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Happy Holidaze Celebrate the best of the holiday season in Southwest Louisiana: GIFT IDEAS CALENDAR OF EVENTS MUCH MORE

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Thrive Holiday Gift Guide

December 2011

O Christmas Tree! O Christmas Tree! HERE’S HOW TO CARE FOR THEE

For many families, Christmas trees are hallmarks of the holiday. While some opt for the convenience of an artificial tree, others long for the rich scent and beautiful, original display of a genuine, fresh-grown Christmas tree from a local farm. But before you head out with the kids to pick out the real thing, make sure you understand the tasks and obligations that come with having a real tree in your home. You want your family memories to revolve around something bright, beautiful and fragrant – not something that proved to be a highmaintenance headache for the weeks leading up to December twenty-fifth.

The National Christmas Tree Association provides this comprehensive list of tips to help you properly care for your newest botanical family member: • Place the tree in water as soon as possible. Most species can take in water up to eight hours after being cut. • To maintain freshness and minimize needle loss, display tree in a traditional water reservoir stand. As a general rule, stands should provide one quart of water per inch of stem diameter. • Use a stand that fits your tree. Do not whittle the sides of a trunk to fit a stand. The outer layers of wood are the most efficient in taking in water and should not be removed. • Keep trees away from sources of heat, such as fireplaces, heaters, heat vents, and direct sunlight. • Lower the room temperature during the day to slow the tree’s drying process. • Check the stand daily to make sure that the level of water does not go below the base of the tree. With many stands, there can still be water in the stand even though the base of the tree is no longer submerged in water. • Do not drill a hole in the base of the trunk, as it does not improve water uptake. • Use of lights that produce low heat, such as miniature lights, will reduce drying. • Always inspect light sets prior to placing them on the tree. If worn, replace with a new set. • Do not overload electrical circuits. • Always turn off the tree lights when leaving the house or when going to bed. • Monitor the tree for freshness. After Christmas or if the tree is dry, remove it from the house. • When you buy your tree, ask about recycling options. • Never burn any part of a Christmas tree in a wood stove or fireplace.

December 2011

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3

THE

GOODS on Gi f ting

by Erin Kelly

When we look to the biggest culprits of inappropriate or substandard gift-giving, we usually look no further than boyfriends, brothers, fathers, fathers-in-law or husbands. In short: MEN. It all depends on what you want out of the gift exchange, of course, but if you’re a man or woman who wants to be warm-hearted, touched or inspired by a holiday gift, you may be disappointed from the presents that

A study published by Advances in Consumer Research in 2001

come from the men in your life. Research indicates that when it

found that successful gift-givers were those who used

comes to deep and meaningful gift-giving, men often miss the mark.

buying strategies based on core meanings to the receiver or the

There are exceptions of course – some women make poor

receiver’s perception of the world. Their research found that the

gift choices and some men make fantastic ones – but in general

most meaningful gifts were often exchanged among newlyweds

there appears to be a gender gap in gifting. The root cause could or dating couples; “failed gifts” were more common with couples be based on socialization, according to research by Loyola

in the middle stage of their marriage.

University Chicago, which found that from an early age, gift-

The defi nition of a “good gift” is one that helps the recipient,

buying is typically seen as an activity for daughters rather than

coincides with a life-stage change, symbolizes a relationship,

sons.

involves sacrifice or extensive planning and includes some

A consumer psychologist with the University of California-

quality that is unique to the recipient, according to research

Davis has studied gift-giving trends for twenty years and found

published in Psychology and Marketing.

that men tend to think of gifting more as an economic exchange

“People want to know that the person giving the gift put

of goods than a personal, romantic gesture.

some thought into it. People want to receive gifts that are

Business and Marketing Consultant Kimberly Dellafosse, founder

perfect for them, something that no one else in the house can

of Crimson Media Enterprises, is unsurprised by the fi ndings.

use because it’s so unique and personal,” Dellafosse said. “That’s

“Men often look at their signifi cant others and think, ‘She has

why getting your wife an appliance may not be the best choice.

everything she needs. What can I possibly get her?’ She could

Pointing to a vacuum cleaner and saying, ‘I’ll take that one,’

be wearing the same pair of black boots every single day, but it

doesn’t take much thought, planning or creativity. You don’t

probably won’t occur to him that she could benefi t from another have to put much heart into buying a vacuum cleaner.” pair. Men tend to be practical in their approach to buying gifts.”

