The out-of-office message you need if your company finally caught up with the times and gave you Juneteenth off

juneteenth parade
Elected officials, community leaders, youth, and drum and marching bands take part in the second-annual Juneteenth Parade in Philadelphia, PA, on June 22, 2019 in the week that Juneteenth was declared an official state holiday by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.

  • Insider is taking Juneteenth observed off tomorrow.
  • I wrote an out-of-office message to educate people and let them know I won’t be checking email.
  • Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the US on June 19, 1865.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Insider is taking Juneteenth observed off. To prepare, I crafted an out-of-office message to let my contacts know I won’t be checking email tomorrow – and educate them on what the historic event is about.

Juneteenth recognizes the end of slavery in the US, when the Emancipation Proclamation reached Texas (then the most remote Confederate state) on June 19, 1865.

I took my usual OOO template and added a link that explains what Juneteenth is. Here’s what I wrote:

Hi,

Thanks for your email! As with a growing number of companies across the country, Insider Inc. has closed today for Juneteenth observed.

I encourage you to read the linked article on the holiday if you’d like to know why this decision was made and why it’s so important to the company and its staff.

I’ll be sure to respond to your message when I’m back in the office on Monday, 6/21.

Big-name companies such as Twitter and Nike have declared Juneteenth a company holiday as corporate America faces backlash over racial inequality. Other organizations like Microsoft have designated it a “day of listening, learning, and engagement” and canceled meetings.

45 states recognize Juneteenth as a holiday. The House just passed a bill declaring it a national holiday – it now sits on President Joe Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Read the original article on Business Insider

20 understated jewelry gifts to give your mom for Mother’s Day

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

signet ring
A heart-shaped signet ring is a sweet gift for Mother’s Day.

  • If you clicked into this post, you likely want to treat Mom to a nice piece of jewelry.
  • When it comes to Mother’s Day, you don’t have to spend a lot to get her something she’ll love.
  • We rounded up 20 beautiful pieces we think Mom will love, covering all budgets and tastes.
  • Still looking for inspiration? Check out more Mother’s Day gift ideas here.

Editor’s note: It’s likely that many families will be spending Mother’s Day apart this year due to the impact of coronavirus. Nothing takes the place of time spent together, but if you’re looking to send a gift to Mom in lieu of a visit, we hope this list will help you find exactly what you’re looking for.

There are a lot of great gifts you could treat Mom with for Mother’s Day. But sometimes the greatest gifts don’t serve any purpose other than pleasure. If you’re looking for a gift that feels like a special treat, you can’t go wrong with giving Mom a nice piece of jewelry.

Beautifully crafted, just her style, and something she probably wouldn’t splurge on for herself, jewelry is the perfect way to show Mom your appreciation. And, these days, you don’t have to spend a ton of money to get her something that sparkles. We rounded up 20 jewelry finds Mom will love, covering a wide range of budgets and tastes.

Here are 20 of the best jewelry gifts for Mom:

A necklace with custom initials and symbols

GLDN Personalized Yue Necklace Gift for Mom

Personalized Yue Necklace, $33-$200 + $9-$48 tags, available at GLDN

For the mom who appreciates small reminders of her children and loved ones, you can add multiple tags to this necklace. You can choose from all the letters in the alphabet as well as symbols like a star, a heart, and a dot. The prices of the necklace and the additional tags vary based on the material you select — 14k gold fill, sterling silver, rose gold fill, and 14k solid gold options will guarantee to make her feel special.

Earrings with a delicate medallion design

Kendra Scott Dira Stud Earrings Gift for Mom

Dira Stud Earrings, $68-$88, available at Kendra Scott

For studs that aren’t the ordinary circular shape, these ones from Kendra Scott offer up a dainty flower design instead. You can pick these out for her in sterling silver or 18k gold vermeil, with either option giving her ears some delicate decoration.

A herringbone snake chain anklet

Jenny Bird Priya Snake Chain Anklet Gift for Mom

Priya Snake Chain Anklet, $75, available at Jenny Bird

Mix it up by gifting Mom a basic anklet. This one’s a herringbone snake chain that’ll add a sparkly touch to her ankles. It’s stunningly simple, and so is its silver counterpart.

Dainty stud earrings

GLDN Initial Stud Earrings Gift for Mom

Initial Stud Earrings, $30-$34, available at GLDN

Moms who opt for simpler and smaller pieces of jewelry will adore these dainty studs. You can get them as regular circular studs or in heart shapes. Plus, you can get letters or symbols engraved in each, at no additional costs. 

A chain necklace with a lock pendant

Oak & Luna Initial Lock Necklace Gift for Mom

Initial Lock Necklace, $95-$145, available at Oak & Luna

Keep your appreciation for Mom under lock and key with this chain necklace from Oak & Luna. Coming in sterling silver, 18k gold plating, 18k rose gold plating, and 18k gold vermeil, the lock is an edgy yet chic detail. Not to mention, you can engrave the lock, free of charge.

Mix and match earrings

Jenny Bird Cordo Convertible Hoops Set Gift for Mom

Cordo Convertible Hoops Set, $95, available at Jenny Bird

Your mom can keep her looks fresh with this versatile hoops set. She can wear the tiny hoops on their own or attach the mid-sized petals to them. This means she can also mix and match the silver and gold pieces to try something different every now and then.

A heart-shaped signet ring

Stone and Strand Heart Signet Ring with Diamond Gift for Mom

Heart Signet Ring with Diamond, $245, available at Stone and Strand

The “M” (for “mom”) inscription on this heart-shaped signet ring takes it from plain to personal. There’s also a small diamond to add a little extra sparkle.

A simple gold necklace

connection

Connection Necklace, $380, available at Aurate

Two interlocking gold loops represent harmony, making this a sweet, simple, and meaningful necklace for Mom on Mother’s Day.

A thin pair of gold hoops

hoops

Oversized Thin Hoops, $295, available at Mejuri

Everyone needs a great pair of gold hoops. If she’s of the mindset that bigger is better, she’ll love this pair. They’re bold while still maintaining a dainty feel. 

A dainty gold band with diamonds

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Diamonds Open Ring, $175, available at Mejuri

Stacked or worn on its own, this minimalist ring is perfect for everyday wear. With two small diamonds and the choice of either 14-karat rose, yellow, or white gold, you’re sure to find one that’s just her style.

A pair of heart-shaped huggers

2

Infinity Heart Huggie Earrings, $90, available at AUrate

There are so many ways to tell Mom you love her. These huggers, made from a series of cascading hearts, are a sweet way to say it. The price listed is for a vermeil (gold-plated) pair, but you can also opt for 14-karat or 18-karat gold versions.

A unique pair of studs

4

Horn Duara Stud Earrings, $48, available at Soko

If she’s got a style all her own, she’ll love these unique open-circle studs. They’re made using traditional techniques by artisans in Kenya.

A simple gold bracelet

Missoma Lucy Williams Gold Flat Chain Bracelet

Lucy Williams Gold Flat Curb Chain Bracelet, $127, available at Missoma

This delicate vermeil chain is the perfect gift to say “thank you” to your mom while sticking with a classic.

A colorful tennis bracelet

6

Mini Tennis Bracelet, from $375, available at The Last Line

Liven up her everyday outfits with a colorful bracelet. The 14-karat gold cable chain is lined with glittery gemstones — just pick out her birthstone and you have a beautiful, meaningful gift.

A pretty pendant necklace

gorjana necklace

Gorjana Compass Coin Pendant Necklace, $60, available at Nordstrom

When you don’t know where you’re going or what to do, Mom always guides you in the right direction. That makes this cute pendant necklace, made to look like an adjustable compass, a fitting gift. If you’re not a fan of my cheesy messaging, this necklace is still a cute piece she can wear every day. 

A classic ring with her zodiac

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Zodiac Ring, $124, available at Catbird

Astrological symbols give the traditional signet ring a modern twist. Each brass ring is engraved with a different zodiac sign’s symbol — just choose hers and you have a unique, thoughtful gift.

A sophisticated pair of coin earrings

Mejuri Pearl Hoops

Pearl Hoops, $65, available at Mejuri

Whether it’s with a flowy summer dress or a T-shirt and jeans, these pearl earrings add instant elegance to every look.

