February Home Maintenance Checklist

Now that we’ve all recovered from the holidays, we’re back into our routines – let’s take a look at our homes and what needs some attention after the holidaze.

Your February Checklist

Home Maintenance Tasks

  • Check caulking and grout around sinks, showers, and tubs; repair as needed
  • Regularly check roof and gutters for ice dams and icicles
  • Clean and vacuum curtains, window blinds, and ceiling fans
  • HVAC system: vacuum and dust
  • Clean garbage disposal: Run with crushed ice to sharpen, then with baking soda and citrus peels
  • Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors; replace batteries as needed
  • Plumbing: check for leaks on supply lines to sinks and toilets
  • Repair any interior wall damage; touch up paint as needed or paint an accent wall
  • Electrical: Test and reset all ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles; check all extension cords for wear and tear

Home Care Tips

Spruce up your entryway

Clean off the mud and snow, salt, and general dirt build up. Organize winter boots and gear and take a few minutes to thoroughly clean the porch, floors and put everything in its place.

Declutter your paperwork

Organize your bills and discard paperwork that has piled up. Set up your home workspace to be a pleasant area where you can tackle those bills and keep your life organized.

Purchase tax software

Get your tax information in order, and if you do your own taxes, now’s the time to order your tax software. Look for discounts, like AAA or employer benefits discounts, that can save you a good chunk of money.

Recycle e-waste

Collect your old cell phones, printer cartridges, and batteries and head to a recycling center or store that will take this stuff off your hands. Some stores offer discounts on print cartridge purchases when you recycle the old ones with them.

Make something for the people you love

Custom-made Valentine’s, baked goods, handmade gifts, and homemade dinners are always welcomed by family, friends, and partners. Treat yourself to some chocolate and flowers while you’re at it!

Book your summer rental

Make your warm weather plans now and put a deposit down to reserve your spot. You’ll be glad you booked that charming cottage or BnB now before the prime locations are all gone.

feb-home-checklist-674

 

I read this article at: Here

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

Home Repair No-Nos: Repair Tips for Every Homeowner

Are you a first-time homeowner? Have you purchased a new-to-you home? Either way, you have a lot to do. When you’re starting out as a new homeowner, it can be hard to know the right things to do and NOT to do when it comes to home maintenance, cleaning, and general upkeep. Here is some guidance to help you know what not to do.

New Homeowner No-Nos – Inside

Sealants

Needlessly applying sealant to surfaces can permanently discolor stone, concrete, and glass, to name a few. Never use sealant on natural materials like quartz, plastic materials like laminates, or commercial acrylic products such as Formica and Corian. Generally, most materials will not need reapplication of sealants very often. Instead, test surfaces using water to check if it’s time to reseal. For example, if water on a kitchen countertop no longer beads, it may be time to reapply.

Drain Cleaners

Chemical drain cleaners contain active ingredients that can damage plumbing. Drain cleaners may seem like easy, short-term fixes for clogs, but they can lead to long-term, costly problems. And the chemicals in drain cleaners are just plain bad for the earth. Instead, invest your money in a good plunger, a drain snake for tougher clogs, and if those plumbing tools don’t work, call a plumber.

Glass Cleaners

Here’s a little-known consequence to spraying commercial glass cleaner on mirrors:  The liquid can seep into the backing on many types of mirrors, leading to discoloring around the edges of the mirror over time and irreparably damaging the backing. Instead, simply dampen a microfiber cloth with warm water and immediately apply a dry cloth to remove excess water.

Bleach

Bleach is actually damaging to most elements and materials found in use in homes. Do not use bleach to clean sealants on granite and other stone surfaces, vinyl, linoleum, and laminate materials, colored grout, enamel, or acrylic surfaces in a bathtub. Never mix bleach with cleaners that contain ammonia! Doing so produces highly dangerous and toxic vapors. Instead, use a vinegar solution. Nothing is better or healthier for cleaning most surfaces in your home.

New Homeowner No-Nos – In and Out

Caulk

Using the wrong caulk can be damaging. That’s because there is a right caulk for the kitchen, bath, gutters, brick or concrete, mortar, and so on. The wrong caulk won’t adhere, or will breakdown, allowing moisture to seep in, or compromise the surface you’re caulking. Instead, ask your local hardware specialist for advice on buying the right caulk for your project.

