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The latest news from Life

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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    best wireless headphones

    • Bluetooth headphones get rid of those annoying wires and increase convenience so you can take your music with you anywhere.
    • Of all the wireless headphones we've tested, the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless over-ear headphones are the best ones you can buy, and they sound amazing.

    Headphones are evolving. When Apple first announced the iPhone 7, which dropped the headphone jack in favor of a wireless connection, many were more than a little frustrated. Traditionally speaking, wired headphones have been of a higher quality, both sound-wise and when it comes to reliability. Now, however, that’s changing, and the gap in sound quality is closing.

    If you’ve decided you want to ditch those annoying wires in favor of wireless headphones, there are a number of things to consider. The first thing you’ll need to decide is what form-factor you prefer. Do you want over-ear headphones, on-ear headphones, or in-ear headphones? Over-ear headphones generally sound better and are more comfortable, while in-ears are far more portable, and on-ear headphones attempt to strike a balance between those two.

    You’ll also want to consider whether you want noise-cancellation, which helps cut out the background noise while you’re listening. Last but not least, you’ll want to think about your budget. These days, there are great Bluetooth headphones across most price ranges, but as is the case with most things, the more you have to spend, the better headphones you'll get.

    We’ve been testing as many wireless Bluetooth headphones as we can get our hands on over the past few years, and we’ve put together this list of the best wireless headphones we've tested. We'll continue to add to this list as we test more models and different types of wireless headphones. You can also check out all the other types of headphones we recommend in the last slide.

    Here are the best wireless headphones you can buy:

    Updated on 12/17/2017 by Malarie Gokey: Added new models to replace old versions and updated prices and formatting.

    Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.

    The best wireless headphones overall

    Why you'll love them: The Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless headphones don’t just look great — they’re extremely comfortable and sound like a dream, too.

    Which Bluetooth headphones should you get if you want the best of the best? In our testing, the best wireless headphones money can buy are the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless over-ear headphones.

    There are a number of things that make these headphones so good. For starters, they look beautiful. The headphones are built with premium leather, along with a strong metal frame and a rustic look. It’s a great combination, but the build doesn’t just make them good-looking — it also makes them nice and strong.

    While the headphones do have an over-ear design, they are somewhat portable. They fold up and fit into a nice strong case, which is included in your purchase. The case is great for those of you who want to take your cans on the go. The Sennheiser headphones are comfortable, too. They have nice memory foam in the ear-cups, and while we would have liked to see a little more foam in the headband, that’s not a deal-breaker by any means.

    Then there’s the sound, which is the highlight of these headphones. The Sennheiser Wireless over-ear headphones boast a deep, rich low-end, along with a well-tuned and accurate mid-range and crisp high-end. They also have noise cancellation, and while it’s a little annoying that you can’t deactivate it if you want, it well help keep that extra noise out so you can listen to your music in peace.

    We’re not the only ones who love the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless headphones. They scored 9/10 in a review from Headphone Review, and their predecessor, the Momentum Wireless 2.0 headphones scored 9/10 on Trusted Review and 4/5 on CNET. The main downside to these headphones is that they’re not cheap. To get them, you’ll need to shell out a cool $350 to $500, but if you do, you won’t be sorry.  — Christian de Looper

    Pros: Beautiful design, relatively comfortable, excellent sound quality

    Cons: Expensive, could use more padding in headband

    Buy the Sennheiser Momentum 2.0 Wireless over-ear headphones on Amazon for $349 (originally $499.95)



    The best noise-canceling wireless headphones

    Why you'll love them: The noise cancellation technology on the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones is the best around, but the headphones also sound great and are extremely comfortable.

    Bose is a powerhouse in the headphone world and has been especially successful when it comes to noise cancelling headphones. In our testing, the headphones with the best noise cancellation technology are the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones. When these cans are on, the noise cancellation is almost eerie.

    The headphones aren’t just great for noise cancellation. They’re extremely comfortable and sound great, too. Sure, the design isn’t all that interesting, but for many people that doesn’t matter as much as the noise cancellation technology and sound quality. If you're into customizing your cans to suit your personality, you can design your own headphone on Bose's website.

    The Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones also come with everything you’ll need to take them on planes and around town, including a nice carry case, plane adapter, and an aux cable for when you want to use them in wired mode. Speaking of which, wired mode is, unfortunately, the only time you can use these headphones without noise cancellation on. There’s no switch to turn it off when they’re connected through Bluetooth.

    Plenty of reviewers loved the headphones besides us. Trusted Reviews gave them 9/10, CNET gave them 4.5/5, and Headphone Review gave them 9/10. They are a little pricey, coming in at $299 to $350, but paying that will get you the best noise canceling headphones around. — Christian de Looper

    Pros: Excellent noise cancellation, great sound quality, very comfortable

    Cons: Expensive, slightly boring design

    Buy the Bose QuietComfort 35 headphones on Amazon for $299 (originally $349)



    The best on-ear wireless headphones

    Why you'll love them: The AKG N60 NC Wireless headphones have an excellent design, feel comfortable, and sound great, but they’re also super portable and live safely in an included carry pouch.

    Looking for something a little more portable than the over-ear Sennheiser Wireless headphones? The AKG N60 NC Wireless headphones could be the ones for you.

    The headphones feature a super sleek design with a black and silver color scheme, along with an on-ear form factor, which makes them a lot more portable than over-ear headphones. They’re made even more portable with their swiveling earcups, which help the headphones fit nice and snugly in the included carry bag.

    The AKG N60 NC headphones are comfortable, too. There's a good amount of memory foam in both the earcups and the headband. The best thing about these headphones, however, is that they sound great. There’s a ton of low-end frequencies, though the bass doesn’t go overboard. The high frequencies are nice and clear, too, which helps the music sound crisp.

    Next up is the fact that these headphones also feature noise cancellation that's better than you’ll find on many other headphones. It’s not quite as good as the Bose QuietComfort 35’s tech, but it's good nonetheless. The headphones aren’t perfect. In the pair we tested, there was a small amount of Bluetooth noise, which came in the form of a very faint buzzing in the background. You couldn’t hear it while music was playing, but it was a little annoying.

