Cozy or Crammed? Tips and Tactics for Small-Space Holiday Decorating

Too many Christmas decorations and too little space?

Even the most gaily decorated cozy spaces can leave you feeling cluttered and tense during the holidays. But you can fill any room, no matter how small, with relaxing Christmas cheer if you follow three key common-sense design principles: height, light and compact size.

** Let there be height!

In your small room, tuck away the large lamps and any furniture you will not be using until after the holidays. Opt for diminutive lamps that you can place on a mantle, a high wall shelf or atop a china cabinet. This banishes the dark corners and ceiling shadows, and makes your room look taller and wider.

Plan a ceiling-high ornamentation to draw your visitors' eyes upward. String a lighted garland, swag-style, all around the room. Fill your top shelves with glittery collectibles, or drape them with tinsel to capture and reflect the room's natural light.

Feeling really adventurous? Hang a small tree upside-down from the ceiling and decorate it from the top down! It's an eye-catcher that frees up floor space and is sure to break the ice at any holiday gathering!

** Downsize and double up

In smaller rooms and homes, choose smaller-sized holiday decorations, and use them in threes, grouped by color or theme or design. Miniatures of all kinds – lightly beaded ornamental fruit, gilded globes, snow-splashed icicles – are a time-honored Christmas tradition!

Instead of pillar candles and tapers, opt for tea lights and votives, grouped in interesting displays – such as on an elegant little gilded mirror sprinkled with "snow" – for dramatic lighting effect.

Forego the wide, room-dominating Christmas tree and instead, choose a wispy, antique feather tree, made vibrant with an overall silver, cobalt and glass theme, from ornaments to tinsel!

And if one tree is good, why not three tabletop trees and miniature ornaments instead? Set off their tiny lights and reflective ornaments with a number of tiny gaily wrapped packages under each tree!

** Lighten up!

Light in any small place is good … reflective light to maximize the benefit is even better!

Banish the heavy, dark lampshades to storage for the season and use clear flame-shaped bulbs wherever you can to emit the maximum amount of light. Then enhance that light by decorating around it with reflective light:

* shimmering glass dishes filled with glass ornaments and tiny silver bells

* a silver three-tiered cake tray filled with a dozen glowing tea lights

* crystal wine glasses or punch cups glistening with silver and gold tinsel

* a set of three white taper candles on a plain vanity mirror, surrounded by half a dozen glittered pine cones

* a crystal punch bowl trimmed with tiny twinkle lights

* a brightly burned copper teapot set amidst a set of three golden votives.

Buy a big box of inexpensive plain glass or plastic globe ornaments and be creative with glitter, sequins and iridescent beads!

Compact does not have to mean crowd. With a little imagination, you can stretch your decorating dollar to make your small space look luminously larger!


Source by Kate Sheridan

Workout Success During the Holidays

Year after year it sees as the holiday season approaches the numbers on the scale rise as quickly as the temperatures fall. Who can blame us, with all the holiday food, parties, and mom's home cooking where the main ingredient is butter; its only natural to put on a few pounds. But, by using a system developed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine called FITTE, you'll be able to make this holiday season your fittest ever.

Frequency: this reiterates to the number of given training sessions in a timeframe that will help you reach your goal. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends frequent activity preferably every day of the week even if it's for 15-30 minutes at a time.

Intensity: returns to level of physical stress that your specific activity places on your body. The easiest way to measure this is to monitor your heart rate. The general rule of thumb is to keep your heart rate moderate, which will aid you in a moderate exercise routine, but will not be intense enough to cause exhaustion or breathlessness right away. An intensity of 60 to 90% of maximum heart rate is recommended for improved fitness levels.

Time: reiter to the length of time you will perform the activity. On average, 30 minutes of total activity is recommended each day. However, your 30 minutes could have achieved combination of activities totaling 30 minutes. (ie: 15 minutes on a rowing machine and 15 minutes on the treadmill). To improve your fitness levels a similar method of combining activity is recommended for 30 to 60 minutes.

Type: refer to the type of activity you choose. For general health requirements this could mean doing basic household chores, or for improved fitness levels this could be of the activities found at your gym (cardio machines, aerobics classes, and weight training) or playing sports. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it keeps you moving.

Enjoyment: returns to the fun you get from your activity. Enjoyment is the most overlooked piece when establishing a successful fitness program. If you do not like what you're doing, you will not force yourself to do it! Choose something that goes along with your personality and interests. You will be much more apt to continue a fitness regimen that is fun and challenging!

