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What Investors Can Be Thankful About

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

As the central bank starts tightening, some positives & negatives may emerge.

shutterstock_211302310Economists widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month. Additional incremental rate hikes may follow in 2016. If you are retired (or soon will be), you will want to consider what gradually higher interest rates could mean for you financially.

Some of the effects are already being felt. Glancing at Freddie Mac’s weekly surveys, average interest rates for fixed-rate home loans climbed about 0.2% between October 8 and December 10 on assumptions of the federal funds rate rising. (Bond market behavior influences these rates as much as the yield on the 10-year Treasury.) Interest rates on other types of home loans increased less in that interval, but any upward move by the Fed could quickly send them north.1

As the price of money rises, it will cost more to use a credit card. When the federal funds rate rises, credit card issuers quickly adjust their interest rates upward. Retirees who routinely pay down the whole balance on their cards every month will be less impacted than those who let outstanding balances linger.2

Yields on fixed-rate investments are poised to improve. Risk-averse retirees may finally start to see appreciable rewards on such vehicles with a higher federal funds rate, especially if the Fed makes two or three more upward moves in 2016.

Retirees may see a great chance to exploit a laddered approach with fixed-income investments. By spreading their money over a few such investments with overlapping maturity dates, they can take advantage of the resulting liquidity and flexibility and reinvest money at the end of a maturity term into a subsequent fixed-income vehicle with a higher interest rate.

Long-term bond values are poised to fall. This is a basic outcome of a rising interest rate environment, and warnings about major oncoming losses in the bond market have been sounded for years. Retirees with an eye on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index can take heart in the knowledge that historically, deteriorations in bond prices have been more than offset by the Index’s increases in yield.3

Bond yields, on the other hand, are poised to rise. Total returns on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index have indeed diminished this year, although they are not yet in the red. In 2014, the index’s total return was 5.97%; as of December 9, it was 0.95% YTD. That could improve in the near term, for the index will be adding newer bonds over time with presumably higher yields to replace maturing bonds, thereby improving the average yield of the overall index.3,4

How will Wall Street react? One school of thought believes that higher rates will amount to a powerful headwind; another says the market has largely priced a December rate hike in, and will handle successive adjustments calmly. Opinions of equity strategists and fund managers meeting for USA TODAY’s December roundtable varied greatly – some saw the S&P 500 making no progress at all in 2016, others felt that a double-digit advance could happen.5

Bearish analysts note two factors that may slow the bulls to a trot. Rising borrowing costs for public companies could cut into their profits and thereby hurt their share prices, and if Treasury yields grow more attractive, appetite for risk might lessen. Bullish analysts are countering with the opinion that rising rates go hand in hand with an improving economy, one characterized by better cash flows, higher revenues, and higher corporate profits. As long as the Fed refrains from tightening too abruptly, they argue, 2016 could be a good year on Wall Street.2,5,6

A federal funds increase may affect retirees in other ways. Those retirees who are paying off private student loans (either those of their children, or their own) will contend with higher interest rates on those loans, as those rates ride on movements in the prime rate. The same goes for auto loans and other forms of short-term consumer borrowing.2

They may also affect your community, the goods and services going into and out of it, and your travel plans. Retirees that invest conservatively with a large cash position may have more money to spend, translating to an economic bump in retiree-heavy towns and regions. Imports to the U.S. will become cheaper. Also, retirees may find overseas travel less costly in the near future. Once Treasuries yield more, more foreign investment dollars will start to pour into the U.S.; that makes for a stronger dollar, to the benefit of Americans vacationing abroad.2,6

So, there are upsides & downsides to higher interest rates for retirees. One thing is for certain: interest rates cannot stay at historic lows forever. When the Fed adjusts them upward, investors and economists across the world will react – and then move on.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html [12/10/15]
2 – thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/09/10-Ways-Fed-s-Looming-Rate-Hike-Touches-You [11/9/15]
3 – marketwatch.com/story/how-your-bond-portfolio-can-survive-higher-rates-2015-04-23 [4/23/15]
4 – news.morningstar.com/index/indexReturn.html [12/10/15]
5 – usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2015/12/05/all-nothing-2016-top-stock-pros-say/76802904/ [12/5/15]
6 – theconversation.com/fed-interest-rate-hike-may-have-less-of-an-impact-than-you-think-51970 [12/9/15]

Me and My Car

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News
Buying a car can be one of the most exciting decisions you will ever make and one of the most confusing. How do you decide whether to buy a new or used car or whether you should purchase or lease it? Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each option to decide what is best for you.

