14 Entertaining Hacks You’ll Be Thankful You Read Before Thanksgiving

14 Entertaining Hacks You’ll Be Thankful You Read Before Thanksgiving

Hosting Turkey Day will be a treat once you master these entertaining hacks.

LINDSAY LISTANSKI

Being home for the holidays is all about relaxing, making memories and sharing great meals together. However, if you are the one hosting the holiday at your house then being home for the holidays can mean lots of prepping , budget breaking shopping lists and what feels like a race against time to get it all done. Here are some of our favorite holiday entertaining hacks that you will be thankful you read before Turkey Day.

Make it a Team Event

Just because you are gracious enough to host Thanksgiving at your home doesn’t mean you need to take on the entire menu yourself. Delegate drinks, apps, sides and desserts to family and friends to cut down on work and on the cost of all the food and drinks. Your guests will be happy to help and proud to show off their culinary skills.

via MTVOTHER.TUMBLR.Com

Save Space by Serving Dinner Buffet Style

A crowded table can leave your guests feeling claustrophobic. Aside from setting up a kid’s table, an easy way to free up space (for a few extra bottles of vino perhaps) is by serving dinner buffet style. Side note: Vegetarians and those with special dietary needs will thank you for this. We love this beautiful buffet display HGTV.

Go Double for Less Trouble

If you’re hosting a large party, The Washington Posts says go for two smaller birds instead of one. Two small turkeys will take about the same time to roast as one large turkey and you can have two different flavors.  You can even roast two in one pan with this recipe from Rachael Ray.

No Ice? No Problem!

If you don’t have an ice machine you just need to plan ahead. SheKnows advises making ice in ice cubes and them emptying the cubes into large, freezer safe containers starting a few days before the event. By the time your party starts you will be all stocked up!

Follow this Alcohol Cheat Sheet to Avoid Buying Too Much (or *gasp* not enough)

The cost of alcohol, on top of all the other food you are buying, can really add up. Hostess with the Mostess Martha Stewart has come up with the following suggestions:

Wine: One bottle per two people per hour

Beer: Two per person per hour

Spirits: One bottle per five people per hour

Mixers: Three bottles per each bottle of alcohol

Ice: At least one pound per person per hour

Stop Crying During Onion Prep

Chances are at least one of your recipes will call for chopped, minced or diced onions. Dry those eyes and try some of these tear free tricks from Lifehacker.com.

1) Freeze the Onion: Put the onion in the freezer 15 minutes before cutting it.

2) Cut Under a Vent: Use your stove or microwave vent to redirect the odor away from your nose, mouth and eyes.

3). Wear Goggle: Looks ridiculous but works like a charm!

Use Your Slow Cooker to Save Time

“This seems completely counter-intuitive – slow cooking to save time? But using your crock pot for Thanksgiving frees up valuable space in your oven and allows you to space out your cooking more efficiently.” – Sunny Day Family  Here are some amazing crockpot Thanksgiving recipes from Food Network.

Make Up for Lost Time By Cooking Your Bird in a Bag

If you waited too long to start the turkey don’t panic. Cooking your turkey in an oven bag seals in moisture and can cut cooking time by about 1/3 according to Diply. Learn how to cook your bird in a bag from Clever Housewife here.

Make Personal Sized Portions of Stuffing in a Cupcake Pan

Pass the stuffing could very well be the most popular phrase at the table on Thanksgiving. With this Stuffin Muffin trick passing the stuffing is easy and no one needs to fight for the crispy pieces. Check out this recipe from Serious Eats.

Put Your Dishwasher to Work

Is there a more thankless job on Thanksgiving than scrubbing potatoes? I think not. Heavenly Homemakers hacks this task by suggesting that you wash your potatoes in the dishwasher (sans soap of course!) Get the instructions here. Side Note: You can also steam your veggies in the dishwasher. Pop Sugar suggests “wrapping them in aluminum foil and throwing them in the dishwasher for a full cycle (including a complete dry cycle).”

Cook Your in Your Cooler (Yes, really!)

Have a massive amount of corn on the cob to cook? Instead of breaking out all of your pots consider cooking them in a cooler.  This hack from YouTube user Donald Bolingis pure genius. Pour boiling hot water, butter, salt and the corn into a clean cooler, close the lid and let it sit for 30 minutes. Voila, cooked corn!

Boil Potatoes Whole to Avoid Peeling

Nicked fingers and a ton of time is something any Thanksgiving hostess can relate to when it comes to potato prep. If you boil them whole then shock them in iced water the skin will slide right off! See the whole video from Chowhound.

Up Your Pie Crust Game in an Instant

Put that fork you were able to use on your crust down and say hello to your new best baking friend, Libbie Summers. In this video she shares 20 creative and easy “pie crimping” hacks using everything from a corkscrew to a pearl necklace that will make you look like a master chef.

