<![CDATA[NBC Bay Area - holidays]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcbayarea.com/feature/holidays http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/nbc_bayarea_blue.png NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com en-us Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:28:05 -0700 Fri, 18 Apr 2014 05:28:05 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Lights Tested on Times Square New Year's Eve Ball]]> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 05:25:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/times+sq+ball+test.jpg News Chopper 4 captures the light testing on the famous Times Square New Year's Eve Ball on Monday, Dec. 30. This is sped-up video.]]> <![CDATA[2014: A Year of New Frontiers - And Concerns]]> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 10:15:36 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Google-Glasses.jpg

Andrew Howard, like anyone, loves the rapidly expanding array of gadgets that connect his life to the internet.

But it also makes him nervous.

Howard, a scientist at the Georgia Tech Research Institute, spends most of his waking hours thinking about how to keep computer networks from getting hacked — a risk that grows with each new household appliance that links to the cloud. And so while he swoons over his new Nest thermostat and smoke alarm, he worries about the day when all of his devices go online, collecting data about him and opening up more "avenues for attack."

This struggle will become more common in 2014, as the so-called "internet of things" envelopes our lives.

Everyday equipment, from televisions and cars to coffee makers and refrigerators, are becoming wifi-compatible, making life more manageable and efficient. But for each added convenience, there is a trade-off in privacy and security. Some analysts estimate that in two years, between 15 billion and 25 billion devices will communicate across the internet, and it's not clear whether safety measures will keep pace.

To researchers like Howard, who try to anticipate risks, revelations like the National Security Administration's domestic data-collection program, and the work of quasi-governmental hackers in China and Syria, offer important lessons for the new year. He wouldn't mind if more people in 2014 will ask themselves a question before they buy a wifi-enabled pacemaker or smart watch or a biometrics-sensing t-shirt or Google Glass:

Just because you can connect to the internet, should you?

"The answer may be yes," Howard said. "But we need to ask these questions. We should all be concerned about how much data is being aggregated on all of us."

Mobile's new frontiers

While Howard concerns himself about the security risks of increased connectivity, Andrew Lippman focuses on another challenge: keeping people engaged with the world around them.

Lippman is the associate director of the Media Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where his students are developing products that explore "the intersections of mobile networks with physical spaces."

Many of these pursuits could edge closer to commercial application in 2014.

Among the most encouraging, he said, is a project called "encoded reality," which inscribes objects with digital codes, which can then be read by smart phones to provide more information about their use. Its developer, Travis Rich, envisions using the technology to identify medication, prevent the spread of counterfeit consumer goods or replace care labels on clothing. Ultimately, he sees it being used to reproduce or repair objects using 3D printers.

"In the same way that in 1998, owning an MP3 meant you could copy and share the song easily, owning an encoded object will mean that you can remake that object and share — which seems to be something that would fundamentally change the commercial product industry," Travis explained in an email.

Grace Woo, a recent graduate of the Media Lab, has developed an alternative to the ubiquitous print QR codes, called VR codes, that allow users to point their smartphone at a screen and receive additional information, such as an audio track for an otherwise silent video. She is currenetly seeking opportunities to apply the technology to advertising.

Lippman compares these experiences to taking first steps of exploring a new frontier offered by mobile devices.

"We turned the corner a couple years ago, and we're now beginning to see what it's like around that corner," he said.

Martian discoveries

The coming year will also be remarkable for the exploration of an entirely different frontier, millions of miles away.

Sometime in mid-2014, about two years after landing on the surface of Mars, the SUV-sized NASA rover Curiosity will reach its main destination: a mountain, 18,000 feet high, called Mount Sharp.

The trip to Mount Sharp has already yielded a treasure of discoveries, including evidence of ancient waterways conditions that billions of years ago hosted conditions "favorable for microbial life" — meeting the rover's main scientific objective.

It will take several months for slow-moving Curiosity to navigate rugged terrain and reach the mountain, whose layered rock scientists hope to examine for evidence of how the Red Planet evolved.

Meanwhile, Lego will start selling a highly detailed model of the Curiosity, including a fully articulated robotic arm.

Drones at home

Back on Earth, American officials will continue arguing the legal and scientific implications of using unmanned drones in U.S. airspace.

Sometime in 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration will issue a draft rule regulating the use of drones under 55 pounds. At the same time, the government will continue to support testing for drones used by police agencies, universities and others.

Drones have been used for years by the American military in its overseas efforts to kill terrorists, and has been the subject of unrelenting protests about the impact on non-combatants and civilians.

The idea of using drones back home has stirred passionate debates pitting the needs of science and safety against the right to privacy.

Firefighters want to use them to monitor burning buildings and forests. Meteorologists want to use them to track storms. Police want to use them on search and rescue missions, and to find criminals. But a backlash has prompted many states to curtail the use of drones out of fear they'll be used to collect information on innocent, unsuspecting people below.

On Dec. 30, the FAA named six states — Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia — as the sites for drone development tests. 

Obama's crucial year

In Washington, 2014 could very well be the year that determines whether President Obama can turn around after a rough start to his second term.

His signature piece of domestic policy, the Affordable Care Act, goes into effect Jan. 1. But the websites that serve as portals to a system designed to provide universal access to health insurance have been plagued by glitches. If the problems continue, and the number of enrollees does not significantly increase, then the program could become a lasting political liability for Obama.