If you want something that makes life easier, which is almost

In general, Dellafosse says, “women buy gifts based on

always an ideal and thoughtful gift approach, Dellafosse

emotion. They think, ‘Oh, so-and-so will be so happy when they

suggests steering clear of the appliances and getting a little

get this’ or ‘I can’t wait to see his face when he sees this.’ Women

more creative. Instead of buying a vacuum cleaner or sweeper,

want that emotional response. Men generally want practicality.

purchase a month’s worth of house-cleaning from a maid

They aren’t buying for the emotional response. They’re buying in

service, for example. Then the woman – or man – who is in

response to the question: ‘What does she need?’”

charge of keeping the house clean can enjoy a month-long respite.

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Thrive Holiday Gift guide

December 2011

“Go the extra mile.” “Go the extra mile.”

And speaking of respites, “spa or massages are often excellent

someone else – you don’t want to buy something too small and

gifts, especially for women, who are usually under a lot of stress

you don’t want to buy something too big.”

with all the responsibilities we have.”

The key to a good piece of clothing or a good gift in general

Another creative gift idea for husbands is to purchase

is to “be personal,” she said. Also: Buy something that the

something that you can enjoy together as a couple, Dellafosse

recipient will like, not something that you prefer.

said. Cooking or dance classes, for example.

UC-Davis researcher Margaret Rucker found that bad gifts are

“If you really want to make it special, buy the cooking lessons

those that are generic, symbolize something you want the

and then find someone to watch the kids so you can make it

recipient to be, cost little and involve little effort. Research

happen,” Dellafosse said. “Go the extra mile.”

compiled by Communication Research Trends in 2006 found

She also had several suggestions for men who want to buy

that cash was consistently considered a bad gift, but was

clothes as gifts for their signifi cant others. Rule number one: Buy

typically the choice of a person (men, usually) who has little faith

the right size.

in their ability to buy nice presents.

“Don’t fl ip through the closet and rely on those sizes. Lots

Interestingly, Psychology and Marketing reported that when

of people, especially women, keep clothes that are too small in

asked to describe their most memorable gifting events, women

their closet. Instead, look at the size on an item of clothing that

tend to recall gifts they’ve received, while men recall gifts

she wore recently,” Dellafosse said. “There are two things that

they’ve given.

you definitely don’t want to do when you buy clothes for

Think outside the box…

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GIFT TRENDS

for 2011

If holiday shopping habits are any indication of an improving economy, then Americans can breathe easier. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend about $705 on gifts this year—an increase of more than $112 over 2010. The bulk of the seven-hundred bucks will go toward kids, parents and other family members. Friends will get about $68, while the average gift for a co-worker hovers around $20. Consumers will also shell out extra bucks for decorations, greeting cards, candy, food and fl owers. According to Consumer Insights, gifts in 2009 were personal, while those in 2010 went more toward the practical. This year, buyers want to have a little bit of both. More than 55 percent of gift recipients say they would prefer a gift card. Other popular items on Americans’ gift lists: Electronics, clothing and jewelry. Nearly half of gift buyers will shop online – an increase of 5 percent from 2010 – with an average of 36 percent of gifts per shopper coming from online outlets. Fifty-three percent will shop with their phone; men being more likely than women to go this route.

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December 2011

Presents for Your

Perfect Pooch

If you’re one of those proud pet owners who includes Fido on the holiday gift-list, then take a look at these gift suggestions from Sheila Gilley, local dog rescuer and writer for Examiner.com: Sirius Republic Handmade Collars/Leashes & I.D. Tags. At www.siriusrepublic.com you can find stylish and original gear for your pooch. Homemade Dog Treats. If you love to bake, make yummy dog cookies for your pet, and bag up the extras with festive cellophane to hand out to multiple friends at the holidays. There are lots of yummy recipes available online. Make sure to follow dog treat recipes to avoid ingredients that may upset their tummies.

