Archive for the ‘Christmas News’ Category

When should I send my Christmas package from Canada?

If you’re located in Canada and need to send Christmas gifts to family or friends in another country you should be aware that for countries outside of the USA the latest dates by which you should mail your Christmas gifts are mid-to-end of November, first week of December, and middle of December.

Each later time refers to a more costly way of sending: the sooner you send your Christmas package to family and friends, the cheaper it is to mail.

 

SEND TO REGULAR PARCEL XPRESSPOST PRIORITY
Canada Dec. 11 Dec. 22 Dec. 23
USA Dec. 8 Dec. 16 Dec. 20
Africa Nov. 22 Dec. 1 Dec. 15
Asia Nov. 29 Dec. 6 Dec. 17
Australia Dec. 6 Dec. 16
Carribean Nov. 29 Dec.6 Dec. 17
Central/South America Nov. 22 Dec. 1 Dec. 17
Europe Nov. 29 Dec. 6 Dec. 17
Middle East Nov. 29 Dec. 6 Dec. 17
New Zealand Dec. 6 Dec. 16

 

canada-post Remember, these are the latest dates: the earlier you send, the better.

Sharks To Listen To Christmas Songs

The list op “Best of…” Christmas songs soon will get another entry: Christmas songs most enjoyed by sharks.

Yes, sharks.

Festive Christmas songs will be piped through walkthrough underwater tunnels in the Loch Lomond Sea Life Centre in the UK.

The Christmas songs can then be heard by nurse sharks and black-tip reef sharks which will be monitored by experts for their reactions to the songs.

“We’ll play everything from Kim Wilde and Mel Smith’s Rocking Around the Christmas Tree and Merry Christmas Everybody by Slade to Wham’s Last Christmas.

We may find they prefer something softer like White Christmas by Bing Crosby.”
Chris Brown, senior marine biologist, Loch Lomond aquarium

The tests have been setup after research in the US has shown that fish are able to recognize melody.

Dad Places 35ft Christmas Tree in 16ft House

Last year one of Greig Howe’s sons complained the Christmas tree was so small.

This year he won’t.

In response Greig has bought a $380 Christmas tree measuring no less than 35 feet.

Tiny problem: the corner of the two story Howe’s residence where the Christmas tree stands is only 16 feet high.

No problem though.

Greig has cut the tree in 3 segments, placing one in the living room, one in a bedroom on the second floor, and the top part outside on the roof.

It took a firefighter crane truck to place the star on top.



Macy’s Christmas Displays: a PT Barnum Invention

You know Barnum, from Barnum and Bailey? The PT Barnum?

Well, it’s thanks to him that we get to enjoyed Macy’s extraordinary Christmas window displays.

PT Barnum and Rh Macy were friends in the 1860s and it was Barnum who suggested that Macy for this incredible collection of mechanical toys in the windows of his shop around Christmastime.

And so started tradition that continues all the way up to two days Christmas displays filled with amazing high-tech elements

This year’s theme is the making of Christmas magic.

The six large windows which face Broadway will show all the tender loving care that goes into making the magic of Christmas. The Christmas lights, the ornaments, the snow in tinsel…

No sales products will be shown in these displays; those are reserved for the smaller windows at the other sides of the building.

Planning for the Christmas windows starts shortly after Christmas and goes on all through the year.

The display started to be more exuberant when the tradition of this Thanksgiving day parade started in 1924. The over-the-top window displays were a great way to draw in the enormous amount of people that were coming by.

Santa Claus Makes Secret Visit To Elementary School

Our investigative reporters have it that Santa Claus took out some time from his gift wrapping schedule to make a special visit to a school in Tampa yesterday morning.

Always a special occasion the local police had been alerted and to There was fire crews escorted Santa through the city to the DeSoto Elementary School.

Santa Claus handed out several small gifts and read Christmas stories to the children.

Diane Miller of the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office said the visit had been organized by Sincerely Santa.

Sincerely standbys and organization that works to identify schools where there are a lot of children from poorer families.

They been providing children toys and clothes turned the Christmas season for 20 years.

Christmas: Andy Parks DOES Keep It All The Year!

Andy Parks, from the UK, was bored to death when in the summer of 1994 he found that hanging up Christmas decorations stopped him from feeling bored.

Since then he’s been celebrating Christmas every single day for the last 40 years.

That includes enjoying a full festive dinner, all trimmings included, and watching the Queen’s speech — everyday.

