New Home Entertaining Essentials for the Holidays

holiday entertaining essentials

Are you ready to host your first holiday party in the new home? Make sure you cover each of these entertaining essentials.

By Drew Knight

If you’re a new homeowner, it’s highly likely all your friends and family are anxiously awaiting their invitations for the holiday party at your new home. If you’re thinking of obliging them, it’s also highly likely that you’re waiting in anxious anticipation as well, but for different reasons.

Calm down. A simple holiday party is nothing to sweat about, even if you are a first-time homeowner. In fact, it might just be prime time to hike up your grown-up pants and show everyone you’re killing it in the real world with a perfectly hosted holiday festivity.

Without further ado, here’s a quick guide containing all the holiday entertaining essentials for your new home. Welcome to adulthood, it’s a party!

1. Decorations

The first step in throwing a successful holiday party is to make sure you have a decoration plan in place.

As you’ve probably just bought a new home, it’s likely you don’t want to shell out the big bucks for a professional decorator. But that’s okay, DIY can be easy as pie.

For starters, HGTV suggests deciding on a color scheme of just two or three colors. Doing so allows for a quick and easy shopping experience.

Next, decide on decoration ideas. We suggest browsing through home-centric magazines and their online sites. We’ll make it easy by suggesting these inspiring ideas from Midwest Living and House Beautiful.

2. Food

Once a decorating plan is put into place, it’s time to move on to the most important part of the party: the food.

If you haven’t yet mastered the culinary arts, it may be time to admit defeat and order catering or buy pre-pared dishes and desserts from the market. This will allow you plenty of time to prepare your home for your guests, and you won’t have to worry about burning the turkey.

However, if you’re ready to go all out with the food, there are many great resources and guides to walk you step by step through the cooking process. For instance Real Simple offers this step-by-step guide for Thanksgiving dinner, and The Guardian offers this guide for Christmas. Additionally, many magazines offer special sections for holiday cooking — a quick Google search can get you on your way in no time.

3. Table Setting

Next, turn that food into a feast by planning out a holiday table setting.

Go back to that color scheme you decided upon earlier and borrow upon your decorating ideas to truly celebrate the holidays. And if you’ve never seen a holiday table setting before, browse these ideas from House Beautiful and Country Living.

Depending on your level of sophistication for this holiday party, you might also want to consider the china and silverware. If you don’t have any pieces that fit your theme, did you know holiday dinnerware could be rented? You’ll likely save money by not having to rush out and buy all the materials, plus you won’t have to store it for next year.

And don’t forget the napkins! A little fancy folding will be a fine final touch to any table setting. Better Homes and Gardens can show you a few ideas, and even walk you through the folding process!

4. Holiday Spirits

Finally, close out your holiday party with some great holiday spirit – the liquid kind!

If you’re not a master mixologist, it’s easy to find some recipes online. For instance, check out these great drinks from Martha Stewart and Southern Living.

Throw in some holiday tumblers, a decorated serving tray or bar cart and you’ve got yourself a well-rounded holiday party! Just don’t forget to have some fun.

And if the kids need some entertainment too, here are some fun holiday game ideas for them from Real Simple.

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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App of the Month: The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius

The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius app

Get home maintenance and project tips from The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius app.

By Judy Marchman

Unless you own a newly built house, your home to-do list never seems to end. It can range from the everyday normal cleaning and minor maintenance to tackling a big home improvement project (repaint the master bedroom, organize the garage, update the bathroom fixtures, etc.).

So, until you purchase and build your dream home, you might feel compelled to handle some of these projects on your own. The challenge with any do-it-yourself (DIY) project, of course, is figuring out how to complete it without having to call in the professionals to fix everything after the fact — and spending a lot of extra money in the process. That’s where The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius app comes in.

This app, available for free in both the iTunes and Google Play stores, offers more than 300 tips on a wide variety of DIY projects, including carpentry and woodworking, cleaning and organization, lawn and landscaping, pest control and painting, all from the resources of The Family Handyman magazine.

You can receive a “tip of the day” on a different project idea each day, watch how-to videos or get expert advice on avoiding common DIY mishaps. You can save your favorite tips within the app for future reference or browse various categories, such as building and remodeling, cleaning, lawn and garden or painting, for ideas and handy tricks of the trade.

