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Secrets to Stocking Stuffer Success

(ARA) - No one seems sure just how much the average American household spends on the holidays. Some experts believe families spend up to 70 percent of their total discretionary income in the five weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Hidden holiday costs like party attire, decorations and incidental gifts add to the confusion. But one thing is certain. Each year Americans spend more and more money to get into the Christmas spirit only to find they are less than jolly by the time the bills arrive.

A good place to start reining in on holiday expenditures is the traditional stocking hung over the fireplace. Once typical stocking stuffers were such feel-good items as penny candy, a box of cocoa and perhaps some peppermint sticks. Today, many stocking stuffers rival the cost of the items found under the tree. To help recapture some of the nostalgia of an old-fashioned Christmas, this year why not consider stuffing the stockings with more meaningful gifts?

The gifts don't need to be out-of-the-ordinary. In fact, you might just find you can generate more excitement by adding a creative twist to some day-to-day items that may have needed replacement anyway. Some simple ideas include a pair of extra furry slippers with a reindeer or polar bear head. Or a matching hat and gloves that sport the very trendy tie-dye color scheme. School supplies in neon colors or with squishy textures might also be well received. And what better time to replenish these items than at the school year's half-way point?

If you're like most families, you've probably already consumed enough sweets to last until the next holiday. So don't feel the need to overfill stockings with chocolates or candies when tummies are already bursting.

Additionally, this is the time of year when many children have long, extended school breaks that often lead to boredom. With a little creativity, you can inexpensively think of ways to fill those idle hours with some well thought-out stocking stuffers. Crafts, puzzles and playing cards, or even old-fashioned jacks or marbles, will fit nicely in the stocking without breaking the family piggy bank.

Books also make great gifts. Not only do they help pass time quietly away from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, but they also reinforce positive habits. A great stocking stuffer that encourages reading is the mark-my-time digital bookmark. With a built-in, electronic timer that can be set to either count down or accumulate time, the bookmark conveniently and accurately tracks required reading time for school.

Not only will the bookmark help pass time over the long holiday break, when school is back in session it functions as a convenient homework helper. Thousands of parents and teachers across the country have already discovered the benefits of the digital bookmark, including its ability to actually get kids excited about reading.

Gifts don't have to be expensive to be appreciated. Nor should holiday spirit be measured by the amount of money spent. Some of the best gifts can be the most practical ones -- with a creative twist. Whether it's something to help keep warm, keep busy or keep on track, there are many gift ideas that can be cherished for less than $10 each.

For great stocking stuffer ideas, visit www.mark-my-time.com where you'll not only find the mark-my-time digital bookmark, but also a companion product -- the mark-my-time digital metronome. It monitors music practice sessions and also includes a built-in metronome to help students keep the beat. Both are sized and priced just right for holiday stockings.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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