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Goods For Guys And Toys For Boys

(NAPSI)-Having trouble finding the perfect gift for the men in your life this holiday season, or maybe the best toy for the boy? Here are some great gift ideas for the holidays this year.

What Men Want

The men in your life will know you have a knack for gift giving if you match the present to the man.

For the do-it-yourselfers on your list, there is no better gift than tools. Northern Tool + Equipment (www.northerntool.com), a supplier of high-quality tools and equipment for almost 30 years, offers a complete Northern Industrial carbon steel 123-piece tool set that includes any tool needed to fix something around the house, including drive sockets, ratchet-handle screwdrivers, wrenches, bits, pliers, hex keys, knife, hacksaw, hammer and more-all in a sturdy toolbox.

If your man needs serious power, Northern Tool also offers its exclusive Powerhorse Gas-Powered Pressure Washer, which is sure to make any tool man envious. With 3,500 PSI (pounds per square inch), this pressure washer has the power and durability to clear the dirt off any surface.

Rugged outdoorsmen can't go wrong with a Bob-A-Que Portable Outdoor Grill from Kotula's (www.kotulas.com), a one-stop online store for guys' gifts that provides free shipping. Whether you are camping, hunting, fishing or even tailgating, the 360-degree, pivoting Bob-A-Que Outdoor Grill lets you safely cook over a campfire, outdoor propane tank or existing outdoor grill.

For tailgaters, Kotula's also offers the ultimate man's cooler. The Aluminum Diamond Plate Ice Chest and Cooler is as rugged as a truck box but lightweight enough to take anywhere.

Toys for Boys

Give your youngster some old school fun and a thrill this holiday season with a winter sled. Build your own or order one of the fun-filled sledding options at Kotula's, such as its Classic Wood Toboggan or the Ultimate Flyer Sled.

Get your kids excited about using tools with a large, sturdy, play tool bench from Northern Tool. The 38-piece Deluxe Workbench is 33 inches tall and has drawers and shelves with doors to store the 37 included accessories, including a toy drill.

Junior handymen may also enjoy the Black & Decker Junior Tool Set from Northern Tool, which lets kids learn how to use hand tools. It includes a play hammer, screwdriver, screws, nuts and bolts, plus two pieces of "wood." More tools for little hands can be found in the Kettler CAT Tool Belt and Tools that includes a tool belt pouch, hammer, pliers, screwdriver and wrench.

Learn More

You can find more than 20,000 great gift ideas at Northern Tool + Equipment, www.northerntool.com or (800) 533-5545; and Kotula's, www.kotulas.com or (800) 685-4845.

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Tips For Greening Up Holiday Mailings

(NAPSI)-More than 16.6 billion cards, letters and packages will likely be delivered this holiday season, and many will carry a unique message: "Season's Greenings." That's because there are plenty of ways to green up your holiday mailings. For instance:

Green Postage

You might be surprised at just how green holiday postage stamps have become. Stamps, stamped envelopes and stamped postal cards are now printed using water-based inks made from soybeans and contain no lead.

Green Packaging

Those looking for a greener way to ship something might take a quick trip to the post office. The U.S. Postal Service has been recognized with Cradle to Cradle certification for the environmentally friendly design and manufacturing of Priority Mail and Express Mail boxes and envelopes. The packages are 100 percent recyclable and free. You can pick them up at the post office or order them online at usps.com and have them delivered to your door without charge.

Green Shipping

Using usps.com to purchase postage and print address labels saves time and fuel. You can also use the site to request free package pickup.

Green Delivery

With 195,000 vehicles, the Postal Service operates the largest fleet of delivery vehicles in the U.S. and has the largest fleet of alternate-fuel vehicles in the world. In certain parts of the country, three-wheeled electric vehicles deliver mail with zero gas emissions and at a cost of only 4 cents a mile. Of course, there's also the service's "fleet of feet," with more than 10,000 letter carriers delivering on foot.

Recycling

Secure recycle bins in post office lobbies make it easy for customers to recycle mail after reading during the holidays and every day. With a motto of "Read, Respond, Recycle," the mail recycling program is available at 6,000 postal facilities across the country.

For more tips and information, visit www.usps.com.

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Game Trends Deliver More Entertainment

(NAPSI)-Today's top video games aren't just scoring points with kids, they are also a big hit with other members of the American family.

According to the Entertainment Software Association, 50 percent of all American moms and dads now play video games with their children. Additionally, games in the "family entertainment" category were the most popular segment of last year's video game market--and with good reason.

Playing these games can be a great way for families to spend time together, but the most advanced gaming systems also provide a variety of other options for parents and children to enjoy. For instance, the PlayStation 3 (PS3) computer entertainment system can serve as the digital hub of the family living room. In addition to playing games, the PS3 doubles as a Blu-ray player, provides HDMI output and 1080p resolution, has an integrated Wi-Fi and Internet connection and has plenty of storage for music and pictures. Here's a closer look:

Moms, Movies And Memories

The PlayStation 3 system has 120GB of memory, so there's plenty of space for mom to store music or digital photos, which can be shared or displayed on the family's high-def TV. And if she's a film buff, mom can connect to the PlayStation Network for online access to a huge library of downloadable movies, as well as television shows, original programming and games.

