2019 Real Estate Forecast: What Home Buyers, Sellers And Investors Can Expect

There’s no doubt about it: the 2018 housing market has seen its ups and downs.

The year started with sky-high home prices, historically low mortgage rates and a definitive upper hand for sellers. In recent months though, home price growth has faltered, rates have risen to their highest point in nearly eight years, and favor has started to shift from seller to buyer.

Will these trends continue? Will housing experience the same wild ride in the new year? Here’s what experts predict will happen in 2019 real estate market:

Mortgage rates will continue rising.

“Despite steady climbing for the past two years, mortgage rates remain lower than they were during most of the recession and below average for the type of strong economic growth we’ve been experiencing. That will change in 2019, as the 30-year, fixed rate mortgage reaches 5.8% — territory not seen since the dark days of 2008 when rates were racing downward in response to the housing crisis.” — Aaron Terrazas, director of economic research for Zillow

Millennials will keep buying homes — despite those rising rates.

“The housing market in 2019 will be characterized by continued rising mortgage rates and surging millennial demand. Rising rates, by making housing less affordable, will likely deter certain potential homebuyers from the market. On the other hand, the largest cohort of millennials will be turning 29 next year, entering peak household formation and home-buying age, and contributing to the increase in first-time buyer demand.” — Odeta Kushi, senior economist for First American

“Millennials will continue to make up the largest segment of buyers next year, accounting for 45% of mortgages, compared to 17% of Boomers, and 37% of Gen Xers. While first-time buyers will struggle next year, older Millennial move-up buyers will have more options in the mid-to upper-tier price point and will make up the majority of Millennials who close in 2019. Looking forward, 2020 is expected to be the peak Millennial home buying year with the largest cohort of millennials turning 30 years old. Millennials are also likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade as their housing needs adjust over time.” — Danielle Hale, chief 

Source: forbes.com ~ By: Aly J. Yale ~ Image: pixabay.com

Fun Activities for Families to Enjoy in February

Kids are often restless in the heart of winter. Besides the onset of cabin fever due to inclement weather, many months are left in the school year. Count down the minutes until the spring thaw arrives and try these fun things for families to do together in February.

Enjoy Winter Activities Together

Depending on where you live, you may have lots of opportunities to enjoy outdoor winter activities such as sledding, snowshoeing, ice skating, skiing, snowboarding, or simply building snow forts and snow sculptures. If snow and ice are rare in your you’ll want to capitalize on every chance or plan a short getaway to where you can play in the cold.

Play Indoors

Staying in the house doesn’t mean the kids have to park it in front of the TV or video game screen. There are plenty of indoor activities for kids that involve active games, pretend play, and creativity exercises. You can also take the kids on a family fun outing to indoor sports such as bowling, indoor roller rinks, and indoor skating rinks.

Plan a Trip

Nothing will warm your family up quicker than planning for a special getaway together. Spring break is just a few weeks away, so now’s the perfect time to spend some time brainstorming with your family about where they would like to go when the weather gets warmer. Make vacation planning a family activity, look at all of the fun attractions you can visit online, and take advantage of early bird deals by booking now.

Valentine’s Day Fun

Celebrate Valentine’s Day with your children all month long. Create Valentine’s crafts, such as the I Love You photo collage or the I Ruff You foam dog. Plan a Valentine’s Day party, make party supplies with your printer, and play Valentine’s Day-themed party games.

Presidents’ Day

Slip in a history lesson on this holiday. Teach kids about Presidents’ Day, the first federal holiday established in honor of an American citizen, with fun activities that teach your children all about this important day.

American History Month

Speaking of history, February is also American History Month. Find out what happened on this date in history to teach your kids something new today.

Black History Month

Learn about Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and other key people who made a difference. Even younger children can embark on this learning journey through age-appropriate printables and activities.