Pet-ZZZ-Pad. Heating mats for dog and cat beds are available at www.petzzzpad.com. The Pet-zzz-pad moldable mat is perfect for dogs that shiver, kittens, puppies and even dogs with muscle or joint pain. Molly Mutt, Dog & Cat Bed Duvet Covers. This is a fabulous idea and very affordable. Stylish dog/cat bed “covers” that you fill with your old towels, blankets, clothes, etc., are available at www.mollymutt.com. Solves the problem of trying to wash bulky pet beds in your washing machine.

Give the gift of choice ...the First Federal Bank Visa gift card. This prepaid gift card can be used everywhere Visa debit cards are accepted - including at the kindergarten teacher’s favorite retail store and for your nephew’s online purchases. Simple, convenient and flexible, it’s the ideal gift choice for the holiday season.

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SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA TREES OF HOPE, CHARITY TREE DECORATING CONTEST Now–Dec. 21, Delta Downs Racetrack Casino & Hotel, Vinton. Delta Downs invites you to come and vote on local charities’ unique Christmas tree decorations as they compete for a share of $10,000 in cash. Awards ceremony is Dec. 23 at 7 p.m. 800-589-7441. deltadowns.com. J&R CARRIAGE CHRISTMAS LIGHT RIDES Now– Dec. 31, Shell Beach Drive, Lake Charles. J&R Carriage offers evening Christmas light carriage rides along Shell Beach Drive. Reservations required, 842-0778. jandrcarriage.com. CHRISTMAS AT THE RAILROAD MUSEUM Now– Dec. 31, DeQuincy Railroad Museum. Thousands of exterior lights, laser show, multiple indoor trees. Visitors are welcome to walk around the building and view the indoor trees. 786-2823. dequincyrailroadmuseum.com. MERRY CHRISTMAS CHARLIE BROWN Now–Jan. 28, Historic City Hall, Lake Charles. This exhibition from the Charles M. Schulz Museum features original Peanuts strips and examines the making of the animated classic. 491-9147. WINTER WONDERLAND AT L’AUBERGE Now–Jan. 8, L’Auberge Casino Resort Event Lawn Area. Bring your family and friends and enjoy an experience only L’Auberge can offer. $15 per four hour session. Visit ldlcasino.com or check L’Auberge out on Facebook. LIL BAND O’ GOLD SWAMP POP CHRISTMAS PAGEANT Dec. 7, Central School Arts & Humanities Center, Lake Charles. A one-of-a-kind holiday extravaganza from 7–9 p.m. featuring Warren Storm, Tommy McClain, David Egan, Steve Riley, CC Adcock, Richard Comeaux, Dickie Landry, David Ranson and Pat Breaux. This specially created show will be full of amazing music, infectious spirit and surprises better than anything you’ll find in your stocking. 439-2787. PLAID ART SHOW Dec. 8, The Frame House Gallery, Lake Charles. Dress in your favorite plaid outfit and view an array of plaid art for the heart! Enjoy the holiday open house with exotic food, music and Chilean wine from 5:30 - 9:30 p.m. 337-433-5530. LAKE AREA CHRISTMAS CELEBRATION Dec. 8 & 11, Trinity Baptist Church, Lake Charles. Dec. 4, 6 p.m., “The Great Christmas Giveaway;” Dec. 8, 7 p.m., Phillips, Craig and Dean and Point of Grace Concert; Dec. 11, 9:15 and 10:45 a.m., “No Ordinary Christmas.” Admission is free for Dec. 4 & 11. Admission is $22 for Dec. 8. 480-1555. tbclc.org.

