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    Celebrate any occasion with these door and wall décor for every season.

    January 10, 2022 by emily.bailey

    Monday, January 10, 2022

    sign for every season | Schlage

    Keep your seasonal messages fresh with these DIY sign ideas for every season.

     

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    Porch signs, message boards, door wreaths. There’s no better way to express yourself, add some holiday décor and be a little clever at the same time. Keep your message fresh with these DIY sign ideas for every season.
    Bedroom with yellow hello sign

    January: New Year, new sign

    Simple is sometimes the way to go, especially in the midst of a busy holiday season. Glitter Inc.’s DIY farmhouse New Year’s Eve sign is just the ticket. The wood board can be anything – a piece of store-bought plywood, an upcycled cabinet door, part of a wood palette – and the numbers can be painted to your liking. Choose a color that complements the surrounding décor or glam it up with some glitter paint.

    February: Fortune at your door

    Paper cuttings pasted to doors and windows are a traditional way to celebrate Chinese New Year. The image in the cutting represents a different wish for the new year – a peach for longevity or a peony for honor and wealth, for example. These can be pretty detailed if you aren’t familiar with the art. An alternative could be a DIY banner. Hung at a home’s front door, they’re meant to greet your guests with a message of good luck and fortune. Keep it simple with red and gold paper, some ribbon for hanging and a steady hand for your calligraphy.

    Man painting chinese calligraphy for lunar new year.

    March: Welcome, Spring

    A spring front porch sign that doubles as a planter? Yes, please. Giggles Galore gives us a guide for personalizing a wooden planter to hang in your entryway. We can’t think of a better way to welcome guests and the new season.

    April: Signs of spring

    Want to break a few décor rules? Then start by adopting a loose definition of “sign.” This DIY succulent frame from Balcony Garden Web hangs vertically on your wall, so we can’t think of a better way to say and show you’re celebrating Earth Day. We’re sure you’ll enjoy this indoor living wall year-round.

    May: Eid Mubarak

    Eid al-Fitr marks the end of a month of fasting for Ramadan. While the holiday typically includes prayers and a large meal with friends and family, décor that includes stars, twinkling lights, flowers and lanterns is common in some communities. Hello Holy Days shares its guide for making a garland of simple paper lanterns to include in your own celebrations.

    June: Get growing

    If you’re prepping for those late-summer vegetables to go in the ground, be sure you have garden markers. The Inspiration Board made simple signs that not only help you keep track of what’s planted where, but also to keep your vegetable garden looking chic.

    July: First class Fourth of July décor

    If you’ve fallen in love with macrame and the handicrafts that are so popular with Boho modern style, try this DIY wall hanging. Unlike macrame, you’ll need a loom (you can make your own), but the extra effort is worth it when you end up with this American flag-inspired weaving from The House That Lars Built.

    August: Studied door décor

    Your kids might or might not be looking forward to going back to school, but this sunny wreath from Infarrantly Creative is sure to brighten your front door. Your guests might not even realize it’s made from school supplies until they reach your porch. Hang it for your own front porch décor (and include it in those back-to-school photos) or gift it to your favorite teacher for their classroom.

    September: Ready for fall

    As the temperatures start to fall, you might be ready to get your front porch ready for fall. Decorate an exterior wall or your door with a DIY fall wreath like this one from Lia Griffith. We love the way she dressed up a store-bought twig wreath with felt leaves. It’s the balance between natural brown hues and splashes of color that does it for us. Choose colors that complement your front door color and other décor.

    October: Trick or treat …

    … Smell my feet! Mommy’s Bundle shows how to make a simple sign, using your child’s footprint to stamp out some friendly ghosts. This would be great for Baby’s first Halloween. We’d love to see some variations on this, too. Get everyone’s feet involved for a ghoulish family or use a pet-friendly paint for some puppy paw prints. They might not look as ghost-like, but we’re pretty sure they’ll be adorable.

    November: Faux mantel, real style

    If you don’t have a fireplace but love all that mantelpiece décor you find on Pinterest, a faux mantel like The Red Painted Cottage installed and decorated might be just what you need. Start by adding your favorite Thanksgiving- and fall-themed accessories. Then, when it comes time to hang stockings with care, you’ll be ahead of the game. Find more stylish ways to fake a mantelpiece.

    December: Celebrate to the letter

    We made it all the way to December without any letter board ideas. Don’t worry. Try one of these messages for your own Hanukkah celebration or if you’ve invited Jewish friends and family to your home for an inclusive holiday party. The Type Set Co. offers their message suggestions. We like “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness” and, for something a little cheekier, “Did someone say latkes?”

    No matter what you’re celebrating, Schlage has the ideas and the know-how to take your holiday décor to the next level. Find everything you need on our blog and Pinterest.

     

    Top 10 Schlage blogs of 2021.

    December 29, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, December 29, 2021

    Ringing in 2022

    As we head into the new year, we thought we’d recap some of our favorite tips, tricks, hacks and inspiration from 2021.

     

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    2021 changes to 2022 on an alarm clock on a yellow background with festive glitter on New Year's Eve and Christmas.
    It’s almost time to turn another calendar page, which always makes us a little nostalgic. As we head into the new year, we thought we’d recap some of our favorite tips, tricks, hacks and inspiration from 2021.
    home robot

    This is one a lot of you checked out throughout the year, and it’s no wonder. We love the idea of anything that makes life easier and our kids smarter. If you missed this one, head over now and see if the Grillbot, which scrubs and scrapes your BBQ station for you, or Wigl, which teaches kids programming through music, are on your 2022 wish list.

     

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    Hollow core door makeover

    This is one a lot of you checked out throughout the year, and it’s no wonder. We love the idea of anything that makes life easier and our kids smarter. If you missed this one, head over now and see if the Grillbot, which scrubs and scrapes your BBQ station for you, or Wigl, which teaches kids programming through music, are on your 2022 wish list.

     

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    Porch remodels

    When we shared this blog on Facebook, you all had some amazing things to say. Even Mike Holmes chimed in. Plus, who doesn’t love a rags-to-riches story? These front porch makeovers show just how much impact some curb appeal TLC can have.

     

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    Pregnant woman painting rainbow textile

    It’s a beautiful and exciting time of life, but when you’re expecting, it can also be overwhelming. You have so many questions! We tried to answer a few of those queries about what you should and shouldn’t do so Mom and Baby stay healthy during home improvement projects. This one was also part of our eight-part Bringing Home Baby series, so be sure to check out the other blogs on nesting in the nursery, organization with kiddos and more.

     

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    children and father playing with cardboard box.