    Others liked the N60 NC Wireless headphones, too. They scored 8.7/10 on Headphone Review. The Verge also liked them during their preview, PCMag gave them 4 out of 5 stars, and Time also praised them. The headphones are a little pricey at $150 but more affordable than our top pick. — Christian de Looper

    Pros: Portable, good noise cancellation, great sound, nice look

    Cons: Bluetooth noise

    Buy the AKG N60 NC Wireless on Amazon for $149.90



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Away $225

    Startups are often seen as incubators or think tanks making better, smarter, or cooler products faster than traditional companies can. And thanks to the lean businesses models made possible by the internet, those products don't have to cost more than the status quo they're replacing. 

    Their uniqueness, cool origin stories, and — on average — more sustainable and ethical business practices also make them particularly good gifts. Below are 76 up-and-coming startups we love to shop at, plus a cheat sheet for what to buy from each of them.

    Below, you'll find 76 of the best gifts you can buy from startups this year.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    Allbirds

    What to buy:
    Women's Wool Loungers, $95
    Men's Wool Loungers, $95

    This is the footwear company responsible for the merino wool sneakers and loungers often called the "most comfortable shoes in the world" — a statement we agreed with after trying them. They're great for everyday use or for traveling, and you'll find them in high concentrations in hubs like Silicon Valley and New York City. 

    Allbirds are also a great gift for environmentally-conscious shoppers. The company is well-known for practicing "better business" and engineering its shoes from sustainable wool, eucalyptus leaves, or foam made from sugar cane.



    Brooklinen

    What to buy:
    Brooklinen Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle, from $213

    Brooklinen is one of our favorite companies, point blank. We think they make the best high-end sheets at the best price on the market, and most of the Insider Picks team uses Brooklinen on their own beds.

    The Luxe Hardcore Sheet Bundle comes in 15 colors and patterns, and you can mix and match them to suit your taste. As part of the Bundle, you'll receive a core sheet set (fitted, flat, two pillowcases), duvet cover, and two extra pillowcases in soft, smooth 480-thread-count weave. Grab a gift card (delivered digitally or in a gift box) if you want them to have more freedom. 



    Atlas Coffee Club

    What to buy:
    Three-Month Subscription, $55

    Atlas Coffee Club is a monthly coffee subscription that curates freshly-roasted, micro-lot coffees from around the world and sends them to your door. Since the coffees span the globe, each shipment is meant to connect recipients with the culture that produced it. Shipments include a corresponding postcard (plus flavor notes and brewing tips), and the coffee bag designs are inspired by local landscapes and textiles. 



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    mother with kid

    It makes sense that as we grow older and experience more of life, our thoughts and feelings about certain things change.

    Beliefs we've held for years that we believed we'd never budge on are suddenly seen in a different light and we realize we may have gotten it wrong. It's called growing as a person, and it's a good thing.

    While I've certainly evolved my way of thinking about many things over the past decade, these are the seven topics that I've done a complete 180 on.

    SEE ALSO: I tried intermittent fasting for a month — and I saw 7 life-changing results

    1. Having children

    While I was never gung-ho about having kids to begin with, I've definitely become vehemently against the idea over the past decade. I'm simply too attached to having freedom with my time, money, and energy and realize that I'm not selfless enough to even want to give that up for a child. No doubt parenthood is rewarding, it's just not for me.



    2. The institution of marriage

    One thing I was definitely certain I would never do is get married. While I had nothing against the institution as a whole, outdated and unnecessary as it is, I've always supported couples who wanted to declare their commitment to one another via a legal contract. My lack of personal investment in the idea all changed in 2014 when I did actually tie the knot, albeit in a civil ceremony with only our witnesses present.



    3. The value of work

    While I was raised to appreciate the value of hard work and have pretty much always had at least a part-time job, even as a teenager, I admittedly never really took pride in what I did. It wasn't until I found a career I was truly passionate about — writing and editing — that I began to understand how good it feels to invest a lot of time and energy into something and proud of how it turned out.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Lilian Rincon

    • Lilian Rincon is the director of product management for the Google Assistant.
    • She runs a team of about 20 people at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, with more team members around the world.
    • She wakes up at 5:30 a.m. every day to get in a quick workout before her kids wake up.
    • Rincon attends 10 to 12 meetings daily.

    Lilian Rincon, the director of product management for the Google Assistant, runs a team of 20 people at Google's campus in Mountain View, California.

    Rincon said her team at Google, called the features team, is "at the heart of the Assistant."

    "The way that we're organized, there are other teams that kind of handle the mobile surface and the speakers and the hardware, et cetera," Rincon told Business Insider. "But my team is that one that really thinks about what are the types of things that the Assistant should be able to do?"

    A bonus just for you:Click here to claim 30 days of access to Business Insider PRIME

    Before starting at Google nearly two years ago, Rincon worked at Skype and, before that, at Microsoft.

    Rincon, who recently spoke at a Latinas in Tech summit in San Francisco, said she tests features of the Assistant in her own life, from cooking along with her smart display to letting her kids request songs from "Coco" on the Assistant in the car.

    Here's what a day in her life looks like, from waking up at 5:30 a.m. to fit in a workout before her kids wake up to ending with emails and wine.

    SEE ALSO: A Google director who runs a team of 150 people says she doesn't hire people who act like 'rock stars' but can't back it up — here are 3 qualities she looks for instead

    Lilian Rincon is the director of product management for the Google Assistant. She runs a team of about 20 at Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, with more team members around the world.



    "My team is that one that really thinks about what are the types of things that the Assistant should be able to do?" Rincon told Business Insider.



    She lives in San Carlos, California, with her husband, Nik, and their two children, Hudson, 5, and Bela, 2.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    2019 product trends 8

    Everything about online retail is changing: how you look for products, how social apps influence what you actually buy, and how a product gets to your front door not long after you place your order. 

    But it's not only how you shop that's rapidly innovating. It's also what you're shopping for. 

    In every industry, companies are becoming more creative, sustainable, and smart about their products. With shoppers enjoying the vast choice and convenience of the internet, brands have no alternative but to stay on their feet and think a couple steps ahead of the competition. 

    These changes and trends are all good news for shoppers. As both product writers and regular shoppers, we predict that in 2019, the following product trends are set to take the stage and have their moment. 

    Based on their growth in the past couple years and their future potential, these 7 types of products should be on your radar in 2019.

    Clothing made from sustainable and recycled fabrics

    In every facet of your life, you have opportunities to be a more responsible consumer and do your part to reduce your impact on the planet. You can wash your hair without lining your tub with bottles, pack up your leftovers in a beeswax wrap instead of plastic, and invest in long-lasting clothes made from alternative materials. 

