Volunteering In The Panhandle

Local Farmers Inspire the Next Generation about Agriculture

Fred and Bobby teaching a group of 4-Hers about goats.

Fred and Bobbie Golden relocated to Jefferson County from Lakeland, Florida in 2000 to establish Golden Acres Ranch LLC.  The sixty-three-acre ranch is home to one of the largest mayhaw ponds in the region, grass fed goat & sheep, free-range chickens, guineas, pet boarding, and a country store.

Bobbie and Fred have genuine love for Jefferson County 4-Hers. Can you tell the difference between a sheep and a goat?  Jefferson County 4-H campers can!  For the past six years, 5-8 year old youth visited their ranch during 4-H day camps for some hands-on learning about agriculture. The campers have opportunities to feed, pet and learn important facts about Tennessee Fainting Goats, sheep, Pyrenees and Maremma, chicken, guineas and other animals reared on the farm.

 

Abagail Loveless, day camp participant said, “the reasons I like to visit Golden Acers Ranch, you get to feed, pet, learn things about the farm animals and swing on the tire/rope. “London Skipworth indicated that she was afraid of chickens, but with help and support from teen counselors and 4-H Staff, she was able to overcome her fears. London now plans to participate in the 4-H Chick Chain Project this year.

After a day of farming, Abigail enjoys a tire swing

Bobbie Golden, said “I like inviting the campers to the ranch because I like teaching them interesting facts about our farm animals, but most importantly bringing the youth back in touch with agriculture.”

Bobbie is a member of the Jefferson County Extension Ag Advisory and Vice President of the Overall Extension Advisory Committee.  Bobbie also chaired the Extension Office open house committee.  Bobbie and Fred support Jefferson County Extension in every capacity.

Annually, Jefferson County Extension participates in the Millstone Farm Tour and the Mayhaw Festival; both held events at Golden Acers Ranch. Each Extension program area provides interactive displays and hands activities for the youth and adults. For more information about Golden Acres Ranch, please go to https://goldenacresranchflorida.com/.

Campers leading songs on a hay ride around the farm.

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Author: jgl1 – jgl@ufl.edu

jgl1

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/03/03/local-farmers-inspire-the-next-generation-about-agriculture/

Announcing the New 4-H Insectathon Event

Photo credit: UF

There are two kinds of people in the world- those that think bugs are really cool and those that run screaming from anything that slightly resembles an insect.  If you or a family member are the former, then prepare to be excited!  We are happy to announce that there will be a new competitive event coming to Florida 4-H.  It is being developed by a team of specialists, volunteers and youth who are passionate about the exciting world of entomology.  The Florida 4-H Insectathon will be held January 20th, 2018 in Gainesville, FL and will include the following events:

  • Insect Collection Contest
  • Honey Bee Essay Contest
  • Insect Art Contest
  • Entomology Identification and Skill-a-thon Contest
  • Educational tours for both contest participants and their family members

This event will help youth master skills such as how to use a dichotomous key, how to make observations, record keeping skills, pinning skills, and communication skills- it may even aspire some youth to pursue a career related to entomology!  To help volunteers, parents and youth get started, the experts will be teaching a workshop here in the Panhandle on Saturday, May 6th, from 10AM-2PM.  Registration is open March 1st through April 28th via 4HOnline.  Participants will receive hands-on experience collecting, identifying and pinning insects, as well as a startup kit of resources to share with other youth in your county.  Counties are encouraged to send a team of youth and adults to this workshop.  Lunch will be provided, so there is a small fee of $ 15.00/person.

If you have a passion for nature and would like to inspire the next generation, consider sharing your expertise as a 4-H entomology project or resource leader.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office, or visit http://florida4h.org.

Other Resources of Interest:

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/23/announcing-the-new-4-h-insectathon-event/

Using LEGOs to Grow Literacy Skills in 4-H Clubs

4-H Leader and Librarian, Renae Roundtree, found a way to teach not only STEM, but help youth develop a life-long passion for reading.

Books, DVD’s, audio books, magazines and…LEGO’s?  Yes, all of these can be found at the Washington County Public Library along with enthusiastic 4-H Club Leader, Renae Rountree.  Renae, Director of the WCPL, partnered with Washington County 4-H three years ago to “LEGO My Library” and start the Brick Bratz 4-H Club that meets twice a month at the library.

