What's Your New Year's Resolution for the House?

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Whether you've resolved to finally finish a remodeling project or not stress about your home's imperfections, we'd like to hear your plan.

January 1 provides us with a proverbial blank slate, but it often brings an accompanying sense of dread. It's time for New Year's resolutions, but instead of dealing with yet another diet or expensive gym membership, bring your resolutions home this year. Committing to improving your house (and we're not just talking about decluttering) could drastically improve your quality of life.

We want to know: What New Year's resolutions are you making for your home?            

Maybe you just want to enjoy your home more and feel truly happy in it. That could mean finally choosing a new color for the living room.

Is peace of mind high on your list? Something as simple as getting a new key rack to keep your house keys in the same spot could cut down on stress. Or maybe you want to make sure you have a safer home this year. Installing new smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and updating your disaster kit might be good ways to start.

Finances are often a big area of overhaul in a new year — how will you make yours work for your home? For some, it will mean taking advantage of rebates; for others it will mean turning down the water heater a notch and taking ecofriendly considerations into account.

Of course, there's the nonresolution route as well. Deciding not to do something can be as effective as doing something. Maybe it's deciding not to spend any more money on your living room, or making a conscious choice to not worry about the little things, and letting the house get a little messy during the week. It could just be a matter of sitting back, relaxing and cutting your home (and yourself!) a little slack.

So tell us, what are your home resolutions for next year? Share them on our Facebook page—”Like” us at Amanda Howard RealEstate if you haven’t already done so. Your idea might end up in our next Monday Morning Coffee newsletter!

Money and Time-Saving Tips for Holiday Entertaining

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Many of us love entertaining, but few of us love the added expense or stress that often accompanies hosting. If you’re putting on your family’s holiday gathering this year, read on as Teri Gault, founder and CEO of The Grocery Game, offers ten tips to save time and money when entertaining this holiday season.

Invitations—Save time and money by inviting your guests for a party within the same card as your annual holiday card! Another low-cost, eco-friendly option is to try an online site like PaperlessPost.com or Evite.com.

Decorate for Less—Find new uses for everyday items by repurposing them for decorations. Try using garland, bows and candles on hutches and tables or holiday decorations in vases to add a festive touch.

Drinks Guide—Factor in how much guests will drink using this guide: two drinks in the first hour, one drink per hour after that. To find low-cost wines, check drugstores and supermarkets; whereas for hard liquor, visit warehouse club stores.

The Perfect Punch—The simplest and most cost-effective pre-made drink is a champagne punch with frozen berries. Remember to use moderately-priced champagne -- no one will know the difference!

Christmas and New Year's Ham—Ham is at an all-year low price now, so buy two and freeze the extra either for New Year's dinner or for use in sandwiches, soups and other dishes later in the year.

Holiday Baking—Baking goods like sugar, flour and cake mixes, are also at the lowest price of the year right now. Stock up for your holiday baking, as well as for next year's baking -- think of your upcoming birthday parties and holiday parties like the Super Bowl, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day. Buy products with the most extensive expiration dates.

Clean-Up!—Buy convenient disposable disinfecting wipes on sale with online coupons or manufacturer coupons for the last-minute spruce up. Use a large sink or outdoor bucket filled with water and soap to soak your dishes and avoid a long, time-consuming and messy clean-up.

"Do-Aheads"—Save your sanity and time by doing most of the cooking and prep work in advance of the big day: chop vegetables and arrange and cover cold platters and keep them fresh in the fridge.

Santa's Helpers—People want to help, so let them! Have guests help you with small tasks such as opening wine, tossing a salad or watching the timer for oven-made dishes to avoid over-cooked or burned entrees. Getting help from others lets you focus on the bigger picture of managing the kitchen and entertaining your guests.

The Perfect Centerpiece—Use seasonal flowers to set a beautiful centerpiece. Look for reduced price mixed floral bouquets leading up to the holiday. Be sure to use a short vase so guests can see one another across the table.

Happy Ha-Ha-Holidays

Q: If athletes get athletes foot, what do astronauts get?
A: Missile-toe!

Q: What do you get when you cross a snowman with a vampire?
A: Frostbite.

Q: Why was Santa's little helper depressed?
A: Because he had low elf-esteem.

Q: Where do polar bears vote?
A: The North Poll.

Q: What do you get when you cross an archer with a gift-wrapper?
A: Ribbon hood.

Q: Why does Santa's sled get such good mileage?
A: Because it has long-distance runners on each side.

Q: What do you call a bunch of grandmasters of chess bragging about their games in a hotel lobby?
A: Chess nuts boasting in an open foyer!

Q: What do you call a cat on the beach at Christmas time?
A: Sandy Claus!

Q: How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas?
A: Fleece Navidad!

Q: What did Santa shout to his toys on Christmas Eve?
A: Okay everyone, hit the sack!!

Q: What do snowmen eat for breakfast?
A: Frosted Snowflakes.

Q: What do you call people who are afraid of Santa Claus?
A: Claustrophobic.