GIFT IDEAS:

 
Sports Games Creative Gifts Off-Price Savings Family Games Game Guide Gadget Gifts Phones Baked Goods

Bring Generations Together With Fun

(NAPSI)-Quality family time is more important than ever, and with the approach of the holidays, many of us are eager to celebrate with our loved ones. End the year memorably by dusting off some tried-and-true traditions and mixing it up with fresh, budget-friendly festivities.

With the average price of a movie ticket inching closer and closer to $8, a night at the movies with the whole family in tow can cost upwards of $50 before you even get popcorn and candy. Instead, have your guests bring over their stashes of classic board games and make sure to stock up on family-friendly video games, too. "Deca Sports 2," a sports compilation title from Hudson Entertainment, is sure to become a classic for the Nintendo Wii. Families can face off as they check, dodge and smash the competition across all the included events: Ice Hockey, Dodge Ball, Tennis, Darts, Speed Skating, Mogul Skiing, Road Racing and Synchronized Swimming. It even features Petanque--a game similar to boccie ball--and Kendo, a form of Japanese martial arts.

"Deca Sports 2" also lets gamers use their Nintendo Wi-Fi connection to remotely challenge opponents across the country. It's a fun way to bond with relatives and friends who may not be able to travel this year. The game retails for a value-conscious $29.99 and can redeem many a snowy or rainy day year-round.

"Deca Sports 2," rated "E" by the ESRB, is the perfect stocking stuffer and family game this holiday season. You can find more information at www.decasports2.com.

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Gifts That Matter Focus On Meaning

(NAPSI)-The most memorable gifts are often the ones that focus on meaning.

According to a recent Consumer Reports Holiday Shopping Poll, nearly one-fifth (19 percent) of consumers planned on returning some of the gifts they received. Instead of a gift that may wind up being returned, try giving something that is memorable. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Give the gift of time--Time is one of the most precious gifts you can give to someone. Offer to help a friend or family member with housework or with a task that's hard to find the time for. Volunteer to babysit or weed the garden. Or invite them to a home-cooked dinner made by you--the thought and time you put into the meal and details will make a memory that will be guaranteed to last all year round.
  • Ditch the gift card--According to a recent Deloitte survey, nearly half (47 percent) of consumers have an average of six unused gift cards laying around. Whether they got lost in the back of a wallet or just simply go unused, gift cards aren't always the best answer for the hard-to-please person on your list. Take the time to pick out a tangible gift to ensure it won't be fast forgotten.
  • Make a memory, give a memory--The holiday season also marks the end of a year's worth of great memories. Help family and friends treasure favorite moments from the past year by creating a personalized desktop calendar or flip book from an online photo site such as Snapfish.com. Available in a variety of colors, layouts and sizes, the photo gifts are easily customizable with favorite photos and original text, so you can create a one-of-a-kind gift that can stay on display year-round.
  • Pay it forward--The holiday season can be a great time to give to those who are less fortunate. Surprise loved ones with a meaningful donation in their name to a local food bank or a donation of products to a charity like Toys for Tots or Meals on Wheels. Get even more creative with a gift that's beautiful to look at and also gives back.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation of America has partnered with online photo site Snapfish.com to create a Make-A-Wish custom cover photo book that can be personalized with your own photos. Thirty percent of all proceeds from the sales of the books will go directly to Make-A-Wish.

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Keep Stockings Full And Wallets Happy

(NAPSI)-The trend this year is to spend less but get more. According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend 3.2 percent less on holiday shopping this season. Fortunately, you don't have to sacrifice quality to save on cost when you shop at off-price retailers like Marshalls and T.J. Maxx.

Many department and discount stores are planning to lower inventory these days, while off-price buyers will receive more than 10,000 new gifts and merchandise items right through Christmas. Marshalls and T.J. Maxx offer amazing savings on must-have fashion items, trendy accessories, holiday home decor and even the most sought-after toys.

Here are some ideas for how to make this holiday season special:

Make Someone Happy

For grown-ups, this could be a great time to fill a stocking with items you know they really need. Replace his razor with a top-of-the-line electric one or update her worn gloves with a new, longer pair in a jewel-tone color with ruffles.

Hot Looks For Cold Weather

Transform any look for winter with a chunky cable-knit or red cashmere sweater for a pop of color. Pair designer denim with suede ankle booties or a statement necklace for a bold look. For a funky look, try a bomber jacket over a sparkly knit dress and colorful tights. Update last year's coat by adding a ruffled, plaid scarf and a fringed handbag.

Time To Celebrate

Stock up on barware and other fun party pieces including decorative cocktail plates, stainless steel shakers and new glassware. Wow by serving gourmet chocolates or a new recipe you found in that cookbook! Board games and puzzles can add a fun and unexpected element to a party.

For Your Youngsters

Off-price retailers have a selection of brand-name toys for half the price of most toy stores--they'll love Transformers, Barbie or My Little Pony.

