The Holidays & Overnight Guests
 By Melissa Tosetti and Teresa Riccobuono
 
Do you have guests coming to stay with you over the holidays?  Here's a few tips to help you as well as your guests enjoy their visit so much more. 
 
If you have a spare bedroom…
Make sure the sheets have been freshly laundered. 
 
Also, set aside an extra blanket in case they get cold. 
 
For an added touch, set aside a box of tissue, as well as a few books and magazines so your guests can keep themselves entertained.
 
A couple of bottles of water by the bedside will be appreciated.
 
Place a few small holiday decorations in the room to keep the feel of the holidays intact.

If your guest will be sleeping on the couch which is not a sofa bed
Use a set of twin sheets for the sofa. It may not be a perfect fit over the cushions, but will help them be more comfortable while they sleep.

Provide a pillow with a freshly laundered pillow case as well as a few blankets. 
 
If possible, make adjustments to your morning routine if guests will be sleeping in community areas of your home. If you are an early bird and they are a night owl, prepare as much of your morning routine in advance. Grind your coffee beans the night before. 

In the bathroom…
Set aside a clean towel and washcloth for each guest.
 
Fragrant soaps and travel size toiletries in their original packaging (if you have them) will make your guests feel special.  

You may also want to put items like cotton swabs and cotton balls where your guests can see them.
 
Teresa has a couple of extra robes in sizes of her frequent visitors – (father, brother, best friend).
 
In the kitchen…
Keep fruit and snacks visible so guests feel free to help themselves.

If your guest is a coffee drinker – make sure you have creamer and sugar.

If your guest is a tea drinker – have English breakfast tea for the morning and Chamomile/herbal tea for the evening.
 
Communication
If your children or pets have any dietary restrictions, be sure to let your guests know so they don't inadvertently cause problems.

Let your guest know in advance if you’re planning on dining out or will be attending a holiday event over the course of the visit. It will help them plan their budget and wardrobe and give them an opportunity to let you know of any constraints they may have.
 
If your home has any quirks, such as sticky doors, tricks to getting an appliance to work correctly or you have multiple remotes to work the television set correctly, please let your guests know about them.
 
Our thanks to Kathleen Kuebelbeck for the many ideas she offers in her article, What Every Girl Should Have... for overnight guests
 
 
Gift for Dante's Teacher

By Melissa Tosetti

Despite my best efforts, there was one person I neglected to add to my holiday list - Dante's teacher, Ms. C.  It dawned on me late last night as we talked about Friday being the last day of school before winter break. 

After doing a little research on Pinterest I found an article titled Top Ten Teacher Christmas Gifts, which was written by Beth, who's a teacher.  Her advice on what not to give was as priceless as what to give, i.e. coffee mugs.  Every teacher has a cupboard full of them.

One of the suggestions she did have was fun smelling hand soap.  I happened to be heading to Whole Foods this morning in a desperate search for molasses since my Safeway was sold out when I bought groceries yesterday.  While there, I found a beautiful bar of Lavender Soap from Bonny Doon Farm in Santa Cruz. 

I think Ms. C will love it!  I have it sitting on my desk to remind myself to wrap it and I have to tell you, my office smells amazing!  I'm tempted to buy a bar just to keep on my desk!

By the way, I have to give Whole Foods credit.  Not only did they have plenty of molasses in stock, but the price was $2 cheaper than Safeway.  Now Dante and I will be able to make Gingerbread Ninja's for tomorrow night's fundraising event at his school.

$7.99 at Whole Foods
 
 
Schedule It!
By Melissa Tosetti
 
Christmas is nine days away and Hanukkah begins tomorrow!  It's likely you still have dozens of errands and tasks to do before the holidays officially arrive. 

Instead of trying to haphazardly squeeze your to-dos into your day - schedule them. Literally, write them into your calendar to ensure you give yourself the time you need to get the tasks done.  

