Friday, January 6, 2017

10 Great Halloween Books for Preteens

There are so many terrific Halloween books for little kids, but you have to dig a little harder to find great Halloween books for pre-teens.

1. Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury This is a tale where a 13-year-old boy disappears into the Halloween Tree and his friends travel through time with the help of an older man. This is a gripping story that is a quick read (160 pages) that slips in history of Halloween into the plot.

2. Halloween NightBooks I and II by R.L. Stine From the infamous author of the Goosebumps series, R. L. Stine wrote a story about girls who plan to murder another girl who keeps taking their boyfriends. The story seems simple enough, but there is a twist at the end that will surprise you.

3. Five-Minute Halloween Mysteries by Ken Weber This is for the kids who can’t sit still long enough for Harry Potter. These short mysteries keep kids entertained and interested.

4. Sammy Keyes and the Skeleton Man by Wendelin Van Draanen This is a fun story about a seventh grade girl who tries to solve the mystery of who stole her families’ heirlooms twenty years ago. The book is a quick read (172 pages) and intriguing.

5. Widow’s Broom by Chris Van Allsburg The author of Polar Express wrote this exciting picture book for Halloween, which makes an excellent read-aloud with a flashlight. An old widow finds a witch’s broom accidentally and this short 32-page book keeps kids laughing and guessing until the end.

6. “The Headless Horseman Rides Tonight: More Poems to Trouble Your Sleep” by Jack Prelutsky This book is for the teachers in middle school who are struggling to get kids to read poetry. There are 12 bone-chilling poems about monsters accompanied with scary illustrations. It’s the perfect fix for boys who think poetry is lame.

7. Creepy Campfire Tales: Halloween Campout, Vol. 1 by James D. Adams This is a compilation of 11 short stories that take place around Halloween in New England and Ohio areas. From monsters and vampires to evil scarecrows that come to life, there are thrilling stories throughout the 136-page book.

8. Squampkin Patch: A Nasselrogt Adventureby JT Petty This is a bizarre tale of two children who lose their parents in a department store, escape from an orphanage that forces children to assemble zippers, then move into a home where the previous owner disappeared the Halloween prior. The home they move into has a rapidly growing garden of squash-pumpkins (squampkins) that eventually snatch the little sister.

9. The Halloween Party, Vol. 5 by E.A.M. Jakab, This is a “choose your own adventure” story that stars a new girl named Meg who invites you to a Halloween party with real ghouls. Kids will have fun making the story turn out different ways.

10. Horeseman#1 (The Hollow) by Christopher Golden The author of the Buffy series writes a story about a normal family that relocated to a small town called Sleepy Hollow after the mother dies. The town seems normal until they learn that the Headless Horseman tale is real and he is murdering people in town. This book is for the older pre-teens; it is actually scary and violent.

Labels: 10 Great Halloween Books for Preteens

10 Great Christmas Gifts for Men at JcPenney

JcPenney is a great place to buy Christmas gifts for the men in your life. The Men’s Department is a big priority for the Christmas holiday season. Areas are expanded or added to ensure that the customer gets the best possible selection of Men’s merchandise they can at JcPenney. Sales Associates are available to help customers on the floor. They can answer any questions the customers may have about the merchandise. Sales Associates can help fit someone for a dress shirt, casual pants , sports coat, suit coat, or dress pants. Also, they can check the stock room for a size that’s not available on the sales floor.

The JcPenney catalog carries a lot of different men’s clothing and gifts that are not available in the store. Exclusive items are added just for the Christmas season. JcPenney adds free shipping coupons to their catalogs for the holidays. Customers have to spend a certain amount to qualify and also have to have the coupon code. If JcPenney is out of a specific size of clothing in the store and a sales associate orders that item for you out of the catalog, shipping is free. Christmas time is not the only time this applies. All year long, you can take advantage of this little known secret.

