an athletic event:

Fri, Nov 26 & Sat, Nov 27 day shoppers puzzled as to what to get the music fan in their life can use the iPod and iPhone’s popularity to their advantage by looking for items that can enhance these musthave mobile devices. For example, an iTunes gift card is the same as giving fans their favorite music, but allows them to choose which album or even which individual songs they prefer. For those who feel a gift card is too impersonal, the P5 Mobile HiFi Headphone comes supplied with a “Made for iPod” approved cable, allowing for speech and device control while improving sound quality.

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6 Thursday, November 25, 2010

Christmas Gift Guide

The gift of volunteerism for the holidays Donating is a popular way to show appreciation during the holiday season, but not every household has the funds to donate this year. In lieu of making a financial donation, a gift of time and service is just as valuable. Research indicates that 50 percent of charitable donations are made between Thanksgiving and Christmas. During the season of hospitality and togetherness, making charitable donations is ever-present in many people’s minds. However, financial insecurity due to the sluggish job market and economy will likely result in more people hoping to volunteer their time instead of their finances this holiday season. Volunteering one’s time is a way to give back without expending funds. Just as charities and other organizations are in need of money to operate their causes, they also need manpower to put plans in action. Busy people may think they don’t have the time to volunteer, but this is not the case. According to Charity Guide, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting flexible volunteerism by inspiring and facilitating acts of kindness, volunteer work can take as little as 15 minutes per week and be based on a flexible schedule. When considering vol-

unteerism, individuals can pick a cause that is dear to their hearts. Organizations that raise awareness about medical conditions to animal rights groups are all charities that can use assistance. Here are some ways the average person can volunteer service.

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* Business owners who provide a particular product or service can donate such items to the charity. For example, a printing company can offer to print letterhead or envelopes for an organization. A baker can offer food for luncheons or fundraisers. Donation of time doesn’t necessarily have to mean manning the phones. * Schools are often understaffed and can use the help of parents and other community members. Volunteering beyond the typical call of duty can help school programs flourish. Volunteering time as a coach or as a librarian can ensure children have the resources and programs for a well-rounded education. * Consider spending time with the elderly at a nearby assisted-living facility or as part of a home-visitor program. Individuals who don’t have family nearby may appreciate a visit from someone, even if it’s just to sit and chat. This is something the entire family can do, even children.

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* Moon Dough: Moon Sand is a popular molding product that doesn’t dry out. The trouble is, it tends to be messy. Moon Dough is a less sticky version that’s easier on clean-up. * Tickle Me Elmo: That loveable Elmo is back in an ‘extreme’ version. He laughs, tells jokes and rolls to the ground in fits of laughter. Elmo can even get back up to a standing position. * “Twilight” Action Figures: Based on the popular “Twilight” saga, these action figures are bound to be the next collectibles for kids who love “Bella,” “Jacob” and “Edward.” Girls and boys can

Did you know?

According to the United States Department of Energy (DOE), homeowners can save significant amounts of money during the holiday season by simply choosing newer, more energy-efficient holiday lights. Traditionally, homes have been lit up around the holiday season as a means of sharing the joy many feel during this festive season with their neighbors and passersby. However, those lights

continue to play out the popular tale of vampires and werewolves at home. * Furby: Furby is back, probably as a result of the popularity of last year’s Zhu Zhu pets. This incarnation of Furby can react with true emotions thanks to new technology. * Furry Frenzies: Also banking on the popularity of Zhu Zhu pets is Hasbro’s version of electronic pets. These creatures can interact with one another and scurry around playsets, which are sold separately. * Dance Star Mickey: In Elmo-like fashion, this doll dances, talks and moves. Kids who are enamored with all things Disney certainly will be requesting their favorite mouse. * Extreme Micro RC Helicopter: This infrared helicopter is the smallest on the market and can dart and fly around inside or outdoors. * Rock Band: The Beatles: Those who love previous incarnations of Rock Band and playing along to favorite songs

could be costing homeowners far more money than they’re aware of. That’s of particular concern this holiday season, when many families are still expected to be feeling the effects of the country’s most significant economic downturn in decades. However, families who need to save a dollar or two here or there this season needn’t abandon their beloved tradition of decorating the house with holiday lighting.

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In lieu of making financial donation, a gift of time and service is just as valuable. * Something as simple as carpooling or offering to shop for busy people is another form of volunteer work that doesn’t require being part of a particular organization. Why not babysit for a person who has to catch up on some holiday shopping?

There are plenty of ways to contribute without writing a check. The holiday season is the perfect time of year to think in a giving way.

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Hot holiday toys for 2010 Every child wants the popular toys for Christmas. Each year parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles head to the stores in search of those soldout items and must-have gifts. So what gifts are bound to be snatched from toy store shelves this season? Here are a few that kids are bound to be requesting.

