Gifts your loved ones really want
HOUSTON A recent survey predicts Americans will spend more than $447 billion on gifts this holiday season; that's up from last year. "This year the average family plans to spend about $690 on the holiday season," said Ellen Davis, Vice President of the National Retail Federation. Research shows shoppers this year have been more willing to splurge on less practical presents. "People seem to have more of an appetite toward discretionary gifts like jewelry and are departing a little bit from really basic necessities like blue jeans that they were buying a year ago," Davis said. So what do people say they really want? We put together a panel, including children, to help rate what they consider the best gifts. Making the list are tech toys, with the Xbox 360 Kinect at the very top. The Sony Reader rated high for adults. Smart phones and accessories like protective cases or head sets are among must-haves for tweens and teens. Also very popular is a spy tracker remote control car with a video screen on the remote that lets you see in other rooms. And the Paper Jamz flat instruments scored very well. Both parents and kids gave a thumbs-up this year to small digital cameras, like the Kodak PlayTouch that shoots still pictures or high definition video. It has special effects and even lets you share your shots right from the camera. And now, loved ones far away can get the photos sent straight to a digital frame even in other states! A vase created with your photos in the glass also got a thumbs-up. For grandparents, a real pleaser this year is the Sunnygrams that you can email but will be printed and snail mailed for them to read. And for the entire family, board games are always a good choice with great options for all ages. When it comes to the little ones, most of them want quantity over quality. Zhu Zhu pets are small but still big with the kids, especially with their new armor and princess garb. Creative kids love the friendly bracelet maker. Athletes you adore say they'd appreciate the latest, greatest gear and gadgets like Reebok's EasyTone shoes or the Wonder Warmers reusable heating pads to treat aches and pains. When it comes to stocking stuffer, favorites were Disney's special bath solutions and the Super-Sweet hair products.