Will You Buy Holiday Gifts Early This Year? A Survey Says 61% of Americans Will Start Shopping Before Thanksgiving

mother giving daughter christmas present MesquitaFMS / Getty Images

Although Halloween isn’t yet in the rearview, holiday shopping is already well underway. A new survey conducted by OnePoll for Affirm reveals that one in five respondents started their holiday shopping in September and 61% of respondents say they don’t plan to wait for Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales this year. "Planning ahead of time can help consumers to better navigate and budget their holiday spending, especially as nearly half of respondents say that they plan to spend more this holiday season in order to make it memorable," says Silvija Martincevic, Chief Commercial Officer at Affirm.

The reason for the jumpstart is partially due to a surge in prices and consumers wanting to better budget their money , but it’s also because many plan want to spend money on experiences rather than physical gifts this year. The survey polled 2,000 people to see how they’re planning to spend this holiday season and 59% said they’re eager to take a trip rather than spend time at home. Of the respondents, 54% say they plan to spend money on things like travel and hosting parties rather than buying physical presents. Of the people who plan to travel, 73% say they’ll start making arrangements this month.

Although respondents say they still plan to shop for things like electronics and clothing, it’s clear that travel is going to be a huge trend this year. A new PWC study on consumer confidence found that 52% of Americans plan to travel and that many plan to do say by plane. There’s only one problem, the cost. Forbes reported that the travel company Guesty suggests Christmas will be the most expensive holiday of 2021 and that its reservation volume across the United States is up 469% compared to 2020. According to Guesty’s data the nightly rate for Christmas in 2021 is $599 per night, compared to $392 in 2020 and $322 in 2019.

The increase in prices and spending is a cause for concern, according to OnePoll’s survey. More than half of Americans says they experience anxiety over holiday shopping, while another 52% say they feel pressure to overspend. For reference, the average respondent is planning to spend nearly $400 on their significant other and just over $300 for each immediate family member. To ease those anxieties, it seems shoppers are getting ahead and weighing their payment options. "In addition to getting a head start on their holiday shopping, we’re encouraged to see consumers take advantage of flexible payment solutions to help them spend responsibly this year," Martincevic says.


Shaquille O’Neal on learning to ‘stop being a brat’ and denouncing his celebrity status

Shaquille O’Neal talks giving back, switching off and staying grounded. (Photo: Getty; designed by Quinn Lemmers) The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health , from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.

Shaquille O’Neal doesn’t like to brag about his charitable giving, but the NBA legend who once played a genie in Kazaam is these days is undoubtedly in the business of granting real-life wishes too, whether it involves footing a stranger’s bill as a random act of kindness or supporting communities in need through his eponymous foundation.

Speaking to Yahoo Life, O’Neal — who will host the Icy Hot x NBA 2k22 Charity Game on Twitch on Oct. 18 to help raise awareness and donations for the refurbished "Comebaq Courts" he’s providing underserved, basketball-loving communities — shared how helping others has helped him appreciate what he has and not veer into "spoiled brat" behavior. Ahead, he opens up about relaxing in front of the TV, denouncing his celebrity status and why "nothing stresses me out."

You’ve devoted so much of your philanthropy to creating opportunities for kids to play sports. [In partnership with Icy Hot, the Shaquille O’Neal Foundation will donate up to $300,000 to restore local basketball courts in Las Vegas and Newark.] What has having that opportunity yourself meant for you?

It’s just all about helping those in need and giving them better opportunities. You never know — the next Kobe, LeBron or Shaq could be walking by a court one day and decide not to play because the courts are not in good condition. Coming up, I’ve always had courts that were in pretty good condition, but on the military base [his stepfather was an Army sergeant], our courts were flawless, so I could always go out there and work on the game. Gaming is something a lot of people do to switch off and unwind. How do you unwind after a stressful day?


Ronda Rousey wants to end breastfeeding stigma: ‘Nothing to be ashamed of’

Ronda Rousey is getting real about breastfeeding.

On Sunday, the 34-year-old professional wrestler shared a selfie to Instagram showing herself lying in bed while breastfeeding her daughter La’akea Makalapuaokalanipo Browne, born less than a month ago. Rousey used the caption to call attention to the stigma around breastfeeding.