    The movement against fast fashion is led by startups like ADAY, Everlane, and Reformation, where sustainability is woven into their DNA. Larger companies like Patagonia and Adidas are also doing their part. Next year, it'll be easier than ever to find closet staples like cashmere sweaters and work flats that use repurposed materials — and you won't be able to feel the difference. 



    Healthy, ready-made meal kits

    Meal kit delivery services often tout convenience as one of their main draws. After all, you don't have to think about what to make, spend time at the grocery store, or leave your house. However, much to the chagrin of anyone who doesn't love cooking or doesn't have 30 minutes to an hour to spare, you do in fact still have to cook the food.

    Ultimately, the fastest way to feed yourself is a ready-made meal. Snap Kitchen and Veestro are two online companies that are appealing themselves to customers who realize traditional meal kit delivery services aren't for them by delivering healthy meal plans and a la carte meals that you can simply microwave or heat in the oven. Preservative-free and made with organic, natural ingredients, they're a large step up from the microwave dinners you're thinking of. 



    CBD — in everything

    While 2018 saw the introduction of many products containing CBD, 2019 is when this industry will really flourish. In December 2018, Congress passed a bill legalizing hemp, a key source of the non-psychoactive cannabinoid CBD. That means you're going to see CBD infused into every possible product you can imagine, from food to skincare.

    Already, you can buy small-batch olive oil from California, moisturizing body lotion, and even vitamin gummies, all harnessing the restorative power of CBD to treat chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    mcconnell trump ryan

    • A Texas judge on Friday ruled that Obamacare was unconstitutional.
    • The lawsuit that led to the ruling was brought by Republicans. It used a law passed by Republicans as the crux of the argument.
    • The judge struck down popular parts of Obamacare, which could force the GOP to come up with a plan to protect those elements or risk getting blamed for millions of people losing coverage.
    • The problem is especially acute because the ruling would eliminate certain rules Republicans explicitly said they would keep safe, such as protections for people with preexisting conditions. 

    A federal judge's ruling on Friday declaring the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional could leave Republicans stuck in political limbo, potentially deciding the fate of millions of people's healthcare.

    US District Judge Reed O'Connor's broad decision argued that because the GOP virtually eliminated the ACA's individual mandate as part of their tax law, the rest of the ACA — better known as Obamacare — was also unconstitutional.

    The ruling, if upheld by higher courts, would eliminate a slew of hugely popular Obamacare provisions, ranging from preexisting conditions protections to the ability for children to stay on their parent's plan until age 26.

    So the risk for the GOP is that voters may see a ruling:

    • Based on a case brought by Republican attorneys general;
    • Not defended by the Trump administration;
    • Citing a law passed exclusively with Republicans votes that takes away protections that are wildly popular and could leave as many as 20 million more Americans without coverage.

    "The ruling once again elevates the debate on healthcare after Republicans had begun to move away from the issue in the 2018 midterm election cycle, as many candidates saw it becoming a net negative with voters," Ed Mills, a policy analyst at Raymond James, wrote Monday. "

    The risk is particularly acute because the GOP already has seen the political danger in losing the healthcare message battle. In the midterms, healthcare was the top issue for voters, and a majority of people trusted Democrats to better handle the issue — despite Republican candidates' embrace of issues like preexisting condition protections.

    Read more:Republicans made a lot of promises about preexisting conditions before the midterms»

    This massive advantage helped fuel the Democrats' large gain in the House.

    The concern over the ruling was apparent, as few prominent Republicans rushed to celebrate the ruling and some formerly pro-repeal leaders were uncharacteristically mum. For instance, House Speaker Paul Ryan only issued a short statement via a spokesperson: "The House was not party to this suit, and we are reviewing the ruling and its impact."

    Greg Valliere, chief global strategist at Horizon Investments, said the ruling adds another aspect to the Republicans' recent troubles with healthcare and will force the party into coming up with a concrete solution.

    "Ironically, most Republicans reacted — in private — with dismay because they will once again get saddled with the burden of coming up with a replacement — and because their efforts to kill the law have jeopardized popular health provisions," Valliere said.

    Without a serious plan to protect the popular parts of the ACA, Republicans could end up in an even worse spot than the midterms. But so far, every GOP replacement plan has polled dismally with Americans — and coming up with an idea that simultaneously protect the popular parts of Obamacare, preserve coverage gains, and appeal to the anti-Obamacare Republican base could prove difficult.

    Given the potential pitfalls, some Republicans were scrambling to reassure that the ruling itself would likely be overturned and there was no reason to worry.

    "The judge's ruling was far too sweeping," Sen. Susan Collins, who voted against the GOP's attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, said on ABC. "He could have taken a much more surgical approach and just struck down the individual mandate and kept the rest of the law intact. I believe that it will be overturned."

    On the flipside, the decision could also be a boon for Democrats. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday that Democrats plan to use the case to put pressure on the GOP to help preserve protections. 

    "The first thing we’re going to do when we get back there in the Senate is urge, put a vote on the floor, urging an intervention in the case," Schumer said. "The judge — a lot of this depends on congressional intent. And if a majority of the House and a majority of the Senate say that this case should be overturned, it'll have a tremendous effect on the appeal."

    SEE ALSO: Trump's trade war could cost every middle-class American family $453 and could eliminate 292,000 US jobs

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: Anthony Scaramucci claims Trump isn't a nationalist: 'He likes saying that because it irks these intellectual elitists'


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    Office work holiday party santa suit new year's

    No matter how many times we warn you against letting loose at the company holiday party, some people just don't listen.

    But it's important to remember that you're still on company time, and how you behave matters.

    As a lesson to us all, we asked readers and combed the web for wild stories of office holiday parties past. Here are some of the most cringe-worthy:

    Some answers have been edited for clarity.

    SEE ALSO: 15 things you should never do at the office holiday party

    DON'T MISS: The 17 best icebreakers to use at a holiday party where you don't know anyone

    'Our new janitor has no idea why everyone is treating him so nicely'

    "There was this quiet, old janitor that worked our office building who was scheduled to retire on Christmas, so our Christmas party kind of included his farewell; we gave gifts to each other, put up a Christmas tree, people brought cakes and pastries, Christmas stuff.