The secret to this club’s success (that always has a waiting list) is Renae’s commitment to providing a fun, educational experience where kids are free to explore, question, succeed, fail and try again.  Using the LEGO StoryStarter program, youth listen to a task that gets them and their partner started on an adventure of writing a comic-style story.

The StoryStarter kit includes LEGO pieces with five small panels and a computer based program.  Working with a partner, youth illustrate their story with LEGOs, panel by panel, then take pictures of each panel and upload them to their laptop.  They add dialogue and background scenes to finish their story.  It’s so much fun, the kids don’t even realize they’re practicing skills like communication, teamwork, decision making and conflict resolution.

Rebecca Lee, a Brick Bratz 4-H Club member for three years,  said “I like Lego club because it’s very fun to create our own stories and make the Legos move.  Ms. Renae makes us laugh too!”  Rebecca and her brother, Sam, “…always look forward to club days and are excited to share their creations with me and their father,” says their mom, Terri.

Youth practice creativity while building sets that serve as the backdrop for their robots to act out scenes from their favorite books.

Why does Renae volunteer her time with 4-H?  She wants to give kids access to new and exciting ways to learn and grow that appeal to their sense of curiosity.  Her enthusiasm for learning and sharing is infectious, and her club members are thriving with her guidance and direction!

Thanks to volunteers like Renae Rountree, 4-H is growing in Washington County!  If you would like to provide the spark to ignite a youth’s interest in a field or hobby that you are passionate about, consider becoming involved in your local 4-H program.  4-H offers a variety of roles to fit your schedule and interests. If you’d like more information on how to get involved as a 4-H volunteer, contact your local 4-H agent or visit http://florida4h.org.

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Author: Julie Pigott Dillard – juliepd@ufl.edu

Julie Pigott Dillard is the 4-H Youth Development Agent in Washington County..

Julie Pigott Dillard

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/15/using-legos-to-grow-literacy-skills-in-4-h-clubs/

Exciting Changes for 4-H Day at the Capitol #4HtoTally

4-H Day at the Capitol provides youth an opportunity to use their voice and practice good citizenship while
educating representatives and senators about the 4-H Program. 4-H members are highly encouraged to make an appointment with their congressmen or a congressional aide to talk about how the Florida 4-H Program has impacted their lives. During the day, participants will hear from public officials, participate in educational workshops, and see their congressmen in action.  This year’s event is planned for Thursday, March 23rd.

Registration for this event is open through March 1st via 4HOnline.  You may have participated in this event in the past, but this year, there are several important changes that will make your experience a little different (and hopefully even better).

This year, there will not be planned workshops for you to register for, but the 4-H Day at the Capitol Guidebook does include suggestions for educational tours and sites in Tallahassee that your club may want to take advantage of.  Your registration includes a 4-H polo and lunch.  Please wear dress pants, a skirt or khakis with your polo (no jeans or shorts).  You want to look professional for your meetings with elected officials!

One of the primary goals of this event is for 4-Hers to have an opportunity to connect with their representative and/or senator to educate them about the 4-H program.  Learning how to do this is a valuable citizenship skill.  Please refer to the guidebook for detailed information and frequently asked questions.  Here are a few tips to help you set up your appointments and prepare for your visit:

  • Identify your State Representative and Senator
  • Call the Capitol Office and request an appointment- Contact the Capitol office the first week of March to request an appointment. The secretary will ask you to call back closer to March 23, 2017 to confirm an appointment time.
  • Learn about your Elected Officials
  • Make a Plan for your Visit and Practice – During the months the Florida Legislature is in session, legislators work long hours and have limited time. Most likely you will only have 3-5 minutes for your meeting, so you need be prepared.  Refer to the guide for some tips on preparing for your meeting.  Decide what member(s) of your club or council will speak and practice!
  • Call to Confirm your Appointment- Call your legislators’ Capitol Office again the week before 4-H Day at the Capitol to confirm your appointment with your legislator (or their aide of the legislator is not available)

Do you have an interest in government and citizenship?  If so, consider enrolling in 4-H as either a member or volunteer.  We have several programs to help youth learn about how our government works and how they can be an involved, caring and compassionate citizen.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit some of these links:

 

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/08/exciting-changes-for-4-h-day-at-the-capitol-4htotally/

Which Breed is Best for Backyard Poultry?

