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Best Friend Birthday Gift Ideas

(category: Holidays, Word count: 319)
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Whatever your age, you want to give your best friend something really special for his or her birthday to show that you appreciate their friendship. Sometimes we feel at a loss because we think that they have everything they could possibly want or use. Not so! There's always something that will have a special meaning because you gave it. Here are some best friend birthday gift ideas that you may have never considered before.

1. For the art lover. Looking for something unusual for those folks who have everything? Instead of jumping in the car and heading for the mall, keep your computer powered up and let your fingers do the shopping at the online stores of American museums and other sites that specialize in replicas of ancient and modern art.

2.For the wine lover. A gift of wine is an excellent expression of how you feel. Now, at many wine online merchants, you can have wine bottles personalized to show how much you care. It doesn't matter whether this is your friend's first time experiencing the wonders of the fruit of the vine, or if he is a serious collector with a large wine cellar. Or, consider a personalized engraved bottle of champagne and toasting glasses.

3. For the environmentalist: Eco-friendly doesn't have to mean drab. There are many, many products that are made from recycled materials of all kind - beer cans that have been made into mugs, tumblers made from recycled glass, sets of bamboo plates, etc. There are many online sites featuring wonderful gifts made from recycled things. Just browse through them and you'll come up with some great best friend birthday gift ideas!

4. For the music lover. Here's one that will top the list of best friend birthday gift ideas:

Make up a CD of #1 songs from the year they were born up to now

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Gifts For Men

(category: Holidays, Word count: 479)
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Here come the holidays and you need to find gifts for men, be they family or friends. Don't worry, I've already blown hours snooping around on the Internet to find the gifts.

Gifts for Men

First things first. No sweaters. Not this year! Instead, give some thought to these gifts for men.

1. Orange County Choppers - The hit television show has spawned a revival of the real man image. If you haven't seen the show, the Teutul family builds choppers and more or less argue with each other. From a 9-ll memorial chopper for the New York Fire Department to specialized themes, men love this show. You can buy a chopper for $50,000 or so, but should probably stick to hats, shirts and the like for $20 on up.

2. The Sopranos 5th Season on DVD - Perhaps you've heard of the show? Apparently they are going to make new episodes, but it may be a few years before we see any of them. To tide the man in your life over, the 5th season of the show is out on DVD and is sure to be a winning hit with him. Expect to pay $60 or so at online retailers.

3. The Sling Box - There is that one new gadget that comes out every year and is a must have. Welcome to Sling Box, the 2005 must have gadget. Sling box is a device that lets you hook a television up to any media matter and watch it from anywhere. It can be used to feed your laptop computer so you can watch news, the markets or sports in coffee shops, work and so on. The device is simple to use and the ultimate gadget for men this year. Expect to pay in the low $200s with rebates.

4. Peet Shoe Dryer - Whether snow, slush or rain, nothing is worse than putting on wet shoes. The Peet Shoe Dryer takes care of this. You simply mount boots and shoes upside down on two posts. Warm air is pumped up through the posts to dry out the shoes. Safe for leather, canvas and any material. Expect to pay $35 or so online through December.

5. Nomad Adventure Journals - If you're buying for a person that loves the outdoors or to travel, Nomad Writing Journals make great gifts. These journals are tailored to activities such as travel, fly fishing, bird watching, backpacking, camping, rock climbing and so on. They come with or without a case and provide writing space as well as cues for writing down important information. A great keepsake to preserve their travel and outdoor experiences. The journals cost as low as $9 without waterproof case and $25 with case.

Any of these gifts for men will be hit. You can find them all online through search engines.

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Christmas Stress Relief 7 Simple Tips

(category: Holidays, Word count: 706)
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Everyone loves Christmas, but the biggest complaint I hear is, "It gets too hectic." It's still the favorite season for most of us, but we do get tired. We still have to make a living; we still have to maintain our daily lives and then we add shopping for gifts, wrapping the gifts, decorating, entertaining or attending parties and possibly baking. It's fun and festive, but we get tired.

Take some of the stress out of Christmas. Don't wait until the Christmas season begins to start thinking about it. Plan ahead and you'll enjoy it even more. Here are seven stress-relieving tips to make your favorite holiday relaxed and worry-free.