    "Then here comes the old janitor and he leaves a fairly big bag of presents under the tree; we're all kind of surprised because no one seemed to interact with him that much, but nonetheless we thank him and wish him the best and stuff, then he leaves and presumably sets off to the Midwest. The next day, we open the presents, including his.

    "Turns out, the retiring janitor gave everyone in the office a little bottle of sulfuric acid. Everybody got one, even me, I still have it. We don't know where he got them or how much they cost, but apparently, he hated our guts.

    "Our new janitor has no idea why everyone is treating him so nicely."

    —Anonymous Business Insider reader



    'That was a mistake'

    "My friend is in charge of a number of temporary hires, contract workers, and freelancers at an ad agency. Her company's HR department sent a mass save-the-date email for the holiday party to everyone, including the people she has under her. That was a mistake. She now has to contact each one and tell them they are not invited to the company party." 

    —Anonymous Business Insider reader



    'The guy who brought the brownies grabbed the wrong plate ... '

    "A place that I worked at about eight years ago had a huge party. One of the managers brought brownies and the director of operations (let's call him Jack) was the first to try them as we were setting up the food table.

    "About half an hour later, as we were finishing up, Jack starts giggling and talking about how tall he feels. The guy who brought the brownies grabbed the wrong plate as he left the house and accidentally brought pot brownies.

    "Needless to say, we gathered as many of the stoners as we could to clear that plate before anyone else got to them and tried to keep Jack away from other management." 

    Redditor



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Rieser_retail 3

    Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, photographer Jesse Rieser was largely immersed in the American mall experience.

    It partly inspired his photo project "The Retail Apocalypse: The Changing Landscape of American Retail."

    The series explores the retail apocalypse in the US, the country's rapid decline of shopping malls as online retailers are increasingly gaining strides in the retail space. 

    Rieser's photos depict abandoned shopping malls, stores, and parking lots with deteriorated signs displaying the names of companies that are now struggling to keep afloat by catering to online-driven consumers.

    Business Insider spoke to Rieser about his series. Take a look.

    SEE ALSO: Two photographers captured photos of complete strangers they met on Craigslist — and the photos are hauntingly beautiful

    Living in the suburban Midwest, Rieser grew up with shopping and strip malls.



    His own personal memories helped inform his photo series.



    Going to the mall consisted of "hanging out at food courts and trying to talk to girls, and when that didn’t go so well, always kind of resorting back to the arcade," Rieser told Business Insider.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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    Champagne flutes

    • Contrary to popular belief, if you're popping your Champagne bottles, you're actually doing it wrong.
    • And while flutes may look beautiful, the narrow shape is not the optimal glass shape for the bubbly drink.
    • Instead, control the cork as it comes out and look for glassware that resembles a white wine glass with a narrower opening, suggests Joey Kleinhans, Managing Director of Sommelier Capital Advisors.

    Even though movies and TV shows frequently feature characters popping Champagne bottles and sipping bubbly from slender flutes, they're actually going about it the wrong way — and there's a good chance you are, too.

    In fact, those are both common serving mistakes with simple solutions, according to Joey Kleinhans, Managing Director of Sommelier Capital Advisors.

    For starters, said Kleinhans, "allowing the cork to loudly pop is the worst mistake, as it releases the pressure too fast and thereby curtails the bubble flow."

    Instead, Kleinhans said the best way to open a bottle is by controlling the cork as it comes out. And, he added, the bottle should be angled so that all you can hear is a quiet hiss.

    Read more: The best bottle of wine to bring to any holiday party

    Champagne glass white wine glass

    When it comes to serving Champagne, Kleinhans said that appearance isn't everything, noting, "Flutes are not appropriate because they only focus on visually highlighting the bubbles, but they don't allow good smelling of the wine."

    A better choice is a glass that looks like a white wine glass "but come[s] together more strongly towards the rim," like the one pictured.

    If you're used to serving Champagne out of a flute, though, you're not alone, and it's not the only popular glass shape that experts recommend against. In fact, as Business Insider's Alison Millington previously reported, the old-fashioned coupe is also a poor serving choice because "the wide, flat shape of the glass — made popular in the 1920s — means your Champagne will lose its bubbles fast."

    And, when it comes to selecting what type of Champagne you're serving at your party, Kleinhans suggests matching the quality of your bottle to the appreciation level of your audience. Champagne bottles can range from $15 to $500, he noted, and failing to be occasion-appropriate is a standard mistake.

    If that still doesn't help narrow it down enough for you, take a look at the list of the top 10 best-selling Champagne brands in the world for some inspiration.

    SEE ALSO: Here's why champagne and prosecco make you feel more drunk than normal wine

    READ MORE: The best Champagne glasses you can buy

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: The Pilgrims actually stopped at Plymouth Rock because they were running out of beer


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    The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.

    Billie Razor

    • Billie, a shaving subscription service, has created a razor designed specifically for women. It handles the curves and angles of legs and ankles, softens the skin, and prevents clogged razorheads.
    • The subscription service eliminates the "pink tax," the term used to describe the price increases typically applied to women's products, and offers a monthly supply of razors for just $9 with free shipping.
    • Billie is the first women's grooming brand to depict body hair in their ads and images. Their goal is to normalize women's body hair and empower their customers to decide for themselves whether they want to shave it, or let it grow.

    As an Italian-American woman with the thick, dark hair to prove it, shaving has always been a pain point for me. Actually, it's been more than just a pain point — it's been a source of shame for almost as long as I can remember.

    I was in fourth or fifth grade when I developed the frantic desire to shave my legs. The knobby knees and hairy shins peeking out from beneath the hemline of my uniform skirt and above my standard-issue high socks were not like the other girls': They looked more like boys legs, and I had the distinct feeling that if I didn't do something about this fast, I'd be bullied. "Once you start, you can never stop," my mother warned, trying to convince me to put off the inevitable act of daily hair removal for a little longer. But I was stubborn (and tearful) and she relented.

    Shaving was not like it seemed in commercials. On TV, women lathered up their already-hairless legs with luxuriously thick shaving cream and languidly ran a razor from ankle to thigh in one sexy stroke. Then, they put on mini skirts and heels and danced with their also-hairless lady friends, as men stared on in awe.

    In reality, shaving my legs was anything but glamorous.

