Thanksgiving 2017: Best ways to show gratitude

Published: Friday, November 10, 2017 @ 10:58 AM

Thanksgiving - By the Numbers

As you prepare for the holiday season, maybe you’ve been wondering about the best ways to give thanks on Thanksgiving. Well wonder no more.

There are alternative ways to spend Thanksgiving that will embrace the true spirit of the holiday. From volunteering your time, to including others in your celebration and other creative ideas, there are plenty to give back and show your appreciation for others this time of year.

Take a look at some of the best ways to give thanks on Thanksgiving.
 
1. Volunteer to help make the holiday brighter for someone less fortunate

It’s been said that giving is better than receiving, and volunteering your time on Thanksgiving Day is a good way to reap the benefits of the old adage.

From soup kitchens and food pantries to churches and Meals on Wheels, serving or delivering food to less fortunate families is a great way to spend a few hours on Thanksgiving Day. The time commitment may be minimal but it’s far outweighed by the benefits.
 
2. Extend an invitation to someone who would welcome the company

It’s never fun to be alone on the holidays. Whether widowed or single, orphaned or separated from family by geography, the prospect of celebrating a holiday by yourself is never fun.

Consider giving someone a much-needed respite from a solo holiday by extending an invitation for lunch or dinner. It may be a small gesture, but it could mean a world of difference to the invitee!
 
3. Make an extra meal to share this Thanksgiving season

The demands of the season can put a strain on households on a tight budget. This year when you’re planning your Thanksgiving feast, make a second one to share with a family who may may not be able to provide one for themselves. By fostering the festive spirit of thankfulness through a meal, you can brighten the holidays for others.
 
4. Make a donation

A component of thankfulness is sharing with others, and donations are an excellent way to achieve this. What’s more: it’s not just money that organizations are looking for. Donating gently used home goods and clothes to your favorite charity is just as important as cash donations.
 
5. Visit a nursing home or hospital

Patients in nursing homes or hospitals often face holidays alone in a situation that is trying at best. This Thanksgiving, take an hour or two and go put a smile on the faces of patients who are alone for the holiday. A kind or caring word, a sincere hug and a few quiet moments of conversation could be the difference for a patient between a lonely day and a feeling of warmth and goodwill.
 
6. Break out the crafts

Prepare to cultivate a spirit of thankfulness among the youngest members of your family this holiday. Set aside time to teach them even the simplest of Thanksgiving crafts like Pilgrim hats, cardboard napkin rings, turkey hands and pinecone placements. The children will be thankful for the art instruction, but they’ll be even more thankful for the quality time.
 
7. Help guests express their thankfulness

If you’re planning to host a crowd this holiday, allowing the guests to share their gratitude is a great way to give thanks on Thanksgiving.

A great way to encourage guests to really think about what matters most to them is to offer them cards on which to write the things for which they are most thankful.

Another way to get the thankful juices flowing is to create a Thanksgiving tree as a centerpiece for your holiday. Use cardboard or construction paper leaves in varying colors and encourage friends and family to take a leaf or two on which to write their thanks and wishes. By the time the day is over, the branches will be full of thanks and your guests will be encouraged to keep sharing.
 
8. Share your favorite memories

Add another level to your thankfulness by asking family and friends to share favorite holiday memories and stories. By remembering the past in a warm way and vocalizing the things that have meant the most, you and your family will find your way to a deeper state of gratitude.
 
9. Take all of the gratitude, and find a way to make a difference

After a day of sharing, use the memories and thanks as a starting point to help others. Be it family time or possessions, relationships or momentous occasions, use the items listed throughout the day to find creative ways to make a difference to others.

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Valentine's Day 2018: 6 ways to eat for free or cheap

Published: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 8:18 AM

Valentine’s Day Deals 2018

From flowers to a gift to dinner out, Valentine's Day can be an expensive holiday.

>> White Castle will offer romantic Valentine’s Day package, reservations again

To help you save some money, these restaurants are offering some cheap or free Valentine's Day meals.

Hooters

If you're without a significant other this Valentine's Day – or even if you've found a new sweetie and want to score some free wings – participating Hooters locations will help you shred your ex. Shred online and print a coupon to take to the restaurant or bring in a photo of your former love and let Hooters shred it. In return, you can buy 10 boneless wings and get 10 free – and maybe a bit of catharsis. Learn more at www.hooters.com.

Fogo de Chão

If you make a reservation and dine at a participating Fogo's location anytime from Feb. 10 through Feb. 17, you'll be able to save on a return visit. You'll receive a complimentary churrasco dining card that you can use next time you're in the restaurant. (As is usually the case, "certain restrictions apply.") Learn more at http://fogodechao.com. 

Qdoba Mexican Eats

Take advantage of the restaurant's "Qdoba for a Kiss" promotion, and you'll be able to buy one entrée and get one free at participating restaurants on Feb. 14. Bring your significant other to kiss, smooch a photo of your favorite celebrity on your cellphone or even pucker up to a burrito – anything goes! 

On top of that sweet deal, from Feb. 6-28, if you share a kissing photo on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram with the hashtag #QdobaForAKiss, Qdoba will donate $1 to No Kid HungryFor more information, visit www.qdoba.com.

Outback Steakhouse

Outback Steakhouse offers a Valentine's Day meal for two at participating restaurants from Feb. 12-16. For a special price (which varies by location), a couple can share a Bloomin' Onion, choose two entrees (center cut sirloin, grilled salmon or Alice Springs chicken), two sides, two salads and cheesecake for dessert. Learn more at www.outback.com.

