guide December 2012
ÂŠ2012 The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors
A Special Publication of The Punxsutawney Spirit and Jefferson County Neighbors Wishing you and your family Happy Holidays and good tidings for the New Year from the residents and staff at Mulberry Square.
411 1/2 W. Mahoning St. Punxsutawney (814) 938- 6020
Great tips for holiday gift baskets
(StatePoint) – Looking for a thoughtful gift this holiday season? Give a gift basket! Don’t be intimidated by the task – it`s easy to create the perfect gift basket for even the fussiest person. “A food basket is a welcome gift for all occasions,” says Bonnie Tempesta, founder of the cookie company Boncora Biscotti. “You can make it as elegant, whimsical or celebratory as you want -- and at whatever cost your budget allows.” Gift baskets also offer a chance to inject some personality into a gift. “What you choose to put in a gift basket is a reflection of who you are as a gift giver,” says Jean Thompson, Owner and CEO of Seattle Chocolates, maker of premium chocolate bars and truffles. “It`s a great way to share your good taste.” Follow these simple tips to make unique gift baskets for everyone on your list: • Decide what you want to include before you buy the basket so you can pick the right size. No matter what size basket you use, it should be overflowing. • If a traditional wooden basket isn`t your style, look for other vessels: a colorful paper bag, a pretty pastry box, a flower pot. The possibilities are endless – and inexpensive. • Fill the basket with higher- and lower-priced items to keep overall costs down. Include items of varying heights to add visual interest. • Arrange the contents around a theme, such as all things red or everything handmade or all chocolate! • Choose foods you love or products you`re excited about trying. Chances are, if you were
wowed by a treat, your gift recipient will be too. • “Go for edibles that don’t need to be eaten right away,” says Edmond Sanctis, co-founder of Sahale Snacks. “Treats that can be nibbled and shared all season long are ideal gift basket additions.” • Splurge on indulgences your recipient normally wouldn`t buy for him or herself, like limited-edition holiday chocolate from Seattle Chocolates. You can find a wide range of such products in all colors and styles to suit any gift basket theme at www.SeattleChocolates.com. • Add a food item that’s new or hard to find. For example, Boncora Biscotti, available only online, are handmade to order. Plain or dipped in chocolate, they go great with a cup of joe, so pair this gift with some gourmet coffee. Read more about Bonnie Tempesta’s handcrafted biscotti at www.BoncoraBiscotti.com. • Include unusual flavor combinations that can be used for snacking as well as cooking. Sahale Crunchers almond snacks can be eaten out of hand or used for holiday meal prep. Plus, they’re gluten free. Find delicious recipes at www.SahaleSnacks.com. • Use colorful, recyclable paper, like tissue paper or shredded paper, to fluff up the contents of your basket. • The finishing touch on a gift basket is not the shrink wrap; it`s the note. Tell your gift recipient why you chose what you did! With these tips, you’re sure to create a gift your friends and family will appreciate.
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Holiday shopping with kids can be fun. Kids enjoy giving gifts, and bringing them along on shopping excursions to offer their input can make the season that much more special for youngsters. But bringing the little ones along on a holiday shopping trip also can be tricky, as kids can easily grow tired or bored at the mall. The following are a few tips to ensure kids and adults enjoy their holiday shopping trips together. • Bring backup. Kids might find shopping enjoyable at the outset, but visiting store after store can drain them of that enthusiasm. To quell the inevitable boredom, bring along some backup, such as a handheld video game or a tablet or e-reader on which kids can watch a favorite film or television show. • Choose your shopping destination wisely. All malls and retailers are certainly not equal, especially when kids will be accompanying you for a day of shopping. Some malls offer attractions for kids, such as a merry-go-round or a live performance with a holiday theme.
Such attractions provide some balance to a shopping trip, giving kids something to look forward to between store visits. • Don’t be a Scrooge. An ice cream cone, some holiday cookies or a hot chocolate might not be the healthiest fare for youngsters, but such items can make a shopping excursion that much more enjoyable. When shopping with kids in tow, relax a youngster’s dietary restrictions so they can enjoy some holiday treats
while shopping till they drop. • Give kids some spending money. Kids are more likely to engage themselves in a holiday shopping trip if they have some spending money of their own. Offer children some money before leaving the house, and tell them the money is theirs to spend on gifts as they see fit. Kids might just enjoy looking for the perfect gift and hunting down a holiday bargain as much as Mom and Dad.
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2 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Keep children engaged and occupied during shopping trips
Make your home festive Keep kids reading over the holidays (StatePoint) Though one of the best parts of winter is getting out of the cool, crisp air and into the cozy, comfort of your home, trendsetting crafters are bringing the beauty of nature inside their houses when decorating for the holidays this year. “This holiday season, the outdoors are in,” says Nicole Long, Manager of Inspiration for Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. “Pine cones, evergreen, moss and grapevine can give your traditional décor a rustic, natural look.” If you’re having trouble getting inspired, here are some ideas from the experts at JoAnn: • Dress up the entrance of your home with an especially festive look. Wire a small twig wreath to a larger grapevine wreath and then decorate with dazzling embellishments, stems and greenery. • Give your mantel a cozy makeover by hanging knitted stockings, embellished with berries and leaves. Then fill them with gifts galore! • Deck the halls with pictures of loved ones and celebrations past. Turn a traditional pine garland of berries and pine cones into a personal keepsake
of fond memories by adding handcrafted wire frames of your favorite family photos. • Paint pine cones red, gold, burgundy and green. Don’t be afraid to add a little glitz with a coat of clear glitter on each one. Showcase them in a simple glass container for a beautiful centerpiece or side table decoration. • Fashion a hanging basket out of grapevine wreath. Place battery-operated lights within the basket and fill with ornaments. • For a delicious holiday goodie bag, dip peppermint sticks in melted chocolate and decorate with sprinkles or chopped nuts. Place them in treat bags with ribbon then give to family and friends throughout the season. • Print Victorian-era designs onto paper, then decoupage onto wood shapes. Glitter the edges and tie on a shiny ribbon to create a lovely, vintage-inspired ornament. For more tips and directions on transforming your home for the holiday season, visit www. JoAnn.com/projects. By bringing a bit of nature into your home this season, you can evoke its spirit all throughout the house.
(StatePoint) – While breaks from school should be fun, they don’t have to be breaks from learning. The down time of the holiday season is the perfect time of year to keep kids entertained with books. And with recent adoption of the Common Core State Standards, which set expectations for what students should be learning so they will be college and career ready, children of all ages will be expected to read more nonfiction. “As a parent, you can play an important role in helping your children meet the Common Core State Standards while on break,” says Donna Elder, senior literacy specialist for the National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL). “By using fiction and their interests as a springboard for informational reading, you can make this a fun experience.” Elder is providing reading ideas to feed your children’s interests. It’s all about offering them books on subjects in which you already know they are interested: • For example, if your child enjoyed “The Cricket in Times Square” by George Selden, you can help foster his or her interest in crickets with “Insectiopedia” by Douglas Florian, “Chirping Crickets” by Melvin Berger, or “Cricket”s by Cheryl Coughlan. • After reading “The Snow Child: A Russian Folktale” retold by Freya Littledale, follow up by encouraging your child to read about the science of weather with “The Kids’ Book of Weather Forecasting” by Mark Breen and Kathleen Friestad or “Weather” by Seymour Simon. • Teens who couldn’t put down “The Hunger
Games” by Suzanne Collins may be interested in learning more about the origins and history of real athletic competitions. Start with “The Olympics: A History of the Modern Games” by Allen Guttmann.” Or entertain a newfound interest in the outdoors with “The Ultimate Survival Manual” by Rich Johnson or a field guides to birds. • Together, visit the non-profit website www.Wonderopolis.org, voted one of TIME magazine’s 50 Top Websites of 2011. Wonderopolis is an effective way to teach nonfiction reading, which the Common Core State Standards identify as a critical skill. The site’s feature, “Wonder of the Day,” is aligned with these standards, examining a new topic daily. • Is your child interested in baseball? From historical accounts like “Baseball: A History of America’s Favorite Game” by George Vecsey to a book that explains how bats are made, such as “Good Wood: The Story of the Baseball Bat,” by Stuart Miller, you can help kids score an academic homerun. • Inspire the inner-chef in your children and test their ability to follow instructions with “Kids’ Fun and Healthy Cookbook,” by Nicola Graimes. Or opt for a picture-book biography like, “Bon Appetit! The Delicious Life of Julia Child” by Jessie Hartland. Don’t let “educational” and “boring” mean the same thing in your household. By seeking out reading material that engages your children on their level on subjects that are meaningful to them, you can help them meet the Common Core State Standards, while having a very merry holiday season.