Most important, The Family Handyman DIY Tip Genius app contains information for DIYers of all levels — from beginner to advanced — so you can determine if a project is within your comfort zone or if you feel ready to take on a bigger challenge without needing to call in the pros.

And, when you’re ready to live in a home that doesn’t require so much maintenance, visit New Home Source, where you can find your dream home.

Judy Marchman is a freelance contributor to NewHomeSource with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. You can find her on Google+.

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7 Reasons to Buy a New Home: Halloween Edition

Halloween Haunted House.

See this spooky scene? That’s not what you’ll get with a new home. Photo by Ashley Ellis; Halloween Haunted House; Stockvault.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Here at New Home Source, we can think of millions of reasons why new homes are a good (we’d even say the best) option for folks.

As we get into the spooky season, we realized that there are far more reasons than value and quality that make a new home a good option for you and your family. If you’re ghost-, crazed murderer- and/or zombie-averse, here are seven reasons to buy a new home:

1. The only spirits in your new home will be the ones you use to toast your beautiful new place.

Here’s the thing about ghosts — they are former occupants of a home (or place) who suffered a tormented life or tragic ending or who were conjured up by witches. With a new home, you’re the first occupant, so there are no worries that you’re walking into an Amityville Horror-type situation.

Unless, it’s built on an ancient burial ground. Which leads me to …

2. You can choose to not build your new home on an ancient burial ground.

We’re pretty sure all builders and developers are well aware of Poltergeist and that they shouldn’t build on an ancient burial ground (not only because it’ll cause ghostly disturbances, but because how rude!).

With a newly built home, you’ll have the option to buy in an area that’s new (and likely not as clogged with scary traffic as other areas of town) or you can build wherever you choose, if you build on your own lot. If you buy your new home in a new-home development, you can choose the lot that your new home will be built on.

3. New basements aren’t spooky.

Halloween Haunted House graphic

Residence 7545 Plan at Montecito at RidgeGate by Century Communities in Lone Tree, Colo.

Look at this beauty! There’s nothing spooky about it (unlike the basement in The Conjuring).  This basement — and many other basements in new homes — is a place where games are played, spirits are imbibed (not summoned) and families and friends make memories.

With a sunny, spacious finished basement like this, you’ll never be afraid to venture down there alone.

4. New homes are safe.

Let us count the ways! First, new homes meet or exceed the latest building codes and include the latest technology. You can use that smart home tech to call for help or to stave off zombies and other unwanted guests. Or maybe you’re stuck inside your home with burglars and can’t make it to your security system’s panic button. You can use your smartphone to set that sucker off and alert the neighborhood that you need H-E-L-P!

5. Everything’s under warranty.

A new home has all-new everything, so everything is under warranty. Worry no more about having to get everything fixed on your own dime! Do the pesky poltergeists in your home keep causing blood to drip down the wall? Guess it’s time for a new paint job.*

6. You can personalize it.

Say you’re Katie from Paranormal Activity and you’re being followed by ghosts, no matter where you move. You’ll need to find a place that will help you deal with these sneaky characters. A new home will let you do that — new homes can be personalized to meet your needs, after all.

If you’re convinced spirits are following you wherever you move, build Sarah Winchester style. See, Mrs. Winchester was the widow of Winchester gun magnate William Winchester. She was convinced the spirits of those killed by Winchester rifles were tormenting her, so she built a mansion to fool the ghosts. With stairways that lead to nowhere, doors that open into walls and other confusing design details, the Winchester Mystery Home is home customization at its kookiest. So, personalize to your heart’s desire (and your wallet’s and builder’s capacity, of course).

And let’s not forget that when you build new, you can include really useful spaces like a mudroom, planning center or, you know, a panic room.

7. Storage, Storage, Storage

We’ve been thinking a lot about the possibility of a zombie apocalypse (yes, we’ve been watching too many episodes of “The Walking Dead”) and realized that if we’re to survive one, we need lots of supplies. We’re talking let’s spend the weekend at Costco stocking up.

But, where to put all of those supplies? In a new home, you’re likely to have spacious closets and plenty of storage space in the garage, as well as other practical spaces like a butler’s pantry, laundry room or drop zone that can house items like food, water, a safety kit and other necessary supplies to hold off a horde of zombies.