A funky cuff

8

Dannijo Owen Bracelet, $195, available at Shopbop

A chunky cuff covered in chain links and silver medallions make this a one-of-a-kind piece she’ll love to rock. The silver-plated brass adds an eclectic touch to any outfit.

A symbolic ring

10

Pas de Deux Ring, $410, available at Catbird

Mom’s been there to hold your hand through it all. This ring — inspired by the 15th century Fede rings, which were commonly used as wedding bands — comprises two clasped hands, which are the ultimate signal of love, friendship, and togetherness.

A rainbow necklace

12

Elisa Solomon Rainbow Opal Disc Necklace, $924, available at Catbird

This 18-karat necklace is dainty enough to wear every day, but full of unique stones that make it feel really special. A glimmering opal is surrounded by amethyst, blue sapphire, citrine, garnet, and other beautiful gems for a vibrant but dainty look.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Britons will soon go on holiday again. Hotel and B&B owners tell guests to expect strict rules around face masks, eating areas, and social distancing – but vaccines won’t be mandatory

People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.
People sit in deckchairs on the beach as they enjoy the warm weather on the seafront on July 30, 2014 in Weymouth, England.

  • Hotels, B&Bs and holiday parks in the UK told Insider how they’re preparing for guests this summer.
  • Over 27.6 million Brits have had at least one shot but hotel owners said this won’t be mandatory.
  • Holiday parks will be opening April 12, while hotels and B&Bs will accept guests from May 17.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

The holiday season is nearly upon us. But there’s speculation about whether people in the UK will be able to travel abroad due to the increased worry of coronavirus variants spreading and cases rising.

This uncertainty, along with COVID-19 restrictions, is turning more people towards domestic holidays to visit the British coastline, country parks and smaller towns and cities.

In accordance with UK government guidelines, hotels, bed and breakfasts (B&Bs) and other shared accommodation in England are allowed to open on May 17. This is the same date that international travel can continue.

While self-contained accommodation, which requires no shared facilities between guests, can reopen on April 12.

Insider spoke to a range of hotels, holiday parks and B&Bs, which are preparing for guests to come back and how their facilities will be run differently.

Vaccines won’t be mandatory

A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.
A plane passes over the Travelodge Hotel at Heathrow.

So far, more than 30 million people in the UK have received at least one dose of the vaccine but most owners said they won’t make this a requirement for guests.

Travelodge, an independent UK chain hotel, which has more than 570 hotels across the UK, currently only allows keyworkers and those who need to travel for work to stay in its hotels, a spokesperson told Insider.

When asked if Travelodge will make the vaccine mandatory for guests, the spokesperson said: “We will continue to stringently follow government guidelines and policy in regards to operating in the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Currently, the government does not require hotel guests to be vaccinated.

The situation is similar in holiday parks. Centre Parcs, which has five short-break holiday villages across the UK, will open on April 12 and have the same COVID-19 safety measures it had in place last year, spokesperson Simon Kay told Insider.

“In line with government guidelines we will not be requiring guests to have been vaccinated,” he said.

Haven Holidays, another chain of holiday parks in the UK, told Insider it’s planning to reopen all of its locations on April 12. A company spokesperson said the government haven’t sent Haven any details about COVID-19 passports and declined to comment on the implementation of them.

Hazelwood Farm
Hazelwood Farm

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York, in northern England, will also be carrying on with coronavirus measures. The owner, Annette McAnespie described making the vaccine mandatory as a “Catch 22 situation” and could be “construed as discriminatory.”

“I am lucky in that most of my gorgeous guests are retirement age so the stats are that most of them would have chosen to have had the vaccine and would have had their first jab, if not their second one too, by the time I can reopen,” McAnespie said.

At the other end of the country, the Penellen B&B, based in Cornwall – a popular holiday destination in south-west England – will open on May 17th with COVID-19 practices that were in place last year.

Paul and Barbara Goldingay, owners of The Penellen, told Insider that they are not making the vaccine mandatory because it would be too difficult to police.

Face masks stay on and social distancing remains

Haven Holidays' employee
Haven Holidays’ employee

Travelodge said, like many other chain hotels, its safety measures include wearing face masks indoors, social distancing, contactless payment and checkout, and no housekeeping teams in guests’ rooms during their stay.

The Penellen and Hazelwood Farm’s coronavirus measures both include wearing face masks.

McAnespie is using two out of the three rooms available on Hazelwood Farm. She plans to steam-clean the curtains and remove cushions from the bedrooms as part of the B&B’s coronavirus policy. She told Insider she hopes to see the back of restrictions in September.

Center Parcs has had a surge in bookings recently, especially from the summer onwards, according to Kay.

COVID-19 safety measures in its holiday parks include fewer guests on-site, wearing face masks where necessary, social distancing in all areas including on beaches and a frequent and improved cleaning regime in the villages.

Haven Holidays, which owns 40 parks across the UK, will bring back the Clean and Safe Charter that it introduced in July. This includes a contactless check-in process, social-distancing measures in all public places, and cleaning teams in the parks.

Eating and dining in accommodation

Haven Holidays
Haven Holidays

Guests staying in Travelodge hotels won’t be able to dine in the restaurants or bars until June 21, when the rest of hospitality is allowed to open, per the government’s roadmap out of lockdown.

Hazelwood Farm B&B in York isn’t offering its usual breakfast buffet. McAnespie told Insider guests’ cold breakfast orders will be taken the evening before and hot breakfast orders will be taken the same morning with the waitress, Nettie, standing at a distance.

She said the B&B will try to stagger breakfast times for the three rooms as there are only two tables in the dining room with the option to also sit outside. Continental breakfast can also be delivered to the room, as well as any other takeaways from local pubs in the area, McAnespie added.

The Penellen said it will also be serving guests at the table, rather than offering a buffet service.

Holidays parks such as Center Parcs and Haven Holidays offer self-catered accommodation so guests can cook for themselves.

Other restrictions in place

Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area
Center Parc Bispinger Heide is written on a sign in front of the park area

Center Parcs’ Book with Confidence guarantee offers guests free cancellation and a full refund within six weeks of the arrival date, if they decide to no longer go on holiday to the village. They can also change the dates of their stay.

“It is clear that people want reassurance about the flexibility to cancel or change dates,” said Kay.

As part of Haven’s Caravan Cleanliness Guarantee, a specialist team member checks each holiday home after its been disinfected using virus-killing products and seals up the door. Guests are entitled to a full refund if the holiday home isn’t cleaned to its standards, the company said in a statement to Insider.

Similar to Center Parcs, the company’s Coronavirus Book with Confidence Guarantee means guests can cancel their booking between three and 28 days prior to arrival at no cost and be fully refunded, Haven said.

Paul and Barbara from The Penellen said the majority of bookings for this year are rescheduled from last year.

Their “main worry is people from the UK going on holiday overseas and then returning carrying a new variant,” they said.

“In our opinion, all borders should be closed for non-essential travel for the time being,” they added.

Read the original article on Business Insider

33 last-minute gifts that still feel thoughtful

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Amazon Echo Dot 2020

We’ve all been there – holidays and birthdays are just around the corner, your schedule starts getting more chaotic, and suddenly celebrations are closer than you thought and you still haven’t picked out a gift!

Whether it just slipped your mind to prepare ahead of time or you decided to give a gift impromptu, we’ve got you covered. This list proves last-minute gift ideas can still be thoughtful and unique, from clever subscriptions to useful gift cards and everything in between.

Most of these can be e-mailed to the recipient just in time, while some are available at stores where two- or even one-day shipping might come in clutch. As a last resort, repurpose this clever hack to ensure they will still have a gift to open.

Check out our 33 picks for last-minute gifts:

A diaper and wipe bundle for expecting mothers

Honest

Honest Diaper + Wipes Bundle, $79.95/bundle

Do you know someone with a baby on the way? Gift them a monthly supply of Honest’s premium diapers and wipes in a flexible bundle subscription. The bundle features three diaper types: everyday, training pants, and overnights, with custom sizes based on weight and age. If in between sizes, Honest recommends sizing up. Each pack includes over 100 diapers each. Plus, they can personalize the diapers with a number of cute design options. 

A yearlong magazine subscription

Entertainment weekly

Magazine subscription, starting $5/year

Nothing beats holding a physical issue of their favorite magazine. A subscription service makes sure it lands in their hand without the extra trip to the store. Choose from magazines like Entertainment Weekly, InStyle, Women’s Health, and more, that cost just $5 for an entire year.

