The New Homeowner’s Guide to Hosting Holiday Guests

As a new homeowner, there’s a good chance you’ll have the opportunity to host the Christmas festivities — after all, everyone will want to see your new place, so you’ll want it to look its best for the holidays.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry: Follow this simple game plan for adding decor to your new home and helping your guests settle in comfortably.

Dress Your Home in Holiday Style

Focus on decorating a few key areas in your home to create a warm, festive vibe. You don’t need — or want — to have decorations in every corner. Using too much decor will make your rooms feel smaller. Instead, make a few spots gorgeous with these tips:

  • Start at the front. Greet your guests with a beautiful wreath on the front door. Choose a pre-lit, battery-powered wreath so you don’t have to worry about extension cords — all you need to do is hang it up. Next, clean off your porch, clear your walkway, and add a holiday doormat. Finish with an easy “wow” factor, like a lawn figure of a nutcracker or snowman.
  • Trim the tree. Don’t worry about getting the tree decorated before your guests arrive. Instead, host a tree-trimming party as a fun holiday activity. Assemble your tree or place it in a stand with water the day of the party. Add lights and set out your ornaments. Then, break out the cookies and eggnog and enjoy a night of decorating with your guests.
  • Hang stockings with care. Decorate your mantel to make it a beautiful focal point. If you don’t have a fireplace, create your own focal point by using a bookcase or entertainment center. Bring the space to life by draping a pre-lit garland across it. Then, nestle a few similar items around the garland, such as a parade of nutcrackers, stuffed or wooden Santas, a Christmas village, a row of candles, or an arrangement of ornaments. Finish by hanging your stockings with stocking hooks or removable adhesive hooks.
  • Add decorations. A few places need a holiday twist: the dining table, the coffee table, and the kitchen island. While you don’t need to cover every surface, you do want to spread some holiday cheer here and there. Try something simple and quick like a glass bowl filled with ornaments, a tall jar of candy canes, or a lovely red poinsettia.

Get Ready for Guests

Treat your guests like you’d want to be treated. Once you’ve spread Christmas cheer around the house, take a few steps to get ready for company.

  • Clean the guest room. Declutter if you’ve put items in this rarely used room. Give it a good cleaning. If the bedding is clean but hasn’t been used in a while, toss the bedspread and pillow covers in the dryer on air-dry to fluff out any dust. Add a fun Christmas pillow to the bed, put out a basket of holiday goodies, and place a predecorated tabletop tree on the dresser.
  • Set up the sofa. Don’t have a guest room? If you’re pulling out the air mattress or sleeper sofa, make sure you’ve got extra bedding on hand. Vacuum underneath the sofa cushions to remove any dust or crumbs. Set aside an area for your guests to put their belongings.
  • Prep the bathroom. Arrange personal care items for your guests in a basket so that they’re easy to find. Show your guests where to locate clean towels and which towel bars they may use. Finally, add some festive elements to the bathroom with holiday-themed soap, air freshener, and hand towels.

Gathering with friends and family is the best part of the season. Once you’ve decorated the key places and made a welcoming spot for your guests, you can sit back and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year.

 

Lea Schneider loves to decorate for the holidays. As a professional organizer, Lea provides tips on tackling your decorating tasks in an organized way. Lea also writes for The Home Depot. To find more Christmas decor options like the ones Lea talks about in this article, visit homedepot.com.

This article is editorial content that has been contributed to our site at our request and is published for the benefit of our readers. We have not been compensated for its placement.

Posted on December 1, 2017 at 8:54 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Celebrate, decorating, holidays, interior decorating, real estate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Home Safety: How to Protect Your Family at Every Stage of Life

Safety…ALWAYS a concern. Here are some really practical tips throughout a lifetime of staying safe. Good to know!

We all want to keep our families as safe as possible, but home safety requirements change as your family grows and evolves. From newborns to pets, a variety of different strategies can ensure your home is as safe and accommodating as possible for your family. Here are some simple tips to help keep your family safe through every stage of life.

Getting Your Home Ready for a New Baby
Babyproofing a home is largely about protecting them from their own curiosity. Once a baby learns to crawl, anything in reach is fair game to be grabbed, touched, or chewed on.

