Holiday Decorating by Design

The holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of the year. It is a time when we welcome family and friends into our homes to reflect on the joys of the season and mark the passing of another year. We celebrate holiday traditions – choosing the Christmas tree, decorating it with the ornaments we have collected over the years, smiling with delight over gifts bought and hidden away for our loved ones, and anticipating the joy that they will bring to their recipients. Anticipation grows as the day grows near, and we are filled with good cheer and fun.

Decorating our homes is an important part of the holiday festivities. We fill our rooms with the richness of holiday spirit and transform our surroundings with color and dazzle. When creating any interior space for clients, design professionals follow certain time honored principles. These tried and true design guidelines help in the placement of furnishings, the choice of paint and color schemes, the coordination and positioning of lighting, artwork and accessories. The application of these design principles aids in the creation of rooms that are inviting and interesting with a visual balance of weight, color and texture.

These same principles can be very effectively used when planning your holiday décor. It goes without saying that holiday decorations should complement, rather than overwhelm the character of our homes. It is much better to draw the eye to architectural features or emphasize a beautiful view than to scatter holiday baubles on every surface. Let’s explore how you can utilize these design principles when decorating your home for the holidays!

First and foremost, it is important to adopt a theme and carry it through in the decoration of the tree, tablescapes, centerpieces and mantels. Decide on the degree of formality you like…do you prefer formal silver candlesticks or handcrafted tin luminaries, ornate glass globes for the tree or carved wooden ornaments? Next, select a color scheme drawing colors from the interior design of your home or from a treasured holiday ornament.

Designate a focal point by using lighting, color and placement to accentuate a favorite area. For example, positioning the Christmas tree near a window calls attention to a wonderful view. Bear in mind that your eye will usually be drawn to the brightest colors or the most interestingly lit areas, so focus interest on a wonderful fireplace mantel with brilliant red poinsettias and romantic flickering candlelight. Speaking of lighting, add interesting light in unexpected places. Mass candles in different heights and sizes to multiply the light. A well placed mirror will reflect and intensify the flickering points of candlelight.

Create a variety of textures by using glass ornaments in matte and shiny finishes, glossy red apples, gleaming silver candlesticks, coarsely woven baskets, sugary gingerbread cookies, lush evergreens, velvety Christmas stockings or any other item that will continue your desired theme. The principle of symmetry can be very effectively used when decorating for the holidays – it provides balance and can promote a formal look. Place identical topiaries or wreaths at either side of your front entry, a grouping of candlesticks at both ends of a mantle, a pair of silver bowls filled with shiny ornaments anchoring the holiday table.

Use the principle of scale by varying the sizes and proportions of your holiday arrangements. For example, decorate your tree with a mix of small, medium and oversize ornaments. Add consistency throughout your home by the repetition of the colors and themes that you have selected. For example, if you are using shiny gold stars or silver snowflakes as your theme, use them not only on the tree, but also on your holiday table, mantelpiece displays and perhaps incorporate them into your gift wrapping.

Using an odd number of items makes decorative arrangements more pleasing. For example, use three miniature Christmas trees, five crystal angels or seven silver candlesticks. Use different heights and levels to focus attention on favorite items. Decorative objects displayed in a triangular layout (tall, medium and low) are visually pleasing.

Above all, holiday decorating should be fun. Add some whimsy and laughter to the season – wear a Santa hat, decorate your car, build a gingerbread house with family and friends. Happy holidays!

15 Ideas To Boost Your Sales Over The Holidays

Most of the time people buy out of emotional reasons. Because of this, things that pull on our heart strings tend to encourage us to buy more than usual.

And holidays like Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas have been known to make us spend the most money of all.

My question is, why should the big box stores be the only ones that increase their profits during the holidays?

Below, are 15 ways that you can reel in more sales during the holidays – so that you too can profit greatly and receive some holiday cheer.

1. Dress up.

First we need to catch their attention. To pull the heart strings of our customers to come our way – we need to create a holiday atmosphere at our place of business.

Here are a few ideas how we can do this:

  • Decorate- Add holiday decorations to your store, website, emails, etc. to put people in the holiday mood.
  • Emphasize family- In your advertisements, emails and specials – emphasize the benefits for the whole family.
  • Kids rule- Since kids rule during the holiday – add things that will attract children like holiday candy or have someone dress up like the Easter bunny or Santa to greet the kids.
  • Charity tie-ins- Let all your customers know that a portion of any money they spend will go to a particular charity.
  • Get creative- use fancy slogans like, “12 Days of Holiday Products.” Or “Treat Yourself During the Holidays…” etc.

