Monday, December 13, 2010

Easy affordable holiday home decorating ideas

(ARA) - Family, friends and good times - the holidays are here again. While your budget may not be what it was in years past, there's no reason to trim back your holiday decor. All it takes is a little imagination and some inspiration from decorating experts to create fun, affordable holiday decorations. Here are a few holiday decorating ideas to inspire you.

Revive last year's decorations with new colors. You don't need to spend a fortune on store-bought decorations to add a little sparkle to this holiday season. Change the color palette of older ornaments and decorations with a coat of Rust-Oleum Ultra Cover 2X spray paint in colors like Colonial Red, Hunter Green, Key Lime, or Apple Red.

Decorate your entryway for the holidays. In addition to stringing holiday lights, use spray paint to create an impressive pathway to your home's entrance. Paint a wreath silver or gold for a contemporary holiday look. Or add a whimsical touch to patio planters. Use painter's tape to guide you in painting alternating red and white stripes. Your planters will look like candy canes that came straight from the North Pole.

Create a snowman doorstop. Transform a brick or paver into a festive door stop for less than $10. This quick and easy project is a great gift idea you can do with the kids. Thoroughly clean a brick or paver block and paint it with a coat of Rust-Oleum Universal in Gloss Pure White. When dry, give your snowman earmuffs. Hold the brick or paver vertically and glue black puff balls on both sides of the brick. Connect them with a black pipe cleaner across the top to mimic earmuffs. Next, add a face. Draw eyes and a mouth with a marker and glue on a button nose. Tie on a small piece of fabric for a scarf and you have a snowman doorstop.

Five tips to simplify your holiday shopping on any budget

(ARA) - The holiday season is upon us. That means the stress that comes with shopping for that perfect gift is not far behind. So, what's the best way to go about making a list, checking it twice and sticking to a budget?

Audrey McClelland is the founder of Mom Generations, an online destination for moms. She is an expert at holiday shopping for her tech-savvy husband, four boys all younger than 6, and a large extended family.

McClelland offers her top five holiday shopping tips and gift ideas that will help you conquer your holiday shopping - on budget - for everyone on your list.

1. Keep a master list. It can get overwhelming around the holidays when you are trying to decide whom to shop for. Outline everyone you need a gift for, and remember to incorporate any unexpected last-minute gifts. Then write down a realistic number on what you want to spend on each person and stick to it. Seeing it on paper will make it easier to knock items off your list while keeping your budget in check.

Give homemade gifts from the kitchen this holiday season.

Don't Miss the Recipes Below:

(ARA) - Buttery chocolate cookie dough with chocolate chunks, nuts and marshmallows. Creamy caramels with apple cider and warm spices. These are just a taste of some of the irresistible sweets you could be gifting this holiday season.

Homemade holiday gifts deserve special presentations, but these finishing touches don't have to mean a lot of extra time or money. Break out the crafting supplies, hit up a vintage shop or venture online to gather an inspired collection of packaging materials. With a few simple tips, you can create a memorable presentation worthy of the sweet, buttery goodness inside.

* Create a candy cone. To package small, individually-wrapped candies such as Spiced Apple Caramels, find some festive paper at a craft or scrapbook store. Roll it into a cone and tape it shut at the seam. Add ribbon or other decorations and then fill the cone with candy.

* Think outside the cardboard box. Consider packaging your gifts in a simple wooden box with a festive bow tied around it. Visit your local craft store for interesting containers to help you break free of the typical cardboard variety.

* Take and bake. A ready-to-bake treat such as North Pole Cookie Dough is the perfect hostess gift. Consider presenting it in disposable pint-sized ice cream containers. You can find them online or simply ask for a few from your local ice cream shop. Just don't forget to add a festive tag with baking instructions.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fun and games help create family traditions this holiday season

(ARA) - Ah, the holidays are nearly here once again -- a busy time when most homes are bustling with visiting friends and family, shopping, cooking, parties and present-wrapping. Although parents have many things to check off on their to-do lists, they continually look for ways to navigate this hectic time and keep family at the top of the list. This is often done by finding affordable activities that bring the whole family together and fostering traditions that can be carried on year after year.

This is a time when keeping things simple will yield the most positive results. Tradition doesn't have to mean outdated or boring, and many annual rituals now have a modern twist. An afternoon walk or a game of touch football gets everyone active and outside.  A day of cookie baking and decorating is fun, delicious and creates lasting memories. Many families enjoy watching annual holiday television specials like "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," "Frosty the Snowman" and "It's A Wonderful Life." This year, the iconic holiday favorite, "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," comes to a fun and interactive DVD board game that will be the perfect activity for a family game night.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Food gifts inspire holiday memories

(ARA) - What are your most wonderful childhood holiday memories? Anxiously waiting for Santa to arrive? Picking up each brightly wrapped package and giving it a gentle shake? Sneaking in the kitchen to get the first taste of Grandma's special prime rib? The memories are so vivid it's hard to pick just one.

It's that time of the year when many people are starting to get their holiday gift-giving lists together. But rather than relying on ties, candles and candies, why not aim a little higher? This year, when putting together your holiday gift list, try starting a new tradition of creating memorable moments for your family and friends that they can look back on, years from now, with big smiles on their faces.

Many memories revolve around the family dinner table, especially the guest of honor at all meals: the meat. Whether it's a mouth-watering prime rib, a melt-in-your-mouth turkey or a flavorful ham, the family holiday meal evokes many heart-warming memories.