The president has many other challenges on his mind. They include a February showdown with Congressional Republicans over the country's debt limit and the mid-term elections in November. The elections could feasibly result in the GOP gaining the six seats it needs to take control of the Senate.

History does not look favorably on the Democrats' chances of holding the Republicans off.

Since  World War II, the president's party almost loses seats in Congress in the sixth year of a two-term president's rule, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics.

Whether Obama can avoid that fate in 2014 depends not only on the health-care rollout and debt-limit fight, but also on many events, foreign and domestic, that are impossible to predict, Sabato said.

Republicans, which already control the House, have good shots at gaining Senate seats in West Virginia, South Dakota, Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana and North Carolina, Sabato said.

"You've got enough there for a wave," he said.

"But," he added, "that's a long way from saying it's a done deal."

Key decisions

Obama will also spent much of 2014 with his eye on his legacy: lasting policy initiatives that will define his presidency for the better.

The partisan gridlock in Washington limits his options.

"The depressing news for Obama is that it's hard to see anything in his legislative hopper that will matter," Sabato said.

But Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University, said Obama has a shot as passing one of his signature campaign promises, the reform of the nation's immigration laws.

Obama may also use executive orders to bypass the virtual blockade in Congress in order to implement environmental regulations over smokestack and carbon dioxide emissions, Baker said.

At the same time, Obama will need to decide whether to accept the recommendations of a task force to change the government's surveillance programs, including limits on the NSA's collection of American's phone and email data.

The president has promised a "definitive statement" about the recommendations in January.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Year in Review 2013: Red Carpet Fashion Highs & Lows]]> Fri, 27 Dec 2013 20:59:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/dressed_add_P4.jpg Check out the best and worst looks off the red carpets in 2013.

Photo Credit: WireImage]]>
<![CDATA[2013 in 90 Seconds]]> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 10:11:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/2013-yearend-thumb.jpg From the election of a new pope, to the Boston Marathon bombings, to the U.S. government shutdown, take a look at the biggest stories of 2013 in photos.

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AP]]>
<![CDATA[2013 Celebrity Weddings and Engagements]]> Tue, 31 Dec 2013 20:51:35 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/gabrielle4.jpg As the year comes to a close, we take a look at the most memorable celebrity weddings and engagements of 2013.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[2014: What You'll Be Watching]]> Mon, 30 Dec 2013 06:15:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/kevin+spacey2.JPG

"Downton Abbey" Returns for a Fourth Season

24 million Americans tuned in for the third season of the British drama, making it the highest-rated PBS drama of all time. Needless to say those millions of fans are breathlessly awaiting "Downton Abbey's" return in early January. Can Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham continue to maintain control of his vast estate in a rapidly changing, post-World War I world? Will Lady Mary ever recover from the grief of losing her husband? And could the Dowager Countess become any more caustic? When it comes to the latter question, our most fervent hope is, yes! (Jan. 5 on PBS)


Angelina Jolie as one of the most infamous storybook witches ever created? Count us in. Disney revisits the world of "Sleeping Beauty," though in this fable the action centers around the untold story of the woman who will ultimately condemn the beauty of the 1959 animated classic to a life of eternal slumber. Elle Fanning stars as the Princess Aurora, but if the early trailers are indication, the film belongs to Jolie in all her elegantly-horned wickedness. (In theaters May 30, 2014)

2014 Sochi Olympics

The biggest Winter Olympics in history, set to take place in the world's biggest country (Russia) will receive the most US coverage in Winter Games history. NBC will present more than 1,539 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN, MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network and NBCOlympics.com.NBC's coverage begins in primetime on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. and continues up until the closing ceremony on Sunday Feb. 23. Primetime coverage will include the opening and closing ceremonies, figure skating, short track, alpine skiing and freestyle snowboarding.

A New “Doctor Who”

Fans of the venerable British science fiction series were saddened in 2013 when it was announced Matt Smith (the youngest ever actor to play the titular Time Lord) would be leaving "Doctor Who" after three years. That anguish was allayed when news broke that Scottish thespian Peter Capaldi would become the thirteenth Doctor during the annual Christmas special that aired on Dec. 25. How Capaldi will interpret the 900-plus year old Doctor remains to be seen, but as the last 50 years has proved, fans will continue to support the series as long as the Doctor continues to fight evil across the galaxies. (Return date to be advised)

Sequels and Prequels Dominate

Wondering what else you'll be seeing at the movies in 2014? Chances are high that a few films you choose will feature actors reinhabiting characters for a second or third time. Sequels and prequels slated to hit theaters next year include “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1," “Captain America: The Winter Soldier," “X-Men: Days of Future Past," “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes,” “Transformers 4,” “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “Expendables 3,” “The Amazing Spider-Man 2,” “Muppets Most Wanted,” "Sin City 2," "300: Rise of an Empire," "The Hobbit: There and Back Again," "Dumb and Dumber To" and “22 Jump Street.”