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COMMUNITY LIVE NATIVITY Dec. 8–11, Lakewood Bible Fellowship, Lake Charles. The annual outdoor Community LIVE Nativity will be from 6:30–8 p.m. and portray the Christmas Nativity using live animals, costumed actors and other authentic characterizations. Guests are welcome to drive through or stop and let the children pet the animals. Cookies and Hot Chocolate will be provided. 474-4600. VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS PARTY FOR SENIORS Dec. 8, Lake Charles Civic Center. A fun-filled festive day for seniors 60+ begins with a continental breakfast for all-a live band for lots of Christmas dancing, caroling children and a full Christmas lunch. After lunch, there will be Entergy Bingo for more than $1,500 in prizes. 9 a.m.–2 p.m. 474-2583. HOLIDAY OPEN HOUSE Dec. 8, Central School Arts & Humanities Center, Lake Charles. Come and visit the open house which will feature musical performances, art exhibits and refreshments from 5–8 p.m. 439-2787. KENNY ROGERS CHRISTMAS & HITS Dec. 9, L’Auberge Event Center. Music icon Kenny Rogers will be celebrating 30 years of performing his Christmas & Hits Tour with a festive show at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $45/55 (stadium/floor) at www.ticketmaster.com or the L’Auberge Business Center. VINTON ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CAJUN CHRISTMAS Dec. 9, VES Gym, Vinton. Get in the holiday spirit with games, music, food and even pictures with Santa at the VES Gym from 5–8 p.m. Donate can goods and receive free admission. 217-4520. LOVE CAME DOWN CONCERT Dec. 9, Lake Charles Immaculate Conception Cathedral and Dec. 11, Immaculate Conception Church, Sulphur. Catch the Christmas spirit with harmonious and magical carols with the Bayou Bell Choir, Bruce Allured, director, and Les Petites Voix. The concert begins Fri. 7:30 p.m. or Sun. 3 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults or $5 for students. 491-9348. BREAKFAST WITH SANTA Dec. 10, Prien Lake Mall, Lake Charles. Have breakfast with Santa in the food court at 9 a.m. 477-7487. RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER Dec. 10, Lake Charles Civic Center, Rosa Hart Theatre. The Lake Charles Civic Ballet gives a total theatrical experience. 11 a.m. matinee, 6 p.m. gala, $15 for adults, $10 for children. 802-5779. lakecharlescivicballet.com.

Thrive Holiday Gift guide

December 2011

HOLIDAY EVENTS WESTLAKE CHRISTMAS FESTIVAL Dec. 10, Downtown Westlake. Festival begins at noon with a gumbo cook-off, an ornament contest, bake sale and arts and crafts booths. Parade begins at 4 p.m. and will be followed by a tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. 433-0691. MOSS BLUFF CHRISTMAS PARADE Dec. 10, Downtown Moss Bluff. Moss Bluff Christmas Parade begins at 2 p.m. 855-7522. IOWA CHRISTMAS PARADE Dec. 10, Downtown Iowa. Parade begins at 2:30 p.m. followed by Christmas in the Park at Lawrence Toups Memorial Park Pavilion at 5 p.m. with gumbo, cookies, soft drinks, choirs and Santa. 582-3535. iowala.org. A LIVING CHRISTMAS Dec. 10 & 11, First Baptist Church, Lake Charles. First Baptist Church presents “A Living Christmas” at 6 p.m. Admission is free. 433-1443. YOUTH ORCHESTRA CHRISTMAS CONCERT Dec. 12, Lake Charles. Join the Dr. Francis G. Bulber Youth Orchestra and local school choirs for a combined concert at 6 p.m. $5 donations at the door. 582-2466. fgbyo.org. LAKE CHARLES SYMPHONY FUNDRAISING GALA Dec. 15, McNeese Shearman Fine Arts Building, Lake Charles. Enjoy this black tie affair with a social including heavy hors d’oeuvres beginning at 6 p.m. followed by a holiday concert given by the Lake Charles Symphony Orchestra and ending with a catered dinner at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 and proceeds benefi t the Lake Charles Symphony. Call 433-1611 for more details. lcsymphony.org. DECK THE HALLS! Dec. 15, The Cottage Shops, Lake Charles. Beat the last minute Christmas rush by enjoying late night shopping at the Cottage Shops. From 5–8 p.m. 439-2693. December 2011

