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Home and Hearth Tips for the Holidays

Serve up the holidays pot luck style

Hosting a holiday party can put a huge load of stress on your shoulders and a big dent in your wallet. Want to gather your friends for a holiday bash, but just don't have the money or time to throw the party of your dreams? A potluck style party is a great option that will get all of your friends involved and everyone in the holiday spirit.  

Have your guests' dishes follow a certain theme to keep the evening cohesive. Holiday favorites is a good theme for this time of year. Before your party, have your guests decide what they will bring. Some should bring appetizers, some should bring side dishes and of course you can't forget the dessert! You will be responsible for the main dish. Be sure to ask your guests if they will need to heat or chill their dish so you can prepare.

Have everyone bring their favorite holiday or seasonal dish and enough recipe cards to pass out to the other guests. This will make sure everyone can recreate their favorites from the evening well into the new year.

Instead of stressing, you will be able to join in on the tasting, recipe swapping and holiday cheer. This will become a holiday tradition you won't want to wait all year for.

READ MORE: Tips for mastering the holidays

Make your house smell festive

When people think of the holidays, certain seasonal scents always come to mind. Gather up some simple ingredients for an easy way to make your house smell delicious and welcoming.
You will probably have most of these ingredients in your cupboards and refrigerator already. (So you can skip that extra visit to the grocery store this week. Thank goodness!)

Cranberries, tangerines, cinnamon sticks, cloves, ginger, apple cider, a little vanilla and a small piece of fresh pine simmering on the stove top in a pot of water will fill the entire house with the aroma of the season.

Perfect to set the mood before a holiday gathering or just during a chilly day spent curled up watching movies by the fire with the family.

READ MORE: Start a new holiday giving tradition

Give the gift of doing

Got someone on your list that is impossible to shop for? What do you give the person who seems to have everything? This year, give the gift of experience rather than a thing they can unwrap.

The Hudson Valley is full of places and things to do that would make great gifts this time of year. Have your friends been dying to try that new restaurant? Get them a gift card. It is a simple solution for you and they will love the chance to get out for a date night. (Just be ready to babysit on the night they want to use their gift!)

Is your house full of toys that your kids barely use anyway? Give them something to do! Ice skating or horseback riding lessons are a great way to get your kids active.

Not sure what to get your partner? Get them something you can do together! Plan a day at the spa or a night on the town.

The memories that will be made while you are experiencing these gifts will last much longer than that toy that will break or that neck tie that will never get worn.

READ MORE: Make homemade ornaments with just 2 ingredients!

Homemade decorations are just as festive
This year, skip the store bought decorations and make decorating the house a family event. Gather the kids and make some homemade decorations to put around the house.

Take the time on a day that is way too chilly to venture outdoors and stay inside crafting. Paper snowflakes are an easy classic that your kids will love. Just like your little ones, no snowflake will be the same. It will be loads of fun seeing how creative and unique their creations can be.

Homemade ornaments are another easy way to get the kids in on the holiday spirit. You can make ornaments out of so many different art supplies that you may already have around the house. You'll be surprised what you can do with some Popsicle sticks, glue and glitter!

Guests will love the personal touch of the homemade decorations and your kids will be so proud to have their creations hanging around the house all season long.