Make Your Holiday Home, Holiday Guest-Ready

christmas dog with teddy bear sleeping

Welcome your holiday visitors with a home that is guest-ready. It’s easy to feel ready for anything when the doorbell rings by taking a few simple steps today.

Clear the clutter. For a lot of us our guest room was once our “spare room” or it is still our office. Clear the clutter from the guest room when you know you are going to have visitors. If the guest room doubles your office, put away your files and move your laptop. If you store items in the guest closet, buy some storage bins and put things in the bins to keep the closet organized and welcoming. Clear out at least half of the closet, and leave plenty of open hangers so your guests can hang their clothes and jackets right away. Make sure some of the dresser drawers are available, too. Guests are more comfortable when they have a place to store their clothes and other items so they aren’t tossed around in their room or stacked on top of their suitcase.

Have a luggage rack ready. If you simply cannot empty any drawers or make room in the closet, get a couple of inexpensive luggage racks so your guests can put their luggage on those and pull their clothes from there, without having to work from a suitcase on the floor. Put an inexpensive hook on the outside of the closet and dangle a few coat hangers on that, so your guests have a place to hang up jackets and nice clothes.

Make a guest basket. Fill up a basket with everything from travel-sized soaps to snacks to munch on after you’ve gone to bed. Include a few travel essentials: lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, a lint roller and little essentials they may not have remembered or thought to bring. If you are feeling extra welcoming, put in some fun snacks, such as granola, bite-sized candy bars or fig newtons. Include some bottles of water or a reusable water bottle or glasses in the basket or next to the basket so your guests can get water during the night without having to fumble around in the dark kitchen.

Create an online cheat sheet. Make their stay easy by creating a packet ahead of time with all of the information they’ll need, like your WiFi network name and password, so they can log on whenever they want.

  • Add soft, low-key lighting. Make sure your guest room has a lamp with soft lighting or a 3-way bulb so they can adjust the lighting. Soft lighting makes it easier to read before dozing off and makes the room feel more cozy.Use good sheets. Put nice sheets on your bed. Splurge a little on sheets and a soft blanket. If the mattress is your old one from your youth, it may be time to buy an inexpensive but new mattress that is a little less used. Make the bed look lovely with a throw blanket or pillows, but don’t go overboard on the decorations. Too many throw pillows and guests get flustered trying to make the bed the way you like it.

    Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet or on a small table or chair in the corner so your guests can be as comfy as they want.

    Provide a fan if the room gets warm, or make sure your guests know how to work the ceiling fan if there is one.

    Clear some space on top of the dresser. Don’t clutter the space with family photos or knick-knacks. Leave the space clear so your guests can put their jewelry, books, phone, etc. in a place that’s easy to see. If you do want to put something on the dresser, nothing says “welcome” more than some fresh flowers.

    Prep the bathroom, too!

  • Put out fresh towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, cotton balls, cotton swabs. If your guests forget something, they’ll be glad you thought of it.
  • Make sure you leave extra toilet paper where they can see it or in the obvious cabinet. No one wants to ask for toilet paper.
  • Put out a box of tissues, as well, if you did not put one in the guest bedroom.

Early Risers?

  • Put coffee by the coffee maker or prep the coffee maker and set the timer so your guests can start their day early (or late if you’re up and out before them). Put out some fruit and muffins so guests aren’t forced to root through your cabinets if they are hungry.

It’s all about your guests. Make them feel welcome and comfortable. By following a few simple tips, you’ll be able to make sure your guest and you have the visit of a lifetime.

Thanksgiving Activities the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Family Throwing Autumn Leaves In The Air

Are you looking for some fun family activities that you can enjoy on Thanksgiving? Sometimes it’s hard to find something for all ages, so we wanted to give you some ideas for ways you can make Thanksgiving and the long weekend fun for the whole family.

Make Thanksgiving Crafts.

No matter what your guests’ ages, everyone has fun making crafts. Set up a craft table with different items they can use – pine cones, construction paper, crayons, glitter, beads, holiday ornaments, scissors, glue and whatever your creative mind can thinks of. Guests can make holiday cards, wreaths, ornaments and more. And for a great Thanksgiving dinner treat, let everyone create their own Thanksgiving place mats or let the kids create them for themselves and adult family members.

Make a Game Out of Thanksgiving.

You can tweak just about any favorite game to give it a Thanksgiving twist. Here are just a few.