ANGIE MANNING’S “DRAGONFLIES IN WINTER” CD RELEASE PARTY Dec. 16, The Porch Coffee House, Lake Charles. Angie Manning will release her fourth studio album, Dragonflies in Winter. Angie will be collaborating at 6:30 p.m. with fellow songwriter, Daniel Lee of Baton Rouge, Rick Nelson of New Orleans, and her brother, Dean Manning, throughout the evening performing original covers and some Christmas tunes. CHILDREN’S MUSEUM MEET SANTA! Dec. 17, The Children’s Museum, Lake Charles. Meet Santa Claus from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. and make a Candy Cane Rudolph in ArtSpace throughout the day. 433-9420. www.swlakids.org. CHILDREN’S MUSEUM GINGERBREAD HOUSE WORKSHOP Dec. 19, The Children’s Museum, Lake Charles. Bring the kids to the Children’s Museum to learn how to make a gingerbread house with graham crackers and icing in the ArtSpace at noon and 1 p.m., Christmas reading at 11 a.m. 433-9420. www.swlakids.org. CHILDREN’S MUSEUM HOLIDAY ART ACTIVITIES Dec. 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30 The Children’s Museum, Lake Charles. Enjoy Christmas readings at 11 a.m. and ArtSpace activities noon and 1 p.m.: Dec. 20, Christmas placemats; Dec. 21, foam Christmas trees; Dec. 22, Candy cane crafts; Dec. 23, Christmas boxes. On Dec. 26, rain sticks at 11 a.m. and noon; Dec. 27, MAD HATTER Science Show at 11a.m., Fairy wings workshop at noon and 1 p.m.; Dec. 28, tambourines, boomerangs, lanterns; Dec. 29, Fairy wings, wands; Dec. 30, crowns and tiaras. 433-9420. www.swlakids.org.

(337) 491-6749

Events are subject to change. Go to visitlakecharles.org/cajunchristmas or call 800-456-7952 for the latest holiday event information. Thrive Holiday Gift Guide

2910 Ryan St. • Lake Charles

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BE ON THE LAYAWAY LOOKOUT You may think layaway plans are a retail dinosaur of yesteryear, but thanks to beleaguered holiday shoppers who have suffered under the weight of recession, many retail giants are resurrecting this old form of shopping as a way to keep consumers happy. Layaway can be a smart alternative to credit cards for those who can’t afford the up-front costs, but it’s still a payment plan – so why not have plans for your payments? That way you can reap the full benefi ts of the luxury of layaway, which is now being offered either in-store or online by retail giants like Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Toys R Us and Sears. In what way is layaway better than credit? Most importantly, you aren’t charged interest on the purchase. Unfortunately, putting an item on layaway also means you can’t take it home until you’ve paid it off. And paying it off often involves additional fees. “Layaway services can be a great alternative to the using a credit card,” said Carmen Million, president of the local Better Business Bureau. “However, it’s extremely important that customers take note of the fine print and understand the store layaway policy.”

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The Federal Trade Commission notes that most stores give consumers a set amount of time to pay off their layaway merchandise, usually up to 90 days. Consumers should be fully aware how much time they have to pay off their items. The FTC and BBB said consumers should have the following information before taking advantage of a store’s layaway plan: • How much time you’ll have to pay off the item(s) • The store’s complete refund policy, in case you are unable to continue payments or decide you don’t want the items • The store’s pricing policy, in case an item goes on sale after you put it on layaway • Storage or service plan fees • Down-payment requirements • Due dates on payments The FTC recommends that consumers keep good records of all their transactions, especially layaway items.

Thrive Holiday Gift guide

December 2011

Smart Shopping for a

Jolly Holiday by Erin Kelly

If you spend the day shopping and then jingle all the way home, make sure it’s because the loose change in your pockets is still there and hasn’t been swiped by a savvy holiday scammer or unclear store purchasing policies. It’s the season of the determined shopper. Consumers will carry more cash than usual, have a wallet full of credit cards for their daily stops, and buy things on a whim because they’re caught up in the commercialized spirit of the season. If that sounds like you, make sure you protect your finances by being a smart shopper. Main Street Financial Federal Credit Union Vice President Misty Albrecht said shoppers should determine what they’re buying and how they’ll pay for it before they leave the house. “Make a list and check it twice! Before you head out, know the exact item you will purchase at each store and your method of payment. If you plan to use cash or debit card, leave all your credit cards at home, and if you plan to use a credit card, only take that particular card with you,” she said. Leaving additional cards and methods of payment at home will not only help you avoid the temptation to overspend, it will also keep them out of arm’s reach from enterprising thieves and minimize the chances that one of the cards will get lost during the shopping frenzy. Before you get swipe-happy with your credit cards, it’s best to have some idea on how you plan to pay off your holiday debt, according to

Albrecht. “This way you can avoid the January credit card blues,” she said. The Federal Trade Commission further advises that shoppers have a full understanding of store policies for the items they buy. Know the business you’re dealing with and check out refund and return policies. Also, review warranties when applicable and pay attention to fine print. According to the FTC, shoppers should keep all their receipts and maintains meticulous records of their purchases. This allows for easy returns and budget-keeping but also helps you determine which purchases are yours in the chance that your identity is compromised during the shopping brouhaha. Albrecht gave one final piece of advice for shoppers who will pound the pavement this holiday season: “Remember the words of the Grinch. ‘Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, is a little bit more.’”

