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Prepare to Throw a Party to Remember

Throwing a party can be exhausting; not to mention stressful, if it happens to be an important occasion like a holiday office party, family reunion, or anniversary. However, it is possible to throw a party your friends and family will be talking about long after it ends, as long as you can plan ahead. We have tips and ideas for going above and beyond the customary party setup and what you will need to set a theme, plan the menu and entertainment, and pull together all of the necessary equipment. Then, you will be ready to invite your guests and start counting down the days to the big event!

Invite Your Guests

Plan a guest list and send out the invitations. You can do this via email or send paper invitations through the mail. Be sure to notate:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Address
  • What to bring
  • Dress code (casual, black tie, or business attire)
  • Whether the invitee may bring a guest
  • Specify whether the event is adults only, or if guests can bring their kids

Set a Theme

It’s fun to have a theme, so the guests will know something about the party in advance. Once you settle this detail, you can plan everything else around it. Some possible theme ideas include:

  • Retro
  • Beach
  • Carnival
  • Casino
  • Pirates
  • Superheroes

Plan a Menu

Plan for cocktails, appetizers, a main dish, side dishes, and dessert. To serve a large crowd, you can purchase serving equipment from a party supply company like Equip Supply or Oriental Trading Company. You can make a big event of the food and drink by picking up equipment like:

  • Chafing dishes
  • Coffee brewers
  • Chocolate fountain
  • Cheese dispenser
  • Nacho warmers
  • Popcorn machines

You might also consider setting up a bar for mixed drinks or a station for wine, beer, and soda. If you are expecting a large crowd, you might consider hiring a bartender to mix up and serve the drinks.

Entertainment

Music and dancing is always a great option for entertainment. You can make your own dance floor by simply covering your carpet with a roll of plastic, which you can pick up at your local hardware store. Other ways to entertain your guests can include:

  • Poker tables
  • Photo booths
  • Video games
  • Piano sing-along

Equipment You Will Need

If you’re planning to have at least part of your party outdoors, you’ll need to literally cover yourself with a backup plan in case of rainy weather or too much sunshine. You’ll need some basic event staples and gear, like tables, chairs, and receptacles for cigarette butts if any of your guests are smokers.

For shade and/or protection from stormy weather, you might need:

  • Tents
  • Canopies
  • Tarps
  • Electrical outlets
  • Tie-downs
  • Stakes

Having a festive get-together can be very enjoyable if you plan ahead and have all of the equipment you need. The more preparation you can do ahead of time, the more you can relax and enjoy the special occasion with your guests.

A Simple Guide to Kitchen Chairs

The kitchen table — your family gathers around it to share meals and moments from their day; it is the site of homework assignments and school projects; it is where heated discussions and heart-to-heart conversations happen. In a lot of households, the kitchen table is the heart of the home, and for as many conversations that happen around it, you can also spark a conversation or two about it.

For as much time as you and your family spend gathered around the kitchen table, this is an area of your home where you can really showcase your unique sense of style.

Here are some of the most common solutions for kitchen chairs and seating arrangements for families large and small:

Traditional Kitchen Sets

Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, shall we? This is the kitchen set we all know well. These kitchen chairs — an armchair for one of both ends of the table and side chairs for in-between — match its table counterpart perfectly in material, finish, as well as any additional design elements meant to tie the set together (think a floral stencil or print added to the back of each chair to keep with a theme.)

Mismatched Chairs

When most people think of a kitchen or dining set, they think of just that — a set. That is not, however, always the case. You have options! If you have a kitchen table but no chairs, you can track down a set of completely different chairs to go with it. The key to this option is not to try to find chairs that match your current table too closely. You don’t want your setup to look like you simply bought the wrong chairs by mistake. You can pair a traditional table with upholstered chairs, a dark wood table with lighter wood chairs, or an oak table with white chairs.