Here is a list of 10 great Christmas gifts for Men that you can buy at JcPenney:

Leather Jacket
JcPenney has really nice Leather jackets and blazers at Christmas time. The Bomber jacket is just one of the styles they have available. The day after Thanksgiving through Christmas is the best time to buy a Leather jacket. The sales will be good during this time.

Flannel Shirt
All men like flannel shirts. St. John’s Bay and Docker brands are excellent choices. St. John’s Bay is JcPenney’s private brand and is good quality. They make two different weights of flannel shirts; medium and thick. Brawny is the thick weight. All men like the medium weight. If a man works outside a lot when it’s cold, he can use the Brawny flannel shirt.

Pajama Bottoms
Men love pajama bottoms. Buy them a colored t-shirt to go with it and they’re all set for winter. JcPenney has two choices of pajama bottoms to choose from; flannel and knit. The flannel are the most popular for Christmas gifts. And St. John’s Bay is the best brand to buy. The pajama bottoms come in several different color patterns; plaids, outdoor, Christmas, and solid. Straight leg and cuffed are the two style choices. Most men want the straight leg. Sale prices on pajama bottoms are good enough so you can really stock up. They make great men’s gifts.

Colored T-shirts
All men like colored t-shirts. St. John’s Bay has many different colors available for customers to choose from. Stafford makes a colored t-shirt with a pocket but doesn’t have as many colors. So if the man you’re buying for smokes or carries an ink pen, he would probably prefer the Stafford.

Dress Shirts
Stafford brand is the main dress shirts at JcPenny. Van Heusen and Pierre Cardin are two of the others they carry. Sales associates can help pick out colors and sizes.

Casual Dress Pants
Men love Docker pants. Dockers come in a flat front or pleated style. Colors such as stonewash, kakhi, blue, olive, gray, black, and while are available to choose from.

Levi, Silver Tab, and Arizona are just some of the brands that JcPenny. St. John’s Bay jeans are available in the mature men’s department.

Tool Sets
JcPenney sells a lot of tool sets during the holidays. I bought my husband one and he is happy with it. The price is really reasonable on the tool sets also.

JcPenney sells all sorts of novelty electronic and board games at Christmas time. Poker games are popular.

Dockers and Stafford are the main brands of wallets that JcPenny sells. Relic brand is a brand for the younger generation. At Christmas, JcPenney has a lot of really nice boxed gift sets with wallets in them. Customers have their choice of two colors; black and brown. Several styles are available such as bi-fold and tri-fold.

JcPenney is a great place to buy gifts for men. I’ve only listed 10 of them. Be sure to check out JcPenney for all your Christmas gift giving needs.

Labels: 10 Great Christmas Gifts for Men at JcPenney

10 Future Treatments for Depression

When it comes to depression there are more people depressed in the world than those who are not depressed. Many people know what causes their depression while others have no reason to feel depressed but do. Women and men alike find themselves loving their job, the life, their family but still feeling depressed and frustrated.

Depression leaves a person feeling like there is no hope so why live.

Depression symptoms can be anything from just feeling blue to wanting to end one’s life. A person can become very unhappy in their daily lives and something they once used to enjoy very much has now become something menial in their life. Although there have been some helpful treatments in the past who have made people who were depressed feel better that are still many who live with depression daily who are not getting any better. So doctors look to the future to find out what is in store for depression treatments.

Nerve Pacemakers
This treatment implants a small pacemaker which will send tiny electronic shocks to the brain.

Electroconvulsive Therapy
This is a treatment that has been used to help with depressed patients. This treatment works by ECT causing an electrical shock which in turn causes a seizure. This seizure will release chemicals into the brain which will in turn make the brain cells work better which will ultimately help with depression.

Magnetic Brain Stimulation
This treatment is actually a replacement for electroconvulsive therapy. It will use magnetic stimulation to help with depression.

Light Therapy
This therapy involves light boxes which produce light at outdoor intensity which can help normalize melatonin production.

Gene Testing
This involves testing a person’s genes to find you what treatment or medication might be best for them.

