Sunday, 4 December 2022

The Most Underrated Christmas Movies to Watch This Holiday Season

The holiday season is upon us. It is a time to spend with family and friends, listen to carols, and find a gift for your loved ones.

For movie lovers, it's also the time to indulge in our favorite Holiday films. Everyone has their list that they watch every year, but there are often worthwhile films that go unnoticed and underappreciated.

Underrated Christmas Movies

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

While everyone reveres the classics like It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street, the modern comedies such as National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation and Elf, the rom coms like Love Actually and The Holiday, and family favorites such as A Christmas Story, Home Alone, The Santa Clause and The Polar Express, there are many, many other holiday-themed films that deserve a spot of that list. Here is a list of 15 of the most underrated Christmas movies to watch this holiday season. Don't forget to check it twice!

15. One Magic Christmas (1985)

Underrated Christmas Movies
Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

A very affecting film, One Magic Christmas follows a down on their luck family that's fallen on hard financial times: a brother and sister who are hoping for a nice Christmas but have their doubts, a kind and optimistic father who wants his kids, and the kids of his neighbors, to have the best Christmas, and a cynical mother who has lost her Christmas spirit and much or her faith and optimism. When Santa Claus entrusts the Christmas angel Gideon (Harry Dean Stanton) to help out the Grainger family, especially mother Ginny (Mary Steenburgen), find her faith again, what follows is a heart trending story akin to It's A Wonderful Life with moments that showcase the importance of compassion and generosity.

Folks should have tissues ready when watching this one. A family drama from the 80s, don't let the fact that this is a Disney film give you any preconceived notions. This isn't whimsical or light-hearted as we come to expect from Disney films now. Before it reaches its happy conclusion, this has some very dark and serious moments. However, the blend of fantasy and grounded drama creates a touching story worthy of a watch this season.

14. The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

When one thinks of a self-centered, egotistical, even at times heartless curmudgeon of a character in classic holiday tales, one immediately thinks of Ebenezer Scrooge from A Christmas Carol or Mr. Potter in It's a Wonderful Life. If there ever were another character to add to this list, it would be Sheridan Whiteside in this lesser-known holiday gem. After falling on some ice in front of the home of the Midwestern Stanley family, the guilt-ridden household offers to let the critic Mr. Whiteside (Monty Woolley) and his long-suffering and ever-patient assistant Maggie (Bette Davis) stay with them during the holidays while he recovers from his hip injury.

Turning their home upside down and creating havoc every moment, Whiteside has to learn to put aside his own needs and wants, especially when he interferes with the love life of Maggie and the kind and handsome reporter she meets. Featuring a colorful cast of character actors including Billie Burke, Jimmy Durante, and Ann Sheridan, this film, based on the acclaimed stage play of the same name, is sharp, witty, lively, and in the end, heartwarming.

13. The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)

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Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

Set during the holiday season, this sequel to the film Going My Way follows the kindly and unconventional priest Father O'Malley, portrayed by Bing Crosby, as he has some clashes with Sister Benedict at a school on the brink of financial hardship. Both have different opinions and often respectfully disagree as they work together to help the students and the institution. A standout moment is seeing the young children put on a play of “The Christmas Story” that will have you laughing at their innocent interpretations. It's a gently told and poignant classic film.

12. Bachelor Mother (1939)

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Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

If you are looking for the perfect film to watch just after Christmas to ring in the New Year, this light-hearted and often hilarious comedy starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven, and Charles Coburn is the way to go. Following a kind, confident, but lonely shop girl Polly Parish, her life forever changes when she witnesses a baby being left on the doorstep of a foundling home and is mistaken for the baby's mother by not only the people at the home but also by her employer, who gives the recently dismissed Polly her job back.

Though Rogers is perhaps best known as one half of the dancing duo Astaire and Rogers, she is also a brilliantly comedic and dramatic actress. This gem lets her, as well as Niven, Coburn, and others, show off their comedy chops, as romance and hijinks ensue when Niven and Coburn's David and John Merlin question the child's parentage. This sweet-natured comedy may not be the most Christmassy on the list, but it's certainly the most charming and humorous.

11. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2017)

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Image Credit: Elevation Pictures.

A Christmas Carol has been told countless times since it was first published in 1843. Plays, musicals, numerous theatrical films, some classic, some contemporary, it's one of the most touching and timeless stories ever created and truly the inception of the joyous and generous nature of the holiday season, where even the grumpiest of grumps (or in this case Scrooges) can be overcome with a sense of goodwill and happiness. But how was the story created?

Well, this film portrays the life of Charles Dickens as he writes the classic tale, told in a beautiful, moving, and creative way as the beloved characters he creates appear before him as the story unfolds in his mind. Featuring a wonderful cast including Dan Stevens and Christopher Plummer, with a feeling akin to the equally wonderful Finding Neverland, this period film is a unique take on a classic story.

10. Remember the Night (1940)

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Before Barbara Stanwyk and Fred MacMurray starred in the dark noir classic Double Indemnity, they starred together in something completely different. This moving holiday drama follows a by-the-book but fair and sympathetic attorney that takes home a shoplifter over the holiday weekend, so she doesn't have to stay in jail before her trial. As one might expect, romance blossoms as the two truly get to know each other and must deal with the harsh reality of the situation while not giving up hope for one moment. If the scenario and tropes sound familiar, it's because of classic films like this. Tender performances and a heartfelt story make this little-known film worth checking out.

