Christmas 2017: 20 darling couples gifts that your daughter-in-law will actually like

Published: Thursday, December 07, 2017 @ 10:44 AM

Nearly 7 In 10 Americans In New Survey Say They’d Give Up Giving Gifts This Holiday Season

When your adult child gets married, you double the holiday fun if you're lucky. But you also multiply the gift-giving quandaries.

After all, you've had a whole lifetime to get to know your child's gift preferences. Working another person into the equation can be an occasion for advice-column-level misunderstandings, burst budgets and a new family tradition of re-gifting. As they noted at Grandparents.com, "Even seemingly harmless, well-intentioned gifts can come off as loaded with innuendo."

RELATED: These are the best gift cards of the 2017 holiday season

Care to avoid all that? With some careful planning and heightened sensitivity, you can give couples gifts that will bring glad tidings to your child and the spouse. You may even save a little money.

Here are 20 inspiring couples gifts for married children:

Night out/night in offerings: If you've heard your child or in-law longing for more date nights, make it happen. But only after some careful consulting with at least one half of the couple. Then bring out your best date-night encouragement. A few examples include (1) a gift card for five nights at the bar that hosts their favorite trivia night; (2) a gift card to a movie theater that offers recliner seating and the biggest blockbusters; (3) a Visa card in the exact amount they need to hire their favorite babysitter; or (4) an Uber gift card so they can leave the driving to someone else and just relax on their date.

If the couple in question is more likely to savor a night in, consider (5) a subscription to the classic cable station's TMC Wine Club that includes hand-selected, high-quality wines (a few of them movie-themed) paired with movie-viewing suggestions by the film-loving folks at TCM.

Gifts for the couple on a budget: There is no bigger thorn in a recipient's side than getting knickknacks when each month's budget involves struggling to pay for basics like the water bill. To give a gift that doesn't humiliate or pity but still recognizes that the couple is working on limited means, consider practical but luxurious gifts like (6) new tires, (7) a gift card to an upscale grocery store like Whole Foods or (8) lots of ones and fives with instructions to take them on a spree to their favorite flea market or junk store. If their budget won't allow for many luxuries, a great choice is (9) an Amazon Prime membership, which combines practicality with wallet-friendly entertainment. You can opt for three or 12 months, and your child and his or her spouse will get free two-day shipping on millions of items. They can also read Kindle books, watch movies and television shows on Prime Video and stream songs.

Also, consider giving the couple something luxurious to look forward to this spring with (10) a gift card to a local nursery for plants for the garden or shrubs for added curb appeal. If you imagine they'll need it, a corresponding gift card for someone to work in the yard or to build them a raised bed for vegetables will not go amiss. Just be sure to include an add-on houseplant or a pot of forced bulbs from the same greenhouse so they don't feel like Christmas passed them by.

With all gifts for someone on a budget, you should try to make the gifts less utilitarian by adding something festive to the package: a sample of candy or flowers from the specialty grocery store, for example, or a new CD to listen to in the truck. And double-check that you're not giving anything that would involve an extra expenditure for them, like a restaurant gift card that doesn't include the tip.

Edible and potable inspirations: Many a couple gift has been solved with food. But is the recipient really eating your offering? Make sure your child and in-law will revel in the foods you send as Christmas gifts, instead of thinking ho-ho-hum. Delicacies from foodie landmarks across the country beat the heck out of those so-called "gift baskets" with generic packages, some of them oddly-spiced teas or crackers even the food bank can't accept at holiday's end.

