<![CDATA[NBC New York - holidays]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/feature/holidays http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Sat, 28 Nov 2015 20:34:17 -0500 Sat, 28 Nov 2015 20:34:17 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gift Guide for Any Budget]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 07:35:56 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/gift-thumb.jpg
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<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for a Fashionista]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:38:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/fashionista2.jpg Don't know what to buy for the fashion-forward lady on your list. Click through our ultimate holiday gift guide for some of the most stylish items that will be sure to please even the most devout trendsetters. ]]> <![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Tech & Gadget Gifts Under $100]]> Sat, 28 Nov 2015 17:25:43 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Tech+Gifts+2015.jpg Shopping for a gadget-obsessed friend or family member? Discover the coolest gadgets and tech gifts in our 2015 holiday guide. ]]> <![CDATA[Gift Guide: 12 Hot Holiday Toys]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:36:37 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toys-split.jpg

Lightsabers, talking plush toys and robots make up this year's lineup of hot toys every kid would love to get for the holidays. 

Hundreds of products, from puzzles to action figures based on "Star Wars: The Force Awakens”, which is being released Dec. 18, will dominate store shelves and kids' wish lists alike.  

"'Star Wars' is a good monster for the industry," said Richard Gottlieb, principal and founder of Global Toy Group, a consultancy and resource for the industry. "That, of course, will bring an enormous number of shoppers."

Remote controlled cars, droids controlled by smartphones and robotic creatures with voice recognition features are also popular. 

Take a look at 12 hot toys this holiday season:

Star Wars Episode 7 BB-8 App-Enabled Droid

Kids can link this toy and then control it through their iPhone or iPad. The toy reacts to voice command and can patrol autonomously. Also, it can create holographic like recordings. "BB-8 has something unlike any other robot--an adaptive personality that changes as you play," according to the product's description." Based on your interactions, BB-8 will show a range of expressions and even perk up when you give voice commands."

Star Wars Bladebuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber

It's not just another "Star Wars" toy. It is an essential item to have for the series' enthusiasts. It lights up and creates sounds from the movie to simulate the thrill of sword-dueling between Jedi masters and Sith overlords.

Glider Board or 'Hoverboard'

The Glider Board allows you to travel over six miles an hour. It's controlled with your feet as you move around and can climb up 30-degree slopes. The "hoverboard" can go up to 12 miles in distance after every full charge. For security, an anti-theft key lock is included so it cannot be driven without your permission. If you live in New York City, you may have to limit your use of the "hoverboard" to indoor spaces. The NYC police department confirmed that it is illegal to use the 'hoverboards' in public areas because they are considered motor vehicles that cannot be registered with the department of motor vehicles. In California, legislation passed in Oct. allowing the boards to be used in the same places as bikes. Local California municipalities have the ability to ban their use.

Despicable Me 2 Jumbo Talking Minion - Dave

The Minions, both lovable and memorable, are exactly the kind of toy you want for your child. At 16" tall, Jumbo Talking Minion - Dave is a plush toy that with a squeeze on his tummy can say up to 15 sayings in the original voice from the movie. His eyes can also "pop-out" and light up with a press. This plush toy is not only the prefect gift for children, but also for adults who enjoyed the movie.

UDI RC U818A Quadcopter with HD Camera

You can record high definition video from your drone and perform 360-degree tricks at the touch of a button. It has a built-in fast and slow speed function along with a low-voltage alarm on the transmitter to optimize your experience. The manufacturer recommends that this toy be used by people ages 14 and up. It's also important to follow safety guidelines while flying your drone.

Disney "Descendants"

Your child's favorite Disney characters have families in the feature film "Descendants." Toys from the movie feature Maleficent's daughter, Mal and Evie who is the daughter of the Evil Queen from "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Carlos, son of Cruella de Vil is another character that you can buy. The figures can be stylized with two outfits, two pairs of shoes and three accessories.

NERF Rebelle Secrets & Spies Arrow Revolution Bow Blaster

This bow and arrow set will unleash your child's inner Katniss Everdeen. The character has spurred an interest in the bow and with the release of the final "Hunger Games" movie, this set will be a hot purchase. Using this bow, an arrow can be shot up to 90 feet away.

Zoomer Dino Jurassic World Indominus Rex Robot

The blockbuster hit "Jurassic World" rocked theaters this summer and toys from the movie will be heavily sought this holiday season. The Indominus Rex, the bio-engineered dinosaur from the movie, can respond to movement, make recorded sounds from the film and change eye color.

Peanuts Happy Dance Snoopy

The Snoopy plush toy is a great gift for fans of the new "Peanuts" movie, featuring Charlie Brown. This plush version of Snoopy dances to a popular tune from the "Peanuts" series and reacts to being kissed on the nose.

Easy Animation Studio

Crayola's animation studio pack allows all future animators and artists to digitally create scenes with characters included with the purchase. After downloading an application for iOS or Android devices, young animators will be able to create scenes with an included poseable mannequin. Position the mannequin into different poses to create a short stop-motion video.

Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit

The equipment for the four super smart girls from the "Project Mc2,"a children's web show, is available for home or on-the-go use. The kit comes with a working 4x microscope and all the equipment needed to conduct a science experiment with a petri dish, safety goggles, pipette dropper and 15 pH strips.

"Lego Dimensions"

"Lego Dimensions," a video game that can be played across most gaming platforms except PC, is the latest in the toy company's reach for the digital age. Figurines such as Lego Batman, Gandalf and Lucy from "The Lego Movie" are available to use in the game. To play the game, figurines are placed on a pad connected to the system and are then represented in the virtual world. More figurines can be bought to expand the character selection.

Photo Credit: NBC Universal]]>
<![CDATA[A's Pitcher Hosts Syrian Refugees]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:09:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/172*120/DSC_15321.jpg

Oakland A’s pitcher Sean Doolittle and his activist girlfriend Eireann Dolan, both natives of Illinois, hosted 17 Syrian refugee families for a Thanksgiving meal in Chicago on Wednesday night with Mayor Rahm Emanuel as a special guest.

The idea of whether to accept Syrian refugees has become controversial as of late, as some critics fear that terrorists could slip in as desperate families seek safe shelter from their war-torn homeland.

But the couple shunned those worries, and instead decided to act how they think all Americans should.

“Chicago is so lucky to have 17 Syrian refugee families now officially calling it home,” Dolan wrote on Instagram. “We thought we'd officially welcome them with one of our greatest American traditions, Thanksgiving.”

Her photo shows women in hijabs and a young boy wearing a Cubs baseball cap seated around a festive table, dotted with Pepsi, flowers and cranberry sauce.

A’s spokesman Ken Pries told NBC Bay Area on Friday the power couple hosted the dinner on Wednesday and have no personal connection with the refugees. The city of Chicago and the mayor helped put them in contact with the group, he said.

“It was obviously a very nice gesture," he said.

The couple has made nice gestures before.

The A’s kicked off LGBT Pride Night in June, which sparked some homophobic reaction, such as season ticket holders indicating they wanted to sell their tickets.