This treatment targets the neurotransmitter norepinephrine, which so far can happen by no other drug on the market. When it comes to the chemical norepinephrine many people have a shortage of this chemical up to 20 percent while others have a 20 percent shortage of serotonin that is related to depression and then 60 percent of people have a mixed situation.

Better Diagnostic Tools
When it comes to the future of depression treatments the problem could lie in old diagnostic equipment, therefore doctors and analysts are looking into assigning better diagnostic tools to weed out depression. The MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging) helps to assess brain structure and can show many different medical issues related to the brain. Therefore, it only stands to reason the better equipment there is there more addressed depression can be.

Vagus Nerve Stimulation
This treatment sends electrical impulses to the brain in hopes that chronic depression symptoms will improve. This is a more modern way to stimulate brain function which can help treat depression.

Interpersonal Psychotherapy
This treatment has shown good faith in helping to reduce the recurrence of major depression in elderly people when used once a month along with anti-depressants. The future of this treatment could help people rid depression from their lives for good.

Herbal Remedies
There are many herbal remedies that can help with depression and one of those available over-the-counter is St. John’s worts which is a short term depression helper but a helper none the less. Doctors and analysts are looking to new and better herbal remedies for the future.

Labels: 10 Future Treatments for Depression

10 Great Desktop PCs for Under $500

Buying a computer can be one of the most intimidating experiences anyone can have. A lot of different terms and acronyms get tossed around, and the knowledge of the consumer gets tested on a constant basis. Shortly into the research process one fact becomes evident: computers can be expensive. That being said there are a ton of budget friendly desktop PCs available. While they may not be cutting edge, the truth is that a computer does not have to be cutting edge top of the line to be an effective tool for the average user. The overwhelming majority of families can get by with a budget PC for under $500. Here is a look at ten of them:

EMachines EL1850-01e

The eMachines EL 1850-01e is available from Best Buy or best for $309.99. The computer features an Intel Celeron processor, 2GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive. It also comes equipped with a multi-format CD and DVD reader/burner and network card, which means users can enjoy DVD’s and CD’s and create their own, and connect to the Internet simply by plugging in a cable. The bargain price on this unit reflects the fact that NO monitor is included with the unit. Therefore, users should make sure they save the monitor from a previous computer or be prepared to shell out another $100 for a new one.

Compaq Presario CQ5500Y

For $329.99 at Best Buy or best, the Compaq Presario CQ5500Y features an AMD Sempron Processor, 2 GB of Memory, and a 500GB Hard Drive. This unit also features a multi-format DVD/CD reader and burner. The large hard drive means plenty of room to store pictures and music, and the burner means sharing photos and music is a snap. The existing network port makes connecting to the Internet a breeze, plus six USB ports means plenty of room to connect just about every device imaginable. This is another monitor free tower, so potential buyers need to be ready with one in hand.

EMachines ET1331G-07w

Wal-Mart and stock the eMachines Et1331G-07w for $398. This computer has an AMD dual core processor, which clocks in at 1.6GHz along with 4GB of RAM. That means this is a fast machine. The 640GB Hard Drive allows plenty of room for data storage, and the Super Multi Drive means reading and writing DVD’s and CD’s is a complete piece of cake. Six USB ports means great connectivity options, and the media card slots and network connection helps keep every electronic device connected.

Asus Essentio CM 1630-03

The Asus Essentio CM 1630-03 from Best Buy or for $449.99 come with an AMD Athlon II processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 640GB Hard Drive. All the standard options for a nice tower are in play with this Asus. The 4GB of memory allow for great speeds during every conceivable task, and the hard drive is big enough to accommodate a whole lot of data. The 16-in-one media reader makes copying from just about every type of memory card easy, and the standard multi-format optical drive makes creating CD’s and DVD’s a fun pastime.

HP Pavilion Slimline s5514y

The HP Slimline computers take up less room, and feature a number of components jam packed into a smaller case. This unique concept sacrifices nothing when it comes to performance, which is a pretty amazing feat. The HP Pavilion Slimline s5514y features an AMD Athlon II Processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB Hard Drive, all for the rock bottom price of $399.99 from Best Buy or While the hard drive could be bigger, 500GB is plenty of room for most families, and the speed of the system is fairly impressive. All things considered this is a pretty nice machine.

