Mariah Carey album, fairy lights top Christmas wishlist

After a challenging year for everyone, many Australians are eager to finish 2020 on a festive high note — Sophie Monk included.

The actor, singer, radio and television host, who most recently appeared on Masked Singer: Australia, has already put up her Christmas decorations at her Central Coast property in New South Wales, which she shares with her partner of two years, Joshua Gross.

But that’s not the only Christmas tradition the Aussie talent embraces.

“Fairy lights — I’m obsessed with them. Also Mariah Carey’s Christmas album, I listen to it all year round like a dork,” Monk said.

“I love the weather, people are in a good mood. I love all holidays for the excuse to dress up and have fun with costumes.”

When it comes to sharing her gift-giving expertise, the Fudge ambassador rejects the notion presents have to look perfect under the tree.

“You don’t have to be a good wrapper. I buy really good presents but I’m terrible at wrapping, which actually makes the gift stand out more,” she laughed.

With state borders reopening and domestic travel returning to normal, Monk believes there is more reason than ever to appreciate Australia’s own backyard.

“I think we’ve all just got to enjoy being at home and luckily in Australia we’ve got great weather,” she said.

“We have the best holiday destinations in Australia, so even though we can’t travel [abroad], we’re so lucky that we have such amazing beaches at home.”

With her forthcoming role as the host of Channel 9’s reboot of Beauty and the Geek Australia, Sophie is optimistic for the year ahead and is contemplating a return to music.

“I think all of us hope next year will be better in every way,” she said.

“I’d love to do a bit more music and just keep entertaining people.”

For more Christmas tips and tricks, check out the December edition of Wellness+, included in today’s paper.

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‘Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding’ Lifetime Movie Premiere: Trailer, Synopsis, Cast

“It’s A Wonderful Lifetime” 2020 continues with the network’s first-ever holiday sequel film, “Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding,” a follow-up to the 2019 film, “Merry Liddle Christmas.”

Fans will remember the original film, starring Kelly Rowland as Jacquie Liddle, who, as she geared up to have her home featured in a magazine’s holiday spread, found her wild, crazy and loud family descending upon her instead. As she tried to regain control, she also began to fall for her neighbor, Tyler (Thomas Cadrot), and in the end, not only did she find the love of her life, but she also found a new respect for the family members who manage to drive her crazy.

Now, one year later, the whole gang, including Bresha Webb (Kiara), Jaime M. Callica (Julian), Debbi Morgan (Marchelle), Chris Shields (Wade) and Latonya Williams (Treena), is back, as Jacquie and Tyler’s story takes a new turn.

Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding Kelly Rowland and Thomas Cadrot star in “Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding.” Photo: Courtesy of Lifetime

“’Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding’ once again follows Jacquie Liddle (Rowland), as she and Tyler (Cardot) try to plan their perfect destination Christmas wedding,” the synopsis reads. “Naturally, Jacquie’s plans go awry when her boisterous family intervenes in her planning and her snooty wedding planned quits in protest.”

However, not all will be lost, as Jacquie will once again learn what being a Liddle is all about.

“While nothing goes as initially planned, Jacquie and Tyler get a Christmas wedding more memorable than they could have ever dreamed,” the synopsis says.

“Merry Liddle Christmas Wedding” premieres Saturday, Nov. 28 at 8 p.m. EST on Lifetime.

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ethical and local options for Christmas shopping

If sustainability, ethics and fairness are on your Christmas list, putting in a bulk order at Amazon is not the best way to tick them off. The world’s biggest online retailer may offer quick delivery and competitive prices, but there are reasons to avoid it. One is simply that it is so big, and as it grows its competition falls by the wayside. But it has also been criticised for the low level of corporate tax it pays, and for its treatment of workers.

One option is to support small retailers, from thebristolartisan.com and communityclothing.co.uk to thecrofthouse.com. “Smaller shops have been instrumental in keeping communities going during lockdown, but they’ve also been hit thardest by the pandemic,” says Mike Cherry for the Federation of Small Businesses. “The windfall from [Christmas] sales could be make or break for some of our members.”

Not all small retailers are necessarily ethical, but most are not run through tax havens, and profits are likely to stay in the UK. Choosing a local shop keeps the money even closer to home, as it is likely to spend at least some of its profits with other local businesses and services, too. It may also be easier to get information on sourcing than from a bigger retailer.

“During the crisis we’ve seen a shift to online and this trend is going to be on steroids this Christmas,” says Tim Hunt, co-editor of Ethical Consumer magazine. “You can find a whole raft of small, ethical, independent shops online. It’s as easy to buy from them as from a big-box retailer.”

