Category: Holidays

Father’s Day Gift Ideas for All Types of Dads

This Father’s Day, families will gather to thank dads for all they do. Gifts often are part of Father’s Day celebrations, and here’s a list of gift ideas for dads with various interests.

Gaming Dad

The draw of popular video games doesn’t abate for some men as they get older. If your dad is at home with a game controller in hand, then gifts that feed his hobby can be ideal.

Virtual reality has made great strides. Devices that enable VR gameplay and other entertainment may appeal to Dad. There are a few options on the market, like the Oculus, Pico Neo, HTC Vive, and Valve Index.

Another option is to gift the Nintendo Switch Console, which enables your dad to play at home connected to the television or on the go with the handheld controller and screen combination so he never misses a chance to engage in gameplay.

Sports Dad

Tap into your father’s love of sports with gifts tailored to his passion. Baseball and soccer are played during warm months, so tickets to a game are something dads and their children can do together. You also can cheer his team on in front of a new big-screen television he gets for being such a great dad.

Outdoorsman Dad

If your dad is most at home with a fishing pole and tackle box, kayaking a nearby body of water, or hiding in a tree stand during hunting season, then gifts that cater to his love of the great outdoors are perfect. Insulated thermoses, waterproof bags for storing phones or wallets, multitools, backpacks, and hiking boots make great gifts.

Techy Dad

Does the idea of the latest “smart” offering get your father all revved up? Then purchase gifts that cater to his love of gadgets. Maybe he can use a new tablet or laptop that bridges the gap between home and office. Could it be time to upgrade his smartphone? A doorbell camera or home security kit can help Dad keep an eye on the comings and goings around the house when he’s away. Or help him create surround lighting effects that can react to content on the screen or music being played with LED smart lighting strips.

Practical Dad

Some fathers don’t want flashy gifts, preferring ones that can be used daily. Think about a new paper shredder or identity block roller stamp to keep sensitive information safe. If Dad takes long road trips, then he might be able to use a car visor extender or a smartphone holder. Shelving, racks, or storage straps for the garage also may put a smile on Dad’s face.

This year, make Father’s Day a smash hit with gifts that cater to Dad’s interests.

How to Host a Memorable Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day is a bittersweet day on the calendar. Memorial Day is a day to pay homage to the brave men and women who lost their lives defending the United States. However, over time, Memorial Day has evolved into the unofficial beginning of summer.

As temperatures start to heat up, so, too, do backyard grills. In fact, grilling is an essential component of a good Memorial Day barbecue. There are many other ways to put your mark on Memorial Day cookouts as well. These ideas can make your event all the more memorable.

Keep it simple

Guests have certain expectations when they arrive at Memorial Day barbecues, and simplicity often tops the list. A simple playlist of recognizable, popular songs playing in the background, classic yard games like corn hole or horseshoes, sack races or water balloon tosses for the kids, and tasty classic fare on the grill, including burgers, hot dogs and chicken drumsticks, is likely all you need to put smiles on the faces of your guests.

Prep the grill and yard in advance

Memorial Day may be the first big event of the season, and chances are that the grill and yard could use some attention. Make sure all the burners are clean and working properly. Clear clutter from the yard and give patio furniture a thorough cleaning. Add outdoor furniture if you need more seating. Have a spare propane tank on hand so you won’t run out of fuel. If you have a pet, be sure that the yard is cleared of waste.

In addition to cleaning the yard, stock up on citronella candles or insect repellents. Bugs may want to join the festivities, too.

Create a red, white and blue burger

No barbecue is complete without delicious burgers cooking over an open flame. Those burgers can give an extra nod to the Stars and Stripes by showcasing the nation’s well-recognized colors. Place your grilled burger patty on your bun of choice. Top it with raw or grilled tomato slices (red), a slather of mayonnaise or a more dressed up aioli (white), and some blue cheese crumbles (blue). Carry the color theme over into a side salad as well, with your favorite greens topped with beets, blueberries and chunks of feta cheese.

Serve buffet style

One of the easiest ways to serve a number of people is to put the food out on long tables so that guests can pick and choose what they want. Place condiments and beverages in a separate area to keep the line flowing.

