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The Biggest Changes On This Year’s Baby Name List

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The Social Security Administration has released its list of the top 1000 baby names of 2014. At first glance it seems that not much changed from the previous year. Sophia, Emma, and Olivia are still in the top 3 for girls. Abigail, Ava, Emily, Isabella, Madison, and Mia are still in the top 10. Noah is still number 1 for boys while Liam, William, Jacob, Michael, Mason, Alexander, Ethan, and Daniel all remain in the top 10. But if you dig a little deeper, through the whole top 1000, 2014 starts to distinguish itself in all kinds of ways.

For example, several names made the list this year for the first time ever. Axl (no ‘e’) never cracked the top 1000 before, not even in the Axl Rose Guns N’ Roses era, but this year it came in at 850. Was it because Fergie and Josh Duhamel named their baby Axl?

Henrik, the Scandinavian version of Henry, entered the list this year for the first time. Is it because of characters on Orphan Black or Vampire Diaries? Or perhaps because of New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist?

Also, as excitement began to build after the announcement of a new Star Wars movie in the works, Anakin made the list at 957.

New girls’ names included Aranza, debuting at an amazingly high rank for a first-timer—607—apparently because of a namesake character on the Mexican telenovela Por Siempre Mi Amor.

Another telenovela, of the dramatic name Lo Que La Vida Me Robó (What Life Took From Me) is probably responsible for the introduction of Monserrat (591) and Montserrat (571).

Zendaya, name of the teen actress, singer, and Dancing with the Stars competitor, debuted at 892. Other popular first timers were Remington (685), Naya (778), and—moving on from old standbys Brooklyn and London to entire countries—Holland (891).

Some names that had been on the list for years finally fell off. While Isaiah is still going strong, Isiah didn’t make it this year. Same for Rihanna and Gwyneth. While Khloe (88) and Kendall (131) are doing fine, Kourtney is no longer in the top 1000.

Some names that hadn’t been seen in a while made a comeback. Ford, which hadn’t made the list since 1951, came back at 883. Bonnie, which had its heyday in the 1940s, came in at 866, and Thea, which hadn’t cracked the top 1000 since 1965, came back at an impressive 776.

A number of names weren’t new, but had a big increase in popularity. For boys, Gannon rose by 426 places. Other big jumps were Royal, Killian, Ronin, Langston, Hendrix, Clyde, Legend, and Apollo. The biggest fall off in rank was for Amare, which has been on the list since 2005, when basketball player Amar’e Stoudemire had a great year. Kale, which debuted in the pre green-smoothie 1980s, also took a hit this year, as a name anyway.

For girls the biggest jump in popularity was for Daleyza. That’s the name of the oldest daughter on the Spanish-language TV reality show Larrymania, Freya, Henley, Amia, Paislee, Elsa, Nova, Lennon, Meadow, Everly and Everleigh also moved up the list considerably. The biggest drop in rank was for Miley.

But Miley Cyrus wasn’t the only pop star to take a namesake hit. After a 33 year run, peaking in 2000, Britney finally dropped off the list. It’s a sign of the end of the aughts, and a taking hold of a new generation.

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Yes, You Can Put Your Christmas Decorations Up Now—and Should, According to Psychologists
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We all know at least one of those people who's already placing an angel on top of his or her Christmas tree while everyone else on the block still has paper ghosts stuck to their windows and a rotting pumpkin on the stoop. Maybe it’s your neighbor; maybe it’s you. Jolliness aside, these early decorators tend to get a bad rap. For some people, the holidays provide more stress than splendor, so the sight of that first plastic reindeer on a neighbor's roof isn't exactly a welcome one.

But according to two psychoanalysts, these eager decorators aren’t eccentric—they’re simply happier. Psychoanalyst Steve McKeown told UNILAD:

“Although there could be a number of symptomatic reasons why someone would want to obsessively put up decorations early, most commonly for nostalgic reasons either to relive the magic or to compensate for past neglect.

In a world full of stress and anxiety people like to associate to things that make them happy and Christmas decorations evoke those strong feelings of the childhood.

Decorations are simply an anchor or pathway to those old childhood magical emotions of excitement. So putting up those Christmas decorations early extend the excitement!”

Amy Morin, another psychoanalyst, linked Christmas decorations with the pleasures of childhood, telling the site: “The holiday season stirs up a sense of nostalgia. Nostalgia helps link people to their personal past and it helps people understand their identity. For many, putting up Christmas decorations early is a way for them to reconnect with their childhoods.”

She also explained that these nostalgic memories can help remind people of spending the holidays with loved ones who have since passed away. As Morin remarked, “Decorating early may help them feel more connected with that individual.”

And that neighbor of yours who has already been decorated since Halloween? Well, according to a study in the Journal of Environmental Psychology, homes that have been warmly decorated for the holidays make the residents appear more “friendly and cohesive” compared to non-decorated homes when observed by strangers. Basically, a little wreath can go a long way.

So if you want to hang those stockings before you’ve digested your Thanksgiving dinner, go ahead. You might just find yourself happier for it.