In that time he has eaten 117,600 sprouts and 94,080 mince pies.

“I’ve opened 204,400 crackers.

I’ve been through 37 electric ovens and worn out 23 video recorders by watching the Queen’s Speech every day.

I’ve also sent myself 235,206 Christmas cards. But these days the postage is so dear I’m having to deliver them myself.

The credit crunch is getting to me big time and I may have to cut out the champagne and start singing for my Christmas dinner.

The lunch with all the trimmings and alcohol is costing in excess of £150 ($230) a week, but I’m fighting hard not to let the financial crisis ruin the celebrations.

People do think I’m crackers, but I enjoy treating myself and I’m the only one in the world who does it.

Others have tried to copy me, but they can’t last.

When people come to my house it turns a sad face into a smiling one, and the happiness stays with them.”
— Andy Parks aka Mr. Christms

Other ways in which Andy tries to maintain his Christmas routine during this recession is by cutting the 14 pound turkey down to a 9 pound turkey, and by going from two trees to just one.

At the same time he’s trying to save the money needed to pay for a Christmas themed funeral. As part of that ritual he would be buried in a coffin filled with brussels sprouts…

A Child’s Birthday Wish Becomes A Christmas Tradition

In 1995 new baby was born into the Dom family.

They named her Kendra Sue.

Unfortunately the celebration of her birth was dampened when they learned that baby Kendra suffered from a very rare heart defect.

Ken Desser finds will be on that couple of months was uncertain…

Visits to specialists at the University of Minnesota followed. Tests, medical procedures, more tests.

Finally as autumn came around an emotional team of doctors told the parents that was nothing more that they could do. They recommended to bring Kendra home and to prepare the best Christmas ever as it would likely be Kendra’s first and last.

In preparation for her coming home the parents talked with their three-year-old son Jacob. They tried as best as possible to explain how serious the situation was and that his sister would most likely die soon.

Did he understand? Comprehend?

When is October 24 birthday, when he would turn four, drew close they asked him what he wanted for his birthday.

“A Christmas tree… for Kendra…”

This year on October 24 the family put up the Christmas tree.

The celebrated Jacobs per se. Then Thanksgiving; being grateful for the time they had together. Then Christmas…

The day started to get longer again this winter passed

Every day was an unknown; they never knew if they would wake up to Kendra’s smile or…

“When I look back on those days I am amazed that we were able to make it through.

I am not sure how we did it.

I guess we did it because there was nothing else we could do”
— Cammie, Kendra’s mother

As she continued to go along and to gain strength Kendra started to undergo many surgeries.

When fall came around again and it was times for Jacobs fifth birthday it only seemed natural to put up another Christmas tree. They kept it up all the way through Kendra second Christmas, something everyone had hoped and prayed for but nobody thought would happen.

Their lives have been filled with unexpected miracles; the first birthday, second Christmas… and now the doctors told of one more possible miracle.

The University of Minnesota have developed a new procedure. It had never been tried before. But if it was successful it could save Kendra’s Life.

The only way to know was to try it….

Building on the faith that had already supported them all this time they decided to go through with it.

The experiment what goes to great success; Kendra has become the first person ever to survive her rare heart condition. Her success is part of ongoing research at the University and she regularly goes back for checkups.

Kendra and Jacob are now teenagers.

This October, as all the passed years, a Christmas tree was erected on Jacob’s birthday.

What was feared to be a one-time gesture has grown into a family’s Christmas tradition.

White Christmas Windows Increase Sales

Although it’s been at least 19 years since there was a White Christmas in Charleston, South Carolina, retailer still go with the “White Christmas” theme.

Storeowners say that it’s symbolic: Winter speaks of the Christmas tradition most people think they remember.

But behind the emotion there is business strategy as well.

Winterized window displays set the tone for shoppers in warmer places.

In a place like Los Angeles it’s only the window displays that will trigger the Christmas spirit. The leaves don’t change, there is no big change in the weather. The only visual clues are the ones provided by retailers.

So, although places will produce and use fake snow.

The stores in the hotter places have to carefully balance their act. These places tend to get visits from snowbirds; people who are there for the warm weather and don’t want to be reminded about winter at all.

U.S. Consumers Expect to Spend 11% Less on Christmas Gifts

Households across the U.S. plan to fork out about $418, on average, for gifts during Christmas season 2008; this figure, according to The Conference Board, is 11.3 percent lower than in 2007.

