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This time of year is always so busy. There are presents to buy and wrap, cards to write, the house to decorate and prepare for guests, parties and Santa, plus, plus, plus! It is hard to find the time to get it all done.

That is why I am taking a little extra time this holiday to slow down and breathe. Starting today I am going to let a few things go and focus on what is truly important. It is time for family and friends. It is time to reach out to those in need in my community. It is time to be kind to myself.

So, I am going to let go of the notion that I can get it all done. And here are a few ways that I think we all can do that;

  • Trim the calendar. Those extra appointments can wait until after the holidays. What else do you have planned for the dark days of January anyway? Schedule in me days, family days, and a moment for those most dear. Winter solstice is just days away. Celebrate that with a gift of peace and quiet at home.
  • Finish decorating. Be honest with yourself. The house looks great. Whatever you haven’t done already maybe just doesn’t need to get done. Leave the crumbs for the spiders in the corners and the dust for the cleaning lady once the holidays are done. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s the gift of sanity to yourself.
  • Green greetings. If your Christmas cards are out already, congratulate yourself. If that is still on your to-do list cross it off. Go green with e-cards this year. Or send out a mass-mailer to everyone in your address book wishing holiday greetings. Or let the whole concept go. You’ll be wishing merry Christmas to everyone you see anyway. You can make phone calls in the new year to anyone that is farther afield. And perhaps now is the time to let go of old friends that never respond anyway. You are only human. You don’t need to do it all.
  • Call it a wrap. Do you have enough wrapping paper to wrap all the presents? Think about alternates. Buy from stores that wrap for you, like Mastermind Toys, Scholar’s Choice, Curiousities, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Chapters Indigo, and many more. Take advantage of the service and save yourself some time later.
  • Enough is enough. I don’t care how much money you have in the bank, do you really need to go buy even more presents? Sometimes overkill in the present department just doesn’t pay. Younger children can get overwhelmed by it all. Older kids come to expect it and lack the gratitude for what they get. Your bank account certainly doesn’t appreciate it, and it cuts into your spending budget after the holidays when you might need it most.
  • Give back instead. Have you been helped by an organization, company or someone special this year? They are the people that we need to remember at Christmastime. Why not volunteer at said organization (ie, the food bank always appreciates a helping hand)? How about making a special homemade gift for a company that has given to you (ie. a couple of dozen cookies will disappear in a lunch room anytime, guaranteed)? Surprise a certain special someone with the gift of time. You could do tea, shovel a driveway, or help an elderly neighbour shop to give back for all those smiles you have received all year.

As for me, I am going to give myself the gift of time. It is high time for me to spend a little more quality time with my family. So you might not see me around these parts so much, but know that I appreciate all my friends, family, customers and co-workers now and throughout the year. Peace to you all over the holidays!

There are 3 weeks til Christmas. Have you started to decorate your home for the holidays yet? Come on Ebenezer, it is time to get into the Christmas spirit! It’s time to get motivated and decorate.

Last week I offered 12 easy decor ideas for items to decorate your home with. They are relatively simple ideas that you could do with the kids or alone, and have accomplished in no time flat. Perhaps you are still looking for some inspiration though. Could you use a few more ideas? Why not try one of these holiday home decorations to dazzle your decor with;

12 Ways to Dazzle your Home for the Holidays

  1. Capture the spirit of the season in words

    Say it with words – Write on a mirror with erasable markers, add wooden letters to spell out a holiday greeting on the wall, add a frosty message to windows, etc.

  2. Colour your world – Bathe your space in a festive monotone. Add all silver decorations to your Christmas tree, paint the town red around your living room, go green in your kitchen, etc.
  3. Recycle greetings – If you keep old Christmas cards, why not use them to decorate your space this Christmas. Create a beautiful Christmas collage, add them to picture frames for a Christmas change-up, use them for wrapping paper, etc.
  4. Light up your life – Lights make everything cheery. Don’t stop at the tree. Add lights to the greenery on your mantlepiece, toss some into a glass vase with Christmas ornaments, decorate your table centrepiece with some glittery orbs, etc.
  5. Sweeten the decor, not your waistline

    Sweeten the pot – Christmas is synonymous with sweets. Add candy canes to candy dishes, colourful mints to a vase with a candle, craft a wreath out of bright bonbons, etc.