Separate beverages

Make sure that alcoholic beverages are kept separate from non-alcoholic options so that children do not get into the wrong drinks. Coolers placed on opposite sides of the yard can eliminate confusion.

It doesn’t take much to make Memorial Day barbecues enjoyable. With delicious food and close friends and family in attendance, fun is guaranteed.

Serve Up Homemade Salsa This Cinco de Mayo

Much like St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by people with no trace of Irish heritage, Cinco de Mayo has become a day of celebration for people who do not trace their ancestry to Mexico. In fact, History.com notes that Cinco de Mayo is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, where the day commemorates a symbolic yet not significantly strategic win by a heavily outnumbered Mexican army over French forces sent by Napoleon III to establish an empire on Mexican land. In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become a day to commemorate Mexican culture, including its much-loved cuisine.

Food is front and center at many Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Home cooks hosting friends or those who simply want to enjoy some homemade Mexican fare this Cinco de Mayo can try their hands at this recipe for “Fiery Corn Salsa” from Kelley Cleary Coffeen’s “200 Easy Mexican Recipes” (Robert Rose).

Fiery Corn Salsa

Makes 2 cups

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed

lime juice

2 teaspoons minced fresh

cilantro

3 tomatoes, seeded and diced

11/2 cups corn kernels

2 to 3 jalapeño peppers, seeded

and diced

Salt and freshly ground black

pepper

1. In a large bowl, combine oil, lime juice and cilantro. Add tomatoes, corn and jalapeño to taste. Mix well until corn mixture is well coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour or up to 2 days.

Tip: In place of the corn kernels, you can used canned corn, drained; frozen corn, thawed; or corn from the cob, cooked on the stove top. For a smoky flavor, use corn grilled on the barbecue grill.

The Origins of Easter Sunday

Easter takes place on a different Sunday each year. In western Christianity, Easter follows the Gregorian calendar and is thus considered a “movable feast” that is always celebrated between March 22 and April 25. Eastern Orthodox Christianity adheres to the Julian calendar, so Easter will fall on a Sunday between April 4 and May 8 each year. In 2022, the western Christian Easter celebration occurs on April 17 and the Eastern Orthodox Easter is observed on April 24.

Easter is the most important celebration on the Christian liturgical calendar. While commemorations of Jesus Christ’s resurrection likely occurred earlier, the earliest recorded observance of an Easter celebration was in the second century, according to Britannica.

Initial Easter celebrations weren’t known as “Easter,” which is a word that was borrowed from Pagan spring celebrations of Eostre, the goddess of spring and fertility. It only became associated with Christian usage later on – long after biblical scripture was written. In fact, the word “Easter” only appears in one Bible, the King James Version. But it is likely the word was used as a translation of pascha, or Passover, and not what has come to be known as Christian Easter.

The earliest Easter celebrations were a version of Passover. According to leading sabbath scholar Professor Samuele Bacchiocchi, Christians universally kept Passover on the biblical date of Nisan until 135 A.D. Early commemorations focused on the crucifixion, and the pain and suffering of Jesus. Bacchiocchi says that eventually the resurrection emerged as the dominant reason for the celebration that would be known as Easter, and also as the main message of weekly Christian Sunday masses. By the fourth century, the Easter Vigil and celebration were well-established and a symbol of joyful anticipation of the resurrection.

Easter is now celebrated annually by faithful Christians. While Easter is not mentioned in the Bible, scripture depictions helped shape the holiday that would become an integral component of the Christian faith.

Behind the Jokes of April Fools’ Day

Pranks, practical jokes and various goofs abound at the start of April, when celebrants around the world mark April Fools’ Day – a tradition that dates back several centuries.

Even though April Fools’ Day, also known as All Fools’ Day, has been celebrated for centuries, no one is completely sure of its exact origins.

According to History.com, many historians speculate that April Fool’s Day traces its origins to the transition from the Julian calendar to the Gregorian one in 1582. At this point, the start of the new year had been moved to January 1 from the last week of March. Those who were slow to get the news still celebrated the new year from late March into April and became the object of pranks as a result. One of the more notable pranks included having a paper fish placed on the backs of unsuspecting individuals and being referred to as poisson d’avril (April fish). This symbolized a young, easily fooled, or hooked fish.