"Believe" on NBC

From executive producers Alfonso Cuaron ("Gravity") and J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek," the upcoming "Star Wars 7"), this science fiction/fantasy series with X-Men overtones centers around Bo, an orphaned girl with special gifts - telekinesis, levitation, the ability to control nature. At the age of 10 Bo's powers begin to amplify and she requires a full-time protector. Only problem is the best person for the job is currently on death row, and has no interest in the job. Until they break him out of prison. (Air date to be advised)

"True Blood" Finale

Season seven of the weekly HBO series based on The Southern Vampire Mysteries series of novels created by Charlaine Harris will be the last. Based on the premise that vampires and other supernatural creatures live among us, "True Blood" revolves around Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), a telepathic human-fairy hybrid known as a halfling. To go into all the character developments, deaths, possessions, murders and scenes featuring a half-naked Joe Manganiello as the werewolf Alcide over the past seven years would take more space than allotted here. So let's just get ready for the end and say: Fangs for the memories! (Season begins Jun. 1 on HBO)

Biblical Epics

In 2013 reality TV kingpin mark Burnett and The History Channel showed how popular religious programming could be with their 10-episode series based on the Bible, the first installment of which drew more than 13 million viewers. A sequel to that series, "AD," has been given the greenlight and will air on NBC when it debuts, most likely in the spring of 2015. Those needing a bible story fix in the interim need only head to the local cineplex where Russell Crowe will build an ark as "Noah" (Mar. 8) and Ridley Scott will direct Christian Bale as Moses in "Exodus" (Dec. 12).

Reboots Continue to Roll Out

For every audience draw like "The Amazing Spider-Man," there's a "Lone Ranger" languishing at the bottom of the box office. Regardless, reboots continue to roll out in 2014 with new versions of “Robocop,” “Godzilla,” “Hercules,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” "Annie," "I, Frankenstein" and “Dracula Untold” all scheduled to bow in theaters. Also getting an origins makeover is the Tom Clancy character Jack Ryan, embodied this time around by actor Chris Pine in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" (Jan. 17).

"House of Cards" Season 2 - In Ultra HD, No Less!

Netflix changed the viewing landscape when they began streaming their original series and made the entire season available for subscribers to view on day one. "House of Cards," the Emmy-winning political thriller starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as a power-hungry pair of DC denizens, returns Feb. 14. Adding yet another bow to their quiver, Netflix announced the new season will be available in 4K Ultra HD on select Internet TVs. While Ultra HD screens are still a rarity in most homes, adding highly-anticipated content such as "House of Cards" can only promote and generate interest in the high-res format, say execs at Netflix. Ultra HD provides resolution four times that of full HD 1080p. Evil has never looked so good! Whoops, scratch that and reread "Maleficent," above.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Salvation Army Delivers Christmas Meals]]> Wed, 25 Dec 2013 13:10:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/KNTV_000000005454593_1200x675_100060227538.jpg All across the Bay Area, people are using Christmas as an excuse to give of themselves. NBC Bay Area's Chase Cain reports from the Salvation Army in San Francisco where the generosity felt almost contagious.]]> <![CDATA[Several Restaurants Open for Business Christmas Day]]> Wed, 25 Dec 2013 20:58:32 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/restaurantsopen3434.jpg

If you do not want to do any cooking this Christmas Day, several restaurants are open for business.

Do you know where to go? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Restaurantnews.com compiled a list of places to eat if you are not in the mood to cook on Christmas.

An NBC Bay Area staffer also noticed the parking lot was jammed outside King Egg Roll in East San Jose.

Beware, hours and locations will vary, so you should call ahead before heading out.



<![CDATA[Man Slashes South Florida Couple's Inflatable Santa]]> Wed, 25 Dec 2013 10:44:44 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Inflatable-Santa.jpg

A South Florida family is trying to figure out why a man cruelly slashed their 12-foot inflatable Santa.

The Oliva family always goes all-out with Christmas decorations. This year, Alexa Oliva touched her husband Bert's heart with a brand-new version of the jolly old Saint Nick outside their Kendall home. The surprise was meant to replace an older model that had been part of the family for about 10 years.

"I thought my Santa was dead, but no, he was alive and I thought it was awesome," Bert Oliva said.

His Santa surprise had extra special meaning this Christmas.

"It's my husband's first Christmas without his mom and I wanted to make it special for him because he's big on Santa and big on family," Alexa Oliva said.

But just three hours after Santa made his debut in front of the Oliva home, surveillance cameras captured a man running out of a black car and onto their property. They said it was clear the man had one mission in mind.

"[My friend] picked him up and she saw a big gash on his leg and she's like, 'I think somebody stabbed Santa,'" Alexa Oliva said.

The person responsible tore the inflatable Santa with some kind of sharp object. The decoration cost $90, but the Olivas say it's not about the money.

"I just want him to know that you know, he doesn't know what our family situation was and for someone to go around killing the Christmas spirit like that, it's just cynical," Alexa Oliva said.

The couple wants the local Grinch to come forward and apologize. They hope he learns his lesson, but they say they definitely won't let him steal Christmas.

"He killed Santa, but he didn't kill Christmas," Alexa Oliva said.

Photo Credit: NBC 6 South Florida]]>
<![CDATA[What's Santa Worth to You? Company Calculates Salary for Saint Nick ]]> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 06:25:34 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-AP499184625668_1.jpg

What is Santa worth to you?

Some would say he's priceless, but Insure.com crunched some numbers to find out what Saint Nick is actually worth on the job market

The life insurance site compared pay grades for jobs like manufacturing executive (Santa's workshop), investigator (knows if you've been good or bad) and pilot based on positions and wages listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Researchers found Santa Claus would make $137,795 a year if he received a salary. The figure represents a small raise from last year's salary of $134,944.

