Posts Tagged With: Christmas

Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday Gathering

Plan Your Way to a Successful Holiday GatheringChristmas is getting awfully close and panic has set in. If you are wondering how you’ll feed all your guests coming for Christmas dinner, worry not. With a little pre-planning, this holiday gathering promises to be a total success.

Schedule Your To-do List

Use your calendar to determine when to schedule items on your to-do list. Map out when to grocery shop, set the table and when to start cooking. Avoid burn-out by accomplishing several items each day. If you did a thorough cleaning of your kitchen prior to Thanksgiving, you are ahead of the game and only need to spot clean now. Do last minute touch ups like vacuuming and bathroom cleanups on the day before the event.

Be a Stress-Free Chef

Pre-planning is key to pulling off a less stressful holiday meal. Don’t leave cooking until the last minute. Here are some suggestions of things to do ahead of time:

  • Plan your menu – Keep it simple. Don’t try to cook everyone’s favorites. Have the main course and a few sides. If guests insist on helping invite them to bring their favorite dishes. Extra ice is always needed.
  • Generate a shopping list – By planning the meal, appetizers and beverages ahead, you know exactly what to get from the grocery store, which minimizes overspending.
  • Keep a stocked pantry – Having staples on hand during the holiday season keeps you from constantly running to the store. Many of these items go on sale for the holidays, so stock up.
  • Cook ahead – By mixing, chopping or cooking portions of a recipe a few days ahead, you can quickly combine them to finish the dish. Try to leave only a few dishes to prepare the day of the event.
  • Set the table – Table cloths, napkins and silverware can be put out days earlier but keep the plates and glasses until closer to the date. Have your serving pieces washed and ready for use.
  • Rearrange furniture – Open space for people to mingle and have conversations.
  • Rent extra tables and chairs – Give your guests ample seating for the big event.
  • Fire up the heaters – Don’t let outdoor spaces go unused. Rent propane heaters to increase overflow space.

Prepare for Controlled Christmas Chaos

If you don’t leave too many things to finish last minute, you can enjoy the joyful chaos of Christmas Day. Go over your checklist the day before to see if anything has been left undone. Let your Christmas helpers attend to these often-overlooked items:

  • Parking – Make sure you let your guests know where to park. Clear your driveways and sidewalks of snow. Salt or put sand down to avoid falls. If raining, have extra umbrellas handy.
  • Lighting – If your festivities are at night, put out additional outdoor lighting to help guide your guests.
  • Pets – Depending on how your animal responds to strangers, you may want to put them in a quiet room to celebrate in peace. Don’t forget to treat them to some holiday cheer with treats or a new toy.

Get Organized Early – There’s Still Time

By planning ahead, you can make your holiday gathering enjoyable for family and guests (while less stressful for you). There’s still time to get organized. This holiday have a smile on your face and a beverage in your hand as you greet your company. Your family may not recognize this relaxed version of you!

Expert Advice

From banquet tables and folding chairs to portable heaters and generators, our expert staff is always on hand to help you throw the best holiday gathering ever. Need to thoroughly clean your kitchen for the holidays? Our blog, Pre-Holiday Cleaning Tips for the Kitchen, will get you ready for the big day. As always, if you have any questions about pricing or how-to’s, don’t hesitate to contact us. Stop by our store — we’re open seven days a week.

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A Few Tips on How to Keep the Holidays Safe this Year

With only a few days left before Christmas, your house is sure to be decorated for the holidays with a style all your own. And hopefully you’ve kept safety in mind all the while. If not, here are a few things to consider this holiday season to make sure you and your family are cozy and safe.

5 Holiday Safety Tips1. The center of it all – your Christmas tree: For you live Christmas tree lovers, keep your tree well-watered, and for those of you with artificial trees, make sure your lights are working properly because one in every three home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. 

2. Powering up for the holidays: Don’t overload electrical outlets with too many extension cords, lights and other decorations, for this creates a real fire hazard. As a rule-of-thumb, use only 80% power on each outlet. To determine this, simply divide the watts of power you’re using by 120 volts, the number most houses are rated for, and you’ll know if you need to use more than one outlet.

3. Festive flames all a-glow: You also know that December is the peak time of year for home candle fires – especially on December 23, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Be sure you never leave a candle burning unattended and place them away from the tree and other decorations that could quickly spark a fire. An alternative is to invest in battery-operated flameless candles, which look real and are less of a fire hazard than open flames. However, keep the fire extinguisher in a convenient, easy-to-remember place, just in case.

And while you have the ladder out for hanging lights, you should also change batteries in all the smoke detectors in your house. Tackling this task during holiday decorating not only saves time, it reminds you of the need to check smoke detectors once a year.

4. A potentially icy pathway: Outside, keep the sidewalks and driveway free of snow and ice with a shovel and snow blower.

5. Hop in the car for your annual holiday road trip: Once your house is safe and beautiful, it’s time to prepare your car – and your family – for that special trip. In addition to dangerous weather conditions and limited daylight hours this time of year, traveling during the holidays has its own challenges that require extra planning. The entire family piles into a car, along with suitcases and gifts, which may make it difficult for the driver to see out the back window. Driving in unfamiliar areas can create yet another distraction.

Holiday Travel

Here’s a handy list to help you plan safely for holiday travel:

  • Pack a safety kit for your car, including anti-freeze, deicer for locks, window scrapers, a shovel, tools, a small gas container and a lighter (or matches)
  • Put a bag of kitty litter or sand in the trunk, to use in case you get stuck
  • Bring along an extra set of gloves, sturdy boots, hats and a blanket
  • Remember to bring a mobile phone, directions, a map, GPS and any reservation confirmations
  • Set the car alarm or use an anti-theft device
  • Never leave your car unoccupied with the motor running or with children inside
  • Don’t leave packages on the seat of your car, creating a temptation for thieves
  • Consider sending holiday gifts ahead via U.S. Mail, UPS or other expediting service
  • When approaching and leaving your car, be aware of the surroundings
  • Always carry a driver’s license or ID card, along with necessary cash, checks, credit or debit cards

It may seem like a no-brainer to follow the above guidelines, but the holidays inevitably get somewhat crazy, so just take a little extra time this year and your family will thank you for it. If you have more questions about holiday precautions and the tools or equipment you may need, please get in touch with us via our contact us page or the comment section below. Happy Holidays!

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: How-To's | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

4 Smart Guidelines for Hanging Christmas Lights Safely

Decorating your home and yard for the holidays is a festive neighborhood tradition that brings out the designer in all of us. In communities all over the country, so many families vie for “Best Holiday Lights Display” that they’re competing in a national competition on television. That’s right – just this week, ABC premiered a new series called The Great Christmas Light Fight, the first Christmas lights competition of its kind where 20 families transform their homes for the holidays and compete for a total of $250,000 in prizes. Holy Clark Griswold! The show airs through December 23, and will probably give you some fantastic ideas for decorating your own extravaganza.

Christmas Lights

Before you’re ready to flip the switch on your Christmas lights though, here are a few guidelines to help you work smart and stay safe:

  1. Create a Master Design. Break out the camera, some paper and pencil, and get to work. Taking a photograph of your yard from an appropriate distance can keep you focused on the overall look of the display. Choosing a focal point to anchor your design, whether it’s a unique architectural feature of the home or a winding path or the intricate branch patterns of a tree, and start designing from there. Consider including the backyard in your design this year, which you can also enjoy from inside your home. Use a tape measure to determine how many light strands you need, as well as, the distance to the power source. Experts recommend 100 lights for every 1-1/2 feet of tree or shrub you want to cover. The denser the lights, the brighter they shine, so look for light kits where the bulbs are spaced close together, or place two sets of lights side-by-side for the same effect. Choreograph your design using different colored lights to highlight different areas and have fun with the many types of lights available, such as icicles, blinking, LED, light nets and more.
  2. Safety First. This is a big one. Check the roof, shingles, gutters and other surfaces you’ll hang lights on for strength and flexibility. Decorate trees that do not touch power lines. Work with another person, and secure supplies to the ladder safely. Use UL approved extension cords and light kits for outdoor use, and follow manufacturer recommendations on the number of lights you can string together safely. Do not use lights that have frayed or damages cords, and test all lights before you hang them. Choose plastic light clips to easily secure lighting to gutters and other surfaces.
  3. Set a Timer. To save on energy bills, use an outdoor timer to turn lights off later in the evening. These days, timers also come with sensors that automatically turn on at dusk –especially nice when you’re away from home.
  4. Plan the Power Source. In addition to creating a master lighting design, planning the best way to access power for your display is key for safety. Experts suggest that outdoor lights be plugged into circuits protected by ground fault interrupters (GFCIs) that protect against shock. Power stakes are portable and bring the power to where you need it, instead of running too many extension cords all over the place.

If you rent a generator, be sure to follow all manufacturer safety instructions, such as operating it outside, because carbon monoxide exhaust fumes can be fatal. Protect it from rain, snow and wind with a cover made from plywood and 2x4s. Follow state, local and national fire and electric codes and do not connect the generator directly into your home’s main fuse box or circuit panel because it might feed into the electric system and endanger any utility workers in the area. Check County noise ordinances if the generator is noisy, or choose one that’s quiet. Turn off the generator when away from home and while you sleep.

About the Author

Tempe Thompson is a sales and inventory expert at Runyon Equipment Rental. She has over 35 years of experience and has accumulated a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise. She could talk for hours about how to use all of Runyon’s tools and equipment, in addition to suggesting which type corresponds to a certain application.

Categories: How-To's, Industry Trends | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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