Should I Buy New or Used?

Some people buy used cars all of their lives and others prefer to buy new. It’s an individual choice based upon many factors. Below are some of the pros and cons of buying a new or buying a used car.

Screenshot_2

If you’ve decided on a new car, research your car choices, research your car prices and get pre-approved for a loan. If you are leaning towards a used car remember to research your car choices, get pre-approved for a loan, test drive the cars and negotiate the price.

Should I Buy or Lease the Car?

Another important decision is whether to buy or lease your vehicle. You might consider leasing a car instead of buying it with a loan. While buying a car makes you the owner, leasing is a way of obtaining a car for a set period of time without owning it.

Some of the considerations you should look at when deciding whether to buy or lease a car follow:

Screenshot_1

How Could a Fed Rate Hike Affect Retirees?

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

As the central bank starts tightening, some positives & negatives may emerge.

shutterstock_313530245Economists widely expect the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this month. Additional incremental rate hikes may follow in 2016. If you are retired (or soon will be), you will want to consider what gradually higher interest rates could mean for you financially.

Some of the effects are already being felt. Glancing at Freddie Mac’s weekly surveys, average interest rates for fixed-rate home loans climbed about 0.2% between October 8 and December 10 on assumptions of the federal funds rate rising. (Bond market behavior influences these rates as much as the yield on the 10-year Treasury.) Interest rates on other types of home loans increased less in that interval, but any upward move by the Fed could quickly send them north.1

As the price of money rises, it will cost more to use a credit card. When the federal funds rate rises, credit card issuers quickly adjust their interest rates upward. Retirees who routinely pay down the whole balance on their cards every month will be less impacted than those who let outstanding balances linger.2

Yields on fixed-rate investments are poised to improve. Risk-averse retirees may finally start to see appreciable rewards on such vehicles with a higher federal funds rate, especially if the Fed makes two or three more upward moves in 2016.

Retirees may see a great chance to exploit a laddered approach with fixed-income investments. By spreading their money over a few such investments with overlapping maturity dates, they can take advantage of the resulting liquidity and flexibility and reinvest money at the end of a maturity term into a subsequent fixed-income vehicle with a higher interest rate.

Long-term bond values are poised to fall. This is a basic outcome of a rising interest rate environment, and warnings about major oncoming losses in the bond market have been sounded for years. Retirees with an eye on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index can take heart in the knowledge that historically, deteriorations in bond prices have been more than offset by the Index’s increases in yield.3

Bond yields, on the other hand, are poised to rise. Total returns on the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index have indeed diminished this year, although they are not yet in the red. In 2014, the index’s total return was 5.97%; as of December 9, it was 0.95% YTD. That could improve in the near term, for the index will be adding newer bonds over time with presumably higher yields to replace maturing bonds, thereby improving the average yield of the overall index.3,4

How will Wall Street react? One school of thought believes that higher rates will amount to a powerful headwind; another says the market has largely priced a December rate hike in, and will handle successive adjustments calmly. Opinions of equity strategists and fund managers meeting for USA TODAY’s December roundtable varied greatly – some saw the S&P 500 making no progress at all in 2016, others felt that a double-digit advance could happen.5

Bearish analysts note two factors that may slow the bulls to a trot. Rising borrowing costs for public companies could cut into their profits and thereby hurt their share prices, and if Treasury yields grow more attractive, appetite for risk might lessen. Bullish analysts are countering with the opinion that rising rates go hand in hand with an improving economy, one characterized by better cash flows, higher revenues, and higher corporate profits. As long as the Fed refrains from tightening too abruptly, they argue, 2016 could be a good year on Wall Street.2,5,6

A federal funds increase may affect retirees in other ways. Those retirees who are paying off private student loans (either those of their children, or their own) will contend with higher interest rates on those loans, as those rates ride on movements in the prime rate. The same goes for auto loans and other forms of short-term consumer borrowing.2

They may also affect your community, the goods and services going into and out of it, and your travel plans. Retirees that invest conservatively with a large cash position may have more money to spend, translating to an economic bump in retiree-heavy towns and regions. Imports to the U.S. will become cheaper. Also, retirees may find overseas travel less costly in the near future. Once Treasuries yield more, more foreign investment dollars will start to pour into the U.S.; that makes for a stronger dollar, to the benefit of Americans vacationing abroad.2,6

