The Ultimate Christmas Cookie Roundup

Baking Christmas cookies is one of those home traditions that fills up a kitchen with fun, brings a feeling of nostalgia to the soul and leaves your tummy feel full of love. Here is a roundup of cookies you may find helpful whether you are baking for Santa or for a holiday cookie exchange. Enjoy!

Sugar Cookies

I am pretty sure Sugar Cookies are the official holiday cookie. From sprinkles to frosting, there are countless ways to give these little sugary bites a fun and unique holiday look.

via Delish.com

Salty Caramel Butter Cookies

Rumor on the internet is that this salty sweet recipe is the secret to cookie nirvana.

via Traceys Culinary Adventure

Melted Snowmen Cookies

This recipe may or may not have been the impetus for the writers at Buzzfeed starting Pinterest Fail listicles. If you can nail this recipe the outcome is simply adorable.

Here’s what is SHOULD look like…

via homeiswheretheboatis.com

Here is what the typical Pinterest fail looks like…

Cream Cheese Cookies

These are my ALL TIME favorite cookies. This was my grandma’s specialty and when I take a bite I am brought back to my childhood. Fun Fact: it is impossible to eat just one.

 

via eggmeon

No-Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, and Oatmeal Cookies

Any recipe that doesn’t require turning a stove on is worth a try!

 via Food Network

Cherry Sugar Cookie Macaroons

You can feel good about eating these because they have fruit in them. It’s basically like eating diet cookies ;)

via Pillsbury

Peppermint Christmas Cookies

Colorful + Minty Fresh = YUM!

via Pamela (Food.com)

PB&J Linzer Stars

Since my nickname is Linz, I couldn’t resist leaving out this sweet treat.

Bonus: I’ve heard Santa’s reindeer LOVE peanut butter!

via Parents.com

Chocolate Chip Cookies

It doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, this cookie staple is always a crowd pleaser.

via VeryBestBaking.com

Confetti Cake Batter Cookies

What do you get when you mix confetti sprinkles and cookies? A Christmas party in your mouth!

 

via Sally’s Baking Addiction

Wishing you a sweet Christmas! Have a favorite Christmas cookie recipe to share? Leave it in the comment section below.

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Burglary Prevention 101

Christmas is a popular time for people — including homeowners — to close the shades, turn on a light, lock up the house and travel across the country. Most come back to their home the way they left it; some are not so lucky.

A home burglary happens every 13 seconds in the United States, and the holiday season is no exception. A staggering 66% of burglaries occur in residences, which leaves traveling homeowners at high risk — especially if they haven’t taken preventative measures.

So what should you do to protect your home against a burglar? Consider hiring a home security professional to install an alarm system. And, check out this infographic on how to beat burglars this holiday season:

Provided by HomeAdvisor

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6 Winter Home Energy Conservation and Insulation Tips

Brrrr! It’s getting cold outside, and that means it’s time to turn up the heat in your home. As much as you want to keep your home toasty, you don’t want the utility bill that comes with having the heat turn on every five to ten minutes. Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to keep the warm air from escaping and the cold air from coming in. Here are some tips to increase your energy efficiency and insulation while keeping your house warm and cozy:

Comfort Control of Virginia, Inc.

#1 Clean or replace your furnace filters

According to a recent article on winterization tips, you should clean and replace your furnace filters on a monthly basis. Dirty furnace filters prevent warm air from flowing through the ducts and vents into your house, which makes your furnace work harder and increases your utility bill. By cleaning and replacing your furnace filters on a monthly basis, you will save a little money on your bill and a lot of money in simply preventing the need for a furnace replacement.

You can also replace your temporary filters with a permanent filter. Electrostatic or HEPA filters trap around 90 to 100 percent of debris — and they control bacteria, mold and pollen from getting into the air where they may cause illness or irritation. While these filters can cost anywhere from $50 to $1,000, they’re a worthwhile investment that offers long-term benefits.

#2 Get your furnace serviced

You should have your furnace maintained and repaired as needed. Having your furnace serviced annually can cut its fuel usage by almost 10 percent, which can save you more money on your heating bill. If you didn’t have your furnace maintained by a heating professional in the early autumn, call one now to inspect your furnace and filters for any issues. A professional will also look at your radiators and elements for any dust, breaks and other problems and fix them as necessary. Having this done could save you from spending $3,300 to $4,600 on a new furnace or finding yourself in a freezing cold home in the dead of winter.