Tools

Invest in well-made tools for your new home – a hammer, screwdriver set, ladder, and maybe a mower. Avoid buying inexpensive, knock-off brands even if you’re on a budget – they are not made to last. Instead, for budget-conscious homeowners, visit yard sales and look for used tools from quality brands, or start slow with a basic toolbox and build up your set over time.

New Homeowner No-Nos – Outside

Mulch

For your first landscaping project, do not over-mulch. Too much mulch can suffocate plants and prevent water from reaching roots. Instead, add mulch to no deeper than three inches.

Ivy

It may look charming, but ivy will keep growing. Eventually ivy will spread under a home’s siding or shingles, damage their integrity, and ultimately cost you, either in replacing siding, providing entry points for invading pests, or both! Instead, research how and where to thoughtfully plant ivy. A quick web search can also provide better alternatives for plants to safely grow along the base of your home. Note: Plants need to be placed two feet minimum away from the foundation.

Trees

Planting trees close to a home may look nice when the trees are young, but they grow, too! You need to consider the room that baby tree will need at maturity. Trees planted without thought to full height can grow roots that push up through your driveway, sidewalk, and foundation. Instead, plant each tree according to its height and root spread at full maturity. The Arbor Day Foundation has a handy tree spacing guide to help you ensure adequate clearance from your home, fencing, and so on.

Firewood

Do not store firewood right outside your home against exterior walls, otherwise you will invite termites and other pests into your home. Instead, keep firewood at least twenty feet from your home, or further if your property provides room to do so. Better to take a small hike out to the wood pile than let pests make an easy hike into your new home.

 

I read this article at: HERE

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

 

Does Your Home Need a New Coat of Paint?

It’s often during the winter our homes take a beating and we notice it needs a little TLC.  Great time to plan ahead….

Does Your Home Need a New Coat of Paint?

It is amazing what a fresh coat of paint can do to update the look of your home. Not only will new paint look better and increase the value of your home, it will also protect you home and save you from costly repairs down the road. Here are some things to consider before you set out to paint your home.

The Best Time to Paint Outdoors

This really depends on where you live, but you’ll want to paint when temperatures are moderate and the weather isn’t too hot or cold. In some areas, fall is a great time to paint, but in other areas it might be too cold at night. The best temperatures for painting outside are typically between 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit, but many new paints will cure in temperatures as low as 35 degrees F.

DIY or Hire a Pro

Even if you’re used to tackling interior painting projects, painting the outside of your house is a big job. When you factor in your time, tools, and material, it might be worth the cost to hire a pro. Here are some things to help you decide:

  • Your house type and features – A one-story ranch house is relatively easy to paint, while a two-story Victorian is a big challenge. Similarly, a house on a hill or slope will be a trickier task.
  • The condition of your exterior – Is there blistering or peeling paint? Do you have siding problems like wood rot? If so, prep work can be up to half the job. Don’t like prep work and just like to paint? Consider hiring a pro to do the prep for you.
  • Tools and materials – Do you need special ladders or scaffolding? A pressure washer or paint sprayer? Price out the cost of renting or purchasing what you need – including paint – and then compare this to the cost of hiring a pro.

When in doubt, get a couple of bids from different painting pros.

What Will it Cost?

Determining what painting your home will cost involves many factors: home size, number of stories, exterior condition, and more. According to homeadvisor.com, the national average cost for hiring a pro to paint a single story house is about $2,800. Angie’s List reports a higher average of $3,700. If you’re doing the job yourself, make sure you factor in the tools and equipment you’ll need to purchase (or rent) as well as the cost of the paint. Good exterior paint can cost from about $30 to $70 per gallon. It’s worth the money to buy good paint, as cheaper paints often mean you have to repaint sooner. If you’re using a painting contractor, make sure you specify the paint you want to use when you get a bid.

Choosing the Right Color

And last, but by no means least, you need to choose the right color for your home. First, consider the style of your home and the character of your neighborhood. You don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, but you don’t want to look just like every house on the street either. As you’re thinking of possible colors, don’t forget to consider existing colors on or around your home, like the roof, stone, or brick, and landscaping. Also make sure you paint a swatch on the front of your home and look at the color at different times of day. Finally, many paint manufactures have online tools and apps to help you visualize and explore different paint options for your home.

