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A SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT TO THE

San Marcos Daily Record sanmarcosrecord.com

Top Toys • Ideas for Seniors Be Green• For the Foodies

Country Christmas • WiiU • Gift Baskets • Holiday Parties • Express Yourself


2 • Gift Guide • November 22, 2012

Wii U™ GamePad The Wii U GamePad™ controller removes the traditional barriers between you, your games, and your TV by creating a second window into the video game world. It incorporates a 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen, as well as traditional button controls and two analog sticks. The GamePad also includes motion control, a front-facing camera, a microphone, stereo speakers, rumble features, a sensor bar, a stylus, and support for Near Field Communication (NFC). It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery and weighs approximately 1.1 pounds.

Nintendo TVii

Nintendo TVii enables you to find, watch, and engage with TV shows, movies and sports programming in entirely new ways. Using the Wii U GamePad, you can browse and search for programming from sources you subscribe to, including cable and satellite channels, video-on-demand services, and even recorded TiVo shows.

Best Video Games

for the Holiday

Here are the best games of 2012.The most wanted games for Christmas this year and the Top 10 Video Games on the top of everybody's list for this Holiday Season. If you haven't picked out a gift for your favorite kid, or favorite 'Kid at Heart,' then take a look at the Best Video Game List and you can't go wrong. From the blasting multi-player mayhem of Black Ops 2 and Halo 4, you’ve got choices. Race at high speed with Forza, Need for Speed, or NASCAR. Take on the adventure with Resident Evil and Assassin's Creed, but whatever you do, make sure one of these game titles gets under the tree or in the stocking this year.

Once you find something to watch, you can use the GamePad to start the program or set a DVR recording.While watching live TV, you can also use the GamePad to engage and share your experience with family or friends.This service will be available in the United States and Canada at launch for users with a broadband wireless Internet connection.

Top 10 Video Games

1. Call of Duty Black Ops 2 2. Assassin's Creed 3 3. Halo 4 4. Borderlands 2 5. Madden NFL 13 6. Forza Horizon 7. Farcry 3 8. Medal of Honor: Warfighter 9. Resident Evil 6 10. Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth

Honorable Mention

Lego Lord of the Rings, NASCAR the Game - Inside the Line, The Walking Dead, Hitman: Absolution, Need for Speed: Most Wanted Limited edition, FIFA 2013 Soccer


Gift Guide • November 22, 2012 • 3

Christmas

Country

Christmas a Country Feel

Give your

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 in brown paper and put presents under the tree as 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 when adding decorative 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. • 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.


Great gift ideas for seniors 4 • Gift Guide • November 22, 2012

Exchanging gifts has become synonymous with the holiday season. Family members exchange gifts with one another, men and women trade gifts and greeting cards with their coworkers and students participate in grab bag gift exchanges in the classroom. Giving gifts is such a big part of the holiday season that shoppers may run out of gift ideas before they have crossed everyone off their lists. For example, it might not be easy to find the perfect gift for the senior citizen on your holiday shopping list. Seniors might not be up-to-date on the latest gadgets or might have downgraded from a home to a more manageable living arrangement, so knickknacks or decorative items for the home may not be too practical, either. The following are a few tips for gifting seniors this holiday season. • Warm things up. As men and women age, many develop medical conditions that require medication. Medications like blood thinners can make seniors feel the cold more than others, so a gift that can keep seniors warm through the winter can make a great gift. A thick wool sweater or a fleece blanket is both practical and thoughtful. • Open a senior's eyes to e-readers. Many seniors find that maintaining a household is simply too much work once all the kids have grown up and moved out. As a result, many move from private homes into apartment complexes geared to the senior set or even into assisted living facilities that make it easier to deal with the daily demands of life. When seniors make such a move, they sacrifice space for convenience. Personal libraries may no longer be possible or practical, but an e-reader such as Amazon's Kindle or the Nook(R) from Barnes and Noble allows seniors to store their favorite books in one small and convenient place. • Give the lap of luxury. Many seniors are on fixed incomes, which greatly limit how much disposable income they have to treat themselves