So, there are upsides & downsides to higher interest rates for retirees. One thing is for certain: interest rates cannot stay at historic lows forever. When the Fed adjusts them upward, investors and economists across the world will react – and then move on.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – freddiemac.com/pmms/archive.html [12/10/15]
2 – thefiscaltimes.com/2015/11/09/10-Ways-Fed-s-Looming-Rate-Hike-Touches-You [11/9/15]
3 – marketwatch.com/story/how-your-bond-portfolio-can-survive-higher-rates-2015-04-23 [4/23/15]
4 – news.morningstar.com/index/indexReturn.html [12/10/15]
5 – usatoday.com/story/money/markets/2015/12/05/all-nothing-2016-top-stock-pros-say/76802904/ [12/5/15]
6 – theconversation.com/fed-interest-rate-hike-may-have-less-of-an-impact-than-you-think-51970 [12/9/15]

Did You Hear What Just Happened With Social Security?

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Financial News

Congress just eliminated two popular strategies used to get greater retirement benefits.

shutterstock_164838758If you want to claim Social Security benefits soon, keep a date & a number in mind. The date is April 30, 2016. The number is 62.

Recent changes to the Social Security benefit rules have made that date and that number very important, especially for those about to retire.

In October, Congress passed a new federal budget. In doing so, it shut down the file-and-suspend and restricted application claiming strategies for Social Security, which married couples used to try and maximize their combined retirement benefits.1

Broadly speaking, the point of both strategies was to generate spousal Social Security benefits for a couple while they suspended their own, individual benefits (thereby allowing those individual benefits to grow by roughly 8% per year from age 62-70 until claimed).1

After April 30, 2016, the door will shut on the file-and-suspend strategy. The strategy worked like this: when one spouse reached Social Security’s Full Retirement Age (66), that spouse claimed Social Security but then immediately suspended their retirement benefits. The other spouse could then claim a spousal benefit while their deferred, individual Social Security benefit grew 8% annually.2

You may still be able to use the file-and-suspend strategy before the door closes. Are you married? Are you 66 or older right now, or will you be 66 years old by April 30, 2016? If your answer is “yes” to both those questions, then you and your spouse still have a chance to use the strategy. That chance disappears forever on May 1. (It may be risky to wait until April, when the Social Security Administration may have a backlog of applications on its hands.)2

If you are still eligible to file-and-suspend and you miss the April 30 deadline, you could end up leaving anywhere from $10,000-60,000 in lifetime Social Security income on the table.1

One asterisk to all this: the file-and-suspend strategy will still be permitted for individuals. A person can still file for Social Security benefits and voluntarily suspend them, with his or her deferred, individual Social Security benefit increasing by about 8% a year until age 70.3

Why is the number 62 now so important? Starting in 2016, someone turning 62 will no longer be able to file a restricted application for only spousal benefits. In other words, the door is closing on the restricted application claiming strategy.1

That strategy worked as follows: between age 66 and age 70, one spouse would file a restricted application to claim spousal Social Security benefits while deferring their individual benefits until age 70. At 70, they switched from the spousal benefit to their own larger Social Security benefit.2

In 2016 and future years, spouses newly eligible for Social Security will be given a simple and irrevocable choice. They can take either their spousal benefit or their own benefit, whichever is larger. They will not be able to defer their own benefit until age 70 and then switch out of their spousal benefit at that time to their own, larger benefit.2

The good news? If you are 62 or older by the end of 2015, you can still file a restricted application for only spousal benefits. That could be a smart move if your spouse will be getting Social Security when you hit full retirement age (FRA) and you file for your spousal benefits on their earnings history.2

One other option is also going away. Under the new Social Security regulations, a Social Security beneficiary cannot file for benefits, suspend them for X years, and then retroactively request the suspended benefits as a lump sum payout years later. For example, if you file for Social Security at age 63, suspend benefits and then elect to receive your benefits at age 66, you will simply start getting the monthly Social Security income you deserve at age 66. No lump sum of deferred Social Security income will be waiting for you.2

If you are peeved by all this, you are not alone. Many baby boomers viewed the file-and-suspend and restricted application strategies as techniques they could use in the near future to arrange greater retirement income. Congress simply saw loopholes that needed closing.

