Best small appliances for the big holiday dinner

Best small appliances for the big holiday dinner

With a roast beast filling the oven and side dishes on every available burner, a holiday host can quickly run out of space to cook a meal and all the trimmings. But with some creative use of small countertop appliances, you can coordinate your dinner so that everything’s ready at the same time. Many of today’s microwaves and toaster ovens have improved cooking capabilities and warming trays have given way to induction burners that can be used to cook as well as … (read more)

Slow cookers a charm for holiday potlucks

Slow cookers a charm for holiday potlucks

With the cold weather, holiday crush, and a pile of party invitations, now’s a great time to get out your slow cooker. It’s the perfect appliance for making comfort food while you do other chores or for preparing a dish for a potluck supper. In Consumer Reports’ past tests of slow cookers, the models didn’t differ significantly in how well they cooked. Where one rose above the other was in its convenience features, such as a locking lid, electronic controls, and easy … (read more)

Best and worst infomercial products for holiday gifts

Best and worst infomercial products for holiday gifts

With only a limited number of buying days left until Christmas, you probably need to grab a few last-minute gifts. Those as-seen-on-TV products might catch your eye when you’re at a chain pharmacy or a retailer such as Bed Bath & Beyond.Or maybe they stop you when you’re flipping through the channels and come across one of those silly-yet-captivating high-energy infomercial ads during which a frenetic pitchman or pitchwoman tries to sell you on the fantastic claims about a product that will … (read more)

7 products that are cheaper this holiday season

7 products that are cheaper this holiday season

If you’d like to get the best deals on your holiday shopping this year, you’ll be happy to hear that Consumer Reports’ product research experts, who monitor the prices of many of the items we test, have found several that have gone down in price in the last 12 months. For each one we’ve provided a tip to help you cut your budget even more.

If you’re in the market for one or more of these products, but you’re not in a … (read more)

Most holiday shoppers stress-free as holiday nears, Consumer Reports poll shows

Most holiday shoppers stress-free as holiday nears, Consumer Reports poll shows

With Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror and Christmas coming fast, nearly one-third of Americans who plan to give gifts had yet to begin their shopping as of early December, according to the latest Consumer Reports Holiday Poll*. Forty-nine percent were less than halfway finished.

But even with that procrastination, 64 percent said they have things under control and will be ready for the holiday. The remaining 36 percent said that preparing for the holiday had them at least … (read more)

Sneak peek at this holiday season’s hot gift ideas

Sneak peek at this holiday season’s hot gift ideas

Things don’t seem to change a lot year to year when it comes to holiday shopping. Americans will spend a lot on holiday gifts—an average of $ 537, down a bit from last year. And the list of most desired gifts remains pretty much the same: Gift cards, clothing, electronics, CDs, DVDs, video games, and books have topped wish lists for the 10th year in a row, according to the National Retail Federation.

And, of course, budget-conscious … (read more)

Holiday shopping? Don’t forget that extra cash back

Holiday shopping? Don’t forget that extra cash back

When you’re using your credit card to buy holiday gifts, it’s easy to forget those cash-back bonuses that some card issuers offer.

Extra cash on rotating categories. Some bank-issued credit cards offer extra cash back of five percent or so on merchant categories that change every three months. So your card may give you additional cash when you shop at electronics and drug stores during one quarter and at home improvement centers and discount stores the next.

For instance, from … (read more)

Cooking do’s and don’ts for your holiday feast

Cooking do’s and don’ts for your holiday feast

Ham, turkey, duck, beef, and pork roasts are all a beloved part of many holiday meals. But because a lot of us only cook these once or twice a year, we run a higher risk of preparation and cooking goof-ups that can compromise taste at best—and at worst make people sick. Don’t want your guests to join the one in six people who get food poisoning each year in the U.S.? Use this guide to selecting, storing, cooking, and serving those … (read more)