The Conference Board’s survey of Christmas gift spending found that consumers are in a cost-conscious mood. Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board’s consumer research center, said, “This is shaping up to be one of the most challenging holiday seasons in years, and it’s going to take more than the usual discounts and incentives from retailers to get consumers to spend more freely.”

By region, the survey found that those in the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin intend to spend the most, with an average of $550. The lowest range, with a household average of $330, came from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas.

Twenty-seven percent of all households plan to spend $500 or more on Christmas gifts, down from 33 percent in this category during 2007. Thirty-seven percent plan to spend between $200 and $500, and 35 percent are planning to spend less than $200.

The Conference Board found that 39 percent of all consumers plan to buy Christmas gifts online. Jewelry as a gift category was named by 10.1 percent of consumers who intend to purchase online. The most popular gifts, cited by 37.9 percent of survey respondents, were books, followed by toys/games, apparel, movies/DVDs and music.

4 Christmas Shopping Saving Tips from the Consumer Expert

No need to explain that this Christmas season a shopping environment is different from ever before. The economy is down and so is yours.

Some Christmas buying shopping rules that use to apply don’t this year.

We ask consumer expert Clark Howard to share some of his insight.

“The black Friday deals are extraordinary, they are probably better than January clearance sales, retailers are doing the black Friday sales just to get you in the stores and they actually lose money on those sales.

Lay away is so good at helping people number one -control expense, number two – not pay interest, number three, being able to buy something while it’s on sale – but not pay for it until you have the money.

Gift cards are very dangerous. I’ve never liked gift cards, but this year they will tear your wallet apart. So many restaurants and retailers are going to close and a gift card is only as good as that retailer is.
— Clark Howard, consumer expert

He does warn against the sales just off the Christmas; according to Clark prices won’t go down until mid-January. That is because retailers will try to get the full price for as long as possible. Only when the influx of buyers stops ,which is usually around mid-January, will they start to drop prices.

Wreaths Across America Ceremonies To Honor Veterans

In what is now very much a holiday tradition, the Civil Air Patrol is partnering with Wreaths Across America, a nonprofit organization with a mission to remember, honor and teach about the service and sacrifices of our nation’s veterans.

Veteran memorials and gravesites across the nation will be adorned with remembrance wreaths on December 13 in solemn tributes to the courage and sacrifice of those who have guarded and preserved our nation’s freedom throughout history. CAP units will lead almost half of roughly 350 observances this year and will participate with other color and honor guards in many additional locations. CAP cadets and officers will lay wreaths at Arlington National Cemetery that morning as well.

Members of the public have sponsored placement of more than 100,000 wreaths on veterans’ graves across the US, an increase of nearly 70,000 wreaths from 2007. These wreaths will be placed in ceremonies at cemeteries in all 50 states.

Worcester Wreath Co. donated more than 17,000 wreaths for the remembrances, 10,000 of which will be placed at Arlington National Cemetery.

Wreaths Across America began in 2006 as an offshoot of the Arlington National Cemetery wreath project, which was started in 1992 with the annual placement of wreaths donated by Worcester Wreath Co. Wreaths Across America ceremonies were conducted largely by CAP wings and squadrons with the help of veterans’ organizations; private citizens; the Maine State Society of Washington, DC, which annually assists with the laying of wreaths at Arlington; and the Patriot Guard Riders.

In its first year, Wreaths Across America wreath-laying ceremonies were held at more than 240 national and state veterans’ cemeteries across the country and in Puerto Rico.

Tobin Slaven, Wreaths Across America spokesperson, applauded the relationship between Worcester Wreath and CAP. “It really has been phenomenal. Civil Air Patrol has been a driving force behind Wreaths Across America’s growth over the last several years,” Slaven said.

Marines Helping Santa

It is customary to see the tall white boxes with a picture of Santa Claus on it during the holiday season. And this year is no exception.

The Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots campaign officially kicked off Oct. 15. And the program is anticipating giving away more toys than in 2007.

Guy White, past coordinator of the Toys for Tots program and Ocala West Marine Corps League member, said they are hoping to help 11,000 children this year. Last year, the group gave toys to 9,948 children in the county, which amounted to about 28,000 toys.

Organizations like the Salvation Army, Sheltering Arms, Interfaith Emergency Services, and Ocala Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center put in requests to Toys for Tots for the needy children affiliated with their programs. Individuals cannot make requests for the toys.