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 3
4 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
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Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 5
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Bake a batch of sweet sugar cookies
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In large bowl, with mixer on low speed, beat butter and sugar until blended. Increase speed to high; beat until light and creamy. On low speed, beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour, baking powder and salt until blended. 2. Divide dough into 4 equal pieces; flatten each piece into a disk. Wrap each disk with plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 hour or until dough is firm enough to roll. (Or place dough in freezer 30 minutes.) 3. On a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough 1/8 inch thick. With floured 3-inch to 4-inch cookie cutters, cut dough into as many cookies as possible; wrap and refrigerate trimmings. Place cookies, 1 inch apart, on ungreased large cookie sheet. 4. Bake cookies 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough and trimmings. 5. When cookies are cool, decorate with frosting if you like; use along with sugars and candies to decorate cookies. Set cookies aside to allow frosting to dry completely, about 1 hour. Store in tightly covered container (with waxed paper between layers if decorated) at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or in freezer up to 3 months.
Secrets to holiday baking success
Baking is popular come the holiday season, when baked goods are often gifted or shared with family and friends at holiday gatherings. Individuals turn out sweet treats left and right, and these treats are often gobbled up by appreciative holiday revelers. Although some people have mastered baked goods, others can benefit from a few tricks of the trade. Utilize these tips to make holiday baking that much easier. • Overworked cookie dough may result in dry cookies. Try
not to handle dough more than is necessary to roll it out to desired thickness. When rolling the dough, put it between two pieces of waxed paper to reduce flour usage on the rolling pin. • When baking brownies or other bar-type cookies, line the inside of the pan with greased aluminum foil. This way you can lift out the dessert and cut it neatly instead of risking sticking. • The same technique can be used when baking cookies. Line cookie sheets with parchment
paper and bake as directed. The cookies should slide right off when done, and you won’t have messy pans to wash afterward. • Double-check your oven temperature with a reliable thermometer to make sure it is accurate. This will help you bake more efficiently and adjust the time or temperature accordingly. • Many cookie doughs can be refrigerated or even frozen, so you can make a big batch and then spread out your baking as needed throughout the season.
Shopping strategies: Save time, save money (BPT) – The festive spirit of the holidays comes in all forms. From parties and traditional holiday outings, to elaborate family gatherings, there is a lot to celebrate. But, in truth, it takes a lot of work to make an unforgettable holiday. One of the biggest tasks on everyone’s to-do list is shopping for gifts, which can be both time consuming and expensive. Luckily for shoppers, a bit of strategy and planning can add ease to the daunting task of shopping. When you’ve got everyone’s wish lists tallied, try these tips for making your holiday shopping merrier: • Find the best prices: Holiday budgets need to stretch to ensure everyone gets the gifts they love. That means shopping for the best values on multiple items is most important. In some cases, retailers bundle gift items to help shoppers get more for their money. Office Depot, for instance, will offer accessory bundles for touchscreen devices like iPhones and Android phones, as well as for Windows
8 and Android tablets - predicted to be some of the hottest gifts this holiday season. Bundles truly make it simple to save without sacrificing on the quality of the gifts you give. • Prioritize one-stop shopping: Dashing from store to store can cost a lot in terms of time and hassle and gas, especially with the heavy traffic and crowded parking lots during the holidays. With a bit of planning and research, you can cut the waste by getting your shopping done in fewer locations – or, ideally, just one place. Whether you’re shopping for a businessdriven workaholic, a plugged-in teen or family-focused grandparents, retailers are making the effort to help you cover all your bases in just one stop. Asking a store employee for assistance can also help save time, as they can point you to the right places and provide recommendations on products that might meet your needs better than others. • Don’t forget that shipping is a factor: The prospect of a trip to
the post office during the holidays is daunting. If you can’t get there during the middle of the workday, you’ll be faced with long lines during peak traffic times - and that can eat up a lot of your valuable time. Instead of facing the wait, look for options that are kinder to your already hectic schedule. Shoppers at retailers like Office Depot can send gifts and packages without even leaving the store, as well as during weekends and late evenings once the Post Office is closed, at a full service shipping desk, with both U.S. Postal Service and UPS options. Online shoppers should also look for low-cost or free shipping, which will help cut back on both costs and time. There is a lot that goes into smart shopping, but if you can incorporate these tips during the year-end craze, you’ll be on your way to a happier holiday. Follow these tips and you’ll be happy with the time and money you save while holiday shopping this season. For great gift ideas, visit www.officedepot.com.
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6 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Holiday baking is a tradition that stretches through time. What person doesn’t look forward to the treats the season brings? Cookies are often gifted to friends and family members, and they usually help complete the dessert offerings after the holiday meal. Sugar cookies are an ideal holiday cookie because of their versatility. They can be dressedup however you see fit, whether iced, covered in sprinkles or enjoyed as they are dunked in hot cocoa. To make successful sugar cookies, try this triple-tested recipe courtesy of Monica Buck and Good Housekeeping. Sugar Cookies Yields: 5 dozen cookies 1 cup (2 sticks) butter (no substitutions), softened 1/2 cup sugar 1 large egg 1 tablespoon vanilla extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt Frosting (optional) Coarse sugar crystals, silver dragees, holiday decors (optional decorations)
In ThIs season of WIshes... We hope all your dreams come true during this magical time of year. For the gift of your business, we feel truly blessed. Thank you.
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 7
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Parties are an integral part of the holiday season, when friends and family gather to celebrate and give thanks. For holiday hosts, parties are a great opportunity to make the season even more festive with an event that guests won’t soon forget. The following are just a few themes to make your holiday party as memorable as it is merry. • Christmas sweater party: Christmas sweater parties have grown in popularity over the last decade, when revelers have tried to outdo one another with the most outrageous holidaythemed sweater. Give prizes for the most outlandish sweater and let guests know early on so they can begin their hunt for a holiday sweater that’s so ugly or outrageous you can’t help but love it.