9. Eloise at Christmastime (2003)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

This TV movie, a sequel to Eloise at the Plaza, is not only superior to its predecessor but should be a holiday staple for families right alongside The Grinch, Charlie Brown and The Polar Express. A colorful and sweet movie, this story is about six-year-old Eloise, who lives at the Plaza Hotel with her nanny (the indelible Julie Andrews) while her mother is away working and is as precocious as they come, getting into everyone's business, much to the exasperation of the hotel staff.

A simple and romantic story, Eloise becomes entangled in the romantic life of her bellboy pal Bill who works at the hotel, and his former sweetheart, who has returned with a new fiancé. Broadway star Gavin Creel sings and charms, Christine Baranski and Jeffery Tambor provide laughs as the exacerbated Plaza Hotel staff, while Eloise herself (Sofia Vassilieva) and her nanny Julie Andrews truly sparkle. If there ever was a holiday film to be called as sweet as sugar plums, it's this true delight.

8. Fred Claus (2007)

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Image Credit: Warner Bros.

What if Santa Claus had a brother, or more specifically, a brother who did not get along with him? Well, this hilarious and heartwarming film tells the story of Fred Claus, the older brother of Kris Kringle himself. After an early childhood misunderstanding, Fred begins to resent his saintly brother and grows up to be a cynical opportunist who hates Christmas and never visits his family. He has a good heart deep down, but after getting in trouble with the law, and a breakup with his loving but long-suffering girlfriend, he travels up to the North Pole to work with his brother Saint Nick, who is having troubles of his own.

Unique and funny, Vince Vaughn provides his usual charm, while Paul Giamatti is a different but likable Santa in this tale of brothers learning to understand each other. With a star-studded cast including Rachel Weiz and Kathy Bates, this film mixes raucous humor with deeply heartfelt themes about the true meaning of Christmas. It will make you laugh and maybe even shed a tear.

7. While You Were Sleeping (1995)

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Image Credit: Buena Vista Pictures.

One of Sandra Bullock‘s earliest films is this delightful romantic comedy set during the holidays. Following Lucy, a lonely woman who works at the train station in Chicago, she admires Peter from afar, but one day saves his life after he falls onto the tracks after a mugging. After he ends up in a coma, a misunderstanding leads the nurse and his family to believe that she is his fiancée.

The family embraces her with open arms, including Peter's charming brother Jack. Lucy falls in love with having a family again and doesn't know how to tell them the truth. And, of course, romance and hilarity ensue. Well-written with a top-notch cast including Bill Pullman, Peter Gallagher, Jack Warden, Glynis Johns, and Peter Boyle, this rom-com may have an unlikely scenario but feels authentic in its characters and feelings of loneliness and love of family.

6. Holiday Affair (1949)

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Image Credit: RKO Radio Pictures.

One of the first holiday romantic comedies, much like Remember the Night, the tropes and scenarios we know and love from the modern romance film abound in this classic gem. Following a widowed woman who loves her son and likes her boyfriend Carl very much, her life becomes a bit of a whirlwind when she inadvertently gets a kind and handsome stranger fired, and their friendly talks become something more. Set during Christmas, this romance is about learning to take risks and being honest with your feelings and is about truly good-hearted people. Featuring the beautiful and graceful Janet Leigh, Robert Mitchum in one of his gentlest performances ever, fun holiday cheer, Christmas trees, toy trains, and one of the cutest little kids ever to grace the screen, this film truly shines.

5. The Shop Around the Corner/In the Good Old Summertime (1940/1949)

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Image Credit: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

When a story is strong and its themes timeless, it can be told more than once, each with lovely results. Such is the case with the story of two people who write to each other anonymously without knowing they are rivals in real life. Modern audiences know this as You've Got Mail, and the only reason it's not included here is that very rightly so, it is much beloved. However, the original film and its subsequent musical remake are criminally underrated.

The Shop Around the Corner is set in post-war Budapest with a small shop of Leather Goods, Matacheck and Co, and stars Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan as two co-workers who constantly are at odds, whilst unknowingly are dear friends who have been writing each other anonymous love letters. There are both funny and quite serious moments in this superbly written and earnestly performed film. The story is retold in almost a carbon copy of a scenario only nine years later. Still, it's lighter, filled with music, set in turn-of-the-century America, and stars Judy Garland and Van Johnson as real-life rivals and anonymous would-be lovers. Every bit as charming as the original, do not let the film's title confuse you as most of the plot takes place during the Christmas season, with colorful and sweet songs and imagery set against this truly romantic and well-told tale.

4. Christmas in Connecticut (1945)

Christmas in Connecticut
Image Credit: Warner Bros.

If there ever were a film that could be titled the coziest and most romantic holiday movie, it would be Christmas in Connecticut. The plot is simple: Elizabeth Larsen is a renowned food journalist known for her recipes of culinary delights and descriptions of her farm in New England, where she supposedly lives with her husband and baby. The conundrum is that Elizabeth is, in actuality, a single woman who gets all her recipes from her friend Felix, the cuddly owner of a restaurant with his namesake, and who has no intention of marrying anytime soon despite her would-be, but thoroughly unromantic, beau always asking. And when her editor asks her to host a soldier and war hero at her home for Christmas, she must scramble to keep up appearances and her job.

As is expected, love soon forms between Elizabeth and the soldier, made complicated, of course, by her “marital status.” What is undeniably lovely about this film is the warmth it radiates, the charm it exudes, and the humor it employs. Barbara Stanwyck is luminous in her sweetest role ever. Dennis Morgan is charming as the visiting soldier, while S.Z. Sakall and Sydney Greenstreet chew the scenery and steal every scene they are in. With sleigh rides, barn dances, and pancake flipping lessons, it will make you long for a Christmas spent in a quaint town of the past.