The first lockdown in spring forced many small businesses to gear up into local or even national delivery, so if you have independent shops nearby, there is a good chance you will still be able to buy from them even if their physical space is closed. Small businesses can also be found on well-known platforms, such as eBay, and sites that showcase their wares, such as Not On The High Street, Etsy or Trouva, which lets you shop from independent boutiques in the UK and Europe. A new site called The Chuffed Store has gifts from a range of tiny British producers – from Yorkshire-based textile artist Kitty Pennybacker to Paper Jungle, a puppet maker in Stroud – including bags, stationery and jewellery.

Video: When to book your Christmas shopping at Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and more (Birmingham Mail)

When to book your Christmas shopping at Aldi, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and more

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For books, Hunt recommends Better World Books, which sells new and secondhand editions, and donates a book for every one you buy. Elsewhere, Bookshop lets you support independent sellers while ordering online – for each book you buy, your local shop receives the full profit. It’s a great alternative to Amazon, but no substitute for visiting your local shop when you can.

Larger shops such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer are also struggling, and by supporting them you could

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Tacoma Gift Guide 2020: 3 shops offering comfort and coziness for Christmas

TACOMA, Wash. — Our first stop is Compass Rose, which is going for a cozy theme this holiday season

“A lot of people are maybe not spending as much so what they do buy they want to take a lot of pride in and be just as excited to give,” says Proctor store manager Tonya Schneider. There is also a Compass Rose in Olympia.

Schneider says Le Crueset cookware, starting at $250, has been a popular seller since the weather turned.

“It’s an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven that will last your lifetime,” she says.

Compass Rose also offers a wide array of cookbooks for those looking for adventures in the kitchen.

Handcrafted Motawi tiles, made in Michigan, range from $40 to $160.

For the budget minded, Compass Rose also offers locally made jewelry and a local soap line called Bicycle Soap Co, both in the $25 range.

Around the block, at the Pacific Northwest Shop, Matt Evans says 2020 should end on a good note.

“We just want to bring some local comfort into people’s homes for the holiday,” he says. There is also a Pacific Northwest Shop in Seattle.

Among the many ornaments they offer from Glass Eye Studio are some vintage 1980 era Santas at $48 and some jellyfish sculptures at $54.

Since the pandemic began the Proctor shop has sold thousands of  $14 handmade face masks they feature in the window. 

Some feature very local designs.

“So it is definitely the item of the year,” says Evans.

Foodies can spice up popcorn with a $32 assortment or make their own pretzels with a $20 kit. 

Stumped this season? Stocklist, in Tacoma’s Museum District, can help

“We give people the opportunity to ask us questions,” says Devin Anding. “We give them ideas if maybe they’re stumped on what to give as a stocking stuffer or to a co-worker.”

Watercolor prints made by Everett artist Elizabeth Person make a nice local gift. Her mounted mountain ranges –at $52–are especially popular.

San Francisco based Cavallini has just started selling puzzles made from vintage prints. They are 1000 pieces and retail for $22.

“Some people say they take about a week to do and we got them in a bunch of different varieties,” says Anding.

This holiday when you shop local you’re also giving a gift to a hometown business.

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10 Stylish Christmas Gift Ideas for Men Who Have Everything

Shopping for someone is a tough task on its own. Shopping for someone who seems like they already have everything is even harder. For the men in your life, give them the gift of style this Christmas!

Even the most successful men will appreciate the gift of timeless style. Open their world to quality and well-designed clothes and accessories that will add real value to their workplace and their life, in general. With a month left before Christmas, this is the best time to shop for gifts, particularly with great Black Friday sales coming up!

Smart shoppers should take advantage of this time to enjoy huge discounts on the best products. This Black Friday, make Jos A Bank your one-stop shop for must-have men’s apparel. Having dressed men for over 100 years, Jos A Bank has a heritage quality craftsmanship and this week, they are offering some of their best items at 80% off.

Here are 10 Christmas gift ideas for the important men in your life that you should buy this Black Friday.

Cozy Sweaters

sweater

From classic Pima cotton to cool Merino wool sweaters, Jos A Bank has a cozy collection of sweaters in over 20 colors, starting from as low as $25. This 1905 Collection Wool Blend Fairisle Crew Neck Sweater is one that any guy is sure to love. This rustic sweater is ultra soft, making it the ideal piece for dads who are on the move, whether it’s to go to work, run errands, or pick up the kids. Either way, he will have a lot of eyes on him with this sweater.

This handsome sweater is now on sale for only $39.

Ready for the Times

shirt-and-mask-set

Whether you’re heading to the office everyday or running errands around town, in a time like this, a face mask is of the utmost priority. This Traveler Tailored Fit Hidden Button Down Collar Tattersall Sportshirt & Mask is perfect for businessmen as it eliminates the need to worry about which masks to wear and ensures that their outfit is always coordinated.