A low-maintenance plant service

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The Sill’s Plants for Beginners Subscription, $60/month

Even the most novice green thumb can build a thriving garden with The Sill. Each month, the houseplant subscription delivers a easy-care hand-potted plant in a sleek ceramic planter. It’s the perfect opportunity to cultivate their own at-home plant nursery.

Read our full review of The Sill here.

An endless closet of designer clothing

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Gift a Rent the Runway membership, $69/month

Rent the Runway’s innovative model means they no longer have to waste money on clothes they’ll wear just once or twice. It’s perfect for the fashionista in your life and let’s them rent something new for any occasion — whether it be WFH, date night, or staycations.

Read our full review of Rent the Runway here.

A Murray’s Monthly Clubs subscription for cheese lovers

murray's cheese

Cheese of the Month subscription, from $63

Send the best of Murray’s cheese and satiate their hankering for a good gouda or creamy brie with a Monthly Clubs subscription. Whether they’re a cheese aficionado or just looking for a yummy snack, they’ll enjoy getting fresh cheese delivered to their door along with detailed guides to the flavors and suggested beverage pairings for each. 

Choose from options like Classic Cheese of the Month for newbies all the way up to Cheesemonger’s Picks of the Month. You can pay for a month-to-month subscription, or pre-pay for a three-month option.

A 12-pack of wine from an independent winemaker for under $100

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Give a wine gift from NakedWines.com

Looking for a last-minute gift that’s perfect for just about anyone over 21? We recommend a few bottles from NakedWines.com. Every winemaker on the platform has been “funded” by “Angel” customers, meaning you feel like you have a more direct stake in the wine you gift — and they’re all affordable and high-quality. 

For a limited time, you can get an assortment of wines for even cheaper. New customers who sign up using their email get $100 off their first box of 12 wines. Insider Reviews reporter Mara Leighton tried the service and found it to be a great value. Read the full review here.

A Disney+ gift subscription

Originals Disney Plus 4x3

One-year gift subscription to Disney Plus, $69.99

It gives unlimited access to movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and 20th Century Fox, and costs just $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year after a free seven-day trial. Read everything there is to know about Disney+ over here.

And if they need some binge-spiration, here are all the new movies available to stream.

A flower subscription service for freshly delivered blooms

the bouqs co

The Bouqs Co. flower subscription, from $36 per shipment

Send beautiful bouquets on a regular basis at the rate of your choosing — weekly, every two weeks, monthly, or every two months. Choose from a variety of floral themes, from farmers’ market fresh blooms to gorgeous rose arrangements. This new twist on a classic gift is one that’ll keep on giving.

A gift that’s as uniquely sweet as they are

Last minute gifts Sugarwish

Sugarwish treat boxes, from $19.98 for two selections

Gifting just got a little bit sweeter. You choose the number of treats, and Sugarwish takes care of the rest. The recipient chooses which treats they want to receive once they redeem the gift, so it’s the perfect last-minute item for a picky eater.

A Headspace subscription for soothing meditations

Headspace

Headspace subscription, from $12.99 per month

This year has been full of anxiety and uncertainty, which makes a gift that includes soothing meditation options extra thoughtful. They can listen to narrated meditations with a Buddhist monk, get tips for handling stress from videos with cute graphics, or leverage wind down guided exercises to enjoy better sleep.  

A Masterclass subscription to learn from the best

Masterclass E Learning  2x1

Masterclass subscription, from $15/month

For the uninitiated, MasterClass is an e-learning platform that provides an array of classes taught by well-known celebrities and industry leaders. Users can find everything from television writing classes taught by Shonda Rhimes to a style lesson with Tan France. 

An Amazon Prime membership to make life easier

amazon prime $119

Amazon Prime membership, $39 for 3 months or $119 for a year

The gift of Amazon Prime is always one that’ll be met with extreme appreciation given that it is both practical and thoughtful. If the recipient already has a membership, the money will convert into a gift card that they can use on anything they want from the site. 

An e-gift card to Everlane for anyone who appreciates the basics

Everlane

Everlane e-gift card, starting at $25

Everlane is our go-to for all things considered “closet staples” — from cozy cashmere to classic button-downs, comfortable cotton tees to casual denim. We can’t think of anyone who wouldn’t be able to put an Everlane e-gift card to use, especially when they can start shopping as soon as they open the e-gift card confirmation email. 

A Hulu gift card for the TV-obsessed

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Hulu gift card, available at Walmart, from $25

Hulu, like Netflix, is a must-have for TV fiends. Whether or not they already have a membership (which you may or may not mooch off of), this gift card can be used to sign up or pay for their next few months with the service. 

An Amazon Kindle for book lovers who travel frequently

Kindle Paperwhite

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite, available at Target, $129.99

Kindles make the perfect last-minute gift for voracious readers. Even if the recipient swears by the feeling of a real book in their hands, once they see how much easier it is to travel with one thin tablet instead of six thick novels, they’ll be grateful you introduced them. The Paperwhite has a backlit screen with zero glare, so they can read it as easily outside as in bed with the lights out. Another plus? It’s waterproof. 

Read about our experience with the new waterproof Kindle Paperwhite here

A Book of the Month subscription for bibliophiles who like to hold books in their hands

book of the month $44.99

Book of the Month Club, from $49.99 for three months

If the Kindle just isn’t their thing, the Book of the Month Club might be a perfect alternative. The subscription service narrows a selection of new releases down to five options, and the recipient will be able to choose which hardcover book they’d like to receive each month. If they don’t like any of that month’s selections, they can also opt to skip and wait until next month’s choices come out. 

A gift card to their favorite music streaming service

Last minute gifts Spotify gift card

Send a gift card or subscription to SpotifyAmazon Music Unlimited, or Apple Music

Sometimes the simple, practical route is the way to go when it comes to last-minute gifting. If they’re one for spontaneous at-home dance parties or often found screaming their favorite songs in the car, a free month of their go-to music streaming service can prove to be just as thoughtful as a gift that’s purchased weeks in advance.

A box full of nostalgic treats

Last minute gifts Oreo

Oreo, Golden Oreo, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butter Gift Box, $12.88

If they never quite outgrew this favorite childhood snack (or if they’re just one for sentimentalism), this box full of Oreos, Golden Oreos, Chips Ahoy, and Nutter Butter cookies will have them feeling like they’re back in the good old days in no time. Prime members can receive one-day shipping on this item depending on what time of day they place their order, so if their big day is tomorrow, we’ve got you covered.

A bouquet to satisfy any sweet tooth

Last minute gifts Harry and David

Sweet Chocolate Covered Donut & Cake Pop Bouquet, available at Harry & David, $59.99

You may not be able to make them breakfast in bed, but you can still ensure they have a sweet morning with this donut and cake pop bouquet delivery. All of the mini treats are dipped in either dark or white chocolate and topped with chocolate drizzle and candy toppings. Best of all for last-minute shoppers, express shipping can be applied to this gift.

An e-gift card to Warby Parker for the daily glasses-wearer

last minute gifts

Warby Parker e-gift cards, from $50 to $295

Glasses have become a means of helping people to express their individual sense of style, a trend only bolstered by stylish online glasses retailers. Warby Parker has managed to make prescription glasses affordable (a baseline pair starts at just $95, including lenses), but even if your giftee doesn’t wear prescription glasses, the company also makes non-prescription sunglasses that are equally as good-looking. Digital gift cards are delivered to your recipient’s email immediately.

A wine subscription for new bottles delivered right to their door

the best wine club overall

Winc gift card, starting at $60

Winc is a wine delivery subscription that brings the good stuff right to your recipient’s door. Users take a quiz and share information about their taste preferences before receiving expert recommendations about bottles they may like. They can choose what to include in their box, and since each bottle is priced individually, they can control the cost of each delivery. Gift cards can be emailed to the recipient and used toward the cost of a box (or a few, if you’re feeling extra generous). 

A BarkBox subscription for anyone who’s just a little too obsessed with their dog

BarkBox

BarkBox subscription, starting at $35

Whether they just got a new puppy or they’ve had one for a while now, you can’t go wrong with a BarkBox subscription for any dog parent. To give it as a gift, simply input the name of their pup and its relative size (small, medium, or large), and select a one-, three-, six-, or 12-month increment. You can send the box directly to their house or purchase a digital gift card, which can be redeemed immediately.

