4 New Holiday Traditions to Start with Your Family


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The holiday season is a time to embrace tradition and make memories as a family. But as important as it is to keep old traditions going strong, it is equally important to bring establish new traditions and strengthen your family bond. 
Here are a few new traditions to consider starting with your family this holiday season:

Keep It Real in Your Holiday Card 

Instead of the standard professionally shot family portrait where everyone has their happy faces on, while wearing those perfectly color-coordinated outfits that took hours of scouring Pinterest to plan, consider taking a different approach. Instead, use a photo that truly illustrates this moment in time for your family. This may mean an airport shot of you all geared up ready to take off for another adventure. Or maybe at the baseball field on the bleachers, where you spend every weekend cheering on your little star pitcher. Or maybe in your backyard, with a glass of wine in hand, while the kids run amok on the swing set. It doesn't matter where you choose, as long as the location is true to your family's reality. 
Instead of focusing on coordinating everyone's outfits, let each family member wear what they want. Something that they are truly comfortable in so that their true spirit can be easily captured in the photo. This may mean that your toddler will be wearing her favorite Rapunzel costume, but that's fine. Embrace each family member's sartorial choices. In 10 or 20 years when you look back at that photo, you get an instant rush of the sweetness from that moment in time, no matter how challenging this season of life may seem now. 

Decorate an Upside-Down Christmas Tree

Upside-down Christmas trees are an unusual trend in the artificial Christmas tree market, but they are nonetheless gaining traction and attracting attention thanks to their small footprint, which can fit into the smallest spaces. Whether hung from the ceiling or perched on a stand, upside-down Christmas trees are a fun new tradition to adopt in your family, especially if you need an extra dose of festive whimsy. 
Make this tradition fun for your family by making it a surprise and setting up the tree at night while your family is asleep. Then in the morning, have the kids help you decorate the tree or even make some decorations for it. This new tradition can bring back a bit of the magic of holidays past by adding a splash of the unexpected.

Adopt a Family

As a member of a fortunate family who always has food on the table, clean clothes in the closet and a room overhead, it's easy for your children to forget that everyone does not have it as easy as they do. Help your entire family have an attitude of gratitude this holiday season by adopting a family in need. Many local organizations have programs that can match you with a struggling family who you can provide a holiday meal and gifts for. Your children will love shopping for the kids and you cannot put a price on the value of seeing the needy family's faces light up when you arrive with a load of holiday treats. 

Get Matching Pajamas for Christmas Morning

It may seem cheesy, but there is something so delightful about not taking yourselves so seriously for a day and wearing matching family pajamas on Christmas morning. Gift your family with a set of new pajamas to be opened before bed on Christmas eve and then wake up and open the rest of your gifts together on Christmas morning in your festive finery. Many retailers offer family pajamas, with some even offering outfits for dogs so that Fido can get in on the fun too. 

4 Tips for People Who Are Clueless about Technology

In this digital age, it can be extremely difficult for people who struggle with technology. Instead of being able to join in with conversations about social media, the latest apps, or online streaming, you may find yourself constantly being left out. Now is the time to take control. It’s possible for everyone to improve their knowledge regarding the use of technology. If you’re ready to make a change, you’ll need to read on. Below are four tips for people who’re clueless about technology.
Invest in the Best
When it comes to technology, it’s not always a good idea to go for the cheapest option. Instead, you should do your research. Try to find the best deals available. Ideally, you want to find a device that has been heavily discounted. Why not visit your local tech stores during the sale season. If you struggle to make a decision, take a trusted advisor with you. Some stores will have assistants that are very eager to help. However, you’ll also want to seek an objective option from someone who isn’t trying to secure a sale.
Protect Your Hard Drive
If you always find yourself faced with technological disasters, you need to make sure that you have a back-up plan. Don’t just wait for problems to happen to you or hope that they will never come. Instead, do everything in your power to pre-empt them. If anything does go wrong, it’s important not to give up. Even if you can’t solve a problem yourself, you can always turn to the experts for help. For instance, if your device breaks down, don’t just get of it. Instead, you should try corrupted hard drive repair. This is the best chance that you’ll have of recovering your important data.
Use Apps to Simplify Things
Although it may be confusing at first, the world of apps is definitely worth exploring. Finding the right app can help you to simplify your day to day life. There are apps that will allow you to create a clear family schedule, apps that can help you stay fit, and even apps that will provide your children with an interactive bedtime story. Take a look at your life – are there any areas that could use some improvement? If so, the first place that you should visit is the app store.
Enjoy Purchasing Accessories

If you struggle to find technology interesting, it’s worth checking out the accessories on offer. There is a huge amount of choice out there. Perhaps you could use a stylish new accessory as a reward for getting to grips with your device. Whatever you do, just make sure that you don’t turn into someone with all the gear and no idea. Once you get started on your journey towards understanding technology, you’ll begin to realize that it isn’t so complicated after all. In fact, it can completely transform your life for the better.