Emachines ET1352-01

For $349.99 at Best Buy the eMachines ET1352-01 features 2GB of RAM, a 500GB Hard Drive, and is powered by an AMD Athlon processor. While the lower amount of RAM results in a lower purchase price, anyone looking to run basic applications will be satisfied with the performance of this machine. Plus, the multi-format optical drive makes creating memory discs or music discs more fun than actual work.

Compact Presario CQ550Y & 20″ Monitor

This is essentially the same computer as mention earlier but inclusive of a 20″ LCD widescreen monitor. The machine is available from Best Buy for $399.98. While the monitor itself is nothing ground breaking, the fact that it is available for less than $100, in this case $70, makes this the computer of choice for anyone looking to upgrade the monitor and tower they are currently using.

eMachines EL1333G-03w

The eMachines EL1333G-03w is available from Wal-Mart or for $298.00. Despite the sub $300 price tag, the machine specs out with 2GB of RAM, a 2.7 GHz AMD Athlon Processor, a SuperMulti DVD Burner, and a 500GB Hard Drive. The unit also comes equipped with 9 USB ports and a memory card reader, which means sharing data and connecting devices is really not a problem. The tower connects easily to the Internet with the available network connection, but the really nice advantage with this eMachine is that owners can upgrade it as time and budgets allow.

HP Black Pavilion s5503w-b

Also at Wal-Mart or is the HP Black Pavilion s5503w-b for $498. This computer is a slim space saving design capable of just about every computing need from email to word processing and beyond. The 2.7GHz Sempron Processor and 3GB DDR RAM deliver top notch speed, while the 320GB hard drive is a bit undersized it can still provide plenty of room for storage. The LightScribe DVD supermulti burner allows for easy sharing of movies and music, and can help store massive amounts of data. Best of all is the included 18.5″ widescreen LCD monitor, which makes this a great package for under $500.

Compaq Presario CQ1-1020

The Compaq Presario CQ1-1020 is priced at $398 at Wal-Mart, and is basically an old school all in one PC. That means that the tower is absent and all the hardware is stored inside the monitor or screen unit. While this machine runs the old Windows XP operating system, it still manages to stay relevant due to its 18.5″ screen, DVD Burner, and wireless Internet connection. While the hardware specs are outdated by today’s standards, anyone looking for a bargain priced All-in-One desktop with webcam and microphone included should give this one a hard look.

Labels: 10 Great Desktop PCs for Under $500

10 Gifts to NEVER Buy a College Student

It can be difficult to shop for a college student, as you are never sure of what they have and what the latest trends are. While I can’t tell you exactly what you get for your student, I can tell you some things NOT to get them.

1. Bath Salts-College students don’t have bathtubs. If you wish to purchase them something for the shower, go with aroma tabs.

2. Clothing-Unless you are going to buy them college apparel from the university or college they are attending, don’t purchase them clothes. The odds are you won’t get something they will where.

3. Gag Gifts-these are annoying. Not all college students get a thrill from a hand buzzer or silly string.

4. Anything not practical but worth a lot-This is mainly for things like expensive jewelry/pens/pins/whatever. Its not practical, dorms are tiny with people going in and out constantly. The item will likely be lost or stolen within a week.

5. Big stuff-If the student is into kickboxing, don’t buy them a punching bag. Dorm rooms are scarcely bigger than your bathroom. There is no such thing as “extra room.”

6. CD’s and DVD’s-these will likely end up lost or broken or stolen. Besides, most students don’t use CD players anymore, they use mp3’s. Purchase them a gift card for iTunes and

7. Computer Software-students get major software discounts, and will be able to get whatever software they need for next to nothing.