Does waiting to claim Social Security until age 66 or 67 still make sense? For many couples – particularly those in good health – it still does. While the sun is setting on the chance to receive some spousal benefits while you wait, the basic math of Social Security remains the same. The longer you wait to file for benefits, the larger your monthly individual benefits will be, up until age 70.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – nytimes.com/2015/12/05/your-money/the-end-of-social-security-loopholes-what-now.html [12/5/15}
2 – money.usnews.com/money/retirement/articles/2015/12/04/say-goodbye-to-the-social-security-file-and-suspend-strategy [12/4/15]
3 – marketwatch.com/story/key-social-security-strategies-hit-by-budget-deal-2015-10-30 [11/2/15]

December, 2015 – Montly Economic Update

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Monthly Economic Update

December2015-Montly_Economic_Update

100 Inspiring New Year’s Resolutions

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
If you’re in a resolution rut (“Eat healthy!” “Go to the gym!), we have plenty for you to choose from.

shutterstock_2905691931. Take up yoga.
2. Assign your kids regular chores, and make them follow through!
3. Read for pleasure.
4. Walk a little slower and take in your surroundings.
5. Smile to at least one person every day.
6. Opt for the stairs a few times every week.
7. Shut off Netflix by 11PM.
8. Take up a new hobby.
9. Cook dinner more often.
10. Stop pressing “snooze.”
11. Do one new thing every single week. It doesn’t have to be major.
12. Get out of your comfort zone and explore more.
13. Make the iPad the exception, not the habit, for nighttime entertainment.
14. Make a meal for any friend or neighbor when they’re sick or stuck at home.
15. Give more away—even if it’s something you want for yourself.
16. Keep teaching your kids to have gratitude, and lead by example.
17. Practice an instrument more (or take up a new one).
18. Stop using your phone as a crutch. People-watch, instead.
19. Be more of a team player.
20. Live more minimalistically.
21. Try your best to stay in the moment and enjoy that sweet (but potentially stressful) hour between arriving home from work and putting the baby to sleep.
22. Step up your morning game. Wake up early enough to have a leisurely breakfast and enjoy a cup of coffee.
23. Post more unfiltered and realistic images on your social feeds.
24. Say “no” sometimes.
25. Finally donate unworn clothing to people who could use it.
26. Learn how to cook more of your favorite foods—no more take-out!
27. Become a smart grocery shopper (we’re talking lists and pantry inventory before you go).
28. Run a few miles every day.
29. Plan to visit extended family regularly.
30. Take fewer cars and cabs. Use your legs.
31. Spend one-on-one quality time with your friends every single week.
32. Talk to people on the phone more often.
33. Stop tying your 7-year-old’s shoes. They must tie themselves!
34. Go to the movies alone, or go to a restaurant alone, just to prove you can handle the “me time.”
35. Plan at least one weekend day-trip every month.
36. Have “date night” at least once a week.
37. Go on a blind date.
38. Get those piles of photos into scrapbooks.
39. Save money and make coffee at home.
40. Start using SPF every single day. Even in the winter.
41. Be less argumentative.
42. Strive to stand up for yourself more often.
43. Tackle three DIY projects you’ve pinned in the last three months.
44. Meditate for five minutes every day.
45. Opt for tea instead of coffee.
46. Stop drinking soda.
47. Make an effort to respond to emails quickly so they don’t fall through the cracks.
48. Learn how to make basic, easy things you normally buy, because homemade tastes better—and it’s better for you! Start with hummus, guacamole, marinara sauce, or a great vinaigrette dressing.
49. Stop beating yourself up over mistakes. Learn from them, and move on.
50. Resolve to work ahead. Buy birthday presents earlier, fill out school forms the day they arrive, and stop waiting until the last second.
51. Keep healthy snacks in the refrigerator consistently, not just every so often.
52. Read all of the books collecting dust on your bookshelves that you haven’t gotten around to.
53. Write more letters. Bring back snail mail.
54. Write down one thing you are thankful for every single day.
55. Organize all of your “junk drawers.”
56. Take art classes.
57. Get an extra hour of sleep every night.
58. Memorize all of the important phone numbers in your life.
59. Get a new stamp in your passport.
60. Keep your phone away from the dinner table.
61. Make vacation days count—that means no email!
62. Gather up family recipes and make a book.
63. Eat fresh fruit once a day.
64. Get all of your home videos transferred to DVDs you can watch from the couch.
65. Take an improv class.
66. Start a book club.
67. Clean out your garage.
68. Bake from scratch more often.
69. Try a bold haircut (it grows back!).
70. Deep-clean your bathroom.
71. Cut back on sugar.
72. Redecorate your cubicle.
73. Go after the job you want—or go after what you want at your current job.
74. Find a way to give back to your community.
75. DIY a home office.
76. Make a new friend.
77. Stay up-to-date on world news.
78. Start (and finish) a 1,000-piece puzzle.
79. Write a short story.
80. Cook a four-course meal (just to say you did!).
81. Take a wine tasting course.
82. Bike to work.
83. Make your bed five out of seven days every week.
84. Avoid the cafeteria, and pack your lunch instead.
85. Stop gossiping.
86. Get up and walk around more.
87. Plan more surprise visits to your family.
88. Clean out your Facebook friend list.
89. Send thank-you notes the minute you open the present.
90. Complain less.
91. Create a standing desk at work.
92. Indulge in something for yourself once a month.
93. Call instead of text.
94. Allow yourself five minutes to dwell on a mistake, then move on.
95. Redecorate a room in your home.
96. Create a calendar of friends’ birthdays and big events so you never miss anything.
97. Turn off your phone for one hour every weekend.
98. Be diligent about drinking water every day.
99. Develop a monthly budget, and stick to it.
100. Drink more hot chocolate.