  • Pin the Tail on the Turkey. Make several construction paper turkey tail pieces and create a construction paper turkey body. Tape the turkey body to a wall. Give all players a construction paper tail. Blindfold the players, spin them, and let them have a chance to pin the tail on the turkey. Whoever gets the tail closest to the right spot, wins.
  • Turkey Words: Give all of your adults and children who can spell a piece of paper and pen. Set a timer for three minutes and have everyone make as many words as they can out of the word turkey. Whoever has the most words in three minutes when the timer goes off wins the game. If you have adults, older kids and young kids competing, you can have prizes for different age groups.
  • Turkey Talk: Tell a “story in the round” by making a circle and starting with the first person who makes up the first line of a Thanksgiving story. An example might be, “Jerry didn’t want to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving this year.” The next person adds a sentence to give the story another twist. The third person does the same. Go around the circle until the story ends and see what kind of turkey tale you come up with.

Take a Break Outside.

If the weather is nice, get outside. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go on a local hike or even start a game of football — the traditional Thanksgiving sport. Is there really a better way to burn calories after a big dinner or before you sit down to eat? Everyone can use a little movement on this holiday.

Make Memories. Share Memories.

After dinner is the perfect time to make some new memories by sharing some old ones. Pick a theme such as “the greatest day ever,” “my favorite memory,” or the funniest thing that ever happened to me.” Then share the stories with your family and friends. It’s a great way to relax and keep the evening going while sharing memories. Want to relive this? Make sure someone videotapes the stories on their camera or phone. You can share this after the evening for a fun memory you’ll always treasure.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and share quality time. We hope some of these activities can help your family keep the day special and make it memorable.

Inside on a Rainy or Snowy Day – Keep Yourself and Your Kids Entertained

Playing in robot

When it’s cold and raining or snowing outside on weekends and during school breaks, the days can drag on. What can you do to keep the kids entertained but not spending the day in front of the television? Try some of these fun activities for a rainy day inside. Keep what you need on hand and you’ll always be prepared for anything. 

Have an indoor treasure hunt. This is a great game for all ages, because you can decide how challenging it is. Hide a small present for each child. It can be a toy or an IOU for a fun day at the movies or skate park. Then, create a set of clues for each participant and hide the clues in order, so the first clue leads them to the second clue, the second clue leads to the third, etc., until they find their treasure.

Create an inside campsite. Drape some sheets over the furniture around one of your rooms to make a tent. Your tent can be as big you want and your sheets will allow. Add some pillows and blankets inside your tent and you have a place to tell ghost stories, play games and, if you’re lucky, take a nap. It may even be fun to have a picnic inside the tent.

Create a story book. All the kids can create their own story books or they can create one together. All you need is some paper, some crayons, a few pens and lots of imagination. Let them write their stories on the pages and draw pictures to go with them. At the end of the day, everyone gets to read their books out loud.

Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Everyone has fun during and after this activity, as the reward is a cookie. Want to sneak a vegetable in? Add some chopped garbanzo beans and add them to the cookie dough before baking to sneak in something good.

Make a splash! If it’s a warm rainy day and it’s just raining, not thundering or lightning, it’s the perfect time to put on the rain boots and rain jackets and grab an umbrella. Go outside for some fun letting off steam and splashing in puddles. Because no one wants to be inside all day if they don’t have to be!

Make a movie. It’s rare today that our phones and digital cameras don’t come complete with their own video recorder. Have some fun. Write a script, learn your parts and try out your acting skills while you make your own movie. Pop some corn and watch your movie on the computer.

Make a family dinner. Is it getting later in the day and it’s still raining? Get everyone involved in dinner preparation. Let the kids make salads or help you stir a sauce. And encourage someone else to set the table.

Put together a Rainy Day / Snow Day Box that you keep on hand. Inside include arts and crafts supplies, like papers, crayons, glue, glitter, beads and other things that kids can use to create fun art; coloring books or other activity books; books to read; puzzles and games; a deck of cards. You can pull this out in a pinch on a rainy day or any time your kids say, “I’m bored.”

With these tips in your box of tricks, there’s no reason your or your kids should be inside AND bored when the weather outside keeps you in. 

Clean Your Home with Household Items You Already Have on Hand

Dogs work is never done

Getting ready to do an annual fall cleaning and purge? You may have some items in your house that can do double duty – a lid may be a coaster; a sponge may be a furniture cleaner. Here are some household items that may have a second or third use, and they may just make your life a little easier.

No scrub pad? Use aluminum foil. Crumple a handful and scour to polish stainless steel pots – don’t use this on non-stick pots and pans, of course!

Use Pam or another cooking spray to dissolve soap scum. Spray your shower glass with cooking spray and leave for 30 minutes. The oil slides between the glass and the soap scum, making it easy to wash. Wipe off with soapy water (use a wet sponge with a drop of dish washing liquid).

