Keeping Kids Entertained at Open Houses

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If you’ve ever had children tag along with open house visitors, you know it can sometimes be difficult to keep them entertained while touring a house. Here are a few ways to conquer kid-size boredom, keep the parents’ attention, and extend time to engage with the family.

Give kids something to do. Scope out a low-traffic station for snacks, coloring or play dough. Hold a contest for the best drawing of the home and offer a prize that winners can pick up at your office. This gets kids involved in the spirit of house hunting and creates additional contacts with prospects.

Give kids something to take home. Inexpensive coloring books and a pack of crayons, a pick-a-prize toy box, or a small goody bag handed off at the end of the visit can add a little extra patience to kids’ reserves. Your level of understanding in the situation will also translate well with parents.

Create a digital playground with a few iPads or a dedicated “kids only” laptop loaded with simple and fun-to-play games, like “My PlayHome” or “Make a House.” Gearing media toward real estate reinforces interest in the parents’ activity and helps them explain the process to little ones.

Ask kids’ opinions. While older kids may not be as finicky, they can distract parents and push to speed things up. Be ready with clipboards and opinion checklists that ask to list their top three likes and dislikes about the home. Send a branded house hunting checklist home with parents.

Kids can be an opportunity to develop a relationship with real-estate-minded parents. Don’t miss out!

Source: Inman

Show Mom You Love Her On Valentine’s Day

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Have plans for Valentine’s Day? Of course flowers and candy may make Mom happy. But if you and the kids really want to show her how special she is this Valentine’s Day, try one of these ideas.

Write her a letter or make her a glittery card. Mom’s going to keep a handwritten letter from her kids for a long time. Grab a pen and paper or some glue and sequins and have your kids write a letter or make a card that shows how special she is. She’s going to savor that treat forever.

Extend Valentine’s Day to a weekend day. You knowMom…would a few hours alone be her favorite activity one weekend day? Let the Valentine’s Day love spread to the weekend and take the kids out for a while.

Clean the house. Vacuum, dust, scrub the bathrooms – you know Mom doesn’t like to do these chores. Help the kids clean so Mom can spend some time in a lemon-scented, freshly vacuumed home.

Wash her car. Better than cleaning the house – wash, vacuum and maybe even wax her car. There’s no mom that’s not going to appreciate a shiny, clean, cup-free car!

Take the kids grocery shopping. Go to the grocery store for Mom. It’s Dad’s turn to push the cart, pay the bill, lug the groceries in the house, and most importantly, say no to sugary cereal and cookies.

And finally – Take Mom out to dinner. It may sound like a fun idea to cook for Mom on Valentine’s Day, but you’re going to stick her with the greasy pots and pans and a sink full of dishes that need to be loaded (and then unloaded) from the dishwasher. Treat her to a night out. Doesn’t have to be fancy. She’ll be glad to not be on KP Duty.

These are a few ways to say “We Love Mom.” But remember, you don’t have to save these for a special day. Make every day Valentine’s Day!

Teach Your Kids to Love Their Home and DIY Projects

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Do you want your kids to grow up and already love a good DIY home maintenance project or at least understand the value of a clean and tidy home? Start working with them while they are young. Kids actually think cleaning the house or helping with home repairs is fun, so the sooner you engage them in this, the better.

Start while they’re young. While involving kids in housework and home maintenance may take more time, getting kids started while they are young will teach them the importance of caring for a home and taking on some hard work. Kids can hold flashlights, hand you tools or carry a light toolbox. Older kids can help with the screwdriver, replace light bulbs or take part in chores like vacuuming or cleaning

Get kids their own toolbox or yard tools like a kids’ rake or lawn mower. Let them imitate you nearby. This makes participation a game.

Talk about what you’re doing. As you work on home projects such as gardening, painting, repairing, cleaning, talk to your kids about what you are doing. You can teach them more and keep them chatting.

Let them decorate their own rooms. Kids spend a lot of time in their rooms so the more they do to make them their own, the more they will like them. They will also feel ownership and want to be in charge of keeping their rooms clean. Comfortable is important.

Teach your kids about important jobs for home owners that some adults don’t think about, including:

Help them locate the breaker box and flip the correct switch when you lose power. They can also help you label the breaker box, a task that a lot of homeowners plan to take on but never do. Kids love to run around the house and let you know what lights are off or on when you flip a switch.

Show them where to turn off the water for the house or in a bathroom. Kids are known for putting weird things down toilets. No matter how often you say not to, they still do it. Even if you don’t show them where the house water turns off, show them how to turn off an overflowing or running toilet.