    The razorhead got clogged before I made it up to my knee, and the blades left little bleeding nicks along the way. It took forever to remove every hair on both legs; and it didn't stop at my legs, either. I shamefully shaved my toes, too. I thought I must be the only girl in the world with hairy feet (after all, none of the razor blade commercials showed a sexy foot shave in progress).

    And damn, shaving was expensive. In college, I routinely shaved my legs with dull, past-their-prime blades because I couldn't afford to drop $25 on a new pack.

    My Billie Starter Kit

    At one point, I joined the Dollar Shave Club— a razor subscription service for men that eventually began marketing their affordable blades to women, too — because they offered a fresh pack of razor cartridges for just $9 a month. But the metal razor handle that came with the blades was clearly not meant for ladies. The company describes it as "weighty" and "substantial," which might be nice for a guy's face… but as a woman shaving with upward strokes in a slippery shower, the heavy handle worked against me.

    Needless to say, from fifth grade to my late twenties, shaving was the bane of my existence. Until I found Billie, a razor subscription service aimed directly at the female market.

    "While we saw that there were a number of startups in the grooming space bringing better pricing to men's shaving products, we didn't see that same innovation for women," Georgina Gooley, the co-founder of Billie, tells Business Insider. "We knew that we wanted to create a razor that was designed specifically for the way women shave and priced in line with affordable men's razors."

    Gooley notes that women typically shave over 10 times the surface area than men do, and navigate more curves and angles. "Which is why we designed the Billie razor to deliver the smoothest, most comfortable shave available for women," she says.

    Speaking from personal experience, I can attest that Gooley's not exaggerating.

    My Billie razor— rendered in a pale pink shade that perfectly matches my bathroom decor, one of many colors to choose from — is incredibly lightweight and easy to grip. The razor head is flexible enough to handle the curves of my ankles, knees, and toes without a problem. "Our American-made blades are super sharp and are encased in 360° of aloe shave soap, so it feels like it's floating right over your skin," Gooley adds. "We also have more space between each blade to allow shave cream and hair to pass through easily, so you never have a clogged razor."

    Billie Razor Blue

    When you subscribe through Billie's site, you first have to answer a few questions about your shaving habits, including how often you use your razor (every day? once a week? once a month?).

    "Blade refills arrive every one, two, or three months, depending on how often you shave, so you never run out," Gooley says. To me, this feature is particularly useful. When I subscribed to Dollar Shave Club, I ended up with more razors than I could possibly use, and they wastefully piled up in my bathroom cabinet until I pawned them off on my husband.

    But perhaps the best thing about Billie is that the brand is the first to offer a realistic view of women's body hair— and, in contrast to most other women's grooming brands on the market, empowers women to make their own decisions about when, and even if, to shave.

    "We built Billie to be a brand for all womankind, not just women who shave," Gooley tells Business Insider, with a nod to the other personal care products Billie sells (like shower caps, hair combs, and body wash). "We think of our customers as our friends. We would never dictate what they should do, especially when it comes to personal grooming habits."

    To this point, Billie has launched Project Body Hair, a "celebration of female body hair" that aims to fill the internet with pictures of real women shaving (or not) in order to normalize the idea that body hair is, well, normal. "Many female razor brands have historically ignored female body hair by always showing glossy, hairless legs in their ads," Gooley explains. "It felt like an archaic way of communicating with women and we're proud to celebrate body hair and reinforce that shaving is a choice, not an expectation."

    Talking in the photos and videos of unshaven armpits and legs on Billie's site (not to mention, out in the world in the form of advertising) feels like letting out a heavy sigh of relief. They've even inspired me to shave a little less often — and to actually enjoy the experience when I do. And I'm not alone here.

    "The Project Body Hair film has 20 million views across social media, the campaign has been covered in 22 countries, and has hundreds of thousands of positive comments," Gooley says. "I think women are appreciative of brands who are celebrating diversity and breaking the mold of what is considered 'normal' in mainstream media."

    Recently, the brand took their mission a step further when they plastered one of the most frequented subway stops in New York City with an ad depicting none other than "the underrated toe shave," in Gooley's words. Yes, the toe shave. As a nearly 30-year-old woman, this thrills and excites me; and I can't even begin to imagine the positive impact images like this —the first of their kind — will have on young women.

    Would I have felt differently about my body if a brand like Billie had been around when I started shaving? The answer, undoubtedly, is yes.

    But since I can't go back in time and undo years of unrealistic media influence — not to mention less-than-enjoyable shaving — the least I can do is take control of my experience today.

    To me, shaving with Billie is so more than just a (dreamy) physical experience; when I pull out my razor, I feel good about supporting a brand that supports me and my fellow women, in all our hairy-toed glory.

    Billie subscription, starting at $9 for three months, from Billie

    SEE ALSO: I started using a $30 facial steamer to clear my pores and my whiteheads are completely gone

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    cookbooks 4x3

    Do you know someone whose greatest joy is arranging an artisanal cheese board, watching "Barefoot Contessa," or "coaxing" flavors out of ingredients? For them, a cookbook may be your most thoughtful gift. Pair it with a rolling pin, apron, or nice bottle of wine. Or, keep a couple on hand as expert-level host gifts for the holiday season

    Below are 20 cookbooks to give as gifts this year — spanning notable newcomers, cult-favorite food-blogs-turned-books, and award-winning tomes from renowned chefs that reimagine the culinary landscape. Some are best sellers, some hidden gems, and some plucked from our own thoughtfully stocked kitchens at home.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    "Feast" by Sarah Copeland

    Feast: Generous Vegetarian Meals for Any Eater and Every Appetite, $14.99

    Sarah Copeland's "Feast" includes over 140 vegetable-based recipes that cater to cooks of all skill levels and meal occasions — from peppery Hungarian cuisine to bibimbap. 



    "The Frankie Spuntino Kitchen Companion" by Frank Falcinelli, Frank Castronovo, and Peter Meehan

    The Frankie Spuntino Kitchen Companion & Cooking Manual, $14.09

    Frankies Spuntino is a tin-ceilinged, brick-walled restaurant in Brooklyn that draws crowds from every walk of life for food that is deeply satisfying. Here, the entire Frankies menu — and it's reimagined Italian American comfort food — is adapted for the home cook. 



    "Eat What You Watch" by Andrew Rea

    Eat What You Watch: A Cookbook for Movie Lovers, $17

    The is the perfect cookbook for the movie buff, setting down many iconic movie moments into recipes — from the redemptive birthday cake in Sixteen Candles to the elaborate timpano from Big Night. 