Dads, Discs And Dollars

The PS3 is now slimmer, lighter and consumes less power than previous models, so budget-conscious dads can take their mind off the energy bill as they watch a movie on the system's Blu-ray player or immerse themselves in a game of the action-adventure hit "Uncharted 2: Among Thieves."

Girls Rule

Girls can sing their way to the top of the charts with "SingStar Queen." The game features more than 20 tracks from the popular pop-rock group, and kids can download over 700 additional songs from artists including Pink, Kelly Clarkson and MGMT. Aspiring pop stars can even record their performances using the PlayStation Eye camera and upload them to MySingStarOnline for other players to view and vote on.

Fun Toys For Boys

Odds are, the boys in the house will be happy to play some of the system's top games, including "LittleBigPlanet," the community-based video game that allows players to create and share their game-play experience with other users through the PlayStation Network. There's also "Ratchet & Clank Future: A Crack in Time," the latest installment of the best-selling series that transports you into an animated world similar to that of a computer-generated Saturday morning cartoon.

Everyone Together Now

If you want to get the whole family together, there are plenty of movies and television shows to download through the PlayStation Network. But, there's also "BUZZ! Quiz World," which provides a glitzy quiz show experience, putting each family member in the contestants' seats of a virtual TV-studio setting. With over 5,000 new questions, family game night is redefined with this addictive trivia experience that the whole family can enjoy.

For more information, visit www.playstation.com.

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Sticking To A Holiday Budget Without Being A Grinch

(NAPSI)-You may already be feeling it--that perennial "urge to splurge" that strikes just as the holiday catalogs hit mailboxes and in-store Santas appear. This year, though, that urge will be sorely tested: On the one hand, 65 percent of consumers say the economy will affect their holiday plans, according to a recent survey by the National Retail Federation, with 84 percent of them planning to spend less.

On the other hand, who wants to disappoint those on your holiday list? While it's unrealistic to cut spending completely, the gloomy forecast simply means you need to shop smarter. Here are several ways to approach this holiday season without burning up your bank account:

Think Like a Retailer: Stores are hoping to avoid a repeat of last year's holiday fire-sale prices, and the National Retail Federation anticipates that "many sales may only be offered to a retailer's most loyal customers." That means if you haven't done so already, sign up for e-mails from your favorite stores to be alerted to special discounts. Keep in mind that most retailers have lowered their inventories by an average of 10 percent from 2008, according to recent Standard & Poor information.

Plan Ahead: Drafting a list of who you're shopping for will keep you focused and on budget. Using the Internet to research gift ideas and compare costs is a great way to prepare before hitting the stores. And when you head out to shop, have your list handy so you stay on track.

The Mighty Widget: Some of the best deals can be unearthed without waiting for a discount e-mail to arrive in your inbox. By placing one of these store icons on your computer desktop or embedding it on your personalized home page--widgets are downloadable from many retailers' Web sites--one click gives you access to all the specials.

Consider Gift Cards: Gift cards can be an ideal, stress-free solution to getting that perfect gift that recipients really want, and because you set the value upfront, they also help keep you from going over budget. In fact, 79 percent of shoppers intend to buy gift cards this holiday season, according to a study conducted by the consulting firm Accenture. But not all cards are created equal. Be sure to choose one like the American Express Gift Card (www.americanexpress.com/gift), which has no monthly fees, no expiration of funds, and can be used everywhere instead of just one specific store.

Season's Eatings: Unfortunately, it's impossible to buy gifts for everyone. An easy, inexpensive way to acknowledge others beyond family and close friends is by baking a large batch of cookies and gifting small, wrapped portions to acquaintances, co-workers and neighbors.

That's a Wrap: At the end of each holiday season, stock up on marked-down wrapping paper, gift bags and greeting cards for next year and put everything in a box with tape and scissors. You'll be one step--and several dollars--ahead.

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Editor's Note: This story replaces an earlier version that should no longer be used.

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Gift Giving Gets Personal

(NAPSI)-Some of the best gifts this holiday season are the ones that people take personally.

That's the word from trend watchers who say affordable, customized presents that include favorite photos, messages and other personal touches can be found for most anyone on your gift list. Try these suggestions:

Make It Count

Consider making a donation to a favorite charity in your recipient's name. Many groups offer certificates of thanks to donors that can be customized with a friend's or loved one's name.

Wear It Well

Search the Web for sites that let you create customized T-shirts, sweatshirts or hats. Personalize the clothing with a funny saying or photo. You can even find sites that let you customize everyday items such as dishes, towels and even bedspreads.

Most Wonderful Time All Year

Try visiting a Web site such as www.fedex.com/gifts to design a customized wall or desktop calendar, complete with treasured photos, personal messages and more. The calendars can be a great--and sentimental--gift that keeps on giving to friends and family throughout the year.