    Staying safe and keeping your home secure is everyone’s responsibility. It’s never too early to start teaching kids how to protect themselves. This blog, which was part of our Crime Prevention Month series, offers some effective tips for doing just that. If you have little ones in your life, you won’t want to miss this list of security lessons ranging from knowing what to do when a stranger comes to the door to teaching your teens about dating violence.

     

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    Woman in virtual meeting while working from home.

    Cybersecurity is nothing to take lightly. We buy gifts and bank online, order meal delivery via an app, stream music through smart speakers and pay for groceries with our watch. And then we started working from home and we weren’t just protecting our own digital identities but our employers’ information as well. This article offers advice to help make sure your connected transactions, from bill pay to video chats to storing confidential files, are secure.

     

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    digital organization

    Raise your hand if you’ve ever made the New Year’s resolution to be more organized. Yup, us too. As part of our January series on cleaning and organization, we shared our favorite tips for beating electronic clutter. Although it’s less obvious than a messy closet shelf, a disorganized computer or phone can have a major impact on your sanity and the security of your personal information.

     

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    woman painting wall with green paint

    Sustainability isn’t just a buzz word. And for many homeowners, not being environmentally friendly isn’t an option anymore. Still, the best ways to make your home more sustainable aren’t always obvious. That’s why we made this guide to eco-friendly renovations. In this article, we cover everything from choosing “clean” materials for inside the home to beneficial landscaping ideas for outside.

     

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    Houseplants

    In 2019, we decorated with houseplants because they were beautiful. In 2020, they became a hobby because what else was there to do? In 2021, we stuck with houseplants for their style and as a hobby. If you’re among the group that’s still struggling to keep their indoor plants healthy though, start with this blog, which covers how much lighting, water and humidity your houseplants need to thrive. We also give some ideas for plant varieties that will make turning your brown thumb green easier. If you’re looking for more – how to choose the right container, how to keep your pets and plants safe at the same time – you’ll find it in the rest of our series on all things houseplants.

     

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    Lever and door handing

    Door hardware can be surprisingly complex sometimes. Case in point: lever and door handing. We wrote this piece to help you buy the right thing when upgrading the levers in your home – and not have to install them upside-down or return them to the store. Get the complete explanation here and if you still have questions, send us a message on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

     

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    Honorable mention

    How to clean porch décor: When was the last time you washed that doormat?

     

    Advice for buying your first home: Because buyer’s remorse hits a lot harder on a house you spent thousands on versus a $50 sweater.

     

    Time travel: Vacation safety tips from 1953 that still work: A lot has changed in almost 70 years … but not as much as you might think.

     

    How to set up a home bar for your best holiday hosting: A Joybird study found that a fully stocked bar is the top-ranked must-have for hosting a party, so are your ready?

     

    This is just the tiniest of fractions of what we offered in 2021, hoping to provide you with the ideas and know-how for turning your home into a haven. Find the rest, from DIY projects to technology and security updates, at Schlage.com/blog.

     

    Creative and convenient holiday décor with everyday items.

    December 06, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Monday, December 6, 2021

    Holiday decor ideas | Schlage

    Here are our favorite picks for unusual ways to use common household items for extra-special style and convenience this holiday season.

     

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    Searching for unique holiday décor? Instead of rushing to the store hoping for that one-of-a-kind piece, try looking a little closer to home. Sometimes, using furniture or accessories you already own in completely different and unexpected ways is exactly what you need. Here are our favorite picks for unusual ways to use common household items for extra-special style and convenience this holiday season.
    Cozy living room with neutral holiday decor.

    Rugs

    Just about everyone has an area rug somewhere in their house. Putting one in your entryway to collect dirt and snow as guests come and go is an obvious choice. Don’t forget some of these options, too.

    On the deck or porch

    If you’re having an outdoor winter gathering, a rug can help keep everyone’s toes from getting too cold too quickly. A thick, durable outdoor rug provides a layer of insulation from the frosty ground. It also just helps to give your outdoor living space a more finished look, ideal when you’re celebrating something special this winter.

    Over the headboard

    Try this decorating hack in your own bedroom or the guest room for those overnight holiday visitors. A decorative rug draped over the headboard, especially if the headboard is on the plain side, can give a cozier vibe to the space. And, because you can choose a rug with holiday colors and patterns – whatever your tradition’s colors and patterns are – it’s an easy way to add some festive cheer without taking up a lot of space. That means it’s perfect for those small rooms where adding one more piece of décor makes the room feel cramped.

    As a duvet cover

    Instead of turning up the heat on a cold night, be more energy efficient by just throwing on an extra layer. A soft rug can double as a duvet cover or throw, whether on the bed or the couch. You’ll commonly see this with sheepskin rugs.

    As wall art

    Think of this as the more sophisticated version of draping tie-dye in your college dorm room. With the right design or weave, a rug can becomes tapestry, adding color and warmth to your walls. Depending on its size and thickness, the rug can also improve insulation for more warmth and sound dampening, a plus in our book when it comes to snuggling in on a cold winter’s night.

    Instead of a tree skirt

    Whether you’re just starting out and forming new holiday traditions with your family or you want something a little out of the ordinary, use a rug in place of a typical Christmas tree skirt. We especially love this idea if you go for a non-traditional tree, such as one decorated in pastel colors or with all vintage ornaments. Match the rug-skirt’s style to the colors and theme of your tree for a cohesive and unique look.

    Mirrors

    Hanging a mirror in narrow and small spaces like an entryway has always been one of our favorite décor hacks. It can make those rooms feel larger and airier than they really are. It’s no different if you’re using a mirror to amp up your holiday décor.

    On your fireplace mantle

    A mirror on the mantlepiece is a prime opportunity for making a room feel extra big and bright, just what you want when welcoming guests to your home for the holidays. A tall mirror can make the ceiling feel higher, while one that reflects the view from a window makes the room feel more expansive. We also think the mirror itself is perfect real estate for adding holiday decorations. Choose a frame with a shimmering finish, maybe even matching it to your silver menorah or the brass in a picture frame. Drape it with evergreen garland or those popcorn-and-cranberry strands you made with the kids.

    Behind bright décor

    Whether on your mantle, a side table or anywhere else in your home, a mirror placed behind holiday decorations adds depth to your display. A lantern with a candle or two is nice, but when it’s reflected many times over, the twinkle feels brighter and the shimmer more magical. If you create a miniature village Christmas scene, a mirror in the background makes a single street appear fuller, the same way a large wall mirror makes it look like there are more guests at your party. In this way, mirrors are the perfect holiday hack to make it look like you pulled off more than you did.