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As usual, certain gifts are bound to be kid favorites this year. will enjoy The Beatles version. It’s bound to be “Beatlemania” all over again! * Star Wars Force Jedi Trainer: This toy uses brain wave technology and measures how kids concentrate. Players follow the directions to make their way toward Jedi master. Other toys and gaming systems are bound to be favorites again this year. Expect kids to be col-

lecting and trading more Silly Bandz in many different shape themes. Nintendo Wii needs no introduction. With scores of game offerings, this gaming system is still tops on holiday gift lists. Expect to see different high-tech educational items for children, including digital book readers and coloring sets geared toward helping kids learn writing and reading skills.

They simply need to change which lights they’re using. According to the DOE, a home that uses 125 typical standard C-7, 4-watt light bulbs for 12 hours per day during the holidays will be spending an average of $25.13 over that period just to keep their home lit dur-

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Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

7

Make holiday travel less taxing The holiday season is one of the most joyous times of year. Family reunions and holiday parties make the end of the year a favorite for people across the globe. One sometimes unfortunate element to the holiday season, however, is travel. While many people enjoy the destination of their holiday travels, the journey there is often a trying process, one that tests the patience of even the most veteran holiday traveler. For those with travel on their holiday todo list this year, consider the following tips to help make those travels less taxing. * Look for deals. Saving money can make even the longest of layovers easier to cope with. Fortunately, travelers have never before been in a better position to comparison shop than they are right now. Utilize Web sites like Orbitz, Travelocity, CheapTickets, and others to find the best deal and pick and choose both outgoing and return flights. Shoppers can even visit commercial airlines’ own Web sites to see if there are any specials available or any added incentives, such as free travel miles or upgrades. * Book as early as possible. The longer travelers wait to book flights, hotels or car rentals for the holidays the more likely they are to pay more and get less. As the holidays approach, prices often increase, particularly on flights. What’s more, waiting to book a hotel

room could force travelers to stay in less desirable accommodations, while procrastinating on a vehicle rental reservation could find travelers driving cars no other renters wanted. Whenever possible, book travel plans far in advance of the holidays and enjoy the fruits of your early actions.

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always best to avoid overspending, but there are ways shoppers can extend their budget during the holiday seasons. * Look for “no interest” deals. “No interest” deals are not necessarily hard to find, but they might be a bit of a misnomer. Larger retailers sometimes offer no interest financing for 12 or 18 months on items that cost above a certain dollar amount. But these deals are only “interest free” for the designated time frame. This means no interest will be charged if the balance is paid in full (there’s often a minimum monthly payment) before the 12 or 18 months is up. However, if the balance is not paid in full, shoppers will be responsible for all interest that accrued over that 12or 18-month period. These “no interest” deals are a

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Come the holiday season, travelers can take several steps to ensure their travels go as smoothly as possible. * Expect lines. Traveling by air has become a genuine test of traveler patience. Changes in airport guidelines and regulations aimed at traveler safety have resulted in long lines at flight check-ins and security checkpoints. Such safety precautions are entirely necessary and should not come as a sur-

prise to travelers. Therefore, it pays to arrive at airports extra-early during the holidays. To reduce the stress of holiday travel, travelers should give themselves ample time to wait on line and still make it to the correct gate with time to spare. Long lines are the norm and no longer an inconvenient aberration.

great way to extend a holiday budget, but shoppers should make certain they pay the balance off before the grace period is up. * Comparison shop. As sensible as it seems, many shoppers find little time to comparison shop during the often hectic holiday season. Shoppers looking to extend their budgets, however, should find the time to comparison shop. Significant savings could be had simply by scanning the different flyers in the Sunday newspaper. Such efforts only take minutes but could save shoppers hundreds of dollars during the holiday season. * Shop early. Shopping early not only gives shoppers access to more and sometimes better deals, but it also allows shoppers to spread out their spending over a period of several months instead of

a few weeks. For example, instead of spending $500 in the weeks leading up to Chanukah or Christmas, holiday shoppers who start early might be able to afford a holiday budget of $600 to 700. Shopping early gives shoppers the opportunity to spread out their spending, which can also allow for a little more budgetary leeway as a result. * Go in on gifts with a friend or relative. When holiday shopping, it’s perfectly reasonable to share the cost of a gift with a friend or relative. The recipient won’t mind if the gift is from one, two, three, or four people, and each gifter will come away satisfied that their loved one got a gift he or she loves and no one’s budget was busted.

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and destitute. Among Booth’s first converts to Christianity were thieves, gamblers, drunkards, and prostitutes, many of whom were not accepted at nearby churches. However, Booth encouraged and challenged his new converts to save others, and many took to the streets of London preaching and singing, eventually earning the nickname

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“The Hallelujah Army.” By 1874, Booth had 1,000 volunteers and 42 evangelists, and a chance reading of a printer’s proof of his 1878 annual report, in which Booth’s mission was dubbed “volunteer army,” prompted Booth to cross those words out and replace them with “Salvation Army.” While spreading the word throughout the British Isles, the Salvation Army was also branching

out overseas. In 1879, the first meeting on American soil was held in Philadelphia. Ensuing success in Philadelphia eventually prompted Booth, in 1880, to send an official group to pioneer the mission in America. To learn more about the Salvation Army or how you can get involved, visit www.salvationarmyusa. org.