The term “Backyard Chickens” is one many people use today.  The idea of having a pet help you make breakfast is growing in popularity.  I am often questioned as to which breed of chicken is the best breed.  When asked, I always reply, “What do you want the chicken to do?”  The reason I ask is because The American Poultry Association recognizes 65 different breeds of chickens. Each breed can meet a different need.  Many people will blurt out, “I want eggs!”  Well, do you care what color eggs? Do you care how often you get eggs?  Does the size of the egg matter? Each breed is different and there are pros and cons to each breed.  Some of the more popular breeds that you can find at your local feed store during upcoming “Chick Days” are described below:

  • Rhode Island Red: This is a breed that is a large-bodied bird that lays a large to extra-large brown egg.  These hens are very personable and can have a great personality.  This breed can become a pet in no time.
  • White Leghorn: This particular bird will lay a large white egg on a very regular basis. The Leghorn is not friendly and is often referred to as “flighty”.  Leghorns will not, as a general rule, become pets.  They will lay you an egg almost daily, but will run from you when it’s time to collect those eggs.
  • (Buff) Orpington: Usually sold in the color buff, additionally available in other colors.  This is a large-bodied friendly bird.  Orpingtons can become fast friends and will serve as a dual-purpose member of your flock.   This means that they are great egg layers, and will also serve as a good meat bird if the desire or need arises.
  • Sex-link varieties: With this breed, you will not get a breed, but they have great production. Sometimes called Red Star, or Black Star, the chicks show a difference when day old chicks.  It will be easy to determine between the two.  If chicks are not your thing, you can always purchase young hens that are just starting to lay.

Many people are not ready to wait five to six months to get their beloved eggs from their new pets.  If that is the case, you can always check with your local extension office to inquire if a local 4-H member might have some young hens for sale.  On September 30th, 4-H members from across the panhandle will have a “Chick Chain” show and Auction.  Save the date and get the best breed for you!

If you have children between the ages of 5-18 (as of September 1st, 2016) and you are interested in starting a backyard flock, you may want to sign up for the 4-H Chick Chain.  This program teaches youth how to raise, care for, and show chickens.  Registration is open February 1st-24th via 4HOnline.  Youth will receive 12, day-old pullets on March 29th.  Throughout the spring and summer, youth will learn the ins and outs of poultry farming, and how to market their eggs and hens for profit.  They will keep business and health records, learn about bio-security, and gain poise, confidence, and communication skills while showing their hens in the fall.  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office, or read about last year’s program.

4-H Poultry Project

4-H Embryology Project

4-H Chick Chain

Poultry Breeds:

Care of Baby Chicks

Factors Affecting Egg Production in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Intestinal Parasites in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Prevention and Control of Fowl Pox in Backyard Chicken Flocks

Small Flock Poultry Nutrition

Vaccination of Small Poultry Flocks

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Author: Prudence Caskey – prudencecaskey@ufl.edu

Prudence Caskey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/02/02/which-breed-is-best-for-backyard-poultry/

4-H Saves Lives: A Teen’s Trajectory to Thrive

Many people know 4-H as the nation’s largest youth development organization. They may also know that 4-H programs focus on life skill development through experiential learning in a safe affirming environment. However, something many may not know is that 4-H, in many cases, is a LIFESAVER! 4-H saves lives daily through positive youth development provided to youth throughout the nation ages 5-18. 4-H also influences the lives of volunteers ages 18 and beyond by providing the opportunity for them to make a difference in the world by shaping the future through our youth. How many people can actually say they had a hand in shaping the future of our nation?

Cheyenne joined 4-H during December 2014. She and her family had recently moved to the area and coincidentally her mother stumbled upon the Extension Office thinking it was a satellite location of the University of Florida that provided classes. Upon entering, she was directed to the new 4-H Agent, shared her story and passion for livestock, and was quickly recruited to be a part of the Walton County 4-H family. Soon Cheyenne began attending meetings in the Cherokee Riders Horse Club and later took leadership opportunities by becoming an officer. By the 2015 4-H year, Cheyenne was President of both the Cherokee Riders and Livestock Clubs, a member of Teen Council and volunteering whenever possible. It was clear she was on a trajectory to thrive and making great strides toward her future goals!