Jim McCarthy, Ocala West Marine Corps member, said each child gets a toy, some stocking stuffers depending on their age and a stuffed animal. “They’re getting a variety” of toys, he said.

The Marine Corps Reserve has distributed about 130 collection boxes throughout Marion County at businesses, organizations and government agencies. Businesses like Toys R Us, Palm Chevrolet and CCS Mechanical are big contributors to the Toys for Tots campaign.

In addition, Dr. Debra Allen starts buying toys for the program in late December for the next year’s drive. White said the Morriston doctor has a room in her house filled with toys for the Marines. On Friday, he picked up the first of approximately three truckloads of toys from her, which included an assortment of items like board games and books. Last year, she donated about $2,000 worth of toys for .

What is the most popular christmas gift this year?

If you’re wondering what to buy for your adulterer son this year, worry no more. You can always go with what is certain to be a big hit.

The US national retail Federation has released a list listing the most wished for Christmas gifts of 2008.

For girls the first four places are taken by dolls.

At number one there’s the evergreen yet ever popular Barbie, closely followed at number two by Hannah Montana.

Dolls in general take-up third-place with the Bratz dolls in particular on four.

For boys the list looks like video games followed by Lego, cars, and transformers.

Popular with both boys and girls is the Nintendo Wii.

And popular with parents this year? The expected hefty discounts at most toy stores, says the national retail Federation.

Trees for Troops

Thursday members of the Christmas spirit foundation, Indiana tree farmers and FedEx volunteers will work together for the trees for troops program.

The volunteers will collect and prepare hundreds of donated Christmas trees. They’ll load them onto FedEx trucks for transport to the FedEx express hub in Indianapolis.

From there they will be shipped to the Navy’s fifth Fleet in Bahrain while the second batch will be delivered to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri.

The trees for troops program is part of FedEx special delivery and is a nationwide program that provides transportation as well as logistical assistance for community and nonprofit organizations.

This year FedEx and its volunteers will deliver over 16,000 trees to more than 45 military US bases around the world.

7 Year Old with Heart of Gold Rides with Santa

The annual Christmas parade in Monroe will be very special coming Sunday for second grader Hannah Demski.

Hannah is seven years old and goes to Central Elementary School in Erie.

She won a sponsored essay and this has given her the right to write with Santa Claus and his elves in Sunday’s Christmas parade.

In her letter to Santa Hannah had pledged to always behave and to donate some Barbie dolls to children who are sick and in the hospital.

True to her word, shortly after writing the letter Hannah donated her Barbie doll to a local department store that provides new Barbie dolls to children who are ill.

Frugal German Shoppers Get More Frugal

The survey in Germany, performed by the magazine Stern, shows that one in three Germans will spend less money this year on Christmas gifts than in previous years.

The numbers are an indicator that the financial crisis is hitting hard in Europe: Germans are considered frugal shoppers already.

On the other hand, a little bit over half of the Germans set it there will spend about the same amount of money or more than in 2007.

Taking the average of the poll most people will spend around 300 euro (around US$375).

Still, a good quarter of those surveyed said that they will spend hundred Euro or less.

Germany is considered the world’s third-biggest economy while numbers released last week show that Germany has slipped into a recession for the first time in five years.

Thiefs Steal Santa Claus

Well, Santa is gone. Which is kind of a hard feat because Santa in this case is a 9 foot high statue. It disappeared Friday night.

With the Watts family out of town Friday night the 9 foot resin statue of Santa clause disappeared. When they report that the statue is missing a police officer of the Schaumburg Police Department reported that it seems then that strapped to the roof of the Jeep Cherokee.

It would take at least two people to lift the statue; it’s quite heavy and quite bulky. The statue is valued at at least $1000.

“He’s huge. He’s big around. He’s got a sack of toys on his back and he’s a big boy.

I’m just sad that someone stole Santa. Christmas isn’t about Santa Claus. It’s about love and family and Jesus’ birthday.”
— Mr. Watts

The family has been putting their Christmastide shouts for the plastic spheres. Neighborhood children have their picture taken with it.

Christmas blooms at garden stores

Ed Holden, owner of Potters, a chain of popular garden centres in the Langley and south Surrey areas, began the Christmas transformation at his new 27,000-square-foot store at the corner of 192nd Street and 48th Avenue in September.

This store is now the largest Christmas store in Western Canada. It has become a destination for shoppers from all over Metro Vancouver.