A coffee subscription to help them stay caffeinated

atlas coffee gear patrol full lead

Atlas Coffee Club 3-Month Gift Subscription, $50 (holiday deal, originally $60)

Atlas makes some of our favorite coffee out there, and it fresh roasts each batch before sending it out so you know the coffee you’ll get hasn’t been sitting on a shelf for six months. Any caffeine fiend will love receiving beans or grounds direct to their door each month, giving you extra brownie points each time.

Read about our experience with Atlas Coffee Club here.

A gift card to frame their art or photos

Framebridge, from $25

Framebridge gift card, from $25

Everyone appreciates having a beautiful frame for their photos, posters, or artwork — but no one actually likes paying for it themselves. They’ll enjoy the chance to custom frame something for her home with Framebridge. Bonus points if you also print and send cute family photos for her to frame.

A fun and convenient way to freshen up their wardrobe

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Stitch Fix gift card, starting at $20

It’s natural to settle into a dressing routine, but if you sense that they’re no longer excited by their closet, a Stitch Fix gift card is the perfect solution. Recipients can try out different brands and styles that they wouldn’t ordinarily buy, and it’s easy to return pieces with the provided prepaid shipping labels.

A travel-planning service that does all the work for them

best vermont airbnbs

Airbnb gift card, from $25

For the person who is currently dreaming about where to go post-pandemic, this gift card will help ensure their next trip is stellar. Airbnb has thousands of listings for private home vacation rentals around the globe and across the US. They can choose from premium Luxe listings like a villa in Malibu, find a location close to a national park for outdoor exploration, or opt for a unique getaway like a tree house rental.

This is also a thoughtful option for anyone who has to travel right now since experts and the CDC note that private home rentals are currently safer than hotel stays.

An electric toothbrush with recurring brush head refill deliveries

unique mothers day 3

Goby gift card, choose your amount

Give them the gift of better oral hygiene with a Goby toothbrush, which pairs with an automatic subscription so they’ll always be brushing with the most thorough and efficient brush head.

A customizable suitcase

CALPAK

CALPAK gift card, from $25

Ordering a piece of luggage that best suits them will take too long if you’re strapped for time, plus you might not know exactly what they like. You’re better off giving a gift card so they can choose from plenty of fun options. From confetti to marble patterns, CALPAK offers suitcase designs for every traveler. 

An Echo Dot for the smart-home enthusiast

Amazon Echo Dot 2020

Amazon Echo Dot, available at Best Buy $29.99

If you have at least one days’ worth of foresight, the new Echo Dot is a great last-minute gift that won’t require much effort. Whether you know for a fact that they have just started outfitting their home with smart capabilities, or you at least have a suspicion that they’d enjoy the convenience of having Alexa around to answer questions and play games, the Dot is a great pick. 

A Birchbox subscription for beauty and skin-care lovers

a birchbox subscription

Birchbox subscription, starting at $30-$45 for 3 months

There’s a reason Birchbox is so popular — it’s a super affordable way to find and learn about new beauty, skincare, and grooming products without the risk of spending too much on full-sized options the recipient might not like. For $30-$45, you’ll be able to gift three months’ worth of boxes right to their door. For a more substantial option, you can gift six months for $84, or 12 months for $156.  

A Blue Apron subscription

last minute gifts 1

Blue Apron subscription gift, choose your amount

Blue Apron’s meal kits are the perfect last-minute gift for anyone who enjoys cooking but lacks the time or foresight to do the planning and prepping involved. It costs $47.95 for two servings of two recipes each week, so they’ll save time shopping and prepping meals, which is arguably worth more than the price of the subscription.

A salami of the month club for the meat lovers

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Olympia Provisions Artisanal Salami, from $40

You know the type — always orders a charcuterie board, could survive on prosciutto, prefers savory over sweet. Spoil your giftee with a salami delivery, and hope they invite you over for a dinner party soon when we can all get together again. 

A hot sauce subscription for heat seekers

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Fuego Box quarterly hot sauce subscription, available at Food52, $120

They’ll get fired up for this quarterly delivery of small-batch hot sauce, which is curated by Fuego Box and filled with gourmet picks from all over the country. Each box contains three five-ounce bottles. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

29 thoughtful corporate gifts your coworkers and employees will love

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

corporate gifts

  • Give back to the hardworking employees who keep your business running with these 29 corporate gifts. 
  • These gifts are both thoughtful and useful, and unlike many corporate gifts, they don’t look cheap. 
  • Find more gift ideas for everyone in your life here

A company is nothing without its employees. Whether you manage a lean team of five or oversee thousands across offices nationwide, you know that your employees are invaluable to the success of your business – and perhaps you want to thank them beyond simply paying a salary. 

Skip the tired and cheap corporate gifts and surprise your employees this year with these elevated, thoughtful, and useful options instead. Some come from our favorite startups, while others are just a click away on Amazon. Go the extra mile by customizing them with company colors, a logo, or a personal touch that truly shows your appreciation. Whether or not your company is working from home, it’s our hope that these gifts will allow you to stay connected to both your business and each other.

Here are 29 corporate gifts sure to wow your employees:

This list includes a Sponsored Product that has been suggested by Crowd Cow. It also meets our editorial criteria in terms of quality and value.*

Customized snack boxes from NatureBox

NatureBox Snack box

Bestsellers Box, available at NatureBox, $33.99

Many folks are missing the company snack bar now that lots of offices are closed, and nothing says I appreciate you quite like a box filled with delicious snacks. Why not make your their day with a custom snack box from NatureBox. NatureBox’s SnackPass box allows employees to choose their preferred snacks and get them sent directly to their houses. NatureBox offers a wide snack selection and its corporate gifting program allows you to send a customized snack box after simply providing some basic information.

Plants from BloomsyBox

BloomsyBox flowers

Cape Town Orchid, available at BloomsyBox, $34.99

Bring some life into your employee’s home office setup by gifting them a beautiful flower arrangement or plant from BloomsyBox. The retailer offers a wide variety of floral arrangements and plants and even offers subscriptions so that you can send your employees flowers on a consistent basis.

Gift sets from Bath & Body Works

Bath & Body Works set

Eucalyptus Spearmint Gift Set, $14.50, available at Bath & Body Works

With all of the hand washing and sanitizing we’re all doing due to the pandemic, there’s no better gift than this set from Bath & Body Works, which includes a hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and hand soap. While you can order quantities up to 25 directly from the site, Bath & Body Works’ corporate gifting program allows you to order larger quantities of gift sets as well as gift cards. Use this contact form, to get more information about Bath & Body Works’ corporate gifting program or to make large gift orders.

Decadent chocolates from Vosges

Vosges Chocolate library

Vosges Mini Exotic Chocolate Bar Library, $25, available at Vosges 

Our pick for the best chocolates you can gift, Vosges offers gift sets that are sure to impress your employees. Not only is each set beautifully packaged, it also includes high-quality chocolates. The Chocolate Bar Library is a great gifting option as it includes nine unique chocolate flavors, including banana coconut, matcha, and raw honey, in a keepsake box. Aside from this very giftable set, the Hazelnut Praline Bonbons set and the Champagne Truffle set are great gifting options. Vosges also offers a corporate concierge which can help guide you through personalizing your chocolate selection with your company’s branding and help coordinate shipping to multiple addresses. 

Sweet treats from Baked by Melissa

Baked by Melissa cupcakes

Latest & Greatest Cupcake Pack, 25 count, from $32, available at Baked by Melissa

There’s a reason that these bite-sized but flavorful cupcakes are a go-to gift for many. Baked by Melissa’s Latest & Greatest pack includes customer favorites such as red velvet and cookie dough as well as new seasonal flavor additions. Purchase these cupcakes in large quantities directly from the product page, or if you would like a more customized experience for your giftees, check out the brand’s corporate gifting information here.

Face masks from Vistaprint

vistaprint mask best corporate gifts

Custom face masks, starting at $11, available at Vistaprint

In our current times, face masks are an incredibly useful gift. Vistaprint, which is typically known for their customizable business cards, clothing, and more, has added masks to its extensive product lineup. Customize masks for your staff with your company’s logo or choose from one of many pre-existing designs. Submit a request for orders of more than 1,000 masks here.