3. White Christmas (1954)

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One may be surprised to see this classic movie musical based on the music of Irving Berlin, as it has gained more favor and attention in recent years. Despite that, this film remains criminally underrated compared to other classics like Miracle on 34th Street. White Christmas should be crowned the most beautiful Christmas film based on visual aesthetics alone. This film is brimming with oversaturated colors, especially in the musical sequences. But not only is White Christmas a visually gorgeous affair, but the music is also divine and the story as sweet as they come.

The story follows the musical pair of Bob Wallace and Phil Dais, two soldiers turned musical superstars, and the equally talented Haynes Sisters, whom they meet as a favor to an Army pal and soon travel to the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont, unknowingly owned by their former commander in the Army, General Waverly. While dealing with the lack of customers due to uncharacteristically warm weather, the quartet of singers proposes to put on a musical show to entice guests to the Inn and save the establishment from ruin.

Colorful and romantic, its light-hearted but also touching story is matched by the talent of the superb cast, including the quintessential Christmas crooner Bing Crosby, affable Danny Kaye, stunning singer Rosemary Clooney, and dancer extraordinaire Vera-Ellen. If you want a film that feels as comforting as a cup of hot cocoa on a snowy day, White Christmas is the perfect treat.

2. The Bishop's Wife (1947)

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Image Credit: Samuel Goldwyn Productions.

In this heartfelt and poignant dramatic film, a kind but harried bishop prays for guidance as raising money for his church is stressful, especially dealing with a difficult benefactor. It leads him to neglect his wife and children and ultimately his true role as a bishop to his parishioners. His prayer is answered in the form of Dudley, an utterly dashing angel who charms everyone he meets, including the bishop's wife, Julia. Soon, the angel Dudley begins to like his role as stand-in family man and friend to everyone a little too much, while Bishop Brougham must remember the true meaning of the season and what really matters in his life and those who look to him for guidance.

The most overtly religious film on this list has a specific target audience. Still, in truth, The Bishop's Wife is a warm and beautiful gem of a film about love, generosity, and faith not only in the religious sense but in that we must always have faith in our fellow person. Starring Loretta Young, Cary Grant, and David Niven, who coincidentally filmed a few weeks in each other's roles before director Henry Koster proposed they switch parts and start filming over again (and thank goodness they did), The Bishop's Wife is equally heartwarming and moving.

1. All I Want for Christmas (1991)

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Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One of the greatest family holiday films ever, this movie has never received the notoriety it deserved despite its sweet-natured story and fine cast. It's not difficult to understand why it was overlooked upon release, as it competed with another Holiday film, the understandably immensely popular and successful comedy Home Alone. But over the years, All I Want for Christmas has never reached the pinnacle of popularity and thus is the most underrated Christmas movie of all.

The film follows brother and sister Hallie and Ethan O'Fallon (Thora Birch and Ethan Embry), who conspire to get their divorced parents back together by Christmas Eve. Hallie, being the feisty and true believer that she is, marches herself down to Macy's to ask Santa himself to bring her parents together again, while older brother Ethan is more tactful and a bit of a prankster devising a parent trap of sorts with the help of a new friend. The unknowing adults in the film, including Jaime Sheridan, Harley Jane Kozak, Kevin Nealon, and the great Lauran Bacall, are none the wiser to the intelligent schemes of these siblings and hilarity and, of course, romance ensues.

A film that will make you long to spend Christmas in New York City, All I Want for Christmas boasts a wonderful cast, genuine and naturally comedic and heartfelt performances, and what Christmas should truly be about. It's not about the perfect gift, or seeing The Nutcracker, or having a fancy dinner, as wonderful as those are. It's about being with the ones we love because family and friends are the greatest gifts of all.

Honorable Mentions

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Image Credit: Revolution Studios Distribution Company.

I'll Be Seeing You, Christmas with the Kranks, It Happened On 5th Avenue, The Christmas Chronicles, Noelle, By the Light of the Silvery Moon.

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15 Tips To Help You Start Grocery Shopping on a Budget

Food is expensive these days. With rising inflation, everyday items have become less affordable. Americans all over the country are having to revise and tighten their budgets, especially in the grocery category.

Even though money may be tight, with some planning and creativity, and perhaps a nifty cookbook, you can still prepare great meals for your family without breaking the bank. Grocery shopping on a budget can seem daunting, but with the right resources, you can reduce your food spending and save some money.

Grocery Shopping on a Budget: First Learn To Cook

Takeout might be eating away at your monthly food budget because you need to learn how to cook or don't feel like you have time, but it doesn't need to be that way.

Cooking can be daunting for people who have never done it and feel like there's not enough time in the day.

Thankfully, the internet is full of cooking videos and blog posts, with recipes for every type of person.

If you don't know how to cook, let YouTube help you learn the basics. If you don't feel like you have time to cook because you're busy with work or kids, there are “quick and easy” recipes that take 30 minutes or less.

Don't blow your food budget on eating out every month; just put a little effort in and find the best meal types for your situation.

1. Avoid Snack Packs

It can be tempting to buy portion-controlled snack packs for your kids or yourself. They might seem like a healthy option, but you often pay more for the amount you're getting, and they are only sometimes as healthy as they claim to be.

Consider making your own “snack packs” at home using fresh fruits and veggies, nuts and dried berries, cheese, or whatever else you want to add. You can portion them into small Tupperware containers, so you still get the “portion controlled” aspect.

2. Shop at Farmer's Markets for Produce

Consider shopping for fresh produce if your city has a local farmer's market. Not only will you support local farmers, but their produce often has fewer pesticides and is significantly cheaper than most grocery stores.