Dolan, who said she has two “super gay” moms, and Doolittle offered to buy any unwanted tickets up to $3,000, and donate the tickets to the Bay Area Youth Center’s Our Space community for LGBTQ youth.

Photo Credit: Walter Mitchell, City of Chicago
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<![CDATA[First Lady Receives 2015 WH Christmas Tree]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 14:54:57 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/whitehouse-GettyImages-498935450.jpg

The official White House Christmas Tree - an 18.5-foot Fraser fir - was presented to First Lady Michelle Obama on Friday. 

The Marine Band played as the horse-drawn wagon carrying the tree pulled up to the North Portico. Glenn and Jay Bustard of Bustard's Christmas Trees of Pennsylvania, the growers of this year's tree, presented the tree to the first lady. 

"It's beautiful. It's going to work," said Obama, who was holding the first family's dogs, Bo and Sunny, on a leash. 

She wished everyone happy holidays, saying she hopes there will be snow. The tree will be on display in the Blue Room. 

Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Online Sales Surge, but Thousands Lining Up for Black Friday]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 07:28:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/BlackFridayMacys-AP_931186516506.jpg

Thousands of shoppers are still choosing to line up in the stores to make sure they got the best deals. The tradition of getting there early was still going strong, according to NBC News.

Hundreds lined nine levels of escalators at Macy's flagship store in New York City to get Black Friday deals on Thursday.

Many more consumers opted to stay home and shop online, according to NBC News.

Online sales increased 24 percent through 11 a.m. ET Thursday, compared to the same 12-hour period on Thanksgiving last year, according to Adobe Digital Index, which tracks real-time data for retailers.

Online shops are also reporting greater sales volumes - as much as 50 percent from midnight to noon, including 31 percent at Amazon.com, online retail data aggregator, Channel Advisor, said.

Photo Credit: AP Images for Macy's]]>
<![CDATA[Best of 2015 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 11:43:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_797372372594-parade.jpg Millions of people attended the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on Nov. 26, 2015, in New York City. Floats graced the skies and musical and theatrical performances entertained on street level.

Photo Credit: Scott Roth/Invision/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Butterball Hotline Shares Funny, Strange Stories About Call-Ins]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 13:27:58 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_talkingturkey1125_1500x845.jpg Employees at the Butterball Turkey's "Turkey Talk-Line" share some of the strange calls they've handled over the hotline's 34 years.]]> <![CDATA[Thanksgiving 2015: Celebs Give Thanks]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 08:23:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_501572141294.jpg

Thanksgiving is finally here. And with it comes a turkey dinner and spending time with those we love. But it’s also a time to reflect on the things that make us thankful.

From food to family to friends, here’s a list of things celebrities, presidential candidates and others are thankful for this Thanksgiving.

Laverne Cox had a lot to be thankful for, including her support network and her career.

Boy band One Direction showed they're grateful for their fans, tweeting, "Happy Thanksgiving to all our US fans!" Hugh Jackman, who's kicking off his new stage show "Broadway to Oz," thanked his fans for messages of "support and love." "To all celebrating Thanksgiving-have an awesome day," he wrote in a tweet.  

Family topped the list for Tori Spelling, Danielle Steel, Hailey Duff, Conan O’Brien and Republican presidential candidate, George Pataki.

Bethanny Frankel said she's thankful for the friends she had dinner with this year.

The First Lady and Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz are thankful for those who served to protect the country.

GOP hopeful Ben Carson tweeted his followers a way to get their own "Gifted Hands" turkey while they spend time with friends and family this Thanksgiving.

Reality show matriarch, Kris Jenner, is grateful for the one person who can make her feel beautiful — her makeup artist. And her daughter, Khloe, said she got up "early cooking away for my entire family for this afternoon."

Later in the day, Kyle Jenner shared an Instagram of her "blended family" celebrating Turkey Day together.

Sometimes, it's all about the simple pleasures, as in Deborah Cox's case.

But if you need to keep things in perspective this holiday, astronaut Scott Kelly sums it up with this photo taken from space.


Photo Credit: John Salangsang/Invision/AP
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<![CDATA[Learn How to Make Coquito Cocktails for the Holidays]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 17:06:14 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/ENG_coquito_recipe_1200x675_574318147973.jpg Miami-based food writer Enriqueta Lemoine shows you her take on the Puerto Rican holiday drink coquito.]]> <![CDATA[Songs of the Season: 2015 Holiday Albums]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:40:22 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_91300506647+%281%29.jpg The latest seasonal offerings from various artists including the Braxton Family, India.Arie, Kenny Rogers, Kylie Minogue, LeAnn Rimes, and even the My Little Pony gang.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Charlie Brown's Holiday Gift]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 13:06:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_01100804746+Charlie+Brown.jpg

In “The Peanuts Movie,” nods to “A Charlie Brown Christmas” drop like tasty snowflakes.

There's a flashback to a black-and-white Charles Schulz drawing of Charlie and his anemic Christmas tree. We hear snatches of Vince Guaraldi's bouncy "Linus and Lucy" theme. We even get a glimpse of the dancing, shoulder-bopping spiky-haired kid whose identity remains a mystery a half-century later.

The movie, with its digital 3D rendering and relatively happy ending (no spoilers, but it involves a certain red-headed lass), smooths out some of the rough edges of the old animation – as well as the underlying sadness behind the comics' rounded-headed depressive Everyman.

Still, the movie marks a fitting bookend to the original Christmas special, which celebrates its 50th anniversary Monday with a broadcast on ABC. He might not have conventional Christmas tree-buying instincts, but 65 years after his first appearance in the funny papers, good 'ol Charlie Brown still knows how to serve up the holiday gifts.

The Christmas special proved groundbreaking not for its animation style, but for a tone that echoed Schulz’s then 15-year-old strip, which chronicled, through children, a very adult search for emotional stability amid the petty cruelties of everyday life. Charlie Brown confronts futility, in the form of kite-hobbling trees and snatched-away footballs, as Linus clutches his security blanket.

The special decried the commercialization of Christmas, as sensitive Charlie Brown looked for the true meaning of the holiday surrounded by a cast of characters that included kids variously mean and insightful, and a beagle adept at quick-and-gaudy decorating.

The first and the best of a long line of “Peanuts” animated TV specials and films wound up accelerating the commercialization of the franchise. Snoopy went from being the strip’s irreverent Id, with his imagination-driven Red Baron battling, to becoming a cuddlier, more marketable figure. Schulz, though, rarely lost his edge in the daily updates, which ended with his death 15 years ago.

The new movie, which has grossed more than $100 million, shows there’s still an appetite for Peanuts, even if the film offers dollops more sugary than the old-school bittersweet. The flick, hopefully, will help drive fans new and old to the small screen Monday for a golden anniversary special preceding the broadcast, when Charlie Brown sounds TV's strongest signal that Christmastime is here.