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11

CLASSICS

Stay with the Classics for Jewelry Gifts by Christine Fisher

Trends come and go, but there’s nothing like a classic jewelry piece as a holiday gift. You know she’ll wear it for years, add similar pieces to expand her jewelry wardrobe and think of you every time she wears it. It doesn’t get much better. Annette St. Romain of Bijoux Fine Jewelers says people often buy classic pieces during the holidays. “We want gifts to last and to be worn throughout the years. If men are choosing a piece, they’ll often reach for something classic,” she explained.

With the uncertain economy, people are making more discriminating choices for gifts. Instead of spending money on trendy pieces, they’re out to fi nd the best deals on classics that’ll stick around for a while. “One of the perks of buying classic is it can be worn for a lifetime then passed down to future generations,” said St. Romain.

The common thread among classic pieces are they’re timelessness, their elegance and their simplicity. These traits allow them to work well with any occasion or wardrobe. Diamond studs are perfect for every woman and every outfit. Wear them with jeans, a cocktail dress or a business suit. Round shapes are the most traditional, but consider unique cuts like princess and square for extra fl air. Diamond studs work whether your hair is long or short, dark or light. They add a little sparkle near your face to brighten your complexion, but they’ll never overwhelm your look. You can choose small or large stones, depending on your budget; any size looks smart.

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Thrive Holiday Gift guide

CLASSICS

Her eyes will light up if there’s a bauble, a bangle or a brilliant diamond ring from Bijoux Fine Jewelers. Our jewelry experts can help you find the gift she’ll love; and you’ll love how easy it is! In fact, a box from Bijoux under the tree means happy holidays for both of you.

December 2011

Pearl studs offer the same benefi ts of diamonds, but can be found at a more affordable price, especially if you look for freshwater pearls. Jewelry and wardrobe experts agree that it’s best to start with at least a six or seven millimeter size, creamy white in color. Exotic colors like black, blue and gray can be added later. “Dangle earrings are also considered classic. A pearl or diamond in a lever back design is a great choice for someone who wants a little more fl air. Dangles add movement near your face and they’re a little more playful than a stud style,” said St. Romain.

classic size is between half to one inch in diameter; the larger the hoop, the more trendy it becomes. Classic hoops still have a wide variety: polished, twisted, diamond cut, wide or narrow so you can make them fi t your own personality. In fact, most women own several styles because they are versatile. A classic watch always looks stylish. Stay relatively traditional with rectangular, square or round faces. A well-made watch should last for years and looks right in most every occasion. “For gifts, it’s best to choose classic shapes and metals. You really can’t go wrong. If you’re in doubt, come in and let us help. We’re very good at assisting with gift items!” she said.

Hoop earrings are probably the most common style of earrings for women, making them an excellent gift. The most

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The Business of B2B Gifting Some businesses are prohibited by law from handing out gifts to vendors and clients, but others – particularly small and locally owned businesses—have free reign when it comes to giving goodies to the people who support them. When participating in business-to-business gifting, however, there are several things to take into consideration to make sure your message of appreciation gets across while your bottom line stays in the black. Here’s a few tips from e-corporategifts.com on how to handle the business of business-to-business gifting during the holidays: · Decide how much you want to spend on each gift and how you will handle the gifting. Do bigger clients get bigger gifts? How will the gifts be delivered? · Make sure you send the right message. If you send something overly elaborate, it may come off the wrong way. Most businesses simply send gifts as token thank-yous. A typical budget is $25 or less. You certainly don’t want your gift to come off as a bribe or a favor. · Decide whether or not to put your logo on your gift. As a business owner, you probably prefer to have your brand stamped wherever possible, but not all recipients

appreciate getting gifts with logos. This is purely a personal preference. Some items, like pens, mugs, key chains and calendars, understandably have logos printed on them. But holiday gifts may be a little more personal than that. · Although the holidays are an obvious time for giftgiving, keep in mind that they will probably receive gifts from many other appreciative business owners as well. Consider straying from the crowd by giving gifts throughout the year – the anniversary of your client’s business, for example.