Sadly, in the Spring of 2015, Cheyenne soon found herself facing enormous obstacles in her life. Her father was deployed, her parents were divorcing, she was trying to escape an unhealthy relationship, and she was being bullied at school on top of facing the normal emotional struggles of being a teen. Cheyenne became depressed and withdrawn from most everyone. Her normal smile and cheerful manner had been suppressed. Her focus on clubs and school began to wither and feelings of doubt set in.  It became apparent that she was facing failure to thrive and was contemplating unhealthy decisions.

After sitting down with her concerned 4-H Agent and her mother, Cheyenne agreed that 4-H Camp Timpoochee would be an excellent way to recharge and focus on herself for the summer! Cheyenne was trained as a Counselor and became very excited about her camp week with Walton County 4-H. During camp she approached her 4-H Agent and said,

“I really love it here…this 4-H stuff really works!”

She also stated that she could be herself at camp, her true self and everyone accepted her for it and even liked her. She made new friends, smiled, laughed and began to find herself again, only an improved more confident version of the girl who started camp on Monday.

Several weeks after camp Cheyenne’s mother came in to drop her off to volunteer for a day camp. She came into the 4-H office with tears in her eyes and said,

“Thank you. I don’t know what you did but thank you for bringing my baby back!”

Now Cheyenne holds officer positions in multiple clubs, has won several Blue and Grand Champion Ribbons in the Fair, was a State Qualifier at the Area A Horse Show, and has competed on the County and District level in cooking competitions. In addition, in 2016 Cheyenne won the Club Masters award from Southern States through her diligence and excellent care of her Reserve Grand Champion Doe!

4-H professionals, volunteers and youth themselves have the ability to give life back to youth in need! For more than 100 years, 4-H has been committed to the idea that youth are the single strongest catalyst for change. Based on Florida 4-H Facts and Impact, 4-H reaches 23, 954 youth through 4-H Clubs, 6,973 through 4-H camps, 21,455 through special interest programs, 148,268 through school enrichment, and 2,597 through after school programs. 4-H youth, regardless of background, socio-economic status, race, or gender have significantly lower drug, alcohol, and cigarette use than peers and are 2.4 times more likely to make healthy choices.

If you know a youth struggling to find their way, or an adult seeking to make a difference, consider researching 4-H in your community. There are endless opportunities available through 4-H clubs, camps, workshops, contests, leadership events and much more. Contact your local Extension Office to see how 4-H is shaping the future of youth in your community, or browse the links below.  You can ignite a spark to improve “your club, your community, your country and your world!”

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Author: Jena Brooks – brooks15@ufl.edu

Jena Brooks

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/26/4-h-saves-lives-a-teens-trajectory-to-thrive/

From Learning to Leading: Jerrett Kandzer, a True Leader

4-H Alumnus Jerrett Kandzer with his agent, Niki Crawson.

As a 4-H Agent, one remembers many of their “firsts” on the job, i.e., their first day, their first fair, their first 4-H club meetings, etc.  For me in Holmes County 4-H, I was hired in the midst of a reorganization phase within the program.  I clearly remember meeting Jerrett Kandzer one of my first days on the job in 2007, a reserved yet quick-to-smile farm boy who seemed to be doing a good job of holding in the excitement of asking me 101 questions as his new 4-H Agent. He, along with his sister and parents, met with me to discuss re-establishing a 4-H archery club in our county.  Excited to have volunteers and youth interested in starting an archery club again, I couldn’t wait to get started.  That very next week, we all set a date for our first club meeting.  Jerrett and I still laugh today about the day of our first club meeting when we had to count me, the 4-H Agent, as the fifth member in attendance so that we did not have to cancel our first club meeting!  However, thanks to Jerrett’s perseverance and leadership as a youth nine years ago when starting the Dead Centers 4-H Archery Club in Holmes County, we now have over 65 4-H members in our archery program alone!  So, when getting ready to ask Jerrett how he believes 4-H has impacted him, I hesitate.  Thinking back over the past nine years, I am finding it difficult to think whether Jerrett has been impacted more so by 4-H or if 4-H has been impacted more so because of Jerrett.   For a 4-H Agent to have the pleasure to ponder such a wonderful conundrum means that 4-H is truly growing inspiring leaders!