• Christmas costume party: Costume parties aren’t just for Halloween. This holiday season, consider making your holiday bash a costume party, encouraging guests to dress up as their favorite characters from holiday tales like “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Christmas Carol” or any of the host of beloved holiday legends. • Caribbean Christmas: The weather come the holiday season may be the one thing to put a damper on the festivities. To combat blue feelings from potentially inclement weather, consider a Caribbean theme for your holiday party this season. Rather than wearing sweaters and long pants, wear beach attire and give the party a touch of the Caribbean. Outfit your home in beach decor and serve food and drinks reminiscent
of the Caribbean instead of more traditional holiday fare like eggnog and gingerbread cookies. • Film festival: Holiday movies are another tradition of the season, so why not invite friends and family over for a holiday film marathon? Include classics like “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” and encourage guests to submit their own favorites for consideration. • Christmas karaoke: For those who love to belt out their favorite holiday tunes, consider throwing a Christmas karaoke party that allows guests to perform their own renditions of their favorite Christmas carols. Purchase a home karaoke set and ask guests in advance of the party if there are any particular songs they’d like to perform.
Avoid common online scams
(BPT) – Sometimes the best way to find that perfect holiday gift is to search and shop online; it’s quick, easy and convenient. And more and more people are doing it: It’s anticipated that sales for November and December will grow to $54.5 billion in 2012, a 16.8 percent increase over 2011, according to eMarketer. As you venture into unknown online territory in your quest for that perfect gift, it’s important to shop with a heightened sense of security. There are undoubtedly countless honest and hardworking sellers who peddle goods over the Internet, but there are also scammers looking to take advantage of unwitting victims. Help protect yourself from scammers by following three simple rules: 1. Never use a money transfer service to pay for something online. “Money transfer services are convenient and simple ways to send cash to people you personally know, but you’re better off paying by credit card or using an escrow service when you’re buying goods online from someone you don’t know or you haven’t met in-person,” says Shelley Bernhardt, director of consumer protection at Western Union. Western Union is not an escrow service provider and does not guarantee the delivery or suitability of goods or services. Once you send a money transfer, it can be paid out to the receiver within a short time. After the money is paid, it’s
gone and the odds of getting it back if the gift you thought you purchased never finds your doorstep are slim. If an individual seller or online retail website only accepts money transfers as payment, be wary and look elsewhere. And don’t be fooled, even if the seller appears friendly and offers a reasonable explanation as to why he or she only accepts money transfers – fraudsters are well-trained in gaining your trust. 2. Never email any financial information. It’s a red flag if a seller asks you to email a credit card number or checking account number. And remember: Never give out your Social Security number when shopping online; retailers don’t need this information to complete a transaction. If you’re paying for something online, use a secure money exchange service like Paypal or use the
secure payment portal on the seller’s website. 3. Read product descriptions carefully, including the fine print, and determine exchange and return policies before you purchase. If the seller or website you bought from doesn’t have an exchange policy and the product you buy ends up being something different than what you expected, you’re likely out of luck if you try to return it. You can shop online safely and securely during the holidays or anytime of the year. But make sure you’re a savvy shopper and protect yourself from scammers by approaching your purchases with the required amount of scrutiny. For more information on avoiding common scams, visit www.westernunion.com/stopfraud or www.ftc.gov/moneymatters and click on ‘Scam Watch.’
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8 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Out of the box themes for a party
Is gift wrapping a lost art?
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 9
Have we become a society that is too busy for gift wrap? When a birthday arrives or the holidays come around in full force, where do most people turn? To the ultra-convenient gift bag, that’s where. Gift bags have largely taken over the party aisles at most stores, where rows and rows of gift bags in all shapes and sizes are not uncommon. If you’re trying to find a roll of wrapping paper, good luck. For birthdays, anniversaries and even baby showers, paper designs have essentially become obsolete. It’s true that wrapping paper seems to make a rebound come the holiday season, when stores begin to devote aisles of space to holiday supplies. But even when shiny foils and smiling Santas beckon customers from the tightly packed rolls, many people still choose gift bags. Gift bags do have many advantages. They are easily portable, generally inexpensive and come in some very clever designs. They’re also touted as a “green” product because they can be reused. But there are plenty of people who feel that the elimination of intricately wrapped presents takes some of the magic out of the holidays. Carefully wrapped gifts show that a person put in time and effort to present a gift in a way that is sentimental and personal. Although it may take mere minutes to pry away the paper and find a treasure inside, there’s something to be said for paper-wrapped gifts. It means the gift-giver sat down, pondered the paper design and carefully chose the bow or ribbon with the recipient in mind. Before you eschew wrapping paper for a gift bag this holiday season, think about all of the advantages to spending some time and reacquainting yourself with the art of gift wrapping. Here
are some reasons to save the gift bag for another time. • Wrapping can be green, too. Wrapping paper can be reused if it is carefully removed from a gift. You also can create your own wrapping paper by decorating brown postal paper with a rubber stamp or having children color their own special murals. Don’t overlook newsprint as wrapping as well. • Paper is more cost-effective. You are bound to get more bang for your wrapping buck by choosing wrapping paper. Although there are scores of discount stores that sell low-priced gift bags, often the quality isn’t the same, and the handles could tear after one or two uses. Wrapping paper per inch is definitely more affordable than gift bags, particularly when purchased on sale. • Wrapping paper lets you be creative. Cover a box with a patchwork of different paper scraps, choose to stagger colors of paper with boxes towered one on top of another or tie on the biggest bow you can find. • Paper is traditional. Look back to the classic stories of yuletide and you are bound to find images of Santa Claus pulling wrapped boxes out of his enormous gift sack. Also think about how department stores used to (and some still do) offer complimentary gift wrapping. • Wrapped gifts travel better. When carrying your bounty of gifts to friends and family, carefully wrapped boxes tend to stand up to travel better than gift bags. No one wants to receive a gift bag that has been wrinkled and crushed into some amorphous shape. Plus, wilted tissue paper can be off-putting. • There’s something magical about wrapping paper. The anticipation, the drama, the build-up to peeling aside
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wrapping paper and revealing the gift has brought smiles to children’s (and adults’) faces for generations. It is hard to improve on something that has been successful for years and years. Although the public may be swept up in rushing from here to there, there are traditionalists who appreciate sitting down and spending time creating holiday magic by way of beautifully wrapped gifts.
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December plays host to many religious holidays
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10 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Christmas may get the bulk of the attention come December, but the final month of the year includes other religious holidays as well. The following are just a few of the religious celebrations taking place this holiday season. • Feast of Saint Nicholas: Typically falling on December 6, the Feast of Saint Nicholas, or Saint Nicholas Day, is a festival for children in many European countries. In commemoration of Saint Nicholas, gift-giving occurs in some countries on his feast day, while some countries’ celebrations are more low-key. Children are typically the recipients of gifts, and the legend of Saint Nicholas, whose reputation as a gift-giver was widely known during his lifetime, is said to have inspired the idea of Santa Claus. • Bodhi Day: A holiday that commemorates the day Buddha received enlightenment, Bodhi Day is typically celebrated on the 8th day of the 12th lunar
Tips when buying and caring ORIGINAL for a natural Christmas tree Sarah L. Defelice
Many people harbor strong opinions with regard to which type of Christmas tree they want to purchase. Some cannot live without a natural, freshly-cut Christmas tree, while others prefer the convenience of artificial trees. Those who insist on a natural tree might want to consider the following tips when buying what’s likely their biggest decorative item of the holiday season. • Ask when the tree was cut down. Precut trees may be cut down weeks before they’re sold. So if you’re buying a precut tree, chances are the tree was cut down much earlier than you think. This doesn’t mean the tree won’t make it through the holiday season, but a tree that was cut several weeks ago should have some of its bottom trunk removed before it’s placed in the stand. This will make it easier for the tree to consume water. This step likely isn’t necessary if the tree was cut down the same day you bring it home. • Have the tree shaken before taking it home. A tree
should be shaken in a shaker before you put it in your car and bring it home. A shaker removes any debris or dead needles from the tree, which can save you the trouble of cleaning up all of those dead needles from your living room floor later on. • Have the tree wrapped before taking it home. A tree should also be wrapped in twine before taking it home. The twine should be tight enough to keep the tree’s branches from blowing in the wind when you attach the tree to the top of your vehicle. If possible, keep the tree wrapped in twine as you place it in the stand. This makes the tree easier to control. • Choose the right location. When looking for the right place to set up your natural tree, it’s best to choose a spot that’s cool and free of drafts. The tree should not be placed near heat sources, including appliances, fireplaces or vents, because such heat sources create a safety hazard and can make it difficult for the tree to retain moisture. There should also be
ample space between the top of the tree and the ceiling. • Place some covering on the ground beneath the tree. Even a freshly cut natural tree will shed needles over the course of the holiday season. Before placing the stand in the location you’ve chosen, put some type of covering, such as a tree bag, beneath the stand so it’s easier to gather all those needles once the holiday season has ended. • Remember that natural trees are thirsty. Men and women who have never had a natural Christmas tree in the past might be surprised at just how thirsty natural trees get. The stand’s reservoir should have lots of water, which should never dip below the stump. If the water dips below the stump, you might be forced to cut a little more off the bottom of the trunk to ensure the tree will make it through the holiday season. That can be a hassle once the tree has been decorated, so be sure to check the water in the reservoir at least once per day to maintain adequate water levels.