Jere Hester is Director of News Products and Projects at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is also the author of "Raising a Beatle Baby: How John, Paul, George and Ringo Helped us Come Together as a Family." Follow him on Twitter.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for Foodies]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 13:16:17 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Kitchen-Items.jpg Get your favorite foodie inspired in the kitchen with these cool kitchen gadgets. From utensils to small appliances, here's a list of great gift ideas any food lover would appreciate.

Photo Credit: Amazon/Menu Design Shop]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Gifts for Sports Lovers]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:17:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Jacket-Gloves.jpg If there's a fitness enthusiast or someone looking to get in shape on your holiday shopping list, look no further than this sports gift guide. Help your friends and loved ones reach their fitness goals with gadgets and gear that will inspire and motivate them all year round.

Photo Credit: JackRabbit/Underarmour]]>
<![CDATA[History of Thanksgiving: How Much Do You Know About Turkey Day?]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:30:30 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_51734552621.jpg

Millions of Americans will travel to visit family and friends and stuff themselves with turkey and pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. But how much do you know about the holiday’s origins and why we celebrate? Test your knowledge of the history behind Turkey Day with this quiz.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Obama Pardons National Thanksgiving Turkey]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 15:41:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/obama-GettyImages-498707182.jpg

With his two daughters, Sasha and Malia, standing next to him, President Obama pardoned the National Thanksgiving Turkey at the annual White House ceremony in the Rose Garden on Wednesday.  

“Abe is now a free bird. He is TOTUS—the Turkey of the United States," Obama declared. 

When Obama approached Abe, the turkey gobbled loudly.

"Don't interrupt," Obama said.

Two birds, Honest and Abe, were vying for the title of National Thanksgiving Turkey. This year marks the 68th anniversary of the presentation by the National Turkey Federation.

Unlike a beauty pageant contestant, not much differentiated the two Nicholas White birds. The fourth-month-old pair weigh nearly the same amount, have a wingspan of 6 feet and enjoy country music, according to the White House.

Honest is known to have a "skoots in boots" waddle, while Abe has more of a "macho man" swagger. The public voted to save their favorite turkey on Twitter, using #TurkeyPardon2015 and picked Abe. 

The turkeys were raised by Foster Farms in Modesto, California. Originally named Tom One and Tom Two, they were chosen by staffers at the farm with a little help from a class of fifth grade students from nearby Eisenhut Elementary School. The students cheered for their favorite from a list of 20 finalists. The lucky turkeys were flown to the nation's capital on Monday. 

President Barack Obama pardoned his seventh turkey in what many believe is a Thanksgiving tradition dating back to 1947 when President Harry Truman pardoned the first holiday bird presented by the National Turkey Federation.

But as the old adage goes, when legend becomes fact, print the legend.

There’s no evidence, "documents, speeches, newspaper clippings, or photographs" that Truman pardoned the first ceremonial turkey, according to the Truman Library. The library issued a statement in 2003 to clarify the myth, saying "Truman sometimes indicated to reporters that the turkeys he received were destined for the family dinner table."

In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was quoted in the Washington Post as saying "Let's keep him going" when talking about a turkey wearing a sign that said "Good eating Mr. President," but the traditon was only formalized in 1989, with President George H. W. Bush, according to the White House Historical Association.

Even though Abe is the winner, both birds can count their lucky feathers. They will be sent to live on a farm in Virginia.

"It is hard to believe this is my 7th year of pardoning a turkey," Obama said. "Time flies. Turkeys don't." 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Joy' to 'Star Wars': The Holiday Movie Guide]]> Fri, 27 Nov 2015 05:45:16 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/starwars56266a49255b6.jpg

'Tis the season to be heading to the cinema.

Whether it's to avoid plundering relatives, the crush of bargain-hungry mall shoppers or to catch the latest award-season entry, watching a movie (or three) over the holiday season has become a joyful tradition as much as decorating the tree, the giving of gifts or sleeping off a big turkey dinner. 

And for movie buffs, the final days of 2015 are certainly packed with blockbusters ("Star Wars: The Force Awakens," "The Hateful Eight"), seasonal frights ("Krampus"), indie gems ("Youth," "45 Years"), award bait ("The Revenant," "Joy," "The Danish Girl") and familial laughs ("Sisters").

'The Danish Girl' (Nov. 27)

Eddie Redmayne is sure to lock down another best actor Oscar nomination for his role as Lili Elbe, the first person to believed to have undergone sex reassignment surgery in the 1930s. Redmayne delivers a stunning portrayal of the transgender pioneer alongside co-star Alicia Vikander as Elbe's emotional support and wife, the portrait artist Gerda Wegener. Tom Hooper ("The King's Speech") directs. 

'Legend' (Nov. 20)

Tom Hardy does double duty as London's most notorious gangsters: twin brothers Reggie and Ron Kray. Directed by Brian Helgeland ("L.A. Confidential," "Mystic River"), "Legend" charts the rise and fall true story of the Krays, who dominated organized crime in the East of London during the 1950s and 1960s. 

'Krampus' (Dec. 4)

Here's a holiday film that will have you second guessing bad thoughts about visiting family members. According to European legend, Krampus is a horned, anthropomorphic creature who punishes misbehaving children during the Christmas season. In "Krampus," it's a demonic force of ancient evil intent on punishing non-believers – inparticular young Max (Emjay Anthony), who is disillusioned by the holidays and turns his back on Christmas. Also starring Adam Scott and Toni Collette.

'Youth' (Dec. 4)

Directed by Paolo Sorrentino, "Youth" follows a retired orchestra conductor (Michael Caine), his daughter (Rachel Weisz) and his film director best friend (Harvey Keitel) as they holiday together in the Swiss Alps. This visually stunning film explores familial ties, the mental and physical effects of aging, the binds of lifelong friendship and the passions that propel us through the decades. 

'The Big Short' (Dec. 11)

Based on the 2010 book of the same name by Michael Lewis, "The Big Short" charts the financial crisis of 2008 and the group of investors who bet against it and won big. Featuring Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Marissa Tomei, Brad Pitt, Melissa Leo, Karen Gillan and Selena Gomez.

'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' (Dec. 18)

For many, "The Force Awakens" is not only the most highly-anticipated release of 2015, but of the last decade. Director J.J. Abrams ("Lost," "Star Trek") returns us to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away to revisit the cast of the original "Star Wars" trilogy (Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill) in a sequel set some 30 years after "Return of the Jedi." Also along for the intergalactic ride are newcomers Daisy Ridley, John Boyega and Adam Driver, who will be tasked with carrying the franchise forward in future installments. 

'Sisters' (Dec. 18)

A different take on aging and familial ties to "Youth" (above), the re-teaming of former "SNL" players Tina Fey and Amy Poehler as siblings who decide to throw one final party before their parents sell the family home is played straight for laughs. Along for the ride are co-stars John Cena, Maya Rudolph, James Brolin, Dianne Wiest, John Leguizamo, Kate McKinnon and Dan Byrd.

