Southern Vermont Last Minute Gift Guide 2022

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Retirement provides a chance for adults who have worked throughout their lives to take a step back, relax and enjoy the fruits of their labors. Though the most indelible image as sociated with retirement might once have been a rocking chair, modern retirees like to get up and go, and hol iday shoppers can take that joie de vivre into consideration as they look for the perfect gift for retirees who can’t wait to fly the friendly skies or hit the open road.

Maps

It might seem simple, but roadmaps can be an ideal gift for retirees. A re cent poll from RBC Wealth Manage ment found that 63 percent of Amer icans age 50 and older say travel is an important retirement goal. Roadmaps of their own country or a foreign country can help seniors plan their dream vacations. Seniors can study maps and create their own routes as they visit popular tourist attractions and find lesser known locales along the way.

Vouchers/gift cards

Airline vouchers can inspire retir ees to take to the skies and visit locales that have long taken up real estate on

their bucket lists. If seniors prefer to take to the open road, hotel vouchers or Visa gift cards that can be spent anywhere that accepts credit cards can help pay for gas, meals or entry to popular parks and tourist attractions.

Projector and portable screen

Retirees may want to get away from it all, but that doesn’t mean they have to leave everything behind. A projector and portable screen can let on-the-go seniors enjoy movie night under the stars or watch their favor ite teams even when they’re far from home. This can be an especially good gift for retirees who are anxious to gas up their RV and leave home behind for a few weeks.

Lifetime pass to world-renowned parks

All United States citizens or perma nent residents are eligible for the Na tional Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass, which provides access to more than 2,000 recreation sites across the country. Those sites are managed by federal agencies like the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Bureau of Reclamation, among others. A similar system is in place in Canada, where

adults age 65 and up can gain unlim ited admission for a full year to more than 80 Parks Canada locations across the country.

Tablet

Of course, retirees may still want to enjoy some of the comforts of home while they’re off in parts unknown. A new tablet can help traveling retirees read the latest bestsellers and stay in

touch with family and friends via vid eo conferencing apps like Zoom. Many campgrounds and hotels now provide free WiFi to guests, so a tablet can be just what on-the-go retirees need to stay connected to life back home.

Holiday shoppers can make the sea son bright for their favorite retirees who can’t wait to spend their new found free time traveling the world.

Brattleboro Reformer | Bennington Banner | Manchester Journal Friday, December 9, 2022 | Southern Vermont Last Minute Gift Guide 2
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Energetic gifts for physical fitness buffs

Holiday shopping is a fun way to show loved ones just how much they’re appreciated. Though it’s not always so easy finding the right gift, identifying a passion of each person on your holiday shopping list can make finding the perfect present that much easier.

No two families are exactly the same, but that doesn’t mean they don’t share similar characteristics and personalities. For example, many families have at least one per son who qualifies as a physical fit ness buff. A passion for fitness can serve as a great starting point when shopping for a loved one who can’t wait to exercise each day. This holi day season, shoppers can stoke that passion for exercise with some gifts designed to help people reach their fitness goals.

Insulated water bottle

On the surface, a new water bottle might not seem like the most impres sive gift. However, fitness buffs know just how much water bottles have changed in recent years and how invaluable it can be to have a good one at the ready. A high-quality in sulated water bottle can keep water cold for hours, ensuring endurance athletes accustomed to long runs or cycling sessions won’t need to hy drate with warm drinks no matter how long it’s been since they started their workouts.

Fitness tracker

Fitness trackers run the gamut from low-cost options with useful yet limited capabilities to more ex pensive items that can seemingly give athletes all the information they need about variables such as their heart rate and performance metrics. If the fitness buff on your list has his or her heart set on an expensive de vice, speak to other family members about pooling your resources.