During the 1700s, April Fools’ Day spread northward throughout areas of Britain. In Scotland, the tradition became a two-day event. One feature was sending people on phony errands called “hunting the gowk.” Gowk refers to the cuckoo bird, which often has been used as a symbol for fools. Tallie Day followed, which included pranks like pinning fake tails or “kick me” signs on unsuspecting people.

The earliest mass April Fools’ Day hoax on record occurred in 1698, according to Alex Boese, curator of the Museum of Hoaxes.

“People in London were told to go see the annual ceremony of the washing of the lions at the Tower of London,” said Boese. “They showed up at the Tower of London, but there was no annual lion-washing ceremony.”

Mass media later became a prime vehicle for some April tomfoolery. In 1957, the BBC told viewers there was a great spaghetti crop in Switzerland that year due to the disappearance of the spaghetti weevil, and people of Britain, who were largely unfamiliar with spaghetti at the time, believed it. Faux advertisements, broadcasts and interviews eventually crop up as well. National Public Radio did a piece on how Richard Nixon was going to run for president in the 1992 race and used the voice of a man who sounded like Nixon. People were outraged, and thousands believed it.

Many companies have gotten in on the foolishness in recent years. The popular dating app Tinder once announced they put an end to men lying about their height on the app with a “height verification feature.” And Lego purportedly introduced a “Find My Brick” app to make building more efficient. Even National Geographic got in on the fun when, in 2016, the media company announced via Twitter that it would no longer be publishing photos of naked animals, stating “the media group will no longer degrade animals by showing photos of them without clothes.” Those who clicked through were greeted with “April Fools” and photos of adorably dressed puppies and kittens.

April Fools’ Day is an opportunity to have some lighthearted fun, even if that fun comes at the expense of others.

How to Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day Safely

St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are renowned for their boisterous nature. St. Patrick’s Day traditionally is marked by festivals, parades, gatherings with family and friends, and trips to pubs to enjoy merriment with others.

Even though folks want to focus on the fun and the fanfare come March 17th, it’s important to recognize that safety should come first when making St. Patrick’s Day plans.

Drink responsibly

St. Patrick’s Day is a time when the Guinness or Jameson’s may flow more readily. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that roughly 28 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes every day – that’s one person every 52 minutes. St. Patrick’s Day revelers should establish their plans for getting home prior to going out. Taxis or ride sharing services can ensure everyone gets home safely. Friends celebrating together also can select designated drivers. Celebrants also should be sure to balance their alcohol consumption with eating so they do not feel the effects of drinking too quickly, as alcohol impairs decision-making.

Safer health choices

Just when the world could see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel regarding the coronavirus pandemic, the Omicron variant spread and made celebrations less safe – eventually affecting holiday season celebrations. Since the World Health Organization named Omicron a variant of concern on November 26, 2021, it has ripped through countries and communities causing illness in both vaccinated and unvaccinated people. Health experts say Omicron is two to three times more contagious than the Delta variant, although severity of symptoms may be reduced. UNC Health infectious diseases specialist Dr. David Wohl, MD, says Omicron is not responsive to current treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, and future variants may not be, either. This means that St. Patrick’s Day celebrants may want to gauge COVID-19 transmission in their communities and avoid gatherings with lots of people. Mask-wearing, avoiding crowded events and getting vaccinated can help reduce risk for COVID-19 infection. Choosing outdoor festivities may be much safer. Also, at-home rapid tests may help people figure out if they have COVID-19 faster so they’ll know if they can celebrate without spreading infection.

Celebrate virtually

Virtual celebrations may be the norm this St. Patrick’s Day. Plan a video-conference call with a group of friends and order takeout of favorite Irish delicacies to party safely at home.

St. Patrick’s Day festivities are boisterous, but safety must play a significant role in such celebrations.

Budget-Friendly Valentine’s Day Ideas

The National Retail Federation indicates Valentine’s Day is the fifth largest spending event in the United States after the winter holidays and Mother’s Day. Each February, people clamber to get gifts for their sweethearts and create romantic memories through fine dining and decadent desserts.

