1. Snow Globes--Snow globes are dust collectors that serve no useful function. They're a decoration, but how many do you really need? Too many snow globes scattered throughout your home can look like clutter and there are better alternatives.
A better option: A fresh take on a snow globe would be mercury glass votives or ornaments. Mercury glass is trendy right now and gives a festive glow."
2. Fruitcake--Made of candied or dried fruit, nuts and spices and sometimes soaked in spirits, fruitcake is one of the most re-gifted presents each Christmas. There are still some die-hard fruitcake fans, but the younger generations tend to see this as unappetizing and dated.
A better option: A tasty alternative to fruitcake is babkas, a popular Eastern European yeast-leavened cake made of soft brioche-like dough.
3. Christmas Ties--Sure, a man might wear a suit to work each day, but that doesn't mean he enjoys getting holiday ties adorned with reindeer, snowmen and candy canes. Not only are these ties corny, but they can only be enjoyed for a few weeks each year.
A better option: You can still buy the man in your life ties that are unique and playful without being cheesy.
4. Cheap Gift Cards to Expensive Stores--Gift cards can make great gifts, but if you give someone a cheap gift card to a pricey store, it can be more of a hassle than an enjoyable shopping experience.
A better option: If you're going to give someone a gift card, make sure it is for enough money so the recipient can actually buy something useful.
5. Cutesy Pajamas--Many would agree that past the age of seven, cutesy pajamas are just not cool.
A better option: Instead of buying pajamas with cutesy prints, you might want to stick to those with pinstripes, plaid or checkered patterns. Solid-colored pajamas are also a safe bet.
6. Candy Canes--Candy canes may be one of the symbols of Christmas, but does anyone really crave them? These sticky peppermint treats get old quickly and boxes of them pile up in the trash at the end of the holiday season.
A better option: Consider giving your friends and family peppermint bark, a delicious treat that combines regular and white chocolate with peppermint candy bits.
7. Wall Calendars—Wall calendars have been a popular Christmas gift throughout the years. These days, hanging a calendar on the wall seems a bit passé, especially with computerized calendars and scheduling apps for smartphones.
A better option: Get him or her a timepiece. Some interesting ideas include a personalized pocket watch, a personalized photo frame wall clock and a colored iPhone alarm dock that cradles your iPhone and conceals USB wires to transform it into a mid-century modern timepiece.
A Dutch company is moving forward with its plan to send four lucky people to colonize Mars. The catch is you won't ever come back.
More than 200,000 people have signed up to be prospective astronauts. The application period is now closed and by the end of this year, the company will notify the people who made it to Round 2.
The Mars One foundation announced that it has gotten enough funding for an unmanned mission in 2018. It will involve a robotic lander and a communications satellite.
This first mission will show the technology that would be involved in a permanent human settlement on Mars. If all goes well, the first people could land on Mars in 2025.
** After the first humans arrive in 2025, the plan is to send additional crews every two years, Right now, the idea is to send crews of four, but eventually bigger vehicles may be able to transport more people.
TIME MAGAZINE’S ‘PERSON OF THE YEAR’ IS... THE POPE
TIME editors picked their annual Person of the Year and Pope Francis took home the title.
Pope Francis has a focus on compassion and the poor and has brought a new voice to the Catholic Church. The Pope is in a position of great power as the head of the Catholic Church, but he has been extremely humble - something that is not easy to do in his position of prestige.
Though he doesn't run a nation or have the power to start wars, Pope Francis has made a large impact as a key leader in our world today.
Edward Snowden was another man in the running for the Person of the Year crown for his leaking of the information on the way the NSA watches US citizens.
Freshman Senator Ted Cruz from Texas was also a runner up on this list along with Bashar Assad and Edith Windsor.
You should prioritize a holiday gratuity to the people who walk your dog, cut your hair, and even deliver packages to your front door.
Think about the people who are out of sight and out of mind, like garbage collectors, newspaper deliverers or other people who provide important services you may not be aware of right away.It's notmandatory, but holiday gratuities and gifts show people you appreciate their service and encourages loyalty.
Here are some examples of how you should tip:
1. Au pair, babysitter, nanny
Suggested tip: One week's pay and a gift from your child(ren)--This person works with your family, and you likely know them well. Consider a gift, especially if the person lives with you.
2. Dog walkers and pet groomers
Suggested tip: Dog walker: up to one week's pay/Pet groomer: up to the cost of one session --Experts say you can also give a gift valued at roughly the same amount as the cash tip. Adjust the value of the tip for how frequently you use this person's services. If you visit the pet groomer only a few times a year, the tip can be smaller.