     



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    Chocolate Fondue Pot

    • Chocolate is one of the most beloved foodstuffs on earth, making chocolate products a great choice for holiday gift-giving.
    • This holiday season, think outside the box when shopping for the chocolate lover, going beyond the tasty treat alone.
    • Here are 15 great gift ideas for the chocolate lover on your holiday shopping list (including, of course, a few tasty treats).

    There is a scientific explanation for the human being's love of chocolate. A rich, complex food that of course tastes great, chocolate contains multiple compounds that can actually elevate the mood and reduce stress. These include the natural neurotransmitter anandamide, similar to a chemical found in cannabis. Eating chocolate also releases dopamine, your brain's feel-good chemical. Also there's the sugar, which our body craves.

    So if you have an avowed chocolate lover on your holiday shopping list, it's your job to make sure his or her holiday is as tasty, happy, and low stress as possible by providing them with lots of chocolate. Or you could go beyond the mere chocolate bar and get your cocoa enthusiast friend or family member a great book all about the sweet stuff, a choco-scented beauty product, or a delectable chocolaty beverage.

    Better yet, make up a chocolate care package with all sorts of great gifts for chocolate lovers. That sure would be sweet of you. (Sorry...)

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    Amazing cookies

    Giorgio Cookie Company Gourmet White Chocolate Raspberry Cookie Gift Jar, $59.95, from Amazon

    My wife is a card-carrying chocolate lover and a harsh critic of sweets, and she referred to these Gourmet White Chocolate Raspberry Cookies from the Giorgio Cookie Company as "maybe the best cookies I've ever had." Yes, this is one expensive jar of cookies, but they really are amazing. Your lucky gift recipient will be talking about their taste long after the last crumbs are eaten.



    Amazing chocolate bars

    Alter Eco Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate, $6.18, from Amazon

    With so many companies making great chocolate bars, it's hard to choose just one to recommend. I'm going with Alter Eco first and foremost because I've tried about a half dozen of their bars, from the Dark Blackout Organic Chocolate Bar to the Deep Dark Salted Burnt Caramel Bar and beyond, and they are all amazing.

    What sets this company apart is how they make their sweets. Alter Eco products are made with cacao exclusively harvested in Ecuador from sustainable, Fair Trade farms, and all of their chocolate is gluten free, non-GMO, and vegan, and purchases help direct funds to reforestation.



    A chocolate fondue pot

    Nostalgia FPS200 6-Cup Stainless Steel Fondue Pot, $29.99, from Amazon

    Chocolate fountains are great, but they tend to make a mess, they are hard to clean, and they can't also be used with cheese for traditional fondue. So give the melted chocolate aficionado the trusty (and affordable) Nostalgia FPS200 6-Cup Stainless Steel Electric Fondue Pot and you're giving the gift of chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate dipped marshmallows, and... well, really a guy could dip any foodstuff in there.



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    Stephen Miller

    • White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller is on the front lines as President Donald Trump's administration butts heads with Democratic lawmakers over Trump's wishes for a $5-billion border wall.
    • Miller was previously identified as the driving force behind the Trump administration's controversial immigration policies. 
    • At 32 years old, he has been a rising star on the far right for years, making headlines because of his polarizing demeanor and statements long before his time in the administration. 

    White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller has once again emerged on the front lines as President Donald Trump's administration butts heads with Democratic lawmakers over Trump's wishes for a $5-billion wall along the US-Mexico border.

    Miller was previously identified as the driving force behind the Trump administration's "zero tolerance" policy that separated immigrant children from their families at the southern border.

    At 32 years old, he has been a rising star on the far right for years, often making headlines because of his polarizing demeanor and statements long before The New York Times reported June 16 that he was the origin of the controversial policy.

    One of the few remaining staffers from Trump's 2016 campaign, Miller also writes the president's biggest speeches, including Trump's first State of the Union address.

    His hard-line positions and knack for policy have made him a force to be reckoned with. But before Miller became a major figure in the Trump administration, he was an outspoken, conservative activist in high school and college who worked on congressional campaigns.

    Here's how Miller became Trump's right-hand policy man:

    SEE ALSO: Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN's set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails

    DON'T MISS: A far-right darling in the White House was the one who convinced Trump the US should separate parents from their children at the border

    Stephen Miller was born in Santa Monica, California, on August 23, 1985, to a Jewish family whose ancestors fled persecution in what is now Belarus. His family was liberal-leaning, but Miller says he became a stalwart conservative at an early age.

    Source: The Hollywood Reporter



    In 2002, at age 16, Miller wrote in a letter to the editor that "Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School" because of the student body's anti-war attitude after 9/11. Soon enough, Miller began appearing on conservative talk radio in the Los Angeles area.

    Sources: The LookOutUnivision, Politico Magazine



    A video emerged in 2017 of his giving a student-government campaign speech at Santa Monica High in which he argued that students shouldn't have to pick up their own trash because there are "plenty of janitors who are paid to do it" for them. The audience quickly booed him off the stage.

    Sources: The Washington Post, Politico Magazine



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    Gifts for host

    The holidays are in full swing, which means you probably already have too ugly Christmas sweater parties and family gatherings to think about. While you're busy shopping for holiday gifts, you may want to consider getting something for all the hosts that'll be making you feel welcome in their homes this season. 

    At a bare minimum, a host gift is a small but generous way to say "Thank you for having me." At its full potential, it's a way to make someone feel valued and recognized for all the time and effort they've spent to give you a wonderful and warm place to be. These host gifts are ones they'll remember and enjoy even after the party is over — once they're over the stress of cleanup (for which your voluntary help is probably the best host gift of all).

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    SEE ALSO: 15 thoughtful gifts for book lovers to satisfy the bookworm on your list

    A trio of chai tea that made it onto Oprah's Favorite Things list

    Vahdam Chai Tea Trio, available on Amazon, $19.99

    This tea trio made Oprah's Favorite Things list for 2018, so if it's good enough for her, it's good enough for your host. We've actually tried some of Vahdam's teas and were particularly impressed by its beautiful packaging.



    A wine tote and a nice bottle to go with it

    Draper James X Crate & Barrel Cheers Wine Tote, available at Crate & Barrel or Draper James, $12.97

    Wine is a classic host gift, but sometimes it doesn't quite feel like enough. But wrap a bottle in this sweet tote from Reese Witherspoon's brand Draper James and Crate & Barrel and you've got a perfectly complete gift for your party host. 

