Season's savings


POSTED: Monday, November 16, 2009

Halloween is over, and retailers have already brought out the holiday items—the nutcrackers, the Christmas ornaments and the reminder that you need to be shopping for gifts soon.

Many retailers brought out the holiday decor in the weeks leading up to Halloween. It gets earlier every year. The catalogs already have come out—here's a sampling: You can buy a leather yo-yo (a stocking stuffer) for $710 from Hermes, a Swarovski crystal holiday ornament for $40 or a designer Stella handbag from Anteprima/Wirebag for $326 (which comes with an adorable miniature charm).

Some people love this task of buying gifts. Some people dread it.

Dread is understandable, given that the season tends to become a frenzy of consumption in which people find themselves buying trinkets they would otherwise never buy, and fighting for parking at the mall, all for the sake of the holidays.

Here's the deal: It's possible to have a nice holiday without spending tons of money, and there are ways to give without spending a dime. When faced with a limited budget, or even when you have no limits, it probably will be more joyful and less stressful if you simplify your holidays.

Yes, you can wake up in the early hours of the morning, stand in line and hit the door-buster specials (some of which have already started) and score a good deal.

If on a more limited budget, try “;Secret Santa,”; where one person buys only one gift for another member of the family instead of one each for everyone.




Kokua Foundations' Simplify the Holidays tips

Simplify the American Dream


You also can reduce the number of gifts you buy per person, and opt for one good one over quantity or an item with “;thought-value”; rather than “;price-value.”;

That means putting more thought into what you give from a nonmaterialistic perspective. It might mean crafting your gift, such as making jewelry, baked goods, a scrapbook of cherished memories or composing a song.

If you're not particularly crafty, there will be a number of craft fairs in upcoming months. Try a potted plant or locally produced honey from a farmers market.

In my book it's perfectly acceptable to re-gift an item; consider this “;recycling”; and better than letting an unwanted item sit at the bottom of a drawer. Just make sure you don't re-gift to the person who gave you the gift.

The best gift you can give anyone is your time—and we all know time is precious when so many hours of our lives are spent working. But time is the best gift—whether visiting Tutu, lending an ear to a friend who needs to vent, playing ball with your kids or taking your dog to the park.

Offer to baby-sit for one evening, make a gourmet dinner or give someone a lesson in something that you're skilled in, like playing the piano, ukulele or golf.

The Kokua Foundation, a local nonprofit supporting environmental education in schools and communities, offers the following advice for simplifying the holidays:

» Secret Santa: Instead of exchanging gifts with all of your friends and family, consider drawing names for a “;Secret Santa”; gift swap.

» Reuse wrapping paper and bows: It is fine to reuse wrapping paper, bows and gift bags in good condition. You also can use brown paper bags and draw your own art on them to lend a personal touch.

» Give reusable/homemade gifts: Shop for used gifts at thrift shops, or hop online to see what's available on craigslist.org or http://www.freecycle.org. Give gifts of time like a massage or a car wash.

» Take fewer trips: Try planning ahead and consolidating your trips to save gas when shopping for gifts.

» Spirit of giving: The holidays are about acts of kindness. During the holiday season the most rewarding gift of all is to help your community. Make it a family tradition to volunteer during the holidays, whether it's for Angel Tree, Toys for Tots or Lokahi Tree.

”;Here's the Deal”; helps consumers stretch dollars in these tough economic times. It runs every other Monday. Contact Nina Wu at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).