One of the things I used to always get caught by is wrapping gifts.  Every Christmas Eve I'd scramble to get it done right before walking out the door to go to Paul's dad's for dinner.  A task that should be fun became a stressful chore.  After learning a time management tip from a friend - to block out travel time on your calendar for out of the office events such as lunch meetings, it dawned on me that I could apply the same technique for tasks such as wrapping gifts, holiday shopping and more. That simple habit has made all the difference in the world allowing me to enjoy the holidays so much more!   

For more ideas on how to thrive during the holidays, download a copy of Thriving During the Holidays.  The eBook is filled with easy-to-implement, time and money saving ideas to help you turn the holidays from something you survive, to a time to thrive. There’s no reason why kids should have all the fun during this time of year! The goal of the Thriving During the Holidays eBook is to help you turn the holidays into something you enjoy just as much as the children around you. 
 
Thriving During the Holidays shows you how to: 
  • Create a holiday budget.
  • Save your sanity and your cash when shopping.
  • Strategies for making holiday travel as smooth as possible.
You will also learn how to:
  • Plan your meals to save time and money.
  • Stay in control of your schedule.
  • Donate more than just cash to charity.
Find out how to save money on:
  • Holiday Cards
  • Gift Wrap
  • Decorations
We also share our favorite:
  • Holiday Websites
  • Shopping Spots
  • After Holiday Sales Strategies
There's also an entire chapter dedicated to tips on how to relax and enjoy the holiday season so much more. 
 
Thriving During the Holidays is available at the affordable price of just $4.95. To purchase and immediately download your copy, click here: 
 
 
 
 
Smart Winter Skin Care

As great as it feels to go in from the cold, heaters can cause skin to get dry and flaky.  It's tempting to head to the drug store or beauty counter and drop money on anything that claims it will help.  Before doing that,check out this article from the experts at WebMD: 10 Winter Skin Care Tips

In additon to offering advice that includes items you likely already have at home, it also includes one of our favorite tips for skin care - see a specialist!  A dermatologist can save you hundreds of dollars by suggesting products they know will work for your skin - rather than a potentially very expensive trial and error method.

 
Save Money, Time & Calories

Slow cookers were made for cold, busy December days. Endless to-do lists and crazy holiday traffic turn the idea of making dinner when you get home into a Herculean effort!  No wonder we tend to go out to eat more the last month of the year.  But going out to eat takes time and effort as well.  It also takes money that you'd probably rather spend on something more important than grabbing lunch or dinner on the go.

If you don't already have one, pick up a slow cooker the next time you're at Macy's or Target - or order one online.  This 6 quart slow cooker by Crock-Pot is programmable.  Place your ingredients into the slow cooker in the morning before work and set the timer.  Walk in the door after work and be greeted by the smell of dinner which is ready to go. 

As for recipes, our go-to website for slow cooker meal ideas is A Year of Slow Cooking

Save time, money and calories this December by getting that slow cooker to work for you. Every kitchen should have one! 

$48.33

 

 
How to Pay for Holiday Shopping

By Melissa Tosetti

I'm a big fan of the Holiday Savings Account - a separate savings account that you contribute to throughout the year. When the holidays roll around, the money is ready. Spending money you’ve saved specifically for the holidays vs. racking up credit card debt makes all the difference in the world when it comes to merry gift giving!  
 
For years I’ve used Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) for my Holiday Savings Account. I also have a free checking account through Capital One 360. When the holidays come around I simply move my holiday savings money over to my checking account and then use the debit card tied to that account for all of my shopping. What I love about this process is that it keeps my holiday spending separate from my day-to-day money. 
 
This year I made more purchases online than ever before. I’m not comfortable using my debit card for online purchases so I decided to use my credit card.  However, the Holiday Savings Account still comes into play. When I’m done with my holiday purchases, I’ll pay off my credit card with the money from my Holiday Savings Account. 
 