8. Gift Cards for specific stores-I know people mean well, but gift cards for specific places are annoying. They can only be used in one place. I may not need $150 dollars worth of clothes, but sure could use more gig on my laptop-which I can’t get with a Target gift card. If you want to give money, do it via a prepaid credit card. These can be used anywhere.

9. Posters-Trust me, by the time the first week of school is over, the wall will have all the posters it can handle.

10. Coupons for free junk food-Even if the student says they want these, don’t get it for them. College pounds add up fast, and the students don’t realize how bad they eat until it is too late. Send them bags of nuts, dried fruit, and different tea/coffee flavors. When its two in the morning, they’ll eat whatever is close, whether its pizza or apples.

Labels: 10 Gifts to NEVER Buy a College Student

10 Great '80s Movies Available on Netflix Online

Recently Netflix gave movie lovers another reason to choose them over other online video rental companies. On Netflix there are now certain movies and television shows that members can watch online so they don’t have to wait for their movies to be sent to them. One of my favorite Associated Content Content Producers, Timothy Sexton, recently did a series of articles listing some of the movies in each genre that members can watch online at Netflix. Timothy covered all my favorite types of movies except for one, 80’s movies. So here I have made for all you movie lovers a list of 10 classic 80’s movies that you can watch online at Netflix.

The Never Ending Story
Okay, I never claimed that all of these 80’s movies available online at Netflix were masterpieces but every kid in the 80’s saw The Never Ending Story. Who here didn’t love the flying dragon/dog thing? Who didn’t think that Atreyu was the coolest guy ever? Who didn’t cry when Atreyu’s horse Atrax died? Oh, you didn’t? Well…neither did I…

Karate Kid
If you want to see the greatest video highlight package of the 80’s, Joe Esposito’s “You’re the Best” durin the karate tournament, then you must watch Karate Kid online at Netflis. I don’t care what anybody else says the greatest 80’s villain of all-time is none other than William Zabka. No villain has ever made the hero feel pain like when Johnny swept the leg.

I remember seeing Beetlejuice at a friend’s house. I actually didn’t like Beetlejuice that much but I did have a good time that night so I associate it with good memories. I’m pretty sure that others did like beetlejuice though so those people can watch Beetlejuice again online at Netflix.

Stand By Me
Many movies use the cliché of calling their movie a great “coming of age story” but Stand By Me was truly one of the greats. The cast was a great group of young talents. River Phoenix was being touted as the best young actor of his generation. His friends were played by a pre-Star Trek Wil Wheaton, a then chubby Jerry O’Connell and the 80’s king Corey Feldman. The movie also included another actor that had a pretty good run during the 80’s named Kiefer Sutherland.

Escape From New York
There are rumors of a Escape from New York remake being in the works but nothing can beat the original. Admittedly if someone went to Netflix online and watched Escape from New York for the first time then the movie is a little rough around the edges but if you watched Escape From New York when it originally came out then it is a classic. After watching Kurt Russell in all those Disney movies as a kid it’s pretty amazing that he eventually turned into Snake Pliskin in the Escape movies.

The Secret of NIMH
There’s been a lot of great animated movies throughout the years. The Secret of NIMH might not be the best but it’s certainly in the running for most underrated. What’s most impressive is that it is actually a great adaptation of a book and a Newberry Medal award winning book too. Some people maybe haven’t even seen the Secret of NIMH and they should watch it online at Netflix immediately.

Short Circuit
Johnny Five is alive online at Netflix! Short Circuit is another movie that might not be great but it’s classic a 80’s movie. After that movie I was telling people that their mother was a snowblower and was asking people for more input for months. It didn’t hurt that it had the very cute Ally Sheedy and another 80’s icon Steve Guttenberg.

Lethal Weapon
Lethal Weapon eventually suffered from too-many-sequel-syndromes but the first Lethal Weapon was a classic. Go to Netflix online now if you want to see Mel Gibson’s rise to stardom and team up with Danny Glover to form one of the best buddy cop duos in movie history.