Another option is to use chairs that are all different around the same table. This option is gaining in popularity as a hip and edgy kitchen seating solution, but it can also look messy and cheap if not done properly. A surefire way to make sure your kitchen setup doesn’t just look like a mashup of old furniture you found at a flea market or yard sale is to create cohesion. For instance, try painting each chair that is made from a different kind or finish of wood the same color.

mismatched chairs
Photo: lizbauwens/Flickr

Bench Seating

Traditionally seen in country homes and/or in large families keen on squeezing as many children around the kitchen table as possible (though it isn’t always the most comfortable way to do it), bench seating can replace kitchen chairs on one or both sides of a rectangular kitchen table. A cushion for the top of the bench(es) will not only improve the comfort aspect, but it will also bring in an additional design element that can be changed out to match your mood or evolving style, or swapped out by season.

Ultra Modern

If you aren’t a fan of contemporary, rustic, or country style kitchens, then chances are that you’re more of an ultra modern type. Sites like eames chair replica shop aren’t just offering up the white, black, and chrome scoop seats that have become popular over the last few years, but also the newer wire frame and fiberglass chairs with natural wood legs that can be matched to any wooden table.

Top photo: jeremywilburn/Flickr

Tips For Tackling Mold in Your Basement

Basements can be great, and the presence of one was likely on your must have list when you were searching for your home. They provide us with ample storage space, as well as the possibility of turning it into additional living space some day, or a specialty area like a home bar, man cave, or income property. Unfortunately, because basements are below ground level, any plans that you may have for that space could be dashed as the natural conditions of an unfinished basement make it the ideal environment for mold and mildew.

If you have noticed a musty smell in or coming up from your basement, or have seen the presence of mold or mildew stains on any of your basement’s surfaces, follow these tips for stopping the growth and getting rid of it for good:

1. Find the Source of Moisture

Before you attempt to clean and disinfect the area, you first need to pinpoint the problem — unless you want to make cleaning and disinfecting the area a regular part of your routine. Mold needs three things to grow: a dark space with little airflow, organic material, and moisture. A standard unfinished basement or crawl space have all three of these things, making it prime real estate for a spore sanctuary. Ick. In order to get rid of the mold in your basement and make sure it doesn’t come back, you need to eradicate one of these factors — moisture.

The most common culprit for basement moisture is a leaky foundation, improper drainage, and condensation from large appliances. Most moisture issues that occur on concrete basement floors stem from possible moisture coming from the foundation walls. If your foundation is in need of repair, we recommend you call in the professionals right away. Your home’s outside drainage system might also be the source of moisture, as gutters are meant to bring rain water and melted snow away from your home. If they are not doing that, all of that water could be seeping into your foundation and into your basement. Otherwise, check any and all appliances you may have housed in your basement for leaky pipes and hoses: hot water heater, washer, dryer, sink, toilet, etc. When you find the source of moisture, be it a leaky pipe or hose, replace it immediately.

2. Implement Quick and Long-Term Fixes

Are we seriously recommending a quick fix? Yes, at least at first. Until you can completely moisture-proof your entire basement (which we will cover below), there are some fairly quick and easy fixes for at least stopping the growth and spread of mold in your basement or crawl space.

The humidity level in your basement or crawl space should stay below 60%. To ensure that it is, invest in a dehumidifier with a separate gauge to keep track of the humidity level. Make sure that any windows are closed completely and that the dehumidifier is installed properly. When your space’s humidity is at 50% or less, the musty smell that comes from active spore growth will dissipate.

Additionally, a Concrobium mold fogger can be purchased or rented at your local home improvement store. Concrobium kills all active mold spores as well as the airborne particles, and the use of the fogger will ensure that the solution coats all of the space’s surfaces in order to kill and eliminate the mold.

3. Moisture-Proof the Area

If your mold problem is particularly bad and persists past the implementation of the quick fixes we covered above, it may be necessary to take more drastic action.

A masonry waterproofing material can be purchased at your local home improvement store. With a latex base, it can be painted on your walls and stop water from leaking back into your basement. If that doesn’t work, or isn’t a permanent enough solution for your needs, you can also opt to redo your entire basement or crawl space, completely moisture-proofing the area by putting in new concrete or putting a new render onto the walls, like rendering service Sydney. This way, you can ensure that the work done in your basement is up to date and done right.

