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Some of what you’ll find inside ❆ The Top 25 Holiday Songs of the Past Decade ❆ Historical Information about Decorations ❆ Tree Lighting and Safety Tips ❆ Gift Ideas for the ‘Foodie’ in your family
How to get your home ready for holiday guests
amily gatherings are synonymous with the holiday season. Even those families who have spread out far and wide often manage to come together at least once at the end of the year. When families include members who don’t live within driving distance of one another, those who aren’t hosting the holiday festivities must plan an overnight stay. Lodging costs can be considerable during the holiday season because hotels can quickly fill to capacity. Holiday hosts who want to go the extra mile can invite guests to forgo hotels and stay overnight at their homes, where guests can spend more time with hosts and won’t have to worry about finding lodging they can afford. Though it’s a nice gesture to host overnight guests during the holiday season, it’s also one that requires a little work on the part of the hosts, who must take time ouf of the often hectic holiday schedule to prepare their homes for guests. The following are a few pointers for hosts who want to ensure everything is ready and accommodating for overnight guests. • Take inventory of household linens. Depending on how many guests you’ll be hosting, you may need to stock up on extra linens. If only one or two people will be staying overnight, you should be able to make due with what you have. However, if you’ll be hosting a second family for the holidays, whether it’s one night or a
full week, then you will likely need to buy more linens, including bedding, pillows and blankets. Take inventory of what you have and make sure you have adequate bedding for each guest, as well as some extra bedding in case of emergency. • Discuss pet allergies. Holiday hosts who have pets should discuss pet allergies with potential overnight guests well in advance of the season. If guests are allergic to your pets, then it might not be comfortable for them to stay overnight at your home. While most families would not want to shelter their pets on a holiday, doing so is an option but one that may not even be worth it. Pet hair and dander around the house might be enough to trigger an allergic attack even when the pet isn’t in or around the home, so sheltering the pet may not be a solution after all. Discuss this issue with prospective guests well in advance of the season so they have time to find affordable lodging in the event that any of them do have a pet allergy.
• Stock up on toiletries. Toiletries are bound to run out if you’re hosting guests for the holidays. Before guests arrive, stock up on these items, including toilet and facial tissue, hand soap, bath soap, shampoo and conditioner, toothpaste and extra toothbrushes in case guests forgot to pack their own. These items have no expiration date, so even if you end up buying more than you need you can always use them down the road when guests have long since returned home.
• Clear the house of clutter. Clutter can make a home seem even more crowded when guests are staying overnight. Clutter can accumulate anywhere in the house, from bathrooms to a living room to the kitchen. When hosting guests for the holidays, you will need all the space you can get, so clear the house of as much clutter as possible. Put all toys away and clear the common areas of items like shoes and clothing that can make a space seem more cramped. In addition, clear the dining room table of any items that aren’t needed at mealtime and choose festive centerpieces that don’t take up much space. • Don’t be caught off guard by a storm. If guests will be staying multiple nights, it’s safe to assume everyone, hosts and guests included, will want to get out of the house, be it to enjoy local holiday celebrations or simply to avoid cabin fever by getting some fresh air. But the holiday season gets its fair share of inclement weather, including snowstorms. Hosts should not be caught off guard by a snowstorm, stocking up on items like a snow shovel, a snow blower and salt or a de-icing product for walkways and driveways before guests arrive. This will ensure everyone won’t feel trapped inside the house should a storm arrive unexpectedly. Hosting guests for the holidays is no small task. But hosts who prepare in advance can ensure everyone makes the most of their time together.
for your holiday party
Parties are an integral part of the holiday season, when friends and family gather to celebrate and give thanks. For holiday hosts, parties are a great opportunity to make the season even more festive with an event that guests won’t soon forget. The following are just a few themes to make your holiday party as memorable as it is merry.
• Christmas sweater party: Christmas sweater parties have grown in popularity over the last decade, when revelers have tried to outdo one another with the most outrageous holiday-themed sweater. Give prizes for the most outlandish sweater and let guests know early on so they can begin their hunt for a holiday sweater that’s so ugly or outrageous you can’t help but love it. • Christmas costume party: Costume parties aren’t just for Halloween. This holiday season, consider making your
holiday bash a costume party, encouraging guests to dress up as their favorite characters from holiday tales like “Frosty the Snowman,” “A Christmas Carol” or any of the host of beloved holiday legends. • Caribbean Christmas: The weather, come the holiday season, may be the one thing to put a damper on the festivities. To combat blue feelings from potentially inclement weather, consider a Caribbean theme for your holiday party this season. Rather than wearing sweaters and long pants, wear beach attire and give the party a touch of the Caribbean. Outfit your home in beach decor and serve food and drinks reminiscent of the Caribbean instead of more traditional holiday fare like eggnog and gingerbread cookies. • Film festival: Holiday movies are another tradition of the season, so why not invite friends and family over for a holiday film marathon? Include classics like “It’s a
Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Story” and encourage guests to submit their own favorites for consideration. • Christmas karaoke: For those who love to belt out their favorite holiday tunes, consider throwing a Christmas karaoke party that allows guests to perform their own renditions of their favorite Christmas carols. Purchase a home karaoke set and ask guests in advance of the party if there are any particular songs they’d like to perform.