'45 Years' (Dec. 23)

Already receiving award season buzz, "45 Years" stars Charlotte Rampling as Kate Mercer and Tom Courtenay as Geoff Mercer, a couple whose impending titular wedding anniversary celebration is rocked when news from Geoff's past surfaces unannounced. Directed by Andrew Haigh ("Weekend"), "45 Years" gently examines a rock-solid relationship under stress from a distant past.


'Where to Invade Next' (Dec. 23)

Arriving just as the 2016 presidential campaign really starts to heat up, patriotic provocateur Michael Moore's latest explores just what it will take to make America great once again. In this docu-comedy, Moore ("Fahrenheit 9/11," "Bowling for Columbine") "invades" other nations in an effort to discover what they have to offer in contrast to the United States.

'The Hateful Eight' (Dec. 25)

Controversial filmmaker Quentin Tarantino delivers his eighth film which follows a group of bounty hunters and fugitives in post-Civil War Wyoming who encounter each other while sheltering from a blizzard in a mountain-side stagecoach stopover. Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kurt Russell, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Walton Goggins, Demián Bichir, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen and Bruce Dern, Tarantino's update on the classic western tale features music composed by Ennio Morricone ("The Good, the Bad and the Ugly").

'Point Break' (Dec. 25)

This action thriller is a remake of the 1991 flick of the same name starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves. This time around young FBI agent Johnny Utah is played by Luke Bracey and instead of infiltrating a gang of robbing surfers, he must go undercover to expose a gang of thieves who participate in extreme sports.

'Concussion' (Dec. 25)

Based on a 2009 GQ exposé, "Concussion" stars Will Smith as real-life forensic pathologist Bennet Omalu who must fight the National Football League when his research on brain injuries uncovers CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy)—a football-related brain trauma—in a pro player. Also stars Alec Baldwin, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Albert Brooks.

'The Revenant' (Dec. 25)

This vengeance-fueled epic features Leonardo DiCaprio as 1800's frontiersman Hugh Glass, who is left for dead by his hunting team after he is mauled in a brutal bear attack. With revenge in his heart, Glass sets out through the icy terrain to track down John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), the man who abandoned Glass and betrayed his family. Also starring Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter and Lukas Haas, "The Revenant" is directed by Alejandro González Iñárritu who won the best picture and director Academy Awards for "Birdman" in 2015.

'Joy' Dec. 25

From David O. Russell, the director of "Silver Linings Playbook" and "American Hustle," comes the comedy-drama "Joy" starring Jennifer Lawrence as Joy Mangano, the creator of the "Miracle Mop" and president of the Ingenious Designs company. Russell charts Joy's life from age 10 to 40 as she becomes matriarch of her family. "Joy" features returning Russell players Bradley Cooper, Elisabeth Rohm and Robert De Niro.

Photo Credit: Lucasfilm
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<![CDATA[Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade Fun Facts]]> Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:56:09 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_609641135237-parade.jpg

Since 1924, Macy's has held annual parades on Thanksgiving Day. First known as the "Macy's Christmas Parade," the name changed a few years later to the "Thanksgiving Day Parade."

Now many onlookers crowd Manhattan's streets each year to see Macy's signature giant floats hover over busy streets.

Below are some fun facts about the parade, which draws millions each year, according to Macy's:

  • Before 1927, Macy's used real animals, including lions, bears, tigers, camels, goats, elephants and donkeys. The animals were  replaced with giant character balloons that have stolen the hearts of many Americans. 
  • From 1929 to 1931, Macy's would release the balloons at the end of the parade. Those who found the balloons could return them to Macy's for a $50 gift certificate. The practice ended when a balloon got caught in a plane's propeller when a pilot was trying to catch it.
  • In 2004, Macy's introduced another new parade innovation called the "balloonicle," a combination of a cold-air balloon and a self-propelled vehicle. Then, 2011 marked the birth of the trycaloon, a balloon that was part tricycle. 
  • The parade was canceled in 1942, 1943 and 1944 because of World War II. 
  • To date, there have been 171 giant character balloons in the parade since 1927. This year, Macy's will feature 17 giant character balloons; 24 novelty, balloonicles, balloonheads and trycaloons; 27 floats; 12 marching band members; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; and more than 1,000 clowns.

Four new giant balloons will debut in the 89th annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. New balloons include Red from the Angry Birds game; DINO, the mascot for the Sinclair Oil Corporation; Scrat and his acorn from the movie "Ice Age" and Ronald McDonald.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Carey, Benatar Set for Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 22:56:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/459648360.jpg

The holidays are officially here as the 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade returns to march down the streets of New York on Thursday, Nov. 26.

Matt Lauer, Savannah Guthrie and Al Roker of "Today" will anchor the NBC broadcast, airing from 9 a.m.-noon in all time zones.

Celebrities and performers joining in the festivities this year include Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo, Mariah Carey, Dove Cameron and Sofia Carson, Cirque du Soleil, Daughtry, Andra Day, Andy Grammer, Sandra Lee, Shawn Mendes, MercyMe, MIPSO, Miss America 2016 Betty Cantrell, Jennifer Nettles, NHL legends Mark and Marty Howe, Jake Owen, Panic! at the Disco, Plain White T's, Rachel Platten, Questlove, the Muppets of "Sesame Street," Prince Royce, the cast of Broadway's "School of Rock," Trey Songz, Jordin Sparks, the Radio City Rockettes, Chica and the gang from Sprout and Train.

Set for 34th Street performances are Broadway productions "Fiddler on the Roof," "Finding Neverland," "The King & I," "On Your Feet!" and "Something Rotten." In addition, spectators will get a sneak preview performance from NBC's "The Wiz Live!" which premieres Thursday, Dec. 3 (8 p.m. ET/PT).

Since 1924, the Macy's Parade has marked the start of the holiday season, introducing a cherished march of magic that has dazzled generations of fans. For the 89th edition, the famed spectacle's line-up will feature 17 giant character balloons; 24 novelty/ornament balloons, balloonicles, and trycaloons; 27 floats; 1,100 cheerleaders and dancers; more than 1,000 clowns; 12 marching bands; and of course, the one-and-only Santa Claus. 

Look Up

This year four new giant character balloons will take center stage including "Angry Birds'" Red by Rovio Entertainment; the pre-historic and legendary DINO by Sinclair Oil; "Ice Age's" Scrat and his Acorn by Twentieth Century Fox; and Ronald McDonald debuting in his fourth whimsical giant balloon.

Returning balloon characters include "Adventure Time" with Finn & Jake, "Diary of a Wimpy Kid," the Elf on the Shelf, Hello Kitty, "How to Train Your Dragon's" Toothless, Paddington, Pikachu, Pillsbury, Doughboy, "Skylanders" Eruptor, Snoopy & Woodstock, SpongeBob SquarePants, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger and Thomas the Tank Engine. Returning balloonicles (a Macy's Parade hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) include the Aflac Duck and the Kool-Aid Man.

