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Keys To Creating Your Stress-Free Holiday Party

I love holidays of all kinds. Any excuse to gather with my family and friends and enjoy great food, sweet treats, play games, and generally party it up is okay with me! We're in the middle of August at the moment, but I am already counting down to both Labor Day and Halloween.

You might think it strange that I am looking so far into the future, but that is one of the major keys to a successful party: try to plan ahead. Parties are for having a good time, right? So why would you set yourself up for stress by leaving everything to the last minute?

If you are a bit of a neat freak, then you should try to do a deep clean one of two weeks in advance so that all you have to is a "touch up," in the days preceding. Or, if that isn't possible, then be sure to clean gradually. Leave the kitchen and the primary bathroom to the last, as those are the areas that tend to get dirty quickly.

Budget in costs for party supplies before the last minute! I hate to hammer on the hard times, but most of us can't afford to throw a big party without adequate planning. In the weeks before the party, be sure to make a list of what you want to serve and then watch the ads for sales. Be willing to shop around and go to different stores.

Make a family budget, and include estimated costs for the party in the expenses for that month. If you have to skimp on eating out or buying new shoes, that's what you have to do. But hey, at least you have something to look forward to without the stress that comes from overspending.

Consider making the party potluck. That way, if you have a specialty dish, you can focus all of your energy on that particular food, and guests can fill in the rest. You might also want to provide a fun dessert, like a unique, holiday-themed cake, but instead of worrying about baking it, you could special order it from a bakery, which again minimizes your work and stress.

I highly recommend making some sort of formal invitation, as word-of-mouth invitations tend to get forgotten. But some websites allow you to create your own e-mail invitation, which may be a good option if you don't want to hassle of stamps and envelopes and all that.

My family does not consume alcohol, and most of our friends don't either, but if you plan on serving alcoholic beverages, you should be sure that arrangements have been made for either people to get home safely or to remain in your home until any potential effects of drinking have worn off.

Man, Halloween just can't come soon enough! Let's get cracking!


How To Include Your Fireplace In Your Summer Decor

Now that warm weather is almost here, you need to think about cleaning your fireplace one last time. So since you're already putting time and effort into the area, shouldn't you add a little creative expression there so that your fireplace remains a warm, welcoming feature of your home even when the conditions outdoors are less than frightful?

There's no reason to leave your fireplace gray and empty simply because you don't need roaring fires for the next few months. Maybe you could do a simple arrangement of interesting logs such as nice white birch on your grate. Perhaps add a log or two on the side in a rack or an elegant old ash scuttle.

Shine your fireplace tools for the best effect and place a vase or a group of such vessels on the opposite side of the hearth. Put interesting branches or boughs or even some tall standing blooms in those vases.

Place candles scented like spring and summer fragrances to invite the fresh scents of the outdoors inside your home. Candles in tall stands or large pillars will add a dash of fire to your hearth without the heat commitment. Or create a grouping of various sized candles by arranging a number of hurricane lamps, votive holders, and other glass lanterns together.

Try a candelabra in the firebox instead of individual candles. It will hold many candles but create a more formal appearance. You can find candelabras in a variety of styles and materials, such as the traditional brass, glass, ceramic and porcelain, and wrought iron. Stand a mirror at the back of the fireplace so that the candlelight will be reflected around the room.

You might add candles in glass hurricanes or another kind of holder to the mantle so that you can continue the theme established in the fireplace. A touch of floral embellishment might complete the look. Be sure to use candle holders that are in keeping with the room's motif.

A floral creation might be arranged in the fireplace itself. Moss, vines and silk flowers entwined with the logs there can make a beautiful statement. You could use traditional candles to add light to your creation, or for a safer alternative you could add battery operated votives, pillars or tea lights.

Choose a decorative fireplace screen of stunning brass, wood or porcelain which matches the design scheme throughout the room. Leave it to make a simple statement all alone or embellish the space with clusters of candles on the mantle.


Top 5 Bedroom Decorating Ideas This Christmas

Kids don't typically seem to care about the way you decorate their rooms but at a certain point, they do begin to have more and more of an opinion. From the things they hang on the wall to the furniture they have, kids bedroom decor becomes more and more important as they grow into teens, then into young adults. Spending time and effort shopping for the right decor allows you to give not only a great Christmas gift, but also gives your child something he or she can use every day . So what are some great bedroom decor ideas you can get them for Christmas they will appreciate? Here are some neat, useful and awesome looking things that may just do the trick:

1. For the sports minded kid, there are personalized wall racks that are themed to the sport they like whether its baseball, football or even skateboarding. This keeps their equipment out of the floor and organized where they can find it. If you've got a fan of baseball or football or any other sport, there are lots of great wall art from sports team pictures to great looking pictures for all sports.

2. Beanbag chairs are another great gift idea and with truck, dinosaur, butterflies and other themes available, both girls and boys can enjoy them. There are even sofa style beanbag chairs that have a back and arms just like a miniature sofa that kids can relax on while they do homework, watch TV or play video games.

3. Throw pillows are also great for decorating kids rooms. And there are plenty of choices that kids will love. From a stuffed Thomas the Tank Engine to zebras, dinosaurs and ladybugs, kids will love having them on their bed or piling up on them on the floor to read a story. Pillows not only show off the kid's interests but also give them something to lay on they like.

4. Kids love to bundle up on chilly evenings and with great blankets and sleeping bags, they can bundle up in style. Blankets with Star Wars or Toy Story themes and sleeping bags with flowers and butterflies or trucks and dinosaurs as well as many other themes will give the kids something cool to stay warm in.

5. With both girls and boys decor, there are lots of bedroom decorating ideas that make great Christmas presents and the most useful may well be great looking toy boxes and cubbies to store all of the other things they get for Christmas. There are lots of great looking collapsible toy boxes with sports themes or flowers and butterflies that will hold a lot of toys and even padded seats that are soft to sit on but also provides you with lots of usable storage as well.

Kids bedroom decor needs to match their style for them to really enjoy it. But by using these bedroom decorating ideas, locating decor that your kids can not only use, but actually enjoy, won't be such a difficult task.


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