Gift ideas for the food fanatic on your list Gift the foodie on your holiday shopping list with something that encourages their love of cuisine. Some people are a cinch to shop for come the holiday season, while others can be more of an enigma. When it comes to the latter, shoppers should determine what tickles their mysterious friend or family member’s fancy, such as a favorite hobby or even something to do with his or her profession. Food is a passion for many people and provides holiday shoppers with a great opportunity to make a loved one’s holiday season even more special. Perhaps thanks to the increase in cable networks focusing on food, foodies, those people with an appreciation and passion for cuisine, have grown in number in recent years, and holiday shoppers with foodies on their lists have a host of potential gift options at their disposal. * Cooking class: Many foodies don’t just like eating food but cooking their favorite cuisine as well. For those who like to get their hands dirty before filling their bellies, consider paying for a cooking class. Many communities have cooking classics for various types of cuisine, so consult your friend or family member, asking them which cuisine they’d like to learn and when they’re available. Or let them find their own class and then pay for the class.
This can be a great way for foodies to learn something new and meet fellow food aficionados along the way. * Specialty spices: Spices can make the difference between an ordinary meal that’s void of flavor and a meal that’s so flavorful it won’t soon be forgotten. When spicing things up for a foodie this holiday season, don’t just buy regular spices at the grocery store. For example, instead of standard cinnamon, buy a specialty spice like Mexican or Vietnamese cinnamon. Such specialty spices can add extra flavor to a meal while becoming the go-to spice for the home chef among your friends and family members. * Pressure cooker: Many foodies are fawning over pressure cooking, which can cut down on cooking times without sacrificing nutrition. Some recipes may take half the time to prepare with a pressure cooker as they might with a more traditional cooking method, an important time saving element that’s attractive to foodies who want to enjoy their favorite foods but feel pressed for time on weeknights. And while pressure cookers employ steam to cook foods quickly, that steam also traps flavor, whereas boiling can wash flavor out. Many foodies also laud pressure cookers for their
nutritional benefits. Steaming certain foods can intensify their flavor, which allows cooks to rely less on potentially unhealthy additions like salt or butter to ensure a meal is flavorful. * Serving dishes: Of course, many foodies want to share the fruits of their labors with friends and family. For the person who loves throwing dinner parties, consider some serving dishes this holiday season. Serving dishes can range from casual (for the foodie who can’t wait to fire up the grill) to formal (for the gourmet foodie), so get a feel of your friend or family member’s preferences before purchasing a set of serving dishes. * Cookbook: The ideal fallback item for holiday shoppers who can’t seem to find anything for their favorite foodies, cookbooks filled with recipes for dishes from their favorite type of cuisine (i.e., Italian, Thai, Cajun, etc.) are sure to please. When gifting with a cookbook, peruse a few of its recipes to determine if there are any special ingredients that appear throughout. If there are, purchase these ingredients and gift them as well.
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Staple of Holiday Decor Has a Deep History Chances are, holiday revelers will find themselves underneath the mistletoe at least once this holiday season. While they might know what to do when that time comes, they might not know the history of that plant above their heads. Especially sacred to Celtic Druids, mistletoe was believed bestow life and fertility, while also protecting against poison and serving as an aphrodisiac. Mistletoe would later take on a more political meaning, as the ritual of cutting the mistletoe came symbolized the emasculation of the old King by his successor. Nowadays, mistletoe is typically hung in doorways or entryways from one room to another. This tradition can also trace itself back several centuries to the Middle Ages. During the Middle Ages, branches of mistletoe were hung from ceilings to ward off evil spirits. Throughout Europe, mistletoe was placed over doorways in the house as well as the stables as a means to preventing the entrance of witches. The tradition of kissing underneath the mistletoe likely stems from the belief that mistletoe bestows fertility and is often associated with the Roman festival of Saturnalia, a period of merrymaking that pre-dated Christmas. In 18th century England, a young lady standing underneath the mistletoe could not refuse to be kissed. Once kissed, the kiss would signify deep romance or eternal friendship. History also suggests that mistletoe was a symbol of peace. In Scandinavia, mistletoe was considered a plant of peace. When standing underneath the mistletoe, enemies could declare a truce and spouses could end any marital turmoil with a kiss.
