BubbleLife Staff
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At this time of year, most of us come home to doorsteps piled with Amazon boxes and other miscellaneous holiday deliveries. The U.S. Postal Service estimates that it will deliver roughly 850 million packages between Thanksgiving and the end of the holidays. That's 15 percent of the year's entire package deliveries. Yikes. 

Unfortunately, the convenience of online shopping comes with an invisible price; it's harmful to the environment. Those large delivery trucks make up a hefty percentage of transportation emissions, and the more trucks are heading into neighborhoods and spread-out houses, the worse the environmental impact becomes. 

So, how can you lessen the blow to the environment this holiday season? Use these shopping tips while hunting for the perfect gifts online.

1. Plan your orders strategically. Instead of placing five different orders, try to combine as many items as possible to lessen the number of deliveries made to your house. It's a small effort, but if everyone did this more often, we could cut down on carbon emissions substantially. 

2. Stop automatically selecting the fastest shipping option. As tempting as it is to select two-day delivery every time you place an order, try to pick a longer delivery option if you're not in a rush. Even free expedited shipping takes an extra toll on the environment, so embrace patience and wait a bit longer for your packages when possible. 

3. Have items delivered to stores for pick-up. One of the main reasons online shopping is harming the environment is that packages are going to so many different locations all the time. By consolidating delivery sites and picking your items up at the store, you can help the environment suffer less this holiday season. 

How are you helping the environment this season? Do you shop online for most of your gifts? Let us know in the comment section! 

BubbleLife Staff
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For the second year in a row, runners will gather in Clinton to celebrate the Annual Reindeer Run. For $30, adults can register to participate in the race at 10:00 AM on December 1. You'll receive a long-sleeved racing t-shirt, as well as access to one free beer, live music, a photo booth and more. Plus, there will be prizes for the top male and female runners in several age categories. 

The proceeds from this race go towards WHEAT Community Connections, an organization that helps support struggling families throughout Berlin, Bolton, Clinton, Lancaster and Sterling. To register yourself (or a racer under 14 for $25), visit

Where: Break Away Billiards, 104 Sterling Street, Clinton, MA 01510
When: Saturday, December 1 from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM

BubbleLife Staff
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There's no better way to ring in the holiday season than by donning a pair of ice skates and finding a rink to glide around with friends. Here in the Boston area, we have a handful of ice-skating rinks that will make your Christmas daydreams come to life. 

1. The Boston Common Frog Pond

This skating rink is as pretty as it is fun. Practice your moves under snow-covered trees and enjoy exploring the oldest public park in the United States. In fact, this skating rink was named the best outdoor skating rink the entire country! Admission prices are based on height; 58 inches and over is $6, under is free. Skate rentals are $12 for adults and $6 for children. 

2. MarketStreet Lynnfield 

Whether you just want to skate for an hour or you're hoping to plan a birthday party on the ice, the Marketstreet Lynnfield Rink is an excellent option. Admission is $8 for adults and $6 for children under 12. Skate rentals are $4 per person. After you're done shopping, enjoy more than 80 shops and restaurants located right outside the rink. 

3. DCR Kelly Outdoor Rink 

If you want to ice skate in the brisk winter air, this rink is a great choice. Public skating doesn't begin until December 16, but that gives you plenty of time to round up a group of people and plan a fun day of skating. Skate rentals are just $2 for kids and $3 for adults. 

4. Simoni Skating Rink 

It'll only cost you $12 to skate at this popular rink ($6 for skates and $6 for admission). You can mess around on the ice without an instructor, or you can sign up for figure skating lessons to learn something new. 

5. Community Ice Skating at Kendall Square

Once you're done strutting your stuff on this rink, pick up a hot drink from the concession stand and enjoy watching other skaters. On December 15, the rink will host its 13th Annual Holiday on Ice celebration with free admission for everyone, plus a skating show at 2 PM. 

Where do you like to ice skate in the Boston area? Tell us about your favorite rinks in the comments below! 