American Heart Month

Keep your family fit during American Heart Month. Teach kids how the heart works, learn about the heart’s anatomy, and gauge your family’s target heart rates. Plan family workout activities to get the recommended amount of physical activity for heart health.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

Take care of those teeth. Children’s Dental Health Month is the perfect time to re-examine your child’s dental habits. Whether you’re preparing for your child’s first visit to the dentist or you’re teaching older kids to brush and floss properly, there are plenty of children’s dental printables and activities to make your job easier.

National Snack Food Month

Use February’s National Snack Food Month to teach your kids about healthy eating habits. Start by preparing healthy snacks kids will love or shake things up with some healthy smoothie recipes kids will love.

International Friendship Month

Celebrate International Friendship Month by helping kids show their appreciation for their friends. Kids can write thank you cards to their pals or you can help them make new friends.

National Cherry Month

Step into the kitchen and cook with your kids. Prepare some cherry recipes together for a bushel of fun. You won’t have any seasonally ripe cherries in the house (those will come in the summer). The month was established due to the legend about George Washington and the cherry tree, and serves to show that cherry products are available year-round. You can get creative with a cherry blossom craft as well.

National Embroidery Month

Take up a new hobby with your kids. Learn embroidery together for some quality one-on-one time.

National Grapefruit Month

The fruit that is packed with vitamin C gets its own time in the spotlight during the month of February. Cut open a grapefruit and share it with your children as a snack or as part of your family’s breakfast.

National Wild Bird Feeding Month

Here’s a fun hobby to enjoy with your children. Get started birding during National Wild Bird Feeding Month. Follow a few simple bird watching tips for beginners to get the most out of your family’s new hobby.

Responsible Pet Owners’ Month

Teach kids how to be responsible pet owners, whether you’re a pet parent to a dog, cat or a gerbil. Choosing the right family pet is the first step. Whether you’re showing your kids how to take care of dogs properly, teaching them how to bond with cats or helping them learn about exotic pets, being a responsible pet owner is a lifelong commitment.

Source: thespruce.com ~ By: Apryl Duncan ~Image: pixabay

6 Killer Mistakes You Can’t Afford to Make When Buying in the Winter

Winter is supposed to be a buyer’s market, right? Fewer buyers = way less competition. After all, you have no problem trekking through the snow to find the perfect home. Let the others wait until spring. Right?

But winter home-buying assumptions can cost you. Just because the market moves slower doesn’t mean there aren’t pitfalls lying beneath the powder. Keep in mind these six common mistakes—otherwise you might just lose out on your dream space. And that would lead to a very long winter indeed.

1. Landing yourself in holiday debt

Your kiddos are clamoring for a few Hatchimals, your wonderful husband deserves the Google Pixel, and Mom and Dad desperately need a new set of artisanal kitchen knives. But don’t rack up new debt buying everyone gifts.

“Even if your credit is in good standing, suddenly racking up a ton of holiday shopping debt will change your debt-to-income ratio and potentially negate your pre-approval,” says Alicia Brison, a real estate agent in Sacramento, CA.

Budget for your generous splurges ahead of time. Or you know what? Tell your family they’re getting the best gift of all: a new home.

2. Failing to use your imagination

Yes, the property looks a bit … drab. But don’t all homes seem sad in winter, especially if they’re not charmingly covered in snow? Don’t dismiss a property because of bare tree limbs and dead grass. Imagine what the home could be in all its springtime glory.

Pretend the trees are blooming and the rose bushes are covered in color. That’s the mental picture you should use to make your decision.

3. Ignoring possible closing date delays

Don’t assume everything will go as planned. This will go wrong, trust us. Does the plumbing need updating? Is the wiring a little funky? These delay-causing problems are always annoying, but in winter they can create a full-on migraine. This goes double for custom or new-build homes.

“While many trades will work through the winter, there are certain processes that cannot be completed during heavy snowfall or dramatically low temperatures,” says Luke Sahlani, the lead project manager and director of Sensus Design & Build. “This can be frustrating and particularly problematic if the home buyers’ closing date on their current home is coming up quickly.”

Build in some buffer time for your new home’s closing—or just a little snow might crash your move-in day hopes.