    Over the buffet or bar

    Speaking of holiday hosting hacks with mirrors, hang one over your buffet table or bar. This draws guests in by reflecting your scrumptious spread. The mirror can also help define the space when you’ve added a small bar to your living room, for example. The décor subconsciously tells people, “Top up your bubbly here.”

    In the guest bedroom

    If you have more people in your home than usual, you know that shuffling them in and out of the bathroom can cause some tension. Hang a mirror over the dresser or prop a full-length mirror in the guest room. That way, one guest can check finish their hair and makeup while another is in the shower. Everyone gets their privacy without the bottlenecks.

    In the kitchen

    A mirror in the kitchen might sound strange, but the key is placement. We spend a lot more time cooking during holiday times. A mirror behind the stove or over the sink in place of a backsplash can help you stay focused on your dishes and still be able to see friends and family gathering behind you. If you have a traditional, closed floorplan, you might also be able to hang a mirror so that you can keep an eye on the kiddos in the living room while you cook, without dashing back and forth.

    Trays

    Go ahead and load up a tray with pancakes and coffee for a special holiday breakfast in bed. But don’t forget these uses for a tray anywhere in the house.

    As a mobile bar

    We’re not talking about serving your guests from a tray like the waitress at a local restaurant. Instead, stock a tray with the treats and drink fixings guests will need to serve themselves. The benefits of putting this all on a tray is that it makes it easy for you to replenish as the night wears on. Take the whole tray to the kitchen to refill chip bowls or plates of hors d’oeuvres instead of doing a balancing act in front of everyone. Plus, if the party moves to another room – from the kitchen to the dining room, from the patio to back indoors to get warm – it’s no sweat to move your bar without missing the celebration.

    As a centerpiece

    It’s hard to go wrong with a nice flower arrangement for your tablescape, but if you’re looking for something a little less ordinary (and maybe shorter so you can see guests across the table), consider staging holiday décor in a shallow tray instead. It could be a collection of evergreen twigs and pine cones mixed with some red berries for color, or a miniature forest of bottle brush trees, for example. The tray helps corral décor so your display looks intentional and refined. And if you need to move it in a hurry to make room for the main dish, you won’t spend 10 minutes rearranging lots of little décor pieces.

    In the kitchen

    Countertops can get messy and cluttered, but a tray can help keep that under control. Use a tray to wrangle similar items like a few mugs, spoons and sugar for making coffee. If you have guests, it could be a tray loaded with granola bars and fruit so that they don’t feel like a burden asking for a snack. It could also be cleaning supplies – washcloths and soap – or cookbooks and décor.

    In the bathroom

    A small tray is a nice way to collect and arrange all those baubles you or your guests need throughout the day. Use it as the staging ground for jars of cotton balls and Q-tips, your soap dispenser, tissues or little bars of hand soap. It will help keep your countertops organized and clean, a good look whether it’s the holidays or just a Thursday.

    In the entryway

    Everyone needs a tray just inside their front door. Use a shallow tray – a bowl, basket or clay plate your kid made in art class also works, to be honest – to put your keys, phone charger, sunglasses, winter gloves and anything else you might need to grab when you leave the house again. You’ll be glad for this organizational hack when you aren’t still searching for your car keys 20 minutes after you were supposed to be at the kids’ holiday recital.

    The holidays can be a hectic time, but with a bit of planning, they don’t have to be. Visit the Schlage blog for more ways to decorate when you’re in a hurry, tips on preparing the guestroom and commands to give Alexa that will make your holiday merry, bright and easier than ever.

     

    Home improvement projects to complete in December.

    December 02, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Thursday, December 2, 2021

    December home improvement checklist | Schlage

    Don’t let important home improvement tasks slip through the cracks during a busy holiday season. Find your list of essential repairs and improvements here.

     

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    The holiday season can get hectic. Don’t let important home improvement tasks slip through the cracks, though. They’ll not only keep your home feeling cozier through the cold, but you’ll likely have fewer repairs to make later on. Download and use this December home improvement checklist to help you stay on top of things.
    Brick cottage home decorated for Christmas.

    Indoor home checklist

    When the fire is so delightful, check these indoor jobs off your to-do list.

    Christmas tree in entryway of mountain home.

    checkbox Update emergency kits

    If you’ve used anything in your first aid kit recently, replace it now. Check expiration dates while you’re at it. If losing power during a storm is a concern, also include a flashlight with extra batteries, a portable phone charger, bottled water and nonperishable food in your emergency kit. Since it’s December, spare blankets and warm clothing are good ideas, too. Assemble a kit for both your home and your car.

     

    checkbox Seal windows and doors

    Drafts can ruin even the coziest mood. Try these tips for finding gaps in door and window frames and repair them to keep your home warm and your HVAC working efficiently.

     

    checkbox Improve insulation

    Oftentimes, we think of insulation in the walls, which is important for warmth and sound control. Don’t forget your attic, basement and crawl spaces as well as some appliances. A water heater blanket can help reduce heat loss by around 25 percent, keeping your showers more comfortable, efficient and cost effective.

     

    checkbox Create an entryway for winter

    When family and guests enter your home, do they have a place to put their coats, hats, gloves and boots? Update your entryway closet for quick and easy storage. Add a boot tray to protect your floors. If you don’t have a dedicated entryway, use these tips to fake a mudroom for winter.

     

    checkbox Refresh the guest room

    Especially if you plan to have overnight visitors for the holidays, they’ll need someplace comfortable to relax. Provide fresh bedding and towels, make snacks and drinks easy to find so they don’t feel like a burden asking and supply extra goodies – toothbrushes, hygiene products, pillows – in case they forgot something. If you don’t have a guest room, try these ideas for converting an office space or hobby room into an oasis for visitors.

     

    checkbox Create a gift-wrapping station

    It could be as simple as a basket with tape, scissors and ribbons. Or it could be as extravagant as a separate room with pull-out shelves full of rolls of paper and packing material. The point is to organize some space and storage that make it enjoyable to wrap gifts for loved ones instead of leaving you feeling like a scrambled mess.

    Outdoor home checklist

    We like to keep our outdoor to-list short in the winter, so stick to the most important.

    Woman holding Christmas wreath in the snow.

    checkbox Remove snow and ice

    It’s an ongoing battle for some of us, but it’s worth it so that we don’t slip and fall or suffer structural damage to our home. Keep driveways and walkways clear and maybe shovel a path for your mail carrier.

     

    checkbox Prevent ice damming

    When ice builds up around your roof line, it can dam up the snow and cause leaks as everything melts. There are two ways to avoid that, assuming it’s safe for you to reach. First, using a roof or snow rake, remove the snow after each storm. Second, you can break up the ice dam itself to prevent the snow buildup in the first place.