Change batteries in smoke alarms. Let kids help you change the batteries in smoke alarms. You should do this twice a year and it’s a great time to teach kids about home maintenance and home safety. This could even be a good time to talk to your kids about a fire evacuation plan.

And make a quick cleaning fun!

Have a Musical Cleaning Event! For a fun cleaning game, turn on your favorite fast song and have a race to see who can clean up the most toys while the song plays. Whenever you turn the song on, the kids clean. ! Kids think this is a blast and race to beat each other. You end up with tired kids and a clean room!

Super Bowl Party Rules for Everyone

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In 2018 Americans spent more than $15 billions on Super Bowl-related items such as food, drink and apparel, according to the National Retail Foundation. Super Bowl parties are a tradition, and whether you are a football fan or not, there’s a good chance you’ll be invited to and will attend one. We want hosts and guests to be prepared with their best manners on this festive day.

10 Tips for Being a Great Guest

  1. Dress the part. Wear a team jersey, t-shirt or at least one of the team’s colors.
  2. Never come to a Super Bowl party empty-handed. Super Bowl Sunday is our second favorite day of the year to eat so having a lot of food is important. If you’re not sure what to bring, ask the host. This will help make sure there’s a good variety of food and drinks for everyone, and there’s a lower risk of too many chips, salsas and dips!
  3. Don’t show up too early to the party. If there’s no pre-game festivities planned by the host, don’t show up too far before the game and expect to be entertained. And don’t be the last to leave either!
  4. Don’t pick off the buffet. Most Super Bowl parties are set up buffet style. And the food all looks so good. And you’re excited and less formal because you’re watching a football game. You may not be at a wedding but do bring your wedding manners when it comes to the buffet and wait to begin eating until you’re back to your seat.
  5. Go easy on the alcohol. It’s easy to over-indulge in drinks when you’re toasting your team but be careful on the drinks. Be especially mindful if you’re with business associates as well as friends.
  6. Be careful not to swear, especially if it’s a kid-friendly party. Few things bring out the swear words like a bad play or a bad call during the Super Bowl, especially when it’s your team. But if you’re not in the comfort of your own home, swear words should be avoided.
  7. Watch the game and talk about the game. If you’re at the party because your spouse wanted you to come, be mindful of the others who are there to watch the game. If there’s another guest who isn’t really into the game, take your conversation to a corner or to another room.
  8. And watch the commercials, too. Super Bowl Sunday’s ads are a huge reason people watch the game. This is the one day where talking during the commercials is bad form.
  9. Leave the remote control to the host. Never change the channel or adjust the volume. The remote control belongs to the host!
  10. Respect guests who are cheering for the opposing team. There’s almost always someone rooting for the other side. Good manners say you should be polite to them and not cause trouble.

    Following a few simple Super Bowl rules will ensure you’re a special guest for parties now and in the future!

Entertain Kids During the Super Bowl

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When you’re a football fan, and your team (or any team for that matter!) is in the Big Game, it’s hard to believe that there may be people at your party who are not as into the game as you are. Those people are most likely kids! Here are some tips for keep kids happy during the game.

Bring in a Babysitter for the Day
Hire a babysitter to watch and play with your kids and any guests’ kids. Make sure you are clear on your expectations – can kids hang out with adults? What games do you have for the kids? What snacks can they have?

Set Up a Craft Table – Football Themed, Valentine’s Day Themed, Just for Fun!
Kids of all ages have fun working with their hands. Bring out the construction paper, glue, child scissors, glitter, crepe paper and more. Whatever you can think of, kids can craft with. Invite them to make pom-poms, football helmets to wear and more. Or let them get a head start on their homemade Valentine’s for grandparents or siblings or friends. And if none of that inspires them, let them make anything they’d like.

Set Up a Jigsaw Puzzle and Coloring Table or a Board Game Table
Maybe you have kids who aren’t crafty at your party. A coloring book and crayon table and a jigsaw puzzle table may be just what they need to stay entertained. Or let them play board games. Sorry, Life, Chutes and Ladders – these are all great games for kids.

Remember, the more you put out for them to do, the more easily entertained they will be.

When Making the Food, Remember the Kids
Super Bowl parties are not usually the example of healthy food choices. Junk food often rules the menu. However, you want to make sure you have healthy snack options for your adult and child guests.

