Max Hahne - Home Sweet Home

Max Hahne - Home Sweet Home


courtesy of: Max Hahne

Dear Homeowners As the holiday season unfolds, I want to extend my deepest gratitude for your continued trust and support in my role as your real estate expert. Sending you this monthly edition of Home Sweet Home is a gesture of my appreciation, particularly for those moments when you've kindly referred me to your friends and family. This December issue is brimming with festive inspiration. For those looking to host an unforgettable winter movie night, our guide offers a step-by-step plan to transform your living room into a winter wonderland cinema, complete with film recommendations and themed snacks.

On the culinary front, our Winter Citrus recipes, featuring dishes like Citrus-Herb Roasted Chicken and Lemon-Parsley Risotto, promise to add a zesty twist to your holiday meals.

If you're a new homeowner or contemplating a move, our article on impactful home upgrades is a must-read. And for the crafty among you, our Holiday DIY section provides innovative ideas for personalized gift wrapping and holiday cards.

Wishing you a season filled with joy, warmth, and cherished memories.



All About Poinsettias 15

Table of Contents

Learn expert tips on how to care for this iconic holiday plant beyond the festive season.


Transform your living room into a winter wonderland cinema! Dive into our comprehensive guide on how to host a holiday-themed Festive Flicks: How to Host the Ultimate Winter Movie Night

Investing in Your New Home 16 Upgrades that Make a Difference

Unlock the full potential of your new home—whether you're building from scratch or have recently moved in. Discover the upgrades that truly make a difference in value, comfort, and long-term savings.

movie night that captivates audiences of all ages. From

choosing the perfect film lineup to crafting themed snacks, we've got you covered for a night of cinematic magic.

Recipes 12

Holiday DIY 21

Personalize Your Gift Wrapping and Holiday Cards

Winter Citrus

Citrus-Herb Roasted Chicken with Orange-Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

9 DIY secrets to make your holiday gifts and cards as unique as the people receiving them.

• •

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad

Lemon-Parsley Risotto


December 2023

How to Host the Ultimate Winter Movie Night Festive Flicks



Lights, camera, action! Hosting a themed movie night is a fantastic way to bring friends and family together for an evening filled with laughter, excitement, and, of course, great films. Whether you're a film buff or just looking for a fun way to spice up your movie nights, incorporating a theme can take the experience to a whole new level. So, grab your popcorn, dim the lights, and let's dive into the key elements of hosting a themed movie night.

Decide on a Theme Since it’s the holiday season, why not gear the party towards a related theme? You could go classic with It’s a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Stree t or strive for a light-hearted evening of comedy with National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, Elf, or Home Alone. You’re not limited to Christmas themes, of course. Other holiday-themed movies include the musical comedy Eight Crazy Nights , set during Hanukkah and starring Adam Sandler. (Don’t let the animation fool you, this cartoon is PG-13 and best for older kids and adults.) Though celebrated a bit earlier in the fall, Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is well represented in Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham , a Bollywood family drama that includes a memorable Diwali celebration scene. The documentary The Black Candle , narrated by Maya Angelou, explores Kwanzaa’s origins and its impact on African American culture. For kids, there’s the family-friendly short film Kwanzaa At My House , which explains the principles of Kwanzaa through the eyes of children, and the animated Rugrats Kwanzaa Special .