Fitness app subscription/gift card

The popularity of various exercise apps spiked dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic because they made it easy to get professional fit ness instruction at home. A sub scription to a service like ClassPass (classpass.com) provides access to classes at thousands of top-rated

gyms, fitness studios, salons, and spas across the globe. This can help fitness buffs find new exercises if their existing routines have grown stale or simply stay in shape even if they don’t always have time to get to the gym.

Home exercise equipment

Though the darkest days of the pandemic might be in the rearview mirror, the world has grown accus tomed to periodic spikes that could compromise workout routines. That needn’t be the base for fitness buffs who keep some simple exercise equipment at home. A set of dumb bells, a new weight bench or even a new yoga mat can ensure fitness buffs won’t miss a workout even if they can’t get out of the house.

Exercise is an essential part of fit ness buffs’ daily routines. Holiday shoppers can keep that in mind as they look for gifts to make this sea son even more special for their fit ness-focused family members.

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Sports experiences make great gifts this holiday season

The thrill of sports has inspired billions of loyal fans and athletes across the globe. Professional, col legiate, scholastic, and even recre ational sports entertain people all year long. That popularity is some thing shoppers can keep in mind as they look for the perfect gift for the family sports fan this holiday sea son.

Many adults undoubtedly recall receiving sports equipment as a hol iday gift when they were children. Whether it’s a baseball mitt or a field hockey stick or a new ball, these gifts tend to light up kids’ eyes come Christmas morning. Adult sports fans may not need such equipment, but they might be just as excited to receive these unique sports experi ences this holiday season.

Tickets

For diehard sports fans, nothing is better than going to the big game. Perhaps in acknowledgment of the growing popularity of following a favorite team on the road, many pro fessional sports leagues now release team schedules months in advance of the first game of the season. For

example, the National Football League released its 2022 schedule in mid-May, despite the fact that the season does not begin until Septem ber. Shoppers can peruse schedules and circle a must-see home game or lay the foundation for a memorable trip by giving tickets to a road game.

Stadium tour

Stadium tours are another great experience the family sports fan will undoubtedly appreciate. Many professional sports teams now wel come fans to tour their stadiums both in-season and during the off season. These tours offer a behindthe-scenes look at stadiums, arenas and ballparks. Teams may even host tours on game days, making this a great stocking stuffer to pair with tickets to a game.

Fan fest

Fan fest tickets make an ideal gift for individuals who can be accurate ly described as “diehards” for their favorite teams. These family-friend ly gatherings tend to happen in the weeks leading up to the start of a new season. A handful of current and former players typically attend

fan fests, which are hosted by the team and typically include activities for adults and children alike.

Lessons

Holiday shoppers may have a sports fan on their list who still enjoys lacing up their cleats. For example, pro golf fans may still en

joy hitting the links themselves. In such instances, lessons from a near by golf pro can be just the thing to make sports fans smile this holiday season.

Sports experiences make an ideal gift for individuals whose passion for a favorite team is a big part of their life.

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The holiday season is a special time of year. Many factors com bine to make the holiday season so unique and festive, and that in cludes all the effort people put into decorating their homes.

Much thought is giving to holiday lighting arrangements and which tree to buy, but it’s equally import ant to consider pets when decorat ing. Many common household pets are naturally curious, and that cu riosity can make it difficult to deco rate safely come the holiday season. But various pet-proofing strategies can ensure holiday decorations and displays aren’t compromised by four-legged friends this season.

Secure the Christmas tree. Much like other residents of the home, pets may be mesmerized by a glowing Christmas tree. Pets may sniff around the tree or investigate it closely, which can increase the chances that it tips over. That poses a significant safety hazard and un derscores the importance of using a sturdy stand. Fastening the tree

to a wall, much like one might do with a television that isn’t mount ed, adds a further layer of protec tion from tip-overs.

Block o the base of a live tree. Live trees need water to stay green and keep their needles throughout the season. That water could prove enticing to thirsty pets. Drinking water from a tree stand could in crease the risk of the tree tipping over and the water could upset the stomach of pets if the tree was treated with pesticides prior to be ing brought home. When decorat ing with a live tree, make sure the base of the tree where the water will be is blocked off. A small fence around the tree could keep curious pets away. The room where the tree is located should be locked or inac cessible when pets are home alone.