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Thrive Holiday Gift guide

December 2011

Do You Know What I Know? Every holiday season we go through the motions of celebrating, but usually don’t have the time or wherewithal to stop and ponder the historical significance of our traditions. Well, now’s the time to ponder. Take a look at these Twelve Tidbits of Christmas:

“A Christmas Story”

• T he fi rst recorded usage of the word Christmas was in 1038 – Cristes mæsse, the Old English version of Christ’s Mass. • I f you were to receive every present in the Twelve Days of Christmas, you would accumulate 364 gifts. • A ccording to the EPA, Americans generate an additional million tons of household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. • H ere’s how to say Merry Christmas in German: Froehliche Weihnachten. • F rance typically handles the most Santa letters each year, with about 1.2 million. • B ecause of the holiday’s pagan origins, the Puritans originally banned the celebration of Christmas, calling it ‘Foolstide.’

Deck the Halls with your own painting!

• H umbug is 18th century slang for “rubbish” or “hoax,” hence Ebenezer Scrooge’s catchphrase:‘Bah! Humbug!’ • T here’s an old wives’ tale that if you bake bread on Christmas Eve it lasts forever. • “ White Christmas” is typically considered the most popular Christmas carol in America. • M oviefone named “A Christmas Story” the top holiday movie in American cinema. • A labama was the fi rst state to offi cially recognize Christmas as a national holiday. • F ranklin Pierce was the fi rst United States president to decorate an official White House Christmas tree.

December 2011

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Thrive Holiday Gift guide

Adidas • Maui Jim • Ashworth • Spartina • Fairway and Green • Head

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December 2011

It might be a duplicate kitchen gadget or a sweater that is two sizes too big, but chances are you’ll get at least one gift this holiday season that will send you back into the retail trenches once the festivities are over. Whether you’re hoping to exchange or get a refund, you’ll be happy to hear that slightly more than half of retailers surveyed by the National Retail Federation say they plan to loosen their return policies on holiday purchases this year by doing such things as extending deadlines and waiving receipt requirements. Holiday returns are expected to cost stores $47.1 billion this year – quite a hefty price tag. But retail experts say alienating customers by refusing returns can be even costlier. A third of shoppers who encounter problems while returning an item won’t come back, reports Gartner, an independent technology market research fi rm. So if you are unhappy with a gift this year, there’s no need to hesitate to return it. Odds are, the person who gave it to you would want you to have a gift you can use and enjoy. But once you’ve decided a gift is going back, experts do recommend some tips for making sure you can get in, get out and get home to enjoy your new gift. REVIEW STORES’ RETURN POLICIES AND TIME FRAMES. Before you even consider returning a gift, contact the store or go to its website to fi nd out its return policy. It will help you manage your expectations to know if they offer an exchange, credit, refund or give you the option to decide. Some stores have specifi c return policies that are more fl exible during the holiday season. For example, if the item was bought on a store’s website, most retailers allow their merchandise to be returned to the physical store. Also, you should try to return items within 15 days after the original purchase in order to receive a refund or store credit. Some of these time frames to return items are extended during the holiday season but this varies from retailer to retailer. BRING GIFT RECEIPTS. One of the most important items to bring along with your returns is your gift receipt – if you have it or if you can get it from the person who gave you the gift. Most stores will give store credit with gift receipts, but some can also make refunds to the original credit card or provide a refund in cash. Some items may not be refunded for their original price if they have been discounted since the purchase. However, more retailers offer full refunds during the holiday season than at other times of the year. KEEP TAGS AND ORIGINAL PACKAGING. Some retailers won’t accept items if they are already opened or if not all of the components are included. If you do open the item and want to return it, be sure you keep all of the tags and original packaging. If you plan on returning an item, do not wear or use it. LEARN ABOUT ONLINE STORES’ SHIPPING POLICIES. If you are returning something online, fi nd out the store’s shipping policies and costs. Some websites provide free shipping on returns, while others charge customers to ship their returned items. Other online retailers provide a shipping label and deduct the shipping fee from the refund. Remember to keep your tracking number if you ship an item in order to find out when the retailer receives the item. BE NICE. This may seem like a given, but store employees endure a tremendous amount of rude treatment from customers during the holiday season, and the long hours they’ve likely had to work in recent weeks may have left them exhausted. And with so many people clamoring for returns and exchanges at once, it’s easy to get frustrated yourself. Bearing this in mind, remember that a smile and good manners can defuse a potentially unpleasant situation and help you as you negotiate your refund or exchange with less hassle.