Getting puppy’s attention the right way

When it comes to disciplining your dog most owners make one crucial mistake – their dog is not listening to them!
Like with small children, attention is important for dogs. It sets up a basis for any training. Otherwise, the dog simply won’t be concentrated on your efforts and will try to do something else like play with its toys.
Lack of focus is a sign that owner hasn’t properly trained his dog. This is something that needs to be done from the early age, otherwise, the dog will develop bad habits and will never be able to listen to you in future.
Here are some tips that will help you teach your puppy how to be attentive.


Start with eye contact
The first thing that needs to be taught (and learned) is to create an eye contact with a dog.
Ideally, you wish to use dog’s name. However, in theory, any command will suffice. Still, I would recommend dog’s name as it will have a much wider purpose and your friends and family can use it as well.
You need to bear in mind that dog’s do not understand what you’re talking about. They even have to learn their own name during the process. And that’s precisely where you start.
First, try repeating the name until dog looks at you. When he does, make sure to have a treat nearby. Repeat the process several times during that day. Try it again in the following days always have a treat. If you do not have a treat, cuddle or provide some sort of a positive feedback. Nevertheless, treat is the most efficient way to go for first few days.  
Whenever dog looks at you, try talking about something or doing things that are entertaining. Silly hand gestures may look very interesting to a dog and he will likely remain focused on you.
If a dog loses attention at any moment, make sure to call its name once again. Have in mind that you need to provide a treat each time he does so otherwise it will all be for naught.

Patience and persistence are the key
Always have in mind that patience and persistence are crucial for this or any other type of a training. Same goes for attention training.
One of the worst things you can do is use force or intimidation. This is something that was used back in the day and unfortunately, it is still used in certain places.
Training is definitely something that needs to teach a dog certain skill. But this learning process shouldn’t be done by using force. It can be counterproductive and deteriorate your relationship. Instead, always use love, petting, treats and other things that are positive for a dog and stimulate it to learn more.
Although people rarely think about this, all types of training are interconnected. Same goes for attention training. When dog notices you want something from him (a.k.a. training) he might take it either as a positive or negative experience depending on your actions during the training itself.
When it comes to attention training, be prepared to wait.
You might be forced to call puppy’s name several times until it finally looks at you. Once the eye contact is created and he receives its first treat, everything else will go more smoothly.

Test with toys
With all that being said, have in mind that attention training is primarily about prolonged focused not short-term looking.  
Dog needs to be focused during the whole sequence without going away or starting to do something else. Of course, you will call its name whenever he does but you need to do something else.
In order to strengthen dog’s focus, you need to use toys or something else that he really likes.
During this particular exercise, put a toy in front of him and then, call his name.
There is a good chance that a dog will disregard your call and instead go for a toy. When this happens, make sure to remove the toy or cover it with foot/hand. Call its name once again and continue repeating this until he looks at you.
Dog needs to be able to look at you no matter the circumstances. Only when you manage this, you can say that the training is truly over.

Planning A First Birthday Party That Parents Will Enjoy Too

If your little bundle is about to reach their first birthday; you’ll want to celebrate the occasion, and what better way than with a party. Party planning can be a little stressful, but it shouldn’t be; with the right planning and preparation, you’ll create an event to remember. With babies and toddlers in tow, it can also be a challenge for the accompanying parents to relax and have a great time. However, you can ensure that moms, dads, and grandparents all enjoy themselves just as much as the little ones.

If you want to throw a party, big or small, for your child’s first birthday; get your notepad and pen at the ready. The following are some ideas and inspiration for parents in the process of party planning, and for those who need some helpful nudges in the right direction so that everyone has a great time.

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Food

As it’s your baby’s birthday; you’ll need to take care of the kid’s food first. There will probably be children at the party who vary in ages, as you’ll invite family and friends, and their little ones. Therefore, a variety of small snacks and nibbles should go down like a dream and everyone can get stuck into what’s on offer. You don’t want to fill little bodies up with too much sugar; unless you’re prepared to deal with the subsequent crash afterward. However, a few sweet treats are perfectly acceptable; it’s a party after all!

Cupcakes, cookies, and cake pops are all perfect for grabbing and nibbling on as the kids run around; they’re far easier to eat than a slice of birthday cake and straightforward to bake too. Adults at the party will also appreciate something they can pop in their mouth quickly, in case they need to run after a child or clean up spilled soda.