Decide Who You Want To Buy For

Make a list of the people you want to buy gifts for: Recipients. Keep it with you as a reminder, or at the least, keep it in your head. Open your eyes and window shop. When you see something you know you like, go ahead and buy it. And think outside the box. When you shop all year, you have the opportunity to do this. Every Christmas gift doesn't have to be a sweater or winter-type gift.

Shop From Home

Shop on the Internet. Have fun and explore. Many gift sites run promotionals off-and-on year round. When you're not under pressure to buy immediately, you have time to "window shop". And don't forget to keep your gift list in front of you.

Record What You Buy

Make a list of the gifts that you buy: Gifts Purchased. Each time you make a gift purchase, whether it's on the Internet or in the store, put it on the list. If you know specifically to whom you are giving it, put his or her name next to it. Go back to your Recipients list and write the name of the gift next to the person you are giving it to. You now have a cross-reference. Sound too complicated and organized? It's not. It's really easy. If you don't make some kind of notes, you'll get real confused when it comes time to wrap. You won't remember who was supposed to get what.

Buy Decorations In The Off-Season

Buy Christmas decorations year-round on the Internet. And in the off-season you can get them at reduced prices. Buy your decorations all year and when the Christmas season arrives, you'll be ready.

Wrap Sooner Not Later

As soon as Christmas wrapping paper is placed on the shelves, start selecting and buying. By this time, you should have a shelf full of presents to wrap. Wrap at your leisure; a few at a time or all at once. Just enjoy it. You have time to make the presents look outstanding. Give them that added decorative touch that will make the recipient feel special and give you the opportunity to be creative.

Record What You Wrap

You have two lists to cross-reference. Check off or make changes as necessary. If you didn't make a list, you should make one now. Don't make the mistake I made one year. I got all my wrapping done early, and by the time Christmas came, I couldn't remember what I was giving everyone or exactly what it looked like. I remember wishing I had a digital camera. I could have taken pictures of the presents before wrapping them. I don't have to worry about that now. I have a list and a digital camera.

Collect Recipes

Don't wait until you have to prepare a dish for a party to decide what you want to make. Start collecting recipes from magazines and friends. But don't stop there. You have plenty of times to try them out. Put stars beside the ones you especially like and will be proud to serve. When the time comes, it will be fast and easy to make choices.

Christmas can be a pleasure, even before the season begins. Enjoy your window-shopping whether it's in the stores or on the Internet. But be ready to buy when you see something you like. Make your choices wisely and keep up with your lists. Following this plan will be a great stress reliever come Christmas time. Have fun and keep on enjoying Christmas.

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Gifts For Guys

(category: Holidays, Word count: 517)
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When buying gifts for guys, you want to go with something masculine and unusual. Gadgets are always good gifts for guys, but there's so much more you can give.

Gifts for Guys

And a one...and a two...

1. Dave Chappelle Show - Season 2 - The Chappelle Show has reached legendary status with men and women alike. The funniest stuff on television, Chappelle's show is a unique combination of skits that put Saturday Night Live to shame. From the blind KKK leader who didn't realize he was Afro-American to the sex scandals between the masters and padwans on Star Wars [hint, there's a reason Darth Vader went to the Dark Side!] Expect to pay $50 or so and grab season 1 while you're at it.

2. Guide Gear Snow Shoes - If you love with the white stuff, these ultra modern snow shoes make great gifts. These snow shoes are ultra light, with heal stomp pads to keep you from slipping and a tailored shape that makes for easy, quick movements. Expect to pay between $65 and $90 depending upon the size.

3. Gladiator School - Watching the movie, Gladiator, each of us had a moment where we pictured ourselves on the floor of the coliseum. Well, now you can give someone the ultimate travel gift. Yep, Gladiator lessons in Rome, Italy. Located on the ancient Appian rode where Spartacus met his end, the Gladiator School offers a variety of lessons in the theory and actual combat techniques of the Gladiators. You will actually cross swords with others. Courses range from on day to four months.

4. Michael Palin's Himalayas DVD - If you've never seen a Michael Palin travel movie, you are truly missing out. He began doing them in the 1990s for the BBC, but stopped for a long time. Now the former Monty Python member has come out with Himalayas, a DVD collection in which he travels from one end of the Himalayas to the other. In his usual hilarious style, he opines on the view from the highest bathroom in the world, the chance of getting shot in the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan and so on. A must have for anyone interested in the world. The DVD collection will set you back $40 online and leave you laughing in tears.

5. Nomad Writing Journals - If you're buying for a person that loves the outdoors or to travel, Nomad Writing Journals make great gifts. These journals are tailored to activities such as travel, fly fishing, bird watching, backpacking, camping, rock climbing and so on. They come with or without a case and provide writing space as well as cues for writing down important information. A great keepsake to preserve their travel and outdoor experiences. The journals cost as low as $9 without waterproof case and $25 with case.

See, there are plenty of gifts for guys out there. This list should give you a good place to start. Give him lessons at the Gladiator School in Italy, and he'll weep for joy like a small child.

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Halloween Wallpapers Getting The Best Of The Net

(category: Holidays, Word count: 223)
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Halloween is a festival of innocent joy and fun. Halloween has the spirit of enjoyment that is incomparable. Bring this spirit of Halloween on your boring desktop. Bring some joy in your life that gets hammered by deadlines, stress and relationship and financial issues all the time. Get out of the stress for sometime by downloading the best the net offers of Halloween wallpapers.

Halloween wallpapers- what to look for?

Look for real dark and threatening images. Look for images with connect with you in some way. Images that remind you of your earlier Halloween are the best bet. They will always make you feel nostalgic. Whenever you get bored banging your keyboard, watch the wallpapers and go back into time. You have aright to have fun and enjoyment. Claim it.

Halloween wallpapers- from which website

Every good website offers wallpapers on Halloween. You will have problem to decide about the website from where you should download. Here is a quick tip. Download one or two wallpapers and look at them. Are they good in design and layout? Will you feel happy keeping them on your desktop? If yes, go ahead and download more. Download as many as you want. JPG wallpapers do not weigh much. Keep on changing the wallpaper everyday and have fun.

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Unique Gifts

(category: Holidays, Word count: 498)
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Unique gifts can be hard to come by regardless of whether you're buying for the holidays, birthdays or special occasions. Here's a list of unique gifts for all occasions.

Unique Gifts

Practical gifts are always appreciated, but giving unique gifts really set you apart from others. You can find all of the following unique gifts by search for the name online.

1. Laser Baseball - .If you're buying for a guy or gal that loves baseball, this is a unique gift that will make them smile. Have you ever gone to a game and tested your arm to see how fast you can throw a baseball. You basically throw into a big cage and a reading comes up on the display. Well, the laser baseball is the same thing, but without the cage. The ball comes with a laser built into it as well as a little display. It measure the speed on impact with a wall, glove or you face on a bad hop. The laser baseball will set you back about $30.

2. Robopet - All the joy of a pet without the food bill and mess. Robopet is a mechanical puppy that has all the characteristics of a real puppy without the destructive tendencies. Robopet will roll over, beg, walk, lie down, shake hands and scratch. You even teach it good and bad behavior with a control pad. This experiment in modern biomechanics is pretty amazing and definitely belongs on the list of unusual gifts. Expect to pay $90 or so with online retailers.

3. Electronic Locater - Whether we are talking about your keys, the remote for the television or the cell phone, we've all lost them and wondered around trying to remember where they are. This, of course, usually occurs when we are in a rush, which leads to massive stress. The electronic locater takes care of this problem for you. The device comes with little magnetic pads you connect to items you lose often. When you've misplaced your keys, for instance, you just hit the appropriate button on the locator and the pad on item will make a beeping noise. Find the noise and you'll find your missing phone, keys and so on. The electronic locater will set you back roughly $50 and save you a lot of stress in the morning. .

4. Nomad Writing Journals - If you're buying for someone who loves the outdoors or traveling, Nomad Writing Journals make great gifts. These journals are tailored to activities such as travel, fly fishing, bird watching, backpacking, camping, rock climbing and so on. They come with or without a case and provide writing space as well as cues for writing down important information. A great keepsakes that start as low as $9 without waterproof case and $25 with case.

You wanted unique gift ideas, well you got them. Any of these unique gifts will get a smile from the person you are giving them to.

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Money At Christmas Surviving The Festive Period Without A New Year Financial Hangover

(category: Holidays, Word count: 902)
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Money always seems to be tight. Every year at Christmas the financial situation always seems to get worse. Increased electricity and heating bills to pay, expensive party food to purchase, presents to buy, travel costs to visit relatives, the list seems to be endless, while finances are certainly not. It is the season to be jolly, whilst trying to forget the long-term costs which will emerge in the New Year.

What can be done to reduce the New Year financial hangover?

Firstly, ensure your incoming finances are being maximised.

If you are in work, is there any part time or freelance work that you can do? Often jobs such as supermarket shelf stacking can be made to fit in around other commitments, while websites such as Dobiz ( http://www.dobiz.net ) have started springing up to get freelancers and businesses together. Selling on eBay or simply returning unwanted gifts can help recover some of your own expenditure.

If you are not working, then obtaining a job is the most important thing to do. Use the facilities that are available. The Jobcentre can provide some help, but it is frequently better to sign up with several agencies who specialise in your own area of expertise. A quick geographically based Google search will normally locate appropriate organisation in your area. As well as using specialist agencies, it is always a good idea to sign up to a couple of general agencies in order to get some form of temporary work, as these can often provide short or long term contracts to keep your finances above water, and they can be given up without much of a period of notice and they look better on a CV than a period without any work at all. If you need help with CV's or interviews, then internet searches can provide many sites that will be able to help, like Capita ( http://www.capitapd.co.uk ) or Jobseekersadvice ( http://www.jobseekersadvice.com ).

Regardless of your employment situation, you also need to maximise the money you have already. If you are using store cards to make your purchases, don't. Unless you always pay off the entire balance every month, you will be paying more than you have to. Store cards usually have a very high rate of interest, and you should be able to get a much better rate if you use a credit card. If you are using a credit card to make most of your purchases, what is the APR of that card, and could you get a better rate? Many credit cards currently offer introductory 0% transfer rates, and the increased competition to handle your finances is leading to lower APRs all round. If you have a loan, could you get a better deal? Are you getting the best return on your investments? Comparison websites like Moneynet ( http:www.//moneynet.co.uk ) or Fool ( http://www.fool.co.uk ) are there to enable you to check these details for free, quickly and easily, in order to make your money work for you.

The next thing to do is to try to reduce your outgoings. Budgeting is a good way to reduce costs. By highlighting how much your regular incoming and outgoings are, it is often easy to spot areas that can make huge differences. Most people find that instead of having very little money to spend each month, they are actually frittering away small amounts all the time. This pattern of small spending rapidly mounts up, and can leave little left over to spend on the things that you feel are really worthwhile. Keeping a daily record of your spending is a simple step to take but it can also show where important cuts can be made.

Other ways to reduce costs at Christmas include recycling last year's decorations, only buying food that will be eaten, rather than obtaining large quantities that will end up being thrown away. Do most of your shopping online to save money on presents. Due to the lower costs of running a shop online, the price of goods can be considerably lower than in the High Street. Sites such as Kelkoo ( http://www.Kelkoo.co.uk ) and Pricerunner ( http://www.pricerunner.co.uk ) enable you to compare prices from various suppliers and find the cheapest. Even if you prefer to buy on the High Street it can still be worth going armed with prices from these sites as many High Street shops will discount if they know they are beaten on price.

If you don't win the lottery in the New Year and still feel that things have got out of control then you need to seek advice from one of the free advice organisations that are set up to help. The National Debtline ( http://www.nationaldebtline.co.uk ) and the Foundation for Credit Counselling ( http://www.cccs.co.uk ) are two non-profit making charities that can help with guides and free personal advice.

Regardless of whether you are trying not to shed those few extra pounds, or recover from debt problems, a few small actions like this can make a large difference to your New Year.

Disclaimer:

All information contained in this article, is for general information purposes only and should not be construed as advice under the Financial Services Act 1986.

You are strongly advised to take appropriate professional and legal advice before entering into any binding contracts.

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It Was A Christmas Miracle

(category: Holidays, Word count: 429)
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So there we were, awkwardly staring at one another in utter disbelief that nobody could figure it out. It was a week before Christmas, and all through the house, your narrator was fuming....I could smash my mouse! We were trying to put up our Christmas tree, and we weren't having much luck. Bah Humbug!!

My family and I went out early that morning to find the perfect tree. I filled up a thermos with hot apple cider, and got the kids ready to go. The three of them got on our big old sleigh, and my husband and I took turns pulling them through the bush. We live out in the country, and we have this majestic forest on the back of our land. Every year we go out together and find the perfect tree, and the children each have a hand in cutting it down. It has become a wonderful family tradition.

We returned home and had some lunch while the tree thawed out, and then I gathered the boxes of decorations from the basement. We finally got the tree into the stand, and started stringing the lights. My husband suggested that we test the lights first, but I didn't see the point. I strung all of the lights, plugged them in, and nothing happened. He didn't even bother to say "I told you so"!

I decided to remove the lights from the tree, and swore that I would find the bulb that was causing us so much trouble. I spent the next hour or so changing and replacing each and every bulb on the string. I plugged them back in, and nothing happened. I was fast becoming the Scrooge!

By this time my husband was playing on the computer, and the kids were having a snowball fight in the yard. I decided it was time for some Egg Nog. When I returned, my husband was examining each of the bulbs. He told me that the circuit was being broken somehow, and that in time he would figure it out. Five minutes later, the lights were aglow! In his hand, he held one little bulb.

Apparently the bulbs that we use today have their standard filament, but they also have a secondary shunt wire that maintains the circuit if the filament burns out. As it turns out, the shunt wire in this one little bulb was defective. A short while later we were all sipping hot cocoa under our beautiful sparkling tree. To me, it was nothing short of a Christmas miracle!

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Which Came First Santa Or The Christmas Tree

(category: Holidays, Word count: 549)
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You think Santa Claus and decorated trees when you think Christmas, right? The Jolly One probably comes first as the number one symbol of the holiday, but there's no mistaking that Christmas trees are nearly just as important when it comes to celebrating the holiday right.

Santa Claus and Christmas trees are so intertwined, so connected, in how we celebrate, it makes one think that Santa maybe even invented the Christmas tree. After all, it's Santa who places everyone's presents underneath the tree. Maybe back in the old days, before trees, he used to place presents under children's beds and in the bathtub. And maybe eventually he got tired of it, and instead invented Christmas trees as a convenient and fun place for him to leave presents. Makes sense, right?

Maybe, but Santa had little to do with the real reason that Christmas trees came about. Sorry to disappoint you folks, but it was actually German Christians who started the Christmas tree celebration, way back in the 1500s. And as for decorating these trees, the story goes that one of the top Christians of them all, Martin Luther, started decorating his family's tree in the 1500s with lit candles. He got the idea one night walking home under the stars.

Then the idea really caught on in the mid-1800s, when the Queen of England and her children started decorating a tree for Christmas. Sketches of the royal family with their decorations got put in all the major newspapers, and soon every good Englishman was starting a new family tradition: decorating their house and home with colorful decorations and freshly smelling, beautifully green evergreen trees.

In America, however, we were a little bit slow, not just with decorating Christmas trees but with celebrating Santa Claus and anything else 'extra' in their Christmas festivities. That's because up until the very end of the 1800s, Americans saw Christmas as a very religious holiday. There was no room for chubby men in red suits, or bright decorations and candles, and even a Christmas tree. All Americans did back then was go to church service. Period.

But then the Queen of England enjoyed her Christmas tree. And many immigrants to the United States, especially the German ones, celebrated December 25 with trees, lights, and holiday cheer. Eventually, the fun caught on. In true American fashion, though, Americans not only took on the tradition of Christmas trees and decorations, they improved on it. Every thing had to be bigger, better, and more festive!

For example, at the turn of the 20th century, Europeans tended to like their trees manageable, at only about the height of your typical sixth grader. But when Americans started catching on to the tree tradition, they decided they liked their trees big, so big that they touched the ceiling of their homes.

Then Americans took it one step further with the invention of electricity in homes. Trees were braided with strings of multicolored lights. Homes were covered with decorations of every color, blinking lights, and Santa Claus statues with his sleigh of reindeer. Even towns and cities started setting up Santa Claus displays around Town Hall, as well as Christmas trees that reached to the sky.

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