     

    checkbox Install a home security camera

    December is a great time to find these on sale, and with holiday deliveries tempting porch pirates, a bit of extra security will go a long way toward giving you greater peace of mind. You might try a Ring Video Doorbell, which can be connected to other security devices like the Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt, or choose a motion-activated camera on your garage, mailbox or side gate.

     

    checkbox Landscape based on your region

    What you can pull off in your garden in December depends on where you live. Unless you’re pretty far south, this is the time to shore up landscaping to survive the freeze. You might lay mulch to protect the ground from the cold. If you need to protect plants from heavy snow and ice, build them a winter shrub shelter. Warmer climates should focus on fertilizing and composting, planting spring bulbs or even growing cool-weather crops like lettuce and peas.

     

    checkbox Decorate the front porch

    Holiday curb appeal is kind of a big deal at Schlage. Nothing puts your or your guests in the festive mood like a beautiful holiday wreath for your front door or a light display. If you like low maintenance, focus on garden containers that let you easily switch out certain elements to transition with the season. Your favorite plants can go from fall with pumpkins to Christmas with sprigs of red berries to New Year with shimmery metallic accents.

    For the future

    A bit of forward thinking can help make future projects and tasks run more smoothly … and help you be less stressed.

    Woman writing in notebook while sitting on floor surrounded by holiday gift wrap.

    checkbox Have a holiday security plan

    Holiday time is prime picking for thieves. Empty homes when people travel, valuable gifts under the tree and packages left unattended on the porch are all tempting to grinches. Use these tips to help keep your home safe and secure during holiday time.

     

    checkbox Prepare for the new year

    If you’d like to host friends for a New Year’s bash, start planning that now. Get your guest list in order, test out some new cocktail or mocktail recipes, and stock up on supplies. If you’re heading out to celebrate, make your reservations early.

    For the greater good

    Lend a helping hand to someone in need or just make them smile.

    Tiny clay houses next to bottle brush trees.

    checkbox Celebrate green

    The Environmental Protection Agency reports that Americans create 25 percent more household waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day than they do the rest of the year. Choose natural décor – live trees are actually better for the environment than artificial – use recycled materials for giftwrapping and control holiday lights with timers or smart plugs to put less stress on the electric grid. Check out these tips for a sustainable holiday season, too.

     

    checkbox Adopt a family

    Many workplaces, churches and community centers can connect you with a family in need. “Adopt” them by gifting clothes, toys or school supplies to make their season as bright as yours.

    In case you missed it

    It’s easy to fall behind on home improvement tasks this time of year. It’s OK if you didn’t get everything crossed off your November home checklist. Here’s a reminder of some of the most important jobs.

    checkbox Secure railings, stairs and walkways

    You want sure footing and a good handrail when the ground gets slick. Tighten screws, replace warped boards and level pavers.

     

    checkbox Conduct an energy audit

    Was that last electric bill a bit of a shocker? Conduct an energy audit yourself or call in a professional to identify ways to save yourself and your home some energy. The solution might be simpler than you think.

    Time to buy

    You can find some great deals on home goods, electronics and other equipment in December thanks to the holidays. Here are some of the items Consumer Reports says are great buys in December.

    Appliances:

    Air fryers, blenders, coffee makers, cookware, food processors, microwaves, multi-cookers, toasters, humidifiers, vacuums, carpet cleaners, cordless drills, snowblowers, steam mops

     

    Electronics:

    Cameras, cell phones, computers, fitness trackers, home security cameras, printers, smart speakers, wireless speakers, smart watches, sound bars, tablets, televisions, thermostats

     

    Fitness equipment:

    Bike helmets, ellipticals, treadmills

    We get it. It’s December and you’re feeling jolly. You want to celebrate, not just check the bathroom caulking. Visit the Schlage blog or find us on Pinterest for cold-weather outdoor activities to do with the family, holiday door décor inspiration and our favorite technology for making the home cozier than ever.

     

    Sold out? Last-minute and DIY gift ideas they’ll actually love.

    November 29, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Monday, November 29, 2021

    Last minute gift ideas | Schlage

    Instead of stressing out and giving the special people in your life something you found at a gas station, try these last-minute gift ideas they’ll actually love.

     

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    Every year has its popular gifts – 1985 was Carebears, 1996 saw Tickle Me Elmo fly off the shelves and in 2020, PS5s were the “It” gift. This year, because of global supply chain troubles, you might find getting presents more challenging. Don’t let frantic shopping ruin the holiday. Instead of stressing out and giving the special people in your life something you found at a gas station, try these last-minute gift ideas they’ll actually love.
    Mom and baby looking at laptop while holding credit card and wearing Christmas clothing.

    Experiences they’ll always remember

    The great thing about an experience as a last-minute gift is that you don’t have to give it to them right now. Do the planning now, maybe buy a gift card or a voucher, book a reservation if you can. But the activity itself? You can wait until the time is right.

    Woman cooking in the kitchen while looking at iPad.

    MasterClass subscription

    If your special someone has a curious mind and likes to learn, then a MasterClass pass is just what you need to order. The site offers classes led by experts in nearly any field – science and technology, food and cooking, art and writing, sports and business. The list goes on. With an annual subscription, they can jump from topic to topic as the mood strikes or when their favorite celebrity hosts a class. This is a gift that simply won’t get boring.

    National Parks pass

    Travel season is back, and people are being drawn more to wide-open spaces. If Mother Nature is calling your loved one, gift them a National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass. They’ll gain access to more than 2,000 recreation areas across the country, from natural wonders as well-known as the Grand Canyon to lesser-known gems like the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge (they have wild ponies). There are also access passes for seniors, individuals with disabilities and military.

    Spa treatment

    They deserve to be pampered and you want to skip the anxiety that can come with choosing the perfect gift. Get them a Spafinder gift card. But before you turn up your nose at the idea of just another gift card, think about the freedom this gives them. They can choose the treatment – mani/pedi, massage, mud wrap, one of those bizarre snail facials – and the spa location they want. This is perfect for anyone who needs a little rest and relaxation, especially if they’re a long-distance friend or family member and you can’t pick something up at their favorite salon.

    DIY from the heart

    Crafting homemade holiday gifts isn’t just for kiddos with no spending money. Creating something with your own hands can be a sign of how much you truly care – you put in the sweat and effort, after all. The key to getting this right is not actually waiting until the last minute. Give yourself time to learn a new skill or technique if you need and make it as perfect as something you might find in a store.

    young girl holding stack of cardboard gift boxes.