The rest of the year its focus is 100-per-cent garden products and all the familiar horticultural components – sections devoted to trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals as well as areas featuring containers, tools, fertilizer and all the other gardening paraphernalia.

“By September, we’re done selling chrysanthemums, pansies and bulbs,” Holden says. “We’re already starting to convert the interior of the store over to Christmas. Certainly by early October the change is complete.”

To give the store the desired Christmas ambience, especially in areas with themed ornaments such as nutcrackers, collectibles, novelties and seasonally slanted gifts for sportsmen and fishermen, part of the mega-Potters store has been totally blacked out. This is also to protect products from being faded by direct sunlight.

Elsewhere there are life-size Santas, trumpet-blowing angels, bearded old-world Saint Nicks, stockings and candles on fireplaces, garlands and sashes, wreaths, holly boughs and myriad twinkling tree lights.

Holden does all his shopping for Christmas items in the middle of February, not, as you might imagine in Asia, but in California and Las Vegas.

“We leave just after Christmas every year. We start out in Mexico, where we buy a lot of pottery items. Then we work our way up into the U.S., and end up in Las Vegas where there is a really big Christmas item wholesaler.”

“It has been suggested that we should shop in Asia – we certainly buy enough to do that – but we have a great relationship with suppliers already and they help us to identify trends.”

Holden says the end of summer and fall are “nail-biting” times for garden centre owners.

“If the weather is great, people aren’t prepared to yank out all their geraniums and impatiens just because we’re ready to sell them chrysanthemums, bulbs and winter pansies.”

So it has become more and more tempting to make the switchover to Christmas earlier and earlier.

“By October, one in 50 customers, if that, come in for garden items. Everyone comes here for Christmas stuff,” he says.

Other garden centres that have also made a major switch from horticulture to Christmas include Art Knapps in Port Coquitlam and Gardenworks at Mandevilles in Burnaby.

Both stores have devoted hundreds of square feet of store space to Christmas giftware, everything from artificial trees and accessories to Christmas candles, bells and novelties.

At Art Knapps, Clare McLellan, seasonals manager, says this year they have decorated at least 50 trees in a variety of themes, each in a different colour scheme.

“We’re already seeing that the most popular colour this year is platinum, which is actually more a cross between silver and pewter.”

Art Knapps was one of the first garden centres in Metro Vancouver to see the potential in switching the store to Christmas items in fall when it pioneered the idea back in 1990.

Meanwhile at GardenWorks at Mandevilles, off Southeast Marine Drive, manager Roberta Wards says they begin the transformation immediately after the Thanksgiving weekend in mid-October.

The store’s entire bedding-plant greenhouse is turned over to Christmas trees, wreaths and green decorative foliage materials, while an area normally used for displaying garden tools, pots, birdbaths and flower seeds is transformed into about 30 areas, each with a specific Christmas theme: nutcrackers, snowmen, Santas, angels, nativity, elves, glass ornaments, retro-Christmas, teddybears and so on.

“Our main goal is to maintain sales, which in turn enables us to keep staff year-round, rather than having to lay people off,” says Ward.

This year the store’s hot display is a Sex and the City tree, a black tree decorated with pink ornaments and flashy bling.

Carol Boyce Nelson, the store’s gift buyer, says Fraser-fir scented products are also popular, especially potpourri and reed-diffusers.

“There’s also always demand for products with a woodland theme – twigs, feathers, birds and branches.”

Top colour schemes this year, she says, are apple green and silver-grey.

“We have the apple colours displayed with a silvery mercury and the silver-pewter theme with purple accessories.”

Novelty trees are fun, but there hasn’t been a decline in interest for traditional red and green Christmas colours, Boyce-Nelson says.

Come January, though, all the stores will make a quick switch back to seeds, soil and slug bait.

Christmas Shoppers Watching Their Wallets This Holiday Season

The Christmas spirit is alive here in Southwest Louisiana but many shoppers are watching their wallets due to recent downturns in the economy.

” It’s one of our concerns, the economy this year but so far we haven’t see anything yet,” said Jonathan Primeaux.

” I think they are being more cautious with their money, they’re not spending like they use to. We don’t know if there is going to be a hurricane next year and people are just trying to spend less and be prepared for items they need instead of things you want,” said Nancy Jordan.

” Going more with like clothes versus toys because we need them just by how the economy is,” said Elise Queenan.