According to Finder, a tool used to navigate complex decision-making processes, Americans were expected to spend a combined $50 billion on gifts and activities in 2021, with gifts averaging $187. Men tend to spend more than women on Valentine’s Day.

Everyone may be spending more on Valentine’s Day this year due to inflation. In 2021, used cars and trucks, oil, meats and poultry, airline fares, and women’s apparel were just some of the items that increased significantly in price. Finding ways to be frugal may be challenging this February, but these ideas are a start.

DIY card

While a card may be the smallest purchase on your shopping list, you can still save an average of $3 to $5 on a card by making one yourself or sending a free digital greeting.

Dine in

Restaurants are popular options for couples on Valentine’s Day, but they can be busy and prices may be inflated. Many also offer limited prix fixe menus. By making a meal at home and picking and choosing less-costly ingredients, couples can save a substantial amount of money.

Be flexible with jewelry

You don’t have to spend a fortune to make an impression with gifts. Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend, but other stones are often less costly. Try giving a birthstone as an alternative. If gold is out of your price range, many sterling silver options are just as beautiful. In addition, consider warehouse retailers for jewelry purchases, as they may have lower costs.

Frugal flowers

The cost of roses definitely goes up near Valentine’s Day, so consider giving another flower. Lilies can be lovely or maybe that special someone has a signature flower. A flowering plant, which will cost less than many bouquets and will last far beyond Valentine’s Day if given care, is another alternative to consider.

Save on chocolate

Sweet treats are the name of the game, but many popular chocolate boxes can be pricey this time of year. Plan ahead and keep a stockpile of chocolates from Halloween or Christmas. Then use floral wire or pipe cleaners to turn bite-sized packages into a handmade chocolate bouquet. Otherwise, purchase various chocolate bars and package them with hot chocolate, chocolate cookies and other decadent offerings in a themed gift basket.

Saving on Valentine’s Day comes down to being creative and focusing on the sentiment rather than the price.

How to Plan a Safe New Year’s Eve Night Out

New Year’s Eve is a popular night to paint the town red. That popularity could skyrocket even further as the world says goodbye to 2021 and ushers in 2022.

Many cities and millions of individuals toned down their New Year’s Eve shenanigans a year ago, as the COVID-19 pandemic made it hard to celebrate safely. But the rollout of three effective vaccines has beckoned revelers out of their homes, and that could make for an especially rowdy New Year’s Eve.

Fun might be the top priority on New Year’s Eve, but safety must be in the mix as well. As individuals make plans for a night out this New Year’s Eve, it can help to keep these safety tips in mind.

Utilize a car service

Whether it’s a ridesharing service like Uber, a taxi cab or even a private limousine for large parties, leave the New Year’s Eve driving to the professionals. This ensures that no one will drive after having too much to drink. Even revelers who can control their alcohol consumption should avoid driving if they plan to drink. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a person need not be legally impaired to experience impairment. Drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 are considered to be legally impaired. But the NHTSA reports that a BAC of .05 can reduce coordination, lead to a reduced ability to track moving objects, make it difficult to steer, and produce a slower-than-normal response to emergency driving situations.

Go out for dinner first

Experts at the University of Notre Dame’s McDonald Center for Student Well-Being note that having food, especially foods that are high in protein, in your stomach prior to consuming alcohol will help slow the processing of that alcohol. Someone who has not eaten will typically hit a peak BAC between 30 minutes and two hours of drinking. But someone who has eaten will typically peak between one and six hours of drinking depending on the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Make a plan

Overconsumption of alcohol is not the only potential danger lurking on New Year’s Eve. Large crowds can make it easier for friends to become separated, especially if they plan to visit more than one establishment before or after the clock strikes 12. When going out with a group on New Year’s Eve, create an itinerary, complete with meet-up spots, for the entire night. This ensures anyone who gets lost can easily find his or her way back to the group. Individuals who are wandering alone on New Year’s Eve may be vulnerable to criminals who are looking to prey on people whose inhibitions have been lowered by alcohol and/or the festive atmosphere of the night.

A rowdy New Year’s Eve may be on tap as the world ushers in 2022. That likelihood only underscores the importance of emphasizing safety when going out this December 31.