The company also conducted a survey to see what the public thinks Santa should be paid.

Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed said he deserves $1.8 billion -- $1 for every child under the age of 15 in the world. But not everyone thinks Santa should be cashing such a big paycheck: 37 percent of those surveyed believe he should not be paid at all.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Shoppers Jam Bay Area Stores to Grab Last-Minute Holiday Gifts]]> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 01:15:15 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/shopperjamstores.jpg

It is the last weekend to grab holiday gifts, and last-minute shoppers are jamming Bay Area stores.

The result was plenty of traffic congestion on freeway off-ramps leading up to the malls from the East Bay all the way down to San Jose.

Parking lots across the Bay Area are packed, including Valley Fair Mall in Santa Clara, an indication of just how crowded it is inside.

And some stores, such as Kohl's, are ending the holiday shopping season the same way they began it — with round-the-clock, marathon shopping hours.

The holiday rush happens the same time every year, and there are those who procrastinate.

"Very chaotic, busy," Valley Fair shopper Cynthia Joseph said. "Everybody is walking around with a purpose."

Last minute shoppers are flooding stores and malls in search of Christmas deals.

Shopper Nerses Sanassial said she always waits until the last minute to snag those holiday gifts because "life's busy, squeezing it in."

Scott Tilney of San Jose said he feels the best deals are right now--instead of after Thanksgiving (or on Thanksgiving).

"Actually yea, it seems like there are better deals right now," he said.

Some shoppers disagree.

"I haven’t seen any better deals, but it’s just my nature to wait," shopper Chrissy Monroy said.

According to the National Retail Federation, 10 percent of Americans will wait until Christmas Eve to finish their shopping.

That applies for those who started shopping even before Black Friday, like Toni Bell of San Jose.

"I was done like in October but then I forgot a few people on the list," she said. "And now, I am back out here and that’s not a good thing 'cause now i am spending more money."

And it seems she is not the only one. Many shoppers, despite national trends, said they are spending more this year this Christmas.

"It seems like every year, it's [holiday spending] going up," Bell said. "I spoil people more."

<![CDATA[Drone Over Union Square Delivers Love for Holidays]]> Sun, 22 Dec 2013 16:04:22 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/droneunion.jpg

A high-tech combo over Union Square is delivering love this holiday season.

San Francisco artists decked out a drone with some mistletoe.

They flew it over unsuspecting couples, reminding them to observe the holiday smooching tradition.

The artists told the Bold Italic web site that they wanted to change the scary, ominous reputation of drones.

They uploaded the video on Tuesday.

It has more than 70,000 hits so far.

<![CDATA[Retailers to Stay Open Until Christmas Eve for Shopping Marathon]]> Sun, 22 Dec 2013 22:54:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP841015189591%281%29.jpg

Some stores are ending the holiday shopping season the same way they began it — with round-the-clock, marathon shopping hours.

Kohl's for the first time is staying open for essentially five days straight, from 6 a.m. on Friday through 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Macy's and Kmart are opening some of their stores for more than 100 hours in a row from Friday through Christmas Eve. And Toys R Us is staying open for 87 hours straight starting on Saturday, which is typically the second biggest shopping day of the year.

The expanded hours in the final days before Christmas are reminiscent of how some retailers typically begin the season on the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday. The strategy comes as stores try to recoup lost sales during a season that's been hobbled by a number of factors.

Despite a recovering economy, many Americans have been struggling with stagnant wages and other issues. On top of that, the time period between the official holiday shopping kickoff on Black Friday and the end of the season is six days shorter than a year ago. That has given Americans less time to shop.

Sales at U.S. stores rose 2 percent to $176.7 billion from Nov. 1 through last Sunday, according to ShopperTrak. That's a slower pace than the 2.4 percent increase the Chicago store data tracker expects for the entire two-month season.

The disappointing growth pace has put more pressure on retailers to get people into stores in the final days before Christmas. A lot is at stake because they can make up to 40 percent of their revenue in November and December.

"It's make or break for the retailers," said C. Britt Beemer, chairman of America's Research Group, a consumer research company. "They have to make up for lost ground."

Retailers hope the expanded hours will make last-minute shopping easier for Americans like Peter Sallese, who have either stayed out of stores so far because of money problems, inclement weather or other issues. The financial executive from New York City said he's usually finished with shopping by mid-December, but with the shortened season, he fell behind.

"Basically, when I came back from Thanksgiving, there was no time," Sallese said. "Add in the snow and the freezing weather, and you didn't feel like shopping."

This isn't the first year retailers have used marathon hours to lure shoppers. Toys R Us will open for from 6 a.m. on Saturday to 9 p.m. on Christmas Eve — the fourth year it's had marathon hours at the end of the season. And this is the third year Kmart has offered round-the-clock hours: The discounter will open a little more than one tenth of its 1,100 stores from 6 a.m. on Friday until 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Macy's began testing its 24-hour strategy in 2006, but it has made tweaks this year. Most Macy's locations were open for 48 hours straight during the final two days before Christmas last year. But this year, 37 of Macy's 800 stores will be open for 107 hours from 7 a.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

The rest of Macy's locations will be open from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., Friday through Monday. And on Christmas Eve, most Macy's stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

"Our customers love the option to shop late night, overnight and/or first thing in the morning," said Elina Kazan, a Macy's spokeswoman.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide: 15 Last-Minute Finds]]> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 09:44:02 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/Marc+Jacobs+kitten+flat.jpg Fret not, weary shopper. We found fifteen last-minute gifts that will please even the scroogiest giftee]]> <![CDATA[The Many Faces of Santa Claus]]> Mon, 23 Dec 2013 12:27:19 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-AP656668278924_0.jpg See how Santas around the nation are celebrating the season.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Apple's Holiday Ad Goes Viral, Tugs at Heartstrings]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 15:00:56 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AppleHolidayAd.jpg

Apple launched a new holiday TV ad this week that is also going viral online.