2. Make holiday offers.

People expect offers during the holidays. Why not make them offers they cannot refuse?

If you can afford it, give them some of the best offers for the year. This could be:

  • Discounts of 15 – 40% off.
  • Bundled items- packages with multiple items for a low price.
  • Small gifts- provide small items for low prices.
  • Last minute shopping items- Have great discounts for those last minute shoppers (commonly men).

3. Encourage them to come back.

The statistic is that there is a 50 – 80% chance that your previous customers will buy from you again. Why not use the holiday as a reason to reactivate a buying relationship with you?

Here are a few ideas that can bring your previous customers back into your stores – and get them buying again.

  • Send them a card- though we may think people get too many of these – your customers appreciate them just the same.
  • Give them a gift- send them a small token to let them know you care.
  • Throw them a party- have a holiday customer appreciation party.
  • Ask them to donate- have a charity run where they have to come to the store to donate toys, gifts, etc.
  • Send them a gift card for your store- This way when they come to use it, they can purchase other items as well.
  • Give them a coupon for future purchases- Send them a discount coupon that they can use now or later that will motivate them to buy.

Most big stores make most of their money during the holidays: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

My question is, why should they have all of the holiday fun?

Use this opportunity to increase your holiday profits, so that you too can have a season full of great cheer.

Discovering Kenya's Species on Bird Watching Holidays

Most people know Kenya as a wildlife haven, famous for its big cats, the incredible annual migration and its spectacular national parks. While seeing the 'Big 5' is a once in a lifetime opportunity, many people are not aware this wonderful country has much more to offer the wildlife enthusiast, and that bird watching holidays are on the increase in popularity. Offering a habitat to more than 1,000 species of bird, Kenya is a bird lover's paradise. Its most famous national park, the Maasai Mara, hosts over 450 of the avian species in the country, and it is, in fact, due to the large amount of big game that six out of the seven species of Kenyan vulture make their home here . (The only one missing is the Lammergeier Vulture.)

The Birds of The Maasai Mara

The Maasai Mara is the go-to place in Kenya for bird watching holidays, and the species that can be sighted range from the large and rather easy to spot Common Ostrich to the much smaller, but still very common spotted Cardinal Quelea. Go-away Birds, Eastern Gray Plantain-eaters and woodpeckers (which include the rare Little Spotted and Golden-tailed) are all birds to look out for in the Maasai Mara.

The famous river that runs through the national park, the Mara River, provides excellent sighting opportunities for the African Finfoot and the Blue Quail, which can both prove exclusive but are definitely worth waiting for if you are finally rewarded. More common sightings include the Martial Eagle, Kori Bustard, Crowed Crane, Rosy-baked Longclaw and Caramine Bee-eater. While avid bird lovers will have their eyes trained on the sky, it is also worth remembering the park is also teeming with mammals, such as the Lion, Cheetah, Thompson's Gazelle and the Maasai Giraffe.

Lake Naivasha

Many bird watching holidays include a trip to Lake Naivasha, the stunning wildlife rich area that sits inside the dramatic Rift Valley. Elsamere, once the home of Joy and George Adamson, is the best place to begin an exploration of the area and here you may see African Fish Eagles, Superb Starlings and the stunning Golden-winged Sunbirds. Right on the edge of the lake, this spectacular location is one that will never be forgotten.

If you book with a travel company that specializes in organizing bird watching holidays, you will have the best opportunity for sightings. A Kenyan expert naturalist guide will accompany you, to help you appreciate the abundant bird life and offer you the best opportunities of sight rare species. Every day in Kenya brings new opportunities to see some of the world's most incredible mammals and birds and travelers invariably leave with spectacular photographs and fantastic memories.

Healthy Holiday Traditions

We all have a lot to be thankful for and this is the one time of year when we reflect on all that we have and show our appreciation. Every family has their own traditions, whether it involves getting together with other family members, watching or playing a game of football, and of course the tradition of cooking a big Thanksgiving meal. If you are trying to be mindful of what you eat the start of the holiday season can easily throw you off. 

The typical Thanksgiving meal is packed with more than 3,000 calories. And that does not include all of the snacking you do throughout the rest of the day! You will likely start your day with breakfast, and then have at least one snack before the big meal. And if you are like me, the night is not complete without pulling out the leftovers and making a turkey sandwich.  