Dog and cat hair on your furniture? Lightly dampen a sponge, and rub it across upholstery. It will easily lift pet hair.

Use baking soda to clean greasy dishes. Add two tablespoons of baking soda to the usual amount of dish washing liquid you use. It will give your detergent a powerful boost and easily clean greasy dishes.

Coffee can lids can keep your pantry and refrigerator clean. Use a plastic lid from a coffee can as a coaster. Slip it under containers that might drip – honey, jams/jellies, salad dressings. You’ve saved yourself from cleaning a sticky mess.

Dryer sheets can keep dust off your television and PC screens, which are electrically charged and attract dust. Dryer sheets remove dust and prevent it from resettling for several days. Polish glass screens with the sheets after they’ve been in the dryer, for a softer texture.

Feed your plants with water you’ve used to cook. If your water doesn’t have salt in it, it’s perfect for your plants after it’s cooled.

Freshen almost anything in your house with a cotton ball saturated with one of your favorite fragrances. Use an essential oil such as lavender, or use lemon juice or lemon, orange or cinnamon extract or vanilla. Try placing one in your vacuum cleaner to have the scent pushed throughout the room while you clean. You can also put a wet cotton ball on a shelf in your fridge to act as a deodorizer.

The good news about all of these tips is that they are easy to do and you most likely already have everything you need! They are sure to put the spring in your step when you’re spring cleaning.

Want more ideas? Check out 43 Truly Extraordinary Uses for Household Staples You Already Own.

Prep Your Bedroom for the Perfect Night’s Sleep

homeliness sleep
Are you ready for a good night’s sleep, but your bedroom is not? A few simple changes can have you sleeping like a baby again in no time.

If you need a new mattress, get one.
You don’t need a fancy mattress. The mattress that allows you to sink into a deep, natural sleep and wake up in the morning without aches and pains is the one you want. And there’s only one way to find out which mattress that is. You have to sleep on it. Find a shop with 30-day guarantee and give your mattress a test drive for a month.

Find the right pillows.
Make sure your pillows are as comfortable as your mattress. You may need to try out several different kinds before you find your perfect pillow, but these are a must for a good night’s sleep.

Sooth with a soft scent.
A spritz lavender scent on your pillows before bed will help calm your exhausted mind.

Chill before bed.
Lower the temperature of your bedroom before you climb into bed. Lower temperatures tell your body it’s time to sleep. If your bed partner objects, tell him to bundle up.

Control the noises you can control.
If the dog’s snoring wakes you up, then put him in another room. If your partner snores, work to find treatment. Snoring can do more than just wake someone up. It can be a real health concern. You’ll sleep better with less noise and when you know everyone is healthy.

Close the curtains.
You sleep better in the dark. If your eyelids flutter open as you move from one stage of sleep to another, even streetlights or a full moon can wake you up.

Turn off the lights.
Your brain can misinterpret even dim lights and wonder if it should wake you up.

Pull on socks.
Studies have found that wearing socks to bed helps you sleep. It may be that warming your feet and legs allows your internal body temperature to drop.

Ignore the clock.
Turn your clock’s face or digital readout away so you can’t see it. We wake slightly throughout the night. A glimpse of your clock—and the realization that you have to get up soon—is enough to jolt you out of sleep and keep you out.

Turn off your phone.
End screen time at least one hour before trying to go to sleep and then turn off your phone all together. A text, an email or a social media message can produce a ping on your phone and cause it to light up. There’s nothing about a cell phone that makes your sleep sounder.

And rest easy knowing we are here to help with your home loan needs. 

Surprised by Unexpected Guests? Give Your Home a 20-Minute Quick Clean

Guests come to visit and see new house

Did you just get a text saying your old friend is in the neighborhood and she’s stopping by? You may not have a lot of time to freshen up your home, but maybe you don’t need it. Fake your way to a clean house with a 20-minute quick clean!

Does the smell of last night’s dinner still linger? Control some smells! Start by popping open some windows and turn on a fan to circulate the stale air. Then put some cookie dough in the oven – easy to do if you store some in your refrigerator to use in a pinch. You’ll get twice the bang for your buck a pleasant smelling house and sweet treats to share.

Clear the clutter. Now is the time for a “teen clean.” You remember those days, when you threw everything in a laundry basket and hid it in a closet. That works when you’re an adult, too.

Tidy your sitting space. The next place to tackle is the room you’ll be sitting in. Do a quick dusting, pick up any magazines, socks, cat toys, or whatever you find in the room that you wish wasn’t there. Toss them in the laundry basket. Work a room from right to left or left to right so you don’t miss anything and you have an easy pattern for success. Have five more minutes? Run a vacuum around this room and the hall leading to the room, and the entry way.

