Whether you are having a few friends over for dinner or throwing a full blown party for a holiday, one of the questions you will inevitably have to answer will be how much food and drinks to have for your guests.
There is nothing worse than having a party and running out of food…Ok, yes there can be worse but it’s pretty bad. Conversely, buying too much will leave you with lighter pockets and a fridge full of leftovers you probably won’t end up eating. So what is the magic equation for buying party food? Does one even exist? We think this chart created by Heather, who blogs at Chickabug, is pretty close to perfect.
Take a look:
After reading this I printed it out and taped it on the inside of my spice cabinet. Never again will I have to guess how much to serve. I hope this helps you too!
Easter is just a few days away which means it is almost time to dye eggs!
I have so many fond memories of dying eggs at home. My mom was always unbelievably patient with me…even when I tried dying our eggs before boiling them in water. (What a mess!) I will also never forget finding an egg weeks later hidden behind our piano…another oops.
For those who celebrate, I am sure you can remember the good old days of buying the Paas egg kit that came with those little round tablets that you had to drop into vinegar. Somehow your hands always ended up getting stained an odd greenish brown color. I really wish I had known about this GENIUS idea. Today there are so many options! Eggs kits that have glitter, stickers, sparkles and pretty much anything you can think of.
For those who want to skip the kit and think “outside the carton” here are 20 unique ideas for making beautiful Easter eggs.
Monogram Easter Egg Check out Lil’ Luna for instructions
Spring is such a great time of year. We’ve got March Madness going on, baseball season is coming and, of course, warm weather hopefully on the way. It is also time for Passover, the annual Jewish holiday that honors the liberation of the Jews from ancient Egypt. We celebrate the holiday with Seders, a gathering of friends and family, on the first two night of the eight-day holiday. It is one of the few Jewish holidays that doesn’t revolve around going to Temple and instead we participate in several traditional acts, songs, prayers and dinner at home.
As a kid, my favorite memories of Passover were going to my aunt and uncle’s home in Western New Jersey or making the trip to Brooklyn (traffic included) to see my grandma’s house. While I always recognized the importance of the traditions and reading the prayers, I have to admit it wasn’t my favorite part. I always looked forward to eating (matzo ball soup is awesome!) and the end of the night when it was time to find the afikoman.
Early in the Seder, the person leading the prayers, breaks a piece of matzo in half. One piece is shared with all at the dinner table and the second piece, the afikoman (which translates roughly to dessert) is reserved for later. There are different ways that families incorporate the afikoman. In one version, the kids figure out a way to “steal” it and then ask for a ransom of candy or money so the service can end using that piece of matzo.
But in my family, that second piece was hidden somewhere by either my dad or my uncle and at the end of the meal, my sisters and I, along with my cousins, went on a hunt to find it. I guess there should only be one winner, the one who finds it. But in our family all of us got crisp, new $1 bills. I thought I was rich, especially because it was a buck a night!
Next week it’s now my turn to host a Seder. It’s the second one we’ve had at our house and I am looking forward again to my boys and their cousins sitting together at the table. I try to make the Seder as much fun as possible for the kids since I remember being so antsy waiting for the traditional prayers to end and dinner to start. But the highlight will again be the afikoman.
Since I doubt the kids will read this, I am going to share a secret. I’m going to hide it in the family room, under the cushion of the green plaid chair in the corner! Hopefully the search will go on for a little while!
Whether you love or despise Valentine’s day truth is breakfast is “the most important” meal of the day, so why not make breakfast on February 14th special for a loved one in your life. Here are 11 super sweet ideas:
What do dragons, gods, family, money, fireworks, delicious food, the color red and celebrating all have in common? Chinese New Year of course! This week I had the pleasure of learning all about Chinese New Year from Weimin Dong and Vickie Li who work in the marketing department for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. After learning about this amazing holiday I quickly learned that like any other big holiday, home is right at the core of the celebration. Here are a few of things that I learned about that were especially interesting.
Home for the Holidays
The days leading up to Chinese New Year are extremely busy. Some families even begin preparing a month in advance! Most people working away from their hometown return to their hometown to celebrate the New Year, no matter how difficult travel may be. In 2013, roughly 800 million people in China will travel! I don’t know about you but I can’t remember the last time my entire family was in the same room all at once!
Sweeping Away Bad Luck
Homes are cleaned from top to bottom so all the bad luck of the previous year is swept away. Once the New Year begins dustpans and brooms are put away so the good luck of the New Year is not swept away. Being relieved of cleaning duty for 15 days is a nice treat and is an important part of observing this tradition.
Red for Luck
Red is the color or symbol of good luck in Chinese culture. Some homeowners even paint a fresh coat of red paint as they believe this will bring them luck in the New Year. Many hope to usher in extra good luck by decorating with chunlian, which are long, narrow red strips of paper or diamond-shaped paper printed with black or gold Chinese characters which are hung in the doorways of homes.
