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Christmas 2017: Top ugly holiday sweater ideas

In recent years, the combination of Christmas and tacky sweaters has taken on a life of its own. Festive people aspire to wear the ugliest holiday sweater possible. Whether it’s including as many adornments as possible, breaking out a ratty and worn polyester pullover or sporting animals in full holiday cheer, here’s a roundup of ugly Christmas sweater ideas to inspire you. Shiny wreathWhat’s says Christmas more than a wreath with a little shine? Take your Christmas tackiness to a new level with a shiny wreath pinned to your red or green sweater. For a little extra bling, string some lights to the wreath and load with a battery pack to keep it shining. The fireplaceIf the coziness of sitting by a blazing fire in the winter tickles your fancy, you’ll love this ugly Christmas sweater idea. This sweater can be pre-purchased with a trimmed fireplace and a pocket in the middle of sweater for your phone. Download an app on your phone to provide virtual flames. Trim the treeGet your craftiness ready to whirl with this shiny and embellished sweater. You’ll need shiny garland, small ornaments and lots of glue, but the end result is a tree to inspire even the grinchiest with a smidge of Christmas spirit. By the way: Don’t forget the ornament to top the tree.

>> Read more trending stories Stuffed stockingNeed some wine or sweet treats to keep you going through the holiday season? This stocking stuffer sweater is just what you need. A beer lover’s ChristmasYet another DIY ugly Christmas sweater idea, this one entails the usage of hundreds of bottle tops to make a Christmas tree. Take a red or green sweater and gather all your bottle tops. Arrange them on the sweater and glue them into the shape of a tree. Top off the tree with a metallic bow for a touch of glitz. Snow globeBring the wishes of a White Christmas to life with this ugly Christmas sweater in the fashion of a snow globe. Take a plastic tablecloth and fold in half, being careful to stuff it with the insides with a pillow to look like artificial snow. An ugly tie tree For this creation, all of the old ugly ties of Christmases pasts can be put to good use. Gather your ugly Christmas ties and arrange them in a tree pattern on an old sweater. Easy peasy Christmas sweater to don at all your holiday parties in the season. Matching couple sweaters Want to look tacky as a pair? Wear the ugliest Christmas sweater connected to one other person to have double the fun and double the tackiness. Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerPay homage to Santa’s favorite reindeer and favorite helper of them all with this Christmas sweater. Start with a black sweater vest and decorate with big eyes and a red nose. Layer a brown long-sleeved shirt underneath the sweater vest, attaching stems to look like antlers on your sleeves.

Hitler-themed homework assigned to middle-schoolers angers parents

Parents in a Chicago suburb are furious after their kids brought home a homework assignment called “If You Give Hitler a Country.” The assignment reportedly told the students to “create a comic strip for little kids that exemplifies Europe’s appeasement towards Hitler.”

>> Watch the news report here

At Woodland Middle School in Gurnee, Illinois, eighth-grader Michael Masterton told WGN that “everyone in the class was given the paper and it tells you all the requirements.” His mother, Kelly, was a bit more taken aback by the homework, telling the Chicago station, “I asked him, ‘Did you ask the teacher if you could use these images?’ and he said yes. … I’m not sure what the appropriate manner is to use a swastika.” The concerned mother posted the image to her Facebook page and said, “[I] don’t think [the teacher] did it to be anti-Semitic. I think she was trying to teach that there was propaganda. ... It did not come through that way.”

>> Read more trending news

On the handout, a cartoon character is shown wearing a Nazi uniform and sporting an Adolf Hitler mustache while giving a Nazi salute. Michael told NBC Chicago that he asked for an alternative assignment, saying, "Some kids were being a bit immature and trying to make this assignment a little bit funny, and it’s disgusting.”

School board president Carla Little apologized in a statement and said the assignment was aimed at teaching students about the appeasement negotiations between the Nazis and opposing countries and the events leading up to World War II. Kelly said she’s not satisfied with the school's explanation and wants to know “that they’re not going to go ahead and give more assignments and make light of it.”

Read more here.

WATCH: Jimmy Kimmel holds infant son during tearful monologue about children's health care

On Monday, late-night host Jimmy Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue while holding his 7-month-old son, Billy, after taking a week off as the baby boy recovered from heart surgery.

>> Jimmy Kimmel: Senator ‘lied right to my face’ about health care

A tearful Kimmel asked lawmakers to restore the Children's Health Insurance Program, which expired two months ago.

>> Round 3: Jimmy Kimmel continues criticism of GOP’s health-care bill

"This is literally a life-and-death program for American kids," Kimmel said. "It’s always had bipartisan support, but this year, they let the money for it expire while they work on getting tax cuts for their billionaire and millionaire donors."

>> Read more trending news  

He continued: "And imagine getting that letter, literally not knowing how you will be able to afford to save your child’s life. It's not a hypothetical. About 2 million CHIP kids have serious chronic conditions. I don’t know about you, I’ve had enough of this. I don’t know what could be more disgusting than putting a tax cut that mostly goes to rich people ahead of the lives of children."