Find a better way to Christmas shop at Marshalls and T.J. Maxx. To learn more, call (800) MARSHALLS and (800) 2TJMAXX or visit www.marshallsonline.com and www.tjmaxx.com.

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Bringing Entertainment Home For The Holidays

(NAPSI)-This year, many families are searching for creative ways to entertain at home without breaking the bank. According to lifestyle expert Savvy Mommy® Victoria Pericon, with some careful planning and preparation, celebrating the holidays on a budget can be just as memorable as a more elaborate affair.

"During the hectic holiday season, everyone is looking for easy ways to bring more fun time into their homes and keep the whole family entertained," says Pericon. "But when watching your wallet, it's important to resist the temptation to go overboard. Instead, focus on creating experiences that foster togetherness and make memories that will last a lifetime."

Pericon, together with Microsoft, offers the following tips to maximize the family fun this season without racking up the dreaded post−New Year's debt:

Go Big--At Home

When it comes to holiday shopping, a recent survey noted that nearly half of Americans will give one large family gift this year as opposed to many smaller individual items.* According to Pericon, you'll get more bang for your buck with a gift that has something for everyone in the family, such as a new computer, TV or entertainment console. She suggests an Xbox 360, which provides the biggest and best selection of games, thousands of movies for instant high-definition (HD) streaming, access to Facebook and Twitter and everyone's favorite music on Last.fm--right from the living room. For the cost of taking a family of four out to the movies a few times, pick up the Xbox 360 Elite Holiday Bundle featuring an Xbox 360 Elite console and two free games and access to entertainment whenever you want it, all year round.

Breathe New Life Into the Party

Everyday items around the house are all you need to throw a fabulous holiday soiree. Consider hosting a white elephant gift exchange where guests gather to trade inexpensive, humorous items they have no desire to keep. Or, throw a potluck party and challenge guests to bring a dish using only the ingredients they have on hand in their kitchen. Once the party is in full swing, break out the new musical Xbox 360 games "Lips: Number One Hits" or "The Beatles™: Rock Band™." Even the most reserved guests will unleash their inner rock stars.

Create New Traditions

Coming together as a family to create lasting memories doesn't have to leave you strapped for cash. Pick a night to decorate cookies together, play cards or get a competitive game of flag football going out in the yard. After a big holiday meal, Pericon likes to settle down and watch a movie on Xbox 360 with her family. With a huge selection of instantly streaming HD movies from Netflix and Zune video, it's like having a movie theater in your home without the parking hassles, long lines or outrageous ticket prices.

Connect Without the Cost of Travel

With travel costs rising and budgets shrinking, not everyone will be able to make it home for the holidays this year. So at this year's gathering, pass around a digital camera and snap photos to share with friends and family members who couldn't be there to celebrate with you. With an Xbox LIVE Gold Membership, you can send pictures of the kids to grandma over Facebook, tweet about how Aunt Susan made her famous gingersnaps, and even arrange a Netflix Movie Party to virtually watch your favorite supported flicks with friends from afar. (A Netflix unlimited membership is also required.)

* "Microsoft Holiday Technology Omnibus." Survey. 21-24, August 2009.

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New Game For Film Fans And Trivia Buffs

(NAPSI)-Looking to add some excitement to family movie night or a game night with friends? Or maybe you need a great holiday gift idea for the film buff in your life. If so, there's a new videogame coming out this holiday season that combines both movies and trivia called "Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen!"

The latest offering in the popular "Scene It?" trivia game series, the game features all-new film clips and trivia content, covering recently released 2009 movies as well as fan-favorite Hollywood hits from the last four decades. The game marks the first time a "Scene It?" title is available for Wii and PlayStation 3 computer entertainment systems and marks a return for the brand to the Xbox 360.

Multiplayer mode in the game creates a challenging, lively, social game-playing experience for up to four teams. Competitors can choose from a variety of classic genre-inspired character avatars including Horror Queen, Desperado, Starlet, Leading Man or Swashbuckler. "Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen!" features a brand-new single-player mode not available in previous versions of "Scene It?" games. This new single-player mode is designed to challenge player speed and entertainment trivia know-how.

There are thousands of new questions, multiple play modes, unique minigame content, plus a new host character to spice things up, and they all add up to a lively group gaming experience. For gamers familiar with other trivia games on home consoles, it is worth noting that the game is compatible with multiple controllers so players will have the choice to use standard game console controllers, or to use Sony's Buzz™ Buzzers or Microsoft's Big Button controllers.

"Scene It? Bright Lights! Big Screen!" has something for every film buff and trivia enthusiast.

For more information, call (866) DVD-GAME or visit www.screenlifegames.com. Distributed by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

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Great Gadget Gifts On A Budget

(NAPSI)-Playing Santa on a smaller budget can be challenging, but with quality gadget gifts, you can still please everyone on your shopping list without breaking the bank.

Chances are, most of your friends and family already have the high-ticket electronics they want, such as a Nintendo Wii or DS, Xbox 360, iPhone or laptop. So help them make the most of what they have with gifts that will enhance, customize or protect their favorite tech toys.