Ease on Down the Road

This year's six new parade floats include "Big City Cheer!" by Spirit of America Productions, "The Colonel's Road Trip to NYC" by Kentucky Fried Chicken, "The Cranberry Cooperative" by Ocean Spray, "Discover Adventure!" by Build-a-Bear, "Heartwarming Holiday Countdown" by Hallmark Channel and celebrating the 50th anniversary of "A Charlie Brown Christmas," "Snoopy's Doghouse" by Peanuts Worldwide.

Twelve band ensembles will take up the call of the baton and march down the streets of Manhattan, creating a wave of thunderous applause. Joining the fun are Gulf Coast High School (Naples, FL), Lewis Cass High School (Walton, IN), Munford High School (Munford, TN), Nogales High School (La Puente, CA), North Hardin High School (Radcliff, KY), Stephen F. Austin State University (Nacogdoches, TX), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Champaign, IL), University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA), Walled Lake Central High School (Walled Lake, MI), West Chester University of Pennsylvania (West Chester, PA) and the NYPD Marching Band (New York).

Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Macy's Great American Marching Band will welcome back a selection of alumni band members, in addition to a new class of more than 250 elite high school marching band students from across the country.

Specialty Performers

The Macy's Parade always promises a unique, exciting, and sometimes humorous look at the nation's finest performance groups. This year, special groups include the 610 Stompers (New Orleans, LA), Brooklyn Jumbies (Brooklyn, NY), J.U.M.P. jump rope team (Strongsville, OH) and the Kruti Dance Academy (Duluth, GA). Completing the performance groups are the Spirit of America Cheer and the Spirit of America Dance Stars, which both feature 550 of the nation's best cheerleaders and dancers.

The New York City Route

More than 3.5 million spectators will line the parade route beginning at New York's 77th Street and Central Park West. The procession will then march to Columbus Circle, turn onto Central Park South and march down 6th Avenue/Avenue of the Americas to 34th Street. At 34th Street, the parade will make its final turn west and end at 7th Avenue in front of Macy's Herald Square.

For an insider's look at the holiday procession, fans nationwide should check Macys.com/parade for regular updates including behind-the-scenes previews, animated videos and other exclusive content. 

The 89th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade airs Thursday Nov. 26 from 9 a.m.-noon in all time zones on NBC. An encore presentation begins at 2 p.m. in all time zones. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA['Not as Exciting': Black Friday Deals Arrive Earlier Than Ever]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 13:36:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_583751221090.jpg

Black Friday is becoming a month-long deal.

Amazon's sales began Nov. 20 and continue through Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving and what was once the start of the holiday shopping season. Target and Walmart are offering holiday discounts throughout the month, while Best Buy is holding "pre-Black Friday" weekends.

What was traditionally a single day of shopping already stretches over the weekend and now retailers are trying to extend the extravaganza even further by discounting goods long before the holiday. What that will mean to Black Friday sales is something analysts will be watching for.

"It remains to be seen how significant the event itself is," said Traci Gregorski, vice president of marketing at the retail research firm Market Track.

Tis the season for holiday sales and strategies for capturing shoppers dollars.

Black Friday spending was down last year, the second drop in a row, according to the National Retail Federation. Spending though the weekend in stores and online dropped 11 percent from $57.4 billion in 2013 to $50.9 billion last year. The decline is partly the result of the earlier bargains, leaving Black Friday with less of a punch.

This year, the Credit Union National Association and the Consumer Federal of America are expecting a 3 percent growth in spending, down from an earlier prediction of up to 3.5 percent. The new prediction is based on a recent survey.

But for all the debate over store hours -- and at one end is Kmart, open on Thanksgiving morning at 6 a.m., and at the other REI, the outdoor gear supplier that will stay closed on Black Friday itself --  for shoppers the season means deals. They are scouting for the best prices before ever stepping inside a store, Gregorski said. They are driving competition among retailers who know their potential customers are online comparing ads.

“They do have a lot of information at their disposal, much more than they’ve ever had in the past,” she said.

On Friday, Tanya Jackson, a hair stylist from New Jersey, will be on the hunt for a washing machine and dryer at Home Depot where she expects to save $800.

“Oh yes, I already checked,” said Jackson, 42, who lives in Orange and who was making her way through New York City's Herald Square on a recent weekday morning. She is prepared to pay about $2,800.

Thanksgiving Day hours continue to court controversy, with some shoppers vowing to stay home and labor and other groups protesting the disruption to workers' holiday.

"l'm always with my family," said Kendall Castillo, a 19-year-old student studying theater and fine arts in college in New York City. Even the lure of good deals will not interrupt his holiday.

And Naysika Oree, a health-care consultant from the Bronx, has never shopped on Black Friday, turned off by the crowds and reports of unruly shoppers. She will stay home this year too.

"I'd rather just spend the couple of extra dollars then have to go through the madness," she said.

This year, the federation's preliminary Thanksgiving Weekend Survey found that an estimated 135.8 millions shoppers, or 58.7 percent of those surveyed, said they might head to the stores at some point over the weekend. The findings were similar to the year before, when 133.7 million holiday shoppers were in stores and online over the weekend.

Black Friday is expected to be the biggest shopping day for all age groups, but young adults in particular find Cyber Monday appealing, according to the survey's results. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 88.7 percent said yes or maybe when asked if they would should online on Monday. Among 25- to 34-year-old, the number was 90.9 percent.

Kate Winchester, a 23-year-old college student in New York City from Pennsylvania, will among those shopping online. She needs a new vacuum cleaner and a heavy blanket.

"You don't have to wait in the lines," she said.

Plus now that stores open on Thanksgiving Day, Black Friday is "not as exciting anymore," she said. "No one wants to go out on Thursday."

To draw shoppers back into the stores, in the hopes that they will spend more money there, some retailers are offering special holiday events, Gregorski said. Wal-Mart for example is making the game Battlefront available to try out before its official launch.

"They’re introducing that experiential element into their promotions and events," she said. "It gives people a reason to come in."

As for what's hot this year, anything related to "Star Wars," game consoles and wearable technology, such as headphones and fitness trackers, she said. Drones are another top item.

Hoverboards, on the other hand, are not proving to be as popular as expected, likely because of their price, she said.

Other trends to watch for: exclusive partnerships between manufacturers and retailers and bundled offers, televisions and game consoles for example, which can make it difficult to determine how good a deal it is.

Milly Mladjenovic, 21, said she would definitely be out on Black Friday, shopping for work clothes and Christmas gifts.

"What am I not looking for?" she said.

The college student in New York City said deals could be found, but she thought bargains were better in years past.

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[How to Carve a Turkey, Just in Time for the Holidays]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:22:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/thanksgiving-FINAL_1200x675_570319939834.jpg Chef Fitz Tallon from Eataly NYC shows you how to carve a turkey.]]> <![CDATA[Holiday 2015: Top 12 Holiday Toys]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:40:38 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Toys-SplitScreen.jpg Lightsabers, talking plush toys and robots make up this year's lineup of hot toys every kid would love to get for the holidays. Click through to see the top 12 toys dominating store shelves and kids' wish lists alike.