Get this great set for only $45 here!

Plaid Sportshirts

plaid-shirt

This plaid cotton and cashmere blend Sportshirt will keep them feeling warm and looking good as they entertain the adoring crowd. Plus, it will look great in this year’s holiday photos!

Get this plaid sportshirt for only $49 here!

Brushed Cotton Sportshirts

sportshirt

There is no such thing as “too many shirts” for a successful man. This humble 1905 Brushed Cotton is for the guys who never get tired of accompanying you to events, parties, and family meals. The dark plaid complements practically any kind of pants and is a sportshirt that every man should have in his closet.

Get this versatile cotton sportshirt for only $35 here!

The Go-To Dress Shirts

dress-shirt

Dress shirts don’t need to be boring. Take this 1905 Collection dress shirt, for instance. It provides a pop of color or pattern and can be worn to any end-of-year parties and beyond. Men will

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Eco-friendly Christmas gift ideas



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Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article



Microsoft may earn an Affiliate Commission if you purchase something through recommended links in this article

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Gift of Christmas cookies is more curse than blessing

DEAR ABBY: Every year for the last 15 years or so, my husband’s sister has sent us a huge box of homemade cookies for Christmas. My husband is from a large family, and she does this for each family. I know it involves a great deal of time and effort on her part, and she sends them via priority mail, which means an additional expense.

The problem is, we don’t eat cookies. Weight is a concern for both of us, and I avoid sugar or sugar products as I don’t believe they are healthy. Before we retired, we took the cookies to work to get rid of them or they were thrown out.

Many years ago, I asked my mother-in-law what to do so as to not cause hard feelings. She advised, “Don’t say anything; she needs something to keep her busy.” I then asked a brother-in-law how he handled the unwanted cookies. He said, “Throw them away or give them away, but DON’T TELL HER.”

My SIL suffers from mild depression, and everyone tiptoes lightly around the issue to avoid upsetting her. I feel bad that she has spent time and money on these unwanted cookies all these years.


No one on that side of the family has ever said anything, and perhaps, many of them enjoy the cookies. Evidently even a carefully worded “thank you, but we can’t consume them” note would cause family problems. I tried not sending an acknowledgment; the cookies kept coming. What’s your suggestion? — SWEET PROBLEM IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR SWEET PROBLEM: I suggest you keep things the way they are. Your sister-in-law needs something to occupy her mind and give her a sense of purpose during a time of year when people can become depressed. Get creative. Those cookies might be appreciated by a church group, a residence for seniors or even holiday gifts for your neighbors if you repackage them.

DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old daughter asked if her 23-year-old best friend could stay with us for six months. Her friend’s parents had to return to Europe to finish wrapping up some things and then would return for their citizenship appointments, so we agreed to the arrangement. Rent-free, because we are nice.

My daughter got a school offer in Houston and moved there in May. Now it’s just her best friend and us at the house. Well, COVID-19 happened, and the parents are banned from entering the U.S. They have asked us if she can stay until the ban is lifted, which who knows when this will happen. We agreed, but now it’s November.

I miss my personal space, and I need her to move out. I feel she has overstayed. But I don’t know how to approach her or her family and say this arrangement will end soon. How should I handle this? — CROWDED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CROWDED: You have been more than generous to your daughter’s best friend, and I hope your generosity has been appreciated not only by

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Dear Abby: Gift of Christmas cookies is more curse than blessing

DEAR ABBY: Every year for the last 15 years or so, my husband’s sister has sent us a huge box of homemade cookies for Christmas. My husband is from a large family, and she does this for each family. I know it involves a great deal of time and effort on her part, and she sends them via priority mail, which means an additional expense.

The problem is, we don’t eat cookies. Weight is a concern for both of us, and I avoid sugar or sugar products as I don’t believe they are healthy. Before we retired, we took the cookies to work to get rid of them or they were thrown out.

Many years ago, I asked my mother-in-law what to do so as to not cause hard feelings. She advised, “Don’t say anything; she needs something to keep her busy.” I then asked a brother-in-law how he handled the unwanted cookies. He said, “Throw them away or give them away, but DON’T TELL HER.”

My SIL suffers from mild depression, and everyone tiptoes lightly around the issue to avoid upsetting her. I feel bad that she has spent time and money on these unwanted cookies all these years.

No one on that side of the family has ever said anything, and perhaps, many of them enjoy the cookies. Evidently even a carefully worded “thank you, but we can’t consume them” note would cause family problems. I tried not sending an acknowledgment; the cookies kept coming. What’s your suggestion? — SWEET PROBLEM IN CONNECTICUT

DEAR SWEET PROBLEM: I suggest you keep things the way they are. Your sister-in-law needs something to occupy her mind and give her a sense of purpose during a time of year when people can become depressed. Get creative. Those cookies might be appreciated by a church group, a residence for seniors or even holiday gifts for your neighbors if you repackage them.