Basket Of Fun

You might give a gift basket filled with items that reflect the personality or interests of the recipient. For instance, a dog lover may appreciate a photo book of pooches and a designer leash complete with Fido's name embroidered down the side.

Fun Memories

Scrapbooks can be an inexpensive and simple way to show someone you care. Fill a scrapbook with memories of times past but also symbols of future fun, such as pictures of palm trees to symbolize a vacation, or photos of bridal gowns if there's a wedding in the future.

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Stocking Stuffers Let Family Gamers Settle Scores

(NAPSI)-Spending time with certain family members during the holidays can occasionally bring out the fighter in all of us--and that might be a good thing if you're playing some of the season's hottest new fighting games.

Games can be a fun way to reduce holiday stress as they let mom, dad and kids virtually duke it out in fighting games appropriate for players of all ages. A handful of exciting games from Capcom are quickly becoming family and fighting game fan favorites, and are also among the season's most popular holiday gifts. Here's a look at some of the best:

The Future Fight

Families can battle the holiday doldrums with a new sci-fi videogame thrill ride called "Spyborgs," developed exclusively for Wii. Combining an extraordinary futuristic world with action-packed, two-player controls, "Spyborgs" lets gamers assume the role of cybernetically enhanced superheroes who are betrayed by one of their own. Players must work together through two-player co-op to defeat this traitor through more than 35 stages of mind-blowing challenges, packed with epic battles and swarms of enemies that only two can defeat. The two-player co-op feature in "Spyborgs" also emphasizes teamwork to find solutions together to defeat evildoers.

An Arcade Classic

The legendary fighting series, "Street Fighter," is back with "Street Fighter IV: Platinum Edition." The game, which has already sold over 1.5 million copies, will let parents who grew up playing the arcade classic share the action-packed fun with their kids for under $30. "Street Fighter IV" offers hours of fighting action and lets players control their favorite classic characters, including Ryu, Ken, Chun-Li and Guile, along with a group of new fighters. Gamers can use special moves and visit amazing locations as they wax nostalgic over the virtual martial arts title--or introduce it to a whole new generation of players.

A Matter Of Fate

A new portable game lets families do battle at the airport, in the car or virtually anywhere else their holiday travels take them. Called "Fate/Unlimited Codes," it challenges players to assume the part of warriors clashing in a battle royal for the Holy Grail. Available as a downloadable game for the PlayStation Portable system, the game offers fast-paced, weapons-based fighting that can be wirelessly shared with family or friends. Based on the popular Japanese visual novel "Fate/Stay Night," it features a deep roster of characters and unique fighting moves.

For more information, visit www.capcom.com.

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Getting Holiday Ready On A Budget

(NAPSI)-Holiday sales are expected to top $437 billion this season, according to the National Retail Federation. But if you're looking for ways to cut back on spending, you're not alone.

Visiting your local discount store for holiday shopping will save you cash and time. Many stores offer a variety of affordable holiday necessities--including dinnerware, housewares, decor and hostess gifts that can help you stay within budget. Try these money-saving tips:

Make A List

Think of a shopping list as a plan of action to get in and out of the store as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Be prepared with a detailed shopping list for holiday gifting needs or for planning a dinner party. You can also try online list-creation tools that allow you to create, manage and update gift and personal shopping lists.

Get Ready

Stock up on essentials early to avoid costly last-minute trips to the grocery store. The Archer Farms collection at Target offers a wide variety of snacks and appetizers that are quick and delicious. Be certain that your guest room and living areas are spotless. The store's up & up collection includes cleaning supplies to help you get ready.

Build Traditions

Make decorating your home an annual tradition while also creating special memories. The Marcel Wanders for Target holiday collection features attention-grabbing, decorative pieces at affordable prices, including ceramic vases, stockings and ornaments, as well as dinnerware for holiday parties. Combine the collection with festive tablecloths and napkins to transform your dinner table into a scene right out of a magazine.

Perfect Presents

Consider keeping extra gifts on hand for any last-minute gifting or for that special hostess. Items such as a boxed wine, like Wine Cube, sweet-smelling candles and colorful beauty gift sets are great giftable options, all for under $20.

For more information on all these holiday products, visit your local Target store or go to www.target.com.

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Helpful Elf

(NAPSI)-This holiday season, families are celebrating by adding affordable and fun new traditions to the ones they've always held dear. Try these ideas:
  • Take a tour of neighborhood Christmas lights.
  • Try a new recipe at your holiday dinner.
  • Give to a different or--even better--additional charity.

You could also invite an adorable elf into your home to help Santa keep an eye on things. "The Elf on the Shelf" includes a charming book and an 8-inch pixie elf that perches somewhere in your home to watch over children's behavior. As the story goes, the elf flies to the North Pole to report to Santa each night and then returns to a different vantage point from which to view the next day's activities. Children can have great fun discovering the elf's new resting spot each morning.

There are also two "Plushee Pal" versions of the pixie elf that children can play with all year long, helping the tradition last past the season.

More information, games and stories can be found at www.elfontheshelf.com.

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