You can also make it a fun outing if you have kids. You can take your dog if you have one and make it a family affair. The kids can help pick out their favorite fruits and veggies while taking advantage of the free samples most fruit stalls offer.

3. Sign Up for Grocery Store Emails

If you want coupons sent directly to your inbox, sign up for your grocery store's email newsletters.

Stores will often send you printable coupons and grocery delivery or pickup offers. Make sure that you're only using coupons for items that you need. Only some sales are good deals.

The email newsletter could also inform you about in-store sales based on items you have bought.

4. Only Buy Perishable Goods in Quantities You'll Use Immediately

Food thrown away because you didn't use it by its expiration date is a massive waste of money. You can split up produce such as bananas and grapes based on how many you need.

Only buy bulk foods if you can use them before their expiration date. Many people buy bulk foods such as bakery items at Costco because they believe they are getting a better deal, but then they have to throw out half of the food a week later because it's gone stale.

That isn't a good deal at all. Another option is to buy frozen produce instead of fresh if you don't think it will get eaten within the first week or so of purchasing it.

5. Shop Around for Deals, Don't Only Shop at One Store

Odds are sales are going on at virtually every grocery store in your area. Don't limit yourself if you can get a better deal on an item at a different store than the one you usually go to. A deal is a deal.

Grocery stores are constantly in competition with each other to provide customers with the best deals, so take advantage of that. Shopping around and using your options is a great way to save money.

6. Buy Necessities in Bulk

Buying in bulk can help you save a lot of money in the long run. If you have a Costco or Sam's Club membership, it should be easy to find your essentials in bulk.

Products like meat, cereal, toilet paper, and paper towels are all items that you should purchase in bulk.

You can buy a whole tenderloin and slice it up at home. One tenderloin should give you several fillets if you know what you're doing.

Oatmeal is another fantastic item to buy in bulk. Pre-made oatmeal packets are full of added sugars and are almost always more expensive than purchasing oatmeal in bulk.

7. Shop The Store Brand as Much as Possible

Almost all grocery stores sell their own brands for less than their name-brand equivalents.

Store-brand goods are independently produced and packaged by the store, making them less expensive.

Not every food has a store-brand counterpart, but most staples, such as cereal, canned goods, and condiments, have a store-brand equivalent.

8. Limit Purchases of TV Dinners or Ready-made Foods

Sometimes you don't feel like cooking, and that's okay. However, ready-made meals are always more expensive than the same meal would be if you made it at home.

Meal prepping is a great way to plan meals throughout the week, so when the time comes, you don't need to put much thought or effort into cooking.

Ready-made meals are also full of preservatives and added sugar and salt. Buying fresh foods and making dinner at home is a much healthier method for you and your family.

9. Learn Proper Storage Methods for Your Groceries

Fresh foods often have a relatively short shelf life. However, there are a few different ways to prep your foods so they last longer and you don't throw them out.

You can chop up veggies such as carrots and celery and store them in water in a mason jar. Keeping them in water will keep them from drying out.

Be sure to wash all fruit and keep it in sealed containers. To prevent freezer burn, you should reseal frozen foods before putting them back in the freezer.

10. Get Creative With Leftovers

You can often repurpose leftovers from one meal for other meals throughout the week. Vegetables from tonight's dinner can be reheated and served with tomorrow's meal.

You can also use lots of leftovers in soups and casseroles. Check out some websites for inspiration so you can get creative with your leftover food.

11. Pay in Cash

People are prone to spending more money when they have a debit card (especially a credit card). When you use cash, you can physically see how much you are allowed to spend, and you can only justify spending the allotted amount.

12. Use Store Rewards Cards

Most grocery stores, such as Safeway, have free rewards cards for signing up. You will then have access to exclusive rewards and member-only deals in-store.

Often, the sales price you see on items only applies to reward members, so you would only be able to get the deal if you join.

13. Keep an Eye Out for Manufacturer's Coupons

Plenty of grocery stores offer manufacturer coupons on their websites or third-party sites such as coupons.com or redplum.com.

You can use these coupons in-store or online to find great deals at your favorite stores.

14. Shop at “Outlet” Stores

Shopping at stores like day-old bakeries is another excellent way to save money on food. Prices can drop by up to 50% on select items.

Bread products freeze well and are helpful in various recipes.

15. Buy Your Produce in Season

Buying fruits and vegetables in season ensures you get the most wholesome foods.

Local farmers often supply seasonal fruits and vegetables. So, if you like to buy locally, this is a great way to support your neighborhood farms.

A quick Google search will help determine which fruits and vegetables go with each season. You can print out a guide and keep it on your fridge so you know which ones to get when you go to the store or shop online.

Save Money While Still Eating Healthy

With the right tools, grocery shopping on a budget is relatively easy.

Saving money on groceries can also help you work towards other goals. That extra money could go towards a family vacation, a new car, or a down payment for a house.

Learning how to save money in every area of life can not only help you achieve your long-term goals while filling your bank account.

This article was produced by Wealth of Geeks.



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A Meat Recession Could Be in The Future, Supply Shrink Coming Now

Fears over a potential meat recession have set in right before the holidays.

We Do Not Have The Meats

An online meat delivery company, Good Ranchers, put out a warning to consumers on social media that “a meat recession is knocking and supply is about to be tight” as cattle herds continue to shrink.

“The cattle herd has shrunk due to droughts,” Good Ranchers wrote on its Instagram account. “Our total meat supply for the coming year is down significantly. This is one of the main reasons a meat recession is coming.”

Walter Kunisch is the senior commodities strategist at Hilltop Securities. He agrees with Good Ranchers and told FOX Business that United States beef cattle supplies will continue to shrink through 2023, which will drive up the prices for consumers.