Gifts no sports fan should go without

Few things make holiday shoppers happier than giving a gift that instantly lights up a loved one's eyes. All the work that goes into finding and securing the perfect gift becomes worth it and then some when the recipient's smile stretches from ear to ear. A great holiday gift often involves someone's favorite hobby. When gifting the family sports fan, the options are endless. Sports fans tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, and they're liable to be just as vocal with appreciation if any of these gifts are waiting under the tree for them this holiday season. • Magazine subscription: Many sports fans feel they can never get enough information on their favorite teams and sports. A magazine subscription to Sports Illustrated or another periodical focusing on a particular sport can provide insider access for a year or longer. Magazine subscriptions are typically inexpensive, but they provide lots of bang for your gifting buck, especially weekly publications. In addition, many magazines now give print subscribers access to exclusive content online, playing to your favorite sports fan's ever-growing desire for

more knowledge. • Sports apparel: According to IBISWorld, a California-based market research firm, online sporting apparel sales were expected to approach $5 billion in 2012. Driving those sales are sports fans who can't wait to don the gear of their favorite teams. Apparel makes a great holiday gift, whether it's an authentic player jersey, a team logo hoodie or a personalized T-shirt that directly connects fans to their teams. • Memorabilia: Sports memorabilia can be costly, but shoppers can still find great deals on everything from autographed items to relics of a franchise's fledgling days. When shopping for memorabilia, be wary of auctions, where "shill bidding" can drive up the price of coveted items. Shill bidding occurs when owners bid on their own items at auction in an attempt to drive up the sale price. And authentication can be an issue with regard to sports memorabilia. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has been cracking down on fraudulent memorabilia. Shoppers without knowledge of the memorabilia industry might want to focus on less expensive

to something nice. But seniors still love a trip to the spa or a round of golf just as much as their younger counterparts. Savvy shoppers know that deals can be had on such luxuries, and it just takes a little patience and research. Sign up for a service like GrouponTM to gain access to exclusive discount offers to a variety of luxury offerings, including spa treatments, cruise vacations and rounds of golf. Signing up is free and easy, and you might just find a deal that makes a senior's holiday season. • Go healthy. Many men and women embrace a healthier lifestyle as they age. Seniors who might have been too busy raising a family to focus on their own health are typically encouraged by their physicians to exercise and embrace healthier eating habits. Gift-givers can help seniors on their quests to become healthier by buying them a membership to a local fitness club, many of which provide classes designed specifically for seniors. Fitness clubs typically offer discounted memberships to seniors, who might even be eligible for rebates from their health insurance providers if they meet established attendance requirements. Seniors who suffer from arthritis might benefit from a membership at a nearby yoga center. • Give the gift of communication. Sometimes the best gift is the simplest gift. Seniors love to speak with their children and grandchildren, so why not give the gift of communication? If you haven't already, alter your cellular phone plan to a family plan that gives seniors unlimited minutes when calling family members so they can speak to their grandkids as often as possible. You can even go the extra mile and upgrade a senior's computer so he or she has access to instant messaging and videoconferencing services such SkypeTM, allowing seniors to see just how fast their grandchildren are growing even if those youngsters are on the other side of the country.

items that will be a hit under the tree. • Video games: Many sports fans indulge in their love of a favorite sport by playing video games. Like most technology, video games are consistently reinvented, so last year's game might already be outdated, making video games an ideal holiday gift. Those who want to go the extra mile can include a new gaming console along with the latest video game. • Tickets: Of course, sports fans might like nothing more than tickets to see their favorite teams play. Buying directly from a sports team is a safe bet, but it can also be expensive. Savvy shoppers can explore the legal secondary market, which includes online retailers like StubHub.com or even league-affiliated programs like NFLTicket Exchange, where they might find more affordable tickets. When gifting tickets, do so far enough in advance of the game so fans have time to plan their trip.


Gift ideas for the food fanatic

Gift Guide • November 22, 2012 • 5

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. • 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. • 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 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 so, purchase these ingredients and gift them as well.


