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Unique boutiques Spirit of the season

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Unique boutiques Spirit of the season Powered By Docstoc
   Gift Guide
        Unique boutiques
            Maryland's main streets offer a
         personalized shopping experience
                                           page 4

      Spirit of the season
        Business leaders share meaningful
             holiday memories and wishes
                                          page 10

                              A supplement to

                              November 2009

                                   ILLUSTRATION BY JESSICA ZWIRBLE
2   Holiday Gift Guide                                                                 The Daily Record

Contents                  3 Giving back
                             Corporate charity donations back on the rise this holiday season

                         4 Unique boutiques
                             ‘Mom and Pop’ shops entice customers with quality service

                         8 Trendy toys
                             Retailers underorder and cause massive toy shortages

                         9 More than a party
                             When planning your company holiday party, think quality over quantity

                         10 Spirit of the season
                             Business leaders share meaningful holiday memories and wishes

                         11 Lean and green
                             How to stay eco-friendly during the hectic holiday season

                          Daily Record Staff
                          Christopher A. Eddings        Publisher and President
                          Suzanne E. Fischer-Huettner   Associate Publisher, Vice President
                          Tom Linthicum                 Executive Editor, Vice President
                          Emily Arnold                  Special Publications Editor
                          Wayne Countryman              Assistant Editor
                          Keith Minney                  Classified Advisor
                          Lisa Carmichael               Classified Advisor
                          Lisa Roberts                  Classified Advisor
                          Jessica Zwirble               Graphic Designer
November 2009                                                                                                                                                Holiday Gift Guide    3

Corporate giving on the
rise this holiday season

Special to The Daily Record

   Maryland charities that depend on end-of-year gifts from individuals, foun-
dations and corporations for much of their revenue hope for some holiday

