The holiday season is here, making it the perfect time to start planning your holiday party. Whether you host a holiday party every year or it’s your first one, here are some tips to help you plan a party that’s fun, festive and budget friendly.
Set a budget. List potential expenses, such as invitations, decorations, entertainment, food and drink. If you’re not sure how much each item will cost, look online for estimated pricing. If you’ve hosted the same or similar party before, review expenses from previous years. Also, programs such as Party Budget Estimator from Evite calculate your costs based on information you type in, the number of guests and the duration of the party.
- Prioritize where you’d like to spend most of your money. Is the food the most important aspect to you, or is it mood-enhancing items like decor? Once you estimate how much everything will cost, you can decide how you would like to prioritize your spending if you’re on a tight budget.
- Choose a venue. If you plan to host a party at a restaurant or other venue, reserve it as soon as you know the date you want. Many host the party in their homes to save money. If that is your plan, focus the event in the living room, dining room and other common areas, and close the rest of the house to guests.
Create your guest list. Although your budget may dictate the size of your party, there are ways to cut costs so you can entertain more people. Are you planning a sit-down dinner party or something larger? Are you inviting families or only adults? If you’re inviting children, keep their interests and ages in mind as you plan activities. For example, be sure to have entertainment available to them, such as holiday movies in a playroom, holiday-themed games and toys, etc.
- Send invitations. If you plan to send paper invitations, be sure to send them as soon as possible. Schedules fill up fast over the holiday season, so be sure to invite your guests several weeks in advance of the party.
- Save money with email invitations. They are free to send and allow you to easily manage who has responded and who hasn’t. If you use Facebook, create an event page to invite guests and communicate with them before the event. This is especially useful if you’re planning a potluck or are asking guests to bring snacks or beverages; you can ask people to post what they plan to bring, ensuring there’s no overlap.
Plan your entertainment. Make sure your guests have fun at your party. Use a digital music service such as Pandora to choose holiday-themed playlists, or create a music list with a digital service like Spotify.
- If your guests love singing, buy, rent or borrow a karaoke machine and queue it up with holiday hits. Offer a prize for the best singer to encourage healthy competition.
- Encourage your guests to wear festive attire, including holiday sweaters, and offer a price for the best festive outfit.
- Have a friend or family member dress as Santa and hand out candy to guests or small toys to their children.
- Create goody bags for young children at the party and include candy canes, crayons, holiday-themed coloring pages or books and stickers. This will keep them busy while their parents mingle.
- If you want guests to exchange gifts, make it a Secret Santa or White Elephant exchange and give guests a budget to adhere to. For a Secret Santa exchange, pair people up ahead of time once you know who’s coming to the party. If you plan to host a White Elephant, let your guests know on their invitation so they remember to bring a gift.
Plan your menu. Whether you’re having your party catered, making everything yourself or having a potluck, it helps to plan your menu.
- If you’re having the party catered, hire a caterer as soon as possible since the holiday season is the busiest time of year for many. Look online and get recommendations from friends for great caterers in your area. Once you’ve hired one, work with them to create a menu your guests will love that also takes into account any dietary restrictions your guests may have.
- If you’re cooking the meal yourself, scour the internet and your favorite cookbooks and magazines for recipes. To save time and avoid stress, make as much of the meal as you can in advance and freeze it, then choose recipes that have a few of the same ingredients. Or, host a buffet instead of a sit-down meal. People tend to eat less at a buffet and you can make most of the food ahead of time. Another idea is to host a holiday brunch instead of a big dinner. Since breakfast items tend to be cheaper, you’ll cut down on food costs. Additionally, guests may feel more comfortable bringing their families to a brunch setting.
- If you’re planning a potluck, supply the main dish and ask your guests to bring their favorite dish to share. Ask them ahead of time what they plan to bring to avoid doubling up on dishes. If they’re not sure, give them a recipe to make or, if they don’t cook, ask them to bring beverages or ice.
- Save money on drinks by creating a signature drink to serve, such as eggnog or a seasonal cocktail. Buy non-alcoholic beverages in bulk, such as soft drinks, water or apple cider.
Decorate. Holiday decorations don’t have to break the bank. Reuse old decorations to save money or borrow decor from family and friends. If you have children, enlist their help to get creative. Decorate natural items such as pine cones and branches with glitter, help them cut and decorate paper snowflakes or put together popcorn and paper chains. If you prefer to purchase new decorations, discount stores offer a selection on low-cost, festive items. If you tend to host a holiday party every year, be sure to take advantage of post holiday sales and other deals throughout the year.