The Kitchen God
Santa Claus’ nice and naught list has nothing on what the Kitchen God knows. “The Kitchen God is assigned by Yu Huang, the emperor of heaven, to watch over each family and record what they do throughout the year. A paper picture of the Kitchen God is hung in a prominent location in the kitchen. Each year during Chinese New Year, the Kitchen God returns to heaven to report on what the family has done throughout the year. The family has a thank you dinner in which a bowl of sticky rice is placed in front of the Kitchen God. It is believed that if the Kitchen God’s mouth is full of glutinous rice, he will not be able speak about the family’s activities.” (Chinese.culture)
I truly enjoyed learning about this beautiful celebration of luck, love and respect. To all of our friends celebrating Chinese New Year Gung Hay Fat Choy!
I travel a lot. I have family in different parts of the country that we visit over the holidays, but to me there is nothing quite like being home for Christmas morning.
As a kid, I can remember waking up early and seeing all the presents under the tree, having the debate in my head whether it was too early to wake up mom and dad. In my house there was something special for breakfast on Christmas morning, like pancakes or some special type of breakfast bread. You got to stay in your pajamas well past noon or until it was time to head out to Grandma’s house.
Now that I have three boys (and another one arriving in April), the magic of being home for Christmas is ten times greater than my own Christmas morning. There’s a flurry of wrapping paper everywhere. The kids are excited to give my wife and me our gifts that they bought for $1 at a boutique at their school. The one thing I could do without is the way the package toys these days and you have to have a drill and Leatherman knife handy in order to break the toys from their packaging prison.
You can have your traditions at home that are tough to do when you’re at someone else’s house. One of ours is my wife makes pumpkin scones and Orange Julius drinks for breakfast. While I love visiting family, there’s still something special about being home for Christmas. It’s a feeling of comfort and warmth that make the holidays so special.
Whether your home has 1, 2 or 15 people in it this Christmas, we at Coldwell Banker wish you all the joy that we experience in our own homes.
What are your Christmas traditions or memories of home? Would love for you to share them in the comments or even pictures of your home on Christmas morning.
In a perfect confluence of events, I ended up working on a project last year that would have made 6 year old me extremely proud. The home that played such a big part of one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time had hit the market and our Chicago based Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage office had secured the listing! As part of our efforts here to help promote the listing, I blogged about the house from “Home Alone” and how thinking about holiday movies like it allows us to look back and appreciate how great childhood was; especially around the holidays.
Below is an edited version of that blog post, which was widdled down because a lucky/smart person purchased the home already!
The iconic home from “Home Alone”
At the risk of sounding like a movie nerd, I watch a LOT of movies…probably more than I care to admit without otherwise writing under an assumed name. I’m not entirely sure how many theaters I’ve been to or how many bad made for TV movies with Hulk Hogan I’ve watched at home on my couch. In a culture that produces thousands of movies that generate billions in revenue, how many do you really remember? I mean…like really remember?
There doesn’t seem to be a science to it but every once in a while a movie comes along that transcends time and film as a medium and becomes iconic as cultural phenomena; a part of pop culture so to speak. When we go back and reminisce or watch these “classics” we are almost always brought right back to a specific time and place. Old memories come rushing back to us. We remember exactly what we wore the night we saw the movie and we usually remember who we saw the movie with. These types of films freeze time so to speak.
Home Alone, along with a host of others like A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life and even the fairly recent Elf; freeze time and remain in the public’s consciousness because they all give authentic comedic looks at family, time together, home and the holidays. And aren’t our homes almost as much a part of the “Family” as anything? At the end of a long hard week of work; what’s better than hanging out with family and friends in the comfort of home…especially around the holidays?
Part of the reason why I believe we all go back and watch the same movies each holiday season is because I think it brings us right back to our best childhood memories. Personally, it reminds me of my old home growing up… of all of the comedic craziness in a house with way too many family members over for Christmas dinner and of funny pranks I’d try to play on my brothers. It brings back all of those sights and smells and feelings and above all else..it reminds me of home.
Home Alone isn’t the only holiday movie that is a “must watch” once December rolls in. What’s your favorite holiday movie? What’s your favorite home in a holiday movie? Send us a Tweet over @coldwellbanker and let us know!
As we head into the holiday weekend, I thought we should tackle one of the more pressing questions of our time: Where has all the mistletoe in our homes gone?
Mistletoe may be the most popular twig on the planet and tradition states that you hang it over a doorway in your home around the holidays and those unsuspecting visitors who find themselves underneath it must kiss. The real tradition is that a berry should be removed under the mistletoe for every kiss and then once all the fruit is gone the mistletoe is then taken down for the season.
There’s actually a whole lot of Norse mythological history behind it which is beyond my education level, but the big question for me is this: Do people still even hold to the unofficial laws of mistletoe? That question is why I love the video above which was filmed at BYU to see if students would still truly observe the mistletoe tradition.
Is there mistletoe hanging in your home this Christmas? Let us know in the comments.