                                                                                                                                         Tips for
cheer this year but are realistically cautious about what to expect, economic
conditions being what they are.
   While giving by individuals and foundations appears to be down, there is
promise in the corporate sector, according to Mark Furst, executive vice                                                                 avoiding
president and chief operating officer of the United Way of Central Maryland.
“I might be the oddball here, but I’m actually a little optimistic about this year,”
Furst declared.                                                                                                                            scams
    A year ago, following the “economic earthquake,”         ing,” agreed Tricia Rubacky, director of development
the United Way’s campaign was down 9 percent from            at the Open Society Institute in Baltimore and a
its 2007 level, Furst reports. “Along with other non-        fundraiser for more than 30 years “through several re-
profits, we were hit hard, especially because we do 80       cessions.”                                                         The holiday season is synonymous with giving.
percent of our fundraising from September through                “People still are giving, which is great, but as long       Whether giving gifts to family and friends or do-
December,” he said.                                          as the unemployment situation continues, we’re going            nating to a favorite charity, many people find some
    “In no way, shape or form are we out of the woods        to see a lot of traditional individual donors juggling          way to go the extra mile during the holidays in an ef-
yet,” he continued, acknowledging that “a couple of          their own bills. They really have little capacity to            fort to help the less fortunate.
big corporate losses could affect our overall totals.”       give,” Rubacky said.                                               But just as there are countless charities in need
    But he cites several major Baltimore corporations            Some, she adds, “say they will make their decisions         of support, there are an ever-growing number of
and other institutions, including Legg Mason,                at the end of the year, when they see how things are            scam artists that prey on the generosity of well-in-
LifeBridge Health, the State Employees Credit Union,         going.”                                                         tentioned, unsuspecting donors. By becoming fa-
PNC Bank, Wachovia, Johns Hopkins and Citi Finan-                On the other hand, she continued, recent im-                miliar with the tactics they commonly use, most
cial, that “are going so far this year with their cam-       provements in the stock market have helped middle-              scams are easily spotted and avoided.
paigns and enthusiasm and the compassion we are              range and upper-income donors feel more secure and
seeing in their work forces.”                                that indicates a “more positive” potential response             • Don’t call us, we’ll call you. Soliciting by tele-
    For instance, Citi Financial’s campaign, led by its      from them.                                                      phone is a popular tool for scammers. The best
executive management team, is up 30 percent this                 For foundations and corporations, “the year con-            way to protect yourself from a telephone scam is to
year over last year, Furst said.                             tinues to be challenging, with hard choices being               simply say “No thank you” and hang up. If you feel
    Beyond corporate financial contributions, “we’re         made by all,” said Betsy Nelson, executive director of          the charity deserves your attention, you can po-
seeing a real desire of people to volunteer,” Furst          the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers.                  litely, but firmly, explain that you never contribute
added. He points to “hundreds of volunteer hours” that       Overall, she says, they still are accepting requests for        over the phone, but would be happy to receive in-
Constellation Energy employees dedicated to a                grants but are placing more emphasis on organizations           formation about the organization by mail. Never
makeover of the Boys and Girls Club in Glen Burnie.          aligned with their own missions or that support “basic          provide any personal information over the phone.
    “I think people want to give back and are trying to      human needs,” like food, health care and housing.
                                                                                                                             • Avoid online scams. Sophisticated fraudulent
do what they can. They haven’t forgotten the charities.          She cites projections by the national Foundation
                                                                                                                             sites mimic legitimate charities, but the financial in-
But we’re not getting many of the big gifts. We seem         Center that giving by foundations will drop more than
                                                                                                                             formation you provide is diverted to an unseen
to have more people giving smaller amounts,” said            10 percent this year and continue that way next year.
                                                                                                                             Web address. If you are not sure that a site is legit-
Cass Naugle, executive director of the Alzheimer’s               But while the challenges continue, in the corporate
                                                                                                                             imate or you did not reach the site by entering its
Association of Greater Maryland. She anticipates             sector “there seems to be a mentality now that things
                                                                                                                             Web address yourself, it’s best to log off and re-en-
that its gift revenue will be lower this year than it        have stabilized. The economic earthquake is over,”
                                                                                                                             ter the organization’s address on your browser. By
was last year.                                               Furst said.
                                                                                                                             going directly to the charity’s Web site, you can be
    “We would be naïve to think there is going to be             “There may be some aftershocks, but company
                                                                                                                             sure that it is legitimate.
any change in the pattern we have seen throughout the        after company seems to want to help now more than
year, which has been significant retrenchment in giv-        ever. It’s really great to see.”                                • The get-away car. Car donation scams are big
                                                                                                                             business. Even most legitimate vehicle-donation
                                                                                                                             programs are run by for-profit used car
                                                                                                                             dealers/fundraisers. In some cases, the charitable or-
                                                                                                                             ganization may receive as little as 10 percent of
                                                                                                                             the proceeds from the sale of the car, with the
                                                                                                                             lion’s share going to the dealer/fundraiser.
                                                                                                                             Follow these addition guidelines to avoid charity
                                                                                                                             • Confirm that the organization actually exists and
                                                                                                                             is indeed a charity.
                                                                                                                             • Don’t give in to pressure from a pushy fundraiser. The
                                                                                                                             harder they push, the more cautious you should be.
                                                                                                                             • Representatives of legitimate charitable organi-
                                                                                                                             zations will be happy to discuss their programs and
                                                                                                                             • Ask the caller to send information by mail or refer
                                                                                                                             you to the organization’s Web site.
                                                                                                                             • Check to make sure the organization is registered
                                                                                                                             as a charity with state or federal agencies.
                                                                                                                             • If a solicitor or fundraiser won’t take “No” for an
                                                                                                                             answer, the answer should definitely be “No.”
                                                                                                                             For more information on individual charitable
                                                                                                          MAXIMILIAN FRANZ
                                                                                                                             organizations, contact the Better Business
Betsy Nelson, executive director of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, admits ‘the year continues to be chal-
                                                                                                                             Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at
lenging, with hard choices being made by all.’ But things are looking up.
4   Holiday Gift Guide                                                                                                                                        The Daily Record

‘Mom and Pop’ shops entice customers with quality service
                                                                                          BY MARY MEDLAND
                                                                                          Special to The Daily Record

                                                                                          F  For many, holiday shopping means fighting the crowds
                                                                                          at the mall or dialing an 800 number, catalogue in hand.
                                                                                             But not for everyone. Many opt instead to patronize
                                                                                          local retailers rather than the big-box outfits.
                                                                                             Of course, small business owners are well aware that
                                                                                          they need to take steps to be as creative as possible in a
                                                                                          difficult economic environment.