Blade Runner
Harrison Ford had quite a run didn’t he? Harrison Ford had the three Star Wars movies and then the three Indiana Jones movies…wait, hold up. Harrison Ford had so many hits that sometimes it is easy to forget that he also had Blade Runner during the Star Wars trilogy as well. In my opinion Blade Runner was better than two out of the three Indiana Jones movies (Temple of Doom and the Last Crusade) and at least one of the Star Wars movies (Episode VI: Return of the Jedi).

When anyone talks about classic 80’s movies one of the first movies that will come to mind is Ghostbusters. Ghostbusters is truly one of the crowning jewels in the Netflix online library. It thrills me to know that at any time I am just one click away from seeing the Stay Puft Marshmallow man in all his glory. I’m not a big fan of what Hollywood tries to pass as comedies these days so Ghostbusters might be what I consider to be the last great comedic movie.

Labels: 10 Great '80s Movies Available on Netflix Online

10 Great Books for Kids 8 to 13

Children’s literature comes in many forms. From realistic stories, to historical fiction, to fantasy and science fiction, there is a book for every child’s interests. This article compiles a list of some great books to get kids to keep reading, or start reading more outside of school. Each book is accompanied by its author, and a short list of plot/and or themes. While all of these are meant to be read by children between eight and thirteen, some may contain sensitive issues, and I have made not of that for parents notice. I have tried to mix older books with newer ones, and to include books which feature different cultures and traditions to expose children to.

Dragon of the Lost Sea (Laurence Yep, fantasy/folk tale) Shimmer, is a dragon princess without a home, Thorn is a human orphan wanted no where. Together they “adopt” each other and set off to find the pebble that a witch used to capture Shimmer’s home, known now as the Lost Sea. This is the first in a four book fantasy series based on many old Chiness folk tales, which greatly flavor the story, but the themes of friendship and home are universal.

Princess Academy (Shannon Hale, fantasy/adventure) When it is divined that the prince’s wife will come from the mountain community of Mount Eskel, a makeshift academy is set up to educate the girls from the village for lowlander life, and in preparation to meet the prince. Miri, who is small and weak, and has never been allowed to work in the quarry mining linder with the others, faces both the intense competition among the other girls, and her conflicted desires to be chosen. Themes include education, communication, and prejudice.

The Ear the Eye and the Arm (Nancy Farmer, adventure/science fiction) After their three children are kidnapped, a high ranking political figure and his wife call in three gifted detectives known as the Ear the Eye and the Arm to find them. This fast paced adventure tale takes place in a futuristic version of Zimbabwe, and incorporates both interesting speculated technologies, and tradtional elements of that regions language and folklore.

Number the Stars (Lois Lowry, historical fiction) In 1943, a ten year old Danish girl is caught up in historical events when her and her family take grave risks to protect her best friend and her family from Hitler’s campaign against the Jewish people. This tales powerful theme of friendship is seamlessly wrapped around the historical account of the Danish resistence against the Nazis. Though it does not go into detail, this novel does reference some of the horrific events of the Holocaust, and parents may want to discuss the book with their children before or after reading.

The Boy Who Saved Baseball (John H Ritter, realistic fiction/sports story) People in DIllontown don’t agree on much, but they all agree- if the boy named Cruz de la Cruz had not existed, someone would have made him up. Tying an ages old sports story to the rhyme and rhythm of a small rural California town with all the trappings of a great tall tale makes this tale of underdogs and combacks a spicy mix, along with its themes of the importance of words.

Holes (Louis Sacher, tall tale) Forced to go to Camp Green Lake as sentencing for a crime he did not commit, overweight and unlucky Stanley Yelnats recalls while digging holes the tales told to him by his family about the source of their unlucky past, and he begins to notice how events are converging to finish the story and settle the score for all involved. Segments from several different stories and eras converge in this surreal story of one family and those they came in contact with.

Hatchet (Gary Paulson, adventure) When the small plane he was on crashes into a Canadian lake, teenaged Brian Robinson gathers up every ounce of courage he has, and forces himself to survive the dangerous Canadian wilderness with in his possession, just a hatchet. A tightly written adventure, followed by several sequels and an alternate ending story.