A genuine local specialty shipped to your married child's house is much more warmly received than the generic, sometimes stale, gift basket. One good choice is Ghirardelli chocolate from the maker, based in San Francisco.(Contributed by Ghirardelli/For the AJC)

A few classic choices for wonderful food gifts include (9) Ghirardelli chocolate right from the source in San Francisco (the company offers some sweet flat-rate shipping deals), (11) farm-cured country bacon shipped right from where they've been hand curing and trimming it since 1947, Benton's in Madisonville, Tennessee., or unmatchable (12) fresh bagels (and lox, sure, if they want) from Zabar's in New York City. For the foodies who cook, try an assembly of regional specialty ingredients instead of those last-minute pickups from the local gourmet store. Two good choices: (13) a collection of dried heirloom beans or chiles from Southern California's Rancho Gordo, which specializes in New World specialty food, or (14) a selection of flours or other dry ingredients from Norwich, Vermont-based King Arthur Flour, which was founded in 1790.

Another idea in the "everyone loves to eat" category is the omnipresent restaurant gift card, but with a twist. Give them a card for a restaurant they like or will like, and then tack on a cookbook they can use at home to recreate their experience. For example, go for (15) the comfort food favorite Cracker Barrel and add the cookbook A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen by Dora Charles so they can start cooking up a Southern food storm at home if they like.

For the couple who doesn't get out enough or the ones who prefer couch dates, a growler of craft beer and a certificate to have it refilled at the brewery's bar is a great gift. Pictured here, offerings from Shipyard Brewery in Portland, Maine.(Contributed by CraftBeer.com/For the AJC)

As for the potent potables, consider a local craft brewery near your kids' house. Get (16) a growler – hipster talk for refillable container – filled with a favorite craft brew and then some gift cards from the same place so they can come back for fill-ups. This is the time it's super important to make sure you talk up the idea with one or both of "the kids" so you can get something they'll both love. Find some breweries in their area for consideration by consulting Craft Beer.com.

Jason Beck, a zipline guide at Unicoi Aerial Adventure Park, leans back to accelerate as he crosses Smith Lake on the longest of Unicoi's ziplines.(Bo Emerson/Bo Emerson)

Last but not least: You can always resort to tried-and-true couple favorites, as long as you're careful to take into account both halves of the couple's taste. Choices here include (17) a scuba-diving or (18) zip line package or even tickets to (19) a Broadway show. And most any couple will love (20) a couple's massage, once they get used to the idea. If you're feeling extra generous, schedule it while they're visiting you for the holidays and offer to babysit. That way, you can scope out the deal for yourself and your mate, too!

And if you haven't found something to give your child and his or her spouse for Christmas on this list, please peruse a second list: the what-not-to-get suggestions daughters-in-law from Grandparents.com. The items that make that list include exercise equipment, parenting guides, underwear and political or other self-help books.

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What is Earth Day? 5 things to know

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:24 AM

WATCH: Origin of Earth Day

Sunday is Earth Day 2018, and more than one billion people across the globe are expected to celebrate with environmentally friendly events.

But what exactly is Earth Day? Here's what you need to know:

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1. When did Earth Day start?

The first Earth Day celebration took place 48 years ago, in 1970, after a devastating oil spill in America brought environmental issues to the forefront of public consciousness. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 22 million people across the country came out in support of environmental reform.

"That day left a permanent impact on the politics of America," Gaylord Nelson wrote in the April 1980 edition of the EPA Journal. "It forcibly thrust the issue of environmental quality and resources conservation into the political dialogue of the nation.

"It showed political and opinion leadership of the country that the people cared, that they were ready for political action, that the politicians had better get ready, too. In short, Earth Day launched the environmental decade with a bang."

Since then, celebrations have only grown. This year, organizers estimate more than one billion people in 192 countries will participate in events the world over. The day is celebrated each year on April 22.

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2. Is there a theme for Earth Day 2018?

This year, organizers are focusing on curbing plastic pollution.

"Our goals include ending single-use plastics, promoting alternatives to fossil fuel-based materials, promoting 100 percent recycling of plastics, corporate and government accountability and changing human behavior concerning plastics," the Earth Day Network, which partners with tens of thousands of organizations in 192 countries to organize Earth Day events, said on its website.

