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Archive for December, 2011

Ready to return gifts?

Buy Ugly Sweaters

Buy Ugly Sweaters

Atlanta Bargain Hunter has posted tips from an expert on how to make gift returns a smooth process. It covers everything from what you need to return an item to restocking fees and online returns. We hope you find the information useful as you get ready to head to the mall and return those well-intentioned but undesirable gifts.

Do you have any advice on gift returning? What’s the worst gift you received this holiday season?

Continue reading Ready to return gifts? »

Last-minute gift ideas

Laretta Houston

Laretta Houston

There are only two shopping days left before Christmas, and perhaps you’re scrambling to find last-minute gifts for a friend, coworker or relative. Maybe you just need a hostess gift for that party or dinner you’re headed to this weekend. Here are a few things that you could pick up in a pinch and still look like you’d had it planned out all along:

SoRen Tea – Earlier this year, sister Sonnia Shields and Rena Williams launched SoRen Tea, LLC, a gourmet blend of loose teas. SoRen’s Tea’s signature collection features eight blends (including Cashmere Crème, Coco Chic, Vanilla Rouge, Citrine Blossom) that come packaged in sleek black tins. The teas are available at Spa Sydell at the Forum at Peachtree Parkway in Norcross, and Eleven Market at the Loews Hotel in Midtown. (Retails for $16.95 to $21.95) The classic holiday tote, which features Vintage Black, Bohemian Peach and Posh Noir blends retails for $54.50.


See's Candies

See's Candies

Chocolate …

Continue reading Last-minute gift ideas »

Looking for entertainment options on Christmas Day?

Even many churches are taking a holiday on Christmas, including North Metro Church in Marietta. That doesn't mean there's nothing to do on Christmas Day, though. We have a few suggestions. Photo: Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Even many churches are taking a holiday on Christmas, including North Metro Church in Marietta. That doesn't mean there's nothing to do on Christmas Day, though. We have a few suggestions. Photo: Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

There aren’t many options if you’re planning to get out of the house on Christmas Day. Even many churches have closed up shop to allow church employees and volunteers to spend the day with family, as the AJC reported earlier this week.

But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Most of the Christmas light shows will be shining bright, Horizon Theatre Company’s production of “The Santaland Diaries” will hit the stage at 8 p.m. Christmas night and Atlanta music legend Col. Bruce Hampton will play a free show at the Five Spot.

After the family, food and presents, if you’re looking for something to do Christmas Day, here’s a list of possibilities:

Col. Bruce Hampton And the Pharoah Gumit. 9 p.m. Dec. 25. Free. Five Spot.
Magical Nights of Lights. 5-10 p.m. …

Continue reading Looking for entertainment options on Christmas Day? »

Worst Christmas songs?

You might want a little nip of something strong, like Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa" here, before being subjected to some of these tunes again and again. Photo courtesy Tracy Bennett and Miramax Films

You might want a little nip of something strong, like Billy Bob Thornton in "Bad Santa" here, before being subjected to some of these tunes again and again. Photo courtesy Tracy Bennett and Miramax Films

It’s a season of joy and peace, but for some, a few of those Christmas songs are enough to make them want to steer that one-horse open sleigh into a snow bank. Our own Atlanta Braves have even contributed to the holiday noise pollution, but we’ll get to that.

A pair of websites have marked the holiday by weighing in on the musical coal in our Christmas stockings, including MSNBC and Jezebel.

MSNBC takes a look at the “11 Christmas songs we hope never to hear again.” Some of their choices aren’t surprising. There’s been plenty of disdain for Paul McCartney’s best-known contribution to the Christmas canon and MSNBC calls “Wonderful Christmastime” a “strangled-by-synthesizer mess.” A few of the site’s other choices might not be so agreeable to the Christmas music lovers out there …

Continue reading Worst Christmas songs? »

Musical year-end best-of lists, critics weigh in

"Parallax" by Atlas Sound, a project from Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, is among several albums from Georgia musicians showing up on year-end lists. The Black Lips' "Arabia Mountain," Mastodon's "The Hunter" and Washed Out's "Within and Without" are also making year-end best-of appearances.

"Parallax" by Atlas Sound, a project from Deerhunter's Bradford Cox, is among several albums from Georgia musicians showing up on year-end lists. The Black Lips' "Arabia Mountain," Mastodon's "The Hunter" and Washed Out's "Within and Without" are also making year-end best-of appearances.

This time of year is a list-lovers dream. The year-end best-of lists are coming fast and furious, and the best albums lists are the perfect conversation starter.