3. Hair stylist or barber
Suggested tip: cost of one visit--Consider cash or a gift "commensurate to their good service." If your stylists and manicurists work miracles, show them you appreciate it.
4. Gardener or landscaper
Suggested tip: varies--If you only have one gardener, then tip the cost of one visit or one week's work. If you have a crew, then $20 to $50 per person should suffice.
Suggested tip: up to one week's pay--You can also divide the tip among a crew if there is more than one person.
6. Personal trainer
Suggested tip: the cost of one session or more--Some people are practically best friends with their trainers. If you have been training with the person for several months and see them at least once a week, consider tipping at least the cost of one session.
7. Package delivery or mail carrier
Suggested tip: small gift, up to $20 in value--The U.S. Postal Service does not allow any kind of cash gift, or any other form of currency. (That includes gift cards!) Most private delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts, so check the policy, or stick with a small gift.
8. Apartment building staff
Suggested tip: $20 to $100 or a gift--If you live in a building with a doorman, don't forget to tip, especially if you receive a lot of packages, order a lot of pizza or have a lot of visitors.
9. Trash and recycling collectors
Suggested tip: $10 to $30 each--Offer a cash tip or gift (for private companies). Check city regulations if it is a municipal service.
10. Children's teacher
Suggested tip: small gift from you and/or your child--Giving cash is not appropriate for teachers (or tutors or coaches, or anyone related to education). But they will all appreciate the gesture of a small, thoughtful gift.
Suggested tip: a thoughtful gift--These people may know you pretty well. They are often also pretty well paid. Stick with a meaningful gift that shows how much you appreciate their care.
CONSTANTLY TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS STOPS OUR BRAINS FROM REMEMBERING WHAT HAPPENED... OR SOMETHIN'
Taking a photo could be causing major damage to your memory.
Researchers asked a group of students to recall what items in a museum looked like. Those who had taken photos struggled to describe the objects, but those who hadn't remembered them more clearly.
Researchers also found that many people now use the internet in place of a memory. When someone wants to know something now, they use the Internet as an "external memory" just as computers use an external hard drive. We have become so reliant on smartphones and laptops, we go into withdrawal when we can't find out something immediately. This is called the "photo-taking impairment effect."
FRIENDS FAKE OUT DRUNK DRIVER BY MAKING HIM THINK HE'S BEEN IN A COMA FOR 10-YEARS
Friends of a Louisville, KY man who has already been arrested for 5 DUI's pulled off an elaborate prank when he passed out from drinking: they convinced him he'd woken up from a ten year coma by turning the office into a hospital room.
YouTube prankster Tom Mabe ("MabeInAmerica") used an office mocked up as a hospital room and a team of actors who posed as medical teams to pull it off.
He even screened fake news reports into the room as his friend woke up confused as to how he'd been "out" for ten years.
Actors pretending to be nurses and doctors told him it was 2023 and he had been in an accident 10 years ago after a night of heavy drinking.
Finally a doctor came in to check feeling in his legs and ended up taking his mask off, showing he was Tom Mabe, and yelling at him about having 5 DUI's.
After filming the prank they put it on YouTube hoping to keep other people from driving drunk.
1. PMS Pam--Her chit chat will include talk of diseases that could strike at any time, children who were poisoned by school lunches, and Botox gone horribly wrong. After a few minutes, you'll be sucked into worry that will have you questioning your safety, your health, and your marriage. Rule of Thumb: Never talk to her alone. It will take another friend to pull you away.
2. Stalky Samantha--Samantha wants your life. She will work her way into plans with you. She'll make sure her kids get close to your kids, sign them up for the same activities, clubs, teams, and classes. She'll call other people to determine where you are at any given time. Her skills include frequent drive-bys, constant contact through scouring pictures and updates on social media, and oddly "running into you" everywhere. Rule of Thumb: Be careful with this one, we all know how stalker movies turn out.
3. Donna Droner--This chatty chick finds every detail of her stories not only imperative, but scintillating - whether she's describing how she rescheduled her children's annual checkups, or her 39-step trick to get discoloration out of grout. Rule of Thumb: Take a fake call. If you're not holding your phone, pick up anything, hold it to your ear and answer it.
4. Braggy Beth--This gal will make you question whether your child is stupid, lazy, or socially inept. No matter what your kid's accomplishments are, Beth's kids did it better, and did it earlier. Listening to her talk will bring out a shameful side of you that wants to give her kid the finger. Rule of Thumb: Don't give her kid the finger… kick her in the shin and run.