>> Watch the clip here

Kimmel's son, who was born with congenital heart disease, has had two heart surgeries and will have another at age 6, according to his show's YouTube page.

Flip-flop socks are taking the internet by storm

Still wearing flip-flops even as temperatures take a dive? Apparently, you're not alone.

According to WTVT, a new trend is sweeping online stores – flip-flop socks.

Etsy seller Sophia Vernava of Sew Darn Comfy said her handmade version of the socks, which leave the heel and toes exposed, are flying off the virtual shelves.

>> Read more trending news

"I can't keep them in my shop. I list them, and in a few days they are snatched up," she told WTVT, adding that the socks are popular with dancers and people who do yoga and Pilates.

If you want to add a pair to your wardrobe, similar items are available from other Etsy shopsAmazon and eBay.

Titans, Vols players offer support to bullying victim who made heartbreaking viral video

When a boy from the Knoxville, Tennessee, area was revealed to be a victim of bullying, players for the Tennessee Titans and Vols football teams decided to step up.

>> Read more trending news

A video went viral Friday afternoon of a Knoxville boy detailing the bullying he had endured at school.

>> Watch the heartbreaking clip here

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news

University of Tennessee sophomore receiver Tyler Byrd and freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano both pledged to visit the boy and offer support.

Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker responded with his own video and invited the boy and his family to an upcoming game.

>> Click here to watch

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Haunting video of starving polar bear goes viral, breaks hearts

heartbreaking video of a skeletal polar bear scavenging for food in a desolate landscape is going viral online. The clip of the bear, which was released by the National Geographic channel, is gut-wrenching.

>> See the clip here (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Photographer Paul Nicklen, who has been with National Geographic for 17 years, says recording the video was even more heartbreaking. He’s spent his life filming bears and estimates that he’s come across about 3,000 of them, but the animal in his latest video was unlike the rest. In an article about the clip, Nicklen recalled, “We stood there crying — filming with tears rolling down our cheeks.”

>> Read more trending news 

Nicklen says he’s often asked why he didn’t do something, but he explains, “Of course, that crossed my mind. But it’s not like I walk around with a tranquilizer gun or 400 pounds of seal meat.” He added, “When scientists say bears are going extinct, I want people to realize what it looks like. Bears are going to starve to death. This is what a starving bear looks like.”

The internet has definitely felt the gut-punch of the video, which sparked an outcry. Actor Kumail Nanjiani offered one off-hand solution to the problem:

Unfortunately, animals seem to have a very bleak future in front of them. The No. 1 threat to the world’s 22,000 polar bears is climate change, according to a World Wildlife Foundation report. The bears spend the winter months on the ice, where they do a lot of laying around and a whole lot of eating seals; they fast during the summer. But as the winter months have become warmer, it takes longer for the ice to reappear each season, meaning that the animals have less time to eat, and they have to fast for a longer stretch of time. In short, no ice means no seals, which could soon mean no polar bears.

Buzzfeed News also uploaded a video of the tear-jerking scene that has made the rounds online.

Government agencies monitoring about climate change are also warning that we could possibly lose polar bears as early as 2050, per a Washington Post report.

Read more here.

Thief steals Salvation Army donation kettle filled with money

Someone stole a Salvation Army donation kettle filled with money from a south Tulsa, Oklahoma, Walmart on Saturday.

>> Watch the news report here

Officials said the kettle was padlocked to its tripod, which was also taken. The tripod and credit card machine were recovered, but the kettle was not.

"A kettle at a location like this will average at least $800 in a day. We may also be looking at repair costs for the equipment and replacing the kettle," said Capt. Ken Chapman, area commander of the Salvation Army Tulsa Metro Command.

The organization said the theft is especially distressing because the group is running about 20 percent behind on donations.

"I will admit, we are concerned. We only have 12 days left to catch up on donations," Chapman said.

>> Read more trending news

Dec. 23 is that last day kettles will be out in Tulsa. The campaign started Nov. 10 with a goal of raising $700,000.

"Each dollar, each dime, each nickel placed in a red kettle translates into services in our community for the homeless, hungry and downtrodden. The kettle donations don't just help at Christmas, but all year," Chapman said.

Donations to the Salvation Army can also be made online and by calling 918-587-7801.

WATCH: Two men wanted for setting homeowner's Christmas wreath on fire

Police in Arizona are looking for a pair of grinches who instead of stealing Christmas set afire a holiday symbol. Surveillance footage from the early morning hours of Dec. 3 shows two men approaching the front door of a home in Phoenix, azcentral.com reported. Video footage shows the pair dousing the door's Christmas wreath with lighter fluid before setting it on fire with a lighter.

>> Read more trending news

The homeowner was asleep at the time of the incident.Police are seeking the public's help in capturing the suspects.