Inspect and conceal light wires. Wires can become frayed over time, and that could pique pets’ curiosi ty. Lighting wires should always be inspected prior to decorating and frayed or damaged wires should

be thrown away, even if it means replacing lights. If wires are still sturdy, conceal them along the base of the wall using a cable concealer, which prevents pets from chewing on them.

Avoid lighting candles. Candles should not be lit in homes with pets. Even candles on shelves that are seemingly beyond pets’ reach can be hazardous, as pets, especially cats, have a way of accessing spaces they seemingly shouldn’t be able to reach. Use electric candles in lieu of traditional ones.

Speak to a vet about seasonal plants and flowers before bringing them into the home. Pet owners can speak with their veterinarians before bringing poinsettias, hol ly and other seasonal plants and flowers into their homes. Some pets could suffer allergic reactions if they eat certain seasonal plants, so it’s best to err on the side of caution and speak to a vet before including live plants and flowers in decora tive displays.

Decorating is part of the holiday season. Pet owners must exercise an extra bit of caution to keep their pets and homes safe when decorat ing during this special time of year.

5 Southern Vermont Last Minute Gift Guide | Friday, December 9, 2022 Brattleboro Reformer | Bennington Banner | Manchester Journal
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Homemade food gifts are from the heart

Gifts from the heart are among the most coveted and appreciated come the holiday season. Hobbyists from all walks of life can turn their pas sions into handmade gifts, but few gifts may be as welcomed as those that can be eaten. Cooking and baking ramps up during the holiday season. People can turn extra time in the kitchen into opportunities to create festive treats that are ideal for gifting to loved ones. But which items are the best of the best? Even though tastes are singular, these items will appeal to most foodies and others on your gift list.

Jams and preserves

Fruit jams and preserves are ver satile foods. They are as at home on toast and biscuits as they are as fill ings in cookies and tarts. Jams and preserves can be made with rela tively few ingredients and work well with seasonal fruits.

Cinnamon rolls

Warm, sticky and full of aromatic spice, cinnamon rolls are the perfect comfort foods. These rolls do not typically have a long shelf life, so be sure to present them promptly be fore they get stale.

Pancakes (or cookies) in a jar

If you have a fantastic recipe that you can’t resist sharing, try turning it into a gift. Measure and package the ingredients into mason jars, tie with ribbons and include directions for preparation and cooking.

Mini bundt cakes

Fruit cakes may be a holiday stan dard, but bundt cakes make for great and traditional offerings as well. Miniature bundts filled with choco late chips, dried fruits or even those soaked in a favorite boozy-butter glaze can be moist and delicious.

Chocolate barks or fudges

Seasonal flavors can come to life

in chocolate treats. White chocolate filled with peppermint pieces or dark chocolate and cherry chunks are tasty pairings. Break apart por tions of the bark or cut the fudge with cookie cutters and gift inside cello bags tied with ribbons or in cardboard candy boxes.

Cocktail syrups

Create spicy or sweet syrups that are tailor-made for enhancing cock tails. Anyone on your gift list can then become a master mixologist.

Shortbread cookie ornaments

Circular shortbread cookies can be decorated with royal icing to look like Christmas ornaments. They can be eaten or even placed on trees to complete holiday decor.

Festive cookie pops

Cookie pops can be made by mix ing homemade or prepurchased crumbled cake with frosting or soft ened cream cheese and formed into balls. Insert a lollipop stick and dip

the balls into melted chocolate or candy melts. Sprinkles, nonpareils or luster dust can be used to enhance the covered pops.

Food gifts are perfect for the hol iday season. Handmade treats from the heart show loved ones how just much you care.