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For a winter celebration that’s not tied to a specific holiday, consider family-friendly options like Frozen or Happy Feet . If you're leaning towards a romantic atmosphere, films like T he Holiday or Serendipity offer a wintry backdrop without the holiday focus. Also consider your guest list when choosing your theme. The older set will likely appreciate the fond memories of black-and-white classic films, and family members of all ages can share in vintage favorites like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and A Charlie Brown Christmas. If you're looking for universally appealing options, consider Cool Runnings for a sports-themed night or Ice Age for a prehistoric winter adventure. But if you plan to show movies with a strong antagonist like those in Home Alone or The Grinch Who Stole Christmas , make sure the themes are appropriate for the youngest in attendance. A girls’ night in or even a double-date situation might set the mood for a Christmas-themed rom-com, of which there are many. Consider The Noel Diary, Falling for Christmas, Happiest Season, Holidate, Love Hard, Single All the Way , and so many more. If you're looking to steer away from Christmas, why not opt for a romantic winter evening with films like Bridget Jones's Diary or a family-friendly winter sports night with Miracle ? In addition to the audience, plan to set the right tone since it will have a direct impact on your theme. Are you wanting to focus on a specific era, such as the 60’s, 80’s, or 90’s? This idea could incorporate anything from hippie holiday decor to big hair and neon ugly sweaters. If cozy and nostalgic is more the goal, encourage holiday casualwear, or flannel pjs and fuzzy slippers, or glitzy formalwear and provide a candlelit backdrop to the evening. For a more general winter atmosphere, films like Blades of Glory offer a comedic take on winter sports, while Frozen provides a magical winter landscape that can be enjoyed by all.



Choose Your Movies Once you've settled on a theme, identify movies that best match the occasion, using some of those mentioned above or choosing from innumerable other options. Another way to approach the planning stage is to start with your favorite movie set around the holidays and work the theme of the evening around that. Imagine a 007-theme paired with On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Want to highlight the coming of a new year with movies that capture that magical feeling of possibility and renewal? Fantasy films like The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Golden Compass capture these New Year’s and Winter Solstice themes in wintry settings. For the Lunar New Year, try Kung Fu Panda Holiday .

You can also break outside the holiday classics and dig up some hidden gems instead. For example, movies from DC and Marvel could be the backdrop for a superhero/ holiday themed evening with films such as Iron Man 3 , Hawkeye , or Spider-Man: No Way Home .

Send the Evites

Sending an evite for a holiday-themed movie night is a great way to share information and build excitement for the event. Even if movie night is simply for your family at home, add a festive touch by formally inviting your kids and spouse to the party. Select an online platform that allows you to create and send personalized invitations. Popular options include Evite, Paperless Post, or Canva. They are easy to use and help you stay organized with guest lists and RSVPs. Plus, you can send the invitations via text or email so you don’t have to track down contact information if you only have one or the other. Look for a template that suits the holiday theme of your movie night. This could include images of snowflakes, Christmas trees, menorahs, fireworks or other festive elements. Ensure the template you choose has space for the necessary event details. Personalize the evite by adding relevant information. Include a catchy and descriptive title such as "Holiday Movie Night Extravaganza" or "Cozy Christmas Cinema Gathering." Be sure to be clear about who is invited. Is it a family event? An adult-only evening? A kid gathering?

Specify the date and time of the movie night. Make sure to mention both the start time and the estimated end time. Also outline whether the event will be held at your home, a friend's house, or any other location. If it's an online event, provide the necessary details for virtual participation. Mention the movie(s) you plan to screen during the event. You can provide options for attendees to vote on their preference or surprise them with your selection. If you want guests to come dressed in holiday-themed attire, include a note about the suggested dress code. Highlight any specific instructions or requests, such as bringing snacks or blankets. Include a clear RSVP deadline and provide your contact information for guests to respond. Specify whether you prefer RSVPs through email, text message, or any other preferred method. Once you've completed all the necessary information, review the evite for accuracy and completeness. Then send it out to your guest list. Keep track of the RSVPs as they come in. If there are any changes to the event details or reminders you need to send, do so promptly. It's also helpful to send a reminder a day or two before the event to ensure everyone has it on their calendars. Remember to have fun with your evite and infuse it with the spirit of the holiday season. With a well-crafted invitation, your guests will be eagerly looking forward to your holiday- themed movie night.