5. Judgy Julie--This mom is assessing your every move. On play dates, she's estimating how many toys you have in your dining room, the sugar content in your pantry, and when you last dusted your blinds. Her goal is simple: find enough evidence to confirm what she suspected all along: She is better than you. Rule of Thumb: Be careful how much you let Judgy Julie see because she doesn't keep her verdicts to herself.
6. TMI Tammy--Tammy is like a bad Facebook status in the flesh. She feels that the disgusting details of the ooze in her son's ear and the consistency of her daughter's last bowel movement is cool. Rule of Thumb: Stick to "Hi" and "Bye" and NEVER ask how she's doing.
7. Fend For Yourself Fran--Your kid is distracting hers, so she can get a moment of peace, a glass of wine, a few minutes to read "Mommy Porn." She's not concerned with what the kids are doing, as long as they're doing it quietly and far away. You may come to her house to find your child, miserable, hungry, bruised, or locked in a bathroom, which she will have no explanation for. Rule of Thumb: Always have her kid at your house or send yours over to hers with a survival kit.
8. Delusional Denise—She has no clue what her child is REALLY like. She's unaware that her offspring could do any wrong. If confronted, Denise will deny that it was her little angel, she'll explain how it was an accident, or she'll complain that her child always seems to be the scapegoat. Rule of Thumb: Keep yourself your kids and your pets as far away as possible - Denise's kids are the ones who grow up to be serial killers.
9. Know it all Nicole--This mom will advise you how to be a better mom and wife. She'll tell you whether you should or shouldn't vaccinate, how to get whites their whitest, and why you can never go to a drive-thru.
10. Me Me Mimi—"Enough about you, more about Mimi" is her slogan. Rule of Thumb: Avoid this time suck at all costs. Even a nod in her direction opens a door for her to tell you more about herself and her family.
WOMAN TRIED TO RENT A FAMILY FOR THE HOLIDAYS, USING CRAIGSLIST
A college student in California posted an ad on Craigslist asking to rent a family for the holiday season.
The ad reads: "I am looking to rent a mom and dad who can give me attention and make me feel like the light of their life just for a couple of days because I really need it. On the outside, it looks like I'm the American dream kid. But I have a back story that most people wouldn't believe if they looked at me today."
The woman explained she has been physically, sexually and emotionally abused since she was a child. To escape it she spent years living on the streets, which created even more problems.
She wrote: "I was in gang life, on the streets, fighting, doing drugs, just making a mess of my life."
She was eventually arrested for grand theft and after spending almost a year in jail she decided she'd had enough. She went to a camp for troubled young adults. Now she's a presidential scholar at her school with a scholarship and a 4.0 grade point average.
She wrote: "There's still something deep inside of me. There's this void, my biological parents aren't here, and it's kept this hole inside of me. I want to rent a mom and dad."
She explained she'd be willing to pay $8 an hour.
She wrote: "Just to sit, just to listen. Just to cry with me, no strings beyond that. I've never felt the touch of my Mom hugging me and holding me. I don't know what it's like to look in my dad's eyes and feel love instead of hatred."
Dozens of families responded to the ad, all willing to take her in for free.
*** Instead of renting a family, the woman is now creating one. She hopes to organize a gathering of the people that responded to her ad.
The correct protocol is that bosses should give their employees gifts but employees should not feel obligated to give a gift back.
Still, according to a business etiquette consultant, it can be perfectly appropriate to give a gift to your boss, especially if you consider your boss a friend or you have worked together for a long time.
But it pays to do a little research first, especially if you are new to the company. That's because if you give a gift and everyone else doesn't, you may look like you are trying to curry favor. And if you don't give a gift and everyone else does, you may be embarrassed.
Worse yet, if you do give a gift but it's inappropriate, that's the kind of faux pas that can follow you for years to come.
If you do decide to give your boss a gift, here are some tips:
Don't give anything too personal: Experts say a good rule of thumb is to avoid anything that touches the skin. That means no jewelry, no perfume, no clothing-and definitely no boxers or other intimate apparel.
"Unless you know the person really, really well, I would very much steer clear of gifts that really have a very personal tone".
Don't spend too much, or too little, money: A $2.99 ornament from the drugstore will likely come off as too cheap, but a $100 pen may seem awkwardly extravagant. Experts say the $10-to-$25 range is generally more appropriate for a midlevel manager.
Do consider food or gift cards: A consumable gift like cookies, candy or homemade bread is a nice way to show that you appreciate your boss without breaking the bank. A coffee shop gift card or similar item also is practical and appropriate.