BubbleLife Staff
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Starting this Friday, you can bring the whole family to the Stone Zoo in Boston to stroll through thousands of twinkling holiday lights. While you're at it, visit various animal exhibits, many of which have been decorated to fit the season. There will also be opportunities to greet animals up close, drink hot chocolate, take pictures with Santa Claus and even take a moonlight spin on the carousel. 

ZooLights occurs from 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM daily, and on certain dates, the zoo stays open until 10:00 PM to allow for an extra hour of holiday cheer. 

The event will take place from November 23 until December 31. Be sure to grab your tickets ahead of time. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $8 for children. Kids under the age of two get in for free.

BubbleLife Staff
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Although we want to give Thanksgiving its due respect before rushing into the Christmas season, we can't help but get excited to celebrate here in Boston. Over the next few weeks, several special tree-lighting events will take place across the city. Here are some of the best ones to attend. 

Macy's Christmas Tree Lighting - November 23 

Starting at 2 PM, families can head to the Macy's children's department to pose for pictures with Santa. Then, everyone can check out the other kid-friendly activities until the holiday window displays are revealed and the tree is lit at 5 PM. 

Copley Square Tree Lighting - November 26 

With live music and entertainment, Copley Square is the place to be the Monday after Thanksgiving. Enjoy some free refreshments, then watch as Santa Claus and Rudolph help with the lighting. 

Faneuil Hall Holiday Tree Lighting Spectacular
- November 27 

If you want to see a big tree, and by big we mean 60 feet tall, then head over to Faneuil Hall for a live-broadcasted Christmas tree lighting at 7:30 PM. There will be a light show choreographed to all your favorite Christmas tunes, and the repeated show will continue every day until January 1. 

Frog Pond Skating Spectacular/Boston Common Tree Lighting
- November 29 

Not only can you watch the giant tree light up for the 77th year in a row, but you can also enjoy a free skating show at 5 PM. National and international skaters will put on a display of talent, then Mayor Walsh will help with the traditional tree lighting. 

Light Up Seaport - November 30 

At 6 PM on the waterfront, the Seaport Common will host live music, food from local restaurants, fun giveaways and a special Christmas tree lighting. This is the third year in a row Seaport has put on the event, and guests keep coming back from the family fun. 

Are you attending any of these tree-lighting events? Let us know which ones in the comments below! 

BubbleLife Staff
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If you haven't already picked up one of Apple's newest cell phones, you're probably itching to find a good deal on Black Friday. Fortunately, there are a couple of ways you can grab a new iPhone without paying full price. Here are the best Black Friday Deals for iPhones in 2018. 

TargetWhen you buy an iPhone XS or XS Max, then activate it through Verizon, Sprint or AT&T at Target, you'll get a $250 Target gift card. Similarly, if you buy an iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X, you'll get a $150 gift card. 

WalmartPurchasing an iPhone XS, XS Max or XR at Walmart will get you a $300 Walmart gift card, to be spent in stores only. If you get an iPhone 8, 8 Plus or X, you'll get a $400 gift card. You can also grab an iPhone 6 for just $150 on Straight Talk or Total Wireless, or an iPhone 6s Plus for $299 on Straight Talk. 

Best BuyA new iPhone X comes with up to a $200 discount when activated on Verizon, AT&T or Sprint. An iPhone 7, XR, XS or XS Max comes with up to a $150 discount. 

VerizonYou can buy a new iPhone (on a new line of service) and get a free iPhone XR with your purchase, or you can open a new line of service and get $750 off the iPhone X, XS or XS Max. 

Are you getting a new iPhone the day after Thanksgiving? If so, where are you planning to go to snag a good deal? 

BubbleLife Staff
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According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, reports from doctors' offices, school health services and community health centers indicate that influenza activity is low and consistent with levels we normally see around this time of year. After last year's horrible flu season, which was the worst since 2009, we're all hoping that this influenza season is mild in comparison. 

However, a recent report from the Massachusetts Public Health Blog states that we're still early in the flu season and that rates are expected to rise over the next few months. It's not too late to get your vaccine and lower your chances of going to the doctor with the flu by 40 to 60 percent. If you need to find a flu vaccine provider near you, use this link to search for one in your zip code. 