                                                                                              “People really want to support local
                                                                                          businesses,” said Susannah Siger, the
                                                                                                                                      made of wool, cashmere and angora,”
                                                                                                                                      explained Siger.
                                                                                          owner of Hampden’s Ma Petite Shoe,              “When the economy is bad, people
                                                                                          a store she opened in 2002 that focuses     are not going to go out and buy a car,
                                                                                          on shoes, as well as chocolate.             but they will buy a pair of shoes. We are
                                                                                              “The less disposable income one         not talking about designer goods that
                                                                                          has, the less one wants to buy dispos-      are out of the reach of the working peo-
                                                                                          able goods. We provide a little bit of      ple in Baltimore.”
                                                                                          relief from the stresses many people            While Melissa Taylor, the owner of
                                                                                          are experiencing this year, and when it     Belvedere Square stationer’s Simply
                                                                                          comes to fashion, Baltimore loves the       Noted has offered an early-bird spe-
                                                                                          quirkier side of the fashion world.         cial 20 percent discount for holiday
                                                                                              “We are unique and with all the chal-   cards ordered in September, this year
                                                                                          lenges of the past year, we’ve had to be    she extended the discount by two
                                                                                          even more creative.”                        weeks because of the recession.
                                                                                              To that end, Ma Petite Shoe has a           “We do a snail mail promotion to
                                                                                          chocolate happy hour every Friday in        our mailing list about two to three times
                                                                                          which customers can sample new can-         a year and we have monthly e-mail spe-
                                                                                          dies. “We have chocolate from every         cials,” said Taylor. “The big stationery
                                                                                          conceivable country in the world,” said     vendors like Cranes and William Arthur
                                                                                          Siger. “We are working with a local ven-    run special promotions that make it
                                                                                          dor — Mouth Party Caramels — to de-         possible for us to pass the savings on to
                                                                                          velop new flavors, such as a sea salt       our customers.”
                                                                                          chocolate.”                                     Taylor acknowledges that she
                                                                                              Furthermore, Ma Petite Shoe is          stocks goods that range from the ex-
                                                                                          open late on the first Friday of the        pensive to the less expensive. “We have
                                                                                          month, which often includes discounts       people who have no issues with money
                                                                                          on certain brands of shoes.                 and who spend a lot on holiday cards,”
                                                                       MAXIMILIAN FRANZ
                                                                                              In addition to supporting her local     said Taylor, who adds that along with
‘We are unique and with all the challenges of the past year, we’ve had to be even more    chocolate vendor, Siger stocks luxury       holiday cards, she has invitations to
creative,’ said Ma Petite Shoe Owner Susannah Siger, on attracting holiday shoppers.      socks made by Pennsylvania’s lisa b.        weddings and bar mitzvahs and other
                                                                                          “These socks begin at $18.99 and are        events. “I really try to find out what the
                                                                                                                                      customer’s needs are and then point
                                                                                                                                      them to something that meets those
                                                                                                                                          Taylor admits that her biggest com-
                                                                                                                                      petition comes from online vendors,
                                                                                                                                      such as Kodak. “I do hear, ‘I can get
                                                                                                                                      this cheaper online.’ My response to
                                                                                                                                      that is, ‘Yes, you can. But wouldn’t you
                                                                                                                                      want to patronize a local stationer who
                                                                                                                                      employs people who live in the com-
                                                                                                                                          “On the other hand, I do hear, ‘I’m
                                                                                                                                      so happy that you are here and I do
                                                                                                                                      want to support you.’ We have a ton of
                                                                                                                                      great customers like that.”
                                                                                                                                          In Ruxton Station, economic safety
                                                                                                                                      in tough times means vendors are band-
                                                                                                                                      ing together to make it through the up-
                                                                                                                                      coming holidays and the recession.
                                                                                                                                          “For the first time this year, on De-
November 2009                                                                                                                             Holiday Gift Guide   5