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Gifts for school-aged children

Successful shopping for adults on a holiday list often involves identify ing a loved one’s favorite hobby and then finding something that makes that hobby even more enjoyable. For example, a new e-reader can be just what the family bookworm needs to make reading even more immersive.

School-aged children may not be so simple to shop for, as their inter ests are always evolving and they tend to outgrow toys as quickly as their growing bodies outgrow their clothes. No two kids are the same, but these gift ideas can appeal to school-aged youngsters at a time in their lives when their curiosity is al ways piqued.

STEM gifts

Parents know that the term “STEM” is an acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. These academic disciplines have gained heightened importance over the last couple of decades, and many toy manufacturers now make prod ucts that reinforce STEM lessons kids learn in the classroom in a fun way. STEM-based toys are available for kids of all ages, including chil dren who are still in diapers.

Nature-based gifts

Many parents do everything they can to reduce the amount of time their kids spend looking at screens, which is a tall order in the digital era. But various manufacturers pro duce toys designed to help kids be more physically active in the great outdoors. From age-appropriate bin oculars that encourage kids to ex plore natural settings to birdhouses and fairy gardens kids can build and paint in their favorite colors, shop pers can choose from a host of na ture-based gifts that encourage kids to get away from their screens and enjoy the great outdoors.

Board games

Board games remain a wonder ful way for kids to learn and have fun doing it. Board games are made for kids of all ages, and they’re not just fun, but also beneficial to early childhood development. For exam ple, clinical psychologist Beatrice Tauber Prior, Psy.D. noted to the children’s book publisher and dis tributor Scholastic that board games requiring strategy help the frontal lobes of the brain develop. Those

lobes are responsible for planning, organizing and decision-making. Board games also provide opportu nities for families to spend quality time together free from distractions.

Cookbooks

Cookbooks are another great gift for school-aged youngsters, who can learn a lot from pitching in at din nertime. Children who cook with their parents can learn valuable les sons about nutrition and measuring

ingredients can reinforce lessons learned in the classroom. Shoppers can choose from any number of cookbooks designed for kids, and even children as young as two can pitch in when baking cookies or pre paring family meals.

Shopping for school-aged children during the holiday season can be made easier with some suggestions that can reinforce classroom lessons while keeping the focus on fun.

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Brattleboro Reformer | Bennington Banner | Manchester Journal Friday, December 9, 2022 | Southern Vermont Last Minute Gift Guide 10
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December is a special time of year for children, millions of whom await the arrival of Santa Claus and the bounty of toys he delivers each year. When buying holiday gifts for youngsters, adults must consider safety. According to the Alliance for Children and Families, approximately 217,000 children are treated at hospital emergency rooms for toy-related injuries each year. Holiday shoppers are urged to stick to age-related recommendations on product packaging and avoid toys that do not contain the ATSM (American Society for Testing and Materials) label.

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SAFETY FIRST WHEN BUYING TOYS FOR CHILDREN THIS HOLIDAY SEASON
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Five excellent gifts for tweens and teens this holiday season

Children often marvel at the world around them. They’re delighted to receive just about any toy, and play with items that others may not see as fun - including everything from mix ing bowls to cardboard boxes. Slow ly that cherubic toddler turns into a school-aged wonder, and later into a young adult trying to find his or her place in the world. With each pass ing year, the task of finding gifts for tweens and teenagers becomes that much more challenging.

While most parents and other rel atives may never seem “cool” in the eyes of their teens, they can gift the tweens and teens they love with pres ents that will earn them a few extra brownie points. The following are five gift ideas that are tailor-made for tweens and teens.

1. LED strip lights

Both girls and boys may enjoy customizing their rooms as they see fit. Teens can utilize LED strip lights to create a unique ambiance that reflects their style. These often self-sticking ribbons of lights adhere right to walls. They come in a vari ety of lengths so they can be used to frame the perimeter of the room, if

desired. Complete with multicolored options and a remote control, teens can set their room colors as their mood dictates.