"Our boys asked me the other day how I’m gunna feed Pō on the plane when we take her with us to Hawaii. And I was like ‘uhhh, same way I always do’ Then it occurred to me that they probably never seen anyone breastfeed before and weren’t sure if it was appropriate in public," she wrote. "Motherhood’s some badass, primal, beautiful shit that shouldn’t be hidden. It still blows my mind that my body assembled this little person, pushed her out and now makes everything she needs to thrive. It’s really nothing to be ashamed of, it’s something to brag about #normalizebreastfeeding #proudmama." Celebrity friends and fans took to the comments to praise the star for calling attention to what has been a very divisive issue.

"Love this post!!!!" Trish Stratus said. "You now own the greatest title of all … mother," a fan wrote.

"Grown people eat in public, babies should be allowed to too. It’s that simple," someone noted, with others adding, "Breastfeeding is the most natural thing to do. Some people just judge and nothing you can do. My partner breastfeeds too, screw the haters hahaha your baby comes first over their opinions lol," and, "It is the most epic, most beautiful life changing experience ever!! You’re amazing!!"

This is not the first time the Rousey, who shares her daughter with MMA fighter husband Travis Browne, has been open about other aspects of her motherhood journey. Earlier this month, she shared mirror selfies of her post-baby body and updated fans on her progress.

"My body seems to be recovering faster than I hoped, but I won’t really know if Pō tossed a grenade on the way out till my 6 week checkup," she wrote in part. Since breaking both my hands and getting pregnant it feels like I lost a lifetime of muscle – it’s easy to get discouraged over all that lost progress – but if anything I’m looking forward to getting cleared to train again even more. This is an opportunity start over and mold my body into its next phase."


The #1 Best Almond Milk to Buy, Says Dietitian

When it comes to alternatives to cow’s milk , which one is your favorite? Oat, cashew, almond, pistachio, macadamia—the options are endless.

Plant-based milk is great for those who cannot stomach dairy products or just don’t like them. Those who follow a vegan diet also benefit from these alternatives. But when it comes to choosing which almond milk is the best for you, which one do you select?

With so many brands available at supermarkets, it can be hard to ensure you’re buying one that’s void of unnecessary additives and added sugars . That’s why we called on Sydney Greene , MS, RDN, and member of the Eat This, Not That! medical review board for insight on which brand is the best to support right now. But first, we ask her to compare the nutritional benefits of cow’s milk to that of almond milk. Almond milk vs. cow’s milk

"When it comes to nutritional benefits, most almond milks don’t compare to dairy milk," says Greene.

She points out that dairy milk is naturally much higher in protein than most almond milk varieties.

"Many almond milks contain 0-2 grams of protein per glass compared to dairy milk which can have 8-10," she says. What’s the best almond milk brand to buy right now?

Greene says that, out of all of the brands producing almond milk right now, the very best one is MALK.

"There are only three ingredients and about four grams of protein per serving," she says. "The bottles are smaller (and pricier) but this is because more almonds are actually used in the product [rather] than other milks."

MALK is also free of carrageenan —a thickening agent used in almond milk that can cause GI distress —binders, colors, and artificial sweeteners.

So, if you can afford to purchase MALK, that would be the top option. For more tips, be sure to check out 9 Essential Kitchen Tips That Will Elevate Your Next Meal . Then, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter !


These Hallmark Christmas Suites Will Make You Feel Like You’re in a Romantic Holiday Movie

A suite bedroom at Club Wyndham Nashville Courtesy of Club Wyndham Nashville

Hallmark Channel holiday movies during its "Countdown to Christmas" have long been one of the coziest holiday traditions while sitting on your own couch at home. But now you can immerse yourself into movies’ festive worlds with a trio of Club Wyndham resort suites that have been created by the set design teams behind the actual films.