Now comes the fun! Start by mapping out some related decorations. It could be as simple as making sure your usual holiday decorations are up in time. Your lights and wreaths and outside decor is ready to set the stage as your guests arrive. Inside, you get to decide how far you want to go with movie posters, balloons, themed plates, party hats, and banners. You can really take things up a notch with props that match those from the movie(s). Transforming your viewing area into a themed wonderland adds an extra layer of excitement to the experience and makes the event more memorable. If it’s a family movie night, get the kids involved in making decorations. If you want to stretch out the experience, invite a friend or two over a few days before the event to help with crafts and setup.

No movie night is complete without snacks! Prepare a spread of delectable treats that align with your theme. If you're hosting a beach- themed holiday movie night, serve up tropical fruit skewers, mini sliders, and refreshing mocktails. For a '90s nostalgia holiday theme, opt for classic snacks like popcorn, nachos, and soda. You can also get inventive and create themed snacks that resemble iconic movie props or characters. The possibilities are endless, and the taste buds of your guests will surely thank you. Enhance the holiday ambiance with delicious themed snacks. Serve up hot cocoa with marshmallows, freshly baked cookies, or candy canes to create a festive treat table. You can also spice up your popcorn with a sprinkle of cinnamon or try our Spiced Gingerbread Popcorn Mix recipe.


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Spiced Gingerbread Popcorn Mix INGREDIENTS: z 10 cups popped popcorn z 1 cup mini pretzels z 1 cup pecans or walnuts z 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted z 1/4 cup molasses

z 1/4 cup brown sugar z 1 tsp ground ginger z 1 tsp ground cinnamon z 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg z 1/4 tsp ground cloves

Optional toppings: z 1 cup gingerbread mini cookies z 1/2 cup white chocolate chips

INSTRUCTIONS: 1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 275°F (135°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. 2. Prepare Popcorn Mix: In a large mixing bowl, combine popped popcorn, mini pretzels, and nuts. 3. Make the Sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Stir in molasses, brown sugar, and spices until well combined. 4. Combine: Pour the spiced butter mixture over the popcorn mix. Toss until evenly coated. 5. Bake: Spread the coated popcorn mix on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes. 6. Cool and Add Toppings: Remove from oven and let cool. Once cooled, add toppings like gingerbread cookies and white chocolate chips. 7. Serve: Transfer to a serving bowl or divide into individual treat bags.





In addition to water, cocoa, and soda, have some fun with adult drinks, too. Make sure to include some mocktail options as well. When it makes sense, match a cocktail to the movie theme. For example, when watching a 007 spy movie, a martini (shaken not stirred) is an obvious choice. For a more general holiday atmosphere, go with some classics like mulled wine. It’s a traditional holiday favorite for a reason with its warm and comforting effects. To make it, simmer red wine with spices like cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. Add a splash of orange juice and a sweetener of your choice. Serve it hot and garnish with a cinnamon stick or orange slice. It’s just as easy to make a nonalcoholic version if preferred, just use your favorite apple cider. Offer warm mulled drinks throughout the party by transferring the drink to a warming crockpot. Set this up as a warm drinks station on a buffet or side bar with a ladle, mugs, garnishes, and napkins so adults can help themselves. Another option is to spike up some hot cocoa with a splash of peppermint schnapps, Baileys Irish Cream, coffee liquor or even a flavored vodka. Eggnog is another quintessential holiday drink. Serve it with a twist by offering a spiked version. Add a splash of rum, bourbon, or brandy to your homemade or store- bought eggnog. Garnish it with a sprinkle of nutmeg for a festive touch. For an added punch combine cranberry juice, orange juice, sparkling water or ginger ale, and (optional) your choice of alcohol such as vodka or champagne. Add fresh cranberries, orange slices, and a sprig of rosemary for a festive garnish. For those who prefer beer or hard cider, offer seasonal options like spiced winter ales, mead, pumpkin ales, or hard apple ciders. You can also create a tasting station with trays of small glasses and a variety of options for guests to sample and enjoy.

