Caught In The Web

Beyond The Bells & Bows


by Laura Emery, Field Editor

There’s no escaping the holiday season, always absolutely electric with energy. And as our world picks up its pace and puts on a smile during this magical time, so does the plethora of holiday Web sites popping up all over the Internet.

Around Christmastime, you see the same things everywhere. Magazine articles, store window displays, television shows and commercials, and Web sites all begin to feature those things that capture the essence of the holiday season -- Christmas recipes, tree and home decorations, gift ideas, meal-planning tips, Christmas songs and games. Everything becomes red and green, gold and silver.

But there’s more to the holiday season. The following Web sites go beyond the bells and bows, each having something unique to contribute to your holiday experience.

Capturing Memories on Film

As you flip through the stack of Christmas pictures, you notice half a face here and an out-of-focus shot there, closed eyes in one and motion blur in another. Ever wonder what it takes to get that perfect picture, the one worth a million words, the one you can proudly send off to the relatives, the one picture that sums up your entire holiday? Check out’s guide to better pictures for information on how to take the best pictures this holiday. At this Web site, you can look up a quick photo tip, follow the steps for e-mailing a picture, or explore black-and-white photography.

‘Tis The Season To Fold Napkins

Nothing adds personality to a table like elegantly folded linens gracing your favorite holiday “tablescape.” When it comes time to plan your holiday meal, you can have all the delectable dishes one could possibly imagine — but you enrich the dining experience even more by having folded linens inserted into wine glasses, standing alone on plates, or set to the side of plates holding silverware. This Web site will walk new napkin-folders through the process, and features a variety of napkin designs.

A Canine Christmas

Do you find yourself enjoying your holiday with your family, only to look down and see your beloved pet giving you his or her most heart-tugging puppy-dog eyes, the look that could melt even the coldest heart? There are Web sites out there focusing on Christmas gift ideas for children of every age, but what about those special canine companions? They don’t necessarily have to settle for a cold bone on Christmas morning, because this Web site offers plenty of great ideas for making sure your pets have a special Christmas, too.

Bows, Bells, and … Budgets? and

Take it from Santa. It’s time to make that holiday budget and check it twice. Otherwise, you may wind up with some post-holiday bills that are naughty, and not so nice. ’Tis the season of holiday gift giving, battling crowded malls, and shoppers blowing their budgets. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. For those of you who dread opening the mail after the holidays, due to the abundance of bills you know you have accumulated — you are not alone. To help keep your holiday bills in check consider implementing holiday-budgeting techniques and strategies. Never fear, several informative Web sites are here.

What About Breakfast?

There are a million and one Web sites in cyberspace about holiday dinner recipes, complete with palate-pleasing desserts to top off the perfect holiday feast. But what about the much-overlooked morning meal? Dieticians and fitness professionals say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Check out this Web site for some great breakfast ideas.

Holiday Safety

Each year approximately 2,600 individuals are injured during fires occurring around the holiday season. These fires cause more than $930 million in damage. According to the United States Fire Administration (USFA), there are simple life-saving steps you can take to ensure a safe and happy holiday. This Web site has a number of valuable fire-safety and prevention tips to ensure a safe holiday season.

Gift Wrapping Tips & Tricks

Gift-wrapping can be an enjoyable task for some --- for those individuals who view the finished product as a work of art (after having gone gung-ho with ribbon and bows galore), as much a part of the gift as the object hidden below the paper. For others, it simply involves crumpling paper around an object and using tape to create the Fort Knox of all Christmas presents, slapping on a bow and tossing it under the Christmas tree. Martha Stewart’s Web site features many interesting holiday secrets and tips, including step-by-step instructions on the proper way to wrap a gift.