Lake Charles residents are getting a head start on their christmas shopping but don’t let their bags fool you.

” Spending less since we had two new babies in the family,” said Queenan.

” Our families are planning to spend less this year. We just feel like we don’t need anything, we are just blessed to have our health,” said Jordan.

” I think everyone will cut back this year,” said Fran Bice.

” It’s going to impact some of the businesses but it won’t slow them down too much,” said Primeaux.

Even though shoppers are spending less this holiday season, these shoppers say they will spend more of their money to support local businesses.

” Helping our local people more than these big corporations. We are helping them by buying the stuff they have made,” said Queenan.

” Not only does it promote the local business and promote the economy here in town but also to get people out and get in the holiday spirit and promote and good cause,” said Ginger Webb.

Whether they spend more or less money this season, Christmas will always be a special holiday here in the lake area

Even Toytown is feeling the crunch this Christmas

In the UK too we have just 67 days to go until Christmas. That statistic is as likely to shrink as the revenue retailers will be able to squeeze from Christmas this year.

The Toy Retailers Association (TRA) launched Christmas shopping season officially this week with “Dream Toys”. The annual industry event showcases what they hope will be this year’s bestsellers. Among them, a Star Wars Trooper Helmet with preprogrammed messages. Retailing at $60 each sellers hope expect to be selling them by the truckload.

In fact, little complaining was to be heard; sellers were as cheerful as possible. Many insisted mom and dad will still want to buy their kids toys and that all the shops will have to do is make sure enough items are within financial reach.

Still, this is not Christmas 2007, when the mortgage crisis was mainly a USA thing, and not a Christmas 2006 at all either. Spending by the bucket load is out, at least for now, and frugal common sense has entered both lives and language.

Many retailers were talking for example about “cost per play” to try to express the value and worth of a product.

Then again, the past 5 years every year has been predicted as the worst Christmas selling season ever. And each turned out to be pretty good.

So what about this one?

“‘This Christmas is going to be the worst retailers have experienced in modern times. The past five years have been forecast as the “worst ever” and that hasn’t been the case; this year it will be. What is going on in the real economy is affecting every household in the country. Spending power is substantially diminished and that is going to be reflected in retail sales.”
Richard Hyman, retail analyst

Based on consumer surveys it’s expected that, in the UK, consumers will spend 6% more than they did last year. But that figure of about $1200 isn’t for toy sellers only. The breakdown is along the lines of roughly $600 gifts, $300 on food and $250 on socialising. Joy of Christmas predicts that’s pretty high for a lot of families out there.

Based on frugal patterns food is expected to be doing very well. It’s needed, no way around it, and at the same buck you get and a treat and good food.

Books, music and movies likewise are expected to be doing well in the UK. There’s a lot of new material coming out in the Christmas period. Also, the overall longtime worth of these items is perceived as very high.

What helps these sales is that as people curtail their spending from high end items and dining out to more frugal matters, staying at home with a good book or movie is seen as inexpensive pleasure.

“The book industry is reasonably optimistic about the outlook.

Books are a recession favourite because they are a good gift and don’t break; also the demise of the Net Book Agreement means they are cheaper than during the last recession. You can buy a book for £3.79 (USD $6.50) from Asda, which is less than a pint of bitter.”
Neill Denny, editor-in-chief of The Bookseller

In yet another annually recurring prediction the web is set to strike gold. Amazon UK expects their biggest Christmas ever, going head-to-head with main street in selling blockbuster DVD’s such as Batman The Dark Knight and the Abba musical Mamma Mia.

Oddly enough bargain hunters will be less well served as past years. The ample warning retailers have had of a slowing economy which then crashed and is now considered to be in a recession means they have bought less stock. Some “SALE!” activity is expected just before and after the holidays but full price will be the principle deal.

Letters from Santa Delivered from the North Pole

Salt Lake City based business Women of Wisdom, Inc. launches www.SantaSaid.com in an effort to add a special element to the Christmas season for your child.

Every year thousands of adults across the world buy personalized letters from Santa for the children that they love. This year, the letters that are purchased can put a smile on more faces than just the faces of the children receiving them. Women of Wisdom, Inc. has launched their website www.santasaid.com and is committing 10% of net profits to the purchase gifts for children who may otherwise not have a visit from Santa Claus. The donations will go directly to their nonprofit website www.give2others.org and will be directed towards making Christmas a happy occasion for children in need.