“We believe that an acute and protracted drought in the southwest U.S. is responsible for increased culling of beef cattle which is leaving the U.S. structurally short beef cattle and beef supplies,” Kunish told FOX Business.

The USDA reported that the number of cattle moving from pasture into a feedlot to be prepared for slaughter in September declined by 4% nationwide year-over-year. In certain states like Kansas, that number was as high as 11%.

Related: Is Biden's Mental Capacity a Serious Issue?

Lingering Drought

The biggest issue is that droughts have been lingering in key cattle-producing states in the Southwest, such as Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, since last year.

“There’s been an acute drought in those states for really the better part of 2022,” Kunisch said, adding that there hasn’t been much relief, either.

States like Texas have not seen consistent rainfall since September 2021. As a result, the availability of pasture has declined. “That drought has been so prolonged, the opportunities to graze or for ranchers to put cattle in the pasture has sharply declined,” which is forcing ranchers to put cattle into feedlots at a faster pace, Kunisch said.

As if that wasn't bad enough, breeders have also started culling unbred female cattle at a higher rate, which reduces the supply of future animals for slaughter. Unfortunately, even when the drought finally begins to subside and the pasture conditions have improved, ranchers will likely start retaining females for breeding in an attempt to increase their breeding stock.

When the ranchers do this, supplies will become even tighter. It takes around 19-24 months from the time a rancher decides to use a female for breeding to when the offspring are ready to be slaughtered.

Other commodities are seeing price increases as well. Higher costs for corn, wheat, and operating costs such as fuel and labor are creating “persistent higher cattle prices, which can lead to higher beef prices,” Kunisch said.

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U.S. Middle Class Wealth Is Disappearing Very Quickly

The American middle class is facing the biggest blow to its wealth in a generation. Despite the staggering hit, the middle class is still going into midterm elections richer than it has ever been, thanks to a decade of “cheap money” and the wealth it afforded.

The Middle-Class Fortune

Bloomberg News conducted a study that paired new wealth data with a Harris Poll. The survey measured the attitudes of the 100 million middle-class adults that are vital to the economy and its politics ahead of elections.

Experts have long stated that the middle-class fortune determines the political fate of most U.S. leaders. The American middle class is responsible for nearly half of the consumption expenditures in the United States, and its members are far more likely to vote than those further down the ladder in society.

Interviews were conducted with both retirees and first-time homebuyers. Both expressed anxiety about the current and future state of the economy but remained optimistic about their own finances and the future their children will grow up into.

Related: Sorry Millennials, You Can Buy a House in 15 Years, Best-Case Scenario

More Than Just a Salary

Being middle class in America is about more than just a salary or wages. It's about the economic security that is driven by wealth and the ability to access it and pass it on to the next generation. Earlier this year, the average real wealth of the American middle class peaked at $393,300, the highest it has ever been.

Although this consumer class is better placed to absorb the fallout of a looming recession, reports show they are also more nervous about their financial cushions and the economy than they have ever been.

These anxieties are timed perfectly with the upcoming election, where Joe Biden's Democrats are fighting to maintain their thin majorities in Congress.

Reports show that the average middle-class adult in America at the peak earlier this year was more than $120,000 wealthier than when Donald Trump took office in 2017. The gains that the middle class experienced fueled the pandemic boom that resulted in an uptick of home renovation projects and helped families to weather the rising consumer prices.

Related: Joe Biden Hits Record High Approval Rating Thanks to This Surprising Demographic

Falling From Grace

Berkeley economists estimate that since the March peak, the “middle 40%”-the members of the population whose wealth falls in the 50th to 90th percentile-have seen their wealth fall around 7%. That hit alone is the biggest since the 2007-09 global financial crisis.

Consumers are likely to cut back on their purchases as financial situations become more strenuous. Despite the fact that there are many societal issues on the ballot, economic anxieties are on the forefront of voters' minds going into the midterm elections.

The Harris Poll of middle-class voters found that while 86% say their personal financial situation is good right now, 1 in 5 expect things to get worse in the next year. Twice as many say they feel either stressed or anxious about the current state of the economy as those who reported feeling calm.

Only around 26% of respondents reported feeling optimistic. There is a partisan divide to this issue as well. Republicans are reportedly more stressed and are less optimistic about the economy than their Democratic counterparts.

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Fun Video and Board Games To Play With Friends and Family

Whether you're looking to keep your family entertained at home, looking for online games to play with friends, or plan for your first gathering post-quarantine, why not try a social activity that can transport you to another world? What better way to do that than through games!

It's overwhelming to select fun games to play when you're bored along with your friends or family when there are hundreds to choose from. Made by gamers, this Ultimate List of Board and Video Games guarantees a fun time, no matter the age group.

What is the difference between a video game and a board game? You can skip this part if you already have an idea.

Video games are electronic games that you play on the screen where you can challenge your friends against them or other players. A board game, however, uses dice, and miniature figures, strategic thinking, and requires face-to-face contact.

1. Exploding Kittens

5 Players | 7+

Exploding Kittens

If you love classic games like UNO, you're going to love this kitty-powered Russian roulette-style game. The game is highly strategic and involves exploding kittens, laser beams, enchiladas, and sometimes you'll even encounter goats! This game has won many awards over the years, making it a very popular game, and it is a great board game to play with friends or your family. It's rated as a fun game for board game beginners, and each round only takes around fifteen minutes.

2. Retro Clue

2-6 Players | 8+

Clue

Who could say no to bringing home the retro fun of the Hasbro classic Clue? This retro series looks exactly like the original 1986 game board and brings all the suspense and thrills originally held for fans of the game. Â If you've been wanting to introduce your family to Colonel Mustard, meet him in the lounge where Miss Scarlett is wielding a revolver! Retro Clue brings alive a classic game to your friends and family where you can think, guess, and have fun figuring out the murder.