California Pizza Kitchen

Enjoy a "Sweet Deal for Two" at participating California Pizza Kitchen locations from Feb. 14 to 18, and you'll get an appetizer, two entrees and a dessert from their special menu for $35. Choose from among three appetizers, 10 entrees or four desserts. As a further incentive, if you tag your sweetie or best friend in California Pizza Kitchen's Facebook post with the hashtag #CPKgiveaway, you'll be entered to win a $100 gift card. Learn more at www.cpk.com.

Waffle House 

Waffle House probably isn't the restaurant you think of when you're picturing a candlelit dinner with cloth napkins and tablecloths, but that's just what they're doing on Valentine's Day. You can enjoy alcohol-free champagne as the lights are dimmed, and choose from breakfast favorites or special offerings like ribeye and eggs. Many locations are participating, so check for your location's phone number and contact person for reservationsLearn more at ww.wafflehouse.com.

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List ranks best U.S. cities to get married

Published: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 @ 5:16 PM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:21 AM

A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
A couple exchanges rings as they are wed during a group Valentine's day wedding at the National Croquet Center on February 14, 2014 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Looking for a place to get married? A new study claims that there is a premiere wedding destination in our own backyard.

According to WalletHub, Orlando ranks as the top city for weddings in the United States, and Atlanta is right behind at third. The study looked at factors such as the average cost of a wedding, the number of wedding chapels, churches and bridal shops in an area and the area with the most attractions.

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WalletHub said its methodology involved comparing 15 U.S. cities in cost, activities and attractions and facilities and services.

Las Vegas lost its top spot in 2018, with Orlando now number one, and Sin City coming in at number 2.

Take a look at the rankings:

  1. Orlando, Florida
  2. Las Vegas
  3. Atlanta
  4. Los Angeles
  5. Miami
  6. San Diego
  7. San Francisco
  8. Chicago
  9. New York
  10. Portland, Oregon

Austin, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee and Fort Lauderdale, Florida, made the list at 11th, 19th, 23rd and 28th, respectively.

Other cities on the list include Spokane, Washington, 54th; Pittsburgh 35th, Seattle 12th, Tulsa, Oklahoma, No. 46th, and Memphis, Tennessee, 51st.

The full list ranking 182 cities can be found at WalletHub.

Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this story.

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Valentine’s Day takes on special meaning for parents of hospitalized babies

Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 @ 10:31 AM
Updated: Friday, February 09, 2018 @ 7:02 AM

NICU Babies Warming Hearts For Valentine’s Day

Hospitalized babies can pull at the heart strings of even the most courageous among us.

When babies are sick or born prematurely, the families of these children are under enormous emotional and, often, financial pressure.

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Some 380,000 babies, or one in every 10, are born prematurely, before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in the United States every year, the March of Dimes estimated. Most end up in the hospital in the neonatal intensive care unit, or NICU, the March of Dimes said.

In Kansas City, Missouri the March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program at Saint Luke’s Hospital is aware of the hardships parents face when their babies are hospitalized. That’s why they planned a special Valentine’s Day celebration in recent years.

Related: Valentine's Day: List ranks some of the nation's best places to celebrate

The staff and volunteers, calling it a “special celebration of love,” assembled tiny knit caps with hearts that each baby in their care will wear for a special Valentine’s Day photo shoot. They’re also making baby footprint valentines for the parents.

“Every day a child is in the NICU can be frightening and uncertain, but holidays are especially tough, as families miss the normal joys of celebrations at home,” March of Dimes NICU Family Support coordinator, Rebecca Keunen said in a press release.

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The nonprofit developed the NICU Family Support program to help families while their babies are in the intensive care unit, but even when these babies leave the hospital, they often face serious health challenges. The March of Dimes said these children are at higher risks for lifelong disabilities, including breathing problems, cerebral palsy and intellectual delays.

The March of Dimes is a nonprofit organization that focuses on pregnancy, baby health and conducts research into premature births.
   

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Valentine’s Day: List ranks some of nation’s best places to spend the holiday

Published: Monday, February 06, 2017 @ 9:02 PM
Updated: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 2:35 PM

The History Of Valentine’s Day

Some cities are better choices than others if you’ve got a special someone in your life this Valentine’s Day, according to one list.

Personal finance website WalletHub has a new ranking of  the top 10 best cities in the country’s 100 most-populated cities to spend Valentine’s Day.

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To come up with the list, analysts studied the cities across four factors: budget, activities, gift accessibility and weather forecast.

Scores for the key dimensions were then calculated based on 20 relevant metrics such as average movie ticket price, the price of a three-course meal for two, restaurants, jewelry stores and florists per capita, walkability and temperature variations.

Atlanta came in at No. 18 on the list and scored high in the activities and gift accessibility dimensions. Las Vegas topped Atlanta at No. 3.

Seattle came in eighth; Honolulu, Hawaii, ninth; Orlando, Florida, fourth; and San Diego came in second..

Cities in which you may not want to spend Valentine's Day, according to the site, are Cleveland, Ohio; Detroit, Newark, New Jersey; and Miami, Florida. They were all in the lower half of the 100-item list.

The best place in the nation to spend the holiday, according to WalletHub, is San Francisco, California. And the worst is Hialeah, Florida.

Here are the top 10 best places to spend Valentine’s Day in America, according to WalletHub:
  1. San Francisco, California
  2. San Diego, California
  3. Las Vegas, Nevada
  4. Orlando, Florida
  5. Chicago, Illinois
  6. New York City
  7. Portland, Oregon
  8. Seattle, Washington
  9. Honolulu, Hawaii
  10. Los Angeles, California
  11. For more on the study, visit WalletHub.
 

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