    Homemade journal

    Whether they’re taking a course on MasterClass or going on a travel adventure, they might want to take notes and journal. Skip the black-and-white composition book and DIY a notebook for them to collect all their thoughts. A Beautiful Mess has the step-by-step instructions for becoming an at-home bookbinder, but the design is totally customizable to your favorite writer. You might even go the extra step with a seed pencil from our sustainability gift guide.

    Floating botanical art

    Your nature-loving gift recipient will surely be a fan of this homemade artwork. It’s not especially labor intensive, but it does take time, so plan ahead. Collect leaves or flowers from your neighborhood you’d like to preserve. You could even take leaves from houseplants, which we think would be a thoughtful way of sharing a piece of your own home with a loved one. If you like more of the dried flower look, simply press your foliage between the leaves of a heavy book, lining the pages with tissue paper, until excess moisture is removed from the leaves. If you’d like to preserve the plants’ original colors, use hunker’s tip for soaking leaves in a glycerin and water solution before pressing. Once your leaves are ready – it could take a week or more – display them in floating frames.

    Cucumber-mint sugar body scrub

    Instead of the Spafinder card, or in addition to it so you don’t feel bad just handing them a light envelope, make your own self-care treatment. Eating Well shares a couple concoctions you can mix up at home, but we think this nourishing body scrub sounds fantastic, especially for the winter since it helps remove dry skin and can give your loved one a healthy holiday glow. As an added bonus, all the ingredients can be found at the grocery store.

    The Schlage gift guides have even more ideas to help you find the perfect item for anyone in your life. We’ve added new sections for experiences and home entertainment. You’ll also find inspiration for technology lovers, gardeners, budding chefs, pet parents and more.

     

    5 steps to the best holiday curb appeal.

    November 24, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, November 24, 2021

    4 steps to the best holiday curb appeal

    Start spreading the joy at your front porch with these tips to boost your curb appeal for the holidays.

     

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    It seems the holidays start earlier every year. We can’t get enough of the festive feeling and we can’t wait to share the magic of the season with our favorite people. Start spreading the joy at your front porch with these tips to boost your curb appeal for the holidays.
    Holiday - Curb Appeal - Schlage

    Greenery for holiday porches

    Your landscaping doesn’t have to go totally dormant just because it’s cold. Front porch holiday planters with winter-friendly greenery like boxwood and spruce trees can add a pop of color to your entryway. Mix in winter berry, tie a ribbon around the planter or add ornaments to the arrangement for even more vibrancy.

    Garland is another great go-to and can be even simpler than that holiday planter. Hang it around your front door or windows or wrap it around porch posts. Whether for your garland or planter, consider also adding pinecones for a crisp, fresh smell.

    Lights for long, festive nights

    Glittering outdoor lights year-round have become more popular in the last few years, but they really shine (pun 100% intended) during the long winter nights. When deciding where and how to hang holiday lights, focus on your home’s architectural details. Line the roof, windows, an arch or porch overhang, even a winding walkway to highlight the everyday beauty your home already has. And don’t forget to brush up on these tips for designing the perfect holiday light show.

     

    If climbing up in the eaves and scaling trees to hang lights isn’t your idea of a happy holiday, consider other options like luminaries to line your porch steps and complement the rest of your patio décor.

    Windows for winter magic

    Decorating your windows can create an ultra-traditional look for your holiday curb appeal. A single candle – choose LED for safety – in each window might be all the décor you need for a sophisticated street-side view. A wreath on each window, like Dixie Delights, is another classic choice.

    Or you can be totally playful with holiday window decorations. Window clings that catch the light, maybe the Grinch peaking from around the casing, a winter scene with elves and polar bears for the kids’ windows. And the best part might be that this décor can all be done from inside where it’s warm and protected from the elements.

    Holiday decor for the front door

    Every guest that comes to your home is going to see your front door, so make sure it’s welcoming. Wreaths are a popular choice for door hangings and come in all styles, from traditional green branches and berries to bright colored ribbon. A DIY holiday wreath like this one from Country Living can be a great craft to do with the kids on those cold winter afternoons. Just keep an eye on them when they’re using the glue gun.

    A holiday porch leaner or sign might be your answer when decorating a large porch or if you don’t want to hang something on the door itself. These can be bought online in any size, with any saying. They’re so simple, though, we wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to make your own.
    Door mats are another smart touch. Not only can it help anchor your décor and bring everything together, but it’s also fantastically functional, helping you keep your home clean as people come and go. There are all kinds of options, from festive phrases to images of, reindeer, snowmen and more. For an extra level of refined style, layer your mats. Place one of a natural material like coir, which will help trap the dirt and slush, over a larger patterned rug, perhaps one that’s plaid or in a color matching the rest of your holiday décor.

    Smart locks for party season

    Spending time with family and friends is one of the best parts of the holiday season, but hosting often means juggling lots of tasks and responsibilities. Make it easier on yourself and your guests by installing a smart lock. Let those trusted visitors come and go securely by giving them their own code, especially if they’re staying overnight. There’s no more hiding a key under a rock, which isn’t very safe, and it’s so much easier for everyone to finish up that last-minute shopping in secret when you don’t have to keep track of who has a key and who needs one.

     

    When you pair a connected smart lock like the Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt with other smart devices in your home, you might find that hosting just got even more convenient. For example, when all your guests have arrived, ask Alexa to start the holiday party. Then any events you’ve scheduled as part of your holiday party scene – playing music, adjusting the lights, even locking the door – are triggered at once without you running around the house and ignoring your guests. Check out these 50 holiday Alexa commands for more ideas.

     

    Lastly, if you’re the one headed out of town, a smart lock can help you trust that all is calm while you’re away. Using a compatible app, you can make sure your door is locked, see if someone like the pet sitter has used an access code to enter the house or receive a notification if there’s a disturbance at the door. Pair your Schlage smart lock with another device like the Ring Video Doorbell, and your options get even greater.

     

    For more front porch holiday decorating ideas, check out our Pinterest or learn more about our smart locks at Schlage.com.

     

    How to set up a home bar for your best holiday hosting.

    November 17, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Wednesday, November 17, 2021

    Holiday home bar | Schlage

    When it’s time to welcome guests for holiday entertaining, try one of these versatile home bar ideas.

     

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    If you’re hosting a get-together, especially at holiday time, you’re going to need a bar. Now before you say, “But I don’t know how to mix drinks” or “I have kids, so I don’t really do the home bar thing,” remember that you can serve any number of treats. In addition to cocktails – or instead of them – your bar could offer hot chocolate and coffee, punch for partygoers of any age and snacks to munch on. When it’s time to welcome guests for holiday entertaining, try one of these versatile home bar ideas.
    Holiday cocktail.

