A Publication of WTVP

Socks for Seniors
The holidays are times for sharing, and for a decade, that’s just what Socks for Seniors has been doing. An annual sock drive that began in Ohio now includes locations throughout the country, all focused on giving new pairs of socks to seniors living alone, in nursing homes, or even on the streets. While there aren’t currently any collection sites in the Peoria area, the organization is looking for community partners to help expand their operations. To learn more, visit

Disconnected Gadgets
Think your college student is addicted to his iPhone? You may be right, says a study that interviewed nearly 1,000 university students in 10 countries. After asking students to go without technology for a 24-hour period, the study found that a “clear majority…were unable to voluntarily avoid their gadgets for one full day.” While participating students were prepared for the frustration of being unplugged, noted lead researcher Susan Moeller, few expected the psychological effects they experienced, including loneliness, panic, anxiety and heart palpitations. Many likened their experience to that of drug addicts going “cold turkey.”

Holiday Networking
As the holidays get closer, you’ll surely receive invitations to all sorts of parties. Internationally known author and speaker Maribeth Kuzmeski suggests that, while it’s fun to get together with friends, family and coworkers, holiday parties can also be great places to network. If you can, get a guest list ahead of time, do your homework and find connections between you and the other attendees. While at parties, focus on asking questions and learning about others instead of telling your own life story. And perhaps most importantly, don’t let your new connections end when the party does—keep in touch.

Saving the Environment, One Gift At a Time
People have been saving holiday gift bags and bows for ages. Some of us do it to save money, others the environment, and still others, just because that’s what we were taught to do. And with prices on the rise for seemingly every product we buy, it’s no wonder more people have taken up this trend anew in the last few years.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the amount of garbage produced by the average U.S. household increases by about 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, much of it due to the single-use wrapping paper that’s ripped off in a whirlwind of excitement.

Many conservationists have suggested alternative, reusable wrappings that don’t leave as large of a carbon footprint, including decorative fabric, tote bags, pillowcases and reusable gift bags. According to the Carnegie Mellon Green Practices Initiative, “If every American family wrapped just three presents in reused materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.”

Not sure how to wrap your gifts without traditional paper? Try using Sunday’s comics or last year’s calendar pages. Other alternatives include outdated maps and that extra roll of wallpaper that’s sitting in your basement.

If you’d like your wrapping to add to your gift, try giving it in a container related to your recipients’ hobbies. For an aspiring chef, put his gift in a cooking pot. That fashionista on your list? Wrap her gift in a hatbox. They will appreciate not only the present, but the wrapping as well.

Spreading The Cost
Those credit card bills that come after the turn of the new year can be hard to handle all at once, but with the comeback of a traditional payment method, they don’t have to be. While the layaway option had seemingly all but disappeared, some retailers are bringing it back for holiday shoppers.

Sears and Kmart, for example, have offered layaway programs for many decades, but since 2008, “the number of layaway contracts at both stores has more than doubled,” according to

Other popular retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Toys “R” Us, T.J. Maxx, Marshall’s and Burlington Coat Factory have recently added the option as well. But if layaway is something you’re interested in, you should inquire about the details before heading to the checkout counter, as each retailer offers different terms.

Some stores, like Sears and Kmart, allow you to put just about anything on layaway, while at Toys “R” Us and Walmart, only certain types of products are eligible. Most retailers have a minimum purchase amount, and down payments, service fees and payment terms vary by retailer, so be sure to ask about those things, too.

By using layaway to spread out the cost of your holiday shopping spree, you’ll save yourself the stress of paying a large credit card bill next year. It also helps you stick to your budget and resist the temptation to overspend. iBi