              In addition to a personalized
              shopping experience, Ma Pe-
              tite Shoe offers customers a
              popular combination of
              shoes and chocolate.
                                                                         MAXIMILIAN FRANZ

                                                                                                                                                 MAXIMILIAN FRANZ

                                                                         MAXIMILIAN FRANZ

cember 5th, we are having Christmas           tomers,” said Franke. “In the card, every
festivities,” said Blair Franke, owner of     store sends a card with a discount on
Linens & Lingerie. “All of the stores         our merchandise.
are offering holiday discounts, holiday          “I’ve ordered candles with our logo
treats and beverages.                         embossed on them, that I plan to send
    “We are working on having Santa           to our better customers as a goodwill
visit, planning a scavenger hunt for the      gesture.”
children and the Gilman School’s a cap-          Franke notes that Ruxton Station
pella group — Traveling Men — will be         merchants are considering offering a
singing.”                                     discount on their merchandise in Jan-
    Also for the first time, the stores —     uary. In addition to that, a percentage of
Linens & Lingerie, along with the Little      total sales will be donated to a local
Shoe Box, J. McLaughlin, Rutland              charity.
Beard, Jewels and Ellie — have been              “We all share a lot of customers, and
collecting customers’ dates of birth.         we are all very customer oriented, but
“Every month we send a total of be-           even more so in this economic climate,”
tween 60 and 80 birthday cards to cus-        she said.                                                                                          MAXIMILIAN FRANZ

                                                        Avenue in Hampden                   Downtown Frederick            Harbor East
                                                        Baltimore City                      Frederick County              Baltimore City

        Shopping                                        Belvedere Square
                                                        Baltimore City
                                                                                            Everedy Square
                                                                                            Frederick County
                                                                                                                          Historic Ellicott City
                                                                                                                          Howard County

     Hot Spots                                          Bethesda
                                                        Montgomery County
                                                                                            Federal Hill
                                                                                            Baltimore City
                                                                                                                          Mt. Washington Village
                                                                                                                          Baltimore City

                                                        Brunswick Main Street               Fells Point                   Ruxton Station
                                                        Frederick County                    Baltimore City                Baltimore County
8   Holiday Gift Guide                                                                                                                                              The Daily Record

     Can’t find the hot new toy?
        Blame the economy
AP Retail Writer

R Robotic toy hamsters, the latest Bar-
bie dolls and stylish boots are disap-
pearing from store shelves as holiday
shoppers start to get serious. But don’t
confuse this with the days of Tickle
Me Elmo.