Tip: Save money by co-hosting with someone else, such as a sibling, a friend or a neighbor. This allows you to share the planning and budget.
Before you say goodbye to your guests, here are three thoughtful ways to thank them for coming:
- Buy food storage containers ahead of time to send people home with leftovers and treats. They’ll appreciate the gesture and you won’t have a refrigerator overflowing with food.
- If you have centerpieces or flowers, send them home with a few of your guests or use them as prices for party games.
- If you have a Polaroid or other instant camera, take photos throughout the party. You can also set up a photo booth for guests to take pictures of themselves. Allow them to keep the photos or send them a copy with a handwritten note after the party.
Dallas, Texas 75230
We’re sharing the sit down between Julie Provenzano and the marketing department at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate to talk all things real estate. Covering her experience as a realtor, why she got into real estate in the first place, her philosophy as an agent, and the changes she predicts to come to the industry as a whole. She also chats Dallas Stars and her experience as the official Realtor for the team.
So proud to have such an amazing team leader for The Provenzano Group!
A sneak peak of the conversation:
“People here [in Dallas] are well-networked and value relationships. Dallas is a town where integrity and doing the right thing is rewarded, and I’ve been able to build a business that works 90 percent on referrals because of that.”
See the full article here.
With 2017 quickly coming to a close, we take a look at the real estate market trends from the year. In this article, Julie sits down with Park Cities People to review the year’s industry activity, address the inevitable “seasonal slowdown” and predict what is to come with the new year.
“’This is a great time to remind [sellers] that buyers set [sales prices for] their homes, they don’t,’ Provenzano said, advising homeowners to wait out the new year before listing.”
Check out the full article here.
Reduce the stress of the moving process by hiring a reliable moving company to transport your belongings to your new home. Here are some tips for hiring a reputable company that fits your budget.
1.) Get referrals. If your family, friends and coworkers had a great experience with a moving company, chances are you will, too. Ask around for names of two or three companies to consider; you’ll want to get estimates for each.
2.) Research online. Once you have your list of referred companies, research them online to make sure they are legitimate. Visit the American Moving and Storage Association’s website (moving.org) to see if the company is a member. Membership is voluntary and requires that members abide by the organization’s guidelines. Check review sites and social media to see what their customers say about them and if the companies have a history of customer complaints. Also, visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration website (fmcsa.dot.gov) and type in each company’s USDOT number to see if they’re licensed and insured.
3.) Get estimates in person. Many professionals may offer an estimate based on the number of rooms in a home; however, insist on an in-home estimate. Be sure to show them everything you want moved, including furniture, boxes and items that haven’t been packed yet so they can estimate the weight accurately.
If your’e moving to another state, ask for a written binding estimate or a binding not-to-exceed estimate, which will put a limit on what you will be expected to pay. If you’re moving within your state, the rules about estimates will vary by state. Visit your state’s website to learn more.
4.) Review the estimate. This is your opportunity to get clarification and ask questions. Be sure to get any changes in writing. Verify how much the company will be moving, the distance it will be moved, the times your items will be picked up and delivered to your new home and the availability of additional services such as packing and supplies. This will reduce the chances of dealing with unexpected charges.
5.) Get a written copy of the mover’s inventory list. Additionally, give the movers specific directions for getting to your home and exchange phone numbers in case you need to reach each other.
If you’re thinking of buying or selling, give us a call! We look forward to guiding you through the process and making your move as stress-free as possible.
Dallas, Texas 75229
4 bedroom/3 bathroom/2,424 sq ft
Beautifully renovated ranch close to top-tier private schools in North Dallas. Available for short or long term lease, this one-story property is situated on an expansive lot with a gated pool and huge backyard grass with covered patio and great entertaining space. The interior has been extensively redone with kitchen open to living room, white cabinetry, stainless steel appliances, huge island, spacious pantry with wine chiller, gas cooktop, double ovens and French doors that overlook slate patio and great backyard. Master suite has updated bath with his-and-hers separate vanities, rain shower and separate guest suite on other side of the house for maximum privacy. Pets considered on a case-by-case basis.
See full photo gallery here.