For healthier alternatives; you don’t have to spend too much time or effort on making snacks and nibbles that both little ones and grown-ups will enjoy. Sliced carrot sticks, cucumber, and celery, with dips like hummus, guacamole, and aioli are delicious nibbles for party guests of every age. Again, it’s about ensuring that little hands can grab the food and eat it with ease, and making plenty of things that parents will enjoy together with their children.

Sandwiches are another great party snack that can be adapted for both a child’s and an adult’s palette. You can cut off crusts for small children, and fill with simple fillings like cream cheese, cheddar, and ham. For the grown ups at the party; get a variety of bread like granary, seeded, and crusty baguettes; you could accompany the bread with a cheese board and even a little wine to toast the little one’s first year. There’s also the option of asking all the grown ups to bring a dish; this way you’ll know that everyone has something there that they want to eat. For tots and babies; the parents will probably bring their milk or food with them anyway, but it’s always a smart idea to have enough to keep everyone’s appetites occupied too.

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Image credit

Treats

Aside from the edible sweet treats that you’re going to provide; you might want to do party bags and prizes as well. You could look into personalized gifts and check out the products from Zoey's Attic for thoughtful items that the children in your family, or close family friends, will be able to treasure for years to come. Or why not commemorate your little one’s birthday with a bespoke tee or sweatshirt; it would be perfect for the family photos and something that could become a tradition each year.

For party bags for the kids; think about little toys and games that will keep them occupied in the car on the way home (the other parents will thank you for the distraction). You can pop in some coloring crayons and pencils, and print off pictures that could relate to the theme of your event, for the kids to color and fill-in. Printing off your own pictures will save you the cost of buying a coloring book or pages from the store, so have a look online and discover what free images are available. Before the guests leave; pop in any of the wrapped edible treats that are left over; perhaps hand the children’s party bags over to the adults so they can edit what they want them to eat.

Don’t forget about the grown-ups; they’ll love a party bag just for them too. You can focus on the edible side of things and offer to fill them up with any cupcakes and cheese they might want to continue enjoying when they get home. You can also add in a miniature bottle of their preferred spirit and a soda mixer with a note to tell them to enjoy it after the kids have gone to bed. Travel sized skincare and beauty products are another way to add a touch of fun and indulgence to the adult party bags, and they’ll be able to enjoy and remember the party for the weeks ahead.

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Image via here

Activities

When small babies and toddlers are involved in a party; music, lights, singing, and dancing can go a long way. You can choose music that the adults will appreciate and won’t mind dancing along to with their little ones. Organize some classic games for the older children, like pass the parcel and musical chairs; you never know, you might get one or two of the grown ups involved in the action! Check out some party game ideas from Pinterest and jot some down in that notebook. Parents will enjoy playing with their children and as long as there are some great tunes playing; the atmosphere will be fun, without a dull moment.

A giant game of hide-and-seek around your home or garden, with guests of every age, is another way to burn off the energy from the cupcakes. Running around and finding each other (with babies in tow) will have everyone in fits of giggles and the little ones will sleep soundly when it’s bed time. Plan and prepare your party with all the guests in mind, and you’ll create an event that everyone will enjoy and remember, and they’ll be excited for your child’s second birthday!

Preparing Your Home for the Colder Weather

The days are already getting shorter and the evenings are starting to get chilly. So, now is a good time to get your home prepared for the autumn and winter seasons.
Sort out your warm bedding
Get all of your winter quilts, throws and bedspreads out and check that they are clean and in good repair. It is a wise to do this now so that you have time to get them dry cleaned or washed should you need to. If you do decide to wash them at home bear in mind it can take a couple of days to get them properly dry if you are planning to hang them up outside. Always check the weather forecast for the next few days before putting your quilts through the wash.
Test your boiler
Testing your boiler now will give you time to get it repaired before the cold weather actually arrives. Leaving it until the first cold night is always a mistake. If you do that you are likely to discover that all of the heating engineers in your area are swamped with work. You really do not want to have to suffer through a week or two without heating, when it is really cold.
Book a service
Check the due date for your boiler service and book one if you need to. Do this a couple of weeks in advance, especially if it is due from September onwards. Naturally, heating engineers tend to get very busy between the months of September and March. Therefore, you really do need to get in before the rush.
Servicing your boiler will help you to heat your home more efficiently. In addition, a properly serviced boiler costs a lot less to run. This means that you can potentially afford to turn the thermostat up a degree or two, which will keep everyone warmer.
Check for drafts
Go around your home draft-proofing. Check each door and window. If you use sausage dog style draft excluders get them out and give them a wash. The fact that they are on the floor means that they tend to get a bit grubby.
If you have wooden floors consider laying some large rugs. These will stop drafts coming up through the floorboards.
Consider updating your insulation
It is important to realize that some insulation materials degrade over time. Therefore, you really should periodically check the state of your insulation.
Over time, new insulation products are launched. Therefore, it is worth periodically checking what is available and working out if you could benefit from installing more insulation.  You can use the information contained in this article to quickly work out how much money you could save on your heating bills.
If you are planning to upgrade your insulation, getting it done during the summer months should save you a lot of money. Because insulation firms are not as busy at that time of the year they tend to offer more discounts, to drum up more business.
Check the roof and guttering
As well as keeping the warmth in and the cold out you want to keep the rain out. Before the cold weather sets in, get your gutters cleaned and fix any roof tiles that may have come loose. That way your home should remain watertight.