The organization also said it "will educate millions of people about the health and other risks associated with the use and disposal of plastics, including pollution of our oceans, water, and wildlife, and about the growing body of evidence that decomposing plastics are creating serious global problems."

Read more here.

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3. How are people celebrating?

In Tokyo, thousands of people will attend beach cleanups, concerts, art exhibits, classes and other events coordinated by the Green Room Festival, according to the Earth Day Network. In India's Karnataka state, a "no plastic" event will feature workshops led by "organizations that are champions of environmental sustainability in fields including electric vehicles, solar power and zero-waste living," the network said. Cleanups also were scheduled in Palm Beach, Florida; New York; New Jersey and other locations across the United States and worldwide.

Read more here.

4. What are businesses doing?

Google marked Earth Day with a "video doodle" featuring primatologist Jane Goodall. 

>> Click here to watch

“It is so important in the world today that we feel hopeful and do our part to protect life on Earth," Goodall said. "I am hopeful that this Earth Day Google Doodle will live as a reminder for people across the globe that there is still so much in the world worth fighting for. So much that is beautiful, so many wonderful people working to reverse the harm, to help protect species and their environments. And there are so, so many young people, like those in JGI’s Roots & Shoots program, dedicated to making this a better world. With all of us working together, I am hopeful that it is not too late to turn things around, if we all do our part for this beautiful planet.”

Read more about the doodle here.

Apple also joined in on the celebrations, announcing on April 19 that "for every device received at Apple stores and apple.com through the Apple GiveBack program from now through April 30, the company will make a donation to the nonprofit Conservation International."

In addition, Apple "debuted Daisy, a robot that can more efficiently disassemble iPhone to recover valuable materials," according to a company press release.

“At Apple, we’re constantly working toward smart solutions to address climate change and conserve our planet’s precious resources,” Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environment, policy and social Initiatives, said in a statement. “In recognition of Earth Day, we are making it as simple as possible for our customers to recycle devices and do something good for the planet through Apple GiveBack. We’re also thrilled to introduce Daisy to the world, as she represents what’s possible when innovation and conservation meet.”

Read more here.

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5. How can I get involved?

There are multiple ways to get into the Earth Day spirit, from participating in a local event to changing your bills from paper to paperless. Here are some suggestions from the Earth Day Network:
  • Urge your local elected officials or businesses to make a substantial tree planting commitment by starting a letter-writing campaign or online petition.

  • Lead a recycling drive to collect as much plastic, metal, and glass as possible.

  • Pick up trash at a local park or beach.

  • Set up a screening of an environmentally themed movie. Consider supplementing the screening with a speaker who can lead a Q&A following the film.

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April Fools' Day 2018: See this year's top pranks

Published: Saturday, March 31, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

Fun Facts about April Fools' Day

This year, April Fools’ Day is sharing the spotlight with Easter, but there are still plenty of pranks to be found.

>> Read more trending news 

Along with Easter greetings, companies have been hard at work creating their April Fools’ Day pranks. 

Here is a roundup of the best of them. 

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Why is it called Good Friday and what’s so good about it?

Published: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 20, 2018 @ 10:50 PM

Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.
Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images
Pictured is a mosaic of Jesus Christ inside Messina Cathedral on the Piazza del Duomo in Messina, Sicily.(Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)

Christians believe Jesus was mocked publicly and crucified on a solemn Friday more than two thousand years ago. Today, the calamitous day is celebrated as Good Friday.

But what’s so good about that?

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One answer is that at the time of Jesus’ crucifixion, “good” may have referred to “holy” in Old English, a linguistic theory supported by many language experts.

According to Slate, the Oxford English Dictionary notes the Wednesday before Easter was once called “Good Wednesday.” Today, it’s more commonly known as Holy Wednesday.

And Anatoly Liberman, a University of Minnesota professor who studies the origins of English words, told Slate if we consider the alternative names for Good Friday, such as “Sacred Friday” (romance languages) or “Passion Friday” (Russian), this theory makes a lot of sense.