A home in Christmas Lake Village *Image Courtesy of Flicker User: SpencerCounty_VisitorsBureau
Nowadays, the Christmas season and spirit kicks in before we’ve even had a full day to recover from our Thanksgiving Day feasts. Christmas trees are bought and decorated, old holiday jingles reverberate from radios reminding us of childhood, gifts are given and unwrapped and a little more quality time is spent with loved ones. As magical and lovely as the Christmas season is, it passes as quickly as it comes and we collectively set our sights on the new year and eagerly await the warmer weather of spring.
Now this usually is the case across the board. But not always. For the most festive town in America – Santa Claus, Indiana – Christmas never ends and is celebrated every single day of the year!
This small town of nearly 2,500 was established in 1854 as “Santa Fe” but had its request to establish a post office denied because there already was a town with that name. From that serendipitous moment, they reconvened and “Santa Claus” was ultimately chosen and they’ve been working for well over 100 years to do right by their namesake and celebrate Christmas year round.
Every street has a holiday themed name *Image Courtesy of: Route Twelve
Santa Claus is more than just a town name. You can find an ode to the Christmas holiday everywhere you turn. Every street name was carefully chosen to have some sort of hint of Christmas in it. Who wouldn’t want to live on Reindeer Circle, Prancer Drive, Ornament East or Rudolph Lane? Every business in town have Christmas related names as well. You can visit Santa’s Candy Castle to satisfy your sweet tooth, have a cup of coffee and listen to music at Silent Night Cafe or even grab some dinner with the family at Frosty’s Fun Center.
Beyond the phenomenally decorated homes of Christmas Lake Village and large Santa Claus statues that outwardly show cheer; the people of this small town seem to carry within them the true spirit of Christmas 24/7.This is highlighted by a group of volunteers who call themselves “Santa’s Elves” who have replied to every single letter sent to “Santa Claus” (they get thousands of them from around the globe) since 1914!
Volunteers have answered every letter to “Santa Claus” since 1914! *Image Courtesy of: Santa Claus Museum Facebook Page
Bing Crosby crooning the holiday classic, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, is a tune echoed through many a home this time of year. First released around Christmas in 1943, the song is written from the perspective of a soldier serving over seas during World War 2. While the melody is one that lingers in our minds, the meaning of the song is actually quite somber as the closing line reveals that being home for Christmas isn’t quite a reality just yet.
I just recently learned of an amazing story that relates to this song and it occurred the very same Christmas this holiday classic was first released. While I’ll Be Home for Christmas was not written about this account, it very well could have been.
I come from a military family. My grandfather served during World War 2. My dad went to West Point and served in the Army for a number of years so those who serve our country have a special place in my heart and this story about the crew of the Battleship North Carolina will now forever be cemented in my mind when I hear I’ll Be Home for Christmas around this time of year.
The story goes that around Christmas in 1943 the chaplain on the Battleship North Carolina knew that the crew was feeling homesick as they were expected to still be overseas during the holiday season. He had an idea and collected $5 from every crew member that had children back home.
The Battleship North Carolina
The chaplain made a list of all that gave him money for their children at home and he sent that money along with the addresses of the sailor’s home to Macy’s department store. The request was made for Macy’s to buy gifts using the money provided for the crew’s family and have the gift mailed to their homes in time for Christmas.
As Christmas approached, the service men on the ship gathered for the annual Christmas show that involved songs, skits and entertainment for the troops aboard the Battleship North Carolina. When the entertainment had ended, the chaplain had a surprise to reveal.
When Macy’s received the money from the chaplain along with the list of the addresses, they thought that in addition to just giving gifts to these military families at home, they should give a one of a kind gift to the soldiers as well. Since they had the addresses for all the sailors homes, they reached out to each family and asked if they wanted to come to the Macy’s store and send a special message to their loved one who would not be able to be home for Christmas.
The mean aboard the Battleship North Carolina sat there and saw their wives, children and loved ones appear before them on the screen as Macy’s had videoed each of their families sending them a Christmas message. These rugged sailors watched, wept and rejoiced. They weren’t home for Christmas, but what made their homes special was the Christmas gift they received on that December 25th in 1943.
Now that you know this story you can see how that sentiment is also found in the song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas. I know that I can’t hear that song without thinking of the brave men and women serving overseas to protect the freedoms we all enjoy.
While the Bing Crosby song has been covered by almost every artist who’s ever released a Christmas album, there’s one version that I think adds a little more to the meaning of the song. Back in 2007, Josh Groban released his take on the song that hearkened back to the military roots of the song’s meaning in a way that no other rendition has. It’s hard to listen to this and not be moved.
Below is an embedded video of the song. No visuals are needed. Just listen and you’ll see what I mean. I hope that this holiday season we can all take time to give thanks and reflect on what being home for Christmas truly means and make an effort to show appreciation for those who won’t be home because they’re out protecting our home.
Record image courtesy of Wikipedia. Battleship North Carolina image courtesy of HNSA.org.