Photo Credit: Thinkway Toys/Hasbro]]>
<![CDATA[Thanksgiving Foods Toxic to Pets]]> Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:11:12 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/95572844.jpg

Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, local vets are warning pet owners about the dangers of sharing Thanksgiving foods with your pets.

"The best thing you can feed your dog is dog food," said Connecticut Humane Society veterinarian Christina Delgado.

Many Thanksgiving staples can spell disaster for pets, including stuffing, according to Delgado.

"A lot of stuffing has scallions, garlic, onions," said Delgado. "All three of those components are toxic to animals."

That means mashed potatoes, which often contain garlic, are also out of the question. Salads that contain grapes or raisins can be toxic too, along with ham and chocolate.

Delgado said bird bones — including turkey bones — are the most dangerous to pets.

"It can actually penetrate through the stomach or the intestines and can potentially cause a life-threatening infection," Delgado said.

So what do you do if someone else at your table falls for the puppy eyes? Keep an eye out for symptoms of an adverse reaction. Your pet may seem lethargic and quiet, then begin vomiting.

If you catch it early enough, your vet can treat it. Iif not, it’s likely going to cost you.

"If it’s a major abdominal surgery, then we can be looking into the thousands of dollars," Delgado explained.

Turkey breast and gravy are safe to give pets, in moderation.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Consumer Reports: Naughty or Nice?]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 11:30:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/120611+christmas+gifts+wrapping+generic.jpg

Have your favorite businesses been naughty or nice this year?

Consumer Reports has issued its sixth annual "Naughty & Nice" list for 2015, ranking the "not-so-friendly and consumer-friendly policies" of companies where you spend your hard-earned dollars.

The list is based on input from Consumer Reports experts, and according to a company press release, is "neither an endorsement nor criticism of an overall company."

"This year, we took companies to the woodshed for gouging, annoying fees, and sneaky marketing practices," the company explained in a news release posted online Monday. "Conversely, we lauded others for transparency, generosity, and stand-up behavior that improves and enhances health, safety, and the overall quality of life."

Nice List:
Home Depot
California Health Insurance Exchange
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Panera Bread
Dish Network
Dr. Martens
Procter & Gamble
PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers)

Naughty List:
Allegiant Air
Citizens Bank
FedEx and UPS
Tom’s of Maine
Turing Pharmaceuticals
Whole Foods

For a detailed list and more information about each business, visit ConsumerReports.org.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/File]]>
<![CDATA[Calif. Turkey to Get Pardon]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 14:58:53 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/modesto1.JPG

A Modesto, California, turkey clucked quietly in a cage on Monday at San Francisco International Airport, surrounded by guards in shades and suits, on its way to the White House to get pardoned.

After President Obama pardons the turkey at an annual ceremony in the Rose Garden, just a day ahead of Thanksgiving, the bird will be sent to a live farm in Virginia. Tom One, as he's been unoffcially nicknamed, also flew with a backup turkey, Tom Two, just in case. Children at the White House will formally name him on Wednesday.

Lest any taxpayers worry that actual Secret Service agents were being paid to oversee the turkeys' safe travel, rest assured, the guards are actors paid for by the National Turkey Federation.

The bird is a Nicholas White breed, and owned by a West Virginia company, Aviagen. The turkey was raised by Foster Farms in Modesto. Jihad Douglas, is chairman of the National Turkey Federation, and he is also president of Aviagen.

Tom One was chosen for a presidential pardon from 20 finalists last week at the "Presidential Turkey Ranch," in Sonoma Valley, as a class of fifth-grade students cheered on the show. Tom One was the clear winner, as he puffed out his feathers, gobbled and wowed the kids with his personality.

"I think that bird is going to be lucky for the rest of his life, man," said Angel Avila, a 10-year-old student at Eisenhut Elementary in Modesto said at the time.

The first turkey was officially granted a presidential pardon in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush, starting an annual holiday tradition.

Each year, the chairman of the National Turkey Federation is given the honor of raising the national Thanksgiving turkey. That chairman usually picks a turkey from his or her home state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo Credit: Josh Keppel]]>
<![CDATA[How to Avoid Holiday Gift Scams]]> Mon, 23 Nov 2015 10:50:39 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NECN_112015_consumer_8am_1200x675_570683971749.jpg Everyone shops during the holidays, so make sure you know different ways scammers can try to target you.]]> <![CDATA[Thanksgiving Turkey Do's and Don'ts]]> Tue, 24 Nov 2015 07:08:13 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/turkey_dos_donts_preparations.jpg #NBC5Responds' Deanna Dewberry offers a few surprising tips on how to make that Thanksgiving centerpiece perfect.]]> <![CDATA[Don't Be a Turkey: Celebrate a Bird-Free Thanksgiving]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 17:03:50 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_554344590313.jpg

It’s that time of year again — to give thanks for all that we have.

Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, one that is deeply rooted in tradition. The first Thanksgiving goes all the way back to 1621 when the Pilgrims sat down with the Wampanoag to celebrate the harvest at Plymouth Colony, according to Smithsonian.com.

More than 150 years later, the Continental Congress issued the first national Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1777. But it wasn’t until 1789 that President George Washington issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation.

“I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States,” Washington said.

Since then, food and family have become synonymous with the holiday. Many of us will spend time prepping the turkey and pumpkin pie and decorating the table for family and friends before settling down to the feast. 

But if you think eating a turkey on Thanksgiving is overrated, why not change your holiday routine and break free from tradition? 

Go meatless! Sure, turkey is the go-to fare for Thanksgiving, but going meatless does have some benefit. Not only can you cater to the vegetarian guest, it will also eliminate the post-meal food coma. 

There are many different options out there, from vegetarian sides to main dishes like the mushroom and kale-stuffed squash. And, of course, you can still get the feeling of a turkey without the actual bird — products like soy-based Tofurky are a popular alternative to the real thing.

"We’re so proud to see that alternative holiday meal traditions, which were once a niche phenomenon, have become legitimately mainstream in the 20-plus years we’ve been making Tofurky Roasts," said Jaime Athos, CEO and president of Tofurky.

Whatever you decide to eat, why not ask your guests to wear an ugly Thanksgiving sweater? Since they’re not just for Christmas anymore, you can wear these delightfully tacky, non-traditional sweaters while you and your loved ones give thanks.

Staying active is a great way to help burn off the Turkey Day calories, to help alleviate the boredom and promote togetherness.

The President's Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition recommends 30 minutes of activity a day for adults and 60 minutes a day for children. Why not kick around the ball, try paintball or go bowling, too? 

Having Thanksgiving at a restaurant is also a non-traditional holiday option — especially if you can’t fathom the idea of spending all that time cooking.

More than 33 million Americans will visit restaurants during Thanksgiving this year, according to the National Restaurant Association. There are a number of national chains including Bob Evans, Sizzler, Morton’s and Cracker Barrel that will be offering holiday specials.

You might also consider giving back to the community while giving thanks. There are hundreds of organizations across the country that are looking for volunteers to serve Thanksgiving dinner to those in need.  