Popcorn is a healthy choice. Have a popcorn bar where they can add fun candy, raisins, granola or other snacks to their popcorn. Pop up a big bowl of plain popcorn and offer a variety of flavor shakers, such as cheddar cheese, barbecue, etc. You can find these at most grocery stores with the popcorn. Put out some plastic cups to put their popcorn and let them snack. Provide red plastic “keg” cups, a stack of small paper bags or small baskets lined with paper towels for guests to serve themselves.

Make sure to have enough cups for your adult guests who are sure to snack at the popcorn bar, too.

Host Your Own Super Bowl
If Super Bowl Sunday is a nice day, set up a miniature football field outside. Have two different colored flags and let the kids play touch football in the backyard. An opportunity to run around provides a great energy burn before the game and during half time.

Play Hot Football
This twist on the classic Hot Potato can be an energy burning alternative if you can’t get outside. Have the kids stand in a circle, turn on music, and have the kids start passing a miniature football. The kid who is holding the football when the music stops has to do a funny dance and have the others in the group copy it. Keep the game going until the game starts or half time is over.

Do Touchdown Dances
If the kids are watching the game, have them do a Touchdown Dance every time either of the teams scores a touchdown. You can also make it a Field Goal Dance, too. Even the adults who are most into the game will dance when their team scores a touchdown! It’s another way to keep moving.

You know Super Bowl Sunday is a blast for fans. Make sure it’s fun for the little ones, too,
by making having Super Bowl fun Super easy!

Your Attic May Be the Storage Solution You Are Looking For

 

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Your attic may be the solution to your storage problems. But not all attics are the same, so before you begin using the space above your house, make sure you do some careful planning. Here are some tips to get you started.

Assess your space. If you have never used your attic for storage before you’ll want to really take a good look at the space you have. How much room is usable? Is it structurally sound for storage? How much weight can it hold? Storing a few holiday decorations is very different from storing furniture. This may be a good time to contact a contractor for some professional advice.

Test the weight it can hold. Some attics have solid, structurally sound floors. Others may require some good reinforcement. If you are able to walk in your attic, do so carefully. The supports may not be as good as your regular floors. Try to walk where you know there are beams.

Check for needed repairs. This space is often forgotten by homeowners, but not by squirrels and mice. Check for signs of rodents, including rodent droppings. And check all electrical wiring. Rodents often chew wires so be extra cautious.

Buy plastic storage bins. Use plastic bins rather than boxes to keep rodents away. They also will provide better protection if your roof leaks.

Hang hooks and shelves. This should be an easy task because the walls are usually unfinished so you can see exactly where to hang these.

Check out the nooks and crannies. You can usually push storage crates into some unusual areas.

Plan carefully for what to store in an attic. This space can be a great hiding place for items you don’t use often. It’s not a good space for candles, photos, paintings or other items that can be damaged by fluctuating temperatures and changes in humidity. Although it may be tempting to store family heirlooms in the attic, you may want to consider places that have more consistent temperatures and humidity levels for preservation.

Whether you use your attic space for storage or not, make sure you check the space out periodically. You don’t want to be surprised by squirrels making their home or leaks you didn’t know about. A good once-over every few months will keep this space ready for you when you need it. 

Hosting New Year’s Eve in Your Own Home!

 

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Are you hosting your first New Year’s Eve party? Hosting your fifth? Whether it’s your first New Year’s Eve at home or you’re a seasoned couch potato during the holidays, trying something new may be the resolution you made for this New Year’s Eve. Here are some ideas for kids and adults to make ringing in 2019 at home a blast!

MAKE THE FOOD FABULOUS
People love to nosh on fun food for New Year’s. After all, the next day they start their new diet! You’ll want to have snacks and dinner for the early birds and for the late nighters. Here are some easy ways to make sure you have enough food for everyone, no matter when they come or when they plan to leave.

Make the Party BYOA: Bring Your Own Appetizer
Ask your guest to bring an appetizer. You’ll supply the beverages! Almost every party-goer has a favorite appetizer they like to make. And if someone isn’t sure what to bring, invite them to bring raw vegetables and humus or a fruit and nut platter. These will make an excellent complement to the other foods, which most likely will not be as healthful.

Host a Midnight Dinner (Or Keep the Spread Out All Night Long)
A midnight dinner is a great way to keep the party going after you ring in the New Year. It’s only once a year, so no one will complain that they “ate too late.” Try something like a salad and baked potato bar. It’s just enough and doesn’t take a lot of effort to set up. And, people can eat as much or as little as they like. This meal is fast and easy.