We are pretty confident that most people could use a little more organization in their lives. Are we right? Whether you feel like you are drowning in clutter or could use a little extra help in a room, or two, at your home or office, check out the super helpful tips provided below in our interview with Jackie Olson, professional organizer and founder of Bee Organized in Dallas.
1.) When should someone consider hiring a personal organizer?
There are several reasons to hire a professional organizer to help out. When you’ve tried and tried to do it yourself but have not been successful, and you’re ready to make a change. Studies show a significant decrease in efficiency, productivity, focus, performance, socializing and the ability to relax when our environment is cluttered.
2.) If you had to choose one room in the house to organize to make the most impact, what would it be?
Since most of our busy lives revolve around our kitchens, this would be the place in the house that makes the most impact. Check this out from a recent Better Homes & Gardens article:
“171%…the increase in calories people ate when they were stressed and in a cluttered kitchen.”
Clutter and disorganization not only impacts your mental and emotional state but it’s down right unhealthy….and an organized kitchen saves you money!
3.) What is the most common reason you see people having trouble getting organized and/or staying organized?
Getting organized can be overwhelming – especially if you’ve become accustomed to the chaos or clutter. One of the biggest reasons people hire us is because their space has become too overwhelming and they don’t even know where to begin! Even if they have tried to get organized on their own sometimes they did not do a proper purge before they began sticking it all in boxes and they have not set up a system of success for staying organized.
4.) Can you provide us with your top tips to help people get a jump start to organizing their home on their own?
#1 – Set An Appointment: Set a date, make it fun, turn on some music, call a friend over to help, order lunch in! And don’t forget to take a before picture!
#2 – Apply Constraints: Make a deal with yourself that you can only have ten sweaters instead of 30, three serving platters, ten Hummels, one tub of Beanie Babies…you get the idea! Choose your absolute favorites.
#3 – Stay Focused: If you get started, make piles and leave the job unfinished, you’ll have a bigger mess than you started with causing even more grief and disappointment. Stay focused, watch your time…use your timer.
#4 – Have a place for EVERYTHING: Establish zones and make room for future items or growth. If something doesn’t have a “home,” it creates chaos!
#5 – Make storage spaces smaller: Hang a picture in your closet so you can’t hang clothes in that space, use a small suitcase when traveling, totally block off an area of your space. Trick your mind into thinking you don’t have the space for abundance.
#6 – Think about “Primary Real Estate”: The items you use most often should get the primary real estate. Those champagne glasses you only use once a year shouldn’t get the eye level shelf in your pantry! We once did a pantry that had the bread maker and the ice cream maker front and center – when we asked how often they use the, the answer was “never!”
#7 – Keep Everything IN SIGHT: So you know what you have and nothing gets lost or duplicate. It seems like every time we organize a pantry, the homeowner ends up having to throw hundreds of dollars of food away because it had been hiding out of sight and is expired.
#8 – See It To The End: Follow it through…finish the job! Again, drop off those donations, take out the trash, label everything, relocate items…and take that after picture for bragging rights!
5.) In real estate, we work with people buying and selling homes, which means moving from one house to another. What advice can you give to make the moving process as streamlined and stress free as possible?
As you get ready to pack up your old house, think about your new house. What space do you have? Are you downsizing? Do this item make you happy? Is this item useful now or in the near future? Is this item valuable or irreplaceable? Purge before you pack. No need to waste time boxing it up and paying movers to move it if you don’t need it any more or don’t have room for it in the new house. Planning, purging and organizing in advance will make moving into the new house much for efficient and enjoyable.
6.) We often hear people say “I’m just not that organized.” Is it possible for someone that is not usually “organized” to get and stay organized?
With the right amount of purging, organizing, setting up a successful system that works for your life and on going maintenance, you can be successful. ”Organizing is a Journey, not a Destination”. No one has arrived…even us at Bee Organized…we have to work on it everyday! Give yourself credit as you go…even if it’s one small drawer at a time!
Thank you, Jackie, for incredible information and motivation!
Contact Jackie Olson directly if you are interested in her services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you ready for Halloween? Costumes put together? Sweet tooth in full force? We hope everyone enjoys themselves and want to provide you with a few important safety tips to keep in mind.
More children under 14 years of age get struck by a vehicle on Halloween than on any other day of the year. A statistic that we want to change! Stay safe by keeping in mind:
- Drivers can’t see costumes in the dark. Be creative with reflective tape, stickers or glow-in-the-dark gear to add to the costume. Also, it’s never a bad idea to have your children carry flashlights to help them see and be seen.