    Home bar ideas we’ll say cheers to

    How you set up a home bar – specifically whether you choose a drink trolley, bar cart, cabinet, tray or a decked out wet bar – is up to you. The important thing is that you provide guests with some refreshments. In fact, 58% of Americans in a study by Joybird said that a fully stocked bar is a must-have for hosting a party. That’s nearly double the No. 2 answer of fresh flowers.

    Bar cart

    What do we love best about bar carts? They’re small, which makes them perfect for when you’re short on space or don’t want them dominating the festivities. They’re also mobile. With a wheeled cart, you can take your food and drink mixings wherever the party goes, whether in the living room, dining room or out on the deck. You wouldn’t want your guests to feel tied down.

    Those advantages, however, can sometimes work against you if you don’t plan well. You’ll want to choose your ingredients wisely so that the cart doesn’t feel overcrowded. Your guests will shy away from mixing their own drinks if there’s no place to set down their glass while they’re shaking and stirring. To help with this, choose a cart with at least two levels. Put the most important ingredients, napkins and a bit of décor on top, and extra glassware, coasters, ice and water beneath.
    Let the essentials, like glasses and bottles, double as part of the décor. That could mean investing in nicer dishes than you already have or finding colorful, festive versions of your everyday utensils. A vase of flowers can be a nice finishing touch that helps keep your cart from looking like a tray standing like a wallflower on the edge of the action.
    Don’t be afraid to decorate your bar cart for the season or to match your party theme, either. Think leaves or an arrangement of dried flowers in the fall, evergreen or miniature faux snow-covered trees in winter and anything glittery for New Year’s.

    Bar cabinet

    If bar carts feel a little like yesterday’s news to you, try a bar cabinet instead. Apartment Therapy called them “poised to become the next big home decorating trend” because they lend a cozier feeling to our homes and give us even more opportunity to personalize our space.

    With that in mind, you can use a cabinet or hutch you already own, purchase a bar cabinet that matches the rest of your home’s décor or upcycle your latest thrift store find. Whatever you choose, think about customizing it with new paint or stain, updated legs and hardware, or swapping out the door facings. A Beautiful Mess shared an IKEA hack, turning the Ivar cabinet into a home bar, which would be easy to replicate and add your own twist.
    One of the upsides of a bar cabinet is how discrete it can be. Because they can look like any other cabinet, they’re great everyday décor, regardless of whether you’re planning a party. And because they typically have doors, these bar cabinets let you keep your fixings out of sight and away from curious kids if that’s a concern.
    Like carts or the other home bar ideas below, you can decorate your bar cabinet for the occasion. To make it even more versatile, no matter the season, use a tray to keep items on top organized, to carry drinks to guests or to make pulling your ingredients in and out of storage easier. Remember that hosting should be fun, not nerve-wracking, so let your décor and furniture help reduce the stress.

    Small bar hacks

    If you entertain often and want something with bigger impact, consider a more permanent built-in bar. You don’t need a dedicated bar room, just a small nook, under-utilized cabinet or even an empty wall. The key for any of these is to choose a location that makes sense. For example, don’t set up a home bar in the basement if your parties all unfold in the dining room. And don’t put it in a hallway that could obstruct the flow of traffic as people mingle.

    When converting a nook or closet into a home wet bar, treat it like you would a kitchenette. If space and utilities like plumbing and electrical allow, install a small sink and drink chiller. You’ll also want some storage, either in the form of simple shelves or cabinets. To display your glass and bottle collection, use glass doors or open shelving. A decorative backsplash or feature wall helps complete the look, too.
    For those of us who don’t have an obvious space for a home bar, look for a blank wall. Then install a counter or use a bar cabinet to stock your supplies. To make sure guests know for sure where the bar is, use an accent wall or mural to create the illusion of a separate space. A painted arch, a panel of wallpaper or a large piece of artwork can all serve as backdrops for your serving station. You might even paint a single portion of a large built-in bookcase like this one on Houzz.

    Like the bar cart and cabinets, don’t forget to decorate and accessorize your new bar area. Some extra lighting, a gorgeous wine rack or stand to hold mugs, maybe a letter board sign or some books can give your new bar an air of sophistication.

     

    What else do you need to host a good party besides a well-stocked home bar? Find more home entertainment must-haves in the latest Schlage gift guide. Get them for yourself or gift them to a friend so you can throw the perfect celebration, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s and beyond.

     

    Don’t get left out in the cold: 7 cheery Christmas tree alternatives.

    November 15, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Monday, November 15, 2021

    7 cheery Christmas tree alternatives | Schlage

    Here are seven ways to capture the magic of the season even if your Christmas tree traditions look a little different.

     

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    Christmas tree farm.
    Just as we’re all chomping at the bit to rekindle our favorite holiday traditions, it seems 2021 may throw one more curve ball at us. Christmas trees are expected to be in short supply or more expensive this winter. Here are seven ways to capture the magic of the season even if your Christmas tree traditions look a little different.

    1. Start looking early

    According to the American Christmas Tree Association, drought and wildfires across the country this year have impacted the growing season, leaving us with fewer trees. Additionally, supply chain problems resulting from COVID-19 are making it harder to transport the trees we do have, whether real or artificial. So if you’re determined to get your traditional tree, pick one out early as there might not be many to choose from. Some tree farms will let you reserve your tree as early as October. You probably want to avoid waiting for sales, too. Retailers are expected to raise the cost of trees by 20 to 30 percent this season to offset their own costs, so sales just might not happen.

    2. Think small

    You went to the store or tree farm and all the 7-footers were gone. Pick out a couple of small ones and make your own yuletide forest. As Balsam Hill puts it, “Small Christmas trees are a charming and practical way to add a fresh twist to your décor” that “do not scrimp on holiday cheer.”

     

    If you’re grouping your trees together, stick to a single theme or color scheme to keep your décor from looking hodge-podge. You can also coordinate it with other elements in the room – Balsam Hill replicated the plaid in the tree ribbons with the throw pillow as well as reds in the tree ornaments, pillow and berries on the mantlepiece décor – for an extra touch of refinement.

     

    On the other hand, if you’re spreading your trees throughout the house, such as putting one in each bedroom, it’s a great opportunity to be more creative and customize them to each family member. You might even let the kids decorate their own.

    3. DIY an alternative Christmas tree

    There has never been a better time to browse Pinterest and the blogosphere for alternative Christmas tree ideas. Some of our favorites include this DIY rustic birch branch tree from Apartment Therapy, a ladder tree like from Funky Junk Interiors, which we think would be a great addition to farmhouse Christmas décor, and, from the makers of those guilty-pleasure movies, Hallmark Channel’s tulle trees.