3. Root

2-6 Players | 10+

Root

The root is a time-consuming and addicting adventure board game. Seriously, it can take upwards of 90 minutes to play through the game, and it's worth every minute. Root also boasts several expansion packs with new characters, stories, and quests to keep the game fresh every time you pull it out. This is a great type of game if you love roleplaying games and you're looking to introduce your family to your passion.

4. Settlers of Catan

4 Players | 10+

Catan 1

Catan is a classic and one you don't want to miss out on if you've never played it before. Most games take about an hour to play through, and each round includes strategic plays as each player controls their civilizations and spread across the board in pursuit of victory. This game has been around for a long time and remains a family favorite and a fun board game to play with your friends.

5. Star Wars: Risk

2-4 Players | 10+

Risk

If you're a fan of Risk, update your gaming collection with Star Wars: Risk today. It deviates slightly from the original game, but it's still just as fun (if not more). The Star Wars edition allows you to play through the Battle of Endor's events as you work to take down the Death Star. It's a lot of fun and a great game to play while rewatching the Star Wars movies.

6. DC Funkoverse Strategy Game

2-4 Players | 10+

FunkoVerse 1

Funko Pops is a highly popular collector's item in most fandoms, but did you know there was a DC Funkoverse Strategy Game too? There are Funkoverse strategy games for several popular fandoms. You can also add expansion packs for the game to increase the number of players that can play. And if you ever get bored with this board game, you'll have cute Minifigures to adorn your bookshelves.

7. Wits & Wagers Board Game

3-20 Players | 10+

WitsandWagers

Wits & Wagers is an award-winning and fast-paced guessing game that combines the most addictive parts of trivia games and gambling in a family-friendly fashion. You make educated guesses or decide with your gut instincts as you bet everything for the chance to win more chips and wow your friends with your trivia knowledge.

8. Werewolf

7-35 Players | 12+

Werewolf

If you're getting together with a large group of friends, Werewolf is going to be the indoor or outdoor game you will want to pick up today. You can have up to thirty-five players, all working to deceive each other as the game unfolds.

The game is a bit like “Murder in the Dark,” or Mafia, but a lot more fun. Essentially, someone's a werewolf trying to destroy your village and frame you and your friends, and you have to work to identify them or accidentally accuse the wrong person!

9. Nosedive

3-6 Players | 12+

Nosedive

Fans of Black Mirror will recognize this game as an episode title from the series. This game requires everyone to have a smartphone with the app, which allows you to access over 1,000 in-game prompts to help you create a picture-perfect life that can crack from the slightest misstep. It's a great game to explore your strategic gameplay skills while interacting with the other players.

10. Taboo Party Board Game

4+ Players | 13+

Taboo

Taboo is a classic board game that has provided entertainment at parties for decades. It's fast-paced, fun, and loud. Payers race against time (and each other) to avoid saying the “Forbidden Word” and losing their turn. This edition of the game features 450 game cards, an electronic buzzer, and a timer.

11. The Voting Game

5-10 Players | 13+

Voting

The Voting Game is a very serious game that also has an NSFW version of the game if you want to cut loose with all of your friends or make it into a drinking game by including some shots. But if you're keeping it clean, check out the original version of the game.

It's right on the box that they don't recommend this game for accountants or anyone without a personality. Savage. The game is simple, fun, and can go with you anywhere or stay right at home.

12. Hedbanz

3-6 Players | 14+

HedBanz

Hedbanz Adulting is a fun millennial-geared party game that features fast-paced questions, 90 seconds on the timer, and charades categories featuring your favorite pop-culture references. This is a hilarious party game that will keep you and your guests laughing and shouting all night.

13. Codenames

2-8 Players | 14+

Codenames e1614371498317

Codenames is a challenging word game that features rival spymasters trying to keep their secret identities secret. Play head-to-head or with teammates, facing off against each other as you try to avoid assassins, give one-word clues, and take down the opposition. Interestingly, the game promises that it's even more fun when you're losing.

14. Betrayal at House on the Hill

3-6 Players | 14+

Betrayal

Players must work together to escape the horror of the house on the hill in this thrilling game. You build your haunted mansion, bring new terrors to life, and fight to escape all of it alive in 50 blood-curling scenarios that promise to introduce new gameplay every time you play it. This might be a fun game to introduce at your next Halloween party or horror film night.

15. Blockbuster: The Game

4-12 Players | 14+

Blockbuster

While not everyone can visit Bend, Oregon to see the last Blockbuster in America, this game is perfect for Millennials and Gen Xers who miss visiting their local Blockbuster and want to hold on to the VHS nostalgia longer. This buzzer battle brings you and your friends head-to-head in a showdown to reenact hilarious scenes from Blockbuster movies. If you don't remember the movie, make something up and see if anyone can guess it!

16. Medium Mind-Reading Party Game

2-8 Players | 14+

Medium

This funky board game allows you to harness your extra-sensory powers as you become a psychic medium and read your opponent's thoughts. Together in pairs, you compete to say the same words at the same time. This is a challenging game, and it is such a fun game to play with friends!

17. Cinephile: A Card Game

2+ Players | 16+

Cinephile

The perfect game for movie lovers everywhere just thirsting for something that feels like Film Twitter in real life. This 150-card game is a mix of pop culture, film, and party fun. You can also play as a casual movie-goer or a bona fide cine-nerd. This is a great way to impress your friends with all of that film knowledge you rarely get to show off.