December 2011

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How to Stop Internet Predators From Unwrapping Your Finances The holiday season is here. Bring on the shopping frenzy! Does the term “shopping frenzy” make you want to cringe? You may be one of the many who is choosing to avoid the chaos and long lines by looking for deals online. However, while it may seem quieter, if you aren’t careful online shopping can turn into a different kind of frenzy that will carry on way past the holidays. When you’re making purchases on the Internet, it’s crucial to protect your fi nances, or an Internet predator may be unwrapping your accounts for the holidays. Here are some simple tips to remember as you’re surfing for some Christmas cheer. KNOW YOUR MERCHANT “Before you make a purchase, become familiar with the name and reputation of the company or seller fi rst,” says Matthew Bowles, assistant vice president and marketing coordinator of City Savings Bank. “Be especially careful of sites offering unbelievable bargains. A lot of phantom, fl y-by-night websites appear during the holiday season touting amazing deals, but they often turn out to be scams or thieves.” If you do not recognize the company, visit an established Internet news source, directory or rating service. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has a website www.consumer.gov with tips, links and buyer guides to help you shop safely.

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December 2011

PROTECT YOUR PRIVACY It’s important to know what information a company or seller is gathering from you, how it will be used and if they share or sell information to other companies. “Check the merchant’s website to make sure a privacy policy is posted,” says Bowles. “Make sure you’re comfortable with their policies before purchasing any items. Also look for seals from privacy enforcement organizations, such as Truste or BBBOnline. If you don’t see the SSLsign that looks like a broken key or padlock in the browser’s address bar, it’s best to avoid that site completely.” It’s also important, if you are using a PC, to keep your virus and spyware protection updated. PAY ATTENTION TO THE DETAILS “Make sure you understand the merchant’s shipping and return polices, including the shipping and handling fees and delivery dates before you click ‘buy,’” says Bowles. “It can also be helpful to look for an email address to write to or a number to call if something goes wrong.”

KEEP GOOD RECORDS “It’s good practice to get into the habit of printing or electronically saving records of online transactions and receipts,” says Bowles. “This will also help you keep track of delivery dates and shipping and handling fees.” If you’re striving to make your holiday shopping “greener,” you can take a screen shot of your transaction details instead of printing it out. You can also keep any email confirmations. THE BEST WAY TO PAY “Debit cards are a great way to pay at a store and even better way to keep track of your finances, but they are not always the safest option when you are shopping online,” says Bowles. Credit cards are usually the safest option for shopping online, because under federal law your liability for fraudulent charges is only $50. If an Internet predator steals your debit card information, they could have access to your entire checking account.

Have more questions on how to protect your finances? City Savings Bank is happy to help. Visit citysavingsbank.com, call 800-920-8661 or stop by one of the bank’s branches in DeRidder, Lake Charles, Sulphur, Moss Bluff, DeQuincy or Leesville to speak with a banker.

Dr. Gladys Miller

Obstetrics & Gynecology Some ServiceS offered: First Gyn Exam Pregnancy Care Contraception Counseling & Medications Abnormal Pap Smear Evaluation Menstrual Disorders Menopause Therapy Surgery

Dr. Miller is Board Certified by the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology. She is a fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists. Dr. Miller began practice in New Orleans in 1986. She returned to her hometown of Lake Charles in 1997. She is married and has one son.

New patients are welcome! 4150 Nelson Rd. • Bldg E, Ste 3 337-475-9995 December 2011

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December 2011


Thrive December Holiday Guide Insert 2011