4. Lacking flexibility

House hunting always requires a certain level of spontaneity—you have to be ready to pounce as soon as you hear a place fitting all your criteria is on the market. But when the weather’s against you, make sure to loosen your schedule even more.

Flexibility “is even more critical during the winter season,” Brison says. “Weather can cause unexpected delays, and buyers need to be willing to plan viewings during the busy holidays.”

Yes, you’re excited for cousin Humbert’s one-of-a-kind pumpkin pie, but if 2 p.m. the day after Christmas is the only time you can check out your dream abode, you might have to skip a second serving.

5. Assuming you’ll automatically score a sweet deal

In the winter (generally speaking), home prices are lower. Sellers are motivated. The competition’s bundled up inside, warming their hands by the fire. Bidding wars are a vestige of the summer months. Now’s a great time to buy, right?

Unfortunately, the math doesn’t necessarily work in your favor.

“A lot of buyers assume they can get a better deal in winter because [fewer] people are competing,” Brison says. “That’s not usually the case. Inventory is lower, so the number of people who are competing is similar.”

No, prices may not rocket to the sky-high levels seen when the weather is warm. But if you expect to score a bargain-basement home deal, you might be disappointed.

6. Lowballing your offer

If you don’t get a discount on a home during the winter months, maybe you think you can create your own discount with a lowball offer. Sellers listing their homes in the winter must be desperate to sell, the theory goes.

Think again.

“Not only can a lowball offer be off-putting to the seller, but sometimes they can be so offended, they will be closed to a counteroffer,” says Denise Supplee, the director of operations at SparkRental.com.

Work with your Realtor® to craft a competitive offer that isn’t offensive. Nothing is worse than losing the home you love to another buyer because you prioritized the deal over finding a place that perfectly fits your family.

Source: realtor.com ~ By: Jamie Wiebe ~ Image: pixabay

6 home renovations that return the most at resale

Whether you plan to stay in your house a long time or just a few years, it’s smart to know which home renovations add the most value to your place.

“Remodeling,” a magazine for the construction industry, in its 2018 Cost vs. Value report, compares the average cost of 21 remodeling projects in 149 markets with the value those projects retain at resale in 100 U.S. markets.

Here are the six interior remodeling projects that deliver the highest return.

1. Garage door replacement

  • Average cost: $3,470
  • Average resale value: $3,411
  • Cost recouped: 98.3%

A good-looking garage door tops the list when it comes to returning cash to your pocket, the Cost vs. Value report shows. This project involves removing an existing 16-by-7-foot garage door and replacing it with a new four-section garage door with heavy-duty galvanized steel tracks. This curb-appeal enhancer will get you back almost every dollar you spent on it when you sell your house.

2. Manufactured stone veneer

  • Average cost: $8,221
  • Average resale value: $7,986
  • Cost recouped: 97.1%

Replacing vinyl siding on your house for stone veneer is a big aesthetic improvement. The vinyl siding is replaced with adhered manufactured stone veneer. This is another major curb-enhancing upgrade that will get you back over 97 percent of your costs.

3. Entry door replacement (steel)

  • Average cost: $1,471
  • Average resale value: $1,344
  • Cost recouped: 91.3%

You will recoup over 91 percent of your cost by replacing your 36-by-80-inch entry door with a 20-gauge steel door, complete with clear dual-pane half-glass panel, jambs and an aluminum threshold with composite stop. These doors come factory-finished with the same color on the front and back sides.

4. Deck addition (wood)

  • Average cost: $10,950
  • Average resale value: $9,065
  • Cost recouped: 82.8%

One advantage of owning a house is having yard space. Nothing enhances a yard like a wood deck. This project involves adding a 16-by-20-foot deck, including a railing system with pressure-treated wood posts, railings and balusters. This feature will hold more than 82 percent of its value come resell time.