Gift cards from Starbucks

starbucks gift card best corporate gifts

Gift cards, starting at $5, available at Starbucks

While many of us no longer have the option of working from coffee shops, Starbucks gift cards are a great gift to help your employees switch their morning routine up. With locations all over the country, Starbucks gift cards are great if you have employees spread across many locations. Starbucks’ corporate sales program has options that range from physical gift cards, branded gift cards, or digital gift cards delivered directly to your recipient’s email. You can also set the value of the gift cards to anywhere between $5 to $500. Learn more about Starbucks’ corporate sales program here.

Delicious baked goods from Goldbelly

magnolia banana pudding best corporate gifts

Baked goods, starting at $29, available at Goldbelly

You can never go wrong with gifting delicious baked goods. With an option to narrow your search by region, Goldbelly’s corporate gifting program allows you to send local eats to your employees no matter where they’re located. It offers everything from organic mixed fruit baskets, to Magnolia Bakery’s World Famous Banana Pudding. Every order also helps support small or minority owned businesses. For bulk orders of 15 recipients or more, you can email concierge@goldbelly.com.

Custom jackets from L.L.Bean

L.L.Bean fleece best corporate gifts

Custom jacket, starting at $69.99, available at L.L.Bean

When it comes to gifting clothing, one size does not fit all. Luckily, L.L.Bean’s business gifting site offers a wide range of inclusive sizes, from XS to 3X. Its fitness fleece quarter zip jacket is available in five colors and can be customized with a logo. The retailer also has a selection of other customizable products such as beanies, blankets, and duffle bags. You can place a corporate order here.

Tumblers from YETI

yeti

Rambler 20 Oz. Tumbler, $34.99, available at YETI

Whether you’re sipping on a hot or cold drink, YETI’s stainless steel, double-wall insulated tumblers never fail to keep your beverage at the optimal temperature. Employees can keep them on their desk or bring them along to the trails on their days off. You can fill out a corporate gift form at YETI here.

Socks from Bombas

Bombas socks

Men’s Merino Calf Sock 8-Pack, $136.80 on sale (originally $152), available at Bombas

Women’s Merino Calf Sock 8-Pack, $136.80 on sale (originally $152), available at Bombas

Part of Bombas’ appeal, other than the obvious differences in fit and feel, is that it donates a pair of socks to a homeless shelter every time someone buys a pair. This philanthropy doesn’t stop if you take part in its corporate gifting program. It can work with your company’s current charity partner, or help you find the perfect donation recipient. You can fill out a corporate gifting form at Bombas here.

High quality meat and seafood from Crowd Cow

Corproate gifts Crowd Cow

Check out Crowd Cow’s corporate gift bundles

Crowd Cow specializes in high-quality, eco-conscious seafood and meat, all the way down to its 100% carbon-neutral packaging. Crowd Cow’s curated list of gift bundles provides plenty of options, but you can also opt to work with a dedicated corporate gifting representative who can help customize a package based on your budget and company size.

*Sponsored by Crowd Cow

Gourmet gummies from Sugarfina

sugarfina

Baby Champagne Bears Candy Cube, from $9.95, available at Paper Source

Give your employees a sweet treat they’ll remember with a Sugarfina Candy Cube. Packaged thoughtfully in clear acrylic boxes, these candies were made for gifting. 

Nylon tote bags from BAGGU

baggu

BAGGU Nylon Tote Bag, from $12, available at Amazon

These waterproof nylon totes hold 50 pounds of stuff, fold down to a fraction of their size to fit in your back pocket, and can be customized to let your employees flaunt where they work. As eco-friendly practices become more than a passing trend, you’ll only see more of BAGGU’s stylish yet functional bags out on the streets. You can request a custom quote at BAGGU here.

Custom pencils from Shutterfly

Corporate gifts Shutterfly

Custom Pencils, $7.50, available at Shutterfly

Something to write with can always come in handy, be it for to-do lists, doodling, or anything in between. These custom pencils come in a set of 12, are available in four colors, and the message can be anything from a company name to a fun joke that coworkers share.

Chocolate covered strawberries from Shari’s Berries

sharis berries

Gourmet Drizzled Strawberries, $34.99 to $64.99, available at Sharri’s Berries

Peak indulgence is a box of strawberries dipped in rich milk, white, or dark chocolate, and maybe even sprinkled with nuts or chocolate chips. Shari’s Berries are our favorite chocolate covered strawberries and they might just become your employees’ favorite too after they try them. You can request a business gift quote at Shari’s Berries here.

Succulents from Lula’s Garden

lulas garden

Live Succulent Plant, from $27.99, available at Plants.com

A dash of greenery on their desk or in their room will make them happy — make it low-maintenance and nearly impossible to kill, and they’ll be even happier. Choose from single succulents or mini gardens, then customize the rest of the box to create the perfect plant gift. You can learn more about custom gifting at Lula’s Garden here.

Custom sticky notes from Zazzle

Corporate gifts sticky notes

Post-It Notes, from $6.95, available at Zazzle

Sticky notes are a productive gift that you know they’ll make great use of, whether jotting down assignments for the day or using them for out of office tasks and grocery lists. Add a custom touch to this office staple with a team photo, company logo, or personal text. Zazzle allows for orders of up to 500 packs at a time, and bulk ordering can save up to 60%.

Patterned socks from Happy Socks

happy socks

Mix Gift Box, $48, available at Happy Socks

Regardless of your office dress code, fun socks will always be appreciated. You’ll have difficulty narrowing down the final choice from Happy Socks’ large selection of colorful, quirky patterns and prints. Custom designs with the company colors or logo are also available for orders of 6,000 pairs or more. 

Suitcases from Away

away

The Carry-On, $225, available at Away

Business travel, so long as it’s done safely, has never looked so cool. With a bag from Away, they’ll be organized and stylish as they fly from destination to destination. You don’t have to gift a piece of luggage — you can also choose a backpack, luggage tag, or Away’s very useful travel wellness kit. Submit a corporate gifting form here for orders more than 25 units.

Leather accessories from Leatherology

leatherology

Bifold Wallet with Flap, $90, available at Leatherology

Send employees a beautiful, full-grain leather accessory like a luggage tag, business card case, or keychain. For an extra special touch, add a debossed monogram or logo. Though leather goods sound like a premium gift that could be out of your budget, Leatherology sells its bags and accessories without the markup, so customers don’t have to spend so much for a touch of luxury. You can fill out a corporate gift inquiry form at Leatherology here.

Sunglasses from Sunglass Hut

sunglass hut

Polo Ralph Lauren, from $67.50, available at Sunglass Hut

Sunglasses are a common gift or employee freebie, but they’re rarely worn because they’re plain or cheap. Sunglass Hut offers top brands and stylish options that everyone will actually want to wear. A perk of ordering through Sunglass Hut is that anyone can go to a store to receive a free personalized adjustment if the glasses don’t fit well. You can learn about corporate gifting at Sunglass Hut here.

Flowers from The Bouqs Co.

the bouqs co

Shop bouquets from $49 at The Bouqs Co.

Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day aren’t the only occasions where a bouquet of flowers is appropriate. Welcome new employees and remind current ones they’re appreciated with The Bouq Co’s farm-fresh flowers, which are always arranged and designed beautifully. Business customers can get up to 25% off regular prices. You can learn more about corporate gifting at The Bouqs Co. here.

Phone grips from PopSockets

popsockets

Rose Gold Aluminum PopGrip, $15, available at PopSockets

PopSockets PopGrips are the small, simple, and affordable phone accessories that your employees will wish you had gifted them earlier. These round buttons stick to the back of their phone and expand whenever they need a grip or a stand. They can take photos, text, and hold their phone without worrying about dropping it, or prop it up to stream content and video chat. You can order custom PopSockets PopGrips here.

Mashable magnet toys from Speks

speks

Speks Original Magnetic Balls, $24.95, available at Speks

Our team loved these tiny magnet toys a lot more than we expected to. Less obnoxious than fidget spinners, they’re immensely satisfying to play with and build with as you work through a problem or concentrate on a task. The set includes 512 rare earth magnetic balls, metal building base, plastic splitter card, 16-page starter guide, and carrying case. 