The ad features a teenage boy who appears to be engrossed in his iPhone during the entire duration of a holiday gathering with his family. But at the end of the 90 second commercial, he surprises his family with a beautifully crafted homemade video that captured the baking, sledding, hugging, tree-decorating and other tender moments that played out over the course of the previous few days.

The commercial, which was set to the song "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas," both tugs at the heartstrings and shows off the iPhone's spiffy video-making capabilities.

Apple posted the ad to their YouTube page on Monday and it has amassed nearly 3.4 million views as of Thursday afternoon.

Click on the video above to see the full ad.

Photo Credit: You Tube Screen Shot/Apple]]>
<![CDATA[Boy, 10, Tracks Down Recipient of Stolen Christmas Package]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 10:05:43 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/teddy+finds+gift+owner.jpg

A holiday package sent from California to Washington, D.C., that was intercepted by thieves will be under the right tree in time for Christmas thanks to the determination of a 10-year-old boy.

Teddy and his mom picked up the package after finding it tossed on a northwest D.C. sidewalk Sunday. Inside the opened box was a gift for a child.

"We had to bring this home. This is obviously a Christmas present for an infant," Teddy told News4's Shomari Stone. 

The package's tracking number was gone, as was any information that would've easily led them to the sender or recipient. The only clue for Teddy was on a piece of torn wrapping paper -- a gift tag that read: "To: Bianca, From: Aunt Myrlys".

Teddy recalled thinking, "This is a very unusual name, so there has to be someway we can track back who this is."

And there was.

Teddy and his mom posted what happened and the names "Bianca" and "Myrlys" on their neighborhood LISTSERV. Three hours later, someone recognized the names and put the family in touch with Teddy.

"I was just so awestruck," Teddy said.

And so was Bianca's mother Alisa.

"I am incredibly grateful. Not only for his quick thinking, but his generosity," she said. 

Teddy will deliver Bianca's gift Thursday. The entire experience has given the 10-year-old a new perspective on the joy the holiday season can bring.

"I think that we all say we like the feeling when we receive, but I think it's a better feeling when you give someone something," he said.

<![CDATA[Gift Guide: Blockbuster Movies]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 04:47:06 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/bradd.jpg Give a gift straight from the big screen. This year's blockbuster movies - from "World War Z" to "The World's End" - make great stocking stuffers.

Photo Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/ Paramount pictures]]>
<![CDATA[$3,500 Diamond Ring Dropped in Salvation Army Kettle]]> Thu, 19 Dec 2013 09:33:31 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/salvation+army+ring1.jpg

A $3,500 diamond ring was dropped off at a Salvation Army red kettle in South Florida on Wednesday.

The ring, wrapped in yellow notepad paper, was placed in a kettle at a Pinecrest Publix Super Market in south Miami-Dade.

"Continue your good caring for the needy in God's name," the note on the paper said.

It is the fourth year that the generous donor has placed a pricey item in a red kettle in Miami-Dade County, said Judith Mori, director of development for the Salvation Army.

The first year, golden nuggets worth $2,000 to $4,000 were handed it to a bell ringer. The second year, there was a gold ring with small diamonds along with a $50 bill and a note. Last year, 10 $100 bills were dropped at various in Miami-Dade locations along with a note with a Bible verse.

Mori said that each time, a woman called to give them a warning that something of value had been dropped off at a specific address.

Photo Credit: Salvation Army/Judy Mori]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Gift Guide: Beauty Buys]]> Tue, 07 Jan 2014 11:01:14 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/b+t.jpg Lilliana Vazquez of cheapchicas.com shows you the best beauty buys this holiday season.]]> <![CDATA[SoCal Man Told to Take Down Condo Christmas Lights ]]> Tue, 17 Dec 2013 10:08:54 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/la_jolla_light_fight_pkg_6pm__12_16_1200x675_93506627610.jpg

A Southern California man has hired an attorney after being forced to take down Christmas lights outside his luxury condo.

Michael Cardenas of La Jolla, Calif., said he was forced to take down the Christmas decorations on the outside patio of his unit in the 939 Coast private residences.

It was just a few strands of Christmas lights. But even a single light is one too many for the Homeowners' Association governing the ocean-front building, Cardenas said.

According to Cardenas, the board told him the lights are prohibited because they are considered a modification to his home. He was ordered to either take them down or face a fine of $100 a day.

“This is what we are disagreeing about. The lights here, in this patio, and these two right here,” Cardenas said as he showed the strands to NBC 7 News on Saturday. “This is what they considered potentially offensive? This is what we are talking about."

The battle over holiday decorations began in October, with a few Halloween decorations Cardenas put up.