According to Jerrett, he joined 4-H as a means to find extracurricular activities that fit not only his after school schedule around his farm life but also to find an outlet that fit him personally.  As he put it, “I was looking for somewhere I fit in.  I wasn’t an athlete in school.  I was raised on a farm.  So, I thought 4-H was cool.”  After joining 2007, Jerrett began to help rebuild and cultivate a sense of belonging for the next seven years in Holmes County 4-H.  With his giving spirit, contagious enthusiasm, and natural sense of urgency to make actions count, he truly inspired everyone he met to get involved and make the best better.

Jerrett’s passion for learning, leadership, and youth continues as he is applying his 4-H-acquired life skills in his life journey.  Currently, he is a junior at the University of Florida in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, with a graduation date of Spring 2018.  He attributes his good leadership and time management skills to his deep involvement with 4-H.  Always wanting to do much more than time allows, Jerrett said 4-H taught him to prioritize and schedule his time efficiently.  In fact, In between college classes, studying, squeezing in fast visits back home, and working with CRU on campus, Jerrett still devotes time to 4-H as a volunteer with Alachua County 4-H.  When asked why he felt compelled to volunteer at this time in his life, Jerrett replied with his easy grin,

“Ms. Niki, there are not many ways to serve your community as a poor college kid.  Overall, I’d say being a 4-H volunteer is an easy and safe way to give back to kids and the community.”

When asked about what he enjoys the most about 4-H, Jerrett immediately replied,  “Working with kids.  Helping youth learn by doing through hands on experiences is a good vessel for them to mature with positive adult role models around to assist them.  4-H is not about winning like other youth programs are about.  It’s about growing through maturity, not competition.”

Jerrett is a Holmes County 4-H alumni, a true 4-H leader.  He is a present day 4-H example of the definition John Quincy Adams once gave a leader, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”  So it’s little surprise that this 4-H alumni has no intentions of ending his green journey after college.  Jerrett’s career plans include putting his 4-H life skills, farm experience, and University of Florida education to perfect use as a future UF/IFAS Extension Agriculture Agent.  We look forward to Jerrett’s return to the Extension Service one day soon.

Are you a 4-H Alumni interested in “paying it forward” to inspire the next generation?  We would love to talk to you about the different ways you can help us grow 4-H in your community!  Contact your local UF IFAS Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org for more information.

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Author: Niki Crawson – ncrawson@ufl.edu

Niki Crawson is the Holmes County 4-H Extension Agent in the NW District.

Niki Crawson

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/19/from-learning-to-leading-jerrett-kandzer-a-true-leader/

Serving those with Cancer

4-H youth participate in service projects at the club, county, district and state levels throughout the year. As adults, 4-H youth are more civically active.

Each year, teens across the Florida panhandle convene for a weekend to practice leadership skills, learn workforce skills and participate in service to their communities.  This years’ event will be February 24-26th at 4-H Camp Timpoochee.  Teens plan and lead the weekend retreat.  Last year, teens cut out and donated more than 200 pairs of shoes for Sole Hope, an organization that provides shoes for children in Africa in order to prevent foot related diseases.  This year, the project they chose was to make Chemo Kits for cancer patients.  Over the next six weeks, teens will be collecting items for the kits and will bring them to the retreat to package them up.  Each county will be partnering with local hospitals and hospice groups to distribute the kits.

We are asking clubs, alumni and other 4-H supporters to please donate items for the kits so that we can serve as many cancer patients as possible.  You can drop the items off at our local 4-H Extension Office.  Here’s a list of items that are needed:

  • Coloring books (youth and adult)
  • Crayons/ colored
    pencils
  • Beanies/ hats
  • Headbands
  • Water bottles
  • Stuffed animals
  • Slipper socks

Please consider supporting this district-wide service project!  For more information, contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org.

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Author: Heather Kent – hckent@ufl.edu

Heather Kent is the Regional Specialized 4-H Agent in the Northwest Extension District.