    Instead of a throwback to great buying binges of
the past, the empty shelves are just another sign of
bad times.
    The shortages come from stores that are terrified
of ordering too much and are keeping their inven-
tories thin.
    “I guess if you see it, you should get it,” said
Martha Frey, who was surprised when she couldn’t
find a specific style of boots in a popular size for her
17-year-old daughter recently at a Top Shop in Man-
hattan’s SoHo district.
    Shoppers are spending a little more these days,
but they aren’t going on buying sprees. Stores, re-
membering how Americans snapped their wallets
shut last holiday season, didn’t order big piles of
merchandise in the first place.                                                                                                 ASSOCIATED PRESS/THE GRAND RAPIDS PRESS, PAUL L. NEWBY II
    The result, with seven weeks to go before Christ-      Meijer's employee Carol Gessner straightens up the Hot Wheel cars section in the toy department in the Plainfield store
mas, is that popular toys are already hard to find.        in Grand Rapids, Mich.
    In fact, the holiday season’s early hit — the Zhu
Zhu Pets hamster, an interactive mechanical rodent         and 9 from Melville, N.Y., had to go to Toys R Us five           “No one wants to leave money on the table,”
by Cepia Inc. that sells for $9.99 and is being com-       times before she got her hands on Zhu Zhu Pets a             said John Long, a retail strategist at Kurt Salmon As-
pared to Furby a decade ago — is almost impossible         month ago. But she’s having a hard time finding the          sociates. “No one wants to disappoint customers.”
to nab.                                                    accessories, like the car, pet carrier and bed.                  October sales results showed that lean invento-
    Other toys that are already becoming hard to               “It’s no use to just get the hamsters. You need the      ries have helped raise profits for stores, but they’re
find include Mattel’s Mindflex, which measures             habitat,” she said. Megal noted that overall worry           also limiting sales. And many reported slower sales
brain activity through a helmet, a Nerf dart thrower       about shortages has made her start her holiday               toward month’s end as they ran out of clearance
called Nerf N Strike from Hasbro Inc. and Barbie           shopping early. She’s almost finished.                       merchandise.
Fashionista, who can twist her hips and strike oth-            The barren shelves are in stark contrast to last             Inventory is one of the biggest challenges stores
er poses.                                                  year, when stores ordered too much and had to                face this holiday season, said Carl Steidtmann, an
    “Stores just underordered across the board,”           slap big discounts on merchandise as soon as it hit          economist at Deloitte Research. Nevertheless,
said Jim Silver, an analyst at,          the floor. Holiday sales posted their biggest decline        they’re reordering only the best-selling items.
who predicted shortages of the top 100 toys by ear-        in at least three decades, and the results cascaded              Even then, they may be out of luck. Manufac-
ly December. In a typical year, only the top 15 are in     into poor profits and even the closings of prominent         turers, particularly small ones, matched production
short supply that early.                                   stores like Circuit City.                                    to orders and don’t have extras ready to ship.
    In recent weeks toy makers have dispatched ex-             This year, inventory is 8 to 13 percent smaller for          BaseCamp Adventure Outfitters in Basking
ecutives to China to make sure they get enough             mid-price clothing, and 10 to 15 percent smaller for         Ridge, N.J., which sells outdoor clothing and gear,
products to keep shelves full, Silver said. But pro-       home furnishings, said Antony Karabus, CEO of                has sold out of a few styles of fleece jackets from
duction times can be long, and chances look slim           Karabus Management, a retail advisory firm.                  brands like Horny Toad and Prana. The store can’t
that people who put off buying a coveted toy until             Stores would rather be out of stock than stuck           get more until April.
Thanksgiving will be able to get one by Christmas.         with lots of leftovers. But they also know that mer-             “Folks are coming in, and we are trying to re-
    Shoppers are starting to notice.                       chants who carry goods shoppers want will have an            order,” said Nick Marotta, a sales associate. “But
    Tami Megal, a 36-year-old mother of girls ages 5       edge.                                                        there is nothing to get.”

                                       Mindflex by Mattell
                                    Game that uses brain power
                                               to move objects

                                                                    Barbie Fashionista
                                                                    Bendable Barbie that is flexible
                                                                                                                                                   Zhu Zhu Pet Hamster
                                                                    $9.99+                                                                         Interactive mechanical pet

                                                                                                                        Nerf N Strike by Hasbro
                                                                                                                        Automatic Nerf dart thrower
November 2009                                                                             Holiday Gift Guide   9

When a party’s
not just a party

T The guest list may be smaller, the shrimp is succumbing to
budget cuts, a DJ is replacing the band. Yet despite the cost-
saving maneuvers, for many organizations, the holiday
party still goes on.
  As well it should.