18. The Awkward Storyteller

4-11 Players | 16+

Awkward

The Storyteller chooses a card and reads the caption, starting the first line of a story that's just waiting to be created. This is a bit like Round Robin if you have ever played that game. Each player asks the Storyteller questions from their deck of cards, and it helps create a unique story that will never be created twice. This one can be fun for the whole family.

19. Drawing Without Dignity

4-12 Players | 17+

Dignity

If you're looking to party without kids, pick up Drawing Without Dignity because it's NSFW and not family-friendly. It's an uncensored Pictionary game that will cause you and your friends to quickly draw the most inappropriate images, play with naughty innuendos, and have the time of your life during this evening of fun!

20. SDR – The Ultimate Adult Party Card Game

3-10 Players | 17+

SDR

This game can get super NSFW, so much so that the title isn't even the full title! But you and your rowdy friends will laugh all night with this raunchy card game. Depending on the cards you pull, you have to name words that start with the first letter of one letter of the game's name. It's very much in the same vein as our next fun game to play with friends.

21. Cards Against Humanity

4-20 Players | 17+

Cards Against Humanity 2.0 - Kohii Board Game Online Store

Oh, Cards Against Humanity. This game has countless hyperspecific expansion packs and is known for being the highlight of any party. If you already own the original box, look into exploring some of the most recent expansion packs to add a little spice to your game night.

22. What Do You Meme?

4-8 Players | 17+

Meme 1

What Do You Meme is a hilarious adult party game that's created around the funniest memes you've seen on the Internet. It's like Cards Against Humanity, but with memes and slightly less adult humor. Instead of matching phrases, you're matching quippy meme titles with new images to create your very own memes!

23. Joking Hazard

4 Players | 17+

Joking 1

Do you like sharing the hilarious Cyanide & Happiness webcomics with friends? Well, did you know that the geniuses behind the webcomic made a not-for-kids party game that's just as cynical and hilarious? Joking Hazard is a 360-panel card game that helps you form millions of awful situations just waiting to burn down society with violence, friendship, and everything else you would recognize from the webcomics.

24. Game of Thrones Monopoly

3-6 Players | 17+

GOTs 1

While the Internet may be done talking about Game of Thrones, you don't have to be. If you didn't think regular Monopoly led to enough family warfare, reenact the Red Wedding at your next Thanksgiving with a Game of Thrones-themed Monopoly board. Actually, please don't do that! But please play this super fun recreation of the classic Monopoly game that has torn families and friends apart for years.

25.  Drink-a-Palooza

2-12 Players | 21+

DrinkaPalooza 1

Relive your beer pong college days with Drink-a-Palooza and spin the bottle to see who will start the game and compete to fill their six-pack with mini beer bottles. This boozy game is probably best played with a drink in hand, but you can also have juice or sparkling water instead.

Essentially, you'll move around the board, competing in mini-games and working hard to defeat your arch-nemesis or college roommate. This one is a super fun game to play with friends as soon as you can!

26. Fortnite

ESRB Rating T for Teens

Fortnite 1

Let's kick the Video Game portion of this thing off with one of the most popular games for kids ever: Fortnite. What's great about this game is that it offers a ton of variety and fun, and it's free. Leveling up your battle pass and exploring the huge, ever-changing map rarely gets old, so this is great to try if you're strapped for cash and want to play with friends.

27. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

ESRB Rating E For Everyone 10+

Smash 1

As one of the most ambitious fighting games ever, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate pays homage to the classic Nintendo franchises, with dozens and dozens of characters to choose from. You can play this one how you like — either competitively or casually, making it ideal for players of all skill levels.

28. Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

FallGuys 1

If you like having chaotic fun with wacky physics, Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout is for you. It's a battle royale, but unlike something like Fortnite or Warzone, this game focuses on platforming and obstacle courses, with tons of costumes and cosmetics to unlock. It's even more fun with friends.

29. Tetris Effect: Connected

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

Tetris 1

However you play Tetris: Effect, it's one of the most therapeutic and relaxing experiences of the past decade, and it's made even better with the Connected expansion. Tetris Effect: Connected takes the fan-favorite gameplay from the base game and adds a multiplayer twist, allowing you to play with a group instead of solo.

30. Minecraft

ESRB Rating E for Everyone 10+

Minecraft 1

What more can we say about Minecraft? It ranks among the most influential free games of all time, reaching hundreds of millions of copies sold since they were released. There's a reason Minecraft is still so popular, especially with a younger audience. You can play as one person, but this game works even better with friends, whether in creative mode or survival.

31. Animal Crossing: New Horizons

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

AnimalCrossing 1

Much like Minecraft, Animal Crossing: New Horizons has taken the video game industry by storm. Its gameplay loop makes it hard to put down, and thanks to its online capabilities, you can play with your friends. Something about sharing your island with friends is so satisfying, whether it's showing off your cool items or simply just hanging out.

32. Overcooked!

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

Overcooked 1

For some players, action isn't necessarily their thing, and that's okay. For that reason, we recommend Overcooked!, a game about cooking and serving as many dishes as possible before the time limit expires. You can work with your friends to be much more efficient, but be careful not to have too many cooks in the kitchen. If you do, it could get way more disorganized.

33. Roblox

ESRB Rating E for Everyone 10+

Roblox 1

Roblox is an interesting game because it's home to pretty much anything you can imagine. It's essentially a hub, featuring thousands of creations from the community — some of which are impressive. You'll find shooters, platformers, and games inspired by others, plus a slew of options that you can play with your friends.