Among our favorites is Pop Matters exhaustive musical look back at 2011, which includes more than 20 lists, from the 20 Worst Albums to Best Rhythm and Blues to Best Indie Rock. You could explore these lists for days, and it’s likely you’ll find plenty to agree with and plenty of choices that will baffle and annoy.

Another list we always look forward to is from Decatur’s own Paste magazine. Paste’s 50 Best Albums of 2011 has a lot in common with Pop Matters’ take, especially near the top of the list.

That’s just the tip of the musical …

Continue reading Musical year-end best-of lists, critics weigh in »

Worst Christmas movies

Even Ben Affleck had to know "Surviving Christmas" was a stinker.

Even Ben Affleck had to know "Surviving Christmas" was a stinker.

Everyone has their favorite holiday movies — chances are “It’s A Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” are on the list — but for every “Miracle on 34th Street,” there’s a “Santa With Muscles,” a Hulk Hogan vehicle about “an evil millionaire who gets amnesia and then believes that he is Santa Claus,” according to IMDB.

It’s Christmas clunkers like this that online ticket seller Fandango had in mind when it launched its contest for the 10 worst Christmas movie of all time. A customer poll helped shape the list, which is topped by the it-sounds-so-bad-it-might-be-good entry “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.” It might not have a touching epiphany wherein George Bailey realizes how much he has to be grateful for, but it does have Kris Kringle doing battle with ’60s era tinfoil robot aliens. And when you can’t stomach hearing Zuzu talk about angels getting their wings for the millionth time, that actually doesn’t …

Continue reading Worst Christmas movies »

Free show:The Band Perry at Atlantic Station Friday

Sibling trio the Band Perry at the Grammy Nominations Concert Nov. 30. Photo: Chris Pizzello / AP

Sibling trio the Band Perry at the Grammy Nominations Concert Nov. 30. Photo: Chris Pizzello / AP

Atlantic Station’s free weekly Winter Wonder Jam, which began Dec. 2 with a concert from Citizen Cope, concludes this week with the Band Perry.

Citizen Cope was followed by Sister Hazel and Gavin DeGraw, but this week’s final show might be the biggest yet.

The sibling trio  scored a No. 1 country hit in 2010 with “If I Die Young” (which was also a Top 20 pop hit and the Country Music Association’s single and song of the year). They followed that up with “You Lie,” which climbed to No. 2. The band’s latest single, “ All Your Life,” just moved into the Top 10 and shows no sign of slowing down.

How often do you get to see a free show from a band that just scored the most wins at the Country Music Association awards ceremony? Everybody wins with this one. The show starts at 7 p.m. in Atlantic Station’s Central Park.

Continue reading Free show:The Band Perry at Atlantic Station Friday »

Kardashian family unveils 2011 Christmas card

Never missing an opportunity to promote their brand, the Kardashian family has revealed images from their 2011 Christmas card photo shoot. You can go check out the images on Kim Kardashian’s website.

kardashian christmas card

kimkardashian.celebuzz.com

There’s even a 3-D image included! There’s not a single ugly Christmas sweater to be found. Instead, they broke out the evening wear, going for a sophisticated style this holiday season.

Do you think Kim Kardashian’s ex Kris Humphries will receive a card this year?

Continue reading Kardashian family unveils 2011 Christmas card »

Google introduces ‘let it snow’ Easter egg

Google is known for marking big events by altering their homepage with interactive elements for users. They honor birthdays and anniversaries of famous people and events on a regular basis. Now Google takes on the holidays.

Warning: The Google snow effect will cause your screen to frost.

Warning: The Google snow effect will cause your screen to frost.

Head to Google. In the search bar, type “let it snow.” Hit enter and you will start to see virtual snowflakes cascade down your computer screen. Wait several seconds and the search results will frost over, allowing you to write over it with your mouse, just like you would use your finger to draw on a fogged up window or mirror.

Need to get back to work? Just click defrost next to the search bar and you are back in business.

What do you think of Google’s latest Easter egg?

Continue reading Google introduces ‘let it snow’ Easter egg »

Home for the holidays | Share your story

Send a holiday gift for the soldiers and their loved ones back home.

AP

AP

We are seeking your photos of family members in the military returning home this holiday season. Though the last U.S. troops have left Iraq, not everyone in the military can come home for the holidays, feel free to upload a photo and holiday message for your loved one serving their country in the States or overseas.

You can upload photos and messages by using this online form. Please share with any military families that you know in the metro Atlanta area.

See the many happy faces during this month’s historic moment,  as families were reunited.

Continue reading Home for the holidays | Share your story »