There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays O R L E A N S C H R I S T M A S O N T H E S Q UA R E
SATURDAY, DEC. 8TH • 6PM8PM We can’t think of a nicer place to spend the Christmas season than right here at home with wonderful customers, friends and neighbors.
Tree Lighting TIPS Lighting a Christmas tree may seem like child’s play, but time and again people struggle with the task. Untangling wires and wrapping them around boughs can be nerve wracking, but lighting a tree doesn’t have to be a chore when you follow some tips from the professionals. First, keep in mind that wrapping lights around the tree horizontally is more work and often doesn’t produce a multidimensional effect. Rather, string the lights from the trunk up to the top, working vertically. This is actually how the tree decorators at Rockefeller Center in New York City do the famous tree year after year. This method helps eliminate tangled wires and empty spots.
We’re proud to be your hometown bank, and we look forward to continuing that tradition for many more years to come. Remember to plug in the strands of lights before you begin to check for burnt-out bulbs and to adjust the spacing of lights to prevent dark spots. Think about varying light bulb sizes to add more dimension. String an inner layer of small LED white lights to produce an inner glow on the tree before adding larger, colored lights on top to increase visual appeal. Just be sure to match the same wattage of the lights so that you do not have power surges and can prolong the life of the bulbs.
We sincerely hope you and your loved ones enjoy a holiday season filled with many blessings. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
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25 Most Popular Holiday Songs of the Last Decade Even though the first decade of the 21st century witnessed a change in how nearly everyone acquires and listens to music, some things about music -- especially holiday music -- may never change. According to the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, the following 25 songs were the most performed holiday
1. Winter Wonderland Written by: Felix Bernard, Richard B. Smith Performed by: Eurythmics
songs of the first decade of the 21st century. The date was compiled with the aide of Mediaguide, the most comprehensive digital audio performance tracking technology in the world.
10. Little Drummer Boy Written by: Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati, Harry Simeone Performed by: The Harry Simeone Chorale & Orchestra
2. The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire) Written by: Mel Torme, Robert Wells Performed by: Nat “King” Cole 3. Sleigh Ride Written by: Leroy Anderson, Mitchell Parish Performed by: The Ronettes
11. It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year Written by: Edward Pola, George Wyle Performed by: Andy Williams 12. I’ll Be Home For Christmas Written by: Walter Kent, Kim Gannon, Buck Ram Performed by: Josh Groban
19. It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas Written by: Meredith Willson Performed by: Johnny Mathis
13. Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Written by: Johnny Marks Performed by: Brenda Lee
20. I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Written by: Tommie Connor (PRS) Performed by: John Mellencamp
14. Silver Bells Written by: Jay Livingston, Ray Evans Performed by: Anne Murray
21. Here Comes Santa Claus (Right Down Santa Claus Lane) Written by: Gene Autry, Oakley Haldeman Performed by: Gene Autry
6. White Christmas Written by: Irving Berlin Performed by: Bing Crosby
15. Feliz Navidad Written and Performed by: Jose Feliciano
22. (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays Written by: Bob Allen, Al Stillman Performed by: Perry Como
7. Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Written by: Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne Performed by: Michael Buble
16. Frosty The Snowman Written by: Steve Nelson, Walter E. Rollins Performed by: The Beach Boys
8. Jingle Bell Rock Written by: Joseph Carleton Beal, James Ross Boothe Performed by: Daryl Hall & John Oates
17. A Holly Jolly Christmas Written by: Johnny Marks Performed by: Burl Ives
24. Wonderful Christmastime Written and Performed by: Paul McCartney (PRS)
9. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer Written by: Johnny Marks Performed by: Gene Autry
18. Blue Christmas Written by: Billy Hayes, Jay W. Johnson Performed by: Elvis Presley
25. Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Feed the World) Written by: Midge Ure (PRS), Bob Geldof (PRS) Performed by: Band Aid
4. Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Written by: Ralph Blane, Hugh Martin Performed by: The Pretenders 5. Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Written by: Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie Performed by: Bruce Springsteen
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23. Carol Of The Bells Written by: Peter J. Wilhousky, Mykola Leontovich Performed by: David Foster (instrumental version)
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