Maniac Magee (Jerry Spinelli, realistic fiction) Jeffery Lionel Magee left the unhappy home of his bickering aunt and uncle one day running at top speed, and never stopped. Arriving in the town of Two Mills which is divided down the middle based on race, he becomes a local legend, sleeping with the buffalo in the zoo, and making friends on both the east and west sides. This unusual and humorous story deals deftly with racial issues while never losing its sense of spirit or humor.

Ribbons (Laurence Yep, realistic fiction) Eleven year old Robin loves ballet, and is resentful of her parents when they stop paying for her lessons in order to pay to bring her grandmother over from Hong Kong. But Robin is undeterred, and continues to practice on her own, so strenuously that it leads to a medical problem that may bring her closer to her distant grandmother then anything else. Yep writes gently about the Chinese American experience, culture clash, and family amid this tale of a passionate young girl’s devotion to her art.

A Wrinkle in Time (Madeline L’Engle, science fiction) The first in a five part series, Meg Murray, her brother Charles Wallace, and a neighbor boy named Calvin O’Keefe embark on an adventure to rescue Mr. Murray, believed dead by many, on a business trip by his family, lost on a far away planet on a secret project for the government involving faster then light travel. But the universe contains many dangers as well as wonders, and it will take all the strength that the three have to even survive. Based off real scientific concepts, and never patronizing to its target age group, may require extra explanation for some to get into the story.

Labels: 10 Great Books for Kids 8 to 13

10 Great Budget-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a holiday shopper more than the dreaded children’s toy store. If your shopping list includes children, you can avoid electronics and cartoon inspired toys with a few gift ideas for budget-friendly children’s gifts.

Contribute to a group gift. If a ski trip tops Junior’s list-but, it’s too much for one gift giver to manage, make it a group effort. Older children understand money and are usually willing to accept the value of one large “dream” present.

Accessorize other gifts. Communicate with other gift givers-and offer to buy a “required” accessory or two for one of the larger gifts not in your budget. After all, every doll seems to have an array of must have accessories-as do most electronic toys.

Share your hobbies. Offer an interesting talent and provide personal lessons to a child as your holiday gift. Combine a private lesson “gift package” with some basic starter supplies-your own hand-me-downs work well-such as yarn and knitting needles for an aspiring knitter or a simple model car kit to share one of your favorite hobbies and talents with a child.

Get crafty. Children often seem to enjoy arts and crafts. Pick up a mismatched selection of random supplies, art paper, crayons, and markers from a discount store or the bargain bins at a craft shop-or build a gift from your own unused craft closet stash.

Encourage a child’s off-season activities. Do you know a young soccer pro in training or perhaps a tennis star? What gear is on their wish lists? You may be in luck if a certain expensive soccer bag, in just the right color, is discounted during the winter off-season!

Bring back a childhood favorite toy-and a memory. Classic toys never seem to disappear from toy store shelves-and are usually much cheaper than the season’s hot items. Offer one of your own favorite childhood toys, or even hand down the original, and dig out an old photo of you with your toy as well.

Handmade items share a bit of you. Whether you sew, or create pottery, or simply create crafty things in your spare time, a handmade gift is an expensive way to give a child a gift and a long lasting memory.

Build a unique gift basket with a theme. If a child has a favorite cartoon character or a favorite sports team, pick up related items during sales throughout the year to build one large themed gift for the holidays.

Give a future field trip. Create a printed, personalized certificate for lunch and a movie-or perhaps a hockey game or a trip to the mall. It may not seem “ultra cool” when it’s opened, but it’s a great

Creative play toys encourage imagination. Break away from the commercialized list and look to lower cost alternatives in items such as dress up clothes, pretend food, and play garage tools.

Labels: 10 Great Budget-Friendly Holiday Gift Ideas for Kids

10 Great Daytime Las Vegas Attractions

Everybody knows that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but it doesn’t all happen after dark. Sin City has plenty to offer those non-nocturnal vacationers who are looking for something different to do during daylight hours. Here are ten ideas for daytime activities in Las Vegas.