"We hope all Americans will consider making volunteer service a part of their holiday tradition and invite their friends and families to join them," said a spokeswoman for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

More than 25 percent of American adults volunteered 7.7 billion hours of time — including holiday time — in 2013, according to the organization.

Trying something new may just open you up to new holiday traditions. 

Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[How Not to Get Stuck at Airport This Thanksgiving]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 15:38:28 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP_215248707274.jpg

A stronger economy and lower gas prices mean Thanksgiving travelers can expect more congested highways this year.

During the long holiday weekend, 46.9 million Americans are expected to go 50 miles or more from home, the highest number since 2007, according to travel agency and car lobbying group AAA. That would be a 0.6 percent increase over last year and the seventh straight year of growth.

While promising for the travel industry, the figure is still 7.3 percent short of the 50.6 million high point reached in 2007, just before the recession.

Like on every other holiday, the overwhelming majority of travelers — almost 90 percent — will be driving. And they will be paying much less at the pump.

AAA says the average retail price for gasoline is now $2.15 per gallon, 74 cents cheaper than the same time last year. With the average car getting 18.5 miles per gallon, that means a family driving 300 miles will save $12 in fuel this holiday.

Airlines for America, the lobbying group for several major airlines, forecasts 25.3 million passengers will fly on U.S. airlines, up 3 percent from last year. (AAA's forecast shows fewer numbers of fliers because it looks at a five-day period while the airline group looks at the 12 days surrounding Thanksgiving.)

Airfare is basically flat compared to last year, with a mere 0.3 percent or 69 cent average increase, according to the Airlines Reporting Corp., which processes ticket transactions for airlines and travel agencies.

Traveler counts are little fuzzier when it comes to other forms of transport.

Bus use will continue to grow, according to the Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development at DePaul University. The school expects 1.2 million to take buses, up 1 percent to 2 percent from last year. However, AAA says travel by cruises, trains and buses, will decrease 1.4 percent this Thanksgiving, to 1.4 million travelers.


Since flying can often cause the most disruptions and leave travelers feeling helpless, here are some tips to cope with any delays. Flights are packed around the holidays and if there is any hiccup, the difference between getting home and not can come down to asking the right questions and acting fast.


— At the first sign of a serious mechanical problem, call the airline to have it "protect" you on the next flight out. That way if the mechanical problem leads to a cancellation, you are already confirmed on a new flight and can just print a new boarding pass.

— If you miss your flight connection — or bad weather causes delays — get in line to speak to a customer service representative. But also, call the airline directly. If the phone lines are jammed, try the airline's overseas numbers. You'll pay long-distance rates, but might not have to wait. (Add those numbers to your phone now.) Finally, consider sending a tweet to the airline.

— Consider buying a one-day pass to the airline lounge. For one thing, there are usually free drinks and light snacks. But the real secret to the lounges is that the airline staffs them with some of its best — and friendliest — ticket agents. The lines are shorter and these agents are magically able to find empty seats. One-day passes typically cost $50 but discounts can sometimes be found in advance online.

— If weather causes cancellations, use apps like HotelTonight and Priceline to find last-minute hotel discounts for that night. Warning: Many of the rooms are nonrefundable when booked, so lock in only once stuck.


— Weigh it at home first. Anything over 50 pounds (40 pounds on some airlines like Spirit) will generate a hefty overweight surcharge, in addition to the checked bag fee.

— Before your bag disappears behind the ticket counter, make sure the airline's tag has your name, flight number and final destination. Save that sticker they give you — it has a bag-tracking number on it.

— Place a copy of your flight itinerary inside your suitcase with your cellphone number and the name of your hotel in case the tag is ripped off.

— If you can't live without it, don't check it. It might take days to return a lost bag. Don't pack medication or outfits for tomorrow's meeting or wedding. Never check valuables such as jewelry or electronics.

— Prepare your carry-on bag as if it will be checked. You might not have planned to check your bag, but given today's crowded overhead bins many fliers don't have a choice. Pack a small canvas bag inside your carry-on so if you are forced to check it, you can at least keep your valuables with you.


— Set up alerts for seat openings. ExpertFlyer.com offers free notifications when a window or aisle seat becomes vacant. For 99 cents, it sends an email if two adjacent seats become available. The service is available for Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and Virgin America but not for Delta Air Lines and some smaller carriers.

— Check the airline's website five days before the trip. That's when some elite fliers are upgraded to first class, freeing up their coach seats. Another wave of upgrades occurs every 24 to 48 hours.

— Check in 24 hours in advance when airlines start releasing more seats. If connecting, see if seats have opened up 24 hours before the second flight departs.

— Keep looking for new seats. Even after checking in, seats can be changed at airport kiosks and on some airlines' mobile applications. 

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA['Hoverboards' Are Illegal in NYC: Report]]> Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:45:35 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/hoverboard-generic.jpg

Using one of this holiday season's hottest gifts in the city might land you on the NYPD's "naughty" list, according to reports.

The NYPD's 26th precinct tweeted that so-called hoverboards, the two-wheeled electric balancing scooters that have made their way onto sidewalks this year, are forbidden under city code.

According to the Daily News, an NYPD spokeswoman later confirmed that the popular gadgets are illegal because they are motor vehicles that can't be registered with the DMV. The 26th precinct deleted Wednesday's tweet because it referenced the wrong city code. 

People caught riding the boards on city streets or sidewalks could be fined as much as $200, the News reports. 

The scooters, which don't actually levitate, can cost upwards of $1,000 and are expected to be a big hit this season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Behind the Scenes: Macy's Holiday Peanuts Display]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 09:14:54 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/charlie-brown-window.jpg To mark the 50th anniversary of the Peanuts Christmas special, each Macy's window depicts a scene from the show. Here's a behind-the-scenes look at how it was put together.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Annual Tradition of a Scuba Diving Santa]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 13:09:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_christmasdiving1117_1500x845.jpg A scuba diving Santa and his reindeer helpers decorate a tree 80 feet below the surface of waters off Japan's Sado Island.]]> <![CDATA[Tough Turkey: Thanksgiving Price Jump]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 10:09:08 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/NC_turkey1116_1500x845.jpg An outbreak of avian flu on poultry farms earlier this year could result in a more expensive Thanksgiving feast.]]> <![CDATA[8 Classic Christmas Commercials]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:14:55 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/Screen+Shot+2014-11-21+at+9.14.49+AM.jpg

Each year the holiday season delivers a sleigh-full of new Christmas advertisements. But more often than not, the latest commercials soon fade into a distant memory like the appeal of last season's must-have toy.

But along with mistletoe, holly, eggnog and holiday ornaments, a few classic ads never fail to get people into the holiday spirit.

Here is a collection of some old favorites:

M&Ms Meet Santa

In a classic M&M’s commercial, the red and yellow "spokescandies" that haved appeared in many advertisements carry a bowl of the Mars chocolates. When they encounter Santa Claus next to a Christmas tree, the red M&M and St. Nick faint upon realizing that they both are real. 