Moisture and mold in the basement or crawl space area is one of the most common issues any homeowner can face. By following these three steps, you can make sure that you will only go through this experience in your current home once.

Note: Whenever you are around mold, it is very important to wear protective gear, including a respirator mask. Coming into contact with or inhaling mold spores can make you sick. Additionally, if you have a breathing disorder such as asthma or emphysema, you should not attempt to remove mold in your home yourself. Please contact a professional.

Top photo: hhenvironmental/Flickr

Creepy, Crawly, Crazy-Cool Halloween Party Inspiration

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with MODE.

Of all the holidays, events, and special occasions we throw parties for, Halloween has got to be one of the most fun. There are so many spooky themes, characters, and ideas you can run with!

Whether you like blood and guts, eerie elegance, or cutesy gore for the kids, you’ll find it all in the story slideshow below — edible eyeballs, sweet spiders, oozing brains, cackling witches and their many concoctions, and more. Check out the story slideshow below for all of the Halloween party inspiration you will need.

Note: If you are running an ad blocker, you will need to disable it to see the slideshow.

Check out Creepy, Crawly, Crazy-Cool Halloween Parties

by Jillian Tohber Leslie at Mode

3 Ways to Save Money on Your Utility Bills

If you are a homeowner, you know all too well the large number of expenses that pop up. While some of the expenses you will encounter are unforeseen and unavoidable, you can take steps to save money on your overall cost of living, particularly as it applies to your monthly utility bills. Utility bills can burn a hole in your wallet, especially during the summers and winters when your heating and cooling demands are at their highest. To offset these necessary costs, here are some common sense solutions for lowering your electricity and gas bills. Your budget will thank you.

1. Invest in New Windows

Many homes are still fixed with their original windows, which can be a big problem if your home wasn’t built within the past five years. Older windows weren’t created with the same quality of materials we have today and don’t perform up to today’s standards. More often than not, they are drafty and capable of wasting thousands of your hard-earned dollars every year. When you invest in newer, energy efficient windows, they will eventually pay for themselves with the money you will save on heating and cooling bills.

2. Shop Around for a Utility Company

As you likely do with most other things in your life, it is a good idea to shop around when choosing a utility company. Whether it’s electricity, gas, internet, or phone service, if there is not currently a monopoly in your area forcing you to choose one company over another, explore your options to make sure you are getting the most bang for your buck. Columbia Utilities is known for having some of the lowest rates in the industry.

3. Adjust Your Thermostat

Way too many people make a habit of keeping their homes too warm during the winter and too cool during the summer. While this may feel comfortable, the resulting energy bill will be much higher than it could be. There is substantial savings in adjusting your thermostat. During the spring and summer, it is generally recommended to keep your thermostat set to 78 degrees Fahrenheit before the cooling system should kick on. During the winter months, you can keep your thermostat at 68 degrees Fahrenheit to remain comfortable while not being forced to pay an astronomical energy bill. For even more savings during the cooler months, set your temperature a few degrees cooler at night and use winter blankets to keep warm while you sleep instead of letting the heat run.

How do you save money on your utility bills?

Top photo: eflon/Flickr

3 Easy Ways to Update Your Home Without Breaking the Bank

Does your home need updating, but you don’t have the budget for a major renovation? There are many ways that you can easily make changes to your home that will make it feel brand new again without spending a fortune. Whether the style of your home is out of date or you just need a change, read on for three easy and relatively inexpensive ways to update your home with a fresh look.

1. Update Your Lighting

The way a room is lit can dramatically change the way being in that space makes you feel. For example, brightly lit spaces give off an open and airy feel, while dimly lit rooms can make you feel cozy and romantic. Try playing with different light bulbs, fixtures, and placements. Floor lamps are a very inexpensive way to change the lighting up in your home. If your budget is slightly larger, you can also consider having recessed lighting or chandeliers installed.