Lake Las Vegas

Located 17 miles west of the Las Vegas strip in Henderson, Lake Las Vegas is a oasis all it’s own with beautiful luxury hotels, spas, and two golf courses surrounding a beautiful lake. There is of course gambling to be had, but Lake Las Vegas adds a quiet desert serenity that you really can’t get on the Strip.

Las Vegas Premium Outlets

If shopping is your thing, then you are going to be in heaven at the Las Vegas Premium Outlet Mall. The mall boasts shops ranging from Adidas, Sean John & Nautica to Liz Claiborne, Calvin Klein, Aeropostale and Bose. Whether you hit it big at the casino or not, you’ll be able to get a lot for your dollar at this bargain hunter’s dream mall.

The Midway at The Excalibur Hotel

In keeping with the jovial medieval theme at The Excalibur, the Midway offers an array of carnival games with a King Arthur style twist to them. Here you can try your luck for a chance to win a stuffed dragon for a fair maiden, or just enjoy some classic arcade games and air hockey while beating the afternoon heat.

Star Trek: The Experience (At The Las Vegas Hilton)

Trekkies rejoice! The Star Trek Experience is a virtual reality, multimedia extravaganza that places you on the deck of the enterprise for a mission spanning different galaxies. When you’re done saving the universe, there is also a Star Trek museum, and themed restaurant complete with favorites like the Cardassian Cooler. If you know the difference between a Cardassian and a Kardashian, then you will love Stark Trek: The Experience.

The Lion Habitat At MGM Grand

The lion’s roar that made MGM films famous is alive and well at the Lion Habitat at the MGM Grand hotel. The lions on display actually live on an 8 acre ranch outside the city, and are transported to the hotel each day for all to see. Visitors can get a great close up view of these majestic beasts free of charge.

Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat (At the Mirage)

Another great destination for animal lovers, the Secret Garden is home to Siegfried and Roy’s white tigers as well as Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. The Secret Garden offers an exclusive Trainer For A Day package where you can actually spend the day as a dolphin trainer, feeding, playing, and swimming with the dolphins.

The Price Is Right Live (The Jubilee Theater At Ballys)

If you grew up watching The Price Is Right on television, you’re not going to want to miss the opportunity to see this show for the chance to be a contestant on the show! Truth be told, it’s not the exact same thing as the television show, but you can still win cars, appliances and vacations. You have to be 21 to see the show and there’s no guarantee you’ll win anything, but it sure is fun to watch and hope you get picked!

Masquerade Show In The Sky (The Rio All Suites Hotel)

For a little taste of Mardi Gras, you can head off the Strip to the Rio Suites hotel where you can take in a New Orleans style parade. The floats aren’t on the ground though, they’re up in the sky! Special floats travel through parts of the casino and revelers throw Mardi Gras beads to lucky people on the ground. Unlike New Orleans though, all you have to do get some beads is wave your hands.

The Miracle Mile Shops (At The Planet Hollywood Hotel)

If you’re looking to do some shopping a little bit closer to The Strip, The Miracle Mile shops offer over 170 retailers including Bebe, H&M, and Quicksilver. Just in case you haven’t had enough gambling excitement during your trip, there’s even a store where you can purchase a real deal slot machine to take home with you.

The Shark Reef Aquarium (At Mandalay Bay)

If lions, tigers, and dolphins aren’t your thing, you can visit the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay whose 1.6 million gallons of seawater is home to sharks, rays, piranha, jellyfish and crocodiles. With over 2,000 fish and animals on display, you’re bound to find something you’ve never seen before.

From shopping sprees to game shows to starship adventures, there’s a lot happening in Vegas during the daylight hours, and this list only begins to scratch the surface of what’s available. There’s no reason why night owls should have all the fun in Vegas!

Labels: 10 Great Daytime Las Vegas Attractions

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