Source by Dave Quevedo

Dog Walking on Camber Sands Beach – For a Pet Friendly Holiday or Weekend

Why not make the most of your summer holiday or a long weekend break and get yourself and your "best friend" down to Camber Sands.

It is very dog ​​friendly and with plenty of great pubs and accommodation in the area its a great way to recharge the batteries.

The most popular area to walk your pet is on Camber sands is to the West of the beach and the best place to park is as you arrive into Camber from the Rye and Rye Golf Course end.

If you have a "Sat-Nav" entering the post code TN31 7RB will get you to the car park that best serves the dog walking areas / areas.

The current car parking rates (2012) at the District Council car parks are as follows: 8: 30-18: 00 –

£ 1.50 / hour

£ 4.00 / 2 hours

£ 7.00 / 4 hours

£ 9.00 / 6 hours

£ 11.00 / 8 hours

£ 13.00 / maximum

Car park stays open till 8pm … but then locked … you will not get out!

With plenty of dog bins and toilets the facilities are just about worth the cost … and remember PLEASE use the bins and Please pick your dogs deposits up!

In the summer, on a particularly sunny weekend, expect some queuing to get into Camber as long queues build up as cars wait to enter the main car parks close to the beach. The busiest times are around 10:00 … if you arrive before then you should not have too many issues.

If you are traveling to Camber in the summer (ending September), Rother Council introduced dog zones on the beach where you are allowed to walk your dog. When the tide is out, these areas stretch for miles and even with a full tide there is plenty of room as the sand dunes go inland at least 500 yards in parts and the shoreline stretches West for at least a mile.

When the 'dog zone' instructions were introduced all dogs had to be on a lead. This was policed ​​aggressively (for about six weeks) by dog ​​wardens (or should I say – mostly summer vacating college students with spots). However, this now seems to have been relaxed and as long as walkers are sensible and in the designated zones then you should not be bothered.

The direction you will automatically take will be West and if the tide is in why not walk to the end of the beach (Rye Harbor entry), turn right along the river towards the Harbor Masters office. You can then make your way back to the car park along the legal walkway through Rye Golf Course. The dog bins are limited in this area so take plenty of bags with you!

The round trip is about four miles in total … watch out for the golf balls and keep your dog on a lead!

Along with great dog walks Camber, Rye and Rye Bay has much more to offer than the glorious sandy beach and we really would recommend taking a longer break and visit the historical town of Rye, or Rye Harbor where there is the terrific Rye Harbor Nature Reserve with miles of tarmac and more dog walking opportunities. The Nature Reserve also has plenty of dog bins.

If you are after a room for the night, there are plenty of PET FRIENDLY hotels in the area that will allow you to make the most of your visit … so what are you waiting for … grab the leads and get down to Camber Sands and the Rye Bay area!

Source by Millie Pfen

What Matters Most This Holiday Season

We are quickly coasting into the holidays, a time of year that brings us joy and love and often feelings of stress, overwhelm, disappointment, and frustration. By planning ahead before the holiday rush begins, you and your family can experience the joy of the holidays and less of the stress and pressure.

Many parents and educators get cooked up in the rush to accomplish during the holidays. They want everything to be "perfect" based on their beliefs about what the people around them want and what they believe they should be doing. They lose their focus and feel overwhelmed by all the gifts to purchase and events to attend.

Sometimes people accept the chaos and frenzy of the holidays as inevitable and try to get through them the best way you can, as if they are an ordeal to survive. This is not the healthiest or most fun way to experience the holidays.

If you want your holidays to be more joy-filled, the most important thing to ask yourself is, "What matters most to me this holiday season? ' The two most important words in this question are the few words "to me." Not what matters most to your child or your parents or your partner or your friends.

Take a moment, right now, and think about this question. What does matter most to you this holiday season? What do you want to experience? If you have a pen and paper handy or your PDA, jot down some notes and ideas to answer this question.

If you've taken a few moments to write down your ideas, you've probably come up with some words like these – fun, joy, great loving times with my friends and family, calmness and contentment. Imagine what it would be like to have the kind of holidays you most desire!

When you look at these priorities, you'll discover that they are about the emotions you want to have this holiday season. They are how you want to feel and be, not what you want to do or have. Yet so often the holidays are about doing and having. We seem to believe these are the way to create the emotions we desire.

Somewhere in your list of priorities you may have included something about gifts you want to receive and gifts you want to give to others. Once again, if you look deeper, you will see that your desires about gifts are also ways to create the emotions you want for yourself and the people you love.