Heather Kent

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/12/serving-those-with-cancer/

Soar with 4-H and the National Flight Academy

Kyle working the air traffic control booth at the National Flight Academy. Photo Credit: Prudence Caskey

4-H has joined forces with the National Flight academy to bring a unique and exciting aviation camp to our 4-Hers.  The National Flight Academy builds heart-pumping, adrenaline-filled story line, which brings life to a mission as if the students are in a real-world scenario. Students apply these skills by flying the high-performance X-12 Triad, the National Flight Academy’s experimental aircraft, offering them hands-on comprehension of the principles of flight thrust, hovering and target drops. Our 3-day cruise will be held on President’s Day Weekend, February 18th – February 20th 2017.  The event is open to 4-Hers across the Southeast and costs $ 375 per student which includes rooming, food, and a lot of fun and learning! This would be an awesome holiday or birthday gift for any special youth in your life.

Participation in the event can also help young people develop both life and workforce skills- not to mention academic achievement. Kyle Caskey, a Santa Rosa County 4-Her, attended a week-long cruise last summer and shared:

“Before I went to the National Flight Academy (NFA), I was really intimidated by math. I love science, but just didn’t get the math. At NFA, I was able to use math and see why it works. I brought my grade up to an A! Oh yeah, the food is really good too!”

Click Here for registration instructions: 4hregistrationletter-for-nfa. You must be registered before January 28th, 2017.

The National Flight Academy is located on the NAS base at 1 Fetterman Way, NAS Pensacola, FL 32508.  See more about the academy at http://www.nationalflightacademy.com.

If you have an interest in science, engineering, math, and/or technology (STEM), consider becoming a 4-H volunteer so that you can share your passion to spark the next generation of scientists, engineers and innovators.  Contact your local UF IFAS County Extension Office or visit http://florida4h.org for more information.

 

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Author: Prudence Caskey – prudencecaskey@ufl.edu

Prudence Caskey

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2017/01/06/soar-with-4-h-and-the-national-flight-academy/

Managing the Holidays without Breaking the Bank

As the holiday season quickly approaches many people become overwhelmed with all of the activities, decorating, and shopping that needs to be completed. Here are a few tips to save energy, time and your nerves.  Let’s begin with Five Steps to Seasonal Savings:

  1. Recognize Your Seasonal Stressors- Know your personal stressors—such as family, friends, work, travel, social outings and traditions (both old and new)—then you can be less stressed this holiday season. Marketing ploys sneak into every stressor, and retailers want to ensure they get their piece of the holiday pie by using marketing gimmicks to lure you into shopping with them. Do you find yourself with the overwhelming desire to get everything on your child’s list? If so, consider going without a list or setting limits, and communicate with your child. Often, parents do not involve their children in the holiday spending process. Children need help recognizing when and how they have been targeted and persuaded to want the latest and greatest item.  Children also need to understand that a budget is necessary and saying “no” to an overpriced item is okay.
  2. Develop a Holiday Spending Plan—Make a Budget.  Ask yourself: How much have I saved?  How much can I save before the holidays?  Am I comfortable creating debt?  Am I comfortable saying “no”?Start with knowing how much you can spend and create a spending plan, which is critical for successful money management for the holidays and all year long. A few dollars from your paycheck each week adds up quickly over a year. You can also take advantage of weekly automatic transfers into your bank account, or join a holiday savings club at a local credit union. If your holiday budget shows you are spending more money than you have, then you’ll likely take on debt. If this is the case, you should also create a plan for paying off purchases made with credit. Prioritize your purchases and consider omitting purchases that require taking on debt.
  3. Create a List and Stick to It- Make sure you have a list of everyone you plan to buy for during the holidays and of other additional expenses. Decorations, cards, postage, gift wrap, food/entertainment, and travel are additional costs that can drastically impact the holiday budget. Don’t forget to use catalogs, internet surfing for comparison shopping, and barcode scanning apps. Shopping online also limits impulse purchases, and it allows you to avoid long lines, huge crowds, and the lure to eat out while shopping. Be sure to use coupons whenever possible, and be sure to take advantage of the year-end sales. Once you’ve researched and set your budget, you’re ready to start shopping.
  4. Consider Alternatives to Pricey Presents- If you have a large family, start by thinking outside the box. Consider a gift exchange by drawing names from a hat, which can allow you to put more thought than money into selecting a single gift. You can also buy a single gift for an entire family—perhaps an entertainment basket filled with DVDs and microwave popcorn. Oftentimes, thoughtful and more creative gifts can come from shopping with local businesses. Locally grown fruits and vegetables, honey, or an item from a local artist are just a few suggestions of local products. If you are feeling crafty, then you could make and give holiday arrangements such as centerpieces and decorations. Another idea for the holidays is to donate to a charity in someone’s name instead of gift giving. You can even take the idea of giving to charity to your office. Pool money you would have spent on gifts with your participating colleagues, draw a colleague’s name, and donate the money to a charity of his or her choice. Another gift idea for close friends and/or family is the “gift of time.” Create a coupon book or certificate that gives a loved one the gift of your time (a specific chore, a trip to the park, babysitting, slumber party for the kids).
  5. Fine-Tuning Your Financials- Use cash and/or debit cards when at all possible. Money coming directly out of your pocket will likely make you think harder about your purchase. If you are going to use a credit card, make sure you have a plan in place to pay it off when the bill is due. You also need to understand the allure of paying with credit. When you’re not paying with “real” money, your buying can easily get out of control, and the shopping process may not seem as painful in that moment. It may be appropriate to tell your older children how much they each have in the budget for holiday spending. When the family is on the same page, it can alleviate some stress. Refocus your family’s thoughts from the material goods to the real meaning of giving and receiving. Knowing your specific situation, making informed decisions, and communicating with loved ones can reduce the effects of holiday stressors.