     

    4. Revitalize with ornaments

    Maybe you were planning to replace your artificial tree this season but it’s just not in the cards anymore. In that case, focus on ornaments to cover up bare or raggedy-looking spots. Be extra intentional about your design. Pick a theme – something like only white and blue, all stars or vintage. You also could splurge on some new store-bought ornaments you just love the look of, make ornaments with the kids or craft something special to represent an important moment from the last year. Check out these DIY first home ornaments for a few ideas.

     

    5. Skip the tree

    Instead of decorating a tree, what about an evergreen wreath? When we had to downsize to a small countertop tree the cats wouldn’t harass (too much), we ended up with boxes of leftover ornaments that just wouldn’t fit. A wreath, decorated much like you would the boughs of a tree, was another way to display our favorites without risking feline destruction. You can use this same strategy whether you’re making due with a smaller-than-usual tree or skipping one altogether this year.

     

    If you’re worried about where you’re going to open presents on Christmas morning without a tree, look for a different focal point in your home. Maybe this year you all gather ‘round the fireplace. A faux mantelpiece with stockings could become a gathering place in any room of the house. Or maybe you opt to go light on presents and gift each other an experience – a meal at the fancy restaurant you’ve been wanting to try, taking the kids ziplining – or a donation to a favorite charity.

    6. Go outside

    If you have an evergreen tree in your yard, you might be in luck. Before you think we’re suggesting you chop down your own landscaping, just consider decorating it like you would an indoor tree. Be sure to choose outdoor ornaments that will stand up to the elements and lights that are graded for outdoor use. You might also take a page from Goods Home Design and decorate with edible ornaments for animals.

     

    Sure, it might be a little more difficult to get that “presents under the tree” feeling, but at least you can enjoy the festive view every day.

     

    7. Remember what’s important to you

    In A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown thought he’d ruined the holiday by picking a scrawny tree. By the end of the cartoon, though, we’d been reminded there are more important things than the size of our tree or the things we buy. It’s a message that’s as true today as it was when the holiday favorite aired more than 50 years ago. If the Charlie Brown tree makes you feel warm and nostalgic, you can make your own.

     

    Find more ideas for the holidays, whether it’s hosting guests, decorating your front porch or picking out the perfect present, at Schlage.com and our blog.

     

    Reuse your online shopping boxes with these cardboard box craft ideas.

    November 09, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Tuesday, November 9, 2021

    How to reuse boxes | Schlage

    There are several ways we can reduce packaging waste, both through smarter shopping and fun DIY projects.

     

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    When you set the garbage out each week, how many boxes are going curbside? Do you recycle your plastic packing material, or does it end up with the rest of the trash? As we do more online shopping, especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, there is greater concern about the environmental impact of all that packaging. Thankfully, there are several ways we can reduce packaging waste, both through smarter shopping and fun DIY projects.
    Pile of packages on front porch decorated for the holidays.

    How much packaging waste is there?

    In 2018, Fast Company reported that 165 billion packages were shipped in the U.S. They then estimated that that was the equivalent of 1 billion trees. Just two years later in 2020, Canopy Planet reported that number at 3 billion trees, resulting in 241 million tons of paper packaging. Similarly, an Oceana report claimed that Amazon generated 465 million pounds of plastic packaging waste in 2019, pre-COVID. Because less of these materials can be recycled than we actually think, most of it ends up in the landfill, incinerated or in the environment as pollution.

    Reuse boxes with DIY projects and crafts

    Even if you shop in person at a brick-and-mortar store, you’ll deal with packaging, so we’re not saying online shopping has to be avoided at all costs. It’s hard to go zero-waste, no matter how or where you shop. It’s a lot easier to find creative ways to re-use the plastic and paper packing materials you do bring into your home.

    Cardboard boxes reused for kids diy space station

    Entertain the kids

    First up, give the kids a canvas. You’ve probably been to a restaurant with paper “tablecloths” so the kids can doodle while you wait for your food. Use the void-filler paper to do the same at home, either on the dining table or at their craft station.

     

    Help the kids build a ship like Ikatbag, a car or even an espresso machine (maybe that last one’s more for you). You’ll love creating something together based on their favorite story or whatever their imaginations can dream up.

     

    A DIY cardboard playhouse for the kids is another fun way to reuse your boxes. Tales of a Monkey, a Bit, and a Bean made this geodesic house, which we think is way more fun than a typical hut.
    Toddlers reusing cardboard box for DIY playhouse.

    Throw a party for your pets

    Some children have fur and four legs. Use your extra boxes to build a cat castle or other pet toys. Samsung’s eco-packaging comes with templates and instructions for building pet houses and furniture. You don’t need instructions, though. We doubt Fluffy will mind if their new favorite hideaway is a little freeform.

    Another alternative comes from Dream a Little Bigger. This blogger shows us how to make a DIY cardboard cat scratcher using leftover corrugated boxes.

    Three-dimensional holiday décor can be really tempting to pets, but ornaments can be dangerous if eaten, not to mention expensive if you need to replace your decorations and repair damages. Your Schlage writer here (hi, I’m Becky) has a cat that’s too energetic for your typical Christmas tree, so I used some green filler paper to cut out a flat forest. I put all of the little trees on windows, in picture frames and on mirrors.

     

    I also used different colors of paper – void-filler, tissue paper and anything else we had in the closet – to make a faux fireplace and stockings for both The Boys. It was less of a temptation than 3D décor and if they did destroy it, I wasn’t out any money. The typical American household produces about 25 percent more waste between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, so any way you can find to have a more sustainable holiday season is good in our book.

     

    Make it look good

    Take the guesswork out of where you want your frames on a gallery wall. Trace the frames on some of that big void-filler paper, then tape the templates to the wall. You’ll get a better idea of spacing and arrangement. You can also hammer straight through the paper and then rip it down, so you know your pictures will end up exactly where you want them without leaving a bunch of unnecessary holes in the wall. This also works for centering a mirror over a vanity or dresser.

    Cardboard boxes for curb appeal? Absolutely. Birds and Blooms suggests using flattened boxes as a foundation for new garden beds since they break down over the course of the winter, like compost, leaving a rich soil in the spring. Boxes can also be used as a weed barrier. Try sturdier cardboard boxes in your container garden. Line them with plastic – poke holes in the plastic for drainage – if you’re worried about the box getting too soggy.
    Instead of letting boxes pile up in your closet or garage, decorate them and use them as storage. Use removable wallpaper, contact paper, paint, whatever you have on hand to give the cardboard a more attractive, personal touch. Then use smaller boxes as a pen holder for your desk, larger ones for magazines or files, kids’ or pets’ toys, or mail. This can be a great way to corral all those surplus supplies, whether they’re for crafting, toiletries or cooking spices.
    The easiest way to keep your home looking nice is to avoid messes in the first place. When you have a DIY project planned, use cardboard boxes and plastic from packaging to keep spills and debris contained. If you’re upcycling a table, for example, flatten the box and use it to protect the ground from dripping paint or stain.