Ready to buy a ghost-free new home? Check out New Home Source for the largest collection of new homes for sale.

*Warranties vary by builder; check yours to see if supernatural occurrences are covered.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for

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Go Shabby Chic with These Outstanding Etsy Shops

By Judy Marchman

The wonderful thing about shabby chic décor is that you can take it in so many different directions. Prefer things a little more French Country? Or how about beach cottage? Maybe vintage farmhouse? The soft edges, neutral palettes and careworn appearance to furniture and objects that characterize “shabby chic” all fit those individual looks perfectly.

And if you’re looking for design inspiration for a room or an entire home — or perhaps that one perfect piece to pull your shabby chic room together — is a great place to go hunting.

Check out these five Etsy shops for some great shabby chic inspiration.

Shabby Chic buffet

Antique buffet from 3 Hearts Style Studio

3 Hearts Style Studio

No matter the room, Denver, Colo.-based 3 Hearts Style Studio has a thorough selection of signature furniture pieces that you can customize for your space. As shop owner Vanessa Daigle writes, “We shop for the most unique and one-of-a-kind vintage home décor pieces.”

Most pieces, such as this antique buffet painted with layers of white, gray and light blue, and then distressed to create the timeworn appearance, are refinished to order so you can customize the color and finish to fit your overall design.

Cedar chest from Simone Shabby Chic

Parisian-inspired cedar chest from Simone Shabby Chic

Simone Shabby Chic

Portsmouth, Va.-based Simone Shabby Chic takes vintage furniture and “revitalizes” them into “new beautiful pieces.” The select offering, ranging from a vintage desk to antique dressers, has a distinct French Country vibe, with care given to use pale pastels and lightly distressed finishes that would fit perfectly in an 18th-century French chateau drawing room. The cedar chest shown here includes a vintage Paris hotel detail that would appeal to any Francophile.

Stepstool from Riverside Studio

Pastel-blue stepstool from Riverside Studio

Riverside Studio

If you’re looking for a great accent piece, from stepstools to coat racks, Rebecca Cooper’s Riverside Studio has plenty of fun and colorful options. The Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada-based store offers a collection of vintage and upcycled decor locally sourced from nearby attics, basements and even fields, according to Cooper.

Items such as this stepstool featured here in pastel blue with a distressed finish can be custom ordered in a variety of colors. Coat racks made of reclaimed wood planks are multicolored or offered in other color combinations such as a soft blue and cream for a beach cottage feel.

Shabby Chic drawer pulls from Honey Wood Home

Trio of vintage drawer pulls from Honey Wood Home

Honey Wood Home

Shabby chic is not just about the furniture, it’s also about the details. And Honey Wood Home, a San Luis Obispo, Calif.-based shop, offers a broad selection of décor items and fixtures to put the finishing touches on your space.

From vintage metal wall art and light switches to drawer pulls, shown here in “rustic brown,” “creamy white” and “aqua mist,” Honey Wood Home takes everyday objects and primes, paints and distresses each piece to order. You can choose from among a wide variety of colors and can even specify “non-distressed” if you prefer.

Shabby Chic jewelry organizer.

Handmade jewelry organizer from The Knotty Shelf

The Knotty Shelf

Marietta, Ga.-based The Knotty Shelf provides a variety of shabby chic finishes for their handmade wall-mounted jewelry organizers and coat racks/shelves, ranging from weathered grey to “pickled” (a very light stain) to magenta and periwinkle (as shown with this jewelry organizer) — with rustic versions of all color choices. The items are stained, not painted, which allows for the natural wood grain to shine through.

Judy Marchman is a freelance contributor to NewHomeSource with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. You can find her on Google+.

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Get Smart About Credit

Get Smart About Credit

On national Get Smart About Credit Day, are you sure you have the credit smarts to help you buy your next dream home?

By Patricia L. Garcia

In a perfect world, we would all be smart about our finances, our credit would be perfect and we could easily get a mortgage with a great rate. But, it’s not a perfect world and some of us could use a little more restraint when it comes to credit.