When the disagreement continued over Christmas decorations, Cardenas hired an attorney

Cardenas took down the display last weekend. But he still plans to fight the rule, which he says was written "after" he strung the lights.

He feels he should be allowed to hang the lights since they're on his private patio.

There's a similar dispute in a community 40 miles east of Los Angeles, where police issued a curfew and placed other restrictions on a festive neighborhood display that has attracted thousands of visitors.

One resident of that Rancho Cucamonga neighborhood, Kim Earle, says critics need to "lighten up."

"The residents feel that the city would rather have this go away, and we don't want it to go away," Earle said.

Back in La Jolla, Cardenas now says he might pay the fine and turn the lights back on.

Karen Frostrom, attorney who is an expert in land use, said condo associations usually have the law on their side when they restrict public displays of any kind.

"You can speculate away about whether it's for religious equality reasons or someone, Scrooge, wrote their rules. For whatever reason, if that's their rules, that's their rules," Frostrom said.

NBC 7 made several attempts to contact the management at the 939 Coast building for comment on this story.

<![CDATA[Gift Guide: Movie Classics]]> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 16:11:52 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/212*120/woodward+and+bernstein.jpg Holiday 2013 offers up the chance to revisit some of the greatest films of all time. From "All the President's Men," to "Terms of Endearment" and "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," there's a movie for everyone on your list.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide: Stylish Stocking Stuffers ]]> Wed, 18 Dec 2013 06:14:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/GGstockingstuffers_baileythumbnail.jpg The best gifts come in the smallest packages

Photo Credit: Joinery]]>
<![CDATA[WestJet Surprises Passengers With Gifts on Luggage Carousel]]> Thu, 12 Dec 2013 15:43:49 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/WestJetSurprise.jpg

Christmas wishes came true for some lucky travelers, thanks to the Canadian budget airline WestJet.

Passengers on a flight from Toronto and Hamilton showed up in Calgary in November and found items from their Christmas wish list waiting for them at the luggage carousel.

WestJet employees set up 19 hidden cameras at the Toronto and Hamilton airports to capture passengers telling Santa what they wanted for Christmas, according to The Toronto Star's news site thestar.com.

While the two flights took off for its four-hour trips to Calgary, 150 WestJet employees headed to Best Buy and CrossIron Mills to gather the gifts so it's ready and waiting for the arriving passengers.

The whole event was captured in a video that was posted last week on WestJet's YouTube page. Click on the video above to see how it all played out.

Photo Credit: YouTube Screen Shot]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Surprises Parents With Sign Language Concert]]> Fri, 13 Dec 2013 12:54:08 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/SignLanguageGirl.jpg

A kindergartener performing at a school Christmas concert surprised the audience by using sign language so her deaf parents could understand the lyrics.

While the other kids used rehearsed hand gestures, 5-year-old Claire Koch used American Sign Language to sing a song about Santa's white beard and twinkling eyes set to the tune of "Bingo." Claire's mom Lori Koch captured the performance in a video that was posted to YouTube on Monday.

Lori Koch told Yahoo! News that she was surprised to see Claire sign during the song. Koch said she can speak, sign and read lips, while her husband only uses sign language.

She praised her daughter's signing skills and joked that she "is a much better interpreter than Nelson's fake one," referring to the interpreter at Nelson Mandela's memorial service who was recently panned for his undecipherable hand gestures.

Check out the video above to see the cute performance. Claire is the little girl with the blonde hair and plaid dress in the center of the frame.

Photo Credit: Screen Shot from YouTube]]>
<![CDATA[Gift Guide: Indulgent Beauty Buys]]> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 13:48:24 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/214*120/GGbeautythumb.jpg From coconut bath soaks to gold glitter polishes, 'tis the season for the royal treatment.

Photo Credit: Catbird]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday Window Displays Illuminate New York]]> Fri, 20 Dec 2013 12:05:58 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/barneys-thumbnail-vid1.jpg

The holiday season in New York isn't complete without the Rockefeller Christmas tree, ice skating rinks, and thousands of twinkly lights in retail windows.

For the uninitiated, each year around Thanksgiving, the major retail chains including Barneys, Bergdorf Goodman and Macy's, dress up their flagship store windows with lights, "snow," and every variety of holiday cheer. Each store runs with a theme: in 2012, Macy's was "The Magic of Christmas" while Barneys got Disneyfied with a tribute to Minnie Mouse. 

This year the windows of Macy's flagship store in Herald Square tell the story of one boy's dream. "Dream... and Believe" chronicles his journey through a magical dreamland, in which he encounters friendly bunnies and reindeer, faeries, and magical moving trees. Each window has a sub-theme as well: Dream, Giving & Sharing, Joy, Beauty, Magic and Believe, with every panel using LED lights and mechanics to create an interactive experience for passers-by. In one of the windows, onlookers can wave their arms to manipulate digital falling snow.

Bergdorf Goodman takes a playful stab at all the holidays of the year with their windows, titled "Holidays on Ice." The windows show July 4th, Arbor Day, April Fools, Valentines and Halloween, among others, complete with an icy glow. The Valentine's window is particularly noteworthy, filled with pink and pastel goodies, a chandelier, an assortment of small cakes, jewelry and even a tiny replica poodle. Usually the most haute-couture of the flagships, 2013 is no exception: mannequins in the windows are wearing creations by Alexander McQueen, Rodarte, Thom Browne, Oscar de la Renta and Naeem Khan.