#3 Fix drafts and leaks

Leaks and drafts in windows and doors significantly compromise the insulation and energy efficiency of your home. Escaping air forces your furnace to work overtime to keep your home warm, which causes it to turn on every five to ten minutes. To solve this problem, a professional can caulk and install weather-stripping around your windows and doors for around $460. You should also identify and seal leaks around your chimney and any pipes leading into or out of your home.

#4 Lay down additional insulation

Tomahawk Pest Services, LLC

Your attic’s insulation should be between six and 13 inches of loose fill or seven and 19 inches of fiberglass. Measure how much insulation you have; if it’s below the minimum for the material used, add more to keep your home well-insulated and keep your utility bills down. It’s easier to go with loose fill insulation, as it’s made of a flexible material that can fill crevices and joists. You can rent a blower to lay down loose fill insulation, but it’s complicated, and you run the risk of stepping through your attic. It’s probably easier to have an insulation professional come in to do the work.

#5 Lower your thermostat

To conserve energy and save money on your utility bill, you should always turn down the heat when you leave the house. You can save up to 5 percent on your utility bill for every degree your heat is reduced. A programmable thermostat can also help regulate the temperature inside your home, which can save you as much as $200. Talk to your utility company about smart meters to help save money on your utility bills.

#6 Call a home energy auditor

If you make changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency and insulation and are still seeing expensive utility bills every month, you can call a home energy auditor to go through your home and identify any problems you may have. A professional will know how much energy your home consumes, where your insulation is lacking and what you can do to increase your energy efficiency. Look for an auditor that is sponsored by the government and may therefore charge less for an audit than others. After you perform a complete audit with the help of a professional, you can choose which projects to complete to increase your home’s efficiency.

Andrea Davis is the editor at HomeAdvisor, which connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free. Connect with Andrea on Google+

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Expert Advice on Selling a Home During the Holidays

Selling a home during the holidays can feel like a challenge. From winter weather to deciding whether to decorate or not, there are certainly some obstacles. Here is excellent advice from the experts from our global network of Coldwell Banker agents, brokers and offices. Keep it Classic “Should I decorate for the holidays?” This is an extremely common questions for home sellers. It may be family tradition to “deck the halls” across every square inch of your house, but, if you are trying to sell your home, it may be better to scale back. When selling a home, it’s important to present it in a way that others can see themselves living in.

“We encourage sellers to still decorate (if that’s their thing), but not Griswold style decorating…. keep it simple and classy. Mostly keep the walks clear and maybe add a spot for shoe removal just inside.” -Coldwell Banker Terre Haute

Use the holidays to create warmth in your home. “I think lights and color can warm anyone’s heart,” says Heather Ostrom, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Sun Ridge Real Estate in Roseville, CA. With the right touch, holiday decorations can create an emotional attraction for a buyer to your home. A cold, undecorated home can’t compete with one that has the fireplace roaring, the smell of fresh baked cookies, and elegant, yet festive décor. Less is More The holidays can be hectic which means time you normally spend cleaning may be spent at the mall and holiday gatherings. It is important to stay on top of keeping you house clean and tidy, especially if you decide to decorate.  Andrea Geller, a Realtor® with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Chicago, says she loves holiday decorations, but to a point. “However you decorate, don’t distract prospective buyers from the space,” she advises, explaining that holiday decorations can cause clutter, which could potentially make a room or space look smaller.

“Be sure to hide wires from holiday lights. Stick with decorations that aren’t covered in glitter and decorate with intention” -Andrea Geller

If your home is located in areas that get snow, be sure to keep up with snow removal on your driveway and sidewalks. Also, it is a good idea to ask visitors to remove their shoes so you don’t have salt stains on floors and carpets. Stay in Season One area where you likely won’t want to display holiday decorations: your listing photos. Jessica Edwards, an agent with Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage in Wilmington, N.C., says holiday decorations can unintentionally date a photo, especially if the house is still on the market after New Year’s passes.

“Keep it very classic and neutral and if you put a tree where a chair or table typically goes and then jam the table or chair elsewhere in your house for a few weeks you should ask a neighbor or friend to stick it in their house so you don’t have extra furniture cluttering spaces or taking up more space” -Jessica Edwards

While experts advise against decor in listing pictures, open houses are a totally different game…

“[Listing] photos should NOT have decor because that could date them. Open houses MUST have holiday decor!” Brenna Lee Roth-Miller

Want to read more advice on selling your home? Visit the new coldwellbanker.com!

Christmas Tree image via frommyfrontporchtoyours.com  

Header image courtesy of Flickr user Jim Larrison

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How Does Santa Claus Get Into A House Without A Chimney

You better watch out
You better not cry
Better not pout
I’m telling you why
Santa Claus is coming to town!

