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Priceless Gift Ideas

Fun and frugal or priceless gift ideas that bring holiday joy

(ARA) – It’s the thought that counts. We hear that phrase all the time, but it especially rings true during the holidays. If you have felt the pressure to spend a lot on holiday gifts for loved ones, you are not alone. But these days, Americans are looking to show they care for less.

According to a 2009 holiday survey of retail spending and trends conducted by Deloitte, a business consulting firm, holiday spending on gifts declined 29 percent from 2004 to 2008. The survey indicates that people are spending less on gifts and more on functional items like clothing, or cutting back by entertaining at home. Gift-givers are beginning to realize that you don’t have to spend a fortune to give someone something meaningful.

Believe it or not, value retailers are ahead of the trend in helping families create and enjoy a special, yet affordable holiday season. Pop into Family Dollar and check out the store’s variety of $5 toys, gifts and other value-priced items that make any seasonal gathering fun and frugal. The national retailer offers something for everyone, from value clothing and brand-name toys like Disney, Hot Wheels and Bakugan to electronics and home decor accents; it’s a great destination for all needs this season.

If you are worried about overspending or simply looking for a gift that shows how much you care instead of how much you spent, here are a few suggestions:

Give back to the family entertainer

We all have a member of the family who loves to throw parties. This year, lend a hand with the preparation. Stop by your local Family Dollar store and pick up a few entertaining necessities or holiday trimmings: plasticware, paper products, gift wrap, maybe even an apron or oven mitts. These are hostess gifts that will truly keep on giving.

Share your knowledge

Think about skills you possess and offer your personal services as a gift. Maybe you are an all-star in the kitchen and the recipient would be delighted if you shared a few tips, tricks or recipes. If you play guitar and a family member would love to learn, volunteer as an instructor. Formal lessons in either of these activities would cost a pretty penny.

Don’t forget to accessorize

Let’s face it, one can never have enough accessories. Whether it’s a scarf and gloves to match a new coat or a clutch to go with your holiday outfit, great selections can be found at value retailers for less.

With a little thought, you won’t have to sacrifice your wallet to achieve holiday cheer with your gifts this season.

For more value-priced gifting options and entertaining ideas, visit or check out Family Dollar on Facebook at


Compassionate Gifts

Giving the gift of compassion

(ARA) – When Sharon Saxelby’s first grandchild was born last year, she knew baby Reece would be showered with generosity by other family members, friends and well-wishers, and she was right. But, as president and CEO of a nonprofit organization called Friends of the Orphans, which transforms the lives of children in need in Latin America and the Caribbean, Saxelby was thrilled that one of the most thoughtful gifts Reece received wasn’t an expensive stroller or baby play mat.

Colleagues from work, in the spirit of celebrating Reece’s birth by helping those less fortunate, made a monetary donation in her name to their charity. Saxelby was touched by the gesture and so were Reece’s parents.

As the hectic holiday season once again approaches, gift givers frantically compile their annual lists: an iPad for their spouse, a PS3 game for their tween son, pricey jeans for their high school junior. According to the National Retail Federation, in 2009 the average amount spent on holiday gifts, food and decorations was $682.

When looking at the escalating cost and proliferation of electronic gadgetry, the clutter of DVDs, books or clothes and the time spent trying to find that special trinket, givers are realizing they could do a lot better. Creative gift giving or charitable contributions in the name of others is a lasting way to make an impact and transform the lives of those desperately in need.

Not to mention the fact that the gift of nonprofit giving will withstand the next technology iteration and continue long past this year’s fashion fad.

When heavy charitable hitters Bill Gates and Warren Buffett announced in early August their “Giving Pledge,” a recession-inspired commitment to sign over at least half of their assets to nonprofits over their lifetime or after their death, they hoped to inspire others to contribute to worthy causes as well.

For organizations like Friends of the Orphans, which supports more than 3,600 orphaned, abandoned and disadvantaged children in nine Latin American and Caribbean countries, this commitment to help children in need, resonates especially powerfully this year.

“Realizing that if each family donated just 10 percent of their estimated holiday spending to a charity instead of spending it on material gifts, many recipients who are deprived of life’s most basic needs would be afforded the chance for a brighter new year,” Saxelby explains.

“For instance, an amount as small as $12 can provide a child with no shoes a brand new pair, or $100 can provide one of our children anti-retroviral HIV medication for one month. When put into the right perspective, it’s easy to see how a small amount can have a huge and lasting impact.”

Each charitable organization has different methods of encouraging holiday giving, and each is an important part of the vitality and growth of the nonprofit.

This year, Friends of the Orphans has created a unique and memorable way donors can help children in need, especially during the Christmas season. The 2010 Gift Catalog, at, allows visitors to learn about the special Christmas celebrations each orphanage has, and through donations either in their own names or on behalf of others, provide useful and appreciated gifts to the children.

Saxelby says that for the thousands of children Friends of the Orphans raises, Christmas is an especially poignant time for them, because for many, it is the first time they have felt love, warmth and hope for their future.

“Watching a happy child enjoy holiday traditions, a warm meal and then open up a bag of gifts containing shoes and clothes, when perhaps a year ago they were homeless and afraid, and knowing that our supporters make that transformation possible, is a very powerful thing,” she says.

The holidays are all about celebrating, and regardless of which organizations donors choose to contribute to, giving can make their season more rewarding and truly enrich the lives of those less privileged. Realizing that you are able to transform someone’s life is often the best gift of all. For more information about Friends of the Orphans, visit


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