(StatePoint) – Saving money while holiday shopping may sound impossible, but you don’t need to be a Scrooge to budget. Through smart strategizing, you can find the perfect gift for friends and family and keep your wallet intact. Here are some tips to give you a leg up on your New Year’s financial resolutions: Just Say No When it comes to purchasing warranties, there are times you can just say no. Refusing extended warranties doesn’t strip you of all protection. Reputable manufacturers will back products for three to six months and some credit cards extend or even double manufacturers’ warranties. If you do purchase a warranty, be sure the terms are worth the cost. Avoid Layaway Layaway may sound great, but without discipline, it can be costly. If you’re using a credit card to make small payments on your layaway purchase, and you don’t pay your balance in full, you may ultimately pay both a layaway fee and interest on your credit card. And if you cancel the purchase, you could pay an additional fee too. Stick to buying what you can afford today. Manage Your Money If you have trouble sticking to your shopping budget, consider
using tools to help keep you honest. Traditional financial software programs, which help you set budgets and manage money, are now providing access from mobile devices. For example, Quicken 2013’s free iPhone, iPad and Android apps allow you to securely manage your money, view up-to-date information about your accounts and check your budgets, encouraging you to make sound financial decisions in real-time. “Consumers who go into debt from holiday shopping often do so because they are unaware of what they have in their bank accounts and are spending unmindfully,” warns Aaron Patzer, VP of Innovation at Intuit. “Tracking your budgets and spending as you go will help you stay on track.” Know the Refund Policy Not all stores offer refunds for returned items. When buying gifts, make sure you know a store’s policy before your purchase. Ask for a gift receipt so your friends and family can make exchanges or get refunds if necessary. Use Gift Cards Retailers must now honor gift cards for five years from the date of issue. So find those old gift cards, and use them toward your gift purchases, even if they have “expired.” The company can
send you a new card or issue the remaining balance in cash. DIY Showing your friends and family you care about them should not put you in debt. If the holidays will cause an unreasonable financial burden, consider making presents. From baking to knitting, to writing your loved ones poems and thoughtful letters, homemade presents can be more meaningful than the store-bought variety. By planning ahead and making informed financial decisions this holiday shopping season, you can start 2013 on the right financial foot.
How to save money this shopping season
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 11
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Give Christmas a country feel early as possible. Instead of store-bought gift tags, create your own and attach a candy cane or another candy to the gift. • Think nature with decorations. Items gathered from nature can give a home a rustic appeal during the holidays. Hang a homemade wreath on the front door and include pine cones and clippings from evergreen trees w h e n a d d i n g d e c o r a t iv e accents around the house. Tuck a few decorative woven baskets in corners to further emphasize a rustic look. • Create homemade ornaments. Homemade ornaments can also give a home a more rustic look come the holiday season. Spend an afternoon creating holiday crafts with the kids and use these instead of storebought ornaments. For those who are especially gifted craftsmen, put your woodworking skills to the test to create decorative wooden stockings that, if not functional, can be replaced with more traditional stockings come Christmas Eve.
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• Don’t forget the music. Another way to create a country Christmas is to play country Christmas albums instead of classical or more traditional Christmas records. Nearly every country music star of the past and present has recorded a Christmas song or album, so create a master playlist of country Christmas songs on your digital music player and play it throughout the season to set the holiday mood in your household.
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Gift Certificates Make Great Gifts
12 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Christmas decorations can range from grandiose lighting displays to more subtle adornments. Some families may prefer more traditional holiday decor, while others might like the look of modern trimmings. Holiday decorations can also be used to create an atmosphere reminiscent of a certain type of locale, giving a home a holiday in the city vibe or a more rustic feel. For those who prefer a rustic look reminiscent of a country Christmas, consider the following tips. • Start with the tree. The Christmas tree is the center of many a home’s holiday decor, and those who want to create a country Christmas can start with their tree. Instead of traditional holiday lights, choose lights that look like candles while adorning the tree with wooden ornaments and strands of popcorn. • Forgo traditional wrapping paper. Instead of flashy, store-bought wrapping paper, wrap presents i n b r ow n p a p e r a n d p u t presents under the tree as
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 13
Great gift ideas for the men in your life bership at www.filmmovement. com, which sends your recipient one award-winning movie each month to keep. The Reader Modernize your reader’s habit with an e-reader like a Kindle Fire, Nook, or PRS-T2 from Sony. With one-touch downloading of books, this gift is especially appropriate for the reader with an insatiable appetite. If you’re shopping for an oldfashioned kind of guy, you can still make his reading experience an easier one with a handsfree bookstand from Barnes and Noble or Levenger. Music Man Whether you’re shopping for a serious musician or a hobbyist, your gift recipient will appreciate high-quality equipment. For example, the Privia digital piano line from Casio is introducing four new keyboards that have an authentic piano feel, dynamic grand piano sound, and all the benefits of portability. The PX-350 and PX-850 also provide the ability to record sound files directly to a USB thumb drive so rehearsals and performances can be easily captured and shared. He’ll be belting out seasonal tunes just in
time for that New Year’s party. For more information, visit www.casiomusicgear.com. If you’re on a budget, consider a gift that keeps on giving. For example, a pick punch, from www.uncommongoods.com, will allow him to personalize the guitar-playing experience with custom guitar picks made from expired credit cards and gym membership cards. Outdoor Adventurer Help your outdoorsman streamline his backpack for all those upcoming hunting, fishing and camping trips. The Leatherman Freestyle Multitool from LL Bean, for example, is a knife/fly fishing tool hybrid that includes regular and needle nose pliers, and wire and hard wire cutters. You can help him get his bearings with fewer gadgets. For instance, a new Casio Pro Trek watch, the PRW5100-1, is not only solar-powered and water resistant, but includes a compass, as well. Additionally, it reads altitude, barometric pressure and temperature – making it great for his next outdoor adventure. With some great ideas, you can make his holiday experience even merrier this season.