Candles from Otherland

otherland candle

Chandelier Candle, $36, available at Otherland

There are plenty of candles out there, but few quite as giftable as Otherland’s. These premium candles are available in many scents to suit the different personalities of your employees, and they look great on any tabletop (office, bedroom, or otherwise). You can email hello@otherland.com to inquire about corporate gifts and place a large order.

Hatch Idea notebooks

hatch notebook uncommon goods

Hatch Ideas Notebook, $25, available at Etsy

A well-executed idea doesn’t happen overnight. Help your employees hatch the next big idea with this cloth-bound notebook that’s organized into three sections: Conceive, Incubate, and Hatch. Although there’s no automatic option for bulk purchasing, the Etsy shop owner typically responds to messages within 24 hours and should be able to accommodate larger orders.

Bath and body gifts from L’Occitane

loccitane

Hand Indulgences Hand Cream Trio, $29, available at Nordstrom

From luxurious hand creams that are sold every three seconds around the world to nourishing soaps and shower oils, L’Occitane offers many options to pamper your employees. You can combine multiple products to create mini gift baskets or distribute them individually. Email corporategifts@us.loccitane.com to learn more about its corporate gift program.

Wine from Vinebox

vinebox

Vinebox Wine Gift Boxes, from $48, available at Vinebox

Instead of gifting them a bottle of wine you’re not sure they’ll like, let them personalize the selection themselves. Vinebox takes the intimidation and pressure out by delivering wine flights in unique bottles and helping budding wine enthusiasts discover their favorites. You can learn more about corporate gifting at Vinebox here.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Around-the-world cruises costing up to $500,000 are selling out 2 years in advance as eager travelers prepare for restrictions to lift

Oceania Cruises  insignia
Oceania Cruises’ Insignia ship.

  • As people anticipate an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, some cruises are selling out well in advance.
  • Monthlong trips with Oceania Cruises and Seabourn for 2023 have sold out.
  • Major US cruises are set to return no earlier than May. The CDC temporarily banned them last year.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Tickets for around-the-world cruises are selling out years ahead of their departure date as travelers anticipate the end of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

When Viking Ocean Cruises released tickets for a 136-day world cruise for late 2021, they sold out in weeks, Bloomberg first reported Monday. The same happened when it announced in December a second cruise to take place at the end of the year, Viking told the publication.

The ships for the two cruises – Viking Star and Viking Neptune – carry 930 passengers each but have left some rooms free for potential quarantine measures, the company told Bloomberg.

The company said it was planning another world-cruise itinerary for 2023, per Bloomberg.

“We are looking to open the next opportunity as quickly as we can,” Richard Marnell, the executive vice president of marketing for Viking, told Bloomberg.

The luxury cruise line Seabourn sold out all penthouse spa and premium suites on its 450-passenger Seabourn Sojourn for two world trips in 2022 and 2023, a company representative told Insider’s Brittany Chang in a statement Sunday. Couples are paying up to $500,000 for a five-month cruise, and the company had to recently open waiting lists, Bloomberg reported.

Oceania Cruises also sold out its 2023 “Around the World in 180 Days” cruise in 24 hours on January 27, Insider reported previously. The Insignia ship, which accommodates a maximum of 684 passengers, travels to five continents, including Antarctica, and 61 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Bob Binder, Oceania Cruises’ president and CEO, said in a statement that its quick sale time was due to “pent-up demand.”

Insider has reached out to Viking and Oceania Cruises for comment.

The high demand for tickets is a sign of hope for the struggling cruise industry, which was thrown into turmoil when COVID-19 spread across several ships last March.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people avoid traveling on cruise ships, which are especially susceptible to spreading COVID-19.

After the pandemic took hold in March, the CDC temporarily banned cruises in the US to curb the spread of the virus. But in October, the agency replaced its no-sail order with a “framework for Conditional Sailing Order” – a list of requirements necessary for cruise lines to continue sailing again.

The soonest any major US cruise is scheduled to operate is May. Carnival Cruises, Royal Caribbean, and Disney said they would resume sailing after May, while P&O Cruises has stopped all trips through April.

Since COVID-19 vaccines have been rolled out, several large cruise companies, including Carnival, Crystal Cruises, and Norwegian Cruises, have announced vaccine requirements for guests and staff members.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Americans focused on nesting during the coronavirus pandemic help lift US holiday shopping sales

woman paying on phone online shopping
  • Holiday shoppers in the US spent 3% more than the previous year, led by online spending spikes on furniture and home improvement, says Mastercard.
  • “They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard, said in a statement. 
  • Online sales in the 75 days prior to Christmas jumped 49% from the same year-earlier period, the company said. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Holiday shoppers in the US spent 3% more than the previous year, led by online spending spikes on furniture and home improvement.

As might be expected, online retail boomed as in-person lagged, according to data released Saturday by Mastercard. 

The company said online sales in the 75 days before Christmas jumped 49% from the same year-earlier period. 

The biggest bump over last year came in home improvement, continuing a yearlong trend. As people stayed home during the pandemic, they spent more on making their surroundings comfortable. Online home improvement sales soared about 80%.

“American consumers turned the holiday season on its head, redefining ‘home for the holidays’ in a uniquely 2020 way. They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard, said in a statement. 

Holiday shoppers seemed to be focused on nesting, as online furniture and furnishing sales climbed 31%, and electronics and appliances climbed 6%. 

A rise in overall holiday spending – even by just 3% – will likely be met with cheers from retailers, many of which have had a difficult year bringing customers in.

“And, consumers shopped earlier than ever before. Across our expanded 75-day holiday shopping season, sales were up 3.0%, a testament to the holiday season and strength of retailers and consumers alike,” said Sadove in a statement. 

The holiday shopping season is marked off differently by some firms, but for many, it begins on the day after Thanksgiving, so-called Black Friday. Foot traffic on that day in US stores had fallen 52%, while online sales climbed 22%, according to Sensormatic Solutions. Mastercard said on Saturday that sales that day fell 16% year over year. 

But “Thanksgiving weekend through Cyber Monday remained a key time for shoppers, with Black Friday being the top spending day of the 2020 holiday season,” Mastercard said in a statement. 

In-store retail sales for items that are usually holiday staples slipped, as expected. In-person clothing sales dropped 19%, while luxury items dropped 21%, according to Mastercard.

In-person jewelry sales slipped 4%, while online sales rose 45%, according to Mastercard. 

Overall, in-person department store shopping fell 10%, but rose about 3% online. 

“Buy online, pick up in-store as well as technologies like contactless were key for retailers this season,” said Mastercard. 

About 38% of US shoppers had planned to spend less this holiday season, according to a study from Deloitte.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Here’s a look back on the historic traditions that inspired modern Christmas celebrations, from Ancient Rome to Scandinavia

Christmas holiday
Traditional foods and customs are influenced by European countries.

  • While Christmas is closely associated with the Christian faith and the birth of Jesus, modern-day traditions can also be traced back to rituals and customs from other cultures. 
  • Ancient Rome’s Saturnalia celebrations placed an emphasis on sharing food and drinks, spending time with loved ones, and exchanging little gifts during the winter season. 
  • The Germanic-Scandinavian tradition, Yule, was a winter festival where the Norse god Odin left small gifts for each household on his eight-legged white horse.
  • The evolution of Santa Clause resembles Odin as well as other historical figures, including Saint Nicholas of Myra and the Dutch figure Sinterklaas. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Not long to go now before many of us get to spread some good tidings and joy as we celebrate Christmas.

The main ways we understand and mark the occasion seem to be rather similar across the world. It’s about time with community, family, food-sharing, gift-giving, and overall merry festivities.

But while Christmas is ostensibly a Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus, many of the rituals and customs come from other traditions, both spiritual and secular.

The first Christmas

The journey of Christmas into the celebration we know and recognize today is not a straight line.

The first Christmas celebrations were recorded in Ancient Rome in the fourth century. Christmas was placed in December, around the time of the northern winter solstice.

It is not difficult to spot the similarities between our now long-standing Christmas traditions and the Roman festival of Saturnalia, which was also celebrated in December and coexisted with Christian belief for a period of time.