5. Minor kitchen remodel

  • Average cost: $21,198
  • Average resale value: $17,193
  • Cost recouped: 81.1%

Before you embark on a major kitchen overhaul, consider a minor one, which will recoup about 81 percent of its cost. This upgrade is based on a 200-square-foot kitchen with 30 linear feet of cabinetry. Cabinet boxes are left in place but updated with modernized Shaker-style wood panels and drawer fronts. Replace laminate countertops with new laminate. Next, swap out older appliances with energy-efficient models. Update with a mid-priced sink and faucet; repaint the trim; add wall covering; and replace vinyl flooring with new vinyl.

6. Siding replacement

  • Average cost: $15,072
  • Average resale value: $11,554
  • Cost recouped: 76.7%

If you need a good reason to update old siding, consider that replacing 1,250 square feet of it will cost you about $15,072 and you’ll get back $11,554 upon resale. This upgrade includes the factory trim at the openings and corners.

Source: bankrate.com ~ By: Natalie Campisi ~ Image: pixabay.com

Top Kitchen and Cabinet Styles in Kitchen Remodels

Transitional is the No. 1 kitchen style and Shaker leads for cabinets, the 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study finds

If you’re considering a kitchen renovation, perhaps the idea of white cabinets has crossed your mind — specifically, white Shaker-style cabinets. If so, you wouldn’t be alone.

The 2019 U.S. Houzz Kitchen Trends Study gathered information from more than 1,300 Houzz users who had completed a kitchen remodel or addition project in the past 12 months, who are working on one or who are planning to start one in the next three months. Here are five design trends for kitchens based on what they are saying.

4 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Home in the Winter

Of all the days you’d expect a potential homebuyer to want to tour your listed home, Thanksgiving and Christmas are probably the two you would least expect. But it’s possible, and it’ll happen occasionally.

Before you laugh at your agent’s request to clear out for a couple hours for that would-be buyer to walk through your house while your turkey is still in the oven, consider the likelihood that this tour leads to an actual offer. If a buyer is looking on a holiday when most sellers are at home, “they’re dead serious – they’re ready to buy a house. The agents probably won’t take them out unless they know they’re serious,” says Michael Straley, a Realtor with eXp Realty who’s based in Stafford, Virginia, and has dealt with more than one holiday home tour in the past.

Ultimately, you want to sell your house and for the right price, so passing on such an opportunity for a serious buyer to tour your home could be a mistake that leaves your house on the market for longer than you’d like.

Selling your home in winter, considered the off-season for most of the U.S., leaves you with little room to make mistakes. You may opt to sell your home in winter because you’re on a deadline to move into your next house, or you may simply like the idea of avoiding the competition of all the other properties that put a for sale sign up at the first hint of spring. Either way, you want to be prepared to make your winter listing a success.

Here are four mistakes to avoid when trying to sell your home in winter.

Waiting to list your house. The biggest mistake you can make is trying to time when you put your house on the market. After all, you only need one buyer to make the sale a success, and the right buyer could be looking at any time.

Don’t overlook November and December, says Lou Nimkoff, president of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association in Florida. While the time between major winter holidays may seem like a period when people wouldn’t want to buy a house, Nimkoff says homebuyers get just as excited to put in an offer on a house as they do to buy gifts during the holiday season.

As much as people are ready to buy rather than shop around for holiday gifts, he says, “The same holds true for (home)buyers with all the craziness that we go through in November and December with the Black Friday sales.”

Expecting zero interest on certain days. Whether it’s a holiday where you normally have a family gathering or a snow day when the kids are home from school, don’t be put off if you get a request to show the house on a day you may consider inconvenient.

“There are people out there that will sometimes want to see your property on Thanksgiving or on Christmas Eve,” Straley says, stressing that the majority of these serious buyers are moving to the area from another state or country and likely have little time to make a decision. That means your home is on their short list, and you don’t want to miss your window of opportunity.

If you’re trying to sell your home in the winter, consider having another family member host the festivities, or at least have a backup plan to make yourself scarce, like going out to a holiday movie or traversing the neighborhood to check out holiday lights. The same goes for days when you’re home due to bad weather conditions. Serious buyers may take the opportunity to look at houses once roads have been plowed, so be ready to head out of the house for a couple hours if need be.