2. Gift cards

Teens try to keep up with the lat est styles. A gift card or clothing gift from one of their favorite retailers can help them build their ensembles that much quicker. Aeropostale, Ab ercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Forever 21, Zumiez, American Eagle, and Til ly’s are just some of the stores popu lar among today’s tweens and teens.

3. Wireless earbuds or headphones

Wireless headphones are used on a daily basis by tweens and teens. They rely on them for listening to music, watching movies on their devices and even during remote learning sessions. There are many brands to choose from, and Beats by Dre and Apple AirPods are among the most popular.

4. Sneakers and shoes

Sneakers have long been popular gifts for teenagers, but they tend to be costly, especially for trending styles and brands. Vans Slip-On® Core

Classics, Converse Chuck Taylor

All Star High Top Sneakers, Reebok Club C 85 Vintage, Nike Air Force One, and Adidas Sobakov are popu lar among today’s tweens and teens. In addition, thanks to the resurgence of 1990s style, Dr. Martens boots are once again in demand.

5. Video game consoles

Each gamer has his or her pre ferred platform for gaming. From the Nintendo Switch to the Xbox Series

Shop localthis holiday season!

X to the Sony PlayStation 5, these systems are in high demand. Due to that demand, these products may be harder to find the closer you get to Christmas Day. Grab them while you can and soak in the smile on your fa vorite tween’s or teen’s face.

Teens and tweens are notorious ly challenging to shop for. However, with some knowledge, loved ones can find gifts tweens and teens are more likely to use and enjoy.

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Make a day of tree shopping

Though retailers may begin play ing holiday tunes shortly after Hal loween, for many people, no date on the calendar marks the beginning of the holiday season better than the day they pick up their Christ mas tree.

There are many different ways to acquire a Christmas tree. Some people prefer artificial Christmas trees that can be stored and taken out each year. Others make a yearly expedition to a tree lot or a Christ mas tree farm to find the perfect fir or spruce. Historians believe a man named W.V. McGallard plant ed 25,000 Norway spruce seedlings at his Mercer County, New Jersey farm in 1901, essentially establish ing the first commercial Christmas tree farm. By 1908, customers could visit the farm and choose trees for $1 each. McGallard helped create an entirely new industry that now accounts for 350 million trees being grown and sold in the United States every year.

Selecting a Christmas tree may not take more than an hour or two, but there are ways for families and

other tree shoppers to maximize their time spent looking for a tree. Bring refreshments.

Couple Christmas tree shop ping with picnicking if the weath er is amenable. Pack some foldable chairs into the vehicle (sitting on the ground on a blanket may be too cold) and bring along thermoses of cof fee or hot cocoa. Snacks like grano la bars, Christmas cookies or other filling treats can keep everyone sat isfied and energized while they shop for a tree.

Pair tree shopping with a trip to see holiday lighting displays.

Find the tree lot or tree farm and then scope out potentially sce nic spots to view holiday lighting displays nearby. Neighborhood Facebook or other social media groups often tout homes that put up eye-catching displays. Ask around for addresses and plan your own tours.

Plan a night out.

Everyone may be tired and hungry after a long day of Christmas tree hunting. Plus, it’s typically a good

idea to wait some time for boughs to open before decorating. Use this opportunity to dine out and return home ready to decorate. Make it a regular occurrence that Christmas tree shopping is followed by a family meal at a favorite restaurant.

Watch a classic film.

Many different holiday movies are broadcast this time of year and each enhances the Christmas spirit.

While putting up the tree, play a fa vorite film in the background. What better way to enjoy decorating your own tree than by watching Charlie Brown adorn his meager evergreen at the same time?

Make a day of selecting and put ting up the Christmas tree each year. Doing so can enhance the hol idays and make for an entertaining way to spend time together as a cou ple or family.

Brattleboro Reformer | Bennington Banner | Manchester Journal Friday, December 9, 2022 | Southern Vermont Last Minute Gift Guide 14
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