Have yourself a thrifty little Christmas -- with priceless memories
Look for low-cost gift ideas in feature sections, blogs and reader forums.
Find holiday season activities at parks, libraries, malls and other community centers that sound like fun.
How are charities, religious groups and others helping the needy this month? Is the newspaper offering a way to assist deserving neighbors?
It's tough for some families to feel cheery this holiday season because of financial concerns at a time of job cuts, investment setbacks and other economic clouds. Half of parents with children at home are stressed about not having enough money to buy gifts, according to a recent American Psychological Association survey. And 53 percent of adults polled by the Associated Press expect to spend less on holiday gifts than they did last year.
This opens an opportunity for parents and educators to focus on ways of celebrating, giving gifts and feeling grateful that are based on traditional values and priceless family moments such as singing carols or decorating gingerbread houses. Homemade presents that show clever creativity and personal attention are more distinctive that off-the-shelf packages. Craft store managers officials say more people this year are making framed photos or artwork, table centerpieces and fashion accessories. Some shops offer free classes for children and adults to make Christmas ornaments, treasure boxes and other personal gifts.
Baked goods also are a way to spend time and thoughtfulness rather than lots of cash. You can load a basket with treats, then wrap it with colorful cellophane and a big bow. Another approach is to have everyone in a family or circle of friends pick names and buy a gift for just one other person -- with a cost limit. Participants can submit suggestions along with their names. None of these tactics involve cutting back on occasions to share games, songs, memories, appreciation, laughter and other activities that reflect the true meaning of the season.
Toy seller says: "While times are difficult, the last thing parents are going to cut from their budget is the Christmas present for their child." -- Gerald Storch, chief executive of Toys "R" Us
Parent says: "For the last couple of years, my family has focused on experiences like making a dinner together or going to see a play. It's more affordable than gifts and it contributes more to memories." -- Scott Spiker, financial planner in Fort Worth, Texas
Retail watchdog says: "With the sobering effect of the economy looming over this holiday season, consumers are going to have to be creative with their dollar and be more conscious of their spending in order to avoid a holiday hangover." -- Steve Cox of the Better Business Bureau national headquarters in Arlington, Va.
Front Page Talking Points is written by
Alan Stamm for NIEonline.com, Copyright 2013
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