Pricing your home too high. Even if there are active buyers every month of the year in your market, you won’t be seeing the same bidding wars that you may have grown accustomed to in the warmer months or over the past few years. Rising mortgage interest rates and the general cycle of real estate means buyers are seeing their bottom-line mortgage payment increase, which means they’re less likely to overpay for a house.

The share of homes on the market throughout the U.S. that have to undergo a price reduction is climbing, according to real estate information company Trulia. In a reportreleased in October, 17.2 percent of all properties on the market in August underwent a price reduction.

To avoid becoming part of the nearly one-fifth of home sellers forced to lower their asking price, make sure you understand the current market and realistically approach pricing your home. Work with your real estate agent and look at the sale price of similar homes that have recently sold – not the asking price of those listed – to see how you can compete with what’s on the

Not preparing your home for guests. If your house is on the market, you should always have it ready for a tour – and in the winter, that may require extra preparation. You may have less control over how the grass or trees look in the winter, but you can ensure a safe passage to your front door.

“The last thing you want is for someone to walk up your driveway and slip and fall,” Nimkoff says.

Prepare before you get a forecast calling for any snow or icy conditions, and keep rock salt or ice-melt pellets of some sort on hand to ensure you can keep the sidewalk, driveway and porch or patio slip-resistant. Inside, keep your entryway or mudroom clear of wet boots, coats, hats and gloves.

In addition to the usual organizing and deep-cleaning that comes with staging your property, keeping your home warm and cozy when the weather is cold can help a potential buyer fall in love with your house.

Source: realestate.usnews.com ~ By: Devon Thorsby~ Image: pixabay.com

5 Tasks Every Homeowner Should Do in January

Whew. The holidays are done. The new year has rung in.

That’s when smart homeowners know it’s time to do these five things that’ll save time, money, and hassles all year long:

#1 Organize Your Seasonal Storage SpaceImage: Frank Farm / frankfarm.org

Packing away holiday decor presents a big opportunity. It’s the best time to sort, declutter, and reorganize that space where you store your seasonal stuff.

So before simply stuffing your holiday things back in there somewhere, take inventory, then sort, filter, donate, trash, and re-home as many of your things as possible.

It’ll help keep you more organized all year long, and make it easier to find all your holiday stuff next year.

A gas stovetop with food crumbs, green teapotImage: Jamie Bonilla

Purge your pantry and frisk your fridge, passing what you can on to local food banks. Scrub the walls and kick-boards, and even pull those appliances right out from the walls for a thorough vacuuming to prevent gunk (and stinks!) from accumulating.

#3 Plan Summertime Projects Now (Especially if You Need a Pro)An outdoor space with patio furniture and a dogImage: Photo by ADZA

1. If you’re DIYing, you’ll be ready to roll at the first hint of nice weather.

2. If you’re hiring a contractor or other professional, getting your bids and contracts in place now will save you from competing with the spring rush (wait too long, and you may not be able to book anyone!)

#4 Create a Schedule to Clean ALL Your Home’s FiltersTwo home air filtersImage: Michael Sheehan (“HighTechDad”)

Check manufacturer instructions for all the filters in your home, and create a master schedule, then add them to your calendar app to remind you.

#5 Save Some Green at White SalesA bed with white sheets and a white bedspread by windowImage: @hawkes_landing

Linens and towels go on sale in January. It’s a long-standing retail tradition that started back when linens only came in white (hence the name), and still has a solid rep as a money-saver — only in more colors today.

Cut your threadbare bath towels into rags and restock your supply, plus fill in any gaps in your bed linens you may have noticed if you had a house full of holiday guests.

Source: houselogic.com ~ By: GABRIELA BARKHO ~ Image: Frank Farm / frankfarm.org

4 Sales Trends That You Need To Know About In 2019

It’s almost the end of the year, the perfect time to look back at what you’ve done and achieved, as well as look forward to understand what’s to come.

The world of sales has been rapidly changing in the last few years as new technology evolved and became more accessible to businesses and sales teams across niches. The question is, what will 2019 bring to the table? What will be the biggest trends in sales happening in 2019?