  6. Wrap it in ribbons – They’re not just for presents anymore. Add festive ribbons to urns with evergreens, dangle ornaments from the chandelier via ribbon, wrap ribbons around standing lamps to make them shine in a whole new light, etc.
  7. Name game – Get creative with table place names. Let your guests know where to sit at table via homemade ornaments like cheery personalized snowmen, glittery glass ornaments engraved with names, artful angels in the likeness of the recipient, etc.
  8. Stocking stuffers – Everyone gets a stocking, but what about adding some as part of your decor? Fill them with pine cones to hang by the fire to help spark a blaze, use them as a garland on your banister, hang an oversized stocking on your door in greeting, etc.
  9. Simple Christmas decor with stunning plants

    Plant some love – The Christmas tree isn’t the only greenery you can add to the house over the holidays. Blooming Christmas cacti add a bright addition to your decor, magnificent amaryllis is a show-stopper for any room, poinsettias come in a range of sizes and colours to add to your seasonal setting, etc.

  10. Don’t go nuts – Allergies aside, many holiday traditions find inshell nuts plentiful this time of year. Take them out of the nut bowl this year. Add them to platters with candles in the middle, glue them into homemade wreaths, mix them into vases with other festive pieces like holly, red dogwood, pinecones, etc.
  11. Scents of the season – The scents associated with Christmas can transport anyone. More than just the Christmas tree can add a festive aroma though. Add a few drops of pine essential oil to pine cone wreaths, stud oranges with cloves to release both the healing scent of clove and citrus, twist some cinnamon sticks into your garlands, etc.
  12. Put a bow on it – Every present needs a bow, but where else can you add them to your home? Why not add bows to picture frames, tie one on your mailbox, add them to the back of your dining room chairs, etc.

What other ideas can you add to the list? Don’t forget to share!

As I noted last week, Christmas time is all about the senses. The real estate market is no different, especially during this time of year. While some people are loath to list their house around Christmastime, it is actually a time when your house just might shine its brightest. Think of the effort that goes into decorating for the holidays and the rest of the prep that goes with it. You are already transforming your home to be its best for friends, family and neighbours, so why not bedazzle potential new homeowners now too?

STAGING YOUR HOUSE DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Sight:

The first thing a potential homeowner ever notices about a home is its looks and Christmastime is the same. Take the time to tastefully decorate your home during the holidays to make it shine its brightest. The same rules apply as per other times of the year though; don’t go overboard with decorations. You want people to see the beauty of your home and not just overpowering holiday glitz. Perhaps one or two presents under the tree would suggest gentle giving (leave the rest of the mountain of gifts for Christmas morning). Think natural items, like simple evergreen wreathes, a bowl of cranberries set off with holly leaves, or a small fire lit in your hearth. Your favourite Billy Bass Christmas fish could be left in your decor box for your next home. Just a suggestion.

Orange Pomanders add a wonderful scent

Smell:

Christmas has so many wonderful smells associated with it that it is easy to take advantage of attractive smells to tickle any potential home buyer’s fancy. A pot of cinnamon sticks simmering on the stove emits a wonderful festive scent. Beautiful orange pomanders give a decorative touch, as well as delicious aroma. A real Christmas tree adds its own holiday scent that will permeate every room of your house too! As always, don’t forget to empty the cat litter before the Open House.

Christmas Albums add a nice touch

Sound:

What is Christmas without a carol or two? If you have people coming to look at your home over the holidays, put some traditional Christmas carols on the stereo. There’s nothing wrong with more modern crooners too, as Michael Bublé, Josh Groban and The Canadian Tenors all have Christmas albums worth listening too. It just might remind people of their childhood and then look around your house even more so with eyes of home.

Give the gift of taste during your Open House

Taste:

A little bribery never hurt anyone. If you have an open house planned, why not take time to do some holiday baking before people arrive. Not only will you fill the house with the tempting scent of delicious cookies, but you can leave a plate out for guests as they wander around imagining themselves at home. If you fear the smell of burnt baked goods might turn people off with your less than stellar baking skills, hit your local bakery to stock up with some yummy treats instead!

Festive hand towels add a nice “touch”

Touch:

A little festive touch goes a long way for a house for sale during the holidays too. Think about putting out soft hand towels with a holiday motif on them. Take the holiday motif into other items that guests to your home might come across  as well, like thick door mats, plush carpets, or luxurious curtains that warm up the room.