Prepare a big salad ahead of time and store in the refrigerator. Make sure you have different choices for dressing. The salad is your vegetable option. The main attraction is the potato bar.

Before the guests arrive, prepare different potato toppings: a bowl of sour cream, bacon pieces, chopped scallions, salsa, shredded cheese, butter, steamed brocolli, chili….anything you can think of that you may want to put on a potato will work. Remember that baked potatoes take a long time to cook so get them in the oven early.

If you use paper plates and bowls, clean up is easy, and you’ll be in bed before you know it.

DECORATE WITH STYLE
Of course you know you need party hats and noise makers, but you also have lots of choices for decorations. However, you may be ready to wrap up the holiday décor not get crazy by putting out more. Here are some easy decorations that don’t cost a lot of money that add a little New Year’s spice to your party.

Hang Paper Snowflakes from the Ceiling
Let your kids and their friends get in on the decorating fun. Before the party, have them cut paper snowflakes of all different sizes out of white paper. If you’re not worried about a little mess, let them sprinkle glitter on the snowflakes to add some sparkle. Then put a little ribbon of different lengths on the snowflakes and tape them to the ceiling. Test your tape first to make sure it won’t pull off your ceiling paint.

Scatter Curly Ribbon
Curl some ribbon with scissors and then scatter the ribbons in different places. Get the wider kind of ribbons – about 1/2 inch thick. Curl with scissors and put them on tables, light fixtures, mantles and even mirrors. You can hang some ribbons from the ceiling with the snowflakes and sprinkle on your tables and bar.

Add a Touch of Class with Shiny Christmas Ornaments
Add some sparkle and some class. Glittery Christmas ornaments look wonderful in a bowl as a centerpiece. You can also hang plain ornament balls from a light fixture over a table using varying lengths of ribbon in festive colors.

MAKE MINGLING EASY
Once your ready for your party, you need to have something to do! Here are a few ice breakers to get adults and kids mixing and mingling. You probably won’t want to play these games all night, but they can be good to get your party started.

Write Predictions for the New Year
Have your guests sign their predictions and place them into a bowl or a box. Then take turns reading the predictions while everyone guesses who wrote them. It can be surprising how difficult it is to guess your friends’ predictions – and it’s a great way to kick off the night or to wrap up the night!

Play “Guess the Resolution”
Before the party starts, write general New Year’s resolution ideas, such as “lose weight” or “eat better” on notecards. Place them in a bowl, and then to start the game have guests pick one. They are not allowed to look at their card. They can either hold it to their forehead or have someone tape it to their back. Then, only asking yes or no questions, and only asking one question per person, they must figure out what their resolution is. Say they ask one person, “Does my resolution involve physical exercise?” That person would say yes, and then they’d move on to the next person. The first three people to guess their own resolution correctly, win a prize.

Play “Fact or Fiction”
Give guests a tally sheet with all the players names and a fill-in-the-blank line. Gather the players for a round of introductions. When it’s their turn to talk, each guest will share three “facts” about the best New Year’s Eve Party they ever attended. Two of these things should be true and one should be fiction. Players keep score by writing down which story they think is fake. The player who identifies the most fake facts wins.

Or Play “Two Resolutions and One Lie”
Have everyone tell the group two of their real resolutions and one fake resolution. Everyone has to guess which is the fake resolution.

Remember, these games just get the party started! Don’t make people play all night long.

ARE KIDS INVITED?
Do you have kids coming to the party? If it’s not enough that they get to stay up past their bedtime, here are some ways to make the party more fun for them, too. They also can play the adult party games above or be paired with a grown up partner, if the games are a little to “old” for them.

Encourage kids to dress up
Gussy up your kids. Your night will feel special and fun if they dress for it — plus it will make for excellent pictures. Let kids be over the top: White gloves, pearls, bow ties and tiaras are easily found in your local party store, in your kids’ dress-up trunk or in grandma’s closet. Paint everyone’s nails. Wear hats. Break out the glitter and get fancy!

Dance
Make a playlist that includes favorite grown-up and kids’ songs. Roll up the rug and dance with wild abandon. When you get tired, sit down and check out your kids’ moves. Have a dance contest and be sure to take pictures.

Make it Glow
Kids like their lights! Light up your house with kids and glow sticks and glow necklaces. You can even stick glow sticks in balloons for awesome lighted balloons!

No matter what you choose to do this New Year’s Eve, we hope your 2019 is all you dream of! And if your dream for 2019 includes a new home, let us help with your mortgage questions.