BYOT (Bring Your Own Tupperware)

Hosting guests AND generously giving away leftovers…you are just too much! If your family is anything like mine then once you send someone home with Tupperware there is a 99% chance you won’t be seeing it again. If you aren’t quite ready to part with yours then you can tell your guests in advance to bring their own. If all else fails, freezer Ziploc bags work quite well.

images via Tupperware

Wishing you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving!

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ARE YOU LIKE OTHER HOME BUYERS?

ARE YOU LIKE OTHER HOME BUYERS?

If you’re like most homebuyers, you’re not taking any chances. You want to own a home, but you’ve struggled to save for a down-payment. You waited until you were 31 years of age to buy a home, and plan to stay there at least 10 years. You believe that buying a home is a sound investment.

Like other buyers, your dream of owning a home was delayed by student debt of $25,000 or more. You worked to bring your debt down until you were earning over $69,000. You improved your credit scores so you could qualify for a fixed-rate loan, knowing that today’s artificially low rates won’t last forever.

You’ll take advantage of today’s easier loan qualifications and put down between six percent and 14 percent of the purchase price. As a first-time buyer, you’ll purchase a 1,620-square-foot home at $170,000. If you’re a repeat homebuyer, you’ll purchase a 2,020-square-foot home costing over $246,000, because you’re older (about 53 years old) and earn nearly $99,000.

You’ll go with a government-insured loan, either FHA or VA loan with low or no down-payment requirement. You’ll use your own savings for a down payment, but you’ll also accept money from family or friends, and tap into other investments to come up with the down payment. You’re likely to be a repeat buyer, using the proceeds from the sale of your home to make your down payment.

You’re more likely to be married than single. You’re using the equity from your current home to help you get into a better home. You may be looking for a property that will accommodate aging parents as well as your children.

From the time you begin your home search, you’ll spend about 10 weeks before you find the home you’ll ultimately buy. You’ll search the Internet for homes using your phone or tablet to see how far your money will go, then call a real estate agent to help you. Tight supplies in most areas will keep you frustrated, and more than one or two homes may slip through your fingers before you find the right home and make an offer in time to prevail over other buyers.

The home you buy will likely be a detached single-family home built in 1991 with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. It will be located in a suburb or subdivision about 14 miles from your current residence. You’ll choose the home for its neighborhood location, its affordability and its convenience to your job.

These are the characteristics of most buyers who purchased a home in 2015, according to the National Association of REALTORS

 Written by Blanche Evans

THE SWEET SPOT OF PRICING YOUR HOME.

THE SWEET SPOT OF PRICING YOUR HOME

When you and your REALTOR® sit down to price your home, you’ll be looking at competitive homes that are the most similar in size, location and amenities as your home. You may find that prices can be thousands of dollars higher or lower. It’s tempting to pick the highest price and say, “Let’s list it here.” But what if your home doesn’t sell at that price?

High prices are a strategy that can work in an accelerating market, but it’s risky. Your home can sit for months without selling and you’ll end up marking the price down, perhaps lower than it should have sold for in the first place.

Pricing your home is a science. The science is choosing the right price at which your home will sell quickly. How do you do that? By analyzing your local market conditions and where your home fits in the spectrum.

The only way your home will sell at the highest price possible is if your buyer agrees to your home’s value. To best determine market value, you have three important tools: CMAs, appraisals, and your REALTOR’s®knowledge of the market.

The comparative market analysis

A comparative market analysis (CMA) is a side-by-side comparison of similar homes for sale as well as homes that have recently sold in your neighborhood. REALTORS® use CMAs to compare the features that make each home unique, including age, location, number of bedrooms, baths, room sizes, updates, condition, etc.

As a seller, you should be able to see where your home fits — in the top or lower price range of similar homes. For example, if a similar home to yours has been recently renovated with a new kitchen, expect it to sell for more than your home if your home has not been improved.

The appraisal

An appraisal is a market analysis performed by a professional appraiser using a variety of sources, including multiple listing system data and conforming loan formulas.

Appraisers most often work for lenders to determine market values, so that lenders can weigh the risk of making a loan to a homebuyer. Appraisals come after an offer is made when the buyer applies for a loan. Even though the buyer pays for the appraisal, the lender uses it to determine whether or not to make the loan at the contract price.

Other market data

Your REALTOR® has access to data that may not be public through the Multiple Listing Service. This data is provided to broker members to track market trends over weeks, months and years. Some brokers pay data companies for specific markets that help them plan their business, such as the number of listings on hand, which zip codes are the hottest, and whether closings are trending up or down over last month or last year.

Your REALTOR® uses all this data to help you hit the sweet spot of pricing. That’s high enough to reflect your home’s value, but attractive enough to buyers to get it sold quickly.