1. Install baby gates to keep certain rooms off-limits. This is especially important near stairs.

2. Fill unused electrical outlets with plastic plugs. Outlets are like magnets for babies.

3. Store breakable items out of reach.

4. Keep small items out of reach, as well. Small objects that could be put into mouths are a major choking hazard. A good rule of thumb is if it can fit in an empty toilet paper roll, it is small enough for a baby to choke on.

Home Safety for Toddlers and Elementary-Age Children
Toddler-proofing is a little different from babyproofing in that a toddler is usually more resourceful about getting into things they shouldn’t be. Toddlers will climb, open doors and drawers, and generally get themselves into trouble.

1. Move anything small or breakable up higher now that your child is walking and climbing. You’d be surprised at what they can reach.

2. If you have a pool, build a fence around it. You’ll want a barrier at least a few feet high to make it harder for your toddler to climb over.

3. Secure drawers and cabinets with childproof latches.

4. Place safety locks on windows and doors to prevent them from being opened.

5. If you don’t have a home security system, install one for added safety. Choosing a system with the right features, like motion sensors and security cameras, can help you know if your curious toddler runs out the door or it can help you keep tabs on things while the babysitter is over.

Safety During the Teenage Years
As your child grows into their teens, the focus moves further from physical safety and more towards online safety and general home security. Online safety is extremely important with teenagers in the house.

1. Set clear boundaries and expectations with your teen regarding potentially dangerous situations. These could involve simple subjects like safe driving or complex topics like drinking and drugs.

2. Keep alcohol, firearms, and any prescription or over-the-counter drugs locked up in a safe place.

3. Educate your teen about safe internet usage. This includes avoiding malware, being smart on social media, and using privacy settings.

Pet-Proofing Your Home
Pets make great additions to the family, but they come with their own safety needs. In many ways, pet-proofing is similar to babyproofing. Pet-proofing involves keeping harmful items out of their reach and making sure that they can’t escape the house or yard and run off.

1. Keep cleaning products, chemicals, and medications in high places or locked where pets can’t stumble upon them.

2. If your pet likes to chew on (or eat!) household items, make sure that you don’t leave anything lying around. It can be helpful to do a quick walkthrough of your home a couple times a day, such as when you leave and return from work.

3. If you have a home security system, make sure the motion sensors are capable of detecting and ignoring your pets.

4. If you have a fenced yard, check it for weaknesses or small gaps that a pet could squeeze through.

Getting Your Home Ready for Your Parents to Move In
As our parents get older, it’s not uncommon for them to move in with us. This can help ensure their safety and prevent the loneliness that often comes with old age. It can also present some unique challenges when it comes to home safety.

Depending on your parent’s age and their physical and mental well-being, you may need to make small home improvements for their convenience or physical safety. In general, you’ll want to try to minimize the potential for falls and make sure that help is always within reach.

1. Install grab bars in the bathrooms near the toilet and shower. These bars can help support a person as they move in and out of the shower or tub, both making this task easier and helping prevent falls. Make sure they can support the weight of the person who’ll be using them.

2. Walk through your home and check for objects that might make tripping hazards. Throw rugs, children’s toys, and pet toys can all be dangerous for people lacking the eyesight or reflexes to maneuver around them easily.

3. Set up a medical alert system. This is a wearable device that essentially functions as a panic button—if a person falls or has a medical emergency, they can push the button to get instant access to help.

4. Learn which foods are hazardous for senior health. As your parents age, their immune system weakens, making them more susceptible to food poisoning and health risks. Prepare meals at home that won’t threaten the health of your aging parents.

Your family grows and changes as time goes by, and so should your home safety plans. If you want to keep up with each of your family members, continually assess their needs. These tips should give you a great starting point towards building a safer home for your family.

Source: RisMedia

Posted on July 20, 2017 at 7:10 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, family, pets, real estate, safety, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Celebrating 60 Years of Brilliance! Vacaville’s Fiesta Days Coming Up Soon!

When?