34. Rocket League

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

RocketLeague 1

As with many games on this list, Rocket League is yet another title that exploded in popularity when it launched. The premise? Soccer, but with cars, and it's a ton of fun, particularly with your buddies. It can get pretty competitive, but even if you aren't good at it, you'll probably still have a blast.

35. Snipperclips

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

Snipperclips 1

Puzzle games are still immensely popular, but finding one you can play with friends can be a chore. If that's what you're in the mood for, look no further than Snipperclips, a smart, quirky puzzle game with a ton of heart. It gets pretty challenging, but getting through it with your friends is a satisfying endeavor to overcome.

36. Among Us

ESRB Rating E for Everyone 10+ for Fantasy, Violence, Mild Blood

AmongUs 1

Playing Among Us with friends is a hilariously wild time because of trying to determine who the Imposter(s) are. Or if you are the Imposter, it can get extremely nerve-wracking trying to remain undetected. Because of this, it's not only a fun game to play, but it's entertaining to watch, as well.

37. Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

ESRB Rating E for Everyone

SuperMario 1

While you can play Super Mario 3D World by yourself, it's much more exciting with friends. Thanks to the recent Nintendo Switch release, you can play it locally or online with up to three additional friends — and we highly recommend it!

Thanks to the catchy music, colorful visuals, and smart level design, it's a joy to play.

38. Call of Duty: Warzone

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

COD 1

If you're looking for a more mature Battle Royale game, Call of Duty: Warzone will probably be up your alley. It's best played with friends, as it features tactical gameplay designed with cooperative play in mind. The nuance in the weapons and their attachments gives this game a ton of depth. There is also a mobile version that is available for IOS and android.

39. Halo: The Master Chief Collection

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

Halo 1

Halo is an absolute classic, and what better way to experience the bulk of the series than with The Master Chief Collection? This compilation features Halo 1-4, along with ODST, Reach, and an enhanced version of Halo 2 — all of which you can play cooperatively or competitively online. These are classic FPS games you shouldn't skip.

40. Sea of Thieves

ESRB Rating T for Teens

Seathieves 1

Ever want to become a pirate with your friends? In Sea of Thieves, you can do just that, allowing you to explore various islands for treasure while keeping up with your ship and crew. It's a live service game, meaning there's always new content to look forward to with this one.

41. Destiny 2

ESRB Rating T for Teens

Destiny 1

Destiny 2 has come a long way since its release in 2017. The game has gotten many expansions, updates, and improvements, making it more fun to play with or against friends online. You'll want to grind out those raids in this game and complete various events to continue getting gear and loot.

42.  Overwatch

ESRB Rating T for Teens

Overwatch 1

While Overwatch wasn't the first hero shooter, it's one of the most popular. It features tons of memorable characters, each with its special abilities. It's oh so satisfying to coordinate with your team to ensure you come out on top of this competitive FPS.

43. Monster Hunter: World

ESRB Rating T for Teens

MonserHunter 1

The Monster Hunter series has made a name for itself by allowing you to take on giant creatures alongside your friends, and World is no different. Though, in this entry, you'll have a much easier time getting into the swing of things, thanks to the quality of life improvements and enhancements.

44. Demon's Souls

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

DemonsSoul 1

Serving as a remake of the 2009 game of the same name, Demon's Souls for PS5 is an in-depth action RPG, and you can play it online with your buddies. Either summon another player to help you take down a boss or invade them to take them out. However you choose to play, it's an absolute blast online.

45. Grand Theft Auto Online

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

GTA 1

Living your best life in the city of Los Santos is difficult. In GTA Online, you have to partake in casino heists and other dangerous jobs to earn boatloads of cash. You'll want to work together with your team to make the most out of each death-defying mission. GTA Online comes with every copy of Grand Theft Auto V.

46. Resident Evil 5

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

While this isn't the best Resident Evil game, it's certainly one of the most entertaining cooperative shooters out there. Watch each other's backs as you make your way through each of the game's horrifying stages while playing online or locally. You can level up your weapons, collect gear, and above all else — survive against the hordes of zombies.

47. Gears 5

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

Gears 5 1

The Gears series has gone through many changes since it first launched, and Gears 5 is an excellent showcase for what the franchise can do. The entirety of its campaign can be played cooperatively, and when you're finished, why not jump into competitive multiplayer or endless horde modes? It's a ton of fun, as long as you don't have a weak stomach since it can get pretty brutal.

48. Rainbow Six Siege

ESRB Rating M for Mature Audiences 17+

Rainbow Six Siege 1

One of the best competitive tactical shooters of the past generation is Rainbow Six Siege, yet another game has come a long way. It's got a steep learning curve, but once you figure it out and learn to coordinate with your team, this game is one of the most satisfying to play — especially if you come out on top.

49. No Man's Sky

ESRB Rating T for Teens

No Mans Sky 1

No Man's Sky is a game that is impressive because of the sheer amount you can do in it. The game features a universe of 18 quintillion planets, lots of creatures to discover, a base building system, an in-game economy, and more. It's less lonely and safer when you play with friends, too.

50. Apex Legends

ESRB Rating T for Teens

Apex 1

Apex Legends blends hero shooters with the Battle Royale formula, and it's a refreshing take — giving you plenty of reasons to try out many of the game's characters. Its vibrant, colorful world is beautiful, the movement and combat are fluid, and experiencing it with your friends is a wild ride.

Fun games to play with friends or family are also significant activities for a no-spend weekend. Whether you're looking for free things to do or want to test-drive games before buying, visit your local library. Most offer a wide variety of items to check out, including video games and tabletop board games.

With the selections above, you're sure to find the perfect one to play with your friends and family. Which video or board game is your favorite on this list?

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.



source https://wealthofgeeks.com/fun-games-to-play-with-friends/

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