I find that our emotions are at the heart of what drives us as human beings. They are foundational to who you are, whether you are an adult or a young person. They drive your actions and those of your child, yet people seldom give their emotions much conscious attention.

When you do not pay attention to feelings, your own and other's, when you do not nurture your emotional connections with the people you love, this is when the holidays become stressful and not fun. Your lack of attention to emotions leads to hurt feelings, misunderstandings, and disappointment.

My secret for truly joyous holidays is to focus on the emotions you want to experience this holiday season. Then consciously make choices based on what will truly nurture you and your child's emotional wholeness this holiday season. Set your personal boundaries to take good care of yourself. Here are some questions to guide you.

What feelings do I most want to experience this holiday season?

What experiences will nurture my child's and my emotional wholeness this holiday season?

How can I lovingly respond to the demands and expectations of others that are not in alignment with what is best for me and my child?

© Connie Allen 2008

Source by Connie Allen

An Introduction to Travel in Langkawi – Malaysia's Most Popular Holiday Destination

Langkawi is located in the state of Kedah, and it is this green and tropical island that countless travelers to Malaysia flock to year after year. If Kuala Lumpur is famous for it's wonderful city atmosphere, shop-till-you-drop halls and a never-ending, vibrant nightlife … it's all very different in Langkawi which is known more for its stunning beaches, tropical rain forest and five star, laid back relaxation.

Visitors to Langkawi often come to be pampered, to laze amongst the many world class beaches the island offers and to enjoy the rich Malay food and hospitality that is synonymous with practically all the Langkawi hotel resorts. If you come here for a holiday, chances are you wont want to leave.

Because Langkawi is an island that is separate from Kuala Lumpur, most holiday makers to Langkawi tend to fly in, mostly from Kuala Lumpur. Aside from spectacular beaches and jungle (some of which brings together quite spectacularly), Langkawi is also known for being a duty free island. This means that if you're staying here, you'll be able to pick up a quite wonderful bargain or two on the cheap – in fact, if you're doing both Kuala Lumpur and Langkawi, you're well advised to do the bulk of your shopping in Langkawi as the same souvenir & craft products are available for upto 50% less.

There are a couple of towns that most tourists visit during their stay in Langkawi – Kuah (the island capital) and Pantai Cenang (a bustling town with tiny markets and stalled sprawling as far as the eye can see). Most facilities such as money changers and banks tend to be located in Kuah, although aside from the Golden Eagle there is not too much to interest the visitor to Malaysia here. Other than that, the remarkable beauty and nature is what draws the throngs of tourists to Langkawi year after year.

Top Ten Langkawi Experiences

– Stay at one of the glorious five star Malaysia hotel resorts such as the Andaman or the Datai and be treated like a celebrity.
– Catch some breath-taking scenery from the summit of the Langkawi Cable Car experience.
– Pamper yourself at one of the many five star spa experiences at one of the many stunning spa's located within the island.
– Study Malaysian life first hand as you stroll through the towns of Kuah and Pantai Cenang, watching the locals barter in the night markets and picking up a bargain or two for yourself.
– Stop off for a cocktail and a relaxing meal at Telaga Harbor Park.
– Enjoy an island hopping trip and experience the variety and culture of Malay life.
– Take a Mangrove Tour and immerse yourself inside ancient jungles and rivers – walk into the Cave Of Bats and Crocodile Cave.
– Watch the Crocodile Show and see these magnificent creative feeding.
– Check out some of the wonderful sea creatures to be found in South East Asia by visiting the Aquarium at Pantai Cenang.
– Laze at one of the many stunning beaches to be found anywhere in the world.

Whether you're a sophisticated traveler or you just want to backpack your way into paradise, you'll definitely find what you're looking for in Langkawi. It is the ultimate South East Asia experience.

Source by Tuks K Engineer

20 Reasons to Holiday in the Dominican Republic

In 2010 more than 4 million tourists and holidaymakers visited the Dominican Republic, the majority of which (54%) came from the USA and Canada. Whilst this may sound like an impressive number of visitors it pales in comparison to other island destinations around the world. The reason being, quite possibly, is that in the realms of travel advertising, people just do not hear about it. So for the uninitiated below is a list of 20 reasons to holiday in the Dominican republic.

1. The Weather!

As it is located in the Caribbean the climate of the Dominican Republic is mostly tropical. In the summer the temperatures peaks at around 32 ° C (90 ° F) and the average daily temperature is 25.8 ° C (78 ° F) with approximately 6.3 hours of sunlight every day.