History

Vacaville residents seem to get in the mood for pageants and festivals once spring rolls around. For the past 101 years, they have turned out for many different spring and summer celebrations. Vacaville Pageant Day on April 30, 1916 was a grand production, “a poetic idea successfully carried out by the united efforts of the community,” noted The Reporter in its edition of May 5, 1916.

Main Street was draped with flags and 1,500 lined the street to watch the parade of 300 pageant participants pass from High School Hill down to Main. The pageant depicted the history of California and Vacaville.

Chief Solano led the parade followed by American Indians native to the Vacaville area. Next followed the Spanish with descendants of the city’s founding families, the Vaca’s and the Pena’s. A chorus sang “La Paloma.” Next came the Fansciscan fathers, the gold rush miners, cowboys, farmers, the Japanese and Chinese, Gypsies and singing schoolchildren. Bringing up the rear were decorated automobiles – still a new sight in 1916.

Wells Fargo Co. lent an old ’49er stagecoach, just as it does now in the Fiesta Days Parade.

Next Year…

But when spring rolled around the next year, there was no Vacaville Pageant Day II. Not a word about it in the local paper. Although the newspaper would print about Dixon and their May Fair and the Solano County Fair. Vacaville wanted it’s own fair.

So what did we do?

We created Fiesta Days in July 1957. We called it Western Fiesta, the week was more akin to a cowboy roundup and rodeo. There was plenty of square dancing and the rodeo ran for two days. Everybody seemed to be involved. Most of our events were started that year: Parade, Queen Contest and the Jail and Beard-growing Contest. The parade was on Saturday. It’s route began at West and Merchant streets, heading up to Main street and turning west to Buck Avenue. The parade was run by the Fire Department.

A big barbecue was held in Andrew’s Park. It was on Sunday that the first Whiskerino Contest was held. It seems that all the men in town were challenged to grow a beard. A jail was set up to incarcerate any man who hadn’t grown a beard. Even the town’s distinguished Judge S.M. Dobbins was made a “jailbird.”

The City Council members dressed up in long black coats with top hats and Lincoln-style beards for their meeting during Fiesta week. All five men took part in the parade in costume and riding donkeys. Western Fiesta became Fiesta Days and the community’s Spanish and Mexican heritage has been given more attention over the years. Events changed and committee members disagreed, battled, quit and rejoined, but somehow, Fiesta Days has endured for 60 years.

The Parade is the Highlight of the Fiesta!

Click HERE for the Parade Line Up

Marching Bands!

Celebrating Mexican Heritage!

Drumlines!

Horses! (and MORE Horses!  Who Doesn’t LOVE Horses!)

The Fiesta Has So Much More to Offer!

Click HERE for the Fiesta Schedule

Dancing!

Concerts!

Carnival Rides!

Food!

Don’t Even THINK about missing this HUGE Celebration of Vacaville History!

 

Posted on May 10, 2017 at 3:46 am
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: Family Fun, Festivals, Fiesta Days, real estate, Vacaville | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Moving with a Baby: The Complete Guide for Parents

Moving is challenging enough on its own. Factor in babies and you better have another set of eyes!  Read on for great advice regarding moving with your special little package.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing.

On the move with a little mover in tow? Every parent knows having a baby at home is an adventure. Take that everyday baby voyage and mix in moving your home, now your adventure is more like a hike up Mt. Everest! Here’s the good news, if you plan ahead and take simple steps that trek will become a walk in the park (well maybe not, but a manageable stroll up hill.) Before you pack up and gear up for the baby + move exploration, check out this complete guide for parents moving with a baby to ease the stress and enjoy the transition.

We have organized the guide into three sections: Before the Move, Moving In and Baby Proofing. You can think of it like pregnancy, nesting and then labor!

Before the Move

Stick to Routine: Baby’s love and need their routine. Don’t let the moving to-do list and packing get in the way of your regular daily routine. Instead of pulling an all-nighter to pack, try to pack over a long period of time. Use naptime and baby’s early bedtime to get packing done in bits. Baby & parents need their sleep!