Here are a few affordable DIY gifts that will be truly appreciated by the recipient.

terrariumFor the gardener in your life: Terrarium Kit

Materials:

  • One – 3 1/2″ x 7″ canning jar with top
  • Small stones (enough to fill 1 inch in jar) You can buy pretty river rocks at your local garden shop or just collect some stones outside.
  • A few tablespoons of activated charcoal (found at any pet store’s aquarium section)
  • 1 small Ziploc bag
  • 3 1/2″ x 5 1/4″ printed terrarium instructions card on card stock (download from witandwhistle.com or create your own)

Step 1: Put about an inch of small stones in the bottom of a jar.

Step 2: Slide an instruction card into the front of the jar.  Secure the card amongst the rocks.

Step 3: Pour a few tablespoons of activated charcoal into a small Ziploc bag and add it to the jar.

Step 4: If you’re feeling crafty you could add a decoration or two (plastic or clay mini mushrooms, insects, gnomes, fairies, etc.) in your terrarium kit.

Step 5: Tie some twine or ribbon around the jar, and you’re done. You don’t even need to wrap it!

bathFor someone you would like to pamper: Basic Silk Bath Bomb

Materials:

  • 1 cup Citric Acid (found in canning section of grocery store)
  • 3 cups Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Essential Oil (purchase at local health food store)
  • Witch Hazel Spritz (purchase in pharmacy section)
  • Dry Pigment Colorant – if using
  • Round mold to shape the bath bomb (Molds are round plastic ornaments found at your local craft store.)

Directions:

  1. Blend the citric acid and baking soda—add colorant and fragrance oil.
  2. Spritz, Witch Hazel onto your batch using a squirt bottle with one hand while stirring with the other until the bomb sticks together when squished. (it will have the consistency of wet sand)
  3. Form the bomb in the molds.
  4. Air-dry for 3 or 4 hours spritzing a few times – allow to set overnight (The Witch Hazel forms a crust on the outside that prevents them from cracking and falling apart; however, they’re still fragile)
  5. Wrap in tissue paper or cellophane. Tie a bow and you’re done.

Other DIY ideas…homemade soaps, herb infused oils, jams and jellies, baked goods and hot cocoa mix.  More ideas can be found in last year’s post, Making the Holidays More Affordable.

When we think of the holidays, we often think about family, togetherness, giving, and celebrating. While the holiday season should be a time of enjoyment, there are many events associated with the season that can cause stress. Remember in the long run the memories will be of time spent together, not the gifts they received. So, be sure to plan ahead, take a deep breath and enjoy the special holiday moments.

If you have further questions, please contact your local UF/IFAS Extension Office.  Many offices offer seasonal programs to help both youth and adults prepare for the holiday season.

Resources:

Five Steps to Seasonal Savings” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5267

“Managing Stress During the Holidays” – UF/IFAS EDIS Publication #FCS5266

witandwhistle.com

 

 

 

 

 

PG

Author: Melanie Taylor – metaylor@ufl.edu

Melanie Taylor

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2016/12/08/managing-the-holidays-without-breaking-the-bank/

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