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11 Black Friday Purchases That Aren't Always The Best Deal
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Black Friday can bring out some of the best deals of the year (along with the worst in-store behavior), but that doesn't mean every advertised price is worth splurging on. While many shoppers are eager to save a few dollars and kickstart the holiday shopping season, some purchases are better left waiting for at least a few weeks (or longer).

1. FURNITURE

Display of outdoor furniture.
Photo by Isaac Benhesed on Unsplash

Black Friday is often the best time to scope out deals on large purchases—except for furniture. That's because newer furniture models and styles often appear in showrooms in February. According to Kurt Knutsson, a consumer technology expert, the best furniture deals can be found in January, and later on in July and August. If you're aiming for outdoor patio sets, expect to find knockout prices when outdoor furniture is discounted and put on clearance closer to Labor Day.

2. TOOLS

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Unless you're shopping for a specific tool as a Christmas gift, it's often better to wait until warmer weather rolls around to catch great deals. While some big-name brands offer Black Friday discounts, the best tool deals roll around in late spring and early summer, just in time for Memorial Day and Father's Day.

3. BEDDING AND LINENS

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Sheet and bedding sets are often used as doorbuster items for Black Friday sales, but that doesn't mean you should splurge now. Instead, wait for annual linen sales—called white sales—to pop up after New Year's. Back in January of 1878, department store operator John Wanamaker held the first white sale as a way to push bedding inventory out of his stores. Since then, retailers have offered these top-of-the-year sales and January remains the best time to buy sheets, comforters, and other cozy bed linens.

4. HOLIDAY DÉCOR

Rows of holiday gnomes.
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If you are planning to snag a new Christmas tree, lights, or other festive décor, it's likely worth making due with what you have and snapping up new items after December 25. After the holidays, retailers are looking to quickly move out holiday items to make way for spring inventory, so ornaments, trees, yard inflatables, and other items often drastically drop in price, offering better deals than before the holidays. If you truly can't wait, the better option is shopping as close to Christmas as possible, when stores try to reduce their Christmas stock before resorting to clearance prices.

5. TOYS

Child choosing a toy car.
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Unless you're shopping for a very specific gift that's likely to sell out before the holidays, Black Friday toy deals often aren't the best time to fill your cart at toy stores. Stores often begin dropping toy prices two weeks before Christmas, meaning there's nothing wrong with saving all your shopping (and gift wrapping) until the last minute.

6. ENGAGEMENT RINGS AND JEWELRY

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Holiday jewelry commercials can be pretty persuasive when it comes to giving diamonds and gold as gifts. But, savvy shoppers can often get the best deals on baubles come spring and summer—prices tend to be at their highest between Christmas and Valentine's Day thanks to engagements and holiday gift-giving. But come March, prices begin to drop through the end of summer as jewelers see fewer purchases, making it worth passing up Black Friday deals.

7. PLANE TICKETS AND TRAVEL PACKAGES

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While it's worth looking at plane ticket deals on Black Friday, it's not always the best idea to whip out your credit card. Despite some sales, the best time to purchase a flight is still between three weeks and three and a half months out. Some hotel sites will offer big deals after Thanksgiving and on Cyber Monday, but it doesn't mean you should spring for next year's vacation just yet. The best travel and accommodation deals often pop up in January and February when travel numbers are down.

8. FOOD AND SNACK BASKETS

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Fancy fruit, meat and cheese, and snack baskets are easy gifts for friends and family (or yourself, let's be honest), but they shouldn't be snagged on Black Friday. And because baskets are jam-packed full of perishables, you likely won't want to buy them a month away from the big day anyway. But traditionally, you'll spend less cheddar if you wait to make those purchases in December.

9. WINTER CLOTHING

Rack of women's winter clothing.
Photo by Hannah Morgan on Unsplash.

Buying clothing out of season is usually a big money saver, and winter clothes are no exception. Although some brands push big discounts online and in-store, the best savings on coats, gloves, and other winter accessories can still be found right before Black Friday—pre-Thanksgiving apparel markdowns can hit nearly 30 percent off—and after the holidays.

10. SMARTPHONES

Group of hands holding smartphones.
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While blowout tech sales are often reserved for Cyber Monday, retailers will try to pull you in-store with big electronics discounts on Black Friday. But, not all of them are really the best deals. The price for new iPhones, for example, may not budge much (if at all) the day after Thanksgiving. If you're in the market for a new phone, the best option might be waiting at least a few more weeks as prices on older models drop. Or, you can wait for bundle deals that crop up during December, where you pay standard retail price but receive free accessories or gift cards along with your new phone.

11. KITCHEN GADGETS

Row of hanging kitchen knives and utensils.
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Black Friday is a great shopping day for cooking enthusiasts—at least for those who are picky about their kitchen appliances. Name-brand tools and appliances often see good sales, since stores drop prices upwards of 40 to 50 percent to move through more inventory. But that doesn't mean all slow cookers, coffee makers, and utensil prices are the best deals. Many stores advertise no-name kitchen items that are often cheaply made and cheaply priced. Purchasing these lower-grade items can be a waste of money, even on Black Friday, since chances are you may be stuck looking for a replacement next year. And while shoppers love to find deals, the whole point of America's unofficial shopping holiday is to save money on products you truly want (and love).

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