2. Change Your Interior Doors

Interior doors are something that most people rarely think about when giving their homes an update. Oftentimes, homeowners never change the original doors that were installed when they bought their home. Yet an interior door can make a big difference when it comes to the style and feel of your home. Consider switching things up by looking at various interior door styles and colors. You can even mix and match doors throughout your home.

3. Try Removable Wallpaper

Removable wallpaper is all the rage in the interior design world as of late, and it is an extremely easy and affordable way to add extra flare to your home. You can find a huge number of removable wallpaper lines featuring various modern patterns, graphics, and colors. The best part is that these products can be safely removed from your walls and reused. This makes it easier than ever to change the look of your space depending on the season, or even your mood. You could also consider accenting one wall with a funky pattern and leave the rest plain for a fun, modern twist.

Top photo: realestaging/Flickr

Tips for Arranging Wicker Furniture

Wicker furniture is both lightweight and easy to care for. If you frequently move your furniture around to freshen up your space, wicker allows you the pleasure of forgetting how heavy a traditional dining room table or couch can be; and to keep it clean, all you have to do is wipe it down with a warm washcloth. If you’re looking to create a beautiful setting on your patio or sun room, these reasons are precisely why wicker furniture is worth consideration.

Companies like Wicker Paradise have various styles of furniture to choose from and a myriad of colors to suit your tastes and the theme of your overall area. The first thing that you need to decide on is what the focal point of your space will be. This could be a single wall or a section of a sun room where you will create a chic and comfortable seating area. The rest of your decor will stem from that focal point or the primary theme of your space.

wicker living set

When you are placing your wicker furniture pieces, you want to think of an overall theme for your space. This can dictate the style of furniture you will use. For instance, a couch might have a bench cushion if you plan on entertaining friends and family. To create a relaxing atmosphere, consider wicker chairs with pillows from companies like Lane Venture so that you can read, watch television, or listen to music while enjoying your space. You can also arrange the furniture to create a fun statement. This would be ideal for a space where children or teenagers will hang out.

Use the longest wall for the longest piece of furniture. You can expand upon that seating area to create one cohesive space, or break up the room into separate seating areas by placing chairs and a table in a corner of the room that wouldn’t otherwise get a lot of traction. Try to keep a path open to make it easier for everyone to maneuver around the furniture. Plants can be a great finishing touch for a room, as well as a few picture frames or other knick-knacks that can tie into your overall theme or color scheme.

Home Security That Works

There are many different types of home security, but the only one that offers real peace of mind for your family, and protection for your possessions, is a home monitored system. When you have home security monitoring, your alarms are monitored by professionals day and night throughout the year, and they will send the proper response team, whether it is the police, fire department or emergency medical personnel, to your home within minutes.

What is Home Monitoring?

When your home security system is monitored, there is constant communication between your system and your security provider. When your system receives an emergency signal such as a break-in or fire, it communicates with the central monitoring station where the proper authorities are notified and sent to your home.

You’ll have a system control panel that is the center of a network of sensors on the places of your choosing. This may be windows and doors and may include sensors for motion detectors, tampering, flood, smoke or temperature. When any of these sensors are triggered, they send a message to the monitoring station via your telephone or through a wireless modem.

The monitoring center will immediately phone you to verify that the emergency is not a false alarm. If you or someone alone in your home cannot answer the phone, an emergency response team is sent to your address.

Pre-Existing Systems

If your home already has an alarm system, but it is not monitored, a good home security company can unlock the system and reprogram it to work for their monitoring station. Some home security companies will uninstall the system when the owner moves out, but some just abandon the equipment.

Testing Your System

If you want to test your system, you can inform the monitoring station that you plan to do a test. Then you activate an alarm and the monitoring center will tell you which signal they received, what part of the house it came from, and make sure your panel is sending proper communication signals.

If you accidentally set off a fire or burglar alarm, you’ll be called immediately by the monitoring station. You can tell them it was a false alarm.