Another fun element to consider is dress-up or costume options. Encourage your guests to get into the spirit of the theme by dressing up as their favorite characters from the movies you'll be screening. Whether it's a full-on cosplay or just a subtle nod to the theme, it adds to the fun. Plus, it provides a fantastic opportunity for hilarious photo ops! In fact, consider setting up a photo station with props and a themed backdrop to capture the occasion. Don't forget to create a cozy and comfortable viewing area. Arrange ample seating with plush cushions, blankets, and bean bags. Rearrange the furniture if necessary to create space for everyone to sit or recline. Blow up air mattresses for the kids, add rows of chairs, and supply extra blankets. Bring in the Bean Bags

Set up the Screen and Sound

The movie experience is only partly about the film. It’s also about being immersed in the action. Dim the lights or use string lights to create a warm and inviting ambiance. Consider investing in a good sound system or a projector for a cinematic experience that will transport everyone into the movies. Remember, the key to a successful holiday- themed movie night is to embrace the spirit of the season and create an atmosphere of warmth and joy. Choose movies that resonate with you and your guests, and don't forget to enjoy the magical moments that the holiday season brings. Happy holidays and happy movie watching!

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Winter's here, and you know what that means—citrus season! There's nothing like the bright flavors of orange, grapefruit, and lemon to shake off the chill. Here are some simple yet delicious recipes that make the most of these winter citrus stars. They're perfect for any occasion, whether you're entertaining or just enjoying a quiet meal at home. WINTER CITRUS Recipes

Citrus-Herb Roasted Chicken with Orange-Glazed Carrots and Parsnips

Ingredients: z 1 whole chicken (4-5 lbs) z 2 oranges, sliced z 1 lemon, sliced z 4 sprigs of rosemary z 4 sprigs of thyme z Salt and pepper to taste z 2 tbsp olive oil

Instructions: 1. Preheat the Oven: Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C). 2. Prepare the Chicken: Season the chicken with salt, pepper, and olive oil. Stuff the cavity with slices of oranges, lemons, and sprigs of rosemary and thyme. 3. Prepare the Vegetables: In a separate bowl, toss the sliced carrots and parsnips with melted butter, honey, and a pinch of salt. 4. Arrange in Pan: Place the seasoned carrots and parsnips at the bottom of a large roasting pan. Lay the prepared chicken on top, ensuring it sits on a rack or is elevated above the vegetables. 5. Add Orange Juice: Pour the orange juice over the vegetables, avoiding the chicken to keep the skin crispy. 6. Roast: Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for about 1 hour, or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C) and the vegetables are tender. 7. Serve: Remove the chicken and let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Stir the carrots and parsnips to coat them in the pan juices, and serve alongside the chicken.

z 1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced z 1 lb parsnips, peeled and sliced z 1/2 cup orange juice

z 2 tbsp honey z 1 tbsp butter

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Lemon-Parsley Risotto

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad Ingredients: z 2 grapefruits, segmented z 2 avocados, sliced z 4 cups mixed greens z 1/4 cup olive oil z Salt and pepper to taste

Ingredients: z 1 cup Arborio rice z 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth

z 1 lemon, zested and juiced z 1/4 cup chopped parsley z 2 tbsp olive oil z Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions: 1. In a pan, heat olive oil and add Arborio rice. Stir until translucent. 2. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly until the rice is cooked. 3. Stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, and chopped parsley. 4. Season with salt and pepper.

Instructions: 1. In a large bowl, combine grapefruit segments, avocado slices, and mixed greens. 2. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. 3. Toss gently and serve immediately.



