The best way to make your guests feel welcome and relaxed at this time of year is to create an indoor setting that emphasizes cozy seating, laid-back ambience and interactive group experiences. This Home Update will help you to create a holiday home by applying some of the same principles that luxury hotels are famous for that encourages everyone to relax, gather, interact and have fun.
Hot Drinks: Welcoming your guests with cups of hot cider or mulled wine will let the know that right away this gathering is going to be relaxed and cozy.
Holiday Decorations: For added color, and to put your guests in a festive state of mind, decorate select interior walls, shelves and tables with a few Christmas ornaments, wreaths, pine cones and garlands. Choosing carefully and limiting this decor to just a few areas helps keep the look tasteful and relaxing.
A Roaring Fireplace: Nothing exudes warmth and ambiance like a live fire. Children and adults alike can’t resist gathering around a fireplace, especially during the holidays. If you don’t already have a fireplace, an attractive, remote-controlled, gas -fired unit can be affordably installed in most any exterior wall without the need for major remodeling.
Floor Pillows: Oversized pillows arranged on the floor create a more intimate and relaxed gathering space that’s perfect for gift opening and younger guests.
Blankets for All: Be sure there are more than enough blankets and throws for your guests. There’s something about being warmly snuggled beneath a blanket that makes a person more willing to share stories, listen to the tales of others, laugh more and linger longer.
Small Seating Arrangements: Arranging the seating for your guests into small clusters encourages them to have deeper conversations with each other and bounce between groups (two accomplishments that would make any host proud).
Candlelight: Flickering candles not only create a relaxing, romantic visual, but they can also be used to punctuate the air with pleasing scents. Candles in containers are the safest option, especially for areas you can’t monitor closely.
Background Music: One of the best ways to establish the mood for a gathering is with music. If you have the time and inclination, consider changing the genre, style and tempo of the music throughout the gathering to create variety and manage the energy level of your guests.
Games: Games bring people of all walks together and give them a reason to interact. Video games are always an option, but traditional board games and other group games allow more people to play at once and bring players face-to-face for a more memorable personal experience. Choose games that are easy to catch on to and don’t require a long time commitment.
Puzzles: While jigsaw puzzles may seem old-fashioned, adults and kids alike can easily get hooked once they’ve found success fitting a few pieces into place. Plus, the solo nature of puzzles can be a nice complement to group activities. Look for holiday- themed puzzles that aren’t too difficult, and get it started before guests arrive.
Books and Magazines: For long-term guests, you’ll want to have a selection of books and magazines available to keep them entertained. Make sure the magazines are recent and try to match the subject matter to your guests’ interests.
Include the Kitchen: At holiday time, the kitchen is usually the primary focal point for much of the action. So be sure to outfit it with candles, music and holiday decorations, as well.
As an added bonus, create a Holiday Beverage Station! You know you’re going to be serving drinks at the holidays, so make the process more fun and festive. Once you’ve established a festive drink station, you can redecorate it for any holiday. Offer guests a variety of festive items they can use to self-garnish their drinks, let everyone choose a drink charm to mark their glass, use a specialty tray to create fun-shaped ice cubes, weave garland around the edges of the station, decorate with ornaments and get to mixing!
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update
Safely Storing Your Holiday Décor
In this issue of Home Update we will discuss holiday decorations and how they are some of the most difficult things to store. Fragile, easily damaged, oddly shaped and typically stored for most of their life, they pose a considerable challenge to even the best organizer. However, once you know the secrets for safely tucking these joyful items away, the frustration of packing and unpacking them will disappear, and you can be confident your home will looks its best when it comes to put them on display again.
The trick to keeping holiday lights from tangling is to wrap them around something . For shorter strings, try wrapping them around a clothes hanger, an empty shipping tube, even a flat piece of cardboard. Then secure the ends so things don’t come unwound. For longer strings and bigger bulbs, use one of the many extension cord holders available at hardware and home-improvement stores.
FRAGILE TREE ORNAMENTS
By far the best way to store your Christmas tree ornaments is in a large plastic storage bin with two or three layers of divided spaces. There are a variety of these “ornament storage bins” available at retail. Or, you can make your own: Fill the bottom of a storage bin with plastic drinking cups, place an ornament or two in each cup, lay a sheet of cardboard on top of that layer, and add a new layer of cups and ornaments.
Many of us display nativity scenes, chimes, candle holders and more on our mantles at the holidays. Some of these items are even heirlooms. To keep them safe throughout the rest of the year, fill a storage bin one-quarter full of foam packing pellets and gently lay your maple displays to bed there. Then fill the bin halfway full, and lay down another layer of these fragile decorations. Leave that layer exposed (and add no more foam pellets), and you’ll find it far easier later to unearth all the different pieces without making a mess.
Store your candles in the refrigerator and you’ll find they last longer, maintain their color and scent, and even burn more slowly. A good alternative to refrigeration is to wrap each candle in cellophane (not plastic wrap) and store them in a cool, dry place.
If your wreath is shipped to you, save the box as a storage container. Otherwise, a hat box can be used safely to hold and protect two, if not three, wreaths. Another option, place the wreath in a plastic bag to keep it from getting dusty, then hang it in the attic, the basement, or the back of a closet.
THE NEED FOR MORE STORAGE SPACE
Many homeowners say they don’t have enough room to store their holiday decorations and other belongings. If that’s true for you, let’s talk. Maybe it’s time to consider a bigger home.
Source: Windermere Real Estate Home Update.