The ultimate Christmas suites each have a different theme, based on their locations. At the Club Wyndham Nashville, it’s all about rocking out to a country Christmas, whether it’s singing on the in-room karaoke machine, listening to holiday music on the record player, or catching a show at the Grand Ole Opry nearby. Over at the Club Wyndham Resort at Avon, close to Vail, Colorado, the snowy fun outside on the ski slopes continues inside with the projected snowflakes accompanied by in-room s’mores and the most magical Christmas tree. And for a city Christmas, the Club Wyndham Midtown 45 in New York City is in easy distance to the Rockefeller Christmas Tree and Bryant Park’s Bank of America Winter Village ice skating, before returning back to the suite to write letters to Santa to put in the room’s mailbox. Hot cocoa bar in a Club Wyndham Midtown 45 suite Courtesy of Club Wyndham Midtown 45

Each of the suites can fit up to four guests and has a fully equipped kitchen for cookie making, as well as separate living and dining areas that are all dressed to the holiday nines, with an ornament craft station, hot cocoa station, gingerbread house kit, and Hallmark Channel holiday movie collection, ready to view with popcorn and candy. A suite living room at Club Wyndham Midtown 45 Courtesy of Club Wyndham Midtown 45

The holiday cheer follows guests home with a gift basket that comes with a Hallmark Keepsake ornament, Hallmark Channel wine, Hallmark Channel Monopoly game, and Hallmark holiday cards, among other goodies.

"Hallmark Channel is synonymous with Christmas magic, and these Countdown to Christmas suites by Club Wyndham bring these beloved movies — and their traditions — to life for fans," Club Wyndham’s senior vice president and chief holiday cheer officer Annie Roberts, who curates a "Holiday Experience Checklist" at each location, told Travel + Leisure in a statement.


What is spyware, exactly? Cybersecurity experts explain

Yahoo Life is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. Some of the products written about here are offered in affiliation with Yahoo. We may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. Spyware can strike at any time — here’s how to protect yourself. (Photo: Getty) Spyware is one of those terms that’s thrown around a lot in cybersecurity that you might be a little hazy on what, exactly, it is. Still, you’re probably at least aware on some level that it’s bad.

Spyware can strike at any time, and it most recently happened during an Apple data breach. The company issued an emergency spyware alert in September, urging users with iPhones, iPads and other Apple devices to update their software ASAP, after learning that Israeli spyware company NSO Group had developed a way to take control of nearly any Apple computer, watch or iPhone.

You shouldn’t panic about spyware, but you do want to make sure you’re protected against it. One way to fend off spyware is to invest in powerful software like Norton Security Online — a leader in cybersecurity. One account can help protect up to five mobile devices from all kinds of cyber threats.

Once it’s downloaded, Norton Security Online helps find and get rid of existing malware (including spyware), along with warding off future attempted attacks in real time. It even helps shield your personal and financial data, protecting your assets. One way to fend off spyware is to invest in powerful software like Norton Security Online. (Photo: Getty) OK, but what is spyware, exactly? Here’s what you need to know. What is spyware?

"Spyware is software with malicious intent or purpose," Tom Kelly, president and chief executive officer of the consumer privacy platform IDX , tells Yahoo Life. "This software can acquire information about a person or organization and send it to another entity to cause harm." Spyware can include hacking into the personal device of a user and bypassing security and firewalls, Kelly says.


If You Bought This Milk, Don’t Drink It, Experts Warn

If you typically buy whole milk and you live in northern Washington, you may want to consider dumping it—immediately. On Oct. 15, Food Safety News reported that a recall was issued for raw, whole milk produced by Williams Valley Family Farm LLC of Clayton, Washington due to E. coli contamination.

The Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA) conducted several sampling tests which, "revealed the presence of toxin-producing E. coli in the farm’s unpasteurized, raw milk dated Oct. 20-28," the outlet reported.

If you recently bought a full gallon or half-gallon container of raw whole milk from the producer in Eastern and Western Washington, you’ll want to be sure to throw it in the trash. There is concern that customers will still drink the potentially contaminated beverage because the expiration date has yet to pass. Again, the milk that could make you sick is set to expire between Oct. 20 and Oct. 28.

So far, no cases of E. coli have been reported among those who purchased the milk. And those who did purchase the milk can return it to the retailer and get a full refund processed. However, know that if you’re going to purchase raw milk again, it may be worth taking a moment to consider the risks.

While it is legal to both sell and buy raw milk in Washington , anyone can run the risk of getting sick when they drink it. This is because raw milk isn’t pasteurized, a process that’s key for killing harmful bacteria. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raw milk is one of the riskiest foods you could buy as it has a higher likelihood of causing foodborne illness more so than most other foods.