Saturnalia placed an emphasis on the sharing of food and drink, and spending time with loved ones as the colder winter period arrived. There is even evidence that the Romans exchanged little gifts of food to mark the occasion.

As Christianity took greater hold in the Roman world and the old polytheistic religion was left behind, we can see the cultural imprint of Saturnalia traditions in the ways in which our well-known Christmas celebrations established themselves across the board.

Read more: Researchers are on a quest to create the perfect Christmas tree that lasts through the holidays – and one of these ‘frankenfirs’ will be available by 2021

A Yule celebration

Turning an eye to the Germanic-Scandinavian context also provides intriguing connections. In the Norse religion, Yule was a winter festival celebrated during the period we now roughly associate with December.

The beginning of Yule was marked by the arrival of the Wild Hunt, a spiritual occurrence when the Norse god Odin would ride across the sky on his eight-legged white horse.

While the hunt was a frightening sight to behold, it also brought excitement for families, and especially children, as Odin was known to leave little gifts at each household as he rode past.

Like the Roman Saturnalia, Yule was a time of drawing in for the winter months, during which copious amounts of food and drink would be consumed.

The Yule festivities included bringing tree branches inside the home and decorating them with food and trinkets, likely opening the way for the Christmas tree as we know it today.

The influence of Yule on the festive season of Northern European countries is still evident in linguistic expression too, with “Jul” being the word for Christmas in Danish and Norwegian. The English language also maintains this connection, by referring to the Christmas period as “Yuletide”.

Here comes Santa

Through the idea of gift-giving, we see the obvious connections between Odin and Santa Claus, even though the latter is somewhat of a popular culture invention, as put forward by the famous poem A Visit from St Nicholas (also known as The Night Before Christmas), attributed to American poet Clement Clarke Moore in 1837 (although debate continues over who actually wrote the poem).

The poem was very well-received and its popularity spread immediately, going well beyond the American context and reaching global fame. The poem gave us much of the staple imagery we associate with Santa today, including the first ever mention of his reindeer.

But even the figure of Santa Claus is evidence of the constant mixture and mingling of traditions, customs, and representations.

Santa’s evolution carries echoes of not only Odin, but also historical figures such as Saint Nicholas of Myra – a fourth-century bishop known for his charitable work – and the legendary Dutch figure of Sinterklaas that derived from it.

Read more: Coaches, founders, and executives share how they’re setting goals for 2021

Christmas down under in the summer

The idea of connecting Christmas to winter festivals and drawing in customs makes the most sense in the colder months of the Northern hemisphere.

In the Southern hemisphere, in countries such as New Zealand and Australia, the traditional Christmas celebrations have evolved into their own specific brand, which is much more suited to the warmer summer months.

Christmas is an imported event in these areas and acts as a constant reminder of the spread of European colonialism in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Celebrating Christmas still carries the influence of European contexts, being a time for merriment, gift-giving, and community spirit.

Even some of the traditional foods of the season here are still indebted to Euro-British traditions, with turkey and ham taking center stage.

All the same, as Christmas falls in the summer down under, there are also different ways to celebrate it in New Zealand and other regions that clearly have nothing to do with winter festivals.

Barbecues and beach days are prominent new traditions, as borrowed practices co-exist with novel ways of adapting the event to a different context.

The wintry Christmas puddings are often exchanged for more summery pavlovas, whose fresh fruit toppings and meringue base certainly befit the warmer season to a greater extent.

The transition to outdoor Christmas celebrations in the Southern hemisphere is obviously locked in common sense because of the warmer weather.

Nonetheless, it also shows how both cultural and geographical drivers can influence the evolution of celebrating important festivals. And if you really want to experience a cold Christmas down under, there is always a mid-year Christmas in July to look forward to.

Lorna Piatti-Farnell, professor of popular culture, Auckland University of Technology

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation
Read the original article on Business Insider

Your ultimate guide to holiday gift ideas for 2020 – from gifts under $100, $50, and $25, to the coolest tech gifts out there

When you buy through our links, we may earn money from our affiliate partners. Learn more.

IP Holiday Gift Guides Landing Page 2020 4x3

Despite all the festive cheer and time away from work that usually come with the holiday season, it can also be a stressful time if you plan on buying gifts for everyone in your life.

Every year, Insider Reviews creates dozens of gift guides to help you find the best Christmas, Hanukkah and general holiday gifts out there – for any budget, hobby or interest, and person. You can find all our holiday gift guides on this page, but to make it even easier on you, we’ve also rounded up and categorized them below. 

Consider this your ultimate cheat sheet to knocking out your last-minute gift shopping for the year. Click on a link below to jump directly to all the gift guides in that category. 

best Gifts under $25 2019
IP Under $25 4x3
Find all the gifts pictured here, including Jason Markk sneaker spray, avocado huggers, and reusable straw sets, by clicking the image.

The elements of a good present — thoughtful, useful, or novel — aren’t restricted to a big budget.

It’s tough to be a tech enthusiast when the market is full of expensive gadgets. Some of the best tech gifts, however, won’t cost more than $25. 

Stocking stuffers have a reputation for being cute but useless. These small gifts challenge that perception.

Surprise your friendly neighborhood mailman or the cousin you only ever see at the big family holiday gathering with a thoughtful stocking stuffer. 

Grab these beauty stocking stuffers from brands like Charlotte Tilbury, Guerlain, and Givenchy. 

best Gifts under $50 2019
50 gifts under $50 4x3
Find all the gifts pictured here, including Brightland olive oil, a Briogeo hair mask, and an Amazon speaker, by clicking the image.

Looking for a last-minute gift card to send a loved one? Here are some of our favorites to help get you started.

Whether you’re searching for practical, nostalgic, quirky, or sentimental, there’s an under-$50 gift from brands big and small in this guide. 

Not only are all these gifts affordable, but they’re also available on a shopping site you know well. 

When it comes to gifting your own mother, the saying “it’s the thought that counts” has never been more appropriate. 

Kitchen gifts don’t have to be expensive. Even a simple and practical accessory like a ramekin or avocado slicer will make them happy. 

A good manager isn’t easy to come by. Show your appreciation with a useful, thoughtful, and work-appropriate gift.

Gift the coworker who you Slack incessantly and is your go-to partner at office happy hours. 

Gift swaps reward the niche, novel, and irreverent, with bonus points going to those who can check the boxes of funny and useful.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for your sister, mom, partner, or otherwise, we’ve put together a list of over 50 great gifts under $50 that we think she’ll love. 

The unique selection of gifts includes picks for every sort of dad, from the hapless car-key-losing fool to the history buff and the masterful (and not-so-masterful) home chef. 

best Gifts under $100 2019
IP under $100 4x3
Find all the gifts pictured here, including LL.Bean slippers, Atlas coffee, Allbirds sneakers, and an Instax camera, by clicking the image.

Looking for a last-minute gift card to send a loved one? Here are some of our favorites to help get you started.

With a $100 budget, you can buy anything from a smart speaker to an educational cooking class

Most people automatically think cool tech has to be expensive. Wireless earbuds, fitness trackers, and smart lights prove the assumption wrong. 

Here’s a double whammy: fast Prime shipping and under $100. 

If you’re not already one of their favorite students, you surely will be after they receive something from this list. 

best Stocking stuffers 2019

Gift swaps reward the niche, novel, and irreverent, with bonus points going to those who can check the boxes of funny and useful.

Stocking stuffers have a reputation for being cute but useless. These small gifts challenge that perception.

Surprise your friendly neighborhood mailman or the cousin you only ever see at the big family holiday gathering with a thoughtful stocking stuffer. 

best Gifts for her 2019

There’s still plenty of time to find great gifts for everyone on your list. Here are last-minute Christmas gifts that can still be delivered on time.

When it comes to gifting your own mother, the saying “it’s the thought that counts” has never been more appropriate.

From classic cashmere sweaters to monthly wine subscriptions, you’ll be able to find something no matter your budget.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for your sister, mom, partner, or otherwise, we’ve put together a list of over 50 great gifts under $50 that we think she’ll love. 

You won’t find bedazzled, dumbed down, and all-pink tech gadgets here. These gifts are both stylish and powerful. 

Grandma is another important woman in your life who you know always has your back. Show her the love and appreciation she deserves with these gifts. 

We give you more than three dozen gift ideas that make gifting your partner infinitely easier this year. 