** ** **

DEAR ABBY: My 22-year-old daughter asked if her 23-year-old best friend could stay with us for six months. Her friend’s parents had to return to Europe to finish wrapping up some things and then would return for their citizenship appointments, so we agreed to the arrangement. Rent-free, because we are nice.

My daughter got a school offer in Houston and moved there in May. Now it’s just her best friend and us at the house. Well, COVID-19 happened, and the parents are banned from entering the U.S. They have asked us if she can stay until the ban is lifted, which who knows when this will happen. We agreed, but now it’s November.

I miss my personal space, and I need her to move out. I feel she has overstayed. But I don’t know how to approach her or her family and say this arrangement will end soon. How should I handle this? — CROWDED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR CROWDED: You have been more than generous to your daughter’s best friend, and I hope your generosity has been appreciated

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Trump is leaving Biden a Christmas gift of Middle East peace

Will Joe Biden and his foreign-policy team accept the extraordinary gift Team Trump is leaving for them under the Christmas tree — or is their hatred for the president so all-consuming that they will toss it in the garbage?

I’m talking about the Abraham Accords, peace deals between Israel and various Arab states — the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan — that have sought the Jewish state’s destruction since its founding in 1948. Normalization has proceeded so quickly, Dubai already has a kosher restaurant, and its supermarkets are stocking Israeli agricultural products festooned with Stars of David — a science-fictional sight only a year ago.

Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman — the first face-to-face contact we know about between leaders of Israel and Saudi Arabia. There is no way the UAE and Bahrain made peace without Riyadh’s nod, and so Sunday’s meeting gave rise to the idea that Saudi Arabia might be the next nation to follow suit.

The establishment of diplomatic ties between the two would represent the fulfillment of a key US diplomatic goal dating back seven decades — and the end of the hopeless but destructive Sunni war against Israel’s existence.

It’s unlikely the Saudi-Israeli deal will happen in the 55 days before President Trump leaves office, especially since the Saudis have officially denied the meeting took place. But who knows? Bin Salman is impulsive and incautious, his behavior unpredictable.

Riyadh realized more than a decade ago that its greatest enemy isn’t Israel, but Iran — and that, in fact, the Jewish state and the House of Saud found themselves under the same existential threat once it became clear the Iranians were hell-bent on nukes.

Plus, the two countries found themselves in the same boat when President Barack Obama struck his 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which not only supplied Tehran with hundreds of billions of dollars, but also ­acknowledged the regime’s ultimate right to nukes.

This is where the Biden team and its attitude toward these extraordinary developments may play a decisive role.

Incoming Secretary of State ­Antony Blinken and incoming National ­Security Adviser Jake Sullivan were senior officials during the Obama administration, both deeply involved in negotiating the Iran deal. Both have spoken of their interest in renewing the deal despite Trump’s formal exit from it in 2018. The hunger to do so may reveal a mindset that views the Abraham Accords not as a US triumph, but a sideshow.

First, there is a general sense among all Democrats that anything and everything Trump has touched is corrupted and diseased and must be discarded.

The Abraham Accords are in part an outgrowth of the Trump administration’s clear tilt toward Israel from the moment it took ­office and the move of the American embassy to Jerusalem. That may alone may render the accords suspect in Obamian eyes.

At the same time, Biden now presides over a Democratic Party whose antipathy toward Israel is growing, as represented by

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Moorpark Christmas Tree Shopping Guide For 2020

Moorpark, CA — It could still be possible to take your family on the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree in 2020 — and to do it safely, even as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen across the region.

At least 25 million real Christmas trees are purchased each year across America, and currently, 350 million are growing in all 50 U.S. states. And during this unprecedented year, Christmas tree lots and choose-and-cut farms nationwide are taking precautions as coronavirus cases rise to ensure buyers can select a tree with minimal risk to their family’s health and safety.

In fact, the National Christmas Tree Association has circulated a new guide containing recommendations and best practices for Christmas tree sellers to follow. The guide advises sellers to frequently sanitize items such as hand saws and tree cart handles, as well as countertops, restrooms and other areas.

“It is likely that Christmas will have a greater significance for many in 2020 as we seek to offset the disruption of normalcy from COVID-19 with a family-oriented holiday experience,” the association said in its guide. “However, shopping for a Christmas tree, the iconic centerpiece of the holiday, will be a different experience this year as the risks from COVID-19 must be taken seriously.”

Is a real Christmas tree is on your wish list this year? Here’s a selection of great local farms near Moorpark.

Getting the most out of your real Christmas tree can take some patience, practice and good advice. Here are a few things to note, according to the National Christmas Tree Association:

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