Enhance--Broaden their gaming horizon with family-friendly fun at prices you can easily afford. They'll shred the slopes all winter long in "Shaun White Snowboarding: World Stage" ($49.99 on Wii). Shaun White has partnered with Target to offer a special-edition version of his latest video game, including exclusive behind-the-scenes Olympic training videos and in-game content. Or pick up modern classics like "Wii Sports Resort" (with Wii MotionPlus, $49.99) and "The Beatles: Rock Band" ($59.99 on Wii, PS3, Xbox 360).

Customize--Reform their tech gear with all kinds of budget-friendly personalized peripherals and stylish accessories. Help your budding rock stars show their personal style with all-new Roxy Earbuds ($19.99) and On-Ear Headphones ($69.99), both available in an assortment of cheerful colors. For the iPod or iPhone enthusiasts on your list, amplify their holiday season with audio accessories like the Skullcandy Pipe iPod Pipe Speaker Dock ($69.99)-a sleek new speaker system that sounds as good as it looks.

Protect--Keeping accessories protected is an easy, affordable way to make sure your gifts keep on giving. Even someone who has "everything" will appreciate items like protective iPhone covers from Incase ($19.99-$34.99), laptop sleeves from Isis Dei and Sumdex ($19.99-$29.99), a Hannah Montana Nintendo DS Lite Protective Case ($9.99) or Sony PlayStation Portable Travel Case ($19.99).

Save yourself a New Year's headache and stay on budget this holiday season. You don't have to sacrifice time over money either-shopping at a store like Target allows you to stock up on exceptional values in one simple trip. Remember, convenience is bliss and pleasing everyone can be affordable, so relax and get giving.

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Mobile Phones Designed With Seniors In Mind Feature Large Buttons, Easy-To-Use Displays

(NAPSI)-Two companies that have a long history of providing user-friendly consumer electronics to the active mature market, Consumer Cellular and Doro, have teamed up to bring two new easy-to-use cell phones, the Doro PhoneEasy® 345 bar-style phone and Doro PhoneEasy® 410 flip phone to the market.

The new cell phones, available now, are the most recent additions to Consumer Cellular's product lineup and feature enlarged buttons and easy-to-read display text. The phones are developed by Doro, a Swedish company specializing in innovative and user-friendly consumer electronics for seniors. The phone designs are based on Doro's extensive research and studies in collaboration with seniors and engineers who specialize in technology, ergonomics and physical disabilities.

"So many of today's cell phones have more features than our customers will ever use," said John Marick, president and CEO of Consumer Cellular. "We understand the difficulty in finding an easy-to-use cell phone and have partnered with Doro to provide simple, straightforward phones and calling plans that serve our mature customers. The Doro phones enable users to enjoy the convenience of cellular service without the unnecessary--and confusing--features. And equally important, these phones look great, too. Just because the phones are easier to use, consumers won't be embarrassed to use them."

Consumer Cellular has taken frustration out of the game by providing best-in-class service for its customers. It is for this reason that the company was selected as the exclusive wireless provider for AARP members.

There are no long-term contracts or early termination fees to worry about. Customers enjoy the simplicity of monthly billing with the flexibility to modify their service at any time. Affordable rates start at only $10 a month and are ideal for individuals who want all the safety and convenience cellular service has to offer without paying high rates for unused features.

Plus, the Doro PhoneEasy 345 and 410 models are less expensive--and more functional--than similar phones on the market, retailing for $40 and $50, respectively, with a $35 activation fee. Additionally, customers can add a second line for just $10 (plus the cost of the phone) and share monthly minutes.

To make it even easier, customers can also transfer an existing cell phone number. Phones are hearing-aid compatible and available with a 30-day, risk-free satisfaction guarantee. AARP members receive special discounts and an extended free trial period.

To learn more about the cell phone plans for seniors or to sign up for cellular service, visit www.ConsumerCellular.com or call (888) 437-9221.

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Shipping Baked Goods

(NAPSI)-Knowing how to properly pack and ship baked and perishable goods will help keep all your favorite holiday treats fresh and delicious.

Here are a few tips from the pack and ship experts at FedEx to help:

  • Place baked goods in a sturdy container and layer wax paper between the baked goods using crumpled paper to fill in any void spaces.
  • Secure the lid of the container to the body with tape to keep it from accidentally popping off.
  • Place the container in a sturdy corrugated cardboard box and use newspaper or plastic grocery bags to cushion the container tightly in place.
  • Shake the box-if you can feel or hear any movement, add more cushioning.
  • Freeze perishable foods completely and keep in a sealed, durable plastic container. Add dry ice to keep the food frozen during shipping. Ship the package overnight, priority or standard. If possible, let the recipients know when it will arrive.

When shipping, Ground or Home Delivery services can be sent up until Dec. 17 for delivery by Christmas. For last-minute gift givers, the final day to ship with FedEx Express is Dec. 23. For more information, visit www.fedex.com.

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