 

I read this article at: HERE

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

 

Get Your Fireplace Ready for Winter

There’s nothing quite like the crackling warmth of a fire on a chilly evening. All that comforting coziness, however, eventually adds up to a pile of ashes and soot deposits in your fireplace that needs to be removed. Fires also cause soot and creosote to build up on the walls lining your chimney. Both soot and creosote are flammable and dangerous, and creosote buildup is the leading cause of chimney fires, so it is important to have your chimney periodically cleaned. If you use your fireplace regularly, chimney pros and The National Fire Protection Association suggest having your chimney inspected once per year.

Cleaning Your Fireplace

While cleaning your chimney is typically a job best left to the pros, here are some tips for cleaning your fireplace.

  1. Let it cool. Wait 24-48 hours after your last fire before attempting cleanup.
  2. Use a wet/dry vacuum to easily suck up the ashes. Don’t have a wet/dry vacuum? Try sprinkling cold ashes with used coffee grinds to keep down the dust before you gently scoop and sweep out the fireplace.
  3. To remove soot stains from bricks and stone there are a number of homemade cleaners, all which require a bit of time and scrubbing to work. You can also try a special hearth cleaner. If your fireplace bricks are more than 50 years old, skip the cleansers and just use water.
  4. If regular glass cleaner (or vinegar and water) won’t get heavy soot off fireplace glass, try a special hearth glass cleaner. Don’t mind using a bit more elbow grease? Scrub your fireplace glass with newspaper, water, and a little ash. If stubborn stains remain, you can use a razor blade to scrape the glass clean.

Fireplace Tips

  • To keep the build-up of creosote at a minimum, only burn well-seasoned (dried) firewood. Green wood is not only difficult to start and keep burning, it creates a smoky fire and increases soot and creosote build-up.
  • Sprinkle your fireplace ash on your garden beds and rake into the soil lightly (skip the ash on acid-loving plants like rhododendrons and azaleas). You can also add ash to your compost pile.
  • Schedule chimney cleaning in the spring and you’ll likely get faster (and maybe even cheaper) service.

Tired of the Hassle?

Love a good fire, but tired of the hassle of stacking firewood and cleaning ashes? Consider a gas fireplace insert. Flip a switch and presto! You have instant fire with no work and no smoke. Today’s gas inserts are an efficient, low-maintenance option to warm your house.

 

I read this article at: HERE

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

 

Winter To-Do Checklist

Winter is quickly approaching and for many of us that means rain here in the Bay Area but our investment properties in Tahoe need anntention.  So do those heavy jackets to deal with freezing temps, wind, snow, and ice. Pull up those rain boots becuase it is important to winterize your home for the months ahead. Use this handy checklist and be ready for whatever old man winter has in store for you. But don’t forget to take time to enjoy the many fun things that make wintertime so special. 

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I read this article at: Here

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.
 

12 Ways to Make Your Home Healthier

Your home affects your health. In fact, research shows that when your surroundings are appealing to you, they are more healing to you as well. So when you make improvements to your home’s environment, those changes improve your well-being and affect your frame of mind, immune system, and physical health in beneficial ways. Here are a dozen simple, positive changes to make to and in your home that can improve your health and quality of life.

6 Steps to a Better Home Atmosphere

Let this stat sink in before you read on: according to the EPA, “the average American spends 93% of their life indoors.” On its face, that’s a scary stat, and while it’s likely that percentage will vary for you, your home will be where you spend most of your time. So it makes sense to do everything possible then to make your home your sanctuary, right? Here’s what can help:

  1. Reduce clutter. Start simple by keeping your home’s entryway clutter-free. Just a regular upkeep of the front porch and the area when you step inside the front door can improve how you feel about coming home and being at home.Next, add a morning pickup routine of items like shoes, backpacks (get the kids involved), and bags. When you return later, you’ll feel a welcome sense of harmony rather than disarray.
  2. Finally, if needed, create new storage areas, so you and your family have enough space to have everything in its place. This declutter checklist has more great ideas for making your home clutter-free.
  3. Bring the outside in. Greening up your home with plants can freshen the air, remove certain toxins from the air, and enhance feelings of calm and happiness. These five houseplants that help provide all of those benefits.
  4. Enhance indoor lighting. Adding more natural daylight in your home, which we need, can improve mood and even help regulate biological rhythms. It is recommended that the lighting in your home, whether artificial or natural, reach a minimum of 1,000 lux to provide healthful benefits.
  5. Change your color. Did you know that colors can either perk you up or weigh you down? Color is powerful. It can affect how you feel, alter your mood, and impact your health. Do a quick internet search for advice on the effects of color, so you choose paint for walls and ceilings in your home that best suits you but also helps you feel content.
  6. Create retreat space. A peaceful retreat space should be clutter-free and ideally include some natural plants and lighting. Add a few special items or personal decor to the space, comfortable seating and pillows, treasured pieces on walls, and so on. Include candles or essentials oils, and find ways to reduce noise or add subtle white noise to make the retreat meditative and quiet.
  7. Get a pet. Having a pet can benefit your health. Studies show that pets can, for example, relieve stress and lower blood pressure.