A fun fact about the Halloween window: behind the Swarovski crystal-encrusted spider web is a replica of the Renaissance-style Vanderbilt mansion that once overlooked Fifth Avenue and 58th Street. The site is now the location of the Bergdorf Goodman flagship.

Barneys, always a step ahead, has the most futuristic windows of the bunch. In a charitable collaboration with Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, the windows are lit up for "A New York Holiday," with installations conceived by Carter, visual artist Joanie Lemercier and Barneys New York creative director Dennis Freedman. The windows incorporate video mapping, LED light design and projection to create a dazzling display.

In one of the windows, a futuristic sleigh waits for passers-by to take a seat and enjoy a virtual ride. A camera snaps a photo of you during your journey, and afterward you can have the photo e-mailed to yourself or posted to the social media channel of your choice.

The most stunning of Barneys displays is "Floating City," which is inside a mini-theater structure built on the Madison Avenue sidewalk. A 3D-mapped New York City is awash in gold, black and white against a 16-foot-tall "rock" wall, and changes as a digital sunrise reveals a glimmering city.

If you can't make it to New York to see the windows in person, make a cup of hot cocoa and watch the video above to get into the holiday spirit.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Ladzinski]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2013: Party-Perfect Dresses]]> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 12:03:17 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/192*120/GGdresses_thumbnail.jpg A festive party dress is second only to champagne and spare cookies when it comes to holiday season necessities.

Photo Credit: Net-a-Porter/La Garconne]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Stunning Time-Lapse Video of Rockefeller Tree]]> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 12:35:42 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/453640521.jpg Watch the most famous Christmas tree in the world get installed, decorated and lit with 45,000 lights in just one minute in this incredible time-lapse video.

Photo Credit: FilmMagic]]>
<![CDATA[First Look: White House Holiday Decorations 2013]]> Mon, 09 Dec 2013 11:39:50 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/whitehouse+xmas8.jpg This year’s holiday theme is titled ‘Gather Around’ which features classic American holiday traditions and honors military families. An estimated 70,000 people will visit the White House during the month of December.

<![CDATA[Hockey Holiday Video Goes Viral]]> Fri, 06 Dec 2013 09:27:20 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/hockey+holiday+video.jpg

The holiday spirit is going viral in Chicago thanks to a cover of Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas" by the city's Gay Hockey Association.

The players took to the ice last month in red jerseys and Santa hats to tape a music video complete with the team's own recording of the popular tune. The result exudes a heart-warming reminder of acceptance with a catchy, singing-in-the-shower quality that keeps the song in your head all day.

"Please take a moment to reflect on the real meaning of this project," the team posted to Facebook. "It's a lot deeper than you might expect. Embrace one another for our differences and have some fun!"

People took notice. The YouTube video was watched more than 10,000 times in the first 24 hours, and since the Nov. 28 debut, its popularity has skyrocketed.

Members of the Chicago Gay Hockey Association made the rounds on local TV stations and have been quoted in national outlets like Sports Illustrated. The video got a mention on comedian Daniel Tosh's Tosh.0 blog and even writer Dan Savage gave it a hat-tip on Twitter: "Another way the gay community 'out-markets' the Catholic Church (per Dolan): our viral videos are way more fun."

There's no arguing the video's booty-shaking, head-bobbing fun, but for the team, it's all about a message of acceptance.

Stephen Leonard, who produced and directed the video, told GoPride.com it captures the spirit of the team. "We're all about having fun and inviting others to do the same, both on and off the ice," Leonard said.

That's the theme of the note the team left on its video, which as of Thursday afternoon had 80,000 views.

"We want you to put aside your differences. And to spend some time getting closer to your family and friends. If you take a step back and look, you may surprise yourself with how much you have in common with people. The person next to you on the train could become your best friend. After all, aren't we all just looking for love? Don't forget to laugh a little. And sing a little. Happy Holidays y'all!"

Photo Credit: Chicago Gay Hockey Association]]>
<![CDATA[Holiday 2013: Gifts That Give Back]]> Fri, 20 Dec 2013 20:40:35 -0700 Global Goods Partners works with artisans around the world, offering them economic opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have in their small communities. These felt ornaments are hand-made in Nepal, $8 each.]]> Global Goods Partners works with artisans around the world, offering them economic opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have in their small communities. These felt ornaments are hand-made in Nepal, $8 each.]]> http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/edt-globalgoodspartners.jpg For those looking to "pay it forward" with their holiday spending, here are a few worthy causes to consider.

Photo Credit: Global Goods Partners]]>
<![CDATA[Unbelievable Gingerbread Houses]]> Wed, 11 Dec 2013 06:27:55 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/181*120/GBcastle2.JPG Professional pastry chefs are constructing “Gingerbread City” to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation.

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Rockefeller Center Tree Shines]]> Thu, 05 Dec 2013 00:18:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/180*120/453620851.jpg

The most famous Christmas tree in the world was set a-sparkle in a star-studded ceremony full of holiday cheer in New York's Rockefeller Plaza Wednesday.

The much-heralded lighting of the 76-foot-tall Rockefeller tree, with its 45,000 twinkling lights, signals the official start to the holiday season.

Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Savannah Guthrie and Natalie Morales co-hosted "Christmas in Rockefeller Center," which culminated with the dramatic lighting of the tree just before 9 p.m. ET.