Toys

6 • Gift Guide • November 22, 2012

New FURBY looks great in any color, but Teal FURBY seems to be the most popular so far. Maybe it's the luxuriant teal sheen of its fur, or the way the teal sets off the bright yellowgold of its eyes.Take your pick of a rainbow of new colors. With a mind of its own, your new Hasbro Teal FURBY will develop its personality based on how you play with it. It will dance to your favorite songs. Put it in a room with a few of its friends and they'll interact with each other in all sorts of

Furbys

They are back! with a twist

hilarious ways while speaking either English or the special FURBY language, FURBISH. Rusty on your FURBISH? Not to worry, because your FURBY in Teal comes with some basic FURBISH words, and you can also translate FURBISH using the downloadable FURBY App. Plus, the more you play with your Teal FURBY, the more English it will speak.You can also use the FURBY App to feed your new Teal FURBY.

Hot Wheels RC Terrain Twiser

Drive this Hot Wheels Terrain Twister vehicle from Mattel forward, backward or side-to-side in a stealthy motion using the RC controller. • Pontoons with corkscrew-shaped threads allow indoor or outdoor driving. • Includes: vehicle & RC controller • Ages 8 years & up • Uses 2 "AA" batteries & charger (included)

Air Hogs

FURBY, Teal • Develops its personality based on how you play with it • Interacts with its friends and dances. • Speaks basic FURBISH • Learns English the more you play with it • Free FURBY App to translate FURBISH and feed your FURBY • Requires 4 AA batteries (not included) • For ages 6 and up • Available in 10 bright new colors

An Air Hogs hover assault aircraft made by Spin Master Toys is sure to keep the young and young-at-heart entertained with hours of flying and driving fun. Drive the assault vehicle on the ground, jump hills, or fly over the terrain to shoot 4 yellow missiles at your target. Remote control vehicle can move left, right, forward, or straight up into the air.


Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Star, Harmony B. Sharp ™

Gift Guide • November 22, 2012 • 7

The Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Star, Harmony B. Sharp ™ is the first even talking, singing, dancing hair - spinning Lalaloopsy Silly Hair Doll who loves to sing, dance, and put on shows. She's a natural entertainer who loves to be center stage. She can do it all - act, dance, and sing…even if she sometimes misses a note or two. Sing along with her to your favorite songs. Change her hair style to watch her perform a new song. She has a pet kitty.

SpiderMan Web Shooter with Glove

Your child will love this Spider-Man web shooter.The dual-action glove can shoot either water or a special web fluid that is included. Evil doesn't stand a chance.

Barbie Sisters Cruise Ship

• Barbie and sisters can take a magical trip on their family cruise ship • Cruise ship features a steering wheel and 2 lounge chairs • Side panel opens up to reveal deck, an umbrella pops up, a fun swing, and a grand buffet rotates around • Back of the boat also pulls out to reveal a fabulous pool that features two slides for racing • Flip up the deck to reveal two separate beds


8 • Gift Guide • November 22, 2012

Host a merry, memorable holiday party

The holidays are the most festive time of the year, and no holiday season is complete without a party or two with family and friends. Be it to celebrate a religious holiday or to ring in the New Year, a holiday party is an essential element to the holiday season. While it's always great to be a guest, hosting a holiday party is a great way to show friends and family how much they mean to you. This holiday season, consider the following tips to ensure your holiday party is as memorable as the season is merry. • Make it a themed party. The holiday season is filled with festivities, from office parties to neighborhood gatherings to gatherings with family. For more casual affairs, set your party apart with a theme. A sweater party, where each guest wears a Christmas sweater, can be a fun way to excite guests and inspire a few laughs. Give a prize to the guest with the most ornate sweater. Or encourage guests to dress up like some favorite holiday characters, including Santa Claus, Frosty the Snowman or even Rudolph. • Don't forget the holiday fare. Just like parties are a staple of the holiday season, so, too, are certain foods and types of music. Few people indulge in

