No need to get nervous about your big holiday party — with a little prep, the get-together will be a breeze, says Vanessa Brunner, a Houzz Editorial Staff Member. She continures, it's mid-December, which means it's officially holiday party time. Christmas cookie parties, holiday potlucks and extravagant dinner parties start to fill every blank spot on the calendar. It's also a time that can get pretty stressful if you've decided to host a festive get-together.

Instead of getting stressed, get organized! Your kitchen will likely be the hub of activity and the spot where guests are going to want to spend time, so it's important to clean every nook and cranny. Make sure your kitchen is ready to take on guests and food to prevent damage and major cleanup later.
Read more about the 10 ways to get ready: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/1006824/list/10-Ways-to-Get-Your-Kitchen-Ready-for-the-Holidays

Published in Landscaping

Where are you supposed to have Grandma sleep when you don't have a guest room? Who controls the thermostat? Who gets the first shower? And do you  have to let your brother bring his dog? Having family come to stay can be both easier (you know what to expect) and harder (fighting is more familiar) than having friends as houseguests. Avoid thermostat wars, pet peeves and the great shower squeeze with these tips for having family as houseguests.

Laura Gaskill, a Houzz contributor, helps us handle these quandaries and more:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/20750713?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u405&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery21

 

Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 16 December 2015 10:03

Gift Ideas for Well-Loved Pets

For all they do for you, it’s time to return the love, says Houzz.com....set your dog’s tail wagging this season with a most comfy bed (or even a hammock) and an elevated feeder that means no stooping. Give cats the run of their own kingdom with trees, posts and toys. If your pet is already spoiled, get something for yourself that pays homage to your best friend, like pictures, pillows and bookends.  See all the great gifts here: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/55691794?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2207&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery23

Published in Landscaping
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 11:28

Gift Wrap Ideas That Add a Personal Touch

Give more meaning to your gift giving with these simple but creative designs, says Amanda O'Sullivan, a Houzz.com Contributor and Lifestyle Blogger with a passion for interiors, stylish living and DIY projects.  O'Sullivan continues, this holiday season why not try a more personalized approach to wrapping and inject more meaning into your gift giving?

Here are some unique and simple ideas to get you started:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/35080963?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2207&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery20


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 14 December 2015 09:12

Deck Your Containers With Holiday Cheer

Do you have 30 minutes and some seasonal greenery? Kim Gamel, a Houzz.com contributor, says you can put together festive garden pots to last through winter.  Instead of emptying your pots and hoping for an early spring, create a holiday arrangement that can add a bit of cheer through even the dreariest of months. Using natural winter greens and branches, you can create a lively splash of green in an otherwise empty container.

Follow this simple guide from Kim Gamel to create an arrangement that’ll last through the holidays and winter.  See and read more:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/5528439?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2207&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery19


Published in Landscaping


No glue required: Just a ball of string and some cardboard are all you need to get started making a garland or gift tag from Sara Rivka Dahan, a Houzz Contributor. See more of these wonderful designs and how you can make these beautiful stars:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/57476229?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2177&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery16

  

Published in Landscaping

During the holidays, natural materials and homemade decorations can make a celebration feel more festive and authentic, but they can also be a lot of work to produce. Instead of taking on the burden yourself, turn some of the decorating into the party itself, says Houzz Editorial Staff member, Annie Thorton.  Thorton suggests to gather with a few friends around the dinner table, sipping something delicious, and follow along as Rhiannon Smith from San Francisco’s Farmgirl Flowers shows us how to create a high-drama centerpiece for a winter fete using flowers, fruit and foliage in reds, pinks, golds and greens to form a colorful runner for a special winter celebration.   

Here are the step by step directions:

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/57002995?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2200&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery3


Published in Landscaping
Monday, 07 December 2015 09:43

10 Dazzling Winter Container Designs

With your summer container gardens no doubt long past their prime and the winter holidays fast approaching, it’s the perfect time to spruce up your containers with some holiday cheer.  From simple to ornate, here are 10 dazzling ways to add a touch of color and sparkle to your home’s exterior this winter.  Get ideas and inspired by these festive arrangements in outdoor pots and planters by Courtney Olander, a Houzz Contributor.

Read and see more: 

http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/51541823?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2177&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery13


Published in Landscaping
Wednesday, 02 December 2015 10:25

December Home Checklist To-Do's

Get organized for the holidays, and prep your home and yard for winter storms says Laura Gaskill, a Houzz.com contributor.  Here are 11 to-do's for the month of December from Gaskill and houzz.com: http://www.houzz.com/ideabooks/56228221?utm_source=Houzz&utm_campaign=u2158&utm_medium=email&utm_content=gallery0

 

For more of Laura Gaskill's ideas visit: http://www.lauragaskill.com

Published in Landscaping
Monday, 30 November 2015 10:44

Chicago Botanic Garden - Wonderland Express

The Chicago Botanic Garden is a Schmechtig favorite and Wonderland Express is open for this holiday season.

Consider going this year to one of the Chicago area's top holiday family-friendly, made-for-memories experience.

Here are the latest reviews:

TripAdvisor.com: 5 star rating “Don’t miss!”
Chicago magazine: “The warmest kind of holiday fun.”
Examiner.com: “A magical adventure!”
WMAQ-TV: “Fun for the whole family.”

Enjoy the amazing exhibition of miniature trains as it winds over bridges, under trestles and through mini-replicas of Chicago's favorite landmarks.

Published in Landscaping
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