Cutting back on gifts in Vail Valley |

Cutting back on gifts in Vail Valley

Dustin Racioppi, Vail, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” It seems even Santa Claus was affected by the economy, bringing less gifts to valley residents this Christmas.

Many working locals ditched tradition and lengthy wish lists this year by scaling back on holiday purchases, a reflection of lackluster retail sales nationally the past two months.

Denise LaBelle jettisoned Christmas celebrations all together. Her husband was unexpectedly laid off just days before the holiday, and for the first time in her life, she didn’t send gifts to her family back home in New Jersey. Instead, she spent the day with her husband, neither of whom exchanged gifts. She’s hoping for a better Christmas in 2009.

“How many days until Bush leaves?” LaBelle said. “He bankrupted three companies before he became president and now he bankrupted the country.”

There was a considerably less amount of gloom in the Joersz house in Edwards this Christmas. Amy Joersz still made the one big purchase ” Rock Band ” for her son, but said she had her mind set on one big-ticket item for the family. She decided against the latter.

“I was sad. I wanted a flat-screen TV,” she said.

Joersz contributed her new found frugality to the inescapable fear factors in the news.

“Even though I have a job, the media has made us scared,” she said.

There were other, more palpable factors that led to Lisa Pelchant’s decision to cut her gift-giving in half.

Her boyfriend’s a ski instructor. With less bookings at the resorts, she said the couple already knew they wouldn’t have as much money coming in.

“We set a limit. My daughter got half of what she usually gets,” Pelchant, of Edwards, said. “I didn’t get as much from my family, either.”

And she didn’t get as much for them. Pelchant said instead of buying individual gifts and shipping them out, as the family usually does, they decided to make mix CDs of their favorite songs, then stick them in the mail at a more bearable rate.

“It was a cheap way to go,” she said.

For Irene Scholl, being cheap and easy is the way she likes to do Christmas, so this year wasn’t much different. She bought a snowboard outfit for her daughter and opened a savings account for her son.

“I’m very resourceful when I buy Christmas presents,” the longtime Eagle-Vail resident said and offered an alternative to the mayhem surrounding the commercialized day. “You know what’s even more fun is shopping after Christmas, then celebrating on New Year’s.”

And then, with a wink and slightly facetious tone, she explained why she had a good Christmas despite less gifts and economic uncertainty in the air.

“It’s not supposed to be about the gifts,” Scholl said. “It’s about spending time with your family.”

Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi can be reached at 970-748-2936 or

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