To help folks get smart about credit, the American Bankers Association (ABA) celebrates Get Smart About Credit Day, where bankers present a program on the fundamentals of credit, understanding credit, protecting your identity and other issues to related to managing finances to teens and young adults. “Starting early is key,” says Corey Carlisle, ABA’s senior vice president of bank community engagement. “We try to make sure that kids have good credit fundamentals. If they’re rooted in good fundamentals, they can avoid (credit problems).”

Carlisle says the lessons bankers take to kids are those that are relevant to adults as well. “Knowledge is key — whether it’s a new home or a car, you have to prepare yourself,” he says. “If you are meeting with a loan officer, ask yourself if you’ve saved enough (for the monthly payments) and if you have enough reserves for protecting against the things you can’t anticipate, like a job loss or natural disaster.”

Simply having enough for a down payment is not enough to purchase a home — credit is key. “Those of us in the mortgage lending industry learned early on in our career about the importance of the Three Cs of Credit: character, capital, capacity,” says Heather McRae, a senior loan officer with Chicago Financial Services. “Someone’s creditworthiness points to character. Do you have a history of paying your bills on time? If you do then it is likely you will continue to do so in the future.”

If your credit can use a tune-up, the first thing to do is figure out what your situation is, says Wade Barnes, senior vice president and director of Retail Banking at 1st Mariner Bank, an independently owned bank in Baltimore City. “The most important step in this process is monitoring your file with the credit agencies. … Also, with identity theft on the rise, it is extremely important to verify the contents of your file yearly. Put this on your calendar and make this an annual practice.”

To help maintain your credit, Barnes offers these tips:

  • Make payments on time.
  • Pull your credit report annually.
  • Keep positive accounts open.
  • Keep credit cards within reasonable limits.
  • Don’t authorize meaningless inquiries.
  • Only borrow money when it benefits you.
  • Think ahead – How much does it really cost to buy something with credit?
  • Keep a list of account numbers and contact numbers in a safe place in
    case they are stolen.
  • Report inaccurate data quickly.
  • Build stability in employment and residency (2 years).
  • Avoid joint accounts with friends and significant others.
  • Avoid graduating with credit card debt.
  • Ask for a lower interest rate.
  • Defer payments if you really can’t make ends meet – call the creditor.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for

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Keep Your Home Cozy with These Fall Maintenance Tips

maple leaves over blue sky

Soon there will be a chill in theair, which means it’s time to get your home ready for the colder weather. Photo: Maple Leaves Over Blue Sky by Sriratana Sutasirisap, Stock Vault.

By Judy L. Marchman

Fall is here and that means football season, leaves changing colors and pumpkin spice everywhere. But it also means winter is right around the corner and that it’s time to get your house in shape for those colder temperatures.

So, while it’s still mild enough outside, here are several fall maintenance tips to keep your home warm and cozy until spring rolls around.

1. Check and wrap exterior pipes and plumbing.

No one wants frozen and busted pipes, so make sure to wrap any exterior plumbing and faucets. If you have any water hoses still hooked up, remove and drain them before storing for winter.

2. Clean chimneys and service furnaces.

It’s best to call in professionals for this task. Your chimney should be checked at least once a year to ensure there are no structural issues or debris caught inside that could catch fire. Your furnace should also be serviced to make sure it is operating properly and efficiently — before that first cold spell.

3. Inspect the roof and clean the gutters.

Looking over your roof for any damaged shingles is important, but it may be worth bringing in a professional to not only check the shingles, but also to inspect the seals on air vents to prevent water leaks. And cleaning your gutters is never fun, but it does ensure proper runoff during heavy rain.

4. Check doors and windows for air leaks.

Feel around your doors and windows for any drafts and add weather stripping or caulk to seal up any leaks.

5. Trim trees.

Ice storms and heavy snow can wreak havoc on tree limbs, so if you have a lot of large trees — and especially if any are close to your house or near power lines — it could be worth the extra expense now to bring in a professional to clean up your trees and prevent a much larger repair expense down the road.

6. Aerate and fertilize the lawn.

If you have cooler weather grasses, such as rye or fescue, now’s the time to aerate and fertilize your lawn to keep the roots healthy and growing. Your local garden specialist can help you with the proper steps and equipment needed. A mechanical core aerator — usually available for rent at most home and garden stores — is recommended.