All About Poinsettias

Caring For Your Poinsettia

Many people are under the misconception that Poinsettias are seasonal plants and that once the first bloom is gone (usually three to six weeks), the plant has died, which means these beautiful plants are too often consigned to the trash heap once the festivities have ended. However, your Poinsettias still have a lot of life left in them! After the initial blooming, put the plants in a cool room and water them regularly. The proper way to water Poinsettias is by immersing the pot in a sink filled with room temperature water and then allowing the excess to drain thoroughly for 15 minutes before placing the pot back on the saucer. Never let water accumulate on the saucer as this can cause root rot. Also avoid over watering, which can cause the leaves to wilt and may kill the plant. Reduce watering at the end of spring. The leaves will start falling off indicating the plants are entering their dormant phase. During this time, allow the soil to dry completely for one month. When the month is up, cut the plants back to four inches, then water them to trigger a new vegetation phase. Place the plants in a moderately warm spot; a temperature between 65 to 70°F is ideal. Be sure to place the plants where they can receive bright diffused sunlight for six to eight hours each day. Avoid leaving the plants in areas that are susceptible to warm or cold drafts.

The Poinsettia became inextricably linked to the winter holidays back in the 1600s after a group of Franciscan monks in Mexico began using the plant, which blooms each year from November to December, to decorate Christmas nativity scenes. Now, the association between the Poinsettia and Christmas is so strong that the plant is also known as the Christmas Star or Christmas Flower. Did you know? Poinsettia is always capitalized because the plant was named after the first US Ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett. Poinsettias come in a wide range of colors including the ever-popular red, burgundy, pink, white, cream, yellow, orange, salmon, and even marbled. There are also numerous varieties to choose from, more than 100 in fact! Surrounded by a backdrop of lush green leaves and small yellow flowers at their center, Poinsettias offer a feast of color to help you easily achieve a beautiful, natural, seasonal décor. Poinsettias are also popular host and hostess gifts during the holiday season.

Growing Poinsettias Outdoors

Poinsettias can be planted outside, but they cannot tolerate frost. Bring your Poinsettias inside whenever temperatures dip below 50°F. Poinsettias grow best in areas with moderate climates year-round. Poinsettias can be moved outdoors between May and September. Be sure to feed these plants fertilizer during the summer months but not during the blooming period. Use loosely packed traditional potting soil, as this will allow for adequate training, necessary to avoid root rot.

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If you’re building a new home or have recently moved into one, you might think you'll have complete discretion about every aspect of the design, right? Well, actually, that’s not usually the case unless you’ve chosen to construct an entirely custom built home. In reality, if you’re considering a brand new home, or you’ve just moved into a new build, you’ve probably either been given a choice of a selection of standard home designs and materials or these choices have already been made for your home. From the number of rooms, to flooring and roofing materials, most package options act as a starting point. If you’re willing to pay a bit more, you can get home upgrades during the construction process. Whether you're in the construction phase or have just settled into your new place, you have the option to make upgrades.



What Are Home Upgrades? Here’s the deal. Home builders put together packages that are appealing to potential buyers. The ‘starting at’ price may give hope to those who didn’t think a new home was within their budget or seem like an exceptional deal for someone who’s been following the market. So the conversation starts in regards to what’s included in the purchase price. This is when the buyer finds out the basic cabinets, thin doors, and cheap flooring are all candidates for upgrades--meaning you can pay extra for a higher quality option. In fact, most materials in the construction and finishes of the home can be upgraded. However, the costs add up quickly, driving the home above budget, and maybe even out of budget. Advantages of New Home Upgrades Whether you're upgrading during construction or considering improvements after moving in, there are advantages to making upgrades during the building process. The first is that you can move into the house you want without immediately planning for future upgrades. It’s also less wasteful to put in quality materials from the get-go rather than ripping them out for an upgrade later. Financially, if you don’t expect to have the funds for upgrades anytime soon, it’s a huge benefit to be able to loop the cost of the upgrades in with your initial mortgage loan.