Everything You Should Know Before Starting An Online Business


Starting your own business is an exciting, nerve-wracking, and sometimes stressful project. However, when you do decide to plunge into the world of entrepreneurship; there are a few things you need to know. It's not just about having the skill is your field and being great at what you do, it's about learning the ins-and-outs of running a business yourself, without anyone making decisions for you. That's why today we're going to take a look at what you need to know before starting an online business.


Time Management


The first step to becoming a successful business owner is learning how to manage and prioritise a multitude of tasks. Whether that be working on your website, projects, managing your finance or marketing your business. If you are a blogger, make sure you practice good habits. Have a clear schedule to stick to each day to focus your time efficiently. Consider a bullet journal for easy scheduling and noting down ideas.

Register Your Business

When you finally take the leap and begin to work as your own brand, you will need to become a registered business. By registering with the federal government, you will receive a tax ID which is essential if you don't want to be penalized. As you register your business, you'll need to share your address, service, employees, profits and a multitude of other things. Make sure you have all information about your business to hand and organized.


Coordinate Your Finances

As the owner of your business, you will need to conduct your accounts and make sure that expenditure/ income is accurate. This may include going online and learning how to manage your finances or even employ an accountant to look after it for you. Money flow is necessary in business and must be watched at all times.

Manage Your Mail

What many people don't consider when they start a business online is where any mail will be delivered. You may think that having your mail sent to your home is the logical thing to do, but it's not necessarily the best option. You can manage your business address online, meaning you can have your mail sent somewhere else, sorted through and then sent on to your via a 'virtual mailbox'. Managing your post online rather than physically saves having piles of paper everywhere to shred.


Social Media Strategy

Unlike a business which operates in the real world, online businesses don't have the luxury of passersby nipping in for a quick look as they stroll down the high street. This is where effective marketing comes in. You need to familiarise yourself with social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram- and begin to create content which is relevant for your audience. Think about budgeting for paid promotions to get your brand in front of people, and you should soon begin to grow your following. Be sure to be an engaged business on social media, posting multiple times a day with relevant hashtags to increase reach and exposure.

Just How Important is a Good Ofsted Report?

Many parents rely on the Ofsted report to decide on whether the school is the right fit for their children. Many other parents don’t really look towards the report as a deciding factor in their selection process and instead, they visit the school and see if it meets their overall needs in terms of quality education and the area in which the school is in. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons why an Ofsted report is important. 

Knowing What the School Offers Is Crucial

Ofsted is primarily a graded report that assesses how well the curriculum works within a specific institution – it’s there so parents can judge the quality of the system in place. From teacher knowledge to regularly improving the education for the future of other children, a good Ofsted report will give you information about how well a school educates children. 

Teachers Are Well Trained

It’s important the teachers that care for your children on a daily basis are well trained and have the knowledge to take your child’s education further. Ofsted investigates teachers and their overall experience to ensure they meet the criteria to educate your children correctly. The teaching ability of staff is regularly monitored to ensure it meets guidelines and the ever-changing educational system. 

School Facilities Are Safe Environments for Younger Children

Ofsted not only helps to improve the education of independent schools in Essex like St. Margaret’s Preparatory School, but they’ll also inspect the school physically to ensure it meets the relevant criteria and the environment provides a safe place for children to learn in. If the Ofsted report is poor, it could mean that the overall environment isn’t satisfactory for your child to learn in, so you’ll have a good reason to look elsewhere. 

Ofsted Regularly Improves the Quality of Education

While this isn’t important when it comes to the report of a school, it could prove to be an important factor that improves schools across the country in the future. Ofsted regularly improves education in independent schools as well as public schools. Without Ofsted, education will stay as it is and schools won’t be able to improve their educational systems. 