The good news is that you can have a Thanksgiving meal and still be healthy. Follow these tips to help you make wise choices throughout the day: 

  • If you’re cooking use substitutions to trim the fat; for instance, use chicken broth or skim milk instead of cream or butter in mashed potatoes.
  • Avoid portion distortion by eating off of a salad plate rather than a regular dinner plate.
  • Survey all of the available food before deciding what to put on your plate. This will help you avoid having to eat things you may decide you do not really want. 
  • Only go back for seconds if you are still hungry. You will likely have leftovers from the meal and can eat again later, or another day. 
  • Indulge where it does not count – feel free to eat as many vegetables as you would like!
  • Relax – stress can lead to overeating. Exercising early in the day can help with this.
  • Enjoy your company – remember that Thanksgiving is not ALL about the food. It’s about taking time to remember the things you are thankful for. 

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Cheap Holiday Deals to Cala N Blanes – Worth the Wait

Have you been waiting for a while to find the perfect holiday rates for family package deals to Menorca? Did you know that right now is the best time in nearly a decade to find cheap holiday deals to Cala n Blanes and other exciting locations on Menorca? It’s true. Right now you can find amazing late holiday deals to many of your favorite holiday destinations throughout Menorca. Are you ready for your slice of Mediterranean heaven? If so, be sure to check out the last minute holidays that are available right now. They are just waiting for families like yours to come around and snap them up.

Cala n Blanes is a popular beach resort on Menorca. It is beloved by families as much as it is by couples looking for a romantic escape. Family holidays to Cala n Blanes can enjoy an exciting nightlife that isn’t wild or over the top. Cala n Blanes is widely reputed to have the liveliest nightlife on Menorca. This means if you are looking for a nightlife that is a little more exciting than some of the other resorts on Menorca, Cala n Blanes is the resort for you.

There is a wide range of bars, pubs, nightclubs, cafes, and restaurants to keep you busy at night. During the daytime hours, there are plenty of great beach activities and water sports to keep you going. You will find a nice selection of cafes to enjoy breakfast and lunch in Cala n Blanes as well as a few excellent shops where you can spend all that money you saved on lodging and travel by booking cheap holiday deals to Cala n Blanes to begin with.

If you are interested in exploring the rest of the island, Cala n Blanes is an excellent staging point for many great tours of the island. You also have the option of hiring a car and doing a little exploring of your own. If there is anything on the island of Menorca that you wish to enjoy, Cala n Blanes is close enough that you have no real reason not to experience it.

Whether you are looking for great last minute holidays, have been making plans for a family package holiday to Cala n Blanes for quite a while, or simply wish to explore your options when it comes to late holiday deals you will find plenty of opportunities for cheap holiday deals to Cala n Blanes as long as you know where to look.

Why to Spend Your Holidays in Somaliland

Somaliland is an African country that is located in the Horn of Africa. The country observers itself to be the successor state of the former British Somaliland protectorate. The total area of ​​Somaliland is about 68,040 square miles. This country shares its border with Ethiopia to the south and west, Djibouti to the north west and the Gulf of Aden to the south east.

This country has some out-standing tourist locations and grand places to visit. Hargeisa is the capital of Somaliland. This is the safest and most famous tourist destination in the whole country. It has several museums that show the rich culture of the country. Tourists also like to visit its famous zoo logical garden that has various species of animals and birds.

To provide some visual delights to the visitors, Somaliland also has various bustling bazaars that allow you to get familiar with all the traditions of the country. From here, you can do shopping for your friends and families. You can find these types of markets in some other cities like Berbera. This city is also a famous tourist destination of Somaliland. You can find various lofty cliffs along with the coast that is really a breath taking experience.

For all those people who want to add a natural touch in to their vacations, they can go to the Puntland. It is situated in the southern part of Somaliland. This place has rich natural resources like green valleys, mountain ranges and many more.

Apart from this if you want to know more about the history of Somaliland, there are several other cities that you can include in your vacation. There are prehistoric caves present that help you gather knowledge about the history of the county. These caves have several paintings that reflect the culture of Somaliland.

There are several more places in Somaliland that you can explore and make your holiday more memorable. These places are Las Geel- it is famous for its legendary cave paintings from the Neolithic age. You can have a life time experience after visiting this place as it reflects the rich culture, history and present conditions of Somaliland.

There is an international airport in Hargeisa having flights form Addis, Ababa, Dubai and Djibouti City. After reaching Hargeisa you can hire a personal cab to roam around or you can also take advantage of its bus service.