In this blog post, I’m going to talk about 4 sales trends that you need to know about in 2019.

1.    Selling to the new generation: Generation Z

Millennials used to be the “new” generation that marketers and sales people needed to start focusing on – and while millennials are definitely increasing in terms of buying power, there is a new generation emerging that both marketers and sales people need to be aware of:

Generation Z.

This generation is formed of those born anywhere from the mid-90’s to the mid-2000’s so the oldest in their early 20s while the youngest are just barely teenagers right now. Of course, the bigger focus should be on the older of the Generation Z who are gaining more and more buying power. Currently, Gen Z account for approximately $29 – $143 billion in direct spending, and they are well on their way to becoming the biggest generation of consumers by 2020, which is right around the corner.

So, how does this affect sales? Well, this generation is quite different from previous generations, at least in some respect. For example, they were born with access to incredible technology and grew up using social media, smartphones, online shopping and all kinds of other technologies on a daily basis. They also care a lot about worldwide issues and their own impact on the world, particularly when it comes to environmental issues.

Plus, there’s one very interesting statistic that might surprise many people: some studies show that Generation Z actually prefers brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping (57% said they prefer online shopping).

How do you sell to this generation though?

The secret stands in understanding who forms this generation and what they care about – the more you learn about them, the easier it will be to come up with the best approach to sell to them.

2.    A more strategic approach to sales enablement

One way or another, every sales team gets at least little bit of sales enablement, whether it’s the software they get to help them sell more efficiently or occasional training sessions. That said, there’s certainly been a lot of growth in this area in the past couple of years, with more and more businesses and organizations implementing sales enablement strategies, a trend which is very likely to continue in the coming year.

But, what’s more, there will also be a more strategic approach to sales enablement:

  •      An actual strategy and plan with clear objectives and certain steps to be taken
  •      A bigger focus on helping sales people develop their top skills and become better at their job
  •      An easier way to onboard new sales people and help them jump right into selling
  •      More focus on new technology that can aid the sales enablement process as well as individual sales people to sell more

How do you stay on top of this trend?

In order to stay of this trend, take the time to really plan out a sales enablement strategy, from helping to onboard new sales people as efficiently as possible to consistent coaching to your existing sales people.

Make use of technology like MindTickle to implement your strategy, as well as to leverage data as part of your sales enablement strategy. You’ll be able to create onboarding and coaching programs, simulated sales scenarios to help develop your sales people’s skills, plus you have access to Artificial Intelligence to help you maximize your efficiency and results and access to in-depth analytics to help you discover any knowledge or skill gaps that need your attention.

3.    Machine learning, deep learning, artificial intelligence and sales

Artificial Intelligence has the power to disrupt entire industries – and sales is no exception. For example, I already showed you how AI can help with sales enablement and coaching. There are definitely a lot of ways that AI will continue to impact the world of sales in 2019, though.

The more you can implement Artificial Intelligence into the tools you use to sell, as well as into your day to day strategy, the bigger the impact on your productivity will be.

Here are the main ways that AI can help salespeople be more productive:

  •      The ability to analyse huge amounts of data in a very short time will help you personalize your sales strategy
  •      Get recommendations based on massive amounts of data, thus saving time with following up and reaching out to the right people
  •      Predict the future – with access to so much data, plus the ability to analyse this data, comes a great power: the ability to predict the future. What will your next quarter look like based on your past work? What can you do to improve the results of your next quarter?

How can you leverage Artificial Intelligence?

AI is fortunately becoming more and more accessible by the minute. While the more complex systems might be out of range for the regular business, plenty of “regular” sales tools are implementing more AI-based features, such as CRM tools and prospecting tools.

If you want to also learn about your leads and prospects as well as accurately analyse your data, you can use tools like MissingLink to automate deep learning.

4.    Moving towards the omni-channel experience

Earlier, I talked about Generation Z – the new generation of buyers that is rapidly gaining a huge buying power in the market.

One of the things that these younger generation expect more and more is an integrated experience across all of a business’s channels. The new generations use various devices at any given moment, they research products and services online extensively before they buy and they often demand personalized experiences that flow seamlessly from channel to channel.

This trend towards omni-channel marketing and creating omni-channel experiences has a huge impact on sales. Most importantly when it comes to the relationship between a sales department and a marketing department. While these departments are (historically) quite clearly separate, the move towards omni-channel marketing demands a much closer relationship between the 2.

How do you create more omni-channel experiences from a sales point of view?

There is a lot that needs to be done in order to develop a true omni-channel experience for all of your customers:

  •      Identifying all the platforms and channels your audience uses and leveraging them
  •      Creating a seamless transition between all channels and platforms that audiences have access to (for example, if a lead starts a conversation via text messages while they’re on the bus or train but then want to change the channel once they get home, then they should be able to do as seamlessly as possible, without wasting any time)
  •      Finding ways to integrate technology such as social media into bricks-and-mortar stores

From a sales point of view, the most important thing is to collaborate with the marketing department. It’s not just a case of marketers updating sales people on progress or sending them leads occasionally, but rather a truly close relationship where the 2 parties actually collaborate, as sales and marketing are more intertwined than ever.

Conclusion

In order to improve productivity and overall sales, it’s important to stay on top of trends and implement new technologies and new tactics, such as:

  •      Learning how to sell to Generation Z
  •      Implementing a sales enablement strategy to help your sales team be more productive
  •      Leveraging new technology like AI and machine learning to improve sales and knowledge
  •      Integrating marketing and sales and developing more omni-channel experiences for your audience

Source: forbes.com ~ By: Lilach Bullock ~ Image: pixabay.com

Etiquette Tips for the Christmas Holiday

Christmas is one of the most important celebrations for Christians around the world, but it can also be one of the most stressful. Between the crowded shopping malls and people’s expectations, we all run the risk of feeling let down, which can lead to tension and bad behavior.

Avoid letting this happen by taking breaks to think about what the holiday is truly about. Those who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas can spend some time in prayer. Take a few minutes and enjoy some quiet moments with your children to help prevent your tension from affecting them.

Christmas Cards 

Most people enjoy receiving Christmas cards. You don’t have to be wordy, but a nice thought above your signature can make someone’s day. While it’s okay to have a holiday newsletter enclosed, keep it brief and positive. Avoid too much bragging, or you’ll have your recipient rolling her eyes.

If someone has invited you for a holiday dinner, party, or overnight, be a gracious guest and mind your manners. Don’t forget to bring a gift. If you drop or spill something, clean it up to the best of your ability and let the host or hostess know. Offer to cover the cost of a cleaning bill.

Hosting a Gathering  

Greet everyone at the door and make small talk with everyone. Introduce guests to each other. Have plenty of food and activities for everyone. This is the time to use your best dishes and flatware. Do as much preparation as possible the day before so you can enjoy the party with your guests. Keep an eye on anyone who is drinking alcohol and never let anyone drive if they’ve had too many. If anyone offers to help clean up, give him or her a single task and then thank him.

Be Generous  

You don’t have to spend a fortune on gifts, but it is nice to have something for all your friends and family members. If funds are limited, bake cookies, divide them up, put them in clear bags, and decorate the package with colorful ribbons.

Show Gratitude 

Never expect a gift from anyone but be grateful for anything someone gives you. Keep in mind that the person took time to think about you and select something he or she thought you would like.

Regifting 

If someone gives you something you can’t use or don’t care for, it’s okay to regift it later, as long as you don’t give it back to the original person. To prevent this from happening, attach a note with the original giver’s name.

Tip Well 

It’s always important to be generous with tips after you receive good service, but it’s especially important during the holidays when you want to spread good cheer. When you go to a restaurant, get your hair done, or purchase any service, add a little extra to the tip.

Office Party 

Have fun at the office party, but don’t forget where you are. It is never okay to drink too much, tell off-color jokes, or get too chummy with the person in the next cubicle over. Laugh, make small talk, and enjoy getting to know your coworkers on a lighter level, knowing that you’ll be back to work in a few hours or days.

Children 

Spend extra time with your children or grandchildren and be prepared to remind them of the manners you taught them. It’s easy to forget during the chaos surrounding Christmas.

Santa  

If you enjoy the Santa tradition, stand nearby and never take your eyes off your child. If your little angel starts talking too much and says anything you don’t want strangers to know (your address and travel plans), don’t hesitate to interrupt and change the subject. Make sure you thank Santa before you leave.

Thank You Cards

As soon as possible after Christmas, send a thank you card to anyone who has given you a gift, hosted an event that you attended, or done something special for you.

Make the Holidays Extra Special

Since proper etiquette is all about being respectful and gracious, here are some ideas to make this holiday season even more special:

  • Do a good deed. Look for opportunities to perform acts of kindness and involve your children.
  • Start a canned food drive and make a delivery to a food pantry or homeless shelter.
  • Be generous when you see bell ringers in front of stores.
  • Find a giving tree and purchase gifts for someone you don’t know.
  • Bake or purchase bakery cookies and deliver batches of them to your local police and firemen.
  • Visit lonely residents at a senior center or nursing home.

Source: thespruce.com ~ By:   ~ Image: pixabay.com

7 Traditional Housewarming Gifts (And What They Really Mean)

Housewarming gifts have been a popular tradition since medieval times. Originally, certain gifts for the home were thought to have special powers, often providing a newcomer’s place of residence with warmth, luck and wonderful wishes. While many of these items are still given as Christmas gifts, wedding presents and at housewarming parties, the meaning behind them is not well known.

Are you ready to discover the symbolism behind traditional housewarming gifts? This handy gift guide is just what you need! We’ve even included a few modern-day gift ideas to help you maintain the original spirit of housewarming.

The Meaning Behind Traditional Housewarming Gifts

The symbolism of these unique gifts for the home might surprise you!

1. Candles

Whether you’re giving Christmas gifts, presents for the new couple, or items for a recently relocated loved one, candles are a great way to go. To ensure light for your recipient through the darkest of times, choose unique candles and pair them with creative candle holders.

Home Sweet Home 6 Inch Porcelain House

2. Wine Gifts

Wish good cheer and prosperity on your friends and family with wine giftsthis year. Skip the liquor store down the street and consider a special vino from our exciting merchants! And be sure to order personalized wine glasses for a customized touch.

3. Salt and Herbs

Salt and herbs are meant to always bring spice and flavor to those you hold dear. Opt for high quality products and pair them with a creative grinder set to ensure his or her life (and dinner) is never bland.

SpiceCrafts Dual Salt & Pepper Grinder Set

4. Broom

Sweep away bad luck and evil spirits when you give your friends and family members a broom for their new home. You can choose a traditional broom and pair it with a few cleaning supplies for a practical housewarming gift. Or add a little elbow grease to an ornamental broom for one-of-a-kind home decor!

5. Coins

Meant to represent luck and good fortune, coins are unique housewarming gifts. Present your coin gifts in style with a DIY money tree or mount them in personalized photo frames. You could even embed them in homemade decorative candles and double your loved one’s luck.

BLack Friday Money

6. Plants and Olive Oils

Plants have always been popular gifts for the home that bring wishes of long lives to recipients. But giving your loved one a bottle of olive oil from the grocer downtown to wish for his or her health and well-being might seem a little odd. Combine the two to create a homemade decoration that is sure to be adored.

7. Wood

Wood symbolizes stability, peace and harmony. Since you might feel a little strange presenting a chunk of wood from your backyard tree, however, you might want to jazz this one up a bit. Consider a customized cutting or serving board for the kitchen instead!Good Food Good Life Acacia Cheese Board with Sunflower Spreader

Be sure to add a positive sentiment to not only give your gift a more personalized touch, but also to let your recipient know the meaning behind his or her traditional housewarming gift.

Source: christmasgifts.com ~ Image: christmasgifts.com