Management of the School

Schools are also judged on the management of staff and head teachers. If a grade is significantly low, poor management of the school could be the reason. Of course, many other reasons come into play when it comes to grading a school, but management is one of the key factors. With an outstanding or at least good Ofsted report, you can ensure your child is going to be managed in the right way throughout their education. 

Ultimately, Ofsted reports do matter when it comes to choosing a schooling option for your children. However, it shouldn’t be the sole reason why your children should go to a school. Visit the school you’re interested in and if you and your child get a good feeling, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t select that school option. 

Finding Your Family's Dream Home

When it comes to choosing a home, there are a lot of different mental checklists you’re going to want to make sure that you fulfill. Some elements are going be more important than others. When it comes to a family home, then proximity or commutability to schools and work are going to be a priority. But when it comes to putting together a dream family home, there are three things in particular that parents tend to look at. Here, we’re going to see if there are any of those dream home wants you haven’t considered yet.

Plenty of space
If you’re just starting to grow your family then you might not yet realize just how frustrating it can be to not have enough space for everyone to have their own individual place. You can do a lot to maximize space in your existing home, but having as many individual rooms as possible is going to solve so many problems especially as they grow up. One for each child is the ideal, but can be a little impractical for much bigger families. Big, open-plan kitchens and lounges can also make it a lot easier to deal with the inevitable mess that children are going to bring with them.
The wonderful outdoors
Another one of the key features that most families have stated they would like to see in a home, as found by studies done by Origin, is a big, safe garden. As technology takes up more and more of our lives, many parents are rightfully concerned that many children don’t get enough exposure to the outside the world. Having a big garden gives them a safe space to explore and to play outside the home. If your children are older, looking at places like waterfront homes for sale can get them even more in touch with the wild. These kinds of properties that are a little further from the hustle and bustle of cities and suburbs, also prove great for families that want to keep active, as you’re much more likely to keep fit by hiking and walking around a truly beautiful area.
Bright and happy
It’s easy to ignore when compared to features like space and having a big outdoor area, but getting natural light in the home is another focus for families. This fits into why families want more open-plan areas, too. Fewer partitions going through the home means that light travels more freely through them. There’s a lot you can do to add more natural light into a home if you find a place you love that you have the budget to invest some renovations into. You can opt for lighter or translucent window treatments, add windows, or even sun lights, for instance.
If you have the budget, then you should always be willing to look a little further and consider paying a little more for a home that’s really going to give your family everything you could want for them. Think of which of the features above are most worth investing in, or even if you might be able to get them all from a property near you.

These Smart Investments Could Sprout Money Trees

At a certain point in your life, you’ll stop thinking about saving and start thinking about investing. This usually begins once you start to make enough money that you’re not always spending it. When you reach a point where you are saving a lot of cash, it makes sense to invest. But what investments should you be looking at here? It’s advisable to keep things as simple and clear as possible. That way you can avoid the risk of losing money on a dicey investment.

Property


You can start thinking about investments by looking at property. If you haven’t already bought a property, this is the place to begin. But you have to buy the right type of home. A lot of people think it’s a smart choice to buy a fixer upper for a fraction of the cost of a new build. While, in the short term this makes sense, in the long term, you can run into issues. You might find that you lose money because you’re not prepared for the extent of repairs that are needed on the old home. If that’s the case, it could quickly plunge you into debt.

Instead, you should save up a large deposit because that’s going to make paying off your property a lot easier. Then, you can look at homes for sale and pick one that suits your budget. Buying a new home is a smart move because you’ll know that it will retain its value for the next few years. Of course, you can also add to the value by making changes such as sprucing up the garden.

This is the easiest way to invest in property. Once you’ve poured enough value into the home, you can sell it on and make a lot of money. Then, if you want you can repeat the process and just keep buying bigger, better homes.

Savings Accounts


Of course, if you already have a property you might want to spend your money elsewhere. One possibility would be to use high-interest savings accounts. The only issue is that these savings accounts are often few and far between these days. You can still find them, but you usually have to lock your money up for years to gain the benefits. It’s certainly a possibility but one that is slightly risky. If you do this make sure whatever you lock away you can live without because there’s no guarantee that it does retain its value. It depends very much on the market and as we have seen the market is incredibly unpredictable.

Penny Stocks


Penny stocks are a great way to invest a little money with the chance of gaining a lot back. If you invest in penny stocks, you could stand to make a lot of money. The best part is that penny stocks are cheap so you can afford to buy as many as you want. It’s a low-risk way of making a lot of cash because you are essentially betting that one of the companies will turn out to be a big industrial champion.

Use these investments and you could find money trees start to grow in your backyard.