Yes, that’s right everyone…the countdown to the arrival of Santa Claus is winding down which means that now, more than ever, we must be on our absolute BEST behavior!

As you deck you halls and hang your mistletoe, you may be part of the 60% of homeowners without a fireplace wondering just how exactly Santa will be stopping in to drop of your presents.

“Only 40.3% of homes in the U.S. have fireplaces, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, meaning Mr. Claus must find an alternative entry into about 60% of homes on Christmas Eve.” (WSJ)

At Coldwell Banker, we believe in the magic of home, especially around the holidays. We just HAD to find out the answer to this age old question. To find out we went straight to our source in the North Pole, CeeBee the Elf, and asked “How Does Santa Claus Get Into a Home Without a Chimney?” and got the inside scoop.

The answer is simple… magic and a key!

Santa’s Magic Key Poem
Dear Santa, we have no chimney
as you can plainly see,
And I was terribly worried
that you would pass over me.

We hung this very special key
right by the door.
Then Mom told me to jump into bed;
and not to worry anymore.

Your magic will make this key fit,
to open our door.
So you can come in tonight
and tip-toe across the floor.

Santa Claus has a magic key that he uses to get into homes, apartments, townhouses and condos without a chimney. He also uses this key for homes that have a chimney that is too small for him to fit down (too many Christmas cookies makes it a tight fit).

While Santa has his own special key that works on any home he visits, CeeBee the elf said he also enjoys collecting keys that have been left out by children from all over the world. If you want to leave him a key, you can make one or you can buy one. Here are some of the places you can buy magical keys…

Buy It Here

Buy It Here

Buy It Here

 Enjoy your Christmas and don’t forget to leave out cookies for Santa and carrots for his reindeer!

The post How Does Santa Claus Get Into A House Without A Chimney appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

Five Green & Thrifty Holiday Decor Tips

Guest post by Co-Founder NorthStar Moving Company Laura McHolm

This Holiday Season – let it go, let it go, let it go: GREEN! Being prepared to deck the halls with green eco-friendly decor can save you from being in the red and keep you safe from chilly finances. With simple thrifty and green Do-It-Yourself tips, your home will be beautifully decorated for your holiday celebrations and ready for the unexpected guest dropping by with the dreaded fruitcake (that’s oh so ready for your freezer). Best of all, the holidays will not be all that is celebrated; so will your heart warming eco-friendly lifestyle that guarantees the days after the holidays will be happy ones too!

A VERY MERRY KITCHEN TABLE

For a quick and easy table centerpiece, buy bags of fresh cranberries, fill a glass vase three quarters full of cranberries, add water and place fresh flowers in the vase – it makes even white daisies or chrysanthemums look holiday ready. For a yummy, fresh smell, buy oranges and long clove sticks and arrange the cloves in the oranges (the kids love that task!), vary the clove design on each orange or make them all identical as you like. Either place the cloved oranges in a large white bowl or place individual oranges around the house. (You can use a bit of ribbon cord secured with a long stick pen to make the oranges into large heavy ornaments for doors or lower tree branches too.) A super simple centerpiece can be made with items from your local farmer’s market. Have your children pick out four of each of the reddest and greenest apples they can find (a fun hunt for the younger ones!). Fill a large clear glass bowl with the apples for a festive kitchen table centerpiece. It is truly a red and green way to bring family and friends to the table for a holiday meal.

orange image via ifood.tv

IN WITH THE OLD

We all tend to hang on to ornaments for years and years for sentimental purposes, but there comes a time when the tree decorations from ten years ago start looking like the tree decorations from ten years ago. Instead of heading to the store to shove through the holiday shopping frenzy and spend a fortune on new ornaments, revamp the old by painting over the worn areas. The little ones can join in the fun by applying small holiday stickers to worn out ornaments. This is a great arts & crafts project for the whole family to enjoy, especially with carols playing!

HOLLY JOLLY ACCENT PIECE

Broken ornaments at the bottom of the box are almost inevitable after a year of being stashed in the attic or basement. Instead of throwing them away, fill a large durable bag with all of the cracked and broken ornaments. Open up that toolbox, grab a hammer and gently smash the ornaments into smaller pieces. (Wear gloves!) Place the pieces in a medium-sized glass bowl or vase like you would sand and add a candle for a festive accent piece for the counter or end table.

RIBBONS OF JOY

Put leftover wrapping and decorative ribbons to good use and tie them onto household items you would not normally think of. The kids can get creative with the endless possibilities! Some household items that are always ribbon-adorned in our home include doorknobs, vases and even a couple of the tree branches here and there.