You don’t need to spend a crazy amount of money or plan an extravagant gesture to show your wife you appreciate her. 

This guide’s author has a teen sister herself and has many fun ideas as a result. 

Any mom, tech-savvy or no, can appreciate a good gadget that makes her life easier and happier.

best Gifts for him 2019

There’s still plenty of time to find great gifts for everyone on your list. Here are last-minute Christmas gifts that can still be delivered on time

Find the perfect gift for the man in your life — boyfriend, husband, fiancé, or otherwise. 

Every gift he could ever want, from a fidget toy to luxury sheets, can be found on Amazon. 

Dads always say they never want anything, but we came up with 50 gift ideas for you anyways. 

Some of these gifts for your husband might even benefit the entire family, so it’s a cost-efficient, win-win situation. 

Cars, audio, fitness, games — the tech gift options are limitless, but we narrowed down the lot to the best 37. 

If you have a specific budget you’re working with, you’ll find affordable yet useful gifts in this guide. 

Here’s a double whammy: fast Prime shipping and under $100. 

Make his travels more enjoyable, restful, and convenient with gifts like comfortable shoes and a streaming service subscription.

The unapologetic Disney dad in your life might love a Disney Plus subscription, retro Magic Kingdom sweatshirt, and Mickey Mouse watch. 

best Tech Gifts 2019

Most people automatically think cool tech has to be expensive. Wireless earbuds, fitness trackers, and smart lights prove the assumption wrong. 

You won’t find bedazzled, dumbed down, and all-pink tech gadgets here. These gifts are both stylish and powerful. 

Cars, audio, fitness, games — the tech gift options are limitless, but we narrowed down the lot to the best 37. 

Whether they have the newest iPhone or are still hanging on to their iPhone 6, they’ll love these small upgrades to their phone. 

You can gift something basic to introduce them to the concept of the smart home, or something more advanced to help them take their home automation to the next level. 

“Alexa…” Listen to music, call a friend, and change the room’s temperatures with these smart home products. 

It’s tough to be a tech enthusiast when the market is full of expensive gadgets. Some of the best tech gifts, however, won’t cost more than $25. 

In an iPhone-driven world, it’s actually not as difficult as you think to gift an Android owner. 

Any mom, tech-savvy or no, can appreciate a good gadget that makes her life easier and happier.

It can be hard to figure out which tech gifts teens are actually excited about. 

best Unique gifts 2019

It’s hard to stay connected to someone feeling isolated during the pandemic, but these small (contactless) gestures of kindness may put a smile on their face.

The best subscription services help your recipient discover something new or make their everyday life a little easier. 

Etsy is a treasure trove for handmade goods. Even better, these ones ship for free. 

Using the Amazon Gift Finder tool, we found some cool gifts that makes shopping on the site feel less impersonal. 

As its name suggests, UncommonGoods is filled with non-generic and memorable gifts. You’re guaranteed to find something truly unique here. 

The TV show “Shark Tank” never ceases to entertain and inspire us with its innovative products and hardworking entrepreneurs. 

In the place known as “the everything store,” we show you the most interesting gift finds. 

A gift isn’t truly unique until it has a personalized mark on it — like a monogram, their favorite song, or their specific flavor preferences. 

While the eight-day celebration of Hanukkah isn’t rooted in gifting, it’s become commonplace to give gifts over the course of the holiday.

This underrated section of Amazon combines the unique product selection of sites like Etsy and UncommonGoods with the convenience of the Amazon shopping experience. 

Beyond the usual fart jokes and political gags, there are gifts that are actually funny and memorable. 

The guide includes helpful labels for which age group each gift is appropriate. 

best Home and kitchen gifts  2019

They’ll always have a meal, dessert, or drink ready on the table with one of these cookbooks in hand.

Kitchen gifts don’t have to be expensive. Even a simple and practical accessory like a ramekin or avocado slicer will make them happy. 

The pros tell us what to give someone who loves being in the kitchen.  They personally use these tools and appliances in their professional or home kitchens. 

In order to create its candles, Homesick Candles polled people from different states and cities to find out what home smells like to them. 

best Food and drink gifts 2019

If they have a sweet tooth, they won’t be disappointed by the delectable cookies, truffles, and cake from the New York City-based Milk Bar.

Goldbelly makes it possible to satisfy their most specific cravings wherever they live in the US — a cheesecake from Junior’s, deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati, and more. 

There’s no such thing as too much tea or teapots, at least according to this guide written by our editor and self-professed tea lady. 

They include the usual (chocolate, cheese, wine) and the unusual (Japanese snacks, tea “drops”). 

best Gifts for hobbies and interests 2019

These are the products that Insider Reviews readers bought the most of in 2020 — from various rolls of toilet paper to a Hulu membership.

Fuel their passion for songs, bands, instruments, and genres of all types.

Arm them with the gear that they can wear to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter or decor that shows off their Gryffindor pride. 

This guide is filled with hands-on gift options, including a lightsaber, huge Lego set, or a slime kit.

The top toys of 2019 from ShopDisney and the Disney Store make great gifts for every kid on your list. 

Mickey Mouse is 91 years old this year and we have 30 gifts that pay homage to this iconic Disney mascot. 

The unapologetic Disney dad in your life might love a Disney Plus subscription, retro Magic Kingdom sweatshirt, and Mickey Mouse watch. 

These hefty books reveal all about Disney’s animation history, secrets of the theme parks, and more. 

While Marvel primarily exists in comic book and movie form, there is a thriving market of Marvel-inspired goods and merchandise.

Make his travels more enjoyable, restful, and convenient with gifts like comfortable shoes and a streaming service subscription.

Jumpstart their fitness goals for the new year with the appropriate gear or memberships. 

If they keep sharing Baby Yoda memes with you, chances are they’ll get a kick out of one of these gifts.

It’s a no-brainer to give a dog owner something that has to do with dogs, but it’s more difficult to give something that they (or their dog) don’t already have. 

best Gifts from your favorite stores 2019

Using the Amazon Gift Finder tool, we found some cool gifts that makes shopping on the site feel less impersonal. 

Not only are all these gifts affordable, but they’re also available on a shopping site you know well. 

In the place known as “the everything store,” we show you the most interesting gift finds. 

Teenagers are notoriously difficult to find gifts for, so skip the headache and read this guide. 

This guide’s author has a teen sister herself and has many fun ideas as a result. 

Every gift he could ever want, from a fidget toy to luxury sheets, can be found on Amazon. 

Beyond the usual fart jokes and political gags, there are gifts that are actually funny and memorable. 

Here’s a double whammy: fast Prime shipping and under $100. 

Etsy is a treasure trove for handmade goods. Even better, these ones ship for free.

As its name suggests, UncommonGoods is filled with non-generic and memorable gifts. You’re guaranteed to find something truly unique here. 

The TV show “Shark Tank” never ceases to entertain and inspire us with its innovative products and hardworking entrepreneurs. 

Urban Outfitters is known for its slightly kitschy but interesting accessories, home products, and tech gadgets.  

Read the original article on Business Insider

How the Christmas tree tradition began

  • Christmas trees can be found all over the world today, but medieval Germans were the first to fully embrace the holiday tradition.
  • Even before that, many cultures, including ancient Egyptians, worshipped evergreen trees and branches as a symbol of eternal life.
  • Watch the video above to see how pagans “decked the halls” with evergreens before Queen Victoria made it a popular Christmas decoration. 

Following is a transcript of the video.

Trees have long been used to decorate homes. Ancient Chinese, Hebrews, and Egyptians viewed evergreens as symbols of eternal life. European pagans “decked the halls” with evergreen branches to bring in life during the dark days of winter. But, medieval Germans are credited with starting the Xmas tree tradition. They brought fir trees inside on December 24. The trees were decorated with wafers, candles, and red apples. These “paradise trees” symbolized the Garden of Eden.

17th-century German settlers brought the tradition to North America. The tradition didn’t catch on with most Americans until Queen Victoria popularized it. In 1846, Victoria and her German husband, Prince Albert, put up a Xmas tree. They decorated it with toys, candy, popcorn, and cakes.

Once word spread, the popularity of Christmas trees took off. It became a tradition throughout England and North America. Now, they can be found all over the world.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This video was originally published in November 2018.

Read the original article on Business Insider