Coca Cola Polar Bears

Coca Cola first presented polar bears to be used in many of its Christmastime campaigns in a pair of commercials that first aired in 1993. The first shows a polar bear showing off some smooth ice skating moves before falling. Santa arrives to give the poor polar bear a Coca Cola. Another shows the animals successfully dragging a Christmas tree up a mountain before enjoying bottles of the soft drink.

Scrooge Eats Cheerios

This Honey Nut Cheerios commercial uses the well-known Charles Dickens' tale “A Christmas Carol.” The cereal's cartoon mascot bee Buzz knocks on Ebenezer Scrooge’s door on Christmas, but the angry miser tells the cartoon to go away. However, the bee passes the Scrooge a bowl of cereal, which put a smile on his face.

Campbell's Soup Snowman

In this classic Campbell's soup commercial, a snowman eats a bowl of hot chicken noodle. The snow melts with each spoonful and it is revealed that the snowman is actually a young boy.

Hershey's Kisses Bells

Sometimes less is more. In this Hershey's Kisses commercial, a group of chocolates ring like bells and perform the holiday tune “We Wish You a Merry Christmas." One chocolate rings harder than the rest and has to wipe its “brow” with the narrow strip of paper on its top.

A Bedrock Christmas

As it turns out, even Bedrock celebrates Christmas. Santa Claus comes down a chimney and Fred Flinstone gives St. Nick a bowl of his Fruity Pebbles cereal. However, Barney Rubble also comes down the chimney to trick Fred into giving him a bowl. Although Fred isn’t fooled, he still gives Barney a bowl because “tis the season to be sharing,” as Santa says.

Oreo Cookies for Santa

In this commercial, a boy tries to stay up through the night to see Santa Claus and give him Oreo cookies and milk. He says to himself, “I’ll just take a little rest.” Santa stops by and begins eating the cookies with delight. But when the boy starts to wake, Santa disappears and the boy discovers the cookies are gone.

Michael Jordan Shoots Hoops With Santa

Santa Claus went head-to-head against Michael Jordan for a Nike commercial. The ad features some smooth moves from the basketball player. Although St. Nick delivers presents, he doesn’t seem to be gifted when it comes to the sport.

This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Weird News Photos: Holiday Edition]]> Thu, 19 Nov 2015 11:19:51 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/160*120/turtle-1217.jpg From the Santa Bandit to the Grinch Cop, check out these weird, offbeat news photos — with a holiday twist — from around the world.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[National Christmas Tree Lightings Through the Years]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:09:23 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tree-2.jpg View photos of past National Christmas Tree lightings in Washington, DC.

<![CDATA[Greatest Christmas Movies of All Time, Ever]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:08:18 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/movie7.jpg As we all know Christmas is just around the corner. While we head into the festive season, take a look at the best Christmas movies to get into the holiday spirit.]]> <![CDATA[Rockefeller Center Tree Goes up in NYC]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 09:07:05 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/tree+option+1.jpg

The giant evergreen that will light up the Rockefeller Center plaza for this year's holiday season has arrived in New York City.

The 78-foot Norway spruce was spotted late Thursday evening making its way down Columbus Avenue on a giant trailer, accompanied by a full police escort, as seen on photos posted to social media.

It was parked outside Rockefeller Center Friday morning until its big reveal on NBC's "Today" before being hoisted into place outside the front doors of the Comcast Building.

The 10-ton tree was cut down from a home in Ulster County before making its way to the city. It was cut down from the Gardiner property of Albert Asendorf and Nancy Puchalski and put on a 115-foot-long trailer to make the 80-mile journey to Rockefeller Center. It'll be erected on Friday.

This year's tree, which is about 80 years old, is 78 feet tall and 47 feet wide.

It will be illuminated for the first time on Dec. 2 in a ceremony that's been held since 1933. The lighting ceremony will take place between 7 and 9 p.m.

The tree will be illuminated by 45,000 multi-colored LED lights on 5 miles of wire. This year marks the 12th year the Swarovski Star will top the tree.

It will be lit every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. until Jan. 7., except for Christmas when it will be lit for 24 hours and New Year's Eve when it will be lit until 9 p.m.

After it goes down, the tree will be milled into lumber for Habitat for Humanity.

Here are some historical facts about the Rockefeller Center Tree:

  • 1931 – Construction workers building Rockefeller Center put up a Christmas tree, the first- ever Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.
  • 1933 - First formal Rockefeller Center Tree Lighting Ceremony. The tree was decked with 700 lights in front of the eight-month-old RCA Building.
  • 1936 - Two trees, each 70 feet (21.3 m) tall, were erected. For the first time the Lighting Ceremony included a skating pageant on the newly opened Rockefeller Plaza Outdoor Ice Skating Pond.
  • 1942 - Three trees were placed on Rockefeller Plaza, one decorated in red, one in white and one in blue to show support for our troops serving during World War II.
  • 1949 - The tree was painted silver, to look like snow.
  • 1951 – The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was lit for the first time on national television on the Kate Smith Show.
  • 1966 - The first tree from outside the United States was erected. It was given by Canada, in honor of the Centennial of its Confederation. This is the farthest distance a tree has traveled to Rockefeller Center.
  • 1980 - For the 50th Anniversary of Tree Lighting, a 70 foot-tall (21.3 m) Norway Spruce came from the grounds of the Immaculate Conception Seminary of Mahwah, N.J. Bob Hope participated in the Lighting.
  • 1999 – The largest tree in Rockefeller Center history, 100 feet tall (30.5 m), came from Killingworth, Conn.
  • 2004 – The Swarovski-designed star became the largest star to ever grace the tree.
  • 2007 – For the first time, the tree was lit with energy-efficient LEDs. They draw a fraction of the power that had been traditionally required by the tree, reducing energy consumption from 3,510 kwH to 1,297 kwH per day, saving as much energy as a single family would use in a month in a 2,000 square foot (185.8 m²) home. Hundreds of solar panels atop one of the Rockefeller Center buildings help power the new LEDs.

Photo Credit: Damon Loh
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<![CDATA[Wal-Mart to Open Its Doors on Thanksgiving Day]]> Wed, 18 Nov 2015 08:18:26 -0500 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WalmartBlackFriday-AP_674555436752.jpg

Wal-Mart has broken its silence about its plans for Black Friday.

On Thursday, the retailer announced it will open its doors at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving, the same time it has for the last three years.

For those looking for a head start, Wal-Mart said the majority of its deals will be available online at 3:01 a.m. ET on Thanksgiving, including some of the most sought after items like televisions, video game consoles and small appliances.

Rivals Macy's, Sears and Target already announced their plans to open on Thanksgiving at 6 p.m. Toys R Us will be open an hour earlier.

A number of stores, including H&M, have decided to keep their doors closed, opting to give their employees the chance to spend the holiday at home with friends and family.

Outdoor retailer REI said it would skip Black Friday altogether. According to its website, “the outdoors, and the website are always open.”

Photo Credit: Invision for Walmart]]>