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Set a Spark this Valentine’s Day

Whether you’re celebrating with your significant other or your gal pals, Valentine’s Day is all about the love. If you’re racking your brain for a non-traditional way to celebrate, grab your special someone, and cozy up by the fireplace for a night that no one will forget!

Create a welcoming ambiance.

Invite your significant other into a warm and cozy atmosphere. Lay your favorite blanket in front of the fire, dim the lights, crank up your favorite tunes, and light a couple of candles. The more tranquil, the better! With these simple touches, they’re sure to forget about Old Man Winter who is (still) knocking on the door.

Select a menu.

You can’t have a picnic without food and drinks! But one of the best parts about a picnic is that it doesn’t have to be a full meal. In fact, finger foods can not only be easier to make, but also can add a little variety to your menu. Consider your special someone’s favorite foods, and get creative! Are they a veggie-lover? Then these avocado pesto mozzarella tartines are as sophisticated as they are delicious. And, for a delicious appetizer, consider trying these steak pinwheels

While a bottle of champagne is nice, a fun cocktail can help set your picnic apart. This mint grapefruit spritzer is not only refreshing, but also easy on the eyes. As the night comes to an end, impress your special loved one with a sweet treat—truffles.

Add some special touches.

After all, it is Valentine’s Day, and the holiday isn’t complete without little pops of pink and red. Consider going all out and purchasing a bundle of colorful balloons and a bouquet of flowers to brighten up your living room. This love banner will add an extra oomph to your decorating. Simply print it out, string it together, and hang it either above the fireplace or on the mantle.

Spread the love, and put together your own Valentine’s Day picnic to make this year’s holiday the best one yet!

9 Hacks to Help Keep Your Home Warm This Winter

 

 

 

 

Out of the Box Gift Wrapping

There are two kinds of people in the world: those who like to wrap presents and those who don’t. If you’re the latter, the task of getting tangled in paper and ribbon is the most tedious part of the holiday season, but with these alternatives, you can wrap all of your gifts with ease!

Brown Paper

Have some lunch bags or grocery bags to spare? Cut them so that the paper is spread out as big as it can extend, and use just like regular wrapping paper. You can even get a little more creative and incorporate your own design using stamps, paint, ribbon, buttons, or any other craft material you please!


Wax/Parchment Paper

If you have an overload of parchment or wax paper left over from baking cookies, don’t let it go to waste. Use crayons to give your paper some color, or leave white for a frosty look, and wrap your presents with a layer or two of the paper.


Newspaper

Before putting your newspaper in the recycling bin, try using it as wrapping paper instead! Page through the next edition for any striking images or interesting articles, cut them out, and get to wrapping.

Make Your Home Safe For The Holidays

The holiday season can be a busy time, making it hard to prioritize the safety of your home. Take the right precautions now so you can make the most of your time celebrating with loved ones at home.

If you’re planning on staying home and hosting guests this holiday season, the tips below can help you check your safety list twice and feel at ease.

Kitchen

Cooking and baking are a central part of any holiday celebration, but food preparation can also be the source of multiple safety hazards. Before you stir, bake, or fry your favorites, consider the following precautions.

Replace batteries

It should go without saying, but you must maintain your smoke detectors year-round. It’s especially important to replace the batteries before your holiday cooking. Many people try intricate, unfamiliar recipes during the holidays, and it only takes a moment for flames to start in your kitchen while you walk away to use the bathroom or turn your back to prepare something else.

Clean your appliances

Use a bit of elbow grease to refresh the interiors and exteriors of your appliances to reduce the risk of fire from leftovers like grease or crumbs. However, before you do, check that your cleaner is safe for the surfaces of your appliances. Some common agents in all-purpose cleaners are not safe when heated and should be avoided in hot spaces. To play it safe and help your wallet, make a homemade cleaner, such as a 3:1 water and white vinegar solution.

Monitor your food

Food safety never takes a holiday! Check any ingredients lists on new foods or recipes for allergens that members of your household or your guests might have adverse reactions to. When you’re ready to cook, it’s wise to invest in gadgets like a meat thermometer to double-check that your recipes are ready to serve. Additionally, after your meal, promptly put any leftovers in the fridge or freezer so they don’t spoil.

Decor

Many people love to go all out with lights, a tree, and candles to bring home the holiday spirit—all of which can be safety hazards if they aren’t set up and maintained correctly. Spend a few extra minutes during your decorating to keep your pieces beautiful rather than dangerous, as below.

Contain candles

The warmth, light, and scent of candles bring joy, and, because of that, they are a decorative staple for the holidays. However, at this time of year there are more than twice as many candle fire calls across the US as normal. To mitigate this risk, invest in sturdy holders, use clear surfaces, and never leave candles burning while you’re sleeping or away from the room. If you prefer candles for the ambiance over their scent, consider flameless candles, which provide the same glow without the fire hazard.

Tend to your tree

A Christmas tree can be a central point of decor that you look forward to dressing up with your loved ones. But you can take a few steps to ensure your tree looks its best without ruining your holiday. For example, keep your tree well-watered. A well-watered tree is less likely to catch fire, and you can prevent a tree fire by positioning it away from any heat sources, unplugging lights at the end of the night and while you’re sleeping or out of the house. Lastly, try not to overload your tree with too many lights and ornaments.

Manage plugs

Do not attempt to cram all your plugs into one outlet. Plan your decoration placement to strategize where you’ll need extension cords. Check that your lights and electric other decor are a proper wattage for your outlets. It’s better to have less decor to avoid tripped wires and burnt outlets. The best way to mitigate the jumbled look and safety hazard of crowded outlets is to use pieces with rechargeable batteries wherever possible.

Weatherproofing

Winter can be full of unexpected weather that can change plans and make the roads near your home unsafe, and holiday plans can add stress to the mix. Make sure your home and household are prepared in case bad weather strikes.

Control heat

Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned before you roast your chestnuts in an open fireplace. If you don’t have a fireplace and plan to use space heaters, be sure to keep them away from flammable objects. They should be away from all surfaces and set to oscillate, if possible, to distribute the heat evenly.

Stock up

The best way to prepare for a snowstorm or extreme weather is to stock up on necessary supplies. Items like salt, shovels, and a generator can ensure your holiday guests aren’t stranded or left in the dark.

Check your seals

Take the time to check the seals on your home’s windows and doors. If you can fix the seal yourself, do so before you decorate to save the time of redecorating. Consider hiring a professional to check and repair any cracks, and invest in draft stoppers so your heating bills don’t ruin the holiday spirit.

Have a safe and happy holiday season by keeping these home safety tips in mind.