Source: realsimple.com

Tips for controlling Christmas spending

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle

Betty Ann Falkner stopped by FOX8 Wednesday for this week’s Mommy Matters to talk about how to control Christmas spending.

9 Hotels that go all-out for Christmas

December 15th, 2015 | No Comments | Posted in Lifestyle
Twinkling lights, glitter and gourmet menus galore — without a single dish to wash or tree to trim.

Spending Christmas at a hotel does hold a certain allure.

Whether you stay for a week or drop in for tea, these properties go to great lengths to offer something special for the holidays.

Hotel Sacher, Vienna, Austria

151125135942-christmas-hotels-hotel-sacher-vienna-exlarge-169There are few holiday destinations more charming than Austria. Christmas markets, classical concerts and — with any luck — a blanket of snow; it just doesn’t get much more festive.

Vienna’s Hotel Sacher is offering a three-night holiday package for two from December 22-27, starting from about $2,270.

The package includes breakfast, a famous Sacher-Torte dessert service, a four-course Christmas Eve dinner, a chocolate spa treatment and a Sacher-Torte to take home.

On Christmas Day, three-, four- and five-course menus are available from midday. Three-course meals start at about $120 with wine, coffee and taxes included. Brunch will also be served December 25 and 26.

For a taste of Vienna at home, the hotel ships its signature chocolate tortes, layered with an apricot jam filling, globally. sacher.com

Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, Scottsdale, Arizona

151124142424-christmas-hotels-fairmont-scottsdale-exlarge-169
A petting zoo, an ice-skating rink, a train, holiday characters, magical snowfalls and 2.8 million lights: It’s safe to say that the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess doesn’t believe in overdoing it.

The resort’s Christmas at the Princess festival runs through January 3 and is open to the public.

Free for hotel guests, the entrance/parking fee for non-guests is $30 for self-parking.

A “Magic Memories” holiday package, starting from $274 per night, includes accommodation, skating, a train ride and photos with Santa.

December room-only rates start at $199. scottsdaleprincess.com

The Ritz, London

151125132807-christmas-hotels-ritz-london-exlarge-169
The Ritz London is putting on exactly what you’d expect from the elegant property.

Gala dinners with dancing on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will be hosted in The Ritz Restaurant under its elaborate garland chandelier (about $465 for adults, $225 for children).

Traditional Christmas afternoon tea, with champagne, is available in the Palm Court until December 30 (about $105 for adults, $75 for children).

A Nordic pine tree grown in Scotland towers in the lobby, dressed in traditional red and gold.

Accommodation rates for Christmas week start around $720 for a superior king room. theritzlondon.com

Willard InterContinental, Washington

151125141119-willard-intercontinental-exlarge-169
In the United States’ capital, the elegant Willard InterContinental’s lobby Christmas tree is decked out with the entire line of White House Christmas ornaments.

Afternoon tea — with goat cheese on brioche and vanilla-cranberry scones — is served almost daily in December ($52 per person or $68 with champagne) in the hotel’s Peacock Alley. Reservations are recommended for tea and the hotel’s Christmas Day brunch (202-637-7350).