2. It Has Great Beaches!

The Dominican Republic has nearly 1000 miles of coastline on its north, east and southern borders, a third of which is made up of some of the world's most beautiful beaches. Most of these beaches are pristine oases of brilliant white sand due to the high content of coral and shell, lined by tall shaded palm trees and offset by crystal clear waters. Not only do the beaches look beautiful and are great places to relax, the water temperature is also a constant 28-30 degrees Celsius almost throughout the year, which makes swimming an added pleasure.

3. It has Great Hotels and Resorts!

As well as a wide range of fantastic hotels the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean's undouted leader for all-inclusive resorts, with more than two dozen all-inclusive properties ranging from budget to luxury currently in operation. These resorts are based in breathtaking locations and offer world class facilities including Golf Resorts, Spas, Weddings and Water Sports.

4. The Food is Amazing!

The Dominican Republic has an excellent reputation for its varied and flavorsome food. Local cuisine is unique and delicious and as a culture Dominicans love to eat. Holidaymakers will find plenty of places to eat ranging from luxurious restaurants with gourmet menus to casual street cafes, all of which offer a mouth watering array of meals including Oriental, Mexican, Mediterranean, Italian and of course Creole food. You certainly will not go hungry!

5. It's a great place to bring the kids!

On top of the great weather, magnificent beaches, excellent range of accommodation and the awesome food, the Dominican Republic offers a wide range of fun activities for children. As well as a full range of water sports including surf boarding, kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing, diving and sailing, there are opportunities for horseback riding, go karting and mountain biking. In addition to this the Trampoline Museum, the Children's Library, the National Aquarium, the National Zoo, the National Botanical Gardens, the Waterslide Park and the Las Canquiñas Children's Park are sure to keep the little ones amused.

6. It's a fantastic place to get married!

Given its weather and breathtaking location the Dominican Republic is a fantastic place to get married. Many resorts offer complete wedding packages and dedicated co-ordinators who take the hassle out of organizing the wedding for you. The Dominican Republic is of course a fantastic place for a honeymoon and just think what those wedding pictures will look like, especially against the backdrop of a pristine white beach!

7. It is an excellent place for a golfing holiday!

If you love golf then you will love golfing in the Dominican Republic as it contains 28 world class courses designed by such legends of the game as Jack Nicklaus, Gary Player, Nick Faldo, Nick Price and Greg Norman. Nine of the country's golf courses are included in Golfweek Magazine's 2010 list of the top 50 courses in the Caribbean and Latin America. Not least because the breathtaking coastlines, lush green fairways and magnificent unspoilt views of nature make these courses an absolute joy to play on.

8. There's no better place for an Eco-Adventure!

The Dominican Republic has no less than nine distinct ecological zones. This natural diversity allows you to enjoy an extraordinarily diverse eco-adventure on one beautiful island. Containing the highest and lowest points above and below sea level in the Caribbean, the Dominican Republic entertains practically every form of nature. From luscious tropical rain forests to arid deserts, each area offers a wide range of very distinct activities. Places like Jarabacoa and Constanza provide opportunities for mountain climbing, hiking, horseback riding, and rafting, while Pedernales, Bahoruco, Bani, Azua and Barahona will reveal untouched beaches, geological formations, lagoons, deserts and dunes. At Cabarete and Samana, in the northeast coast near Puerto Plata you can experience deep dives, windsurfing, kite boarding, jeep safaris, waterfalls and even humpback whales. While all around the island you can marvel at more than 5000 different species of plant, 254 species of birds and 1,411 species of reptile, many of which are endangered or simply can not be found anywhere else in the world. If eco-adventure tourism is your bag, then the Dominican Republic is definitely for you.

9. You'll love the Water Sports!

Surrounded by warm waters and breathtaking views The Dominican Republic is a Mecca for water sports. Attracting regattas from around the world, such as the Rolex Farr 40 Pre-World Cup in April 2010 and the World Sailing Championship at the Casa de Campo marina, sailing is extremely popular. As well as hosting the Windsurfing World Cup, Cabarete Beach is also revered as the 'kiteboarding capital of the world' because its perfect combination of beaches, winds and waves creates the optimum conditions for the sport. Surfing of course is an extremely popular activity and there are 16 fantastic surfing sites located on the northern coast from Puerto Plata to Playa Grande and in Río San Juan, with classic or standard waves that reach over 4 meters during the months of December to March . Diving too is a major attraction and with 1000 miles of coastline housing coral reefs, caves, shipwrecks and brilliantly covered fish and fauna the Dominican Republic is also known as one of the best places to snorkel or dive in the whole of the Caribbean. If you love water sports, whether it be watching or participating, the Dominican Republic is somewhere you simply have to visit.