    The annual gathering is a ritual that
carries with it some unique opportuni-
ties to engage your most important con-
stituents in your organization and its
mission. It’s a chance to immerse em-
                                             off at the holidays? It may cost little if
                                             it’s a traditionally slow time, anyway,
                                             but be assured it will go a long way
                                             with employees. Or give them an extra
                                             day or two next year, for personal use
ployees and clients — equal contribu-        or charitable efforts.
tors to your company’s success — in
the character and values that have seen      4. Encourage meaningful interac-
you through this year and will guide         tion. The holiday party is often a rare
you in the next.                                                 opportunity to
    It’s an opportu-                                             gather everyone in
nity to re-energize                                              one room for no
these       ambas-                                               other purpose than
sadors, build loy-                                               to socialize. Group
alty and gain ad-                                                experience is key
vocates.                                              SARAH here to creating
    Budget cuts or
business as usual,
                                             WINKLER             the camaraderie
                                                                 that is so essential
we offer a few tips                            Commentary to organizational
for maximizing the                                               success. Keep
impact of your                                                   guests together in
holiday events — without sacrificing         one room, if possible, and arrange the
the fun.                                     room and seating to facilitate conver-
                                             sation. This can be especially impor-
1. Be smart and authentic. If it’s           tant if your company has gone through
been a tough year and bonuses were           significant changes (e.g., layoffs or ac-
light, you’ll need to nix even the ap-       quisitions) or your employees are dis-
pearance of extravagance. With a little      persed in different locations, day-to-
creative thinking, you can hold an im-       day.
pactful event on a smaller budget. Just
don’t skimp on heart. This is an oppor-      5. Think beyond 8:01. The room
tunity to thank the very folks who’ve        looks great, the food’s on the table, the
seen you through some potentially            music’s humming in the background.
tough times, working longer hours,           Now what? Consider combining inspi-
working that much harder for the sale.       ration and that opportunity for rela-
Replace glitz with a more personal ap-       tionship-building by incorporating ac-
proach and you’ll demonstrate your ap-       tivities, such as setting up stations
preciation and gain loyalty.                 where people can do or make things
                                             — a fun party hat or a Christmas orna-
2. Be your value system. Have you            ment or that card for a soldier. Does
made a commitment to green, espous-          your group travel a lot? Have them
ing it at every turn? The party should re-   bring extra hotel-supplied toiletries,
flect it, then, from the use of renew-       supplement them with razors, tooth-
able party supplies to the lighting to       paste and plastic combs, ask them to
the holiday gift paper. Task your event      bring empty shoe boxes and wrapping
planner, caterer and the venue with          paper, and, together make up gift box-
helping ensure you’ve considered the         es for residents at a local homeless shel-
environmental impact of your event.          ter.
Green can even make for a fun party
theme.                                       6. Dance. Golden oldies, Top 40 or
                                             tropical fare, you’d be surprised what a
Do you tout a family friendly atmo-          little dancing can do for the soul — and
sphere? Make a point of highlighting         the fun quotient at your party.
your commitment to the community?
Prove it. Consider inviting the whole        7. Speak up. Keep it brief but don’t
family along or, if that’s not feasible,     miss this public forum to thank and
hold a separate daytime party for the        recognize your team. Whether it’s
kids. Or tack on a pre-party campaign to     through a simple toast or specific ac-
have employees’ and clients’ children        knowledgements, let them hear from
make cards for soldiers or for children      leadership at some point during the
with life-threatening illnesses, or do-      event about how much their contribu-
nate toys or food for local charities.       tions mean to the company. And why it
Gather and showcase these contribu-          was so important to have this occasion
tions at your party.                         to tell them so.

3. Pay it forward. This is an oppor-            Your values, your employees and
tunity to thank your employees and           your clients are your greatest assets.
clients for their dedication and busi-       Be true to them this holiday and your
ness. It’s also an opportunity for the       organization and your brand will be
collective group to make those com-          that much stronger for it.
munity contributions, engendering re-
spect and a collective sense of charity.
                                             Sarah Winkler is president of Feats
Aren’t granting bonuses? How about           Inc., an experienced marketing and
giving employees a couple of extra days      events agency based in Baltimore.
10   Holiday Gift Guide                                                                                                                                             The Daily Record

                                                                                                                                              RICH DENNISON

                                                          RICH DENNISON

                              Clockwise from left, Shelonda Stokes,
                              greiBO media; Special Secretary Luwanda
                              Jenkins, Governor’s Office of Minority
                              Affairs; Hassan Murphy, The Murphy Firm;
                              and Alison Asti, Gordon, Feinblatt,
                              Rothman, Hoffberger & Hollander LLC.
                                                                                                                               FILE PHOTO                                    FILE PHOTO

