Archive for the 'Holiday Information' Category

Dec 14 2011

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6 Tips for a Healthy Holiday Season from The House Plan Shop

Dress Warm this WinterWhile the holidays can be fun, they can also be a time of sickness and poor health. The House Plan Shop encourages you to review the following tips for a healthy holiday season.

 

  1. Keep Warm – For most parts of North America, the holidays come with the changing temperatures and cold weather. Cold temperatures can cause serious health problems, especially for the elderly and infants. Dress warm using several layers of clothing and stay dry. Don’t forget to cover your head and hands.
  2. Wash your Hands – Keeping your hands clean is one of the easiest and most important steps you can take to avoid getting sick and prevent spreading germs to others. Airports, shopping malls, grocery stores and restaurants are filled with germs, and they are all places we seem to spend more time than normal during the holidays. Wash your hands often with soap and warm, clean running water Scrub for at least 20 seconds. If clean water and soap are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  3. Remember Food Safety – When preparing holiday meals, cookies and other edibles keep you and your family safe from food-related illnesses. Wash your hands and food-prep surfaces often. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping meat, seafood, poultry and eggs (and their juices) away from ready to eat foods. Thoroughly clean cooking utensils, pots, pans and dishes in between uses. Cook foods to their proper temperatures. Refrigerate leftovers immediately. Do not leave perishable foods out for more than two hours.
  4. Manage Stress – The holidays are a time of fun and cheer so don’t let them take a toll on your body and health. Keep a relaxed and positive outlook on all holiday activities. Avoid over commitment and manage your time between home, work and fun. Also, manage your holiday budget and do not overspend. In addition, get plenty of rest.
  5. Eat Healthy, Be Active – Moderation is the key to following a healthy diet during the holidays. Substitute your favorite piece of fruit for candy. Eat small portions so you can enjoy a small taste of all of your favorite holiday meals. When it comes to dessert, choose one or two of your favorites from the plethora of sweets and treats at holiday parties. Make an effort to schedule a half hour of exercise every day. Also, encourage your family to participate in fun, healthy activities…and a little fresh air will do everyone some good. Take a walk through the neighborhood with the kids after dinner to look at holiday light displays. Go sled riding. Organize a family game of football or kickball before dinner.
  6. Medication Management – It is easy to get off track, change your schedule and skip your daily routines during the holidays due to so many different special activities and gatherings. If you take daily medications, it is important to stick to your medication schedule. Take medications on time as prescribe. Do not make changes in how you take medication. If you always take your medications with breakfast, make sure you continue taking them with breakfast. If you are traveling out of town for the holidays, don’t forget to pack your medications. It is important that you do not skip doses.

 

Keep these health tips in mind to ensure you have a happy and healthy holiday season.

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Dec 07 2011

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Holiday Lights in a Whole New Light – The House Plan Shop

Filed under Holiday Information

LED Christmas LightsAre you still decorating your yard and home with incandescent holiday lights? The St. Louis County Health Department says it is time to make the switch to LED lights. Often, strings of incandescent lights are wrapped in a hard plastic coating of PVC to protect the wire. This coating can take up to 500 years to breakdown in our landfills. Furthermore, PVC is heat resistant and may contain metals such as tin, lead and cadmium which can become harmful once they make it into the ground.

 

Using LED lights for you holiday decorating and light displays has plenty of benefits. Consider the following facts about LED lighting:

·         LED lights last twice as long as incandescent lights – up to 20 years!

·         They use 1/10th of the energy of traditional holiday mini-lights, which saves on your electric bill.

·         LEDs are cool to the touch reducing the risk of fire.

·         Their brightness does not fade over time.

·         LED lights are durable and harder to break than traditional lights.

·         They can withstand moisture, heat and cold.

·         LEDs are available at most hardware stores and home improvement centers.

 

Before you throw away those strands of incandescent Christmas lights, check with you local hardware or home improvement stores to see if any are sponsoring a collection/recycling mission for broken or non-functioning incandescent holiday lights. Some places even offer discounts on the purchase of new energy-efficient LED Christmas lights for each strand of old lights you recycle. 

 

So, go ahead and make the switch to LED Christmas lights. You’ll save energy, have a more environmentally-friendly holiday light display and save money on your electric bill.

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Nov 16 2011

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Take Part in “Use Less Stuff Day” – The House Plan Shop

It is time to start a new holiday tradition. The Thursday before Thanksgiving is Use Less Stuff Day. Make a commitment or pledge to yourself to reduce your resource consumption during the holiday season.

 

Here are a few ideas:

 

  • Don’t buy too many groceries or prepare too much food for a holiday gathering. If you do prepare too much, send leftovers home with guests or reheat them the following day for yourself. Try your best not to throw away usable food.
  • Use less energy. Turn down the heat before a holiday party. The body heat of guests will keep the room warm, so lower the thermostat a few degrees.
  • Have a recycling plan. Set up recycling bins to capture all the wrapping paper, gift boxes, bottles, cans, plastic cups, etc. Inform your guests and make sure they know what items to recycle and where to place them.
  • Use fewer disposable paper products and eating utensils. If all your dinnerware, table settings and silverware must be matching sets, rent dinnerware, glassware and silverware for your holiday party. Otherwise, ask guests to bring their own and eliminate paper plates and plastic cups, forks, knives, etc.
  • Use cloth napkins that can be washed and reused at your next holiday gathering instead of buying disposable ones and filling the trash can.

 

Go ahead and make the commitment to use less stuff. Tell your friends and family about Use Less Stuff Day and work toward an environmentally-friendly holiday season without sacrificing the fun and joys all of us look forward to each year.

 

For more ideas about Use Less Stuff Day, please visit www.use-less-stuff.com.

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Dec 29 2010

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Home Organization: Packing and Storing Holiday Decorations

Storage ContainersWhile many of us enjoy decorating for the holidays, almost all of us can agree it is not as near as much fun taking it all down, packing it up and putting everything away. The following tips come from various organizational experts and are sure to help you clean up and store your holiday decorations so they are easy to find and display next year.

 

1.    Purge what you have. Before you pack everything up, go through what you have. It’s OK to get rid of things you really don’t like or items that no longer match your decorating theme. Get rid of things that are broken, strands of lights that are burnt out and things you don’t use anymore. Be sure to recycle what you can and donate usable items to charity. Consider decorations of sentimental value. You might not be able to part with a particular item no matter what, but if something is in pretty bad shape but you continue to keep it because it reminds you of something special, maybe snapping a photo will be enough to preserve that special memory.

 

2.    Gather and take inventory. Before you can organize and store your holiday decorations you have to know what you are going to keep. Collect all holiday decorations and related items in one place. Group similar items. Take inventory. How many boxes of ornaments do you have? How many wreaths?  Does each child have his or her own stocking? Count everything you have and be aware of sizes, especially anything oversized or oddly shaped.

 

3.    Keep track of what you have.  It is not a bad idea to keep track of new holiday items you buy throughout the year whether you find a deal on wrapping paper at a clearance sale or find something special at a craft show you attend in July. One way to do this is to keep a small notebook in an easy-to-find place such as in a drawer in the office or on the top shelf of a kitchen cabinet. Record anything you buy that will be part of the coming year’s décor and holiday festivities. Furthermore, you could do this with other Christmas and holiday related items such as keeping a record of gifts you’ve already purchased, recipes that friends have shared with you, or the dates when your cousins plan to be in town to celebrate the holidays with you.

 

4.    Select a storage space – Look around your home. Select a storage space that is big enough to hold ALL of your holiday decorations and other Christmas related items safely without being in the way all year long. (ALL means everything from gift wrap and cookie cutters to lights and the artificial tree.) This could be a space in the attic, a storage closet, a corner of the basement, etc. Measure the storage space and purchase containers that will fit in the given space. If you have a limited storage space, this may help determine what items you purge in Step 1.

 

5.    Label everything – Make an effort to label every box and storage container with the exact contents inside. The labels don’t have to be fancy. Simply write on the outside of the box or tape an index card to each box listing what is inside. You can even color code them if you choose. Labeling will make decorating a lot easier next year.

 

6.    Store it together – Move all boxes, storage containers, etc. into the storage space you selected. Safely arrange the boxes so they will not fall. Whenever possible, stack your storage containers with their labels facing forward or up so you can quickly identify what is inside each box next year. Keep everything together in one place whenever possible. This makes it easier to get your decorations out next year. There is an exception here. Make note of special items such as highly breakable pieces, linens or antiques. These may need to be stored in a temperature-controlled environment within the main living areas of the home. Keep track of these types of items in your notebook from Step 3 since you won’t be storing them with everything else.

 

Though cleaning and packing up after the holidays is not much fun, and sometimes a lengthy process, these home storage tips for your holiday décor will help cut down the amount of time you spend putting things away and make decorating a little easier next year.

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Dec 14 2010

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The House Plan Shop: 8 Holiday Road Trip Travel Tips

Holiday Road Trip Travel TipsIf you are like most of us, you are likely to take at least one road trip during the holiday season to visit family or friends. Whether your road trip takes only a couple hours or a couple days on the road, The House Plan Shop believes these travel safety tips will help ensure a successful road trip this holiday season.

 

1.    Give your car a checkup – Before setting out on your road trip, make sure your car is in good working condition. Be sure to get an oil change before you leave and check your antifreeze levels and tire pressure.

2.    Prepare for cold weather – If you are traveling where it will be cold and snowy make sure you have plenty of window washer fluid. Be sure you have ice scrapers in your car as well as other emergency supplies for cold weather such as a thermal blanket, flashlights and even a set of jumper cables.

3.    Plan your route – Map your route of travel. Check traffic websites for detours and construction zones. If your holiday road trip will take more than a day’s travel, make hotel reservations at establishments along your route. Don’t forget to pack your maps and hotel reservation confirmation numbers.

4.    Prepare for kids and pets – If you are traveling with children or pets, road trips can be an adventure. Pack drinks and snacks for the kids as well as entertainment – books, games, a favorite stuffed animal, DVDs, music, etc. As for your pets, don’t forget to pack food and any medications your pets may need.

5.    Know the best time to drive – Traffic and roadway research shows roadways are safest to travel during the day. The most dangerous times to travel are early in the morning and late at night when drivers are more likely to be intoxicated or tired. It is recommended to travel between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm. Depart early and plan to be at your destination or hotel before it gets too late. AND…don’t forget to buckle up!

6.    No alcohol – It is illegal and it is not safe to drink and drive. Research concludes even one alcoholic drink is enough to cause important changes in cognition, which can affect your ability to drive. Just wait until you arrive at your destination and enjoy a holiday drink with friends and family.  

7.    Take breaks – When taking a road trip it is necessary to give your body and mind a break. Pull over in a safe place about every 3 hours for 5-10 minutes to recharge your body,  stretch your legs, give your eyes a quick break. Grab a snack, a soda or even lunch if necessary. If you are traveling with multiple drivers, drive in shifts so no one experiences fatigue.

8.    Wake up or catch up on sleep – Statistics report in 2009 alone over 100,000 car crashes were due to drowsy driving. If you are driving in shifts with another driver, take a nap while the other person is behind the wheel. If not, pull over in a safe well-lit place and take a quick power nap. But perhaps the best idea is plan to check into your hotel early in the evening so you can go to bed early and catch up on sleep for the next day’s drive.

 

The holidays are a wonderful time for everyone. Make sure you and your loved ones enjoy them by staying safe when taking a holiday road trip.

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