Unmonitored burglar alarms may or may not scare away a burglar, just like a fire alarm may or may not wake you up in the middle of the night. Your best option for complete peace of mind is to have a monitored system.

Improving Your Mood with Color

Black and gray are known for being drab, depressing colors, but the tendency toward neutral tones can also make you feel lifeless and dull. In general, bright, vibrant colors pick up your mood; pastels and muted tones help you unwind and lessen feelings of anxiety.

Here are some simple tips for getting rid of those excess fawns, tans, and navy blues and perk yourself up with color while remaining tasteful and elegant.

The Right Color for the Right Room

Not all colors work in every room. Studies show that yellow makes babies feel anxiety and start to cry, and red can contribute to sleep problems. Blue suppresses your appetite, but the right shade can help you unwind. Yellow is a great choice for kitchens and dining areas., and paler blues, greens, aqua, and lavender are great for the bedroom. Home offices will benefit from medium, blue tones, green, and brown.

Don’t Be Afraid to Be Bold

Most people shy away from bold colors like orange, red, or yellow. However, when you choose the right shade, they can do wonders for brightening up your home. While most decorators advise you to choose these colors as accents, a muted rose can liven up your sitting room or family room, and the right shade of peach can add a glow to your cheeks in an intimate setting.

Borrow From Nature

Being outdoors can liven your mood and help you cope with depression, so why not bring a little of the outdoors indoors with shades of violet, daffodil, or geranium. Adding color doesn’t mean you have to overdo it, you can incorporate lilac into your dining room chair covers or upholstery, or a creamy apricot color for your bathroom walls.

Choosing the Right Mix

If you’re going to go with a bold, cheerful color on your walls, use something in a muted or pastel shade for accessories; or vice versa if your upholstery and curtains are in a vibrant green or blue.

Color isn’t limited to your curtains or the paint on your walls. Candles, colored light bulbs, and the right accessories can also add splashes of beneficial, mood-boosting hues to your home. Balsam Hill Reviews and other decorating websites offer their customers a nice range of decorative trends and traditional favorites for any season or occasion. Once you choose your motif and colors, it’s easy to find just the right accessories to put the finishing touches on your home decor and instantly begin improving your mood.

Top photo: jackiegiardina/Flickr

Give Your Home Interior a Boost

You flip through magazines all the time and watch shows where home makeovers happen in a snap. You’re ready to give your living space a face lift, but you’re not sure where to begin. It can be overwhelming, especially when you need to think about the cost of everything that is involved and what you can do on your own. You’d be amazed at the changes you can make without spending a fortune. It’s time to get the most out of your home. Start small and watch the transformation of your home interior begin.

Revive Your Furniture

You don’t have to buy new furniture to breathe new life into your home. Seat backs from the Foam Factory can give you that extra support you have needed. Consider covering your furniture with colorful covers, adding throw pillows, or having furniture cleaned with a steam cleaner. Bring pieces out of storage and send others to the attic. Move your furniture around and experiment with new arrangements to give the feeling of a new, luxurious home.

Create a New Color Scheme

Looking at the same colors for years on end can really get on your nerves. It’s time to shake things up and give each room a fresh coat of paint. You will often find great bargains in the clearance section of your local home improvement store when customers change their minds about a certain color. Someone else’s mistake might be perfection for you.

Give Your Bathroom Some TLC

The bathroom is often overlooked, treated as a practical room without any flair. You can give it some pizzazz. New paint, a shower curtain, and accents can make it feel like a transformed space. Consider throw rugs or new flooring for a change.

Open Up Your Interior

One of the best ways to have a home makeover of your own is to give yourself more room. Get rid of all of the clutter in your home, becoming more organized along the way. If you don’t need something, it is time to let it go. Have a garage sale or send things out to a charitable organization. You will feel a new kind of freedom when your home has more open space. At the same time, someone else can enjoy any items that you don’t need or want anymore.

Top photo: thepaperpony/Flickr