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Shopping for a Holiday Gift for the Family? Top Tech Tips to Consider This Festive Season

Microsoft Office shares tips for those watching their pennies this December.

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by Microsoft

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A recent holiday consumer study revealed that consumers may be changing their spending this season:1

• Two out of three Americans admit they will consider spending less on family and friends this year than they did last year.

• Nearly half will give one large family gift as opposed to many smaller individual items.

• Nearly three-fourths of Americans will give gifts that provide their family and friends with entertainment while staying home.

Money-saving options are available for families that are demanding more from their personal technology, such as creating greeting cards or family photo albums at home, or tracking and organizing finances using the latest software. Holiday shoppers who are looking for quality at a low price will find that Microsoft Office Home and Student (http://www.office.microsoft.com/) offers the latest essential software for $149.95 (estimated retail price). The suite enables families and students to be more productive and connected, while keeping family members’ computers up to date.

For consumers who are planning a list for family gift items and checking it twice, here are a few tips from Justin Hutchinson, Microsoft Office director of product management:

• Technology tools that help you be efficient in managing your life in 2009 are a “need to have,” not a “nice to have.”

• Keep holiday spending under control using the Office Excel “Holiday budget planner” template, (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC102881741033.aspx?CategoryID=CT102566591033).

• Multitasking aided by technology extends most people’s day by several hours. The 24-hour day is a thing of the past. So how can your family make the most of these extended hours so that leisure time with family still takes top priority? Start by using Office to get organized (http://www.microsoft.com/video/en/us/details/a0893f0f-5d15-4b5b-b3c9-4192d28efa51), craft a family vacation photo album (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC102512921033.aspx?pid=CT102530791033), create a family calendar (http://blogs.msdn.com/inside_office_online/archive/2008/12/04/how-to-know-what-day-it-is-with-a-free-calendar.aspx) and more.

• Your kids plus your spouse plus you equals Family 2.0. Keep your tech-savvy family connected and get more out of your copy of Office by using Office Live Workspace to share and collaborate (http://www.workspace.officelive.com/).

• Look for investments in items that make sense for your family. At $149.95 estimated retail price,2 Microsoft Office Home and Student is cheaper than a few nights out on the town. Now that’s a deal. Microsoft Office software is available online at http://office.microsoft.com/ or at retailers. And check for specials. For example, The Ultimate Steal is a great gift for the higher-ed “kids” in your life: http://www.theultimatesteal.com/.

• And you can’t beat free, right? Microsoft offers hundreds of holiday templates from Microsoft for invitations, gift labels, place settings, menus, thank you notes and more (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/default.aspx). One of my personal favorites is the “Snowball Fight” stationery for the annual family “brag letter” (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC102447961033.aspx?CategoryID=CT102566591033).

Resolve to continue learning into the new year: Make Office work for you. If you’re not familiar with Microsoft Office OneNote, give it a try (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/onenote/HA101686341033.aspx). Bored with the same old PowerPoint presentations? Download new templates, graphics and animations to spice things up! (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/powerpoint/default.aspx?ofcresset=1) Build a family tree with your daughter using Microsoft Office Visio (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/visio/default.aspx). Write a thank-you note to grandma using a holiday Microsoft Office Word template (http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/TC102448091033.aspx?pid=CT101434351033). Share holiday photos via Office Live Workspace (http://www.workspace.officelive.com/). Whatever you do this season, spend it with the ones you love.

Office Home and Student includes the latest versions of the following:

Microsoft Office Word 2007 provides all the tools needed to design and print great-looking greeting cards, note cards, résumés, book reports and more from home.

Microsoft Office Excel 2007 includes specially designed templates that make it easy to create and manage a budget, track bills and payments, monitor investments, and more. Now people can keep a close eye on their finances at a glance, at any time.

Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007 enables users to take advantage of customizable templates to help them produce professional-looking presentations. Plus users can add an applause soundtrack between slides in PowerPoint, play movie clips or even play a few bars of “Deck the Halls.”

Microsoft Office OneNote 2007 is an organization tool for keeping track of recipes, grocery lists, pictures, kids’ to-do lists, school projects and more — all in one digital notebook. It’s also great for journaling for those budding writers.

1 National random digit dialing phone study conducted by StrategyOne Research, September 2008. National survey of 1,000 nationally representative adults aged 18 and older.

2 Estimated retail price. Actual prices may vary.

Article posted: Tuesday, 23 December 2008

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