some eggnog outside of the holiday season, so make sure there's plenty of eggnog on hand. And don't forget the cookies. As people enjoy holiday goodies, make sure they do so with holiday music playing in the background. Choose songs that guests know and to which they can sing along. Such sing-alongs might become especially memorable once guests have a glass of eggnog. • Host a holiday giveaway. Though it can be fun to do a Secret Santa, chances are guests already have enough gifts to buy. But hosts can spice things up with a holiday giveaway that rewards guests. Host a holiday-themed round of Trivial Pursuit or a holiday movie trivia game that encourages guests to compete for prizes. Prizes can be small and inexpensive, but guests will be sure to enjoy some friendly competition for holiday-themed prizes. • Prearrange transportation home for guests. A successful holiday party is one that is safe, so be sure to prearrange travel home for guests just in case anyone overindulges in holiday cheer. When sending out invitations, seek volunteers to be designated drivers, and avoid drinking alcohol yourself. For larger parties, call a local taxi service and arrange for a couple of cabs to be on call when the party ends.


CURB EXCESS

Gift Guide • November 22, 2012 • 9

Easy ways to be 'green' for the holidays

While the holiday season is a time of joy, giving and religious reflection, it also can be a time of excess. Holiday parties, meals brimming with more food than the average person can consume, wrapping paper tossed aside after minimal usage, and shoppers venturing for miles in cars in search of presents can all prove wasteful. For the environmentally conscious, the holiday season is a great opportunity to put your ideals to use. Although it may seem like a challenging task, going green for the holidays is easier than you might think. • Get a live Christmas tree. Christmas trees are planted expressly for the purpose of being cut down and turned into holiday decor. Responsible tree farms will plant many more trees than is needed for the purpose of Christmas trees. Be a good steward for the environment and recycle your tree once the holidays are over. Some recycling centers will pick them up for free or a small fee. • Consider giving food as a gift. Food is consumable, doesn't take up space, and locally grown food does not require shipping or wasteful packaging. It's an ideal gift for those who already have every-

thing. • Cut back on holiday decor. Most people love showcasing their Christmas spirit with decorations. However, many decorative products are produced overseas and shipped over to North America on large vessels that require a lot of fuel. Think about reducing your decorations or replacing plastic and metal decorations for all-natural options. Branches of holly or twigs tied with ribbon to form a natural wreath. • Don't leave lights on for extended periods of time. Homes and businesses bedecked in holiday lights are staples of the season. However, extra lights, inflatable lawn Santas and other accessories consume substantial amounts of energy. Instead of leaving lights and other decorative items running for hours each night, turn them off after a little while to save energy. • Donate money in lieu of gifts. Choose environmentally responsible charities and donate funds to their efforts in the name of people who do not need

Star Wars action figures join dominoes in the National Hall of Fame

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (AP) — Luke Skywalker and Princess Leia outmuscled little green army men for a spot in the National Toy Hall of Fame. "Star Wars" action figures join centuries-old dominoes in the class of 2012, which was announced by the Rochester hall. A national selection committee chose them from among 12 finalists, plucking the most ancient and most modern toys from the list. "Star Wars" action figures went on the market in 1978, following the 1977 release of the 20th Century Fox movie. The 3 3/4-inch figures of Han Solo, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and company were sold until 1985 and again from the mid-1990s to today. Museum officials say their phenomenal popularity inspired other toy makers to tie their products to movies and television series and they note the toys' appeal extends to adults who continue to collect them. Dominoes originated in China in the 1300s and appeared later in Europe in a slightly different form. A standard set

of 28 tiles represents all possible results when rolling a pair of six-sided dice, with the addition of two blank sides. The toys beat out plastic green army men, the board game Clue, the FisherPrice Corn Popper, Lite-Brite, the Magic 8 Ball, the pogo stick, sidewalk chalk, the electronic game Simon, the tea set and Twister. To date, 49 toys have made the cut. They range from classics, like PlayDoh and Slinky, to the less obvious, like the stick and cardboard box. Officials at the Toy Hall of Fame say anyone can nominate a toy and thousands of suggestions come in every year. An internal committee of curators, educators and historians chooses the finalists and then a national selection committee votes for the winners. Longevity is a key criterion for getting into the 14-year-old hall. Each toy must be widely recognized, foster learning, creativity or discovery through play, and endure in popularity over generations.