 

Merry Christmas!

Santa Claus is coming to town…

Yup, last week he rode in with the Annual Santa Claus parade. You know what that means, don’t you? Christmas is just 6 weeks away. There are only 39 shopping days left to get stuff to fill your stockings with. No wait, that’s Santa’s job. Well, your sweetheart will still be expecting a little something underneath the tree, so start making your list! Don’t worry though. Your good friend Jim has some suggestions for where to get the best gifts for this holiday season, so that your mistletoe doesn’t go to waste.

CHRISTMAS SHOPPING IN YOUR NEIGHBOURHOOD

If you have kids on your list, you aren’t going to want to miss the Annual Samko & Miko Toy Sale. The sale is being held at the Progress Building in the Western Fair District (900 King St), starts tomorrow and runs through til Wednesday November 21, 2012. Hours are;

Fri Nov. 16 – 8 am – 8 pm
Sat Nov. 17 – 10 am – 8 pm
Sun Nov. 18 – 10 am – 5 pm
Mon Nov. 19 – 10 am – 5 pm
Tue Nov. 20 – 10 am – 5 pm
Wed Nov. 21 – 10 am – 5 pm

That should give you plenty of time to pick a few books, toys, art supplies and more! You want a rubik’s cube? They have them. How about a trampoline? A doorcrasher item. You’ll find Barbie, Thomas the Tank, Crayola, Mattel, Fisher Price, Little Tikes, Disney, Baby Einstein, First Book and thousands more items. Wear comfortable shoes, as you will be walking out with plenty of deals. Just try not to fight with the other parents out scooping up the savings.

Sculpture Culture: Indie Toy Show & Sale

Whew! If you made it out with your credit card intact, how about checking out a show and sale that is a little more original? You haven’t been to a show like this before, as this is the first year ever for the Sculpture Culture: Indie Toy Show and Sale.  This unique event will be held on Saturday, November 17, 2012 from 11 am to 4 pm at Über Cool Stuff, at 123 Carling St. This one-of-a-kind show will feature “talented artists and creators from across Ontario, Sculpture Culture will give you an inside look at the work that goes into these hand-cast, hand finished art toys. They’ll be debuting some new creations and demonstrating some of the steps involved in bringing a new toy to life.” Doesn’t that sound too good to miss? Bet you might bump into a D&D fan or two there.

If you were thinking of something a little more traditional for your Mom, girlfriend, wife, Dad, husband, secretary, or neighbour, then there are plenty of good, old-fashioned craft shows around town this weekend too. Here are just a few of them;

CRAFT SHOWS IN LONDON

  • A Traditional Enchanted Christmas Market – Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market (900 King St); Saturdays from November 10th – December 22nd, 8 am – 3 pm, check website for many special events
  • Deck the Halls: A Unique Christmas Shopping EventLondon Christian Academy (85 Charles St); Friday, November 16th 3-8 pm & Saturday, November 17th, 10 am – 4 pm
  • Christmas Shopping Market for Autism Ontario – Knollwood Park Public School (70 Gammage St); Saturday November 17th, 10 am – 4 pm, Proceeds to Autism Ontario Summer Camp Subsidy fund
  • Craft Market – Church of the Ascension (2060 Dundas St E); Saturday November 17th, 10 am -2 pm
  • The Enchanted Art Show and Sale – Elsie Perrin Williams Estate (101 Windermere Rd W); Sunday, November 18th, 10:30 am – 5 pm
  • 5th Annual Craft and Gift Show – North Middlesex Community Centre (224 McLeod St, Parkhill); Sunday, November 18th, 10 am -3 pm
  • Winter Wonderland SaleWellspring in the YMCA Atrium (382 Waterloo St); Monday, November 19th, 8 am – 8 pm, Proceeds to Support Wellspring London Cancer Support Centre

Psst, Don’t forget to pick up something special for your favourite Real Estate Agent while you’re shopping!

Welcome to In Your Neighbourhood!

Allow me to introduce myself. The name is Jim. You want to know more? Well, check out my "About Me" page! Don't forget to take a peek at my "Local London Listings" while you are here too! I update it regularly. Enjoy your visit and drop me a line to let me know you were in the neighbourhood!

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