- Always cross at crosswalks and intersections. Stop at street corners and look both ways multiple times. Don’t cross between parked cars.
- Avoid trick-or-treating alone. Walk in groups and always have adult supervision.
- Drive safely. Take extra time to look for children. Enter and exit driveways and alleys extra cautious. Popular trick-or-treating hours are from 5:30pm – 9:30pm so be especially alert during those times.
Other tips to remember:
- Costume makeup can cause reactions to your skin. Always test makeup in small area first and make sure to remove it before bedtime to prevent possible skin and eye irritation.
- Choose costumes that fit. Baggy sleeves, long capes and skirts can often be a fire hazard if lit jack-o-lanterns are nearby.
- Adults – check your children’s treats. Avoid any homemade treats from strangers.
- Never allow children to enter homes unattended, and only visit well lit houses.
Wishing you a safe and happy Halloween!
Dallas, Texas 75209
4 bedroom, 3.1 bathroom, 4,100 sq ft/building plan, guest quarters
Designed with flexibility in mind, 8401 Linwood is a gorgeous example of modern architecture in one of the most sought after neighborhoods in Dallas. The main house exudes an elegant sophistication with an open floor plan that flows seamlessly and is flooded with natural light from walls of stacking glass doors. Interior highlights include a chef’s dream kitchen with luxury appliances and abundant storage framed by custom walnut and lacquer cabinets and gorgeous Quartz counters. The second level boasts 4 bedrooms, an additional living room and a spacious utility room.
Outside, a beautiful breezeway connects the main house to spacious guest quarters featuring a fifth bedroom and living area, along with a full bath and walk-in closet. Ideal as a private home office, artist studio, in-law residence or luxurious quarters for overnight guests.
See more information and full gallery here.
The average buyer views 10 homes before they find the one they want.* When you view that many homes, it can be difficult to remember the details of each one. Below is a checklist to help you remember the features of each home you visit and your impression of the home and surrounding neighborhood.
How many bedrooms? ______________
Size of master bedroom? ____________
How many bathrooms? ______________
Does it have a basement or attic? Neither or both? _______________________________________
What do you think of the layout/flow of the home?
Number of closets: _____________
Is there sufficient storage for your needs? ____________
Type of flooring:
Wood? Carpet? Tile? Combination? Other? _____________________________________________
Paint? Wallpaper? Combination? Other? ________________________________________________
Kitchen: (size: ______________ )
Type of cabinets: _____________________________________________________________________
Type of countertops: __________________________________________________________________
Type of fixtures: ______________________________________________________________________
Bathroom: (size: ___________ , ___________ , ___________ )
Water pressure: ______ High ______ Medium ______ Low
Are there internet and cable hook-ups? Yes ______ No ______ CAT 5/6 ______
Is there a fireplace? Yes ______ No ______
If yes, is it wood-burning, pellet or gas? _________________________________________________
How sit he home heated? _____________________________________________________________
Is there air conditioning? ______________________________________________________________
Condition of exterior:
(Note: this is your initial impression. A home inspection will go into more detail.)
Is the exterior painted or siding? _______________________________________________________
Roof and eaves: _____________________________________________________________________
Type of windows and condition: ________________________________________________________
Gutters and downspouts: _____________________________________________________________
Is the yard landscaped? ______________________________________________________________
Is there a fence? _____________________________________________________________________
What do you think of the home’s overall exterior? ________________________________________
Are the surrounding homes well maintained? Yes ______ No ______
How is the traffic? Light ______ Medium ______ Heavy ______
Does the neighborhood feel safe? Yes ______ No ______
What’s the noise level of the neighborhood? Quiet ______ Some noise ______ Noisy ______
Is there street parking or do people park in driveways? Street ______ Driveway ______ Both ______
Are the following nearby? If so, how close:
School Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Child care Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Parks Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Fire department Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Police station Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Hospital Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Doctor/dentist Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: _____________________________
Shopping Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: _____________________________
Restaurants Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Places of Worship Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
Public transportation Yes ______ No ______ Proximity: ____________________________
What is your overall impression of the house?
Is there a HOA? Yes ______ No ______ If yes, how much?: ________________________________
Is this a house you’d like to make an offer on? Yes ______ No ______
* Source: National Association of REALTORS, 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers