It's the most wonderful time of the year or so they say. But the pressure of finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list can really dull your holiday spirit.
Never fear, Canadian Living is here with 50 fabulous Christmas gift ideas to inspire you this festive season. It's as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Download and print our free Christmas gift budgeting worksheet. 2. Grab a pen. 3. Browse the latest and greatest Christmas gift ideas (see links below) that are sure to be well-received and jot down your top picks.
That's it! You're ready to shop. Before you know it, you'll have a sackful of gifts even Santa would envy.
10 great gifts for your whole family Plan for success with tips and advice for giving great Christmas gifts. The following gift giving guide shows you how to find that perfect present for everyone on your list. Healthy gifts for your friends Choose terrific healthy gifts to help your friends and loved ones ring in a healthy new year. Browse this holiday gift guide and pick out the perfect present for your friends.
Top 10 tech gifts Looking for the perfect gift for the gadget geeks you know and love? Look no further for the best electronic, digitally enhanced technology items, with a little something for any budget.
10 best fashion and beauty gifts under $100 'Tis the season for pretty -- and maybe even unpractical -- things. Canadian Living's fashion and beauty editors share their top picks for affordable yet fabulous holiday gifts.
If you have a fashion or beauty product lover on your list, be sure to check The Fashion & Beauty Blog daily, starting Dec. 1, 2011, as the editors of Canadian Living's style department reveal their favourite picks.
Things you're doing throughout the day could impact how you're sleeping at night. Here are four bad habits to kick for a better bedtime.
Nighttime exercise While daily physical activity is great, you'll sleep much better if you finish your workout at least three hours before your bedtime to allow the stimulating effects of exercise to dissipate. Late-night meals Nix late-night meals, which may interfere with your ability to sleep soundly, and give your body a rest from digestion. Try to finish supper at least three hours before you turn in for the night, and keep any bedtime snacks on the light side.
Alcohol consumption "Alcohol first induces sleep because it's a sedating compound," says Dr. Charles Samuels of Calgary's Centre for Sleep and Human Performance, "but then it disrupts sleep because the alcohol leaves the system very quickly." He adds that the depressant also suppresses REM, or dream, sleep, which the body needs to repair itself. If you have a drink with dinner, however, it will likely clear your system by bedtime, so it shouldn't affect your sleep cycle.
Screen time Staring at your computer, tablet or smartphone until lights-out can curtail your ability to doze off (interestingly, watching TV is fine, as long as it's not done in bed). The light from these devices suppresses the release of sleep-inducing melatonin from our brains, and the stimulation from games, emails and social media keeps our brains active. For best sleep, turn off devices three hours before bedtime and keep all screens out of the bedroom.
The kitchen probably has the most traffic in your home, which means it can also be the messiest. Keep your counters and cabinets clutter-free with these clever storage ideas.
1. Looking good
Display your pretty serving pieces on open shelves and use decorative baskets to house the less attractive and infrequently used kitchen necessities (think small appliances and tools).
2. Mix it up
Varied storage keeps items of different sizes in their place: deep drawers for medium-to-large appliances, stacked shelving for wine bottles and shallow drawers for spices.
3. Within reach
Keep the items you need most, such as cereal and snacks, between waist and eye level, and move the rest of the goods up high or down low.
4. All access
A pull-out pantry allows you to see inventory at a glance and helps keep supplies organized so that nothing gets pushed to the back and out of view.
5. Now you see it
Cabinets that are tucked behind a sliding door will provide a functional space-saving solution to a typical pantry. This storage system can be built along an unused wall in a kitchen. Use it to conceal mismatched boxes, jars and canned goods.
The biggest advantage in a kitchen is accessibility, yet the most common blind spots I see are cabinet shelves that are too high and wasted space between shelves. Whether you've just moved in or you've settled into a kitchen, it's worth the time to adjust shelving to fit the contents and to lower shelves so you can reach what you need. After adjusting the height, you can often add an extra shelf to accommodate wide narrow items, like trays.
Of course you love your pet—but the bills from the vet are another matter. Follow these tips on covering the costs, and on when it might be time to let go.