Local choral and vocal ensembles give free performances in the lobby from 5:30-7:30 p.m. nightly through December 23.

Right off the lobby, the historic Round Robin Bar will be serving up seasonal cocktails such as the Jingle Bell Julep and the Round Robin Hot Noggin Eggnog.

Room rates start at $199 per night from December 19 through December 30. washington.intercontinental.com

Free holiday musical performances are held in December at Washington’s Willard InterContinental.

Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris

151201164534-christmas-hotels-four-seasons-paris-exlarge-169
In Paris, a colony of dazzling reflective penguins and polar bears has moved into the Four Seasons Hotel George V. The mirrored creatures have taken up residence in the lobby and courtyard, and a penguin ice carving is on view between the bar and the opulent galerie.

At Le Cinq, the hotel’s three Michelin-starred restaurant, an elegant Christmas dinner featuring Gillardeau oysters, scallops in a fine mousse, Bresse farm hen, browned meringues and Christmas pudding — among other dishes — is available for about $550, excluding beverages.

Christmas dinner will also be served at Le George or La Galerie (about $340, excluding beverages).

Room rates start around $1,115 for Christmas week. fourseasons.com/paris/

The Plaza, New York

151124143131-christmas-hotels-the-plaza-exlarge-169
Christmas at The Plaza is a splurge. Just how big of a splurge depends on your wallet.

For a cool $35,000, you can stay in the three-bedroom Royal Plaza Suite (with deluxe kitchen) and have pretty much every Christmassy experience New York has to offer.

You’ve got your horse-drawn carriage ride through Central Park, your Rockefeller Center ice skating, your Radio City Christmas Spectacular, afternoon tea, champagne, stockings hung by the chimney with care, gifts, a four-course meal and so on.

Back from the realm of the 1%, there’s also a Radio City Christmas Spectacular package starting at $1,125 per night and room-only rates for Christmas week from $1,095.

For a little taste of the famed hotel, there are also several holiday afternoon tea offerings (PDF). fairmont.com/the-plaza-new-york

The Breakers, Palm Beach, Florida

151124144720-christmas-hotels-breakers-approach-exlarge-169
Founded by Standard Oil Co. magnate Henry Morrison Flagler, The Breakers Palm Beach carries its lavish traditions right through the holiday season.

The oceanfront Italian Renaissance-style resort dazzles with more than 160,000 sparkling lights. Holiday tea is available at HMF on select dates in December for $50 per person.

On Christmas Day, brunch will be served in The Circle, a stunning space featuring 30-foot frescoed ceilings and ocean views ($140 for adults and $50 for children). There’s also a Christmas dinner buffet in the Ponce de Leon ballroom ($140 for adults, $60 for children 11 and under).

Reservations are recommended for holiday dining (888-273-2537).

Available rooms this holiday season start at $1,100 per night. thebreakers.com

Waldorf Astoria, New York

151202133455-christmas-hotels-waldorf-astoria-exlarge-169
Filet mignon, lamb, prime rib and roast pheasant are all on the four-course Christmas Eve menu at the Waldorf Astoria’s Bull & Bear restaurant ($165 for adults, $75 for children).

On Christmas Day, those lucky enough to score reservations will be tucking into caviar, crab, lobster, made-to-order eggs Benedict and more during brunch in Peacock Alley ($175 for adults, $95 for children 12 and under).

Finding a table for brunch at the Waldorf on Christmas Day might be a stretch this year. Fortunately, a bountiful spread is available at the hotel every Sunday.

Rooms start at $239 during Christmas week. waldorfnewyork.com

The Roosevelt, New Orleans, Louisiana

151124143300-christmas-hotels-roosevelt-exlarge-169
The Roosevelt New Orleans’ annual Teddy Bear Tea comes with a commemorative stuffed animal for kids.

The event, complete with holiday characters and pictures with Santa for purchase, is held on Saturdays and Sundays in December and December 21-23. The tea is $45 for ages 3 to 10 and $65 for ages 11 and up.

On Christmas Day, a brunch with an array of offerings including a raw bar and a carving station will be served in the Waldorf Astoria Ballroom ($95 for adults, $89 for children), and later there’s a four-course Christmas dinner in the Fountain Lounge ($79 for adults, $75 for children).

The holiday Papa Noel rate starts at $209 for Christmas week. therooseveltneworleans.com

Source: www.cnn.com

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