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To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade As tempting as it is to tack on an upgrade here and there, this is the time to step back and get a little perspective. The fact is clear—builders make a huge profit on upgrades. The reason is obvious—they charge you a high convenience fee. Think about it, you already have workers onsite, so choosing one material over another simply means paying for the upgraded materials, right? Not necessarily. Say you’re deciding whether to get a tile backsplash in the kitchen rather than sticking with a drywall finish. That upgrade will cost you in materials, but will also set you back in labor costs. When balancing costs with desires, think about what you can easily upgrade later. If you’re DIY inclined, you can add that tile backsplash later rather than paying a higher price for it through the builder. The same is true for bathroom mirrors, showerheads, faucets, and interior doors. You don’t have to tackle these types of projects before or just after moving in, you can take them on in your own time. When deciding which home upgrades are worth it for your new home, look to the parts of the home that are more expensive to remodel later on. Here are some home upgrades that just might be worth it.

Tall Kitchen Cabinets

You’ll pay a bit more for the taller style, but you won’t have that false soffit above them and you’ll have a lot more storage space. Plus, it’s cost prohibitive to change out all your kitchen cabinets down the road.

Roughed-in Plumbing

This may or may not be a priority for you. Roughed- in plumbing is plumbing work that goes from underground into your house. Often the foundation is poured over it. If you have any dreams of adding a bathroom, outdoor laundry, extra kitchen, or other space that requires plumbing, pay extra for the roughed-in plumbing when you build the home.

Radiant-heat Floors

Radiant heating provides more than just warm floors to walk on--although that’s a wonderful perk. It’s also an energy-efficient way to warm the space. In fact, it will pay for itself over time and provide a more comfortable environment every day. Plus, it’s an upgrade that adds value to the home, especially as energy costs rise. Because radiant-heat floors are installed beneath flooring, it’s an expensive add later on. Save yourself the hassle, and lower the energy bill, by getting them installed during the build. Even if this upgrade is cost prohibitive for the entire house, consider just adding them to the master bathroom instead.



ADA-Compliant Fixtures We can’t always predict what the future holds, but if you foresee anyone in your home potentially needing to use a wheelchair in the future, now is the time to add those ADA features. This applies to any home really, especially since it can add value to the home. But if you or a loved one has special needs, or you plan to age in place for the long term, paying extra for wider doorways, a ramp into the home, and an accessible shower will save you in the long run.


Most new homes come standard with an inexpensive carpet throughout most spaces and vinyl flooring in the bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry. If these floors suit you, great, go with it. However, if you're in the construction phase or haven’t moved in yet, flooring upgrades may be worth doing now. Although these are certainly doable DIY projects, if you’re already paying for installation, this is an example of really only paying for upgraded materials. In terms of the installation itself, it costs the same to install cheap carpeting and pad than it does for a higher quality carpet and pad that will last longer and provide a softer experience. The exception is if you want to upgrade to a different material. For example, wood flooring will cost you considerably more, both because the material costs more and the installation is more time consuming, resulting in higher labor costs. However, flooring that’s all installed at the same time will wear similarly across the spaces whereas trying to match hardwood for an adjacent space down the road will highlight fading and wear in the older floor. If you know you want an upgraded flooring, it probably makes sense to do it during construction.


Electricity is at the heart of your home and it appears we’ll continue to be high electricity consumers long into the future. During the building process, an electrician can easily run wiring for potential additions or specialty equipment. Rather than ripping out wall surfaces to access wires later, plan ahead and have it done during construction. Also consider having them wire an additional circuit box. It’ll cost you a bit now, but will give you a lot of flexibility down the road if you add additional appliances, a hot tub, EV charging station, or complete an unfinished space.


In addition to the warm floors, consider saying yes to other energy-saving upgrades. This can include anything from orienting the house towards the sun to solar panels or Energy Star appliances. You’ll also reap rewards from upgraded insulation that will keep temperatures comfortable within the home. Energy-efficient windows will also save you money by keeping heat out in the summer and drafts out in the winter. The roof is another place you can make an upgrade that will help keep temperatures moderated within the home. Evaluate the cost of options like tiles, metal roofing, and reflective coatings.