10. It has World Class Fishing!

The Dominican Republic is a world class destination for fishing. For years it has been a legendary destination for fishermen and has hosted several international bill fishing tournaments such as the Blue Marlin Fishing Tournament at Cabeza de Toro, the ESPN Billfish Xtreme Tournament at Punta Cana Resort & Club and the new International Billfish Shootout at Cap Cana Marina, the largest marina in the Caribbean. If you like to fish then the Dominican Republic is where it's at!

11. The National Parks are incredible!

The Dominican Republic has a beautiful topography; so much so that over 25 percent of the country has been protected in the form of National Parks, Reserves, and Marine Sanctuaries. These beautiful ecosystems are protected areas within a conservation plan that boasts 83 distinct areas, including 19 national parks, 15 natural reserves, six scientific reserves, 32 natural monuments, 2 marine sanctuaries and 9 areas of protected islands with panoramic views. Providing awe inspiring views of untouched landscapes and moments of peace and solitude the Dominican Republic's National Parks include everything from verdant mountains with bosky pine forests to pristine white-sand beaches and arid desert lands. If you love getting at one with nature the Dominican Republic is the place you must go.

12. The Nightlife is great!

If you like to party, the Dominican Republic will not disappoint as most bars and cafés throughout the country are open and serve alcoholic drinks until midnight on Sunday to Thursday and 2:00 am on Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays.

While most resorts offer a variety of musicals, shows, discos and performances every night if you really want to party then head to Santo Domingo! The Dominican Republic's capital is the hub of the country's nightlife. It enjoys arguably the greatest entertainment in the Caribbean, with a wide range of trendy and happening bars, discotheques, casinos and restaurants and has been touted by some as the Caribbean 'New York'.

13. The Spa's are mind blowing!

The Dominican Republic houses a number of world-class spas. Many are located in luxury 'all-inclusive' resorts that offer the most up-to-date and advanced treatments, including some that use traditional Dominican herbs and minerals. Set in magnificent surroundings, with the subtle sounds of relaxing music, the ocean or waterfalls to sooth your ears and the sweet aroma of natural oils to tantalise your nose, these spas provide the perfect place to pamper your body and free your mind. Many spas also provide a range of cosmetic treatments, hairdressing services; makeovers, hair removal, manicures and pedicures. So there is everything you need to totally unwind!

14. The place oozes of history and culture!

Santa Domingo is generally recognized as the 'First City in the Americas', the place where the New World started. As a consequence Santo Domingo has an impressive display of historic monuments that are as captivating as they are enriching. The most famous of which, the "Colonial City" was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992. The city has also recently been confirmed as the American Capital of Culture for 2010. To mark this celebration The Dominican Republic's Ministry of Culture has scheduled more than 600 activities to take place throughout the year including the Second National Festival of Theater and the International Book Fair, as well as various exhibitions, festivals and the inauguration of the new National Library and the much anticipated Museum of Dominican Man.

15. You can shop till you drop!

If you love to shop then The Dominican Republic is the place to go as it has a wide range of many excellent places for the discerning shopaholic to get their fix!

In most tourist areas as well as in the larger cities, you will find upscale open air markets and large well known shopping centers. But if you really want to shop the place to go is Santo Domingo where the range of shops, boutiques and department stores are simply superb. Selling everything from the latest fashions, leather articles, bags, cosmetics, jewelery and shoes to books, electronic games, liquor, cigars, water sports equipment and art, you will find an endless array of fantastic products to suit any budget and taste.

Typically the shops in Santo Domingo tend to stay open from 9am to 7pm on Monday to Saturday and 9 am-6pm on Sunday, so there's plenty of time for a browse even between lying on the beach.

16. No Language Barriers!

If you can not speak a word of Spanish do not worry! Although it is the official language of the Dominican Republic many employees at tourist and hotel destinations across the country speak English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Russian. So you should not have any problem in finding someone to communicate with. That said as a common court it is always worth learning a few basic Spanish phrases. You are after all visiting a country that does not speak your native tongue as their first language.

17. You can log on anywhere!

Internet cafés can be found in most tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic. In addition, pretty much all of the larger resorts and hotels offer Internet access on site and most of them offer high-speed DSL Internet connection for laptops in your room. So even though you will be in Paradise you will not find it difficult to keep up to date with all the news, events and scores from the outside world.

18. The Drinking Age is 18!

Both the legal drinking and gambling age in the Dominican Republic is 18 years old so even though you might not be old enough to drink in the USA you can legally do so in the Dominican Republic.