For more ideas on how to pay for your online purchases, check out Gregory Karp’s article: Personal Finance: Best Ways To Pay For Online Shopping. Gregory is one of my favorite personal finance experts and I have great respect for his advice.  
 

 
Simple Pleasures of the Holiday Season
By Melissa Tosetti

It's so easy to get swept away by holiday to-dos and must-attends. But what about your holiday want-tos?

If you haven't already, free up a few hours in the next two weeks and take time for the simple, affordable pleasures of the holiday season. Need ideas? Here are a few of our favorites:

Holiday TV
Stay in for the night, make a batch of popcorn and watch a holiday movie and at least one holiday cartoon.

Outdoor Décor
Jump in the car for a tour of your neighbors’ outdoor holiday decorations.

Caroling
Go caroling. Seriously! Drag your family and friends out to spread some holiday cheer.

Holiday Stories
Read holiday stories to your kids. Don't have kids? Try your nieces and nephews. They will love the attention.

Ice Skating
Nothing will put you in the mood faster than gliding (or sliding) across the ice.

Hot Cocoa
Take a few minutes for yourself and enjoy a mug of homemade hot cocoa. Don't use the stuff that comes in an envelope. Instead, make it yourself with fresh whole milk, a few tablespoons of cocoa and just enough sugar to taste. Marshmallows or whipped cream make a perfect topping.

Remember, you're in control of your schedule. It's important to pencil in the things you really want to do otherwise, something will always get in the way. Don't let it. Make the time to do what you want and you'll enjoy the entire holiday season so much more.
 
 
 
 
10 Gift Ideas from Amazon
By Melissa Tosetti
 
I love to give books as gifts.  I'm almost always able to find a title that's perfect for those on my list.  If you're struggling to come up with gift ideas, the list of books below may be able to help.  It includes everything from biographies to cookbooks, children's classics and soon to be classics. 
 
By Cary Elwes - $15.60
For anyone who has said: "My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."  
 
 
By Sarah Goldschadt - $16.44
For your craft loving friends and family members.
 
 
By Tristan Stephenson - $16.73 
For your cocktail loving, loved ones.
 
 
By Mark Bittman
$21 on Amazon
For those who would love to cook, if they "had the time". 
 
 
By Hans Christian Andersen - $13.36
A book every home should have.
 
 
 
By Dr. Seuss - $11.33
A wonderful gift for adults as well as children.
 
 
By Laura Ingalls Wilder and Pamela Smith Hill - $24.68
For the fans of the book or television series.
 
 
By Potter Style - $6.49 
For the book lover.
 
 
By Elizabeth Foy Larsen - $14.50
For children who could use a break from technology based entertainment.
 
 
And finally, a book for the that friend or family member who loves to learn "stuff".
 
 
 
Thriving During The Holidays - eBook
Even if you’re looking forward to the holidays, you can easily get flattened by the laundry list of must dos let alone want to dos, that take place in those last weeks of the year.
 
The eBook Thriving During the Holidays is filled with easy-to-implement, time and money saving ideas to help you turn the holidays from something you survive, to a time to thrive. There’s no reason why kids should have all the fun during this time of year! The goal of the Thriving During the Holidays eBook is to help you turn the holidays into something you enjoy just as much as the children around you. 
 
Thriving During the Holidays shows you how to: 
  • Create a holiday budget.
  • Save your sanity and your cash when shopping.
  • Strategies for making holiday travel as smooth as possible.
You will also learn how to:
  • Plan your meals to save time and money.
  • Stay in control of your schedule.
  • Donate more than just cash to charity.
Find out how to save money on:
  • Holiday Cards
  • Gift Wrap
  • Decorations
We also share our favorite:
  • Holiday Websites
  • Shopping Spots
  • After Holiday Sales Strategies
 
There's also an entire chapter dedicated to tips on how to relax and enjoy the holiday season so much more. 
 
Thriving During the Holidays  is available at the affordable price of just $4.95
 

 
 
ImHuman

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