    And if you're looking for an easy way to order wine online for the holidays, we've got you covered with this list.



    A never-fail candle from one of our favorite new startups

    Gilded Holiday Candles, available at Otherland, from $38

    Otherland's candles offer the most beautiful unboxing and gifting experience. They're both a joy to give and a joy to get. You can choose candles from the newest limited-edition collection called Gilded Holiday, or go for the company's five base candles that are carried year-round.

    Read our full review of Otherland candles here.



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    amex rose gold new york 12

    • The new American Express® Gold Card features a new metallic design, in addition to competitive rewards on restaurants and supermarkets in the US, airfare, and more. 
    • You can request a limited-edition rose gold version of the card, but only until January 9, 2019.
    • New cardholders can also get a unique, limited-time welcome bonus if they apply before the same date.
    • Here's what you need to know about the AmEx Gold Card.

    When looking for a new credit card or charge card, aesthetics should not be your biggest concern. Your focus — assuming you pay your bills in time and don't carry credit card debt — should be on things like rewards.

    That said, it's nice when you're able to enjoy both.

    When American Express reintroduced its Gold Card this fall, the card got a fantastic set of improvements to its rewards earning scheme and suite of benefits.

    As part of the overhaul, AmEx unveiled a new chic, gold-colored metal version of the card, similar to the Platinum Card's design. AmEx also introduced a limited-edition rose gold variation of the card — it was so popular that AmEx encountered shipping delays of the rose gold product. Current and new users are able request it. However, that option goes away on January 9.

    That means that this is the last chance to get the rose gold version of the card.

    Also going away January 9: a unique limited-time bonus for new members. If you don't have the Gold Card and open one by then, AmEx will "pick up the tip" when you dine out. During the first three months, new card members will get 20% back on restaurant charges — in the form of a statement credit — up to $100 total.

    That's in addition to the standard welcome bonus of 25,000 Membership Rewards points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. Some people may be targeted for a higher bonus.

    The new Gold Card earns 4x Membership Rewards points per dollar spent at US restaurants, as well as on the first $25,000 spent each calendar year at US supermarkets (and 1x point after that). It also earns 3x points on flights booked directly through the airline, and 1x point on everything else.

    Learn more: AmEx Platinum cardholders can potentially get the $200 airline fee credit twice in their first year — here's how

    That makes it among the most competitive cards for restaurants and supermarkets in the US — since it's possible to get more than 1¢ of value for each Membership Rewards point, the value is more than 4% back.

    The Gold Card features several other benefits, too. Cardholders can get up to $120 in dining credits a year — split into $10 chunks each month — when they use their cards to order food through Grubhub or Seamless, or at The Cheesecake Factory, Ruth's Chris Steak House, and participating Shake Shack locations. That's in addition to a $100 airline fee credit each calendar year.

    The card's annual fee is $250, but between the annual credits and the rewards, it should be easy to earn enough value to more than make up for that.

    Click here to learn more about the American Express Gold Card from Insider Picks' partner: The Points Guy.

    SEE ALSO: 11 lucrative credit card deals you can get when opening a new card in December — including a 200,000-mile bonus

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    rivet, $29.99+

    It's crazy to think that Christmas is just a week away. The reality is, though, that in seven days you're going to need to have all of your holiday gifts wrapped and ready to go.

    Haven't bought them yet? Luckily, it's no big deal because plenty of online retailers are offering fast (and in some cases free) two-day shipping to help you get all of your gifts in time. 

    Amazon is one of the retailers you can rely on to get you your gifts on time, especially if you're a Prime member. Yet, many people feel that finding a present in Amazon's sea of millions of products can result in gifts that feel lackluster and a little impersonal. I was in that camp as well, finding it admittedly difficult to find the hidden gems in my broad searches for "minimalist succulent planters" or "shaggy throw pillows".

    I recently discovered Amazon's gift finder, which helps you find curated selections of unique gifts, and I was impressed.

    You can search by category, interests, price, and more. If anything, this proved to me that you can in fact find gifts on Amazon that still feel thoughtful and personal. So, we curated a list of 21 personal gifts on Amazon, for everyone on your list. Keep scrolling to check out our picks below.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    DON'T MISS: 55 creative and unexpected gifts for her that are all under $50

    For the musician

    Audio-Technica Fully Automatic Stereo Turntable, $89

    Musicians and music lovers alike can agree that nothing sounds better than vinyl. If they have a record collection, they'll appreciate this turntable. If they don't have a record collection, start them off with a record or two and introduce them to the unique vinyl sound with this record player — they'll thank you. 



    For the 'green thumb'

    Back to the Roots Garden-in-a-Can Herb Garden, $33.74

    Give them the tools to keep up with their gardening habit all year long. Each garden-in-a-can is super easy to use — just add water and some sunshine — and will have them with fresh cilantro, basil, and mint garnishes in no time. 



    For the bookworm

    Alice in Wonderland Bookmark, $29

    Add some whimsy to their next read with this Alice in Wonderland bookmark. It's sure to catch their attention, and you can be sure they'll never lose their place again. 



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    ostrichpillow original

    The average person spends roughly a third of their life sleeping. Whether or not they're getting quality sleep is a different story.

    If you can't quite figure out gifts your friends and family will actually use while they're awake, giving them something that will improve their quality of sleep is a priceless alternative.

    From simple items like cozy flannel sheets, travel pillows, and soothing herbal teas to special items like cell-repairing sheets and sleepwear, sleep-tracking smart mattresses, and sleep sound machines, the possibilities are in great abundance.

    Whether you're shopping for a hard worker who could use some rest or someone who could be a professional napper, you'll find the sleep-aiding gift they've been dreaming of here.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    A pillow for sleeping on planes, trains, and anywhere else you can get a nap in

    Ostrich Pillow Original, available in two colors on Amazon, $84.99

    Though it looks pretty ridiculous, the Ostrich Pillow creates a personal space to make sleeping outside of your bed more comfortable. Whether sleeping on an airplane or under a desk during their lunch break, they'll be able to peacefully catch some Z's.