19. It is close to other Caribbean islands!

Located in the heart of the Caribbean the Dominican Republic is a fantastic place to use as a base for other destinations in the region. Neighboring Haiti and with the Bahamas and Turks & Caicos to the North, Cuba and Jamaica to the west and Puerto Rico and the West Indies to the east, in just a few short hours you can visit any other destination in the whole of the Caribbean. Imagine what a holiday that could be.

20. You do not need any specialist vaccinations

In order to travel to the Dominican Republic, you will not need any vaccinations outside of those normally required for Europe and North America. Infact you can pretty go on holiday straight away!

Source by Spencer Samaroo

How to Throw a Christmas Party – Holiday Party Planning Guide

If you're in charge of the office Christmas party or just a cozy gathering of close friends for holiday cheer, we've put together some helpful hints to make it go smoothly.

Invitations: Custom printed holiday party invitations get your guests excited! Does your invitation scream "I can not miss this party, it sounds fabulous!" or did you send out a letter sheet that reads like a grocery list of boring statistics that immediately got relegated to the holiday pile referred to "maybe we'll think about it without a better invitation coming along." The party invitation is a sneak preview for your guests to see how great your holiday party will be and they will not want to miss the event of the season.

If you're in charge of ordering the holiday party invitations, pre-order them as early as possible to reserve the invitation design you can not live without. When you have all the party details finalized, you can then complete your invitation order by emailing the final information to be printed on your invitations.

You'll want to send out Christmas party invitations at least three weeks prior to the party date. Business and corporate invitations are ordered and processed as early as September to ensure a great turnout. Have at least one week between the RSVP date and the date of the holiday party. Your RSVP's can be formal cards that are processed back to you, a phone number to reply to or the less formal, registrations only phone number for invitees that can not attend. Do not select the "regrets only" option if you need to have a final count on "who's coming" for the caterer or your own planning of how much you'll need a paper goods, booze, tables and chairs, party favors and so on. When in doubt, you can also call or email your guests if they have not responded by your rsvp date.

Guest List: Decide on a guest list for your holiday party, then check the calendar and set a date and time that is convenient for all your guests and / or co-workers. Planning the office Christmas party only to find out the boss will be in Tahiti on that date would be a disaster! Make sure there are no conflicting Christmas parties or holiday events planned or any scheduled business commitments that conflict. If your party will not be a success without "The Smiths" in attendance, make sure they have your party date open before you commit to your chosen date.

Date: If there's lots of competition for your chosen party date or lots of parties in your social circle, send out your invitations as early as September – or if that's just too early for you, send a Save the Date card so people will be anticipating your formal invitation details after they've added your party to their calendars. If the location of the party is critical for its success, or certain guests just have to be there or the party will bomb, make sure they are available BEFORE you commit to your chosen party date.

Location: Choose the party location. If the holiday party will not be held at the office or your home, reserve the location as soon as possible, if required. Double check and verify the date is set with your party location, caterer, DJ, photographer or any other personnel that are critical to the success of your holiday event.

Theme: Select the theme of your holiday party. What food and beverages will be served, decorations, music and activities (gifts, games, dancing, entertainment, Christmas carols, recognition awards, white elephant gifts, etc.)? You might have a favorite Christmas movie or song and you can decorate and plan around it with food, costumes, lighting and music. Pick a color, such as Christmas red, and buy all your decorations in this color – you can even ask your guests to dress in your party color. And do not forget the Christmas Tree! Have a tree-trimming party as your theme and ask guests to help or bring an ornament. If you're planning a gift exchange, make sure you set a dollar limit and include the information on your invitation. You may choose to support your local food bank and ask guests to bring non-perishible items for donation. This time of year, charities also have families you can sponsor. Pick a family and include their details and the items on their wish list with your invitation.

Entertainment: When all the guests arrive, what do you do with them? Mix and mingle is great for people that know each other or if you are having an open house for guests to just drop in. Some ideas for entertainment are: DJ, Band, Caricaturist, Magician, Balloon Magic, Clowns, Jugglers, Santa Claus, Toasts and Roasts, Christmas videos to play on your big screen, or party games.

Partyware: Are you going to use your best silver and china or festive plastic or holiday plates, napkins and eating utensils? Are you serving hot food, cold food, hot drinks, alcohol and wine – what type of glassware do you need? Do you need serving bowls and platters? Do you need centerpieces? A sign for the front "The Party's Here!"? Do not wait too long to go shopping as the best choices and the larger quantities will be available early in the season or may even be able to be special ordered for you.