Older adults, pregnant women, young children and infants, as well as those who weakened immune systems should all avoid drinking raw milk at all costs.

For more, be sure to read This Chocolate Milk Was Just Recalled for Foodborne Illness Concerns, Says FDA . Then, don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter !


How’s this for a score? Mario, Zelda and other Nintendo Switch games are up to 25 percent off at Amazon

We may receive commission from purchases made via links on this page. Pricing and availability are subject to change. Mario has even more powers thanks to his new hat. (Credit: Nintendo) Sales on video games happen all the time, but one thing you rarely see are first-party Nintendo games — titles like from the Mario and Zelda series, Animal Crossing and so on — discounted. Nintendo never lowers its prices, because its games are that good. Luckily, retailers like Amazon are always willing to help you save a few bucks, and you can snag some of the best Nintendo Switch titles now for up to 25 percent off.

Shipping for all of these titles is of course, free, but it’s also worth signing up for Amazon Prime if you haven’t already — members get great deals on video games, as well as access to movies, music and more. Grab yourself a free 30-day trial membership right here . Link prepares to set out for magical, and treacherous, lands. Why don’t you join him? (Credit: Nintendo) The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is considered by many to be the best Switch title, and the best Zelda game ever — and its Amazon reviews reflect that, with over 38,000 five-star raves. This reviewer called it a “must-have to Zelda fans and new gamers alike,” praising its “beautiful graphics and excellent gameplay.” And this parent loved “the freedom of being able to explore such a large, rich, intricate and gorgeous world.” Usually this epic adventure would run you $60, but right now it’s a friendlier $40. Mario explores strange and fascinating new worlds, like New Donk City. (Credit: Nintendo) Also high up in the rankings is Super Mario Odyssey, which has the titular plumber exploring a variety of far-flung worlds. There’s always something new and exciting just around the corner in this game, and Amazon reviewers gave it over 23,000 five-star ratings. The reviews are enthusiastic, with one player calling it the “the most complete, best all-around game in the franchise.” He loved the graphics and said the “the story is fun, the worlds are unique and well-designed, and there are hidden levels you can unlock if you get to a certain point. You can easily spend over 100 hours on this game if you’re trying to find all the moons.” This stellar game is currently 23 percent off, dropping the price from $60 down to $46.


These Super-Scary Stories Will Keep You up at Night


Karl-Anthony Towns opens up about his mental health after losing his mom to COVID-19: ‘That day changed me as a man’

Karl-Anthony Towns opens up about the loss of his mother. (Getty Images) Karl-Anthony Towns is opening up about his difficult year after suffering the loss of eight family members due to COVID-19 , including his mother.

The 25-year-old professional basketball player for the Minnesota Timberwolves joined actress Taraji P. Henson for an episode of her Facebook Watch series Peace of Mind With Taraji , where they discussed the impact that the coronavirus has had on his family. Most importantly, Towns went into the mental health implications of suffering numerous losses and revealed how he’s coping. "You never know how serious anything is until it lands at your doorstep," he said, sharing that the virus didn’t seem "really concerning" until people close to him began suffering. Towns himself even landed in the hospital because of his own battle with the disease. "It was bad," he shared. Still, no pain came close to that which he experienced while watching his mom lose her life.

"It was difficult because as her son and someone who loves her so dearly, I just didn’t want to see her in pain. So I was trying to do everything possible to make her comfortable and get her better quicker. So I was doing everything in my power and she was getting worse," he explained. "I flew in, I put the hazmat suit on and everything and I went in there. I was like, if anyone’s gonna go see her out, I’m gonna see her out. I’ve spent like seven hours with her and I knew it was gonna be the last time so I was kind of working that out."

Ultimately, Jacqueline Cruz died from a blood clot that resulted from the swelling that took place on April 13, 2020 — the same day that she was supposed to be taken off of the ventilator.

"That day changed me as a man. I’m never gonna get that innocent young boy back," Towns said. "Ever since that day, I feel like the world just made me a little colder." While Towns’s father is healthy at home, he too was sick with COVID at the same time as his wife. The couple even shared a hospital room. "My dad was right next to her in the room," the athlete recalled. "So they both were in the same room with each other and then he started turning the corner and she didn’t."