All you need to know about a popular gift
Ties remain one of the top gift ideas for men, particularly when Father’s Day arrives. They’re also staples of gifting at other times during the year. Despite the emergence of casual, dressdown days in the workplace, ties remain popular and practical gifts. They are a go-to fashion choice for dressing up a wardrobe and especially prized for special events and to denote rank within organizations. As commonplace as ties may be, certain facts surrounding their use and origin are widely unknown. Here are eight fun facts about the necktie. 1. The original people to wear neckties were soldiers in the Croatian army. The silk scarf tie was recognized as an elite symbol. 2. The first name given to the tie was “cravat.”
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3. Ties weren’t always fashion symbols. Roughly 300 years ago, the English developed neckwear so thick it could be used to protect against a sword thrust. Today it is possible to buy a bulletproof tie. 4. Stripes on a British tie run from top left to bottom right, while the stripes on American ties go in the opposite direction. 5. The bolo tie is the official tie of the state of Arizona. 6. Many of today’s ties are produced in China. 7. The city of Shengzhou is one of the world’s largest tie producers, exporting more than 200 million ties worldwide. 8. A person who collects ties is known as a “grabatologist.”
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14 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
(StatePoint) – Holiday shopping is not always easy, especially when you place a premium on giving your loved one the perfect present. But this year, don’t let shopping for the men in your life stress you out. By pinpointing their interests and shopping accordingly, you can scratch this task off your to-do list with ease. Here are some great ideas to get you started: Home Theater Buff Enhance your home theater buff’s viewing experience by beefing up his projector with a newer model. For example, Casio has just introduced a new line of projectors that feature enhanced connectivity, improved audio, higher brightness levels and 3D capabilities. You’ll be helping him cut costs too, as the entire portfolio eliminates the use of mercury lamps, allowing consumers to extend the longevity of their projector. For more information, visit www.ShopCasio.com. If your man is completely attached to his home theater system, there’s no reason to ignore this interest of his. Help him beef up his video collection by signing him up for a mem-
Gift ideas for the food fanatic on your list
Some people are a cinch to shop for come the holiday season, while others can be more of an enigma. When it comes to the latter, shoppers should determine what tickles their mysterious friend or family member’s fancy, such as a favorite hobby or even something to do with his or her profession. Food is a passion for many people and provides holiday shoppers with a great opportunity to make a loved one’s holiday season even more special. Perhaps thanks to the increase in cable networks focusing on food, foodies, those people with an appreciation and passion for cuisine, have grown in number in recent years, and holiday shoppers with foodies on their lists have a host of potential gift options at their disposal. • Cooking class: Many foodies don’t just like eating food but cooking their favorite cuisine as well. For those who like to get their hands dirty before filling their bellies, consider paying for a cooking class. Many communities have cooking classics for various types of cuisine, so consult your friend or family member, asking them which cuisine they’d like to learn and when they’re available. Or let them find their own class and
then pay for the class. This can be a great way for foodies to learn something new and meet fellow food afficionados along the way. • Specialty spices: Spices can make the difference between an ordinary meal that’s void of flavor and a meal that’s so flavorful it won’t soon be forgotten. When spicing things up for a foodie this holiday season, don’t just buy regular spices at the grocery store. For example, instead of standard cinnamon, buy a specialty spice like Mexican or Vietnamese cinnamon. Such specialty spices can add extra flavor to a meal while becoming the go-to spice for the home chef among your friends and family members. • Pressure cooker: Many foodies are fawning over pressure cooking, which can cut down on cooking times without sacrificing nutrition. Some recipes may take half the time to prepare with a pressure cooker as they might with a more traditional cooking method, an important time saving element that’s attractive to foodies who want to enjoy their favorite foods but feel pressed for time on weeknights. And while pressure cookers employ steam to cook foods quickly, that steam
also traps flavor, whereas boiling can wash flavor out. Many foodies also laud pressure cookers for their nutritional benefits. Steaming certain foods can intensify their flavor, which allows cooks to rely less on potentially unhealthy additions like salt or butter to ensure a meal is flavorful. • Serving dishes: Of course, many foodies want to share the fruits of their labors with friends and family. For the person who loves throwing dinner parties, consider some serving dishes this holiday season. Serving dishes can range from casual (for the foodie who can’t wait to fire up the grill) to formal (for the gourmet foodie), so get a feel of your friend or family member’s preferences before purchasing a set of serving dishes. • Cookbook: The ideal fallback item for holiday shoppers who can’t seem to find anything for their favorite foodies, cookbooks filled with recipes for dishes from their favorite type of cuisine (i.e., Italian, Thai, Cajun, etc.) are sure to please. When gifting with a cookbook, peruse a few of its recipes to determine if there are any special ingredients that appear throughout. If there are, purchase these ingredients and gift them as well.
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Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 15
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Christmas gift ideas for gamers springhill shelties Pet Grooming and Boarding become more powerful, provide more speed and have an extended battery life. Give your gamer the gift of the best mobile gaming experience possible with the latest iPhone, Android phone or Tablet. For example, the ASUS Transformer Pad Infinity TF700, which transforms between notebook and tablet, has a high-resolution screen, an extended battery life and is also one of the fastest android tablets available. Just be sure you protect the gear you purchase with a durable case, as newer devices can crack and scratch easily. Mobile Accessories Some games are made for finger swiping, but thousands require better control. Help your gamer gain better precision while on-the-go with a mobile controller that is compact, lightweight and compatible with different devices. For example, the SteelSeries Free Wireless Mobile Controller is a pocket-sized Bluetooth controller designed for cross-platform use on PC/Mac, Android Smartphones and Tablets, iPod touch, iPhone and iPad. Great for long trips, its lithium ion battery lasts an estimated 10 hours of nonstop playtime, and
can be charged by plugging in a USB/mini cable to your computer or mobile device. Or consider improving the mobile gaming experience with better sound via a modern, compact and comfortable headset. The SteelSeries Flux Headset, for instance, is small in stature but delivers loud and clear sound. It also has an audio port on each earcup, allowing multiple users to plug headsets into the same flux and share sound. More information on mobile gaming accessories for the holidays via can be found at www.SteelSeries.com. Keep them Informed Help your gamer stay on top of new trends with a subscription to a gaming publication like “Game Informer.” Typically, these publications come with great benefits, such as exclusive discounts on games and accessories. For more information, visit www.gameinformer.com. As the nature of gaming changes with the times, so does the gear that goes with it. This holiday season, you can help your favorite gamers maintain their competitive edge with the latest tools, accessories and knowledge.
Some Christmas traditions a little risky
Many Christmas traditions are older than some celebrants might think. The tradition of lighting up a Christmas tree, for example, dates back to the days before Christmas lights. Before electric-powered twinkle lights were invented and even before electricity was discovered, people used actual candles to adorn the Christmas tree. As one can imagine, having an open flame next to a dried-out tree was risky, so it was customary to keep a bucket of water next to the tree in the case of fire. As if fire weren’t enough, the tinsel used to decorate trees was made from strips of silver and even lead – something that
is now known to be a health hazard to adults and children alike. Although we’ve come a long way since candles and lead, even now trees that are overly dry and decorated with lights that have frayed wires can just as easily lead to fires. Plus, plastic tinsel can be a choking hazard for children and pets. One Christmas staple that has lost its status as a safety hazard is the poinsettia plant. It has long been thought that poinsettias are poisonous to people and animals. While there is some toxicity to the plant, it would require the ingestion of hundreds of leaves to get a toxic dose of a plant’s poison. we ha ve gif t certif icates !