Somaliland is trying to position itself as an emerging holiday destination. While not considered as a main stream holiday destination, it is making massive inroads to attract more tourists.

Marmaris Holidays – Turkey

Turkey has a long Mediterranean coastline and there are many tourist resorts along the coastline. Marmalis is one of the popular ones among them. Pine clad hills provide backdrop to clear waters of Marmaris beaches, whose medley of green and blue tones is fascinating. It has a charm of exceptionally beautiful natural location. The sea is warm, crystal clear and perfect for swimming. The beaches at Marmaris are mostly crowded with sunbeds and umbrellas but there are some fabulous beaches within half an hours drive. Icmeler Beach which is a wider and a quieter beach is just 15 minutes away. Cleopatra Island is only a 20-minute boat ride; it is said that the soft white sand here was bought all the way from Egypt for Anthony and Cleopatra's honeymoon pleasures.

Marmaris is a hub from which you could have many tours to many historic sites. You can take a trip to Ephesus, about 240 km. away from Marmaris. This is probably one of the best preserved remnants of the Roman Empire; when you walk through the streets of this old city, the way people lived and the houses and buildings in which they lived and worked in the Roman Empire almost come alive. Many people find that even the likes of the Pyramids or the ruins of Pompeii will pale to insignificance beside the brilliance of Ephesus.

Go and see Parnukkale. You will never come across a unique sight like that of the so-called "Cotton Castle" at Pamukkale. The ever-flowing natural spring waters, which are so very rich in calcium, cascade down the hill; and as calcium reacts with carbon dioxide in atmosphere, it turns in chalk. These forms the famous travertines of different colors and shapes, in terrace-like forms, with pools and overhanging fascinating stalactite shapes. The ruined city of Hierapolis which dates back to 2000 BC lies buried here. The water here is good for many allergies, skin diseases, blood pressure, etc.

There are many other sites to visit such as Rhodes Island, the Ancient City of Hieropolis and the Marmaris Castle.

Marmaris is one of the most popular resorts in Turkey. It is blamed for its unending nightlife in numerous clubs and bars stretching along the coast. There are many night beach parties you could join, or there are many Turkish Belly dancer parties organized that you may fancy. There is so much you could find to enjoy in this popular and famous tourist destination you will not know how time flies.

Marmaris Palace Hotel, barely 40 km. from the Dalaman airport, is a very popular hotel. It consist of a main block of over 150 rooms and over 200 small bungalows. This hotel is set on a pine forested hillside and enjoys a private beach area next to the Turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea. All rooms have modern amenities like air-conditioning, TV, telephones, etc. The hotel has a large main swimming pool, a smaller quieter pool, a children's pool and a water slide pool with four water slides. There is also an indoor swimming pool which can be heated. Days can be sent relaxing, taking boat trips around the bay or exploring Marmaris. It has good sports facilities such as billiards, mini golf, tennis, table tennis etc .; it also has beauty center, sauna, Turkish bath, fitness center, etc on the concessions.

Stay in Shape During the Holidays

It’s that time of the year again; when everyone ditches their diets and workout plans to eat as much pumpkin pie and cookies as humanly possible. After all, they are just going to make their New Year’s resolution to get back in shape, right? Well guess what? You are not everyone! You are better than that and if you didn’t already realize that, you do now.

You might be asking; “Mark, what can I do to make sure I don’t put on 20 pounds this month?” I will tell you how and it’s pretty easy. Portion control. Now I understand this is easier said than done but there is only one way to make it happen and that is to just suck it up and do it. I have read various statistics that say the average Thanksgiving meal is between 3,000 and 4,500 calories. I generally consider this the ultimate cheat day and I am extended a Blue Chip pass of forgiveness to everyone on that. The issue with the holidays comes from the snacking, the incredibly huge family meals and drinking. Well that’s actually the problem with our society in general but let’s consider it only in the context of the holidays for now.

If you are home for the holidays and your mother or grandmother makes cookies everyday you don’t have to eat 30, you can just have 1 or 2. The Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility that states as a person increases consumption of a product, while keeping consumption of other products constant, there is a decline in the marginal utility that person derives from consuming each additional unit of that product. So you get less satisfaction from every cookie you eat. I think it’s more enjoyable to maximize the utility (satisfaction) you receive by eating just one cookie. It makes having a cookie every now and then that much more gratifying.