Do consider a group gift: If everyone goes in on one gift, that can spread out the cost and also ensure that everyone in the department is on equal footing with the boss.
Don't generally give alcohol: Champagne is fine if you know the person well, but in general etiquette experts say that these days some employers might frown on giving alcohol at work, and some bosses may see it as too personal a gift.
Do check on gift policies, especially if you are a vendor or freelancer: One expert recommends checking with the human resources department to see if there is a ban on gifts.
Do consider books or magazine subscriptions-as long as they are appropriate: Reading material is usually a safe bet, especially if it relates to your field. But even such a seemingly mundane gift can turn inappropriate if you're not careful.
"You don't want to give your boss '50 Shades of Grey'".
Don't send a gift to a home address: To avoid confusion, hand your boss a gift at the office or during your holiday party.
1. You've maxed out the credit cards and you're the only one who sees the bills every month--Secretly spending and trying to hide the purchases is a big indicator that there's not a lot of trust in your relationship. Try to figure out why you're not disclosing what you buy. Do you feel that your decisions are being ridiculed? Does your husband tend to control the majority of the money or your relationship overall? Or do you have a problem with compulsive spending? Then, come clean. Use this mistake as an opportunity to get on the same page about not just money, but also about how to communicate and stand by your wants and needs.
2. You've been sexually unsatisfied... for a while--Telling your man that you've been faking it would devastate him. Instead, approach him with a new fantasy that you'd like try. It's natural that passion ebbs and flows in a relationship and just because it's on the low-end right now doesn't mean that situation's permanent.
3. Something he said in that last argument really did matter--and you didn't say anything. Now you feel like you've been hiding feelings of resentment--Over time, bottling up your emotions creates resentment, which can lead to feeling angry with your partner. Ultimately, if you don't express yourself, you'll just lash out at each other and say hurtful things that you really don't mean. Start by fessing up to why you're still upset and work to clear the air. Then move on by developing guidelines for how to argue more productively, such as a no-name-calling rule.
4, Something from your past has come to haunt you, and it was so long ago that you never clued him in--Some not-so-classy pictures from a spring-break fling have found their way onto Facebook. Or that time you got arrested in college all of a sudden popped up on a Google search of your name. It's not easy, but it's better to fill your man in before he discovers this stuff on his own. When you don't share your past experiences as they come up, you miss an opportunity to get your partner's support and feel closer.
5. You've started to feel down... way down--Depression interferes with your ability to engage with others and tune into them. It will definitely affect your ability to be a really loving partner. An important step in coming out of depression is connecting with your partner. So tell your man that you've been sinking into a bad place, and that you don't know what to do about it.
PHONES THAT READ YOUR MIND... APPS THAT KNOW WHAT YOU WANT BEFORE YOU DO
There are several apps that can predict what you want before you do, and Google leads the way.
Google's Now, along with other intelligent personal assistant apps including Osito and Grokr can predict what a user will do next before offering relevant help and information at each step without ever being asked.
The apps use an algorithm that combines with location data, taken from the phone or tablet's GPS unit, as well as posts on social networks, email information and more to make the predictions.
ANONYMOUS TIPPER (TIPS4JESUS) IS SURPRISING WAITRESSES ACROSS THE COUNTRY WITH TIPS UP TO $10,000
A man using the handle Tips4jesus is going across the country tipping servers anywhere between $500 to $10,000.
There is an instagram page "Tips4jesus bar" where several photos have been posted with receipts from servers showing off the tips. The tag-line for the page is, "doing the lord's work one tip at a time."
The man and several of his friends have been described as friendly, polite, nice and a pleasure to serve. All the tips have cleared even one that was for $10,000. At first that tip wasn't cleared for fear of fraud, but the man took care of the matter and it was eventually cleared.
People in Michigan, Indiana and Illinois have been on the receiving end of the large tips.
"Wtf?? Mia is caucasian and she is described as tall in the books. Her and Mrs. R and the only 2 described as tall and Rita is only 5'5"! Dakota and Eloise are both taller than her and their respective characters are supposed to be more petite. Rita looks nothing like Mia even with raven hair. This is such a joke! Is this team incompetent or something? What a joke this has become."
"Not at all how I pictured CG sister to be. Poor casting choice again...I bet Charlie is so glad he stepped away from this movie."
"This is a joke, right! This casting is the worst yet. Congratulations...you have managed to do something I didn't think possible....making me not even remotely excited for this movie. This news is the proverbial nail....