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16 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
(StatePoint) – Shopping for someone who loves video games can be mind-boggling, particularly if you’re not wellversed in the subject. But there are a few things to know this holiday season that can help you plan the perfect present. Gaming, like most forms of entertainment, is evolving rapidly and going more mobile than ever. “Gaming doesn’t stop at just one platform, it moves from the desk to the couch to a train, in your hand,” says Bruce Hawver, CEO of SteelSeries, a manufacturer of gaming accessories. “Gamers need to be able to seamlessly choose where, when and how they play their game without sacrificing the quality of the experience.” Whether you’re shopping for a recreational hobbyist or a serious professional gamer, here are some great ways to make to his or her holiday season a merrier one: Mobile Devices Mobile gaming has suffered in the past due to the technical limitations of mobile devices. Light on graphics and animation, games trended toward simple and slow. But that’s changing as mobile devices
Make your own ornaments Holiday decorating is a big part of the holiday season. Bins are taken out of the attic or garage, and decorations are once again given their opportunity to shine for several weeks before being packed away again. Among the many decorations families use to deck the halls are ornaments that were made by hand. This year creating homemade ornaments can be a crafty project that helps families make new holiday memories. Christmas tree ornaments come in all shapes and sizes and often tell the stories of holiday traditions. There are several different ways to create personalized, do-it-yourself ornaments and leave the cheap, easily broken ornaments from the dollar stores behind. Photo ornaments Fun photo ornaments showcase how a family has changed and grown over the years. Experiment with different ways to create these ornaments. You can glue a photo to a ceramic ornament and cover it with decoupage glaze to set it permanently. Try purchasing clear, glass ornaments, then remove the top of the ornament, which is usually springloaded, before slipping a photo inside and replacing the top. You also can laminate a photo, punch a hole in the top and affix a ribbon. Ceramic ornaments The popularity of paint-it-yourself pottery has led to an increase in ceramic and crafts shops across the country. During the holiday season such shops offer many holiday items that can be painted. Often the store will then fire the pieces after they are painted so that they are shiny and
hardened for display. Those who want to do their painting at home can visit their local craft or hobby shop, where typically there are unfinished ceramic ornaments that can be painted with acrylic paints found right in the next aisle. A finishing coat of clear glaze will help protect the ornaments from year to year. Wood crafts Many of today’s craft centers have expanded to include sections devoted to unfinished wood items. Everything from letters to animal cutouts to boxes and rocking horses can be purchased and finished. Turn keepsake boxes into painted and ribbon-adorned gift boxes. Stain a treasure chest that can be used to store reindeer snacks for Santa’s crew. Turn small decorative pieces into ornaments for the tree. Paint and affix wood initials onto stocking holders to identify to whom each stocking belongs. Crafty individuals also can turn plain wood plaques into signs with clever sayings, such as “Park your sleigh here.” Scavenge around the house Young children can use any medium for making ornaments. Garlands made of macaroni or popcorn are traditional. Fabric scraps can be sewn and stuffed with potpourri for homemade scent satchels. Hand-drawn pictures can be made and laminated and hung on the tree. The only obstacle with regard to DIY ornaments is a limited imagination. Homemade items can add whimsy and a personal touch to the holiday season.
Quick and delicious holiday appetizers
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 17
(StatePoint) – The holidays are all about spending time with loved ones. With so many big holiday meals to plan and prepare, you may be looking for ways to save time in the kitchen. Luckily, there are plenty of easy strategies and recipes that can help. The key is to simplify your holiday menu by planning to use some of the same ingredients in your appetizers, main dishes and even breakfast. For example, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls offer a great base for a variety of traditional recipes – from Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups for brunch, to Pinwheel appetizers in the evening. With Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, you can plan ahead and greet guests with warm, inviting appetizers that have a short prep time – like Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels. So instead of chips and dip this holiday season, try this recipe that’s big on taste, easy on effort and sure to fly off the tray: Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels (Makes 16 pinwheels) 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls or 1can (8 oz) Pillsbury Crescent Recipe Creations refrigerated seamless dough sheet. 2 tablespoons ranch dressing 1/4 cup cooked real bacon pieces or 4 slices bacon, crisply cooked,
crumbled 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz) 1/4 cup chopped green onions (4 medium) • Heat oven to 350 degrees F. If using crescent rolls: Unroll dough; separate into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle, firmly pressing perforations to seal. If using dough sheet: unroll dough; cut lengthwise into 2 long rectangles. Press each into 12x4-inch rectangle. • Spread dressing over each rectangle to edges. Sprinkle each with bacon, cheddar cheese and onions. Starting with one short side, roll up each rectangle; press edge to seal. With a serrated
knife, cut each roll into 8 slices; place cut side down on ungreased cookie sheet. • Bake 12 to 17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown. Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Serve warm. Save time and please the crowd with the simple addition of appetizers like Bacon-Cheddar Pinwheels to your menu this year. More holiday and everyday recipes can be found at www. Pillsbury.com. Nothing is more welcoming than having delicious foods baking in the oven. Just remember, truly delicious food can be quick and easy to prepare, giving you more time to spend with your
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Some proper etiquette rules for gift giving son, do not try to anticipate what he or she will spend and then go above that price. This may come off as petty and make the other person feel uncomfortable. Instead, choose a price that you can readily afford and find the nicest thing within that range. If a person with whom you hadn’t anticipated exchanging gifts gives you something, simply offer thanks and don’t feel uncomfortable that you do not have something to offer in return. • Gift receipts are very thoughtful. Including a gift receipt with your gift tells the recipient that you tried to find something that he or she will enjoy, but that you’re comfortable with them returning the gift if it’s not just right. Again, this conveys your feelings for the recipient. Do not, however, use gift receipts as a “get out of jail free” pass. That means, don’t simply grab anything off the rack, attach a gift receipt and attempt to pass it off as a meaningful gift. • Do not e-mail thank you notes. If you are not able to thank a person in person for a gift, it is in better taste to send
a hand-written note than to fire off a quick e-mail. While writing letters has become a lost art, a hand-written thank you note stands out and shows how much you appreciate the gift. • It’s unnecessary to give your boss a gift. Gifting your boss may come across like you are trying to win favor. It also may create a competition within the office. Stick to gifting colleagues, but leave the boss out of the holiday pool. • Gift cards do not break etiquette rules. Although gift
cards may seem like the easy way out of gifting, they’ve become more acceptable and popular. If you want to personalize a gift card, try using a photo or special memory that correlates to the gift card. Otherwise, package the gift card with a few inexpensive items to create a gift basket. • When in doubt, stick with non-intimate gifts. Perfume, cologne, intimate apparel and similar items say that you know a person on a deeper level and are ex-
tremely personal. For friends and acquaintances, stick with safer gifts that do not give off intimate undertones. • Don’t regift. Whenever possible, graciously accept gifts and do not try to pass them off as your own to other people. If caught, you will be more embarrassed than if you had not given a gift at all. Following a few guidelines on gift-giving etiquette can help to make the holidays even happier.