Another possible reason for its moniker — a theory supported by both linguists and historical evidence — refers to the holiday’s ties to Easter Sunday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ.

Because Jesus couldn’t have been resurrected without dying, the day of his death is, in a sense, “good.”

“That terrible Friday has been called Good Friday because it led to the Resurrection of Jesus and his victory over death and sin and the celebration of Easter, the very pinnacle of Christian celebrations,” the Huffington Post reported.

A third answer, some believe, is that the “good” in Good Friday was derived from "God” or “God’s Friday” — the way the term “goodbye” comes from a contraction of the phrase “God Be With You.”

Fun Facts About Easter

Still, not everyone refers to this day as Good Friday. For example, 

The Catholic Encyclopedia mentions that, in the Greek Church, the holiday is known as "the Holy and Great Friday." In German, it's referred to as "Sorrowful Friday."

And as aforementioned, “Sacred Friday” and “Passion Friday” are also used.

In addition, because the holiday is also commemorated with a long fast, Good Friday was also referred to as “Long Friday” by the Anglo-Saxons.

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'Beware the Ides of March' -- What does that mean?

Published: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 15, 2016 @ 12:40 PM

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Today marks the Ides of March, which may vaguely remind you of a high school English class. Here are some things to know about the 15th day of the month.

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Day marks the assassination of Julius Caesar

Most famously on this date, some 2,060 years ago, Roman dictator Julius Caesar died in an assassination by senators at the Curia of Pompey.

Tensions had been simmering between senators and Caesar before his death, fueled by Caesar's continued consolidation of power. However, Caesar considered the senators his allies. Just a few years before his death, Caesar was named “dictator in perpetuity,” a move that further strained relations.

According to historians, sixty senators planned and participated in the conspiracy to kill Caesar in 44 B.C.

Death marked a turning point in Roman history

Caesar was popular with the lower class people of Rome, who saw his death as an unwelcome decision made by the aristocratic class. With Caesar no longer leading, potential leaders waged war to fill the power vacuum.

The civil wars eventually culminated in the end of the Roman Republic and beginning of the Roman Empire.

'Beware the Ides of March' made famous by Shakespeare

In case you really did forget your high school English class, it's worth noting the phrase “Beware the Ides of March” was immortalized by William Shakespeare in his tragic masterpiece “Julius Caesar.”

In the play, a soothsayer warns Caesar to be careful on March 15, although the ruler ignores the mystic with tragic consequences.

Famous line based on historical events

It may come as a surprise to know the well-known phrase was actually inspired by real events.

According to Greek historian Plutarch, a seer really did warn Caesar that he would be at the very least injured by the Ides of March.

Caesar did not heed the warning.

On the day of his death, he saw the oracle and joked that he had made it to the Ides of March, to which the seer responded the day had not yet ended.

So why is it called the "Ides of March?"

The Romans kept track of days on its calendar by dividing each month up into three separate points marking the beginning, middle and end of the month. You may have guessed it but the Ides fall in the middle of the month, on the 15th of March, May, July and October and the 13th for the rest of the year.

The Ides were sacred and marked a monthly sacrifice to the Roman god Jupiter. Various other religious observances also took place on the Ides of March.

Other famous events on this day

Today isn't the anniversary of Caesar's death. Here are a few other famous events that have happened today in history:
  • 1972: Forty-four years ago (yes, that number is right) Francis Ford Coppola's three-hour crime epic "The Godfather" first played in theaters. Before "Jaws" came along in 1976, the film was the highest-grossing film ever made. It went on to win three Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture.

  • 1917: Czar Nicholas II was forced by the revolting Russian people to abdicate the throne after ruling the country for more than 20 years. The February Revolution -- so named because Russia used the Julian calendar at the time -- broke out just four days before the czar abdicated his throne.

  • 1767: Our seventh president, Andrew Jackson, was born on this day somewhere between the Carolinas near the end of the colonial era. His exact place of birth is disputed.

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