7. Change smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector batteries.

The media provides reminders to do this twice a year in conjunction with Daylight Saving Time, and that’s a good practice to follow. So mark your calendar, because Daylight Saving Time ends this year on Sunday, Nov. 1.

Like having a checklist to keep track of maintenance and cleaning tasks? We found this great printable checklist from Household Management 101 on Pinterest. It includes “fall cleaning” chores for both inside the home and out, so tack it to the refrigerator and get the whole family involved. Your home will be ready for winter in no time.

Judy Marchman is a freelance contributor to NewHomeSource with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. You can find her on Google+.

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Your Complete Guide to a Haunting Halloween Home

Haunted House Ideas

Feeling a little spooky this Halloween? Here are some haunted house ideas to help make your house the creepiest on the block! Photo courtesy of

By Drew Knight

October has arrived and with it come the cutesy little trash bag ghosts and smiling jack-o-lanterns you see every year. Halloween is finally on its way!

This year, why not stray from the beaten and safe path of cute and classic Halloween décor and instead creep down the path less traveled to a haunting Halloween home?

We’ve stalked through the tangled web of the Internet to find the most haunting, bone-chilling and hair-raising haunted house ideas. Proceed with caution, you might just make your new home the spookiest house on the block.

Haunted House Ideas

(Photos courtesy of and Vitamin-Ha)

Step 1: Start Outside

This is where neighbors, friends and trick-or-treaters will get their first look at your haunted home, so why not go all out?

We suggest you start by taking a trip to the local dollar store, party supplier or Halloween central and stocking up on life-size plastic skeletons and cheesecloth. Then, grab a ladder and a trusted partner to help you hang those guys up on the walls and near entryways of your house.

You could go for an escape look coming from your doors and windows, as if past unfortunate souls didn’t make it out alive, or a zombie apocalypse look, as if the living dead were climbing up the walls to get in to attack. For a how-to, check out

Another good look we scraped from Vitamin-Ha is the unfinished burial using an old wheel barrow. Dig up some loose dirt, take apart your skeleton and scatter its remains. This will leave passersby certain this haunted house is not to be trusted.

As for the cheesecloth, this can be used all around your home. Hang it on the walls, from the ceilings, in doorways, whatever. We don’t know what’s creepy about fabric used to cover cheese, bit it works.

Haunted House Ideas

(Photos courtesy of and

Step 2: Bug Out

If anyone’s ever told you they’re not at least a little bit afraid of bugs, they’re lying.

That’s why you should consider adding some creepy crawlies to your haunted home. An easy way to start is to buy a bag of plastic bugs — flies, roaches, spiders, etc. — and tape or glue them all around your door handles. Nothing is creepier than entering a home with an infestation problem!

Adding on to the bugged-out theme, you could build your own spooky spider egg sac. Those inclined to arachnophobia will head for the hills when they see these glowing orbs of spider babies waiting for their first feed.

Martha Stewart can teach you to birth your own spider sacs right here.

Haunted House

(Photos courtesy of PopSugar and Country Living)

Step 3: Find Your Creep Factor

After you’ve spooked up your exterior, it’s time to haunt up the inside!

Perhaps the easiest haunting look is to throw some old white sheets over your furniture. After all, have you ever seen a haunted house movie without that creepy, uninhabited feel? Bonus points if you find a way to add dust.

To go along with that look, you can add a personal touch by creeping out your own family photos. As long as you have a black and white printer, some spooky frames, a few LED lights and a little bit of imagination, you can do it yourself! Country Living can teach you to create some paranormal portraits of your own here.

Haunted House Ideas

(Photos courtesy of and

Adding to the personal touch, why not display the pickled head of your spouse? Of course we’re not encouraging the decapitation of your loved ones, just the illusion.

As long as you have a jar, a photo printer, some water and food coloring, you can create this look too. Again, we direct you to to learn how to create your own odd specimens.

Don’t feel like getting so macabre? Use rubber animals, body parts or plants instead.

Finally, no haunted house is complete without some haunting spirits. Again, we direct you to Mrs. Stewart to help you create some ghosts of your own using foam mannequin heads and that cheesecloth we mentioned earlier. Get the scoop here.

To wrap it all together, invest in a fog machine and a spooky soundtrack to play throughout your home and you’ve finally got yourself a haunted house!

Now you just have to decide one thing: When will the haunting begin?

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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