    Comfortable Bluetooth sleeping headphones

    AcousticSheep Wireless Bluetooth Sleep Headphones, available on Amazon, $99.95

    Sleeping with normal headphones can be uncomfortable, and they'll likely come out in the middle of the night anyway. The AcousticSheep Bluetooth Sleep Headphones feature a wide headband design so the wearer can comfortably fall asleep listening to music or white noise.

     



    A machine that plays soothing white noise and nature sounds

    Sound+Sleep High Fidelity Sleep Sound Machine, available on Amazon, $82 (Originally $89.98) [You save $7.98]

    The Sound+Sleep sound machine has the ability to play 30 sounds from different types of environments. With options like fireplace, waterfall, white noise, meditation, brook, rainfall, train, city, meadow, and ocean, everyone can find a sound that'll put them to sleep.



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    gifts for music lovers 5

    Most of us listen to music in some capacity and can say we like it.

    But there are the people who just listen casually to whatever happens to be on the radio, and then there are the people who spend hours carefully curating playlists, filling their calendars with concerts to attend, and even playing music themselves.

    This gift guide is for the latter group, who argue that they don't just like music, they love it. 

    To fuel their passion, you can gift something that elevates the listening experience, teaches them something new about music, or puts them right in front of their favorite singer. 

    Shop these 17 gifts for music lovers below. 

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    SEE ALSO: All of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides, in one place

    A diagram of famous guitars

    A Visual Compendium of Guitars 18"x 24" Print, $30, available at Pop Chart

    Can they identify all the guitars held by famous rockers in this eye-catching print? They'll find the musical companions of  Jimi Hendrix, Tom Petty, Kurt Cobain, and Joan Jett, among many other iconic musicians. 



    A limited-edition Taylor Swift instant camera

    Fujifilm Taylor Swift Limited Edition Instax Film Camera with Square Instant Film Bundle, $199.95, available at Amazon

    This camera design is inspired by Taylor Swift's "Reputation" album and has the singer written all over it (literally — it features her autograph on both the back of the camera and the borders of the prints). The die-hard fan in your life can bring the portable camera to all their concerts to immortalize the experience. 



    A vinyl record membership

    3-month Gift Membership, $99, available at Vinyl Me, Please

    Vinyl record owners experience no greater joy than when they get to add to their collection and play a new record for the first time. Your recipient will choose from three different types of tracks each month and will also receive extra goodies in each package. The three-month membership includes one bonus record. 



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    reading

    Based on our team's collective experience, gifting someone a book — especially a long, adventurous, exhilarating series — has an effect that can span years and, sometimes, even lifetimes. They provide hours of enjoyment and imagination, and they help create opportunities for kids to both spend time alone and connect with friends over shared interests.

    Below are twelve of the best series you can gift a young adult, from timeless classics to exciting newcomers that have inspired upcoming or already released major motion pictures and series, providing aspects of fandom they can enjoy post-reading. 

    Captions provided by Amazon and edited for length.

    Looking for more gift ideas? Check out all of Insider Picks' holiday gift guides for 2018 here.

    "Inheritance Cycle" by Christopher Paolini

    "Inheritance Cycle" 4-Book Boxed Set, $41.74

    "Inheritance Cycle" is the unforgettable, worldwide best-selling saga of one boy, one dragon, and a world of adventure. When Eragon finds a polished blue stone in the forest, he thinks it's the lucky discovery of a poor farm boy. But when the stone brings a dragon hatchling, Eragon soon realizes he has stumbled upon a legacy nearly as old as the Empire itself. Overnight his simple life is shattered, and he and his dragon, Saphira, are thrust into a perilous new world of destiny, magic, and power. Can Eragon take up the mantle of the legendary Dragon Riders? The fate of the Empire may rest in his hands...

    Plus, when they’re done with these four, there’s a new book from Paolini being released December 31, 2018 after a seven-year gap.



    "Harry Potter" by J.K. Rowling

    "Harry Potter" Paperback Box Set, $52.16

    The "Harry Potter" series has been hailed as “one for the ages” by Stephen King and “a spellbinding saga" by USA Today. The New York Times called “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” the “fastest selling book in history.” This is the ultimate Harry Potter collection for Harry Potter fans of all ages, books one through seven. You can also get them in hardcover for $72.27.



    "The Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins

    "The Hunger Games" Trilogy, $26.44

    The extraordinary, groundbreaking New York Times best sellers “The Hunger Games” and “Catching Fire”, along with the third book in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins, “Mockingjay,” are available in a beautiful boxset edition. The collectible also comes with new foil covers, more than 50 pages of bonus material, and the most extensive interview Suzanne Collins has given since the publication of “The Hunger Games”.



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    Shopper's Special NYC subway

    The New York City subway system is one of the most fascinating curiosities in a city full of mysteries. Miles of underground track shrouded in darkness, littered with abandoned stations and secret passageways — it's a common object of desire for the urban explorers among us.

    And, occasionally, New York City acknowledges the delightful mystery surrounding its 24-hour transportation system. The annual "Holiday Nostalgia" train line, seen above, is a perfect example of this.

    The train line, consisting of eight vintage New York subway cars from several different eras, runs for a few weekends each year — from the Sunday after Thanksgiving to the end of the year, only on Sundays. It costs the same $2.75 as any subway ride.

    So what'd we do? We got on the train and took a ride, of course! This is what it's like.

    SEE ALSO: New York City subway cars are cleaned by hand — and it takes one person 3 and a half hours to do it

    I got on at the Second Avenue stop in Manhattan — when I snapped these photos in 2016, the train ran between the Second Avenue stop in Manhattan and the Queens Plaza stop in Queens.

    In 2018, the holiday train is running on the F line starting at the 2nd Av station, and via the A/C/D line from the 125th St station. It makes a handful of stops at major stations along the way — like Columbus Circle and Herald Square — "as an ode to the holiday shopping season,"



    As you can see from 2016's schedule, the train ran throughout the day starting at 10 a.m. and concluding at about 5 p.m. It's similar in 2018, but there are a few changes.

    The schedule is slightly different for 2018. According to the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the train "will depart from 2nd Avenue on the F line in Lower Manhattan and run along 6th Avenue in Manhattan to 47th-50th/Rockefeller Center before heading up the Central Park West line, where the train will stop at 59th St – Columbus Circle before making its way up to 125th St on the A/C/D lines in Harlem."



    Even though we arrived at 12:30, there were already a bunch of people waiting — some were clearly tourists; others were clearly New Yorkers.



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