Last-minute Holiday Shopping Tips

Some people thrive by doing all of their tasks early. Others seem to do their best work when faced with a time crunch. The methods individuals use to manage their time at work and play may extend to the ways they approach holiday shopping as well.

There’s no right or wrong way to handle holiday shopping tasks, though Christmas Eve crowds at malls and throughout shopping districts suggest that there’s more late comers than there are early birds. The following tips can help those who typically wait until the last minute to check names off their lists.

Utilize free shipping services

Shoppers who shop for gifts online at the last minute run the risk of gifts not arriving on time. Many online retailers charge a premium for expedited shipping. Try to stick to shopping at online retailers that offer free shipping even in the eleventh hour.

Create a budget

When rushing around from store to store, it may be easy to spend more than you want to. Make a list of how much you want to spend on each person, and stick to that limit for each person. Move on to the next store if you didn’t find what you need in your price range.

Establish a time limit

Stores have strategies in place to keep shoppers in their establishments longer, hoping you’ll make impulse buys. These tricks include scenting the air with inviting aromas, putting necessities at the rear of the store, failing to display the time, and putting discounted items by the registers or door to attract shoppers. Set an alarm on your watch or phone for each store so you get what you need and get out on time.

Subdivide bulk gifts

Think about purchasing bulk gifts like gift baskets from wholesale clubs and then breaking them down into individual gifts. This way you can gift several people on one purchase and save time in the process.

Choose one-size-fits-all gifts

Think about a gift that can be purchased for multiple people so you can save time shopping for individualized gifts for everyone. For example, print a personalized photo calendar for several members of your family. You also can purchase multiple subscriptions or memberships to zoos or magazines for people on your list. Streamlining gifting in this way may save money as well as time.

Choose in-store pickup

Rather than scouring various aisles, you can shop a retailer’s website and then pick up items in the store. You’ll save on potential shipping fees but still benefit by avoiding crowds.

Some people wait until the last minute to do their holiday shopping. A few tricks of the procrastinator’s trade can make last-minute shopping go smoothly.

How to Reduce Risk of Home Fires This Holiday Season

Safety might not be the first thing people think of as the holiday season approaches. Faith, celebrations, decorations, and holiday dinners all come to mind when considering the holiday season. But that doesn’t mean safety should be left out of holiday planning.

Fire safety bears special consideration during the holiday season, when the prevalence of fire hazards like Christmas trees, holiday lighting displays and other decorative items increase the risk for home fires. Such tragedies can be averted with a few simple safety measures.

Tend to your tree

Live Christmas trees are awe-inspiring, but they also pose a significant fire risk. The National Fire Protection Association urges celebrants to purchase only healthy trees with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched. Such trees are less likely to dry out, especially when well-watered throughout the season. Dry trees can catch fire more easily than healthy trees if embers from nearby fireplaces or candles drift in their direction.

Recognize that location matters when decorating

The NFPA notes that Christmas trees should always be placed at least three feet away from any heat source, including fireplaces, space heaters, heat vents, candles, and even overhead lights. If decorating with candles, never place them on the tree or on tables where other flammable decorations have already been placed. Chanukah menorahs should never be placed near curtains or other decorations.

Turn off all lights and extinguish all lit decorative items when leaving the home or going to bed

Lit candles and menorahs should never be left unattended. The NFPA recommends turning tree lights and exterior decorative lights off when leaving the home or going to bed.

Utilize a fire screen on fireplaces

Embers can catch on trees, decorations or anything else that’s flammable if they escape the fireplace. Fire screens prevent that from happening by ensuring embers from burning logs stay in the fireplace. Like candles and menorahs, fires burning in a fireplace should never be left unattended. Make sure all embers have been extinguished before leaving the home or going to bed.

Keep discarded trees away from your home

A 2014 analysis from the NFPA found that none of the ten days with the largest share of Christmas tree fires were before Christmas. Dried out trees still pose a fire risk even after they’ve been removed from a home. When discarding a tree at the end of the holiday season, place it at the curb or keep it a safe distance away from your home and garage until you can.

Fire safety measures are an important component of the holiday season that can prevent this joyous time of year from turning tragic.