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18 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
The rules of etiquette have loosened a bit from centuries past. No longer are people held accountable for the slightest misstep, and sometimes the rule-breakers are revered. However, when it comes to holiday gifting, erring on the side of caution and following proper etiquette can make exchanging gifts go more smoothly. Being considerate when gifting helps make the holidays enjoyable and as stressfree as possible. Some may find it unfortunate that so much pressure is placed on giving gifts this time of year. When exchanging, heed these suggestions. • Gift-giving is about the recipient and not you as the giver. The idea is to create that warm and fuzzy feeling for the person on the receiving end of the gift. Think about the person’s interests and find a gift that pertains to these interests. It may not be the easiest to find a rare book or those collectible golf clubs, but putting forth the effort will mean more to the person getting the gift. • Don’t up the ante. When exchanging gifts with a per-
Wrap your gifts with style (BPT) – The holiday season is right around the corner, and that means the presents will be piling up before you know it. This year, before you reach for the usual old boxes and bows, rethink your wrapping routine with these simple, inexpensive ideas to help you punch up every present. Not only will you surprise and delight everyone on your gift list, but you’ll also set the tone for a holiday season they’ll never forget. Think beyond the box: Hold the sweater boxes and wrap your gifts in more interesting packages. Items like baskets, buckets and tins are not only fun to unwrap, but they can also pull double-duty by being used around the house after the gift has been opened. If you saved gift boxes from last year, try repurposing them with bold, new twists. Decorate box lids using rubber stamps to create a personalized look that showcases your recipient’s initials and favorite colors. Or, create a one-of-a-kind package by covering a box with colorful
ribbon or decorating it with festive holiday tape, like EZ Start printed packaging tape from Duck brand. You can even use it to create various designs. Keep it under wraps: Set aside traditional wrapping paper in favor of unexpected materials to make gifts feel even more special. For glitz and glam, try wrapping presents in silver tissue paper, sparkly scrapbook paper or sheets of foil to create stunning style. For the crafters in your life, seasonal fabric makes a great alternative to wrapping paper; and those who love to travel will appreciate gifts wrapped in repurposed maps and exotic newspapers. For close family members, children’s artwork makes for original, whimsical wrapping paper that doubles as a special keepsake. Just have your kids draw, doodle or paint on brown craft paper, then use it to wrap presents for grandparents, aunts and uncles. Add an adornment: Amp up the wow factor of each package by adding an embellishment
The trees at Rockefeller Center
Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 19
The first Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center was erected in 1931, two years before the opening of Rockefeller Plaza, where the tree now draws thousands of tourists each year. The tradition began when construction workers hard at work on building Rockefeller Center decorated a roughly 20-foot tall balsam fir tree on Christmas Eve in 1931. Strings of cranberries and tin cans were among the items used to decorate the tree. While there was no tree in 1932, the first official tree was unveiled in 1933 in Rockefeller Plaza, and the lighting ceremony was broadcast over NBC Radio. The 1933 tree, at 50 feet tall, dwarfed the 1931 tree. However, the 1933 tree paled in comparison to the 10-ton Norway Spruce erected in 1999, which measured 100-feet tall and remains the tallest tree ever erected at Rockefeller Center. The tradition of the Rockefeller Center tree continues to evolve to this day, but the evergreen it is no longer lit with incandescent light bulbs. LED bulbs that consume a fraction of the energy of traditional bulbs are the bulbs of choice now. In addition, in 2007 Rockefeller Center partnered with Habitat for Humanity, who used the tree after it was taken down to furnish lumber for home construction.
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that doubles as an extra gift. Holiday ornaments, silk flowers and even pieces of costume jewelry will make each present a little more personalized – and much more fun to open. Instead of ribbon, you can also try tying up packages with leftover pieces of yarn. Not only is it a cute and unexpected adornment, but the fuzziness of the yarn also adds a cozy texture that’s perfect for the holiday season. If you’re looking for a final finishing touch, try making a bow out of raffia, tulle or holiday-themed Peppermint or Cinnamon Snow EZ Start printed packaging tape. Play tag: Repurpose last year’s holiday cards to create gift tags that shine. Just cut a design or picture from the front of the card. Then, punch a hole near the edge and use a felt marker to write your recipient’s name on the back. Thread some ribbon through the hole and secure it to your gift for a quick and easy tag that’s sure to stand out. Ship and surprise: In addition to all of the gifts you’ll give in person this season, the holidays are prime time for mailing plenty of packages, presents and goodies, too. Packaging tape in fun holiday prints, like EZ Start printed packaging tape from Duck brand, helps ensure your gift is protected and looks fabulous when it arrives. You can even use it to spruce up envelopes for all of the holiday cards you send. From cute and quirky to stylish and sophisticated, a few simple materials and these easy tips are all you need to make each gift as unique as its recipient. No matter whose gifts you’re wrapping this holiday season, they’re sure to find your one-of-a-kind creations simply unforgettable.
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20 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
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Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 21
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this holiday: Scrapbook Scrapbooks are a great way for children to show their appreciation for friends and siblings. They can create an interactive stroll down memory lane with pictures, cards and other mementos. Include shared interests and pictures of both the child and gift recipient together to truly personalize the present. Art and Photo Projects Immortalizing your child’s artwork or an adorable photograph is a perfect keepsake from your child. For example, MakIt will embed your drawing or photo into everyday items such as plates and travel tumblers you can enjoy daily. The products are nontoxic, BPA-free and made in the USA. Dishwasher-safe, they are also break-resistant, so they
can last forever. And don`t forget Fido! You can create gifts for your pets and from your pets as well. Learn more at www.MakIt.com or by calling 1-800-248-9443. Themed Gift Baskets You and your child can have fun putting together gift baskets. Choose a theme to reflect the personality of the recipient. If the basket is for a beloved teacher, an educational theme would be great. If your child and grandparent love to play catch together, a sports-themed basket would be ideal. Use your imagination when it comes to the theme and always make sure the basket is overflowing! With handmade gifts like these, your child is sure to have the perfect present for everyone.
New twists on food traditions
(StatePoint) – For many families, the best thing about the holidays isn’t the lavish gifts, it’s the traditions they have made together. And while old customs won’t fade, families across the country are spicing up their holiday celebrations with new traditions this year. Here are four ideas for new food traditions you can start this holiday season: • Serve food from other cultures: Try adding a cultural dish to your holiday feast. Danish roast goose, Hungarian chicken paprikash, Jewish latkes, Irish oyster stew, or Grecian leg of lamb are all traditional meals that could invigorate your holiday spread. For dessert, try Italian sweet cakes or Australian Pavlova, a meringue-like treat. • New take on an old favorite: Lots of families have traditional holiday favorites that they break out once a year. For many, that dessert is the moist, sweet cake panettone. Bauducco Panettone
is a ready to eat specialty cake loaded with a variety of raisins, candied fruits and chocolate chips. Extremely versatile, panettone can add a new twist to classic recipes. Some unique recipes include using panettone to make croutons for fresh arugula and roasted fruit salad or substituting Bauducco Panettone in a bread pudding with amaretto sauce. “Even for breakfast, its light texture and subtle sweetness make the cake perfect to pair with coffee or hot chocolate,” said Stefano Mozzi, General Manager at Bauducco Foods Inc. “It can even be used to make French toast and waffles.” For some delicious recipe ideas, visit www.bauducco.com/ product/panettone. You can find Bauducco Panettone on store shelves this holiday season at Wal-Mart, CVS, Walgreens and grocery stores, drug stores and mass market retailers nationwide. • Plan a cookie exchange:
Have everyone in your family bake one type of cookie and bring them to the festivities – one dozen cookies each for larger groups and two dozen for smaller ones. You’ll have a variety of delicious cookies for dessert, while only having to bake one type yourself. This is an easy and surefire way to please your family’s sweet tooth! • Cook with the kids: The days leading up to the holidays are a great time to bond with your kids. One of the best ways to do that is to get them involved in the cooking process. Have your children pick a few recipes they can help you with. Make extra for friends, neighbors and the less fortunate and deliver them with your kids to spread some good cheer. Try something new in the kitchen this holiday season. Sometimes the traditions you start on your own are the best of all.