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Easy ways to entend your holiday budget The holiday season can prove an exercise in financial flexibility for many families. While the spirit of the season centers around faith and family, it’s easy for families to overdo it when it comes to holiday shopping. Parents can easily find themselves expanding their budgets to ensure their kids get everything on their wish list, while fellow shoppers may easily get lost in finding the perfect gift for family and friends. While overspending might be a holiday tradition in many families, it’s no doubt the most costly as well. Credit cards often allow shoppers to overspend on holiday shopping, making January a cringe-worthy month for shoppers who put too much on plastic during the holidays and get the bills the next month. It’s

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* Think outside the box. During the busy holiday season, it can pay to think outside the box. When looking for flights, consider an alternate airport and allow room for flexibility during your search. Flights that arrive at and depart from airports considered to be outside city limits might be much less expensive and even less crowded. Such smaller airports often offer the same amenities as their larger counterparts, including vehicle rental agencies and restaurants at which to eat while waiting for a flight to depart, but do so with far less fanfare and at significant discounts to travelers. * Get a head start on the holidays. One of the most trying part of traveling during the holidays is that seemingly everyone travels on the same day and at the same time. This leads to longer lines at security check-in points and overcrowded terminals, as well as packed parking lots. Travelers who are flexible enough to leave a day or two early will find their travels much less stressful, and they will enjoy an extra day or so with their family and friends.

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Christmas Gift Guide

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Eunice News www.eunicetoday.com

How to plan a successful office holiday party Holiday office parties are a tradition at many businesses across the country. These parties can vary greatly depending on the size of the company, the resources allocated for the festivities and the participation level among the employees. The parties can also vary in how their invitees view these end-of-year festivities. Some companies throw parties their employees would just as soon pass on, while other business treat their workers to the party of the year. Office party planners hoping this year’s event is closer to the party of the year than one nobody wants to attend should consider a host of factors before getting started. Timing The timing of the office holiday party is a key factor in how successful it will be. Since most parties are in the month of December, it’s best to aim for earlier in the month. By the end of December, guests might be too exhausted to have a good time or may have already planned their holiday vacations and be unable to make it. The closer the party is to Christmas and the end of the year, the less likely it is that all invitees will be able to attend. Another timing concern is clients. Many businesses include clients on their holiday party guest lists as a gesture of appreciation for their loyalty. By choosing a date that’s earlier in the month, party planners are increasing the chances their clients can make it

as a means to relieving that stress. But many businesses have banned alcohol from such parties, be it the result of local host laws or simply out of concern for their employees’ safety. When planning the party, be aware of the alcohol policy. If the policy is no alcohol allowed, there’s no need to worry. If alcohol is allowed, arrange for complimentary transportation for anyone who might overindulge and prove unfit to drive.

Whether or not to serve alcohol at holiday office parties is a decision businesses must make and discuss with employees. and won’t be forced to miss the event due to their own office party commitments. Settle on a few dates early in the month and then ask employees which they’re most amenable to. Finances Finances should also dictate certain aspects of the holiday party. If the company is paying for everything, be sure to verify a budget with the accounting department before shopping around for caterers, locations, etc. If the office party will require some financial contribution from employees (such as paying for spouses or significant others), keep that in mind, too. Employees will of course be less enthusiastic about a holiday party if they have to contribute considerable funds toward the event.

Location Location is another key consideration for party planners. No one wants to travel far and wide for an office party, so it helps to choose a locale that is centrally located and convenient for everyone. Unless the company is one where most workers telecommute, chances are employees will be comfortable with a location that’s close to the office itself since workers make the trip to that neighborhood anyway. Safety Safety is a genuine concern at holiday office parties. Much of that concern can be traced to alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, many employees overindulge with alcohol at holiday office parties. With stress a concern for many during the holiday season, alcohol consumption is incorrectly viewed

Bake cookies like a Pro

Few things are more delicious than a plate of warm cookies with a glass of milk. The holiday season is a prime time of year to make fresh-baked cookies to share and enjoy. Ensuring these cookies come out the best they can takes a little work and know-how. Here are 10 tips for cookie-baking success.

1. Measure all ingredients accurately. Successful baking is often about careful measuring of ingredients to ensure the right ratio. 2. Use large-sized eggs and unsalted products, such as butter, unless directed otherwise. 3. Line baking sheets with parchment paper so cookies don't stick and

cleanup of pans will be simple. 4. Use high-quality ingredients as much as possible. 5. Chill cookie dough if using cookie cutters. It will ensure better detail on the cuts. 6. Leave at least two inches of space between cookies to allow for spreading while baking. 7. Baking cookies longer produces crispier cookies. Taking them out sooner means chewier cookies. 8. Brownies and bar cookies should be beaten just enough to blend the ingredients well. Too much mixing will cause the cookies to rise quickly and then fall and crack when cooling. 9. Butter should be softened but slightly firm when added to make cookie batters. Too hard or too runny can affect cookie texture. 10. Cookies are best baked in the lower third of the oven.

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Christmas Gift Guide 2010