6 Changes at Home to Improve Physical Health

Here’s another stunning EPA stat from a recent study. It found that “concentrations of some [indoor] pollutants are often 2 to 5 times higher than typical outdoor concentrations.” Removing toxins and other pollutants from inside your home can keep you healthier. So it makes sense to do everything possible then to avoid an indoor environment in your home that makes you sick, right? Here’s what can help

  1. Use air purifier. These products may be expensive, but they can be very effective at cleaning inside air of dust, pollen, mold, and more. Shop around for the most highly rated air purifier. Can’t buy one just yet? Simply opening windows in your home on a regular/frequent basis, weather permitting, can help freshen stale indoor air.
  2. Denounce chemicals. Use natural cleaners, like vinegar, for many household cleaning chores.
  3. Vacuum often. It is recommended that you vacuum once per week at a minimum to control dust mites, and reduce allergens.
  4. Choose candles wisely. Many candles contain chemicals that can be toxic. Worse still, some wicks actually contain metal. Netiher ingredient is a healthy idea to burn inside your home. Choose beeswax or vegetable-based candles with all-cotton wicks.
  5. Use glass not plastic. Invest in glass containers for storing food and leftovers to reduce the potential for plastic to leech into foods from plastic containers. Use stainless steel water bottles. And eliminate plastic straws from your life. Use stainless steel or paper straws instead.
  6. Make use of exhaust fans. The exhaust fan in your bathroom is your friend — use it for showering and bathing every time!

I read this article at: HERE

Got Real Estate Questions?   The Caton Team is here to help.

We strive to be more than just Realtors – we are also your home resource. If you have any real estate questions, concerns, need a referral or some guidance – we are here for you. Contact us at your convenience – we are but a call, text or click away!

The Caton Team believes, in order to be successful in the San Fransisco | Peninsula | Bay Area | Silicon Valley Real Estate Market we have to think and act differently. We do this by positioning our clients in the strongest light, representing them with the utmost integrity, while strategically maneuvering through negotiations and contracts. Together we make dreams come true.

A mother and daughter-in-law team with over 35 years of combined, local Real Estate experience and knowledge – would’t you like The Caton Team to represent you? Let us know how we can be of service. Contact us any time.

Call | Text | Sabrina 650.799.4333 | Susan 650.796.0654

Email |   Info@TheCatonTeam.com

 

The Caton Team – Susan & Sabrina
A Family of Realtors
Effective. Efficient. Responsive.
What can we do for you?

The Caton Team Testimonials | The Caton Team Blog – The Real Estate Beat | TheCatonTeam.com | Facebook | Instagram | HomeSnap | Pintrest | LinkedIN Sabrina | LinkedIN Susan

Want Real Estate Info on the Go?  Download our FREE Real Estate App:  Mobile Real Estate by The Caton Team

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices – Drysdale Properties

DRE # |Sabrina 01413526 | Susan 01238225 | Team 70000218 |Office 01499008

The Caton Team does not receive compensation for any posts.  Information is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Third party information not verified.

 

Holiday Hosting: Big Crowd, Small Space

Planning a holiday gathering? Wondering how you’ll pile a big crowd of friends or family into a small space, without hitting the eggnog early and often? Relax. Take the time to plan your space, don’t over-decorate, keep the food simple, and get organized. Here are a few tips to help.

Clean and declutter ahead of time

Thoroughly clean the fridge and freezer. Recycle old magazines, put away mail and paperwork, and any unnecessary knickknacks or items that take up floor or counter space. Put away countertop appliances you won’t be using. Focus on deep cleaning bathrooms and kitchen, and vacuuming carpets and upholstery. If you’re crunched for time, and you can afford to have your house cleaned, do it. Even if it’s up to a week before, things will still feel fresh, and you’ll just have to touch up and wipe down kitchen and bathrooms before the party.