Santa Said was created by moms for parents. Santa letters are personalized letters from Santa and delivered directly from the North Pole. Each letter from Santa is personalized with the child’s name, about their accomplishments, and gifts from their wish list. All information and payment information is confidential and will not be sold.

Christmas is a magical and fun time for each child and creating new Christmas memories is one of the best ways to carry on a tradition that will last a lifetime. Santa Said creates a personalized letter from Santa that is mailed directly from the North Pole. Each letter is created on holiday themed paper and includes information personal to your child.

Women of Wisdom Inc. found that many other sites offering Santa Letters did not keep your child’s information private and secure. They understand how important this is and that your personal information should be protected at all times. Their website does not sell or otherwise release any of your or your child’s information. It is their goal to provide a safe secure environment for parents, friends, and relatives to know that by ordering www.santasaid.com that the child’s personal information and safety is their top priority. Create a special memory for years to come by sending a personalized letter from Santa Claus from Santa Said.

The Santa Claus Letter can be ordered from www.santasaid.com. Each letter is only $5.00, you can also order the letter on a puzzle for an additional $5.00. The website is safe and secure.

Santa Said also donates 10% of the profits directly to charity. It is so important to give back and to purchase products and services from companies or entities that continually give back to our communities and to those who are in need. The spirit of Christmas is alive and well.

Women of Wisdom, Inc. is a business run by women, mothers, aunts, and more. They pride themselves on offering quality products and opportunities to those around them. Their passion is life and family, this shows through in everything that they do. Stay tuned for more exciting news from Women of Wisdom, Inc. in the future.

As the Leaves Change, Holiday Ads Arrive

BEGINNING to look a lot like Christmas? Heck, for consumers, it has been looking that way for more than a month.

Some marketers are already running advertisements for — and posting content on Web sites about — merchandise, entertainment and other offerings related to the holiday season. Trees, theater tickets, holiday trips, porcelain Nativity scenes, crystal snowmen and even a New York Mets Christmas Village are being peddled in print and online ads.

There is a simple reason for this holiday creep: with the economy in such fragile shape, sellers of holiday goods and services are seeking to gather their dollars while they may.

“I do start early, and it has been very successful,” said Leon Gamze, president and chief executive at Treeclassics.com in Barrington, Ill., which sells artificial trees, lights and other Christmas merchandise.

How early? Advertisements for Treeclassics.com began appearing in September issues of magazines, which are published in August. One reader received the September issues of two magazines that carried ads from Mr. Gamze, Good Housekeeping and Martha Stewart Living, on Aug. 7.

To acknowledge the state of the economy, some ads for Treeclassics.com say, “Don’t miss our large selection of budget buys for extra savings!”

Although “the bulk of my business is October, November, December,” Mr. Gamze said, front-running the holiday alleviates some of the need to make sales closer to Christmas, when competition intensifies.

Other marketers already starting the holiday season, include Radio City Music Hall, part of Cablevision Systems. Its first ad for the 2008 edition of the annual “Radio City Christmas Spectacular,” featuring the Rockettes, ran on Sept. 7 in the fall preview issue of the Arts & Leisure section of The New York Times.

A spokeswoman for Radio City, Mikyl Cordova, said “the fall preview has always traditionally launched the media campaign” to sell tickets to the show, which this year will be performed Nov. 7 to Dec. 30.

Then, too, there are the purveyors of trinkets, bric-and-brac and collectibles like the Bradford Editions, the Hamilton Collection and Hawthorne Village.

They are already selling, among other things, the Thomas Kinkade “Holiday Reflections” crystal Christmas tree, the Hope Is Born Nativity, the Ultimate Disney Holiday Village, ornaments bearing portraits of New York Yankee players and the aforementioned Mets Christmas Village, including a snow-covered Shea Stadium with Santa Claus outside.

“You certainly shouldn’t be rushing Christmas, but it’s nice to be talking about your plans ahead of time,” said Frances Croke Page, a longtime executive at agencies like BBDO. She is starting a Web site devoted to New York during the holidays (ChristmastimeInNewYorkCity.com), aimed at residents as well as tourists.

The Web site, developed by What Works, an agency in Long Island City, Queens, is intended as “a place to go for planning,” Ms. Page said, “not a place to go for jumping the gun” on the holiday season.

“I don’t want to get in the way of Halloween,” she added, laughing.

That sentiment was echoed by Kevin McCollum, producer of “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas,” a Broadway musical with 63 preview and regular performances from Nov. 14 to Jan. 4. The first ad for the show ran on Sept. 7 and tickets went on sale on Sunday.

“You open your mailbox the day after Halloween, and all those holiday catalogs are there,” Mr. McCollum said.

Still, “I’m not getting a sense it’s too early for Christmas,” he added, referring to the timing of the campaign for his show, created by SpotCo, part of the First Artist Corporation.

The limited time the musical will be staged, its orientation toward family audiences and its Christmas theme mean “we have to get the word out” early, Mr. McCollum said. “If you’re buying four and six and eight tickets at a time, you have to plan it.”

Planning is also the rationale for a mid-September start for a campaign to promote visiting New Orleans for the holiday season. The campaign, by Peter A. Mayer Advertising, carries the theme “Christmas New Orleans style.”

“What we find is that people planning to travel over the holidays are already making their decisions now,” said Sandy Shilstone, president and chief executive at the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation.

“And we have requests for ‘Christmas New Orleans style’ information all year round,” she added, received by mail, phone and the Internet (NewOrleansOnline.com).

The campaign includes holiday themes for entertainment and meals, along with discount “Papa Noël” hotel rates.

Most major retailers wait until Nov. 1 to decorate their stores for Christmas or begin running ads with Christmas trappings. If they try to start earlier, they can draw complaints from consumers who prefer a more traditional approach to the shopping calendar.

But holiday merchandise can already be found on the Web sites of retailers like Target and Wal-Mart.

Mr. Gamze of Treeclassics.com said that occasionally his company would receive an e-mail message from a consumer who “will be a little cranky” that the company begins advertising so early, “but it’s rare.”

“If it wasn’t working for me, I wouldn’t do it,” he added. “I’m not that meshugeneh.”

Spirit of Christmas applications are available

Once again, the Louisiana Press-Journal and NECAC will sponsor the Spirit of Christmas to make the season a little brighter for some lower-income families.

Applications are ready to be picked up at the NECAC family service division during regular business hours from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“Applications are lengthy and require some thought. Families need to be specific and designate specific needs,” coordinator for the event, Dana Gordy, said.

All applications are due back to the NECAC office by Oct. 31. No late applications will be accepted.

Families chosen to be published and adopted are required to do four hours volunteer work and attend four hours of workshops on life skills. These will be announced at a later date.

Twenty families and five alternates will be selected.

“We really want to concentrate on the neediest families and seniors so we are most apt to review the serious applications from caseworkers and referrals from service organizations that have worked with and been in the homes of the families and seniors that know the real story behind our scenes. But in case we or local agencies are not working with the family but there is still a great need in the home we want to encourage and accept applications from individuals,” Gordy said.

The Machine Shop helping those in need

When you think of the Machine Shop in Flint, you probably think of live bands, large crowds and fun times. But, now you can add generosity into the mix. The Machine Shop, along with some well known bands, will work to raise money, awareness and “hair” for some needy charities.

On Friday, September 26, Nuroksol, Given Six , and Fear Blind will be performing, while Studio 57 will will be on hand cuting off ponytails to donate to Locks of Love and Children with Hair Loss. Ponytails must be 6 inches or longer. Russ Mettler, from Crop Circle, is taking it one step further; he’s cutting his hair and is challenging any other local artists to donate their hair.

On Saturday, September 27, Crop Circle, and National recording artist Royal Bliss, from Salt Lake City, will perform.

Both nights, Pancho’s Tacos will be serving food and donating a portion of their proceeds to Wheels 4 Wheels which assists in purchasing handicapped accessible vehicles. In addition, Toys for Tots will be collecting new, unwrapped toys. The toys will be distributed as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community.

Santa Claus is coming to town

SANTA Claus is set to ride through High Wycombe on a reindeer-drawn carriage during the annual Christmas lights switch on this year.

He will be accompanied by stilt walking Christmas trees, fairies and other colourful charcaters during a parade on November 13.

Santa and his helpers will also be joined by a 20-piece Scottish piping band and the High Wycombe sea cadet brass band.

The fun will start early with childrens rides being set up along the High Street and caterers cooking up a festive treat or two in Frogmoor.

The parade will wind its way down the main throughfare to a stage where a countdown to the big switch on will take place.

Plans for the event, which attracts hundreds of people every year, were announced last night at a meeting of the High Wycombe Town Committee.