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Structural Upgrades

Tankless Water Heaters Tankless systems are available in electric, propane or natural gas fueled models. They work by heating water as it travels through the coils, rather than constantly working to maintain heated water in a traditional water heater tank. You can install one central tankless system or use a separate unit for each area. The central units are more common and only take up a small space not much larger than the household circuit box. However, you can also choose units to install beneath each sink to provide hot water to each bathroom and kitchen. Tankless water heaters will save you money. A conservative estimate is $100 or more per year for the typical family. In addition, because they do not store water, the risk of serious water damage from a leaking water tank is significantly reduced. Some state and federal refunds or credits may also be available if you install a tankless water system in your home.

These are the most expensive, but it makes sense to get the layout right during the initial build. If you have any type of ‘must have’ structural upgrade planned, now is the time to do it. This means laying out the kitchen the way you want. Don’t hold off on a $25,000 kitchen remodel for later if you can get the floorplan changed for $10,000 now. Make it wider, add the island, or put in additional seating. While it will cost you, you spend a lot of time in the kitchen and it’s a new home, so build it the way you want it. Constructing a house is a stressful and busy time. But once it’s done, you’ll have a lifetime of memories in your new home, so take the time to consider your options. Not all builders offer custom touches, so if something is a deal breaker for you, make sure your builder offers it. Before you auto-dismiss or accept the upgrades that are offered, contemplate the cost, the needs, and your ability to make changes later.


Homeowners are constantly seeking more storage. From the pantry to the garage, storage is always a good investment. On the most expensive end, you can pay to upgrade the size of the garage or the basement, giving you room for storage or an additional living space. On the lower end of the cost scale, you can sub-in a deep cabinet above the refrigerator for additional storage and easier access. Similarly, you can add in a closet here and there or upgrade the master closet.



3. Photos as Gift Tags If you’re big on photography or simply prefer a more modern look, use photos for gift tags. This is another easy way to personalize your gift wrapping and it is likely to spark conversations like, ‘Remember when this was taken?’ • Wrap your presents in kraft paper. • Affix the photo of the recipient to the front of the package. 4. Accessorize with a Bonus Gift Multitask! Decorate as you give a little more! You can add something extra, a gift on top of a gift. • Wrap your gift as you wish. • Then add a small “extra” present as an ornamentation. This should be something that shows you know the recipient’s hobbies and interests. For instance, if you are giving something to someone who loves to bake, attach a cookie cutter or two. Know someone who’s into calligraphy? Bind a selection of pens together with ribbon or yarn and attach them to their present. 5. Repurposed Fabrics Do you have old scarves, handkerchiefs, baby clothes, flannels or blankets you no longer use that could be repurposed as fabric? Cut these into gift-wrap sized squares and rectangles and you can wrap gifts by simply tying the corners together. You’ll be surprised how many gifts wrap perfectly in a bundle style! Don’t be concerned if the prints or colors aren’t traditionally associated with the holidays, by adding the right gift tag, toppers, and ribbons, fabric-wrapped gifts give a cozy feel for the winter holidays! 6. Combine a Candle, Matches, and Music to Set the Mood This combination is sure to please, particularly if one of the people on your list loves candles and music! • Cover a matchbook or matchbox with wrapping paper using a glue stick or double-stick tape. • Create a holiday playlist on your streaming service and copy the link. • Write the link on a small piece of paper and slip it inside the matchbox or write the link on the inside cover of the matchbook. • Attach the matches to the center of the candle with double- stick tape. • Place a bow and gift tag on top of the candle.