Disinfect with ease. You know those disinfectant wipes you store under your bathroom sink? Now’s the time to pull them out and run a few around the toilet and the sink (and even the tub!). Your bathroom will sparkle in no time. No wipes? Paper towel and an all-purpose spray will work just as well. And while you’re at it, empty the waste basket. And the last step? Put in a fresh hand towel, and make sure you have toilet paper and soap.

Do the dishes. Or at least move any dishes you have in the sink to the dishwasher. Dishwasher full? Empty it or wash the dishes by hand. In the end, you’ll wish you had emptied the dishwasher, so go ahead and get that done if you can.

And remember: A spouse and kids are the greatest Quick Clean helpers around.

And remember this, too: Don’t apologize if you’re house isn’t spotless. You weren’t anticipating guests.

And the best news of all: Your house is clean enough! You can take a break on the weekend (after you put the things in the laundry basket where they belong).

Visitors Checking In? Make Your Home Guest-Ready

I'd Like A Trim Please

You never know when a guest may be checking in to your home for a visit, so make sure your house is always guest-ready. It’s easy to be a welcoming host when the doorbell rings by taking a few simple steps today. 

Clear the clutter. For a lot of us our guest room was once our “spare room” or it is still our office. Clear the clutter from the guest room when you know you are going to have visitors. If the guest room doubles your office, put away your files and move your laptop. If you store items in the closet, buy some storage bins and put things in the bins to keep the closet organized and welcoming. Clear out at least half of the closet, and leave plenty of open hangers so your guests can hang their clothes and jackets . Make sure some of the dresser drawers are available, too. Guests are more comfortable when they have a place to store their clothes and other items so they aren’t tossed around in their room or stacked on top of their suitcase.

If you cannot empty any drawers or make room in the closet, get a couple of inexpensive luggage racks so your guests can put their luggage on those and not have to work from a suitcase on the floor. Put an inexpensive hook on the outside of the closet and dangle a few coat hangers on that so your guests have a place to hang up jackets and nice clothes.

Make a guest basket. Fill a basket with everything from travel-sized soaps to snacks to munch on after you’ve gone to bed. Include a few travel essentials: lip balm, lotion, sunscreen, a lint roller and little essentials they may not have brought. If you are feeling extra welcoming, put in some fun snacks, such as granola, bite-sized candy bars or fig newtons. Include a reusable water bottle or glasses so your guests can get water during the night without having to fumble around in the dark kitchen.

Create an online cheat sheet: Make their stay easy by creating a packet ahead of time with the information they’ll need, like your WiFi network name and password, so they can log on whenever they want.

Add soft, low-key lighting. Make sure your guest room has a lamp with soft lighting or a 3-way bulb they can adjust. Soft lighting makes it easier to read before dozing off and makes the room feel more cozy.

Use good sheets. Splurge a little on sheets and a soft blanket. If the mattress is your old one from your youth, it may be time to buy an inexpensive but new mattress that is a little less used. Make the bed look lovely with a throw blanket or pillows, but don’t go overboard on the decorations. Too many throw pillows and guests get flustered trying to make the bed the way you like it.

Put extra pillows and blankets in the closet or on a small table or chair in the corner so your guests can be as comfy as they want.

Provide a fan if the room gets warm, or make sure your guests know how to work the ceiling fan if there is one.

Clear some space on top of the dresser. Don’t clutter the space with family photos or knick-knacks. Leave the space clear so your guests can put their jewelry, books, phone, etc. in a place that’s easy to see. If you do want to put something on the dresser, nothing says “welcome” more than some fresh flowers.

Prep the bathroom, too!

Put out fresh towels, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, cotton balls, cotton swabs. If your guests forget something, they’ll be glad you thought of it.

Make sure you leave extra toilet paper where they can see it or in the obvious cabinet. No one wants to ask for toilet paper.

Put out a box of tissues, as well, if you did not put one in the guest bedroom.

Are your guests early risers?

Put coffee and tea by the coffee maker or prep the coffee maker and set the timer so your guests can start their day early (or late if you’re up and out before them). Put out some fruit and muffins so guests aren’t forced to root through your cabinets if they are hungry.

Leave a note about some of your favorite early morning walking or jogging paths so they can get out into the fresh air.

It‘s all about your guests. The trick is to make them feel welcome and comfortable. By following a few simple tips, you’ll be able to make sure your guest and you have the visit of a lifetime.