another package of pajamas. • Use decomposable shipping peanuts. Shipping peanuts are environmentally friendly packing products that are made from cornstarch. When they come in contact with water, they dissolve. • Donate unused gifts. Nearly everyone gets an unwanted gift come the holiday season. Instead of putting items in the trash or taking them back to the store, donate gifts you'll never use to a charity or a thrift shop. • Wrap gifts with wrapping paper alternatives. Wrapping paper is a luxury item and one that tends to be wasteful. There are many items around the house that can be recycled into decorative gift wrap. Sew scraps of fabric together for a patchwork bag or use glossy photos from a fashion magazine to papier mache a box. When you think creatively, you're bound to come up with some very usable and eco-friendly ideas. Although many people tend to go overboard for the holidays, getting into the holiday spirit does not have to be unfriendly to the environment.


10 • Gift Guide • November 22, 2012

Food and beverage groupings are popular choices for gift baskets.

Baskets make an easy, affordable option

The go-to gift of late is the gift card. Chance are, though, that recipients -although thrilled that they can do their own shopping -- may find gift cards a bit impersonal. Statistics indicate that around $100 million in gift cards are purchased every year in the U.S. Despite being a popular gift item, roughly six to 10 percent of all gift cards go unused, according to the Tower Group. Some even come with inactivity fees. As an alternative to gift cards, gift baskets may be a welcome change. Gift baskets are relatively easy to put together and sometimes, especially around key holidays, can be purchased ready-made. Grouping similarly themed items together to fit a particular interest can fit the bill when shoppers can't decide on a gift to buy. The advantage to gift baskets is that they can be assembled for just about any hobby, interest or occasion. They don't even have to be in a traditional "basket." Here's a look of some easy gift groupings to fit a wide variety of events. • New baby: A collection of baby-themed items works when wishing new parents well. It can also be a good solution for when all of the bigger-scale items on a baby registry have already been purchased and only the smaller, lowerpriced things are left. Put together infant T-shirts, wash cloths, outlet safety plugs, shampoo, diapers, and the other things new parents may not immediately think to buy. Wrap it all up in a portable baby bathtub for a container that has utility. • Housewarming: Kitchen essentials are good ideas for newlyweds or those who just bought a new home. Scour the kitchen tool aisles of department stores or specialty shops. These can be themed according to what is purchased as well. For example, fill a large mixing bowl with a rubber spatula, a box of paper muffin cups, cake mix, and mixing spoons for the person who loves to bake. • Travel: Getting ready to take a trip can be a bit hectic, and a traveler may overlook some of the essentials that can make the vacation more pleasurable. Items like a travel alarm clock, miniature size toiletries, traveler's checks, gum, a journal, travel guides, and a memory card for the person's camera are good ideas. Pack all of these things inside of an expandable tote bag. • Host/hostess gift: Saying thanks to a friend or family member who has invited you over for a dinner or overnight stay can be as simple as grouping a few things together. Put together a basket with a set of sheets, hand towels, pillow and other essentials that can be appreciated by future guests. • Food: One gift idea that goes quite well in a gift basket is food. Pick a theme and put the items together. Barbecue lovers can appreciate sauce, shish kabob skewers, spice rubs, a cookbook, hickory chips, grill tools, and other similar items. Gift baskets are personalized gifts that are easy to assemble and can be a viable alternative to gift cards.


Gift Guide • November 22, 2012 • 11

express your personality he clever use of accessories can lend many different looks to a few basic outfits. One tip is to choose shoes, a scarf or tie, a belt, and jewelry in matching or complementary tones, then pair them up in unique ways. For example, if you always reach for the same black belt and bag to go with gray clothes, try accenting with red, pink, or lavender instead. Scarves can add a dash of color to an otherwise monochromatic outfit. Shoes are another quick way to change up your look.

T

F

or example, chunky boots and opaque tights give a skirt a very different feel than when it's worn with sheer hose and heels.

A

ccessorizing can also help you adapt to seasonal change or go from work to play. Choose accessories of different texture and weight as the season changes, using materials like velvet or suede for winter. To make the transition from office wear to after-hours, replace classic, understated jewelry, and plain belts with something flashier or more casual. Slip off those pumps or dress shoes and step into platforms or even cowboy boots.

don’t forget your boots

&

suits



Holiday Gift Guide