My late dwarf rabbit Molly was known as the Two-Thousand-Dollar Bunny among my friends. In fact, medical bills for this fluffball—adopted for just 20 bucks—were closer to $3,000 by the end of her life, 11 months after I brought her home.
Molly had Snuffles—not as cute as it sounds. Snuffles, or pasteurellosis, involves sneezing, wheezing, runny eyes and, in my bun’s case, an out-of-control abscess needing daily draining and two rounds of ultimately unsuccessful surgery.
I was a student at the time, and when my vet was talking options and price tags, I can't say every one of the tears I shed was for Molly. Later, as the bills piled up, my then-boyfriend demanded to know exactly where I'd draw the line. I couldn't say. He saw an inversely proportional relationship between the amount I'd spent on a rabbit and my suitability as a life partner. We'd already split up by the time Molly passed away.
Alda Loughlin, practice manager of the Animal Clinic in Toronto, sees many clients struggle with emotionally charged financial decisions about treatment. Here she shares insights into handling high-cost medical care for pets.
People usually underestimate veterinary costs when they're planning to become pet owners. Loughlin relates that her clinic asks prospective animal adoptees how much they expect medical care will cost in the first year.
"How they answer dictates how we'll go forward with the application," she says. "People often think about $500 for a new cat or dog, but you may be looking—without medical problems—at $900 to $1,100, for neutering, exams, vaccinations and microchipping."
If those figures shock you, best get your fix of kitten cuteness on YouTube.
One way of being prepared for big bills is taking out pet insurance; at Loughlin's practice, 30 per cent of clients have policies. While Loughlin supports this precaution, she admits hearing regular complaints about the hoops claimants jump through for reimbursements.
"If people don’t want pet insurance, I suggest they take $30 a month and put it away, or even pay it forward to their vet," she says. Loughlin stashes $100 a month between August and April for her own poodle's annual dental cleaning. "It's good to have a cushion," she says.
Negotiate a payment plan
If you're facing a big bill and you're not covered, your vet may let you pay in installments. "Mention that a treatment is price-sensitive," suggests Loughlin.
Some charitable organizations will help pet owners who are retired, on disability benefits or on a fixed low income and faced with expensive veterinary procedures. In Ontario, pet owners may be eligible for assistance from the Companion Animal Wellness Foundation (requests go through the Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Toronto) or the Farley Foundation, says Loughlin. Ask your vet about similar foundations in your home province.
Do your research
The price tags for treatments can vary quite dramatically from clinic to clinic, so it's OK to shop around, advises Loughlin -- it's a question of balancing out quality and cost. "Call a couple of clinics, ask questions, and be very candid about your pet's condition," she says. She also advises asking exactly what's covered in each quote: is it just the surgery or also the pre-op bloodwork, post-op meds and follow-up visit?
And don't just let cost be the deciding factor. Checking websites with scores and client reviews of local practices or asking your network for recommendations gives you a sense of the level of care you can expect from an unfamiliar vet.
Draw your line
While I couldn't draw a line for my rabbit Molly's medical care, I admit I sometimes felt frustrated that such sophisticated and expensive options even existed as I fell deeper into the red. And I've sometimes wondered if all the interventions were even fair to her.
I polled my friends recently on where they'd draw the line for their own pets. Most said there was no line, but one had an important insight to share, based on her experience paying a fortune to prolong the life of a suffering cat.
"I've regretted the course of treatment we gave my cat who had kidney failure, for more than a decade, but that taught me a lesson," she says. "Find a vet you trust -- one who knows you and your pet well. Just because you can do another test or try another treatment doesn't necessarily mean you should."
Emma Stone has got great style. And what we love the most about it is her complete willingness to throw out the rulebook. She wears pants on the red carpet, she is unafraid of clashing colours and she never lets her petite frame dictate the larger than life style statements she wishes to make.
Whether she opts for a simple t-shirt dress by Calvin Klein, or an intricately embellished number by Valentino, she always looks stunning. But more importantly, she looks like she genuinely enjoys fashion and marches to the beat of her own sartorial drum. A fashion rule we should all follow if you ask us.