Living

It’s the holiday season - time for traveling and exchanging gifts! But there are some gifts nobody wants, like things that could wreck agricultural crops, force quarantines and hurt our environment. So, just remember: Don’t pack a pest in your luggage!

Not every product lives up to its claims, and others sometimes exceed expectations. The January 2015 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, spotlights the best of the best tested this year which includes more than 45 products in these seven categories: food and wine; cooking, food prep & storage; cleaning; home improvement; beauty, heath, and fitness; electronics; and cars.

Popular wisdom would have you believe that the best holiday gift must have a battery, a touch screen and wireless capability. Technology gifts, however, rarely stand the test of time. Give your loved one a smartphone or tablet in December and it may already be obsolete by spring. What’s more, market research firm MarketTools found 14 percent of us return consumer electronic gifts after the holidays.

The holiday season makes for a memorable time of year, providing the chance to visit with old friends and relatives you might not see often. Equipping yourself with the right tools early on can be the key to enjoying a stress-free hosting experience this season, while ensuring your guests’ visit is as comfortable as possible. Following these simple tips will help you create a welcoming home so you can spend more time doing the things you enjoy most.

Oprah was excited to share just how much she loves Red C Jewels’ diamond initial studs by listing them in her coveted Oprah’s Favorite Things 2014. She even announced her plans to gift all the girls at the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy their very own pair for their birthday.