Top 10 Elf on the Shelf ideas

A holiday tradition sparked by “The Elf on the Shelf,” the children's book published in 2005, has since taken on a life of its own. The idea is to have fun placing an elf in random areas around the house performing various activities, to distract the little ones from the note-taking elf is doing for Santa for his naughty or nice lists. Here’s a rundown of the most popular Elf on the Shelf ideas, based on parent blogs. Gone fishing Let the elf go fishing with no body of water required. Position your elf on the rim of a toilet. Give him a toothbrush for a fishing rod and string floss through the teeth for the line. Toss the end of the line in the toilet water and your elf is occupied for hours or more. Sack raceRe-imagine the good old days of field day during the school years with creating a challenge for the elf. Roll down small paper sacks and stuff the elf inside. Pair some friends, Barbies, stuffed animals, action figures, to make the sack race a competition.

>> Read more trending news Shaving What’s a day of pampering if it doesn’t include shaving? Set up your elf for some quality time solo right by the sink with all he needs to get his shave on: shaving cream, a razor, skin moisturizer. Dab some shaving cream on his face to get him started. Clever disguiseHidden in plain sight is the name of the game for this elf on the shelf idea. Take the ingenious approach to hiding your elf within the Christmas tree to do his pertinent work scouting out to report back to Santa. Paint his face with paint to take it a step further and complete the disguise. Date nightEveryone needs some romance in their life and your elf isn’t in the least exempt. Set up a romantic date with Barbie to keep your elf occupied. Maybe while he’s schmoozing with Barbie he can take his focus off who belongs on the nice or naughty list. At least one can hope that is what happens. Photoshoot Strike a pose and get elf ready for his close-up. Build a DIY photo booth with wrapping paper, a camera and a few friends to join in on the fun. Add in paper mustaches and Barbie dolls to make photo-taking a blast. Lego worldNot much pre-planning required for this elf idea. Gather a bucket of Legos into any shape, form or fashion and put your elf in the midst of it. Build a fort, house or container for the elf to get comfy in or hide to take his notes. Breakfast time Elves get hungry, too, especially one who is as hard at work as these elves on the shelves. Behind this top idea is making bite-sized eats the elf can enjoy. You can choose breakfast and make dime-sized pancakes or easy translate the idea to other meals: small sandwiches for lunchtime, itty bitty desserts. Emails from Santa Let your elf make good use of technology and the spare desktop computer, laptops or tablets for his leisure activity. Prop him up near any one of these and pen a letter the elf is writing to Santa to technologically update him on how the children are behaving. After all, Santa must know if your children are being naughty or nice. Bedtime After a full day of exploring the world, or rather house, around him to make sure the children are behaving, your elf will most likely need a nap. Retire him to dreamland on a Kleenex box. Folded tissues make a nice and compact pillow and of course, the single sheets of tissue snug covers to tuck your elf in for a satisfying nap or good night of rest.

Nintendo Switch: What holiday shoppers need to know

The Nintendo Switch, the latest addition to Nintendo’s popular lineup of gaming consoles, was released earlier in 2017 and has made its way onto many Christmas lists this year.  If you’re thinking about buying one, you may not want to wait, since stores can have spotty inventory as they sell out and wait for another shipment to arrive.

>> Read more trending news  Here’s what you’ll need to know if you’re thinking about treating yourself or someone else to a Nintendo Switch this holiday season. Nintendo Switch featuresThe most interesting feature about the Switch is what gives this gaming system its name. You can use it on your TV, on a tabletop and as a handheld device, and it’s quick and simple to switch from one mode to another. When you buy a Nintendo Switch, you’ll have everything you need – including adapters and cables – to get set up. Along with the console, the Switch comes with a dock, a left and right Joy-Con controller, two wrist strap accessories, a grip accessory, an AC adapter and an HDMI cable.  The Joy-Con controllers are adaptable in several different ways and can be used while attached to the grip, or you can remove them from it. You can use one controller a time, or one in each hand. The Joy-Cons come equipped with a camera and motion detection, and one has an infrared motion camera that can detect distance and simple hand gestures. One also has a button that allows you to share screenshots. When the Switch is in handheld mode, it has a multi-touch screen that’s a lot like the Nintendo DS.  You’ll be able to play compatible games online with other players for free (at least temporarily) through your Nintendo account. When the paid online service launches in 2018, you can pay by the month or year. If you own games for another Nintendo system, you won’t be able to play them on the Switch. Where to buy Nintendo Switch and how much you’ll payThe Switch can be found in brick-and-mortar stores and online at places like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, GameStop and Amazon. At times, they’ll sell out, so you may have to check more than one retailer or be willing to keep checking back to see if they’ve gotten another shipment in.  Some stores, such as Best Buy, let customers buy just one during each visit to help extend availability. The price is quite consistent, with most retailers charging approximately $299.  Games vary in price from about $14.99 to $59.99. Some are available for purchase and download online, while other are available as physical copies. How to get a Nintendo Switch dealDeals are tough to find, since the Switch is still quite new and in demand. You can buy bundles that offer the gaming system along with a particular game, such as Super Mario Odyssey or Sonic Forces, but they usually don’t offer much by way of savings. If you do happen to see a discount at a store that’s not convenient to you, try to price match at a local store that has this policy, like Target or Best Buy.

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