The program featured live performances of current hits and holiday classics from Mary J. Blige, the Goo Goo Dolls and Jewel, as well as additional performances from Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Kelly Clarkson, Kenny "Babyface" Edmonds and Ariana Grande

The star of the evening, though, was the tree, and at 8:55 p.m., the switch was thrown to light it.

For the second time in six years, the city of Shelton, Conn. supplied the tree to Rockefeller Center for the annual holiday display. The tree, which made the 70-mile journey to its new home on the bed of a tractor-trailer, will remain on display until Jan. 7.

First televised in 1951 on NBC, the tree lighting has grown to attract a quarter-million spectators and an audience of millions. The annual event was inspired by construction workers who erected a tree of their own in 1931, decorating it with cranberries, paper garland and tin cans, according to Daniel Okrent's "Great Fortune: The Epic of Rockefeller Center."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cyber Monday Stretched Into Weeklong Frenzy]]> Mon, 02 Dec 2013 13:03:33 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP588987996119.jpg

Black Friday may be behind us, but the holiday shopping season is far from over. Millions of consumers are expected to open their wallets for Cyber Monday, the online shopping frenzy that takes place after Black Friday.

"Despite record-breaking online shopping on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday, holiday shoppers aren't done yet," National Retail Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. "We expect Cyber Monday to be bigger than ever."

This year, more than 131 million Americans are expected to shop online on Cyber Monday, up from 121 million in 2012, according to the NRF.

Retailers are responding with strategies to entice consumers to keep shopping. Amazon, Walmart and Target are all promoting seven days of great deals, essentially turning Cyber Monday into Cyber Week. An NRF survey indicates that retailers will offer Cyber Monday-specific deals not available in brick and mortar stores, where deep discounts over the weekend and on Thanksgiving Day drew crowds, but failed to motivate consumers to spend more.

Amazon promised to unveil new deals "as often as every ten minutes" beginning Sunday for the next seven days, they said in a statement. Target also launched seven days of online deals on the same day.

Cyber Week at Walmart kicked off two days early on Saturday, Nov. 30, and the retailer is sweetening their deals with free delivery for purchases of $35 or more. The free shipping limit was lowered from $50 last year. Click here for Walmart's full list of cyber deals.

Check out NRF's CyberMonday.com for the best online holiday deals. Barron's also curated a list of great deals on tech gadgets from Amazon, Overstock, Best Buy, Target and Walmart.  Here are more of the web's best Cyber Monday treasures:

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Stores Hope Longer Hours Spur Sales]]> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 13:42:09 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/213*120/AP741443452351.jpg

Some of the large retailers that opened their doors — and cut prices online — early on Thanksgiving weekend reported signs of promising sales, as discount-hungry shoppers led a frenetic start to the holiday buying season.

Detailed analysis are still days away, but Walmart and Target touted what they described as encouraging signs, thanks to the sale of expensive electronics, such as flat-screen TVs, iPads and video game systems. Executives from Toys R Us and Macy's also said they benefited from their decisions to open earlier on Thanksgiving Day.

Much of that activity came not from the hordes of people who surged into stores, however. Online sales jumped by more than 20 percent on Thursday, and by 7 percent on Friday, according to IBM Digital Analytics. More than a third of those sales were made on mobile devices.

But because much of those sales were of deeply discounted items, retailers' revenues may not jump so high.

The National Retail Federation expects sale to jump by about 4 percent for the holiday season. Whether Thanksgiving weekend's activity is an effective gauge of how things will go is a matter of dispute.

On Wall Street, investors follow Black Friday sales trends as a glimpse to the health of retailers and the overall economy. Stocks were up overall at mid-day. But retail performances were mixed.

EBay, Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot, Coach and Tiffany's all saw their stock rise. Wal-Mart was flat. Target, Macy's, JC Penney and Lowe's fell.

Wal-Mart said in a mid-day statement that it was enjoying the "most successful Black Friday" in its history.

Target announced a "very successful start" to the weekend.

Both said they experienced much heavier Thanksgiving Day activity on its websites.

Terry Lundgren, Macy's CEO, told the Associated Press that the 15,000 people who showed up for the opening of the flagship store was the most ever, up from 11,000 last year.

"Clearly people are in the shopping mood," he said.

Photo Credit: AP IMAGES FOR MACY'S]]>
<![CDATA[White House Christmas Tree Arrives]]> Fri, 29 Nov 2013 15:51:07 -0700 http://media.nbcbayarea.com/images/215*120/white+house+christmas+tree1.jpg

A very special delivery arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Friday morning.

First lady Michelle Obama; her daughters, Sasha and Malia; and dogs, Bo and Sunny, welcomed the arrival of the official White House Christmas tree around 11 a.m.

The 18-and-a-half foot Douglas fir came from Crystal Springs Tree Farm in Leighton, Pa. 

The tree will be on display in the Blue Room of the White House throughout the holidays.

But this isn't the only Christmas tree in town: Earlier this week, the Capitol Christmas Tree arrived at the U.S. Capitol after making its way from a forest in northeast Washington state.

Workers used a crane to place the 88-foot Engelmann spruce on the west front lawn of the Capitol Monday morning. It is the second tallest tree ever used at the Capitol.

It will be decorated with more than 5,000 handmade ornaments from children across the country reflecting the theme "Sharing Washington's Good Nature."