                 A holiday wish
Business and legal leaders reflect on the spirit of the season

Special to The Daily Record

   Sometimes the greatest gift from Santa can be no gift at                                   isn’t the right color or it doesn’t fit!”     She would not confirm or deny, but
                                                                                                  As for herself, she wouldn’t mind a       she simply invited me, if I could stay
all. In interviews with prominent Marylanders asking for                                      set of Croker sculling oars, she said.        awake on Christmas Eve, to join her
their thoughts and memories on holiday giving and re-                                             Now back to those Santa stories.          at midnight to experience Santa
                                                                                                  Late on Christmas Eve one year ago,       Clause.”
ceiving, two told touching stories that centered on losing                                    Stokes and her husband Phillip had fi-            “Talk about anticipation,” Murphy
a little faith in Santa, but gaining a more valuable                                          nally coaxed their excited children,          said. His mother’s confidence almost
                                                                                              aged 7 and 5, to bed. Then they waited        made him doubt his own doubts about
maturity instead.                                                                             a little while, to make sure the kids         Santa, but he stayed awake, determined
                                                                                              were really asleep, and around mid-           to prove that Santa was not real. At the
    Lawyer Hassan Murphy, principal              kitchen. “It has been really gratifying to   night got to work. They had to build          appointed hour, he came downstairs
of the Murphy Firm, remembered be-               know that they share the company val-        an elaborate racecar set, the kind with       and found a stack of gifts that had not
ing 11 or 12, and confronting his own            ues and continue to find ways to push        all the loops. Their late-night “to-do”       been there earlier, and his mother sit-
mother about whether Santa exists.               ourselves to do more,” she said of the       list also included eating a chocolate         ting beside them. “I said, ‘Where’s San-
And Shelonda Stokes, president of                company’s staffers.                          chip cookie and drinking just a little        ta?’ She said, ‘You’re looking at him.’”
GreiBO Media, told a Santa story from                Alison L. Asti, a lawyer with Gor-       of the milk that had been set out for         Murphy recalled.
her perspective as a mother.                     don, Feinblatt, Rothman, Hoff-               Santa.                                            It was a turning point in his life, be-
    The rough economy was on the                 berger & Hollander, said the eco-                At about 2:30 in the morning, their       cause from that point forward, he
minds of many as they responded to               nomic downturn provides an opportu-          seven-year-old son crept down the             helped his mother buy gifts and set up
questions about giving and receiving             nity for lawyers to rethink how they         stairs. “We couldn’t even hear him com-       Christmas for his two younger brothers,
this year. “During this holiday season in        do business. She’d like to see more cre-     ing,” Stokes said. He said, “Mommy,”          who still had a few years left of Santa
the midst of a tough economy, I am fo-           ativity in how clients are charged for le-   and the parents jumped as if caught in        Clause non-doubt. “It was a really lov-
cused on giving that speaks to a need or         gal services, she said, with examples        a crime. He wanted to know why mom-           ing and productive way for me to come
is merely a thoughtful gesture,” said            including, “project billing instead of       my and daddy were setting up toys             to grips with reality,” he said. “She
Luwanda Jenkins, special secretary in            hourly billing, discounted rates for         when clearly that job belongs to Santa.       turned my disappointment in no Santa
the Governor’s Office of Minority                deals that do not close, graduated rates         Stokes thought quickly, and said          into feelings of productivity.”
Affairs.                                         or fee structures for different sized        Santa sometimes needs help. He liked              Though Santa no longer existed for
    “For example, if a girlfriend is cur-        businesses, increased use of alterna-        that answer so much that “he told me          Murphy, he had at least one more great
rently unemployed I might wrap up a              tive dispute resolution, more use of         this year, if Santa needs help, he’ll help    present in store.
few food items with a grocery store              forms when possible to avoid rein-           him,” Stokes said.                                A year or two later, Murphy’s moth-
gift card.”                                      venting the wheel.”                              Another brush with lost Santa-re-         er gave him the complete 1972 set of
    At Urbanite, publisher Tracy Ward                Laura Gamble, a founding member          lated innocence took place 30 years           TOPPS baseball cards. In mint condi-
said the magazine’s employees are hold-          of Skipjack Partners, said she likes         ago. Murphy remembers well that mo-           tion. “It was a really big score for a
ing a toy drive to benefit childcare pro-        giving experiences instead of material       ment when he confronted his mother,           kid,” he said.
grams run by the Y of Central Mary-              items. “I often give books, tickets to       demanding the truth once and for all: Is          In fact, he still has it, and now he
land and have talked about adopting a            the Hippodrome, movies or sporting           Santa real?                                   shares it with his own children, who
family and skipping the annual holiday           events, or a spa gift certificate,” she          “I guess I was 12 or 13,” he said.        are 9 and 11. Santa or no, memories
party in favor of serving at a soup              said. “You don’t have to worry that it       “What my mom did was very clever.             are being made.
November 2009                                                                                                                                          Holiday Gift Guide   11

