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Salem Community Patriot | November 25, 2011 - 7


Ten Holiday Tips on Gifting, Entertaining and Celebrating Without the Stress


3. Personalize it - Make every gift stand out with personalized


wrapping paper. Jenn Sbranti, editor-in-chief and founder of Hostess with the Mostess recommends using creative rubber stamps or sten- cils with festive-colored inks and paints to decorate white or kraft paper with your favorite holiday images. Take it up a notch with a gift-wrap-making party complete with festive music and your favorite holiday snacks and drinks. 4. Give gifts that everyone will love - Know someone who can’t


go a day without their favorite coffee or espresso beverage? Look no further than the coffee shop around the corner or for a gift that everyone loves, like a new coffee mug, travel tumbler or a gift card. Quick and easy, these gifts are no-brainers and sure to please. 5. Treat yourself - Remember to do something nice for yourself


The holidays are about seasonal traditions and making merry with family and friends, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to have so many events to attend and to-do lists to complete. In fact, more than 80 percent of Americans find the holiday season to be “somewhat” or “very” stressful, according to an About.com poll. As you plan cel- ebrations and gift giving, forget the stress and consider these 10 tips to keep you organized, spirited, and best of all, relaxed and ready to enjoy the season. 1. Start the day with a smile - The holidays are a season of giving and sharing. Treat your coworker to a cup of coffee or holiday treat, or simply wish a stranger a happy holiday season. An unexpected surprise for a friend will make her day and also keep your spirits high.


2. Be ready for anything - Alleviate last-minute stress by having goodies on hand should a visitor stop by unexpectedly. You don’t have to go out of your way. Stock up on simple, easy-access essen- tials like your favorite holiday snack mix and Starbucks(R) Christmas Blend. Impress guests by brewing one cup at a time, especially for them, with a Starbucks Pour-Over Kit.


too. Whether it’s indulging in quiet time with a new book by the fire or an afternoon treat, relax and enjoy. Grab a Starbucks Chocolate Creme Whoopie Pie for a perfectly sized treat less than 200 calo- ries. Pair it with a Skinny Peppermint Mocha for an afternoon break. 6. Give back - Make a donation, big or small, to your favorite


charity. Whether it’s giving to a local animal shelter or contributing to the neighborhood food bank, every bit helps and there’s nothing better than giving back during the holiday season. 7. Start fun, new traditions - Instead of the same old holiday cookies, create a major “wow” factor with holiday cake pops. Gather family and friends to bake and decorate with the new Star- bucks Cake Pop Kit. For a festive presentation, display the finished cake pops in pretty boxes lined with gift wrap covered Styrofoam. Your creations will look like they came from a seasoned pastry chef and stand out among all the traditional cookie baskets. 8. Old holiday movie night with the kids - Introduce your kids to the classics. From “Miracle on 34th Street” to “It’s a Wonderful Life,” these movies are sure to bring back fond memories for you and create a memorable impression on your kids. 9. Plan ahead for travel - Airport delays and long flights can take


Shopping Online? 10 Tips to Avoid ID Theft This Holiday Season


The holidays are approaching and it’s time to start shopping for those special gifts. Last year, consumers spent a holiday-season record $32.6 billion online, according to comScore. Unfortu- nately, with so much personal financial informa- tion out there, instances of identity theft are on the rise. According to the Federal Trade Commission, as many as 9 million Americans have their identi- ties stolen each year.


While some victims of identity theft


resolve their problems quickly, others spend thousands of dollars and months repairing the damage done to their credit. Some identity theft victims may even lose out on job opportunities or be denied loans for education, housing or cars because of negative in- formation on their credit reports. In rare cases, they may even be ar- rested for crimes they did not commit. “Anyone who shops online is vulnerable


to having their identity compromised,” says Jamie Haenggi, chief marketing and customer experi- ence officer at Protection 1, the nation’s second- largest security company. The company recently partnered with LifeLock to include identity theft protection in its offerings. “The proper precau- tions, combined with identity theft protection, are the strongest safeguards to protecting your credit and preventing the financial hardships that can be caused when an identity is stolen.” Haenggi offers the following tips to better protect your identity when shopping online this holiday season:


1. Shop trusted names Stick with sites like Amazon.com, Target.com or other familiar retailers. Beware of misspellings or domain names using “.net” instead of “.com” as that is one of the most common ways scammers trick consumers. 2. Look for the lock


A secure website starts with “https://” instead of “http://.” Secure sites will also have a small lock icon in the lower-right corner of the screen. Never give anyone your credit card through email. PayPal, however, is still a good, safe way to make a payment. 3. Don’t share too much No store needs your social security number or


your birthday. In the hands of the wrong person, combined with your credit card number, serious damage can be done. Always give up the least amount of personal information possible. 4. Check billing statements Check statements for credit and debit cards, and monitor checking accounts regularly. If you see any charges you don’t recognize, address the matter immediately. Don’t pay credit card bills until you know all your charges are accurate. You have 30 days to notify the bank or card issuer of problems. After that, you might be liable for the charges.


5. Use stronger passwords With so many online accounts - banking, credit cards, email - it’s common practice to recycle simple passwords that can be easily recalled. Use uncrackable passwords, especially when banking and shopping. Your password is weak if: * It uses numbers or letters in the order they ap- pear on the keyboard (“1234” or “qwerty”) * It’s the name of your kids, pet, favorite team, or city of birth * It’s your birthday, anniversary, date of gradua- tion, or car license plate number * It’s “letmein,” or, especially, “password.” 7. Think mobile The National Retail Federation predicts that 25


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percent of adults will do online browsing with their smartphones to find gifts. Buck this trend and download store-specific apps like those for Ama- zon.com and make your purchase without going to their website. 8. Stay at home


Do all online shopping at home so you know


you’re using a trusted, secure network. 9. Enroll in an identity theft protection service Having a service provider you trust is impor- tant. Advanced technology and helpful customer service are “musts” for iden- tifying and remedying any fraud issues. Protection 1 is now offering identity theft protec- tion in every new HomeCore Solution home security pack- age at www.Protection1.com. 10. Use insurance


Just in case you do become the victim of identity theft, having insur- ance is vital to help recoup any lost money. Coverage typically costs from $20 to $100 a year as a rider to a basic


homeowner’s policy or as a stand-alone purchase. Follow these simple tips, and you can help to ensure your family - and your property - remain safe year-round.


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their toll. Keep your energy level up and frustrations down, even in the most trying circumstances. Bring along your favorite pair of cozy socks, invest in noise-cancelling headphones, a good book, and a stash of Starbucks VIA Christmas Blend for a perfect cup of seasonal coffee on the go. 10. Recharge with a non-holiday day - You’ll enjoy the hustle and bustle of the busy season more with a break. Refresh with a non- holiday day of activities. Hit the salon, check out that exhibit you’ve been eying at the museum, or take a leisurely stroll. A day away to recharge is the best cure for seasonal stress and frustration. Celebrate festive gatherings and joyous occasions this season stress-free and make the season merry and memorable with friends and family.


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