STRINGS AND THINGS

Embark on an old-fashioned holiday project with your kids and string popcorn and raw cranberries together as a less expensive and earth-friendly alternative to store-bought tree garland.  Or, use holiday-shaped cookie cutouts for baking sugar cookies and attach strings on the tops for a creative, easy, and tasty tree ornament!  To do this, take plastic straws and cut them off, stick the straws at the top of each cookie, bake them, and before the cookies cool remove the straws for precise, secure holes in each cookie for the string to hang it on the tree. image via instructables.com Yep, there really is no need to say a frosty Bah Humbug. You can make warm Christmas Cheer appear in a green flash whenever the mood strikes. Let the Holidays begin! 

 

 

Laura McHolm is an organizational, moving & storage expert and co-founder of NorthStar Moving Company. NorthStar Moving Company is an award winning, “A+” rated company, which specializes in providing eco-luxury moving and storage services.   www.northstarmoving.com

The post Five Green & Thrifty Holiday Decor Tips appeared first on Coldwell Banker Blue Matter.

15 Super Sweet Homemade Holiday Gift Ideas

If mall madness is giving you holiday anxiety, then a DIY holiday gift might be just the right thing for you. These homemade gift ideas are thoughtful, affordable and unique.

DIY Instagram Coaster

Turn those selfies and vacation trip pics into a one of a kind gift.

via foammagazine.com

A Sweet Gift for the Baker in Your Life

Bonus: This may be a gift that gives back to you :)

via familyholiday.net

Sharpie + Coffee Mug = Effortless Affordable Gift Idea

Take this idea a step further and consider adding a monogram for a personal touch.

via mypassionjourney.com

BBQ Spice Rubs

A spicy idea for the carnivore on your shopping list.

Get The Recipes Here

DIY Coffee Cup Sleeve

For the person who can’t get going without their morning caffeine fix.

via craftystaci.com

DIY Mason Jar Candle

This gift idea is much easier to make than it looks!

via somethingturquoise.com

Bread in a Bottle

A sweet treat for less than $10. (Perfect for teachers and mail carriers!)

via sunset.com

Mani/Pedi in a Jar

This is a great gift to have on hand for unexpected guests who may stop by your home with gifts.

via bargainbriana.com

Grooming Kit

After a long month of “Movember,” the man in your life will be thrilled to get this gift.

via thegunnysack.com

S’mores Kit

Simple and Sweet.

via twigandthistle.com

Chocolate and Candy Covered Pretzels

Wrap these up in a tall plastic bag and curly ribbons and you’ve got an instant hit.

via everydayhomeblog.com

Popcorn Tin

Pack two kinds of homemade flavored popcorn in one bucket tin.

via marthastewart.com

Tea Time in a Jar

The recipient of this gift will feel like a celebri-tea (ugh, sorry couldn’t help myself)

via thegunnysack.com

Homemade Hand Warmers

 This hot idea is perfect to add to a basket with a mug and some hot cocoa.

via hoosierhomemade.com

Christmas Potpourri

This smells heavenly and looks beautiful.

via yellowblissroad.com

 

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How to Decorate Like a Christmas Elf on a Budget

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!! Break out that rubbermaid and dust off your ornaments because it’s time to decorate your home like the elf that I know you are. Here are five affordable and totally adorable ways to decorate your home with Christmas ornaments.

Christmas Shadow Box

Adding Christmas Cheer to your home couldn’t be more easy than this easy DIY Christmas Shadow Box idea.

 

Christmas Ornament Wreath

This project may look difficult but in just four easy steps you will be humming jingle bells. Learn how here.

Window Display

Show your neighbors that you are ready for a Holly Jolly Christmas with this simple hanging ornament idea.

In a Glass Vases

Remind your family it is the Most Wonderful Time of the Year with these easy Vase ideas.

As a Tree

Your guests will be rockin’ around the Christmas Tree when they see this adorable DIY Ornament Tree craft.

 

 

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5 Effortless Thanksgiving DIY Decor Ideas

It’s way too late for witches and skeletons and just a tad bit too early for Santa and his reindeer. We are right smack dab in that awkward holiday decorating period where you are debating on whether or not you actually want to be festive and dress up your house for Turkey Day. Not to worry, you’re not alone. Here are 5 DIY decor ideas that are SO simple and effortless, you don’t even need instructions.

 

via Pure & Simple Organizing

via Midwest Living

via homedit.com

via Bronzed Budget Bride

via PopSugar.com

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