   Enjoy an eco-friendly
      holiday season
W When it comes to colors, red and green are synonymous with the holiday sea-
son. The green of Christmas trees and the red of Santa Claus become more and
more prevalent once the holiday season begins.
  But this holiday season, more and more people are involving green in their
holiday season in an entirely different way. That’s because more people are go-
ing green this holiday season, choosing to make their holiday as eco-friendly
as possible. Here are some tips to green your holiday season.
• Embrace the e-vite. Holiday parties are a big part
of the season. Be it the office holiday party, a get-to-
gether with friends or the traditional family gathering
                                                           cards depending on the recipient.

                                                           • Use energy-efficient lighting when decorat-
                                                                                                                      • Wrap gifts in old newspapers. Many communities
                                                                                                                      mandate that citizens recycle old newspapers and
                                                                                                                      magazines. But before shipping off newspapers to
                                                                                                                      the nearby recycling center, use those old newspapers
                                                                                                                      to wrap the family gifts. This can help save money on
                                                                                                                      wrapping paper and the newspaper will still be able to
                                                                                                                      be recycled, even after it’s served dual purposes.

                                                                                                                      • Get crafty. Ornaments to hang on the tree or
                                                                                                                      around the house are a tradition many families enjoy
                                                                                                                      each holiday season. But even Mom would tell you the
                                                                                                                      most valuable ornaments are the ones her children
                                                                                                                      made. Families can still make their own ornaments
                                                                                                                      even if the kids are all grown. Making ornaments
during the holidays, social calenders are especially       ing. Though one of the most eco-friendly ideas around      from recycled materials helps save on packaging and
busy this time of year. Unfortunately, many people still   the holidays is to forgo holiday lighting entirely, many   make the most out of those old materials around the
mail paper invitations. Those hosting a holiday party      families find this tradition too much fun and too en-      house.
this year can positively impact the environment by         joyable to abandon completely. So for families who
choosing e-vites, which are e-mailed out to friends        want to positively impact the environment while still      • Replant the holiday tree. While there’s an argu-
and family and don’t use paper traditional invitations,.   enjoying holiday lighting this season, energy-efficient    ment to be made for both living and artificial Christ-
In addition to their environmental benefit, e-vites also   LED lighting can save substantial amounts of energy        mas trees, including how each can be eco-friendly,
make it easier for guests to RSVP, as it’s just a mouse    while also helping save some money as well. LED            families fond of living trees can help the environment
click away instead of mailing a reply card back to         lights can be used both indoors and outdoors, and          by simply re-planting the tree once the holidays are
the host.                                                  are just as bright and aesthetically appealing as tra-     over. Plant in a pot and place outside the house to en-
                                                           ditional lighting.                                         sure everyone still gets their living tree, but that tree
• Make e-cards. E-cards are similar to e-vites in that                                                                can live on to see another day once the holiday season
they help reduce the reliance on paper but still convey    • Shop locally. Shopping locally when looking for          has passed.
the same message to family and friends. E-cards can        holiday gifts is not only a good way to boost the local
also help families save money (some Web sites even         economy, but it also helps reduce packaging and trans-
provide free e-cards), and allow them to personalize       portation, which can prove taxing on the environment.      Metro Editorial Services

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