Food: Set out a simple buffet, such as cheese and crackers, hot soup and small sandwiches, serve your favorite wines and a few fabulous desserts and you're guaranteed success. Or, if you're a dessert-aholic, avoid the dinner hassle altar and have a dessert and drinks party. Make the desserts ahead of time, ask your guests to bring their favorite dessert (along with copies of their recipes to share) and enjoy the decadent treat. Also popular in today's economy is sharing the food responsibilities. The host supplies the main dish (and the location) and guests bring their favorite holiday recipe of hors d'oeuvres, salads, side dishes or desserts. Keep your focus on having a great time, not on breaking the bank with elaborate offerings. The focus is on getting together with your guests, not on the food.

Dress Code: What is the dress code? Strict black-tie, black-tie optional, festive attire, casual holiday attire, dress to impress, or anything but blue jeans. Sometimes the location of your holiday event will help determine dress code, but be specific on your invitations so your guests will arrive appropriately attired.

Alcohol: If alcohol is served, make sure designed drivers or other transportation is arranged (shuttles, taxies) or specify that you will provide overnight accommodations. If rooms are being reserved, please indicate how your guests can get one, what cost there is, if any, and any other important details.

Getting Help: Determine how much help you will need for the holiday party. Will you ask friends, family or co-workers to volunteer or what help will a catering service provide. For how long? Do you need a bartender? Valet parking attendants? A DJ? Who will help keep the food restocked? The drinks refilled? Where do you put the trash? Where do put the recycle trash? Who's going to clean up? A little planning ahead of time can make clean up much easier.

Name Tags: Do not forget the name tags! Spouses and significant others will appreciate your thoughtfulness.

An Hour Before: Turn on your favorite holiday music, light the candles, set out the hors d'oeuveres and open the wine and the bar. Take a quick look through the party area to make sure everything is in its place and double check your to-do-lists.

With planning, you can have the time to enjoy your party and your guests!

Source by Jeanette Herren

5 Reasons for Cooking Outdoors

Why should you consider cooking outdoors as part of your lifestyle? There are many reasons why one should consider having outdoor cooking every now and then. Here are five great benefits from outdoor cooking:

1. Outdoor cooking is a stress reliever. How can we say so? Well, when you are cooking outside and having the company of your friends or relatives while enjoying some wine or beer, would you not feel relaxed, at ease and felt like the world is just a background? Surely, I do! Having the people whom you cherish and trust as company while cooking and eating outdoors and enjoying the nature, the sunset or the stars above is surely an excellent way to remove stress.

2. Cooking outdoors means healthy living. We are all conscious of our food intake especially when it comes to meats. Grilling outdoors is a healthy way of cooking foods. Unwanted fatty oils of the meat are dripped off the meat, which means calories are reduced, but nutrients like riboflavin and thiamine are maintained. We also don’t use butter when we grill meats which means healthier food! Veggies that are grilled are also more nutritious, especially those which are low in water content. Aside from being healthy and nutritious, the utmost part is that the food tastes finger-licking good!

3. Cooking outside is practical. How? Cooking indoors makes the house warmer and this could lead to air conditioners inside the house working overtime which also leads to bigger electric bills. To avoid such bills, especially in the summertime, outdoor cooking is the best option! Outdoor kitchens can be used as an entertaining area when celebrations arise. No need to have reservations at a hotel banquet hall and no need to worry about the possible mess inside your house if a party is held outdoors.

4. Outdoor cooking is entertaining. I mean, would you not take the opportunity to show off your cooking skills when friends and family are at your home? The best way to do that is when you have your outdoor kitchen complete with a wood-burning pizza oven! When you are outside socializing with family and friends, you don’t want to be left out on the latest happenings just because you are inside your house cooking while everyone is having fun outside. Cooking in an outdoor oven is an excellent choice for togetherness!

5. Outdoor cooking is valuable. Every penny you invest in your outdoor kitchen is worth it. The real estate value of your home increases because of having this trendy outdoor kitchen for outdoor cooking. When you invest in first class outdoor kitchen appliances, you certainly invest wisely! Having the best outdoor kitchen accessory typically means investing in stainless steel grills and island components. Stainless steel is considered an “all-season steel” because it lasts much longer and doesn’t rust despite the weather conditions it must survive.

Where should you put your investments? Definitely on something that would give you a better way of living! You and your family deserve a life that embraces laughter, cherished moments, and healthy living! You can find all that and more in an outdoor kitchen and entertaining area.