There’s a reason it’s often said that presentation is everything! Taking the time to put that custom touch on your gift wrapping or holiday card shows you put thought into both the gift and the experience of receiving the gift. Here are 9 creative DIY ideas you can use to make this holiday season extra special with your own distinctive flair. Personalize Your Gift Wrapping and Holiday Cards Holiday DIY

Gift Wrap

1. DIY Pillow Boxes Planning to give small items such as gift cards, money, or lip balm sticks? Try this easy environmentally-friendly approach. • Take the cardboard core from the center of a toilet paper roll and remove any residual paper. • Flatten it. • Take each end and fold the top and bottom inward so that it forms crescent-shaped flaps. • Place the gift inside and secure the flaps. • Cut a strip of leftover wrapping paper wide enough to cover the center of your package and secure it in place in the back. Tie the box with a bit of ribbon or yarn and attach a gift tag. • You can also choose to skip the wrapping paper and decorate the core with your choice of designs using a paint marker, just be sure to paint the core and let it dry thoroughly before folding it! 2. Paper Silhouettes This is a fun yet simple way to make personalized gift tags that will intrigue your family members and undoubtedly lead to a jolly holiday! • Wrap your presents in kraft paper. • Draw silhouettes of your family members on black construction paper. • Cut them out and attach each silhouette to the gifts that belong to the corresponding person. • Finish the gift off with a brightly colored ribbon that contrasts against the brown of the kraft paper and the black tag. • Make a game of it as each member of the family guesses which silhouette is whom!

21 December 2023

2. Handprint Christmas Tree Card It’s fun to get the kids or grandchildren involved in this one!


• Green cardstock • Brown cardstock • Gold foam paper • Scissors • Pencil for tracing • Craft glue or glue stick • Black Sharpie • Green, red, and gold acrylic paint • White acrylic paint • Small paintbrush or cotton swab for applying paint • Optional: Paper towels for cleaning fingers between paint colors 1. Take a sheet of green cardstock and fold it in half. 2. Trace your hand or have one of the kids trace their hand making sure that the wrist stays on the folded part. 3. Cut the handprint out, making sure to cut the top tapered in to make it look like the top of a Christmas tree. 4. Cut a rectangle shape from a piece of brown cardstock to form the trunk of your Christmas tree. 5. Glue the trunk piece to the top of the card. Doing so will give you more space for writing at the bottom of the inside of the card. 6. Use a black Sharpie to draw your Christmas tree light strings by making two swirls. Make sure you space these out adequately so you can fit your fingerprint Christmas lights on them. 7. Use the Sharpie to place three dots on each string of lights. This is where you will place your fingerprints. 8. Use green, red, and gold paint to make your fingerprint lights! 9. Add a touch of white paint to the top of your fingerprints to give the “light bulbs” a more realistic look. 10. Cut a large star out of gold foam paper and glue it to the top of the Christmas tree. 11. Write your personalized message inside. 1. Choose the word you want to write. Some examples could be peace, comfort, or joy. But use your imagination and put your own spin on it! 2. Next, using tacky glue, write your chosen word on the front of a blank stock card. Remember to use the glue tip as you would a pen and allow it to glide as you write the word in cursive. 3. Next, carefully lay the baker’s twine into the glue. Take your time and press the twine into the glue as you go. 4. When you have completed the word, trim the twine and let it dry completely. 5. These are just a few suggestions you can try or use as inspiration to put your own unique crafter’s twist on these creative ways to say happy holidays to all you hold near and dear!

Holiday Cards 1. Washi Tape Fireworks New Year's Card Celebrate the New Year with a bang! This DIY card captures the excitement of New Year's fireworks in a simple, yet eye- catching design.


• Plain stock card • Washi tape in various colors • Scissors • Glitter or metallic markers

1. Cut small strips of washi tape, about 1-2 inches long. 2. Arrange the washi tape strips in a radial pattern to mimic fireworks. Start from a central point and extend the tape outward. Use different colors for a vibrant effect. 3. Use glitter or metallic markers to add little dots or stars around the washi tape fireworks, giving the impression of sparkling lights in the sky. 4. On the inside of the card, write a New Year's message to your loved ones.

3. Winter Word Cards with Baker’s Twine


• Blank card stock • Baker's twine in your choice of colors • Tacky glue with a fine tip applicator • Scissors • Optional: Tweezers for precise placement of twine



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