Rearrange furnishings if needed for seating

You’ll want to make the most of the space you have available. If you’re renting or bringing in chairs, benches, tables, or TV trays, you may need to rearrange (or remove) some things. Set up chairs and tables to make conversation areas. If you don’t have a dining area large enough for all your guests, just be sure you have enough chairs for people to sit when they eat, and a surface nearby to set their drinks. Most folks are comfortable sitting on a couch, or on a folding chair by a coffee table, or even standing at the counter to eat. Be sure you have a practical spot for any elderly guests.

appetizer

Make-ahead menu

Whether it’s a holiday cocktail party, brunch, or mega Christmas day event with all the in-laws, the key to pulling off a great menu is organization and simplicity. Make as many dishes ahead of time as you can. You can freeze many baked goods like cookies and quick breads weeks ahead, and casseroles days ahead. Make your dips and prep your veggies at least a day ahead. If guests have offered to bring something, take them up on it. If not, and you are comfortable asking, request that they bring things like appetizers and desserts. Appetizers can take up a lot of refrigerator space, and both can take you a lot of time to make. Plus, it’s always nice to enjoy someone else’s cooking! Be sure to ask your guests to bring dishes that are ready to eat so they won’t be prepping, cooking, and cleaning up during the party.

cupcakes

Strategic serving

Map out where you’ll put all of the food and beverages, including what your guests bring. The night before, I set out my platters, trays, and bowls with sticky notes. It saves time on party day and ensures I won’t forget the dip that is hiding behind the milk in the fridge. To save counter space, think vertical where you can — tiered serving trays are a great space saver. Use recyclable paper or plastic plates to keep dishes from piling up and to save on clean up time. With a large group, I sometimes rent plates and silverware. After dinner I just rinse and set them aside in the garage, which means less mess and more time with my guests. If you’re short on refrigerator space, ice chests are the answer. For parties, I keep two on my deck: one for soda and water and the other for wine and beer.  My aunt always makes a wonderful, fresh, HUGE salad for Christmas dinner. She brings an ice chest packed with a salad bowl, tongs, salad ingredients, and dressing. We set it outside on the porch or deck, out of the way until needed. It saves me a ton of space in my fridge and it’s easy for her to put the salad together just before dinner.

Crowd management

Everyone wants to be in the kitchen, which generally is the worst place when you’re trying to get food cooked or served. The crowding is worse if it’s a small kitchen. Set up food and beverage stations outside of the kitchen area. Place appetizers on coffee tables, ottoman trays, or any visible surface with easy access and away from the kitchen. Repurpose items if needed. Maybe a desk gets a tablecloth and becomes a dessert station, or clear out a couple of bookcase shelves to house spirits, wine, and glasses for a bar station. If you have the luxury of a bit of outdoor space, and weather permits, think about renting a small party tent or awning. Add some heaters and you’ve got additional space for gathering.

bannister

Creating a festive mood

When space is at a premium, keep items like large flower arrangements or centerpieces to a minimum. Get your holiday flair from festive door wreaths, colorful dishes and serving platters, holiday napkins, twinkle lights on windows, candles (battery operated) on sills or mantle, and garland on stair rails. Decorations should help set the mood, not get in the way. Don’t forget music, but keep the volume soft. Lastly, lighting is very important. If you have overhead lighting with dimmers, adjust to soft lighting. If your lamps are too bright, switch out to softer, lower watt bulbs. Battery-operated candles or strands of twinkle lights will add to the holiday sparkle.

A place for everything

When the crowd descends at my Christmas gathering, the first thing that happens is everyone has “stuff” to unload. Items such as holiday gifts, hostess gifts, food for now, food for later, platters and serving tools, coats and purses, ice chests, play pens, and so on all need an assigned place. Be sure you have areas cleared and designated ahead of time for the “stuff” so you can direct your guests to the drop-off spot. This also helps prevents the bottleneck that can happen when guests arrive at the same time.

Enjoy yourself

People love to help, so don’t be afraid to ask. Remember, you are not a caterer or Martha Stewart. A good host takes time to enjoy time with guests and doesn’t sweat the small stuff. If, even with the best planning and organization, your casserole bubbles over in the oven and smokes out your kitchen, temporarily forcing your guests outside for air, laugh it off. It will make a great story for years to come. Cheers!

 

I read this article at: HERE

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