Source by Pam Wiselogel

Cheap Family Holidays – Book Cheap Holidays Now!

Do you want to plan a tour with your family? Don’t you want to spend a big amount? You need to grab the cheap family holidays that are true name of enjoyment and fun. You will forget everything when you will be on a holiday spot with your family and kids and it will be the most precious time of your life. Hence, don’t waste your time in thinking about your financial problems because cheap family holiday plans will solve them in a very easygoing way. Here are given some tips that will help you enjoy cheap and rocking holidays without any disturbance and thus, read them:

There are plenty of online agents who offer different cheap packages for family holidays as per their suitability. This thing enables you to go with any plan that meets your requirement and you won’t need to do anything. The good thing with these packages is that they include all the necessary things for you and thus, you will be able to enjoy holidays with happiness. Don’t fear for the accommodation charges that are high when you plan holidays during peak season because these packages for cheap family holidays will offer you worth and cheap hotels to stay in.

Book your holidays and hotels in advance, if you want to stay in any hotel as per your choice, it will help you manage with everything and you will know the right details about the place and hotel. If you go in last minutes to book your hotel and there is no vacant room in your desirable hotel, it will spoil your enjoyment and you would need to compromise with any other option. Therefore, plan your holidays in your own way because cheap family holidays through various plans are awaiting you!

Source by John Willims

A Puppy As a Holiday Gift: Good or Bad Idea?

If you have decided and committed to getting a new puppy, there is plenty of help and advice on how to deal with your new family addition.

The breeder should give you a cloth or fluffy toy that they had rubbed on your puppy’s mother or litter mates, so that it smells like them. It will be a familiar scent and very comforting to the puppy as it leaves its comfort zone for a new life!

Puppy proof your house

Put the things you don’t want the puppy to get to away or anything that could harm him. It is your responsibility to keep the puppy out of things you don’t want disturbed or destroyed! Remember it will be curious and playful.

The best thing you can do for yourself and the puppy is to purchase a crate. It will be a safe place for him and you will know where the puppy is while using the crate. Get a size big enough for him to be comfortable and be able to turn around. If it too big he might use one side for sleeping and the other as his bathroom…A fluffy pad at the bottom of the crate will do until he is ready for a real dog bed.

Puppy food

Be sure to have some food and tiny treats! Ideally, get yourself a bag to start with of whatever the breeder used.

Puppies’ stomachs can get easily upset by a switch, so when you do switch, it’s best to gradually do so using less of the old and more of the new food.

Food and water bowls

Stainless steel is best: it is sanitary and tough enough for those little puppy teeth.

When your puppy is older, you can get him an elevated dog feeder, which is healthier for most dogs.

A flat collar

You might as well get a non expensive one for now, since you puppy is going to grow fast and go through a couple of them before you get him an adult dog collar. And a short leash to go with the collar will be needed.

An ID tag

It’s always a good idea to get that ID tag on your new puppy’s collar.

An enzyme cleaner

To neutralize any urine that gets onto floors or carpets. The enzymes greatly reduce or eliminate the odor that would draw the puppy back to the same place and invite him to do the same thing again.


Get the kind that he will not be able to destroy (too easily). Play nice with him, no tug of war games for now that might develop an aggressive behavior. We have found that every time you see your puppy chew on something he is not supposed to, replacing it with one of its own toys will teach him what he can chew and what he cannot. You might want to purchase a dog toy box to keep his toys all in one place, which teach him where they are, instead of being spread all over the house.

Do not let him jump on people: it might be cute now, but not so much when he reaches 80 pounds…


If your puppy is not house broken yet start right away. This is when its crate comes in handy. Take him outside to do his business every time you take him out of the crate. He will not “go” in his crate (that is if you didn’t buy him a Mansion). Teach him to go outside and encourage and praise him when he does.


Make an appointment with your favorite veterinarian for a puppy check-up. If you do not have one, ask for a recommendation from the breeder or dog owner friends.

Puppy training classes

Enroll your puppy for training classes: they are a lot of fun for you and him. The handlers will teach him and you, basics commands and good behaviors. It’s also a great way to socialize him with other dogs.

All these tips and recommendations are basic information, and in no way complete. They are books, trainers and more to help you and your new puppy to have a wonderful life together.

Always remember to be kind to him, even when he is a bad dog…He is only a puppy and learning. It will take time and patience. You were not born all good, were you? A puppy does not understand punishment, only Love.

Positive reinforcement works marvels: always, always praise him, reward him with a treat when he is a Good Boy!

There are no bad dogs, only bad dog owners…

Source by Catherine Simms