Written by; Blanche Evans

LOWER YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

14 FOOLPROOF WAYS TO LOWER YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

We’ve all been there. Can’t resist the new model year of your current car. Hey, it’s only an extra $90 per month (plus an insurance bump of $37 a month, but who’s counting?). Seduced by the cushy sectional that would pull the whole living room together and will only cost $60 per month. That great deal for upgraded Internet and all the move channels. What’s another $23 a month?

Problem is, before you know it you’re sinking in bills and your monthly payments have become a burden. Here are 14 ways to lower your monthly nut and get back to stress-free living.

1. Renegotiate everything

That means cable/satellite, phone and cell phone contracts, Internet service, bank fees, even your gym membership. You never know what’s possible until you ask.

2. Lower your credit card rate

If you have decent credit, you might be able get your credit card company to lower your rate and/or maybe get rid of some of the fees. Transferring a balance to a card with a lower rate is another good trick for lowering payments and doesn’t even require you to ask a representative for anything.

“If you don’t have an account with a lower rate, shop for one,” said CreditCards.com. “Also, see if an offer for a balance transfer might provide a lower rate. Before jumping at a balance transfer offer, though, run the numbers on a balance transfer calculator to make sure the deal makes sense after you consider the fees and the duration of the teaser rate.”

3. Cut the cord

You could opt to get rid of your cable or satellite altogether and use streaming services instead. It’s a growing option that can save you a good amount of money while still providing a wide variety of viewing options. For example: “Netflix and Hulu Plus both cost $7.99 per month each, while Amazon Instant Video will cost you $99 per year, which is $8.25 per month,” said GottaBe Mobile. “This means the total cost for these three services all together would be $24.23 per month, which is a lot less than you’ll ever pay for a cable subscription.”

How does that compare with your current bill? It’s about one-sixth of what we’re currently paying. Calling DISH in 3…2…1…

4. Refinance your house

If you have enough equity in your house and rates have dropped since you bought (or refinanced the last time), you might be able to refi and lower your monthly payment. Remember that refinancing will add to what you owe, so if you were trying to pay your home off quickly, this would be counterintuitive.

5. get rid of your cable or satellite

Refinancing your car could save you “hundreds of dollars each year and sometimes thousands over the life of the loan,” said Bankrate. But only if you do it under the right circumstances. Check out their “5 situations when it makes the most sense to refinance your car” to see if you meet the criteria.


Drive Sure6. Do a leak check

A leaky home is one you’re paying too much for in heating and cooling bills. Do an energy audit to check for drafts coming in through window or under doors, among other places, and you could save more than $1,000, said RH Foster Energy.

7. Eat in

Or, at least bring your lunch to work a few days a week. According to Jeff Yeager, author of “The Cheapskate Next Door, a family that commits to eating at home can save $3,000 in one year and eat just as well,” said ABC News.

8. Carpool

“The Daily Green calculated that the average American uses about 7 gallons of gas per week commuting to and from work,” said abc News. “Share your ride and the gas bill with just one friend, you each save $650 a year. If four of you carpool, you each save nearly $1,000.”

9. Shop smart

One of the greatest sources of waste in our household? Food that has to be throw away at the end of the week because it’s gone bad. And we’re not alone. USA Today says Americans trash $640 worth of food every year.


Nourishing the PlanetMeal plan, buy only what you need for a few days and hit the market again mid week, use coupons, freeze leftovers – all of these tips will help.

10. Check your balance

Hidden costs may be lurking – memberships you didn’t realize you still had, anything you put on autopay that you’re no longer using, old dating sites, gaming and iTunes charges you’re unaware your kids are making. Look over your bank and credit card balances carefully to eliminate the riffraff.

11. Buy store brands

Some might be close to or equal to the name brand stuff you’re buying. “Store brands often cost 25 to 30 percent less than name brand equivalents, which is an added benefit for customers,” said CheatSheet. They can help you figure out which store brands are worth it, and when you should stick to the name brand.

12. Pay insurance and other bulk payments in full

Yes, coming up with large chunks of cash to pay for car insurance, home insurance, and home warranties can be rough. But some of these may end up costing you more if you have to pay a “convenience fee” for splitting up the payments.

13. Clear out the clutter

You know what they say: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Do a sweep of your home, setting aside anything you don’t need or want anymore. Whether you list it on eBay or Craigslist, have a yard sale, take any acceptable items to a resale store, or all of the above, you may be surprised at how much money you can make for stuff you didn’t even like anymore.

14. Donate!

You won’t get pad for donating your old clothes, household items, and the like, but you will get a tax write-off at tax time. Be sure to get or complete an itemized receipt.

Written by Jaymi Naciri