Create a Moving Calendar: To keep your head from spinning, it is best to plan your move 8 weeks out. Here is a Moving Day Count Down Calendar to copy, print and hang it up where you can easily refer to it while feeding the little one. This way you can take it day-by-day and get the satisfaction of checking off moving to-dos!

Use Childcare: During the actual moving day, when boxes and furniture are being moved, little ones should be somewhere else. Ask a trusted babysitter, friend or family member to take your bundle of joy for the day. It is also ideal to use childcare for days leading up to your move so that you can get more done on your moving calendar. There are great nanny and babysitting services that help you find qualified childcare.

Talk To Your Current Pediatrician: Your pediatrician is a great resource. If you are traveling long distance, ask them for tips for keeping your baby happy on a plane or long car ride. If you need to find a new pediatrician, make sure you get a copy of all of your child’s medical records to give to your new pediatrician. Get copies of all your child’s prescriptions and have them called into a pharmacy near your new home. Ask your current pediatrician for recommendations on how to find a new pediatrician close to your new home. When finding a new doc, it is recommended to set up a meet and greet appointment as soon as you move.

Pack a Baby Bag: You know the daily drill; pack half the nursery to carry with you wherever you go. Well, this time the baby bag (box or small suitcase) should include all of your needs for three days (if you’re moving a long distance, you may want at least one month of supplies with you rather than on the moving truck). Once you move into your new place, you may not have easy access to diapers, baby food, pacifiers and the important squeaky toy. So be sure to pack everything you need for three days (or more) in one place that you keep by your side for easy access on moving day and the first few days after.

Moving In

Unpack the Nursery First: When moving in you should set up the nursery first. This will allow you to change your baby and easily put them to sleep on the first night in your new home. Arrange the nursery as closely as possible to your previous nursery. The familiarity will help you and your baby in the transition.

Setting Up The Crib: All new cribs on the market today meet the safety standards of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA). When setting up a new crib or reassembling your crib look for the following suffocation and strangulation hazards:

  • Sharp or jagged edges
  • Missing, broken or loose parts
  • Loose hardware
  • Cut out designs in the headboard or footboard
  • Crib slats more than 2 3/8 inches apart (width of a soda can)
  • Corner post extension over 1/16 of an inch high
  • Gaps larger than 2 fingers width between the sides of the crib and the mattress
  • Drop side latches that could be easily released by your baby

Use Safe Bedding: Soft bedding can suffocate a baby, blocking the baby’s airway during sleep. Babies can suffocate when their faces become wedged against or buried in a mattress, pillow or other soft object. Use a safe crib with a firm, tight-fitting mattress covered with a crib sheet and nothing else in it. To keep your baby warm, use a sleep sack (wearable blanket).

Baby Proofing the New Home

I turned to the uber knowledgeable folks at Safe Kids Worldwide for a Baby Safety Checklist:

Crawl Through Your Home: The first step to a safe home, say the experts at Safe Kids, is to look at the world through your baby’s eyes. See what looks interesting and what can be reached. And I mean it literally – get down on your hands and knees in your new home and check for small things your baby can choke on. You will be amazed at what you discover! If you question if an item is a choking hazard, take an empty toilet paper roll and put the small object in it. If it fits completely into the roll, don’t let children under 3 play with it.

Test Alarms: Have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors inside all bedrooms, outside all sleeping areas and on every level of your new home. Test alarms monthly and change batteries once a year.

Install Gates: Install stair gates at the top and bottom of stairs. Stair gates at the top must be attached to the wall with hardware.

Secure Furniture: Secure furniture to the wall to avoid tip overs.

Check Windows: When decorating your new place, be sure to use cordless window coverings.

Mindful Unpacking: When unpacking, be sure to lock up medicines, vitamins, cleaning products, pet food, alcohol, poisonous plants, and chemicals (like paint, gasoline, etc.) and store them high out of your baby’s reach.

Your baby’s arrival was certainly the most blissful and incredible life change. Now you get to start the next chapter together in your new home. A home that is safe for your little one to play, grow and explore!

Source:  CB Blue Matter / Lindsay Lantanski

Posted on May 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm
Kappel Gateway Realty | Category: babies, family, Homeowners, maintenance, moving, parent, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , ,