New York City and Las Vegas are perennial favorites for celebrating New Year's Eve. But a new year just begs for some new ideas, especially those that won't leave you in debt after the fireworks are over.
Orlando is always a magical place for the whole family, but it is unforgettable on New Year's Eve. Orlando's theme parks celebrate with live entertainment and special midnight fireworks. Families can spend a day with Mickey and Minnie, and then watch as the most magical place in the world makes the sky sparkle. Bonus: Orlando is ranked No. 1 on Orbitz.com's Top New Year's Destinations list because of low prices on flights and hotels.
AtlantaEach year, more than 100,000 people head to Atlanta for the southeast's largest New Year's Eve party. The Peach Drop celebration fills downtown with locals and tourists eagerly awaiting fireworks and the 800-pound peach to drop. Local and national musicians play in venues around Underground Atlanta, and many of the restaurants and bars offer specials for the big event. The Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, a prestigious college football dual, also falls on New Year's Eve, with a week-long schedule of events such as parades and fan nights leading up to the big game at the Georgia Dome.
Chicago guarantees satisfaction when it comes to its New Year's Eve parties. The city hosts celebrations from the family-friendly Chicago Winter Wonderfest at Navy Pier to elegant boat cruises on Lake Michigan that offer a unique perspective as fireworks soar above the lakefront. Chicago, in general, is certainly a fun adventure for the whole family, so if the whole crew decides to join in on the festivities, check out Away.com's Chicago Family Travel Survival Guide to help plan your stay.
Visit Seattle for New Year's and you'll find a variety of events to attend, from laid-back parties (a vibe that Seattle is known for) to the going-all-out celebration at the EMP Museum. Three-thousand guests spill into EMP's doors to tour the exhibits, see live music and comedy acts, and dance to beats spun by live DJs. With 140,000 square feet, it's the largest party in Seattle and a must-do if you're in the area. At midnight, turn your eyes to the iconic Space Needle as the sky above it lights up with fireworks.
The famous Sugar Bowl football game brings droves of visitors to New Orleans for New Year's ... as if The Big Easy needed another reason to party. Expect dancing in the streets while brass bands parade by, along with a few costumes, and maybe even a gumbo pot dropping at the stroke of midnight. Bar crawls are numerous, so just hop in as one rolls by, and you'll be sure to make friends (that you may or may not remember) by night's end.
Niagara Falls, N.Y.
Not many people think to head to Niagara Falls for New Year's Eve, but each year the free "Party in Niagara" attracts 30,000 people to this beautiful setting for food, drinks, live music, and, of course, a brilliant display of fireworks over the thunderous falls. Bring your passport; the famous party takes place across the bridge in Queen Victoria Park on the Canada side.
Winter is quickly approaching and the holidays are in full swing once again. Gift-giving, parties, baking goodies and being with loved ones are great fun, but can often lead to waste and excess. This year, try celebrating using a few green ideas and give yourself and Mother Earth a gift.
Whether decorating your home or cooking up festive treats, use the bounty that nature has already provided.
Potted plants are the perfect present, and make wonderful centerpieces. A small pot of live herbs can add a fresh taste to any meal. Indoor potted plants can help clean the air, too.
Things like pinecones, nuts, fresh fruit, pine boughs and leaves beautifully supplement a gift basket, holiday wreath, or floral arrangement. This added personal touch will not only stand out to the recipient, but can also be eaten or composted after the holidays, extending its use and leaving very little room for waste.
Recycle and reuse:
We have all experienced the sight of the overstuffed trash cans lining the curb following a party or holiday celebration. Wrapping paper, boxes, disposable cups and plates along with ribbons and bows overflow garbage bins at the end of each year. This year, cut down on that waste by simply reusing and recycling.
If you receive a gift in a lovely gift bag, box or even wrapping paper, simply flatten it out, fold it up and store it away for reuse next year. Think of the bags, boxes, papers and bows in new ways. Gift bags make festive lunch bags and are a fun way for kids to carry a special toy when going to a friend's house. Boxes can be used for storing sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats once the seasons change.
Wrapping paper can be used to protect breakables when moving or storing. Festive paper can also be cut up or torn into strips for decoupage or paper mache. These papers will then be given a new life in future holiday celebrations. Even a simple shoe box with a decoupage of colorful wrapping paper becomes a work of art that can be used next year as a gift box.
Ribbons and bows are always fun for reuse. Tie them around pony tails for beautiful hair ribbons or use them to bind together flowers in a vase. Wrap ribbons around kindling near the fireplace for a festive touch to the fireside.
Another way to keep the trash can from overflowing this season is to compost whatever you can. Fresh flower arrangements, dying poinsettias, dried up greenery and wreaths, and even that Christmas tree can all be composted. In addition, vegetable peels, coffee grounds, tea bags and some wrapping paper can be thrown into a compost pile to return to nature.
If you do not already have a compost bin or pile, one can easily be purchased or made with minimal effort. Occupying just a small corner of the yard, compost is an easy way to create organic material for use in the garden. Now, the celebration need not end in January - but can continue to grow into the next year.
Recycling, reusing, composting and celebrating the gift of nature are great ways to stay green this holiday season, and reduce the amount of waste while increasing the amount of fun you experience
By combining beautiful pieces that you love with classic elements, anyone can create an exquisite look for the holidays.
A beautiful holiday table can be the centerpiece of any celebration. However, many hostesses are discouraged by the idea and potential cost of fancy linens, expensive serving ware and a perfect centerpiece.
"A beautiful tablescape doesn't have to be costly," says Target Style Expert for Home and HGTV designer Sabrina Soto. "Layering in key holiday trends to your everyday pieces can be a cost-effective way to create a one-of-a-kind dinner table."
Soto, together with celebrity TV chef and Target culinary partner Giada De Laurentiis, offer the following tips for creating a festive, yet affordable holiday setting.
Set a beautiful foundation
Instead of feeling compelled to use traditional red and green hues, any color combination can be the basis for a festive table, says Soto. She favors soft, season-less colors for decorating with added touches of gold and silver, which work with any color scheme and interior aesthetic. You can use everyday dinnerware, but create a holiday feel by adding glamorous metallic chargers, chic beaded placemats or napkin rings.
Add elegance with a striking centerpiece
Centerpieces are the focal point of an elegant table but don't need to be expensive to be beautiful. A single silver or metallic accessory can increase the glam factor of your centerpiece or try clustering several accessories for a sparkling effect. Polish up grandma's old silver vases or purchase some inexpensive mercury glass items such as hurricane or votive candle holders - the season's hottest trend.
A crystal vase for the centerpiece can elevate the table's elegance quotient. Fresh flowers can be pricey during the holidays; Soto suggests filling the vase with small glass ornaments. Mixing mirrored ornaments with fresh pine cones or seasonal fruit can make for a festive yet sophisticated decorative piece.
Plan a stress-free menu
A beautiful table sets the stage for an evening of delicious food and warm conversation. Plan ahead and prepare most of the food in advance, rather than trying to cook everything at once. You'll feel less stressed and will be able to enjoy the party.
"Try to leave only one item for last minute prep - this brings everyone into the kitchen and sets the tone for a cozy, comfortable evening," says De Laurentiis. "I prepare most dishes in my Giada De Laurentiis ceramic bake ware because it can go directly from the oven to the table, and still look great."
To further simplify the menu, De Laurentiis suggests selecting foods that can be served at room temperature. Try a red pepper or basil cheese cake that can be made ahead of time, and will be fine sitting out before the party even begins. While foods like fish or shrimp are delicious, they are hard to keep fresh if you are serving food buffet-style.
With this app, iStoryTime brings the fun and adventure of the movie "Kung Fu Panda Holiday" to an e-book for your Android device. Parents and children alike can enjoy images from the film and hear dialogue directly from the movie with this app. The story follows young Po the Panda, who is invited by Master Shifu to be the host of the entire Winter Feast. Po's excitement is short-lived when he learns that his father can't come along. Po is suddenly torn between his family traditions and a special individual honor. With three different reading modes, a compelling story, and beautiful color images, kids will get hours of entertainment from this e-book. - Enjoy genuine character audio and real images from the movie - Use automatic navigation and narration options for ease of use - Highlighted words connect images and dialogue with text.
As holiday decor springs up and seasonal tunes begin to flood the airwaves, it's time to embrace the most wonderful time of the year. If you didn't line up on Black Friday, and decking the halls is something you typically save for the last-minute, not to worry.
Lifestyle expert, celebrity stylist and television personality Robert Verdi shares his tips for putting together a beautiful and low-stress holiday - including his picks for great last-minute gifts that can be found at your local big box, grocery or drug store.
Set the stage
Instead of decorating your home in a sea of red and green, consider using more neutral shades like silver and burgundy. Silver is one of the easiest colors to decorate with for the holiday because it transitions seamlessly into the new year. Use mercury glass balls, silver balls and white for a festive, wintry look that you won't tire of come Dec. 26.
Hostess with the mostess
The holidays are the time of year for gatherings. If you're attending an event, always come prepared with a small gift for your hostess. If you're hosting, be sure to stock up on extra food and beverages for unexpected guests. To make any spread more stylish, simply arrange meats, cheeses and other small bites on slate tiles from a home store. Not only is a tile attractive and durable, but you can let guests know what delicacies they're be sampling by writing on the slate with chalk.
Being a thoughtful gift-giver isn't necessarily about purchasing lavish, over-the-top gifts. Often, it's best to give gifts that you know the recipient will actually use. For someone who loves to cook,
consider loading a basket with the ingredients for a favorite recipe, pretty hand towels and other kitchen goodies. Or, for the beauty-lover in your life, stock up on P&G Beauty gift sets full of must-have products from Olay, Venus, CoverGirl, Herbal Essences, Pantene and Secret to spread holiday cheer to your children's teachers and babysitters.
Pick up high-tech finds like the Olay Pro-X Advanced Cleansing System or Crest 3D White 2 Hour Express Whitestrips for your beauty-focused friends. Best of all, these gifts are available at the stores you shop at every day, which means one less trip to the mall.
The finishing touches
You don't need to spend a fortune to put glamour into your gift wrapping. Brown craft paper makes a great holiday gift wrap because it's earthy, inexpensive, and can be customized with ribbons, stamps or stickers. Or, add a little touch to any regular gift to make it visually appealing. For example, when you give a candle, present it with long matches and a beautiful bow.
Remember, the holiday season should be a time for reconnecting with friends and family, so no gift is complete without a thoughtful hand-written note.
To create a quick month-in-review layout, choose a few of your favorite photos from each month during the year. Then use this free downloadable calendar as a journaling spot to write a list of highlights from the year.
Enjoy the magic of two cherished Glade® fragrances simultaneously.
Burns up to 22 hours. Infuse any room of your home with light, warmth and two fragrances. With Glade® 2in1 Candles, the magic’s in the middle when the two fragrances blend together, creating an entirely new fragrance experience.
From baking cookies with loved ones to caroling through the neighborhood or celebrating with family and friends, fond memories of holiday traditions abound. Each year, scents, sights and sounds promote the season's spirit - continuing long-standing traditions and creating new memories.
Here are some ideas for stimulating your senses and evoking the warmth of the holidays in your home:
Savoring seasonal scents
Home fragrances create a warm, inviting environment during the holidays and all year-round. A whiff of a familiar scent often calls to mind memories of holidays past. The scent of cinnamon and vanilla conjures thoughts of freshly baked cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, while a blend of evergreens, cedar, and musk reminds many of Christmas tree hunting in the woods.
One of the safest ways to recreate holiday memories is with scented, wickless candles. With no wick and no flame, there's no worry or mess. After selecting a favorite seasonal fragrance, it's easy to place a cube or two of the scented wax into a decorative, ceramic candle warmer. Just one whiff and you are on your way down memory lane.
"A festive, welcoming atmosphere stimulates our senses and reminds us of holidays past as we celebrate with our family and friends," says Heidi Thompson, president and co-owner of Scentsy, a leader in home fragrance. "A home filled with classic holiday scents not only evokes memories but inspires new seasonal traditions for young families."
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Behold the sights
Twinkling lights fill the indoor and outdoor landscape during the holidays. To capture the spirit of the season and add a shimmering glow to any room, consider a simple string or two of miniature lights strung along a mantel or displaying a holiday-themed wickless candle. From snowmen to Santa, there are festive designs in all shapes and sizes to complement any decor.
Sounds of the season
The sounds of the season create happy holiday memories. Adding traditional tunes from Bing Crosby or modern interpretations from Harry Connick, Jr. can set the mood as you decorate your home, entertain dinner guests or simply escape the hustle and bustle of the season. Music creates a cheerful atmosphere and often encourages listeners to sing along.FREE Holiday Music
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Enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the season is simple. To learn more about how to fill your home with festive fragrances and decorate with wickless candles.
First, tuck the thumb inside the glove. Fill the glove with cotton batting, be sure to fill remaining four fingers without over stuffing. Cut a scrap piece of material for scarf and gently tie around the glove where the ribbing of the cuff meets the plain material of the glove (end of the cuff). (When tying scarf, point the scarf material toward the thumb area to cover the area where it was tucked inside. Fold down cuff to cover scarf and form a turtle neck. Hot glue on wooden ball to top of turned down cuff.
Glue on tiny plastic eyes or paint on with black acrylic paint. Use black marker for mouth. Gently dot on lipstick for cheeks by applying first to your finger and then dotting onto face. Glue a stem of holiday florals or greenery behind body on the side where thumb is tucked in. This will help to hide the tucked in thumb.
To make the hat, simply fit the cuff of the sock onto head and roll up the edge of the cuff to form the hat brim. Then trim the end of the sock off and fringe with scissors. Add a small amount of cotton batting inside hat and tie off with gold cord.
Using the first and fourth finger of the glove, pull them to the front of the body and glue together with hot glue, hold in place until secure. Add a pile of white pom poms for snowballs, one at a time, gluing each one in place.
Clay Pot Snowmen
darling snowman and snowwoman make the perfect couple. All bundled up for a cold winter's day, and so easy, the kids can make them too!
You will need: (for each snowman)
1- 1 1/2" diameter wooden ball
1- 2 1/4" diameter clay pot
material or mitten scrap
white craft or hot glue
black finetip marker
small and large paintbrushes
acrylic paints in white, orange and pink
clear coat spray
What you do:
Place newspaper down on work surface. Turn clay pot over and glue wooden ball to bottom of pot. When glue is dry, use large paint brush to paint entire the outside of the clay pot and the entire wooden ball with white paint. Let dry and apply a second coat.
Cut the foot end off of the child's sock. Create a brim by folding up the cuff of the sock, then position the cuff of the sock onto the "head" of the snowman (see photo). Glue the brim in place. Tie a piece of gold ribbon around the top of the hat and fringe the top with scissors. Adjust the fringe edges with your fingers until they look the way you want.
Tie a strip of material or mitten scrap around the neck to fashion a scarf. Glue in place if desired. Glue two buttons to the front of your snowman. With black finetip marker, dot on eyes and mouth. Use a small paint brush to apply orange paint for a nose and gently dab on a thin amount of pink for the cheeks.
Salt Dough Snow Family
This cute little snow family is easy to bake up. Paint them white then have a ball adding the finishing touches. Be as creative and colorful as your heart desires.
You will need:
1 cup salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup water
acrylic paint in black, white, pink, green, orange, and red
two orange toothpicks
6 small twigs
2 mini pom poms
1 small gold glitter pom pom
pink and gold ribbon
What you do:
Preheat oven to 250 F. Mix together, salt, flour, and water until a dough is formed. Knead the dough on a floured surface until the mixture is elastic and smooth. If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour, continue to do so until stickiness is gone. BE CAREFUL. Do not add too much flour, this will dry out the dough and will cause it to crack before you get a chance to bake it.
THIS DOUGH IS NOT EDIBLE, though it won't hurt you or your kids, it just won't taste very good!
Roll dough in your hands to form different sized balls. Make three snowmen from the balls, then line them up on the cookie sheet. Make sure they are touching each other so that they will be one piece after baking.
Break or cut orange toothpicks in half. Insert toothpick halves, point size out, into the each snowman head for the nose. Insert twigs for arms into each snowman. Be sure to both of these steps BEFORE baking.
Bake for approximately 2 - 2.5 hours. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely. For best results, allow to cool and dry overnight, or for at least 4 hours.
Paint snowmen with white paint. Use the wrong end of the paint brush to dot on colored buttons (we used green on one, red on another, and orange on the third).
Use a smaller paintbrush to repeat this method for adding eyes and mouths with black paint. Alternatively, you can use a black Sharpie marker if you prefer.
Embellish your snow family by fashioning scarves and hats out of scrap pieces of felt and adding a pom pom to the top of the hat. Add on ribbon and make ear muffs out of a small piece of gold ribbon and tiny pom poms. Use photo as a guide. Let dry completely and display.
Crystal Reflections Vase
This beautiful vase will wow your guests this holiday season. Display anywhere it will get the most attention!
You will need:
15-inch oversized glass vase
20 frosted glass ornaments
5 yards wired ribbon
White Floral Tape
20 count set craft lights with white wiring
2 packages Crystal Fiber
What you do:
Start with a 15-inch oversized glass vase that has enough volume to contain the ornaments, lights and crystal fiber.
Wire Up the Ornaments: Remove the caps from all the frosted ornaments. Insert one clear light into each glass ball and secure it with white floral tape.
Put in the Crystal Fiber and Arrange the Wired Ornaments: Layer some crystal fiber in the bottom of the vase, then layer several glass ornaments on top of the fiber, placing the cord towards the center of the vase so it is not visible from the outside. Add some more crystal fiber and more ornaments alternatively and use some of the fiber in specific places to hide the wire.
Tie on the Wired Ribbon, Plug in Your Lights and Enjoy the Results! Use enough ribbon to tie full bow with multiple loops. Wired ribbon is great for shaping and arranging the loops for a more pleasing effect. Now you are ready! Plug in and enjoy your wintery new Crystal Reflections vase!
You can easily make this fun snowman that looks like he is melting.
For this project you will need:
Start out by cutting a 'blob' shape out of white felt. This will be your snowman's body.
Glue a pom-pom onto your felt blob. This will be your snowman's head.
To make the snowman's face, glue on two wiggle eyes, a piece of orange craft foam, and some seed beads.
To finish the body, glue on a couple of buttons and then add the twig arms!
To make the hat, first cut a strip of black craft foam, about 1-inch wide by 2-inches long.
Glue the two short ends of the black craft foam strip together as shown in the photo. Hold it until the glue starts to set. If you prefer, tacks the ends together using a hot glue gun. Make sure you take them together on the inside so the glue will be hidden.
Cut 2 circles out of black craft foam, one will be glued on top of the hat and the other should be large than the hat and used as a brim.
Finally, you can finish by gluing the hat onto the top of the snowman's head. Your melting snowman is now done!
What You'll Need :
One whole chenille stem and half a stem
Small and large beads
Wooden face bead
Small jingle bell
Glue gun and hotmelt adhesive
Cut a 1-1/2-inch-diameter semicircle from felt. Wrap the semicircle around from point to point to form a cone, leaving a small opening at the tip; hot-glue to secure.
Cut a 1/2-x-4-inch piece of felt; fringe ends with scissors. Cut a small lengthwise slit about 1 3/4 inches from one end for opposite end of scarf to pass through.
Bend one chenille stem in half and, in the following order, thread materials over the bent point to about halfway down the stem: large bead for body, face bead, felt hat, small jingle bell. Leave about 3/4 inch above the jingle bell and shape the stem into a loop. Then, starting on opposite ends: Thread 4 small beads onto each leg and bend the ends to form feet. Use the half chenille stem to make arms by centering and twisting around the elf's neck area. Thread 4 small beads onto each arm and bend the ends to form hands. Wrap the scarf around the elf's neck, then thread ribbon through the top loop and hang.