The same concept can and must be applied to everything else. You don’t need 5 pieces of pie after a huge dinner. I would recommend waiting 2 to 3 hours after you eat dinner to have that desert you want if you must have it. Spacing out your caloric intake will minimize the effect the holiday season has on you and make it that much easier to stay in shape.

You should also never stop training. With travel and family time it could be less than convenient to find time, but if it means waking up 30 minutes earlier to get a jog or workout in, do it. You will thank yourself later. Carrying the portion control theme through the holidays with snacking, eating and drinking could reduce the caloric intake of a family day of eating and drinking by 2,000 calories or more, significant to say the least. You may even consider off-setting any unnecessary calories you eat by adding it to your daily goal when burning calories through cardio. The more often you can do that the better off you will be. If you can avoid the pie all together; great, but at a more realistic level one of each item will suffice and doing that will keep you lean and mean this holiday season.

Bargain Holidays – The Perfect Budget Break

Getting away from it all and taking a relaxing break can do you the world of good. It gives you the chance to unwind and forget about the stresses and strains of everyday life and visit new and exciting places at the same time. If you are on a tight budget (and many people are at the moment) you might think that one of the things that you will have to give up on is your week or two in the sun each year, but with bargain holidays you can get away without it stretching your finances.

One of the reasons that many people shy away from bargain holidays is that they think that there must be a catch as the travel agent can afford to sell them so cheaply – but there is not. When you book a bargain holiday you will be ordering onto a quality holiday that has just been reduced in price and nothing else. You will not have to put up with awful accommodation or a resort that is not right for you, instead you will be getting a great holiday at a bargain price. Sometimes you can pick up failure holidays as they are holidays that have previously been booked and then cancelled at the last minute. This then leaves a travel agent with a holiday that can be resold at much lower than it was originally sold for, and you could reap the rewards.

Travel agents both on the high street and online know how popular bargain holidays are among people who either have a limited holiday budget or who find themselves with time off work at short notice. As a result of these holidays do not usually take long to be sold, so if you see a holiday that you are interested in make sure you snap it up quickly or you could miss out on an amazing break.

Until you start looking for bargain holidays you will not realize just what a huge variety of holidays there are out there that have been reduced. You will be astounded at the low prices that some companies offer on their holidays and with this in mind it is clear to see why a bargain holiday is so popular. It is possible to get well over 50% off the price of holidays to anywhere in the world and when you go on a bargain holiday no one knows that you have paid less for it apart from yourself.

So if you are watching the pennies but still want to take a holiday you need to start looking out for a bargain holiday whenever you pass a travel agents or you are surfing the web. With a bit of searching you should soon be able to come across bargain holidays that tick all of your boxes and are just what you want. Do not put off going on holiday because of the price, with a bargain holiday you can have a great time and not worry about going over budget because you have already made a huge saving.

World Holidays

A holiday can be termed as time spent away from home or business, in travel or amusement. It can also mean a day, reserved by a country or culture, usually for celebration or for some other type of special observance or activity. Holidays can be special religious days. It can also be a special day on which schools and/or offices are closed, like Labor Day on the 1st Monday of May. World holidays are those that are celebrated worldwide.

It is possible to find information about almost all worldwide holidays on Internet. Several websites provide holiday listings and other related information. World holidays are generally categorized by country, date, and religion, or there may be long-term ceremonies that span a week or more.

Christians world over celebrate a number of holidays including Christmas Day on 25th of December, All Saint’s Day on 1st of November, All Soul’s Day, St. Andrew’s Day on 30th of November, Trinity Sunday, and Good Friday. Some other holidays are Ash Wednesday, St. David’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day on 17th of March, Palm Sunday, and Good Friday.

Birth of Jesus Christ is celebrated as a joyous occasion at Christmas time. Gifts are exchanged among friends and family members during Christmas. Appearance of Santa Claus bearing gifts is looked forward to by children. It is a time for the whole family to get together and spend time with each other at least once a year.

Some other international holidays are New Year’s Day on 1st of January, Johnny Appleseed Day, anniversary of the death of John Chapman on 11th of March, Black Press Day, Lady Day or The Feast of The Annunciation, and Pesach – First Day of Passover. Also, there are other holidays such as Festival of Freedom on the 24th of April, Law Day on the 1st of May, May Day on the 1st of May, Queen’s Birthday on the 11th of June, Flag Day on the14th of June, United Nations Day on the 24th of October, Human Rights Day on the 10th of December, Boxing Day on the 26th of December, and St. Stephen’s Day on the 26th of December.