We're approaching the holiday season when more people are traveling and gathering in large groups than usual, so it's a good idea to get vaccinated before then. To learn more about this year's flu season and how it's affecting Massachusetts, visit

BubbleLife Staff
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Need to clear some space in your home before St. Nick makes his next appearance in December? Here are a handful of toy drives and donation centers that will gladly accept your children's unwanted playthings. Perhaps they'll make some other family happy after they leave your home. 

Cradles to CrayonsThis organization takes newly-near children's items and gives them to low-income families in need throughout the community. They have donation drop-off sites scattered throughout the area, and they'll take anything from warm outfits for kids to the toys you no longer want. 

Walker Wishes Holiday Toy Drive. This drive benefits children ages 3 to 14 through community-based programs and donations. If you drop toys off by December 11, they'll make sure the items go to children in need. Keep in mind that donations are by appointment only. 

Big Wishes Gift Drive by The Home for Little Wanderers. You can take gently-used items to The Thrift Shop of Boston. All of the proceeds from the shop go towards The Home's initiatives to care for children and families who are struggling to make ends meet. 

Room to Grow
They hope to offer resources to parents in need with young babies, and they'll accept toys and other necessities if they're in good condition. You can view their donation hours on their website. 

Know of other local places that will accept your used toys? Leave suggestions in the comments below!

BubbleLife Staff
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As a community-driven publication, BubbleLife welcomes free submissions from all users so that we can cultivate a hyperlocal newsletter that truly reflects the Boston area. Right now, we want to hear about all of your holiday parties, Christmas markets, Thanksgiving drives, school events and more! 

You can share your upcoming seasonal activities as articles, calendar events or classified ads that will be distributed to readers throughout the local area.

If you've never contributed to BubbleLife before, you can follow these easy instructions or visit our help page

1. Find your community here and visit the homepage of your city. 
2. Click on the yellow righthand button that reads "Share News, Events & Classifieds." 
3. Create a BubbleLife account or log into yours if you already have one. 
4. Fill out your form (article, event or classified ad) and click "submit." 

We look forward to finding out more about the events happening in our community. Thanks for using BubbleLife! 

BubbleLife Staff
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According to a recent article by the CBS Boston, more than 2 million middle and high school students were using e-cigarettes in 2017, and that number only seems to have escalated. Some are even referring to the popularity of vaping among young people as an "epidemic." 

One of the major problems is that teens don't recognize the dangers of e-cigarettes. They know they're a less harmful alternative to smoking real cigarettes, so they write off the health concerns that hide behind the flavorful smoke. 

However, what e-cig users should know is that: 

1. Although you're ingesting less nicotine than you would by smoking a regular cigarette, you're still putting poison in your body. Nicotine has been proven to have negative effects on reproductive health, as well as the still-developing brains of young people. Plus, it can contribute to respiratory problems and aggravate heart conditions.  

2. Nicotine isn't the only ingredient in an e-cig. The products also contain Propylene glycol and glycerin, which can irritate your eyes and airways. They're also both labeled as carcinogens, meaning they could potentially contribute to the development of cancer, although not enough research has been conducted to prove this theory. 

3. Vaping still produces secondhand smoke. 
Many like to argue that e-cigs are better than cigarettes because they don't expose others to the negative effects, but in reality, a study has found that vaping still negatively impacts indoor air quality

4. You will start to experience withdrawals. 
Just because vaping isn't as dangerous as smoking cigarettes doesn't mean you'll escape with no addictive symptoms. Most people experience high blood pressure, spikes in their adrenaline, and of course, withdrawal symptoms when they go too long without a hit. 

5. Vaping e-cigarettes significantly increases your chance of smoking real cigarettes later on. 
Because e-cigs contain nicotine, and it's an addictive substance, research has revealed that people who start to vape are more likely to pick up traditional cigarettes or other nicotine products later. 

Have you talked to your teens about vaping? If so, how?