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Pajamas great for parents and kids this holiday

Posted November 13, 2008

— Get ready for a pajama party.

PJs look to be a popular gift this holiday season, as families struggling with high heating bills are bundling up at night, and older kids have turned sleep pants into cool daywear.

"I can't afford to buy gifts just for fun," said Lisa Jenkins, who has lowered the temperature at her Clarkston, Wash., home and is cutting back on presents for her children amid the weak economy. "Pajamas will keep them warm and will give them the Christmas stuff they're used to."

Jenkins, 40, says she likes to buy PJs that reflect the personalities and interests of her 14-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter, who like to wear pajamas both at home and outside.

Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at market research firm The NPD Group, predicts sales of pajamas for those under age 25 could rise by 5 to 6 percent this holiday season, while other categories of kidswear may fall as much as 5 percent.

"It's Mom and Dad saying I want to keep my kids warm and the kids saying it's cool to get me those," Cohen says.

In Midlothian, Va., Sarah Maloy's sons, ages 5, 7 and 10, have inherited her childhood tradition of wearing new PJs on Christmas morning and posing for a family photo at the top of the staircase.

Each year, they get two new pairs of pajamas, one from each set of grandparents. With a heating bill up 40 percent this year, Maloy is lowering their around-the-clock temperature from 72 degrees to 66. And she's asking the grandparents for warmer fleece instead of cotton.

"Our gifts of pajamas have become even more useful," said Maloy, 41. "Now it's really a necessity, because no one wants to be cold."

Many kids are happy to get new, cool styles and like to walk their pajama pants right out the door for school or play.

"They're still a big request," says Patty Corn, 48, whose five children ages 12 to 24 wear the pants out of the house. "It's not just a practical, utilitarian thing. There's trends involved with PJ pants."

Corn, of Allendale, N.J., is buying animal print pants for her 14- and 19-year-old daughters. Her sons, ages 12, 22 and 24, will likely get flannel, possibly with a sports or college logo.

"For the girls, they're going to be really excited about it," says Corn, adding that to them, the pants count as a good gift.

The choices seem endless. Younger children can be easily pleased with PJs featuring their favorite character, and like to wear them as a costume or to school on pajama day. Teenagers and their younger tween siblings are asking for PJs pants with plaids, stripes, bold colors and funny expressions, Cohen said.

Boys' sleep pants with skulls, bulldogs and snowboarders can be found at gapkids.com, while girls' prints feature stars and princesses. Victoria Secret's Pink line has pants with large checks in black and white with metallic thread, and others with small polka dots, hearts and plaids.

The PJs as streetwear trend emerged over the last two years for older kids and dropped to the preteen market for kids as young as 9 this year, said Cohen.

"It's the ultimate in casualization," Cohen said. "We've seen casual reach the all-time limits. It's taking fashion to an extreme."

Many kids love the comfort of PJs, and the convenience of just being able get up and go. "They love being able to leave the house in warm, snuggly stuff," Jenkins said.

All this talk about keeping warm during a winter of hard times and purchasing practical gifts has Kelly Rice remembering Christmas when she was a kid. One of five siblings, she grew up in a New York City suburb with parents who themselves were children of the Great Depression.

"PJs and slippers were almost always under the tree," says Rice, 53, of Bell Canyon, Calif. "Keeping the thermostat down low was the family holiday tradition. Perhaps we have come full circle."

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