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(StatePoint) – Between family, friends, coaches and teachers, some children give as many holiday presents as they receive. Helping your child pick out great gifts can be tricky and often times, impersonal. This year, encourage your child’s creativity with easy kids’ crafts they’ll give as gifts. Do-it-yourself handmade gifts are a growing trend, thanks to the popularity of sites like Etsy and Pinterest. “Unlike a store-bought present, a handmade present is a personalized treasure made by you!” says Meg Survil, general manager of the brand MakIt, which preserves children’s artwork on objects like plates and bowls. Here are a few suggestions for thoughtful gifts kids can give
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22 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012
Great gifts for kids to give
Yummy Christmas baking ideas (StatePoint) – The holidays are all about tradition, and there’s no better way to evoke the spirit of the season in your holiday baking than by highlighting every crowd’s favorite flavor – vanilla. From vanilla flavored snaps to biscotti, you can give the classics a fresh, bold twist this year. Vanilla doesn’t have to be boring! “For too long, vanilla has been misunderstood as plain, taking on only a supporting role in recipes,” says Shauna Seer, author of the new cookbook “Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques.” “With the right recipe, vanilla can really shine through – even in traditional holiday baking.” Sever contends that the way to do this is to use whole vanilla beans and full-flavored pure vanilla extract, steering clear of the imitation variety. Even chocolate lovers will be tripping over each other for seconds and thirds. For some sweet holiday inspiration, try whipping up light and airy Vanilla Sugar Puffs using this simple recipe from Sever. Vanilla Sugar Puffs (Makes about 30 two-inch
puffs) For the dough: 1/2 cup whole milk 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 2 tablespoons granulated sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted 5 large eggs, at room temperature 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract For decorating: 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract Pinch salt Swedish pearl sugar, to taste • Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. • I n a h e av y - b o t t o m e d 2-quart saucepan, combine milk, 1/2 cup water, vanilla bean, butter, sugar and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Carefully remove vanilla bean and scrape remaining seeds into liquid. Bring to a boil. Add flour, lower heat to medium and begin stirring vigorously with a wooden
spoon until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the pan and form a loose ball. www.indianamallpa.com Keep stirring for about two minutes to dry the dough. • Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat in eggs, one at a time on 2334 Oakland Ave. • 724-349-6110 medium speed. Beat in vanilla HELP OUR ECONOMY, SHOP LOCALLY! extract. Drop dough by the tablespoonful onto prepared baking sheets, leaving about thurs., november 22 Fri., november 23 sat., november 24 sun., november 25 9 AM-9:30 PM 5 AM-9:30 PM 11 AM-5 PM closeD two inches of space between 6 AM-11 PM 6 AM-11 PM 7 AM-10 PM thanksgiving Day dollops. 5 AM-11 PM 6 AM-10 PM 11 AM-5 PM 6 AM-4 PM, 8 PM (22 )-9PM then 8 PM-3 AM 7 AM-10 PM • In a small bowl, beat 10 AM-6 PM 8 PM-9PM (23 ) 12 MiD-10 PM 8 AM-9 PM 10 AM-5 PM together egg, vanilla extract, 26 tues., november 27 WeD., november 28 thurs., november 29 salt and 1 teaspoon water mon., november 10 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM until well blended. Brush 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 10 AM-9 PM 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 10 AM-9 PM each puff with this egg wash 9:30 AM-9 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM and sprinkle generously with 10 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM pearl sugar. mon., December 3 Fri., november 30 sat., December 1 sun., December 2 9 AM-9:30 PM 10 AM-9 PM 11 AM-5 PM 10 AM-9 PM • Bake for 15 minutes, 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 7 AM-11 PM 7 AM-11 PM then rotate sheets from top 8 AM-10 PM 8 AM-10 PM 9 AM-8 PM 9 AM-10 PM 9 AM-10 PM 9 AM-10 PM 10 AM-6 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM to bottom and front to bake. 8 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM 9 AM-10 PM 9 AM-9 PM Continue baking until deeply thurs., December 6 Fri., December 7 tues., December 4 WeD., December 5 golden and sound hollow 9 AM-9:30 PM 10 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM 10 AM-9 PM when their crisp exteriors are 7 AM-11 PM 7 AM-11 PM 7 AM-11 PM 7 AM-11 PM 9 AM-10 PM 9 AM-10 PM 7 AM-11 PM 7 AM-11 PM tapped, another 15 to 20 min9:30 AM-9 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM 7 AM-9 PM 9:30 AM-9 PM utes. Transfer puffs to a wire 9 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM 8 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM rack to cool before serving. sat., December 8 sun., December 9 Santa Arrives November 17 11 AM-5 PM For additional information 9 AM-9:30 PM SPECIAL SANTA HOURS! 6 AM-12 AM 7 AM-11 PM and recipes, visit www.Quirk8 AM-10 PM Visit Santa At His Magical Castle, 7 AM-11 PM Books.com. Outside of JCPenney Hallway 9 AM-8 PM 7 AM-9 PM 9 AM-9 PM Sundays: 1-4 PM • Mon.-Thurs.: 5-8 PM 7 AM-9 PM Whether you’re baking Fri. & Sat.: Noon-4 PM & 5-8 PM Pet Photos: Dec. 2 & 9, 1-4 p.m. holiday cookies or brewing up hot drinkable desserts, ‘tis the season for vanilla.
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Rescue.org/gifts. Donate Toys Unfortunately, there are countless children out there whose families can’t afford a gift-filled holiday that many of us take for granted. By donating unwrapped toys and books to charity, your generosity will undoubtedly brighten up a child’s season. As you enjoy the holidays, take the time to help out someone less fortunate. Just a small bit can go a long way.
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Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012 - 23
disaster. They live in limbo, struggle to survive and have no place to call home. By purchasing a “Rescue Gift” to honor friends and family in lieu of store-bought presents, you’ll be contributing to critical supplies and services for vulnerable families. The International Rescue Committee’s Rescue Gifts offer a wide variety of gifts at various price points. For example, you can opt to help fund a year of school for girls in Afghanistan, contribute to gardening tools and seeds to help families in need grow food, or help train Burmese refugees, to deliver basic health care. In so doing, both you and your recipient gain a true sense of the kind of work your gift is supporting. “These gifts have a tangible impact on the lives of refugees and others who have been displaced by conflict, political upheaval and natural disaster around the world,” says Kay Bellor of the International Rescue Committee. “They help families to survive and thrive and last a lot longer than a box of chocolates.” For more information or to give Rescue Gifts visit www.
How to make a difference this holiday season (StatePoint) – Better than any toy, trinket or fruit basket, what if you could give a gift that would actually make a profound difference in someone’s life? The holidays are the perfect time to reach out to the less fortunate. Here are a few ways you can help this holiday season: Work at a Soup Kitchen Many people have made it a yearly tradition to volunteer at a soup kitchen during the holidays. You can help the homeless and hungry get a hot meal and give them the small gift of a full stomach. Contact your local soup kitchen to see how you can help. If you don’t have time to volunteer, consider donating non-perishable goods, as many soup kitchens have a food pantry as well. Help a Family in a Crisis Zone A gift from the mall is nice, but donating to a philanthropic organization on behalf of a loved one is a much more meaningful way to celebrate the holidays. There are an estimated 40 million people around the world who have been uprooted from their homes by war and
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24 - Last Minute Gift Guide, The Punxsutawney Spirit & Jefferson County Neighbors, December 2012