The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

By Dr. Jo Webber

For most people the upcoming holidays are something to look forward to. Businesses shutdown and the frantic pace of the modern day work environment is put on a two-week pause. During this time families get together and enjoy some downtime together, kids are freed from the rigors of school, and if we are lucky Mother Nature delivers a little snow to help set the tone.

Last year the average family spent over $500 on gifts, with over $400 going to family members. This is the most significant time of year for retailers both in brick and mortar and on ecommerce. This year Wal-Mart is offering a 32 inch flat screen TV for $98 down from $148 last year. This may seem like an unusual gift – but the point is that people spend an average of around $140 on self-gifting during this season. This year with Thanksgiving being so late, and with disposable incomes only rising slightly over 2012, retailers are positioning attractive offers to try to tempt shoppers to buy gifts and self-gift alike.

Gift cards are likely to be popular again this year particularly with family members struggling to keep up with teenage wants and needs. One thing we have introduced at Virtual Piggy, which is very popular, is our Wishlist. Teens and tweens manage their own accounts and can easily load items onto their Wishlist. They can then share the Wishlist with mom or dad – or with other friends and family members via email or social media. This makes it easy for the older family members to keep up with young family members. The teens and tweens who are using our service are highly motivated to keep their wishlists up to date (too critical to make a mistake here) and we have also noticed that many of the accounts are flagging charitable donations as a desired gift.

There are some organizations such as the Charity Choice card that make it easy for family members to gift the gift of a charitable donation to a child and empower them to make the selection of the charity. Giving to charity is often the most pleasant thing we can do for ourselves and for our children. Everyone feels good when you help out those who have less than you.  Hope you all have a Happy Holiday Season. •

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