    Find ways to produce less packaging waste from the start

    What if you want to create less waste in the first place? Here are some ideas to get you started on the path toward reducing your carbon footprint.
     

    • Buy less. Think good and hard before you hit the “buy” button. When you decide you don’t really need another pair of black leggings, you save money and use less packaging.

    • Reduce your orders. This isn’t about buying less; it’s about buying once. Instead of placing an online order every day – so tempting when shipping is free – save items in your cart and place a single order each week or so. The environment will benefit if everything comes in one box, not to mention the smaller impact of transportation emissions made by a single trip.

    • Have it shipped together. You’ve reduced your order, but that doesn’t help much if it still comes in 15 different boxes on various days. Even if it takes a little more time to be delivered, ask that your shipment come in the fewest number of boxes and in the fewest number of trips possible.

    • Request for your item to be shipped in its original packaging. Oftentimes, we get a box in a box. Reduce cardboard waste by asking for the shipping label to be stuck directly on the item. This is most common for larger purchases, like a vacuum cleaner. You’ll sometimes see this listed online as frustration-free packaging.

    • Choose sustainable companies. Shop online from businesses committed to using less packing material or those that only use sustainable alternatives.

    • Audit your subscription services. Make sure you’re actually using those automatic deliveries. Putting the kitty litter on subscription or getting meal delivery services delivered to your porch can be super convenient. If you aren’t using them, though, you’re wasting money and putting more strain than necessary on the environment. Those ice packs that come in your meal service box are especially costly. If you end up throwing half the meals away, reconsider your subscription.

     

    Being green doesn’t have to be hard. With a bit of research and planning you can easily make your home environmentally friendly and energy efficient. Find more sustainable living tips at the Schlage blog or get new project ideas on our Pinterest DIY Recycle & Upcycle board.

     

    Have your party and enjoy it too with these 5 hosting hacks.

    November 05, 2021 by emily.bailey

    Friday, November 5, 2021

    Party hosting tips | Schlage

    Here are five of the biggest party-hosting missteps and how to avoid them for a stress-free celebration.

     

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    Group of friends enjoying outdoor dinner party.

    What’s the most important thing to do when hosting a party? Is it better to spend hours cooking or throw out some pizza rolls in the name of convenience? Stock a fancy bar cabinet or fill the cooler from the garage with ice and a variety pack of drinks? Clean the entire house or make sure your porch and entryway are decorated?

     

    According to a study done by Joybird, talking about how stressful it was to plan the party is one of the worst faux pas you can make as a host. To avoid this mistake, keep it simple and focus on what matters most to you and your guests. In other words, work smarter, not harder. Here are five of the biggest party-hosting missteps and how to avoid them for a stress-free celebration.

    Party Foul #1: Having a dirty house

    Father vacuuming floor with two young children.

     

    In the Joybird survey, 40% of those asked said that having a dirty house was the biggest breach of party host etiquette. Don’t feel compelled to do a deep clean of every nook and cranny, though. Obviously, you can leave private areas – your bedroom, the laundry room – alone. But be strategic about the public spaces you clean, too.

     

    Experts from Confused.com used eye-tracking technology to learn where people looked first in a room. In the kitchen, it was the floor, so definitely give that a scrub. Plants and art were toward the bottom of that list, so if you’re short on time, skip decorating the kitchen. In the living room, people looked at the coffee table the most and spent the most time gazing at decorative cushions. Remove magazines and other clutter that have collected on the table and plump up the pillows on your couch. If they’re stained, remove them for the night or spot clean them.

     

    Not surprisingly, most people look at the bathroom mirror when they head to the loo. Tackle splatter without leaving streaks by pre-treating spots with a few dabs of rubbing alcohol before cleaning. If the mirror looks cloudy, mix a solution of equal parts water and vinegar to clean. And if you’re sick of those little bits of lint left behind from your rag, switch to microfiber cloth.

     

    Anything else you have time to clean is a bonus in our book. If the thought of not touching picture frames even a little bit still makes you nervous, give them a quick dusting. Just don’t fret over every little smudge. It’s likely that no one will ever notice.

    Party Foul #2: Having a smelly house

    Yellow lab laying under yellow throw blanket.

     

    Everyone’s home has a smell and chances are, you’ve gone nose blind to yours. In other words, you’ve grown so accustomed to your own scents – laundry detergent, pet odor, mold – that you no longer acknowledge them. But to someone just walking in the door, that could be the first thing that hits them.

     

    If you have pets, do your best to vacuum, scrub and remove debris from high-traffic areas. Your pet’s high-traffic areas, that is. It could be your couch with their favorite cushion, the litter box (scoop it and take the waste out to the garage before guests arrive) or the basket full of their toys. If possible, remove the offending articles from the party zone until your guests leave.

     

    Beyond getting rid of bad smells, there are plenty of ways to add welcoming smells to your home. When serving food at your party, be intentional about the smells it will create while cooking. Bake cookies right before a Christmas party or fire up the grill a little early for your cookout. “Spicy” scents like cinnamon also evoke fond holiday associations. Burn a candle or start a simmer pot of water and a few sticks of cinnamon for full effect.

    Party Foul #3: Running out of food or drink

    Food spread for dinner party.

     

    The second-worst hosting faux pas, according to Joybird, is running out of food and drink. Although not covered in the study, we think the appearance of low refreshments can also be a mood dampener. It’s like when everyone wants more pizza but nobody wants to be the one to take the last piece.

     

    Restocking the buffet should be easy so you don’t neglect your guests. Keep a tray of pre-assembled snacks in the fridge so you can quickly swap them out when the first wave of finger sandwiches gets thin. If you have a bar cart, store extra bottles for the evening on a lower shelf. Don’t assume your guests will know they can help themselves out of the pantry or know where you keep more plates. Make your party food easy to find or convenient for you to grab while keeping conversations going.

     

    A few of our other favorite hacks for not running out of refreshments:

     

    • Tell guests what kind of refreshments to expect. We’ve all been invited to a party – baby showers, game nights, informal hangouts – that started near mealtime only to be confused if we should eat dinner before we go. Let guests know if you’re only serving hors d’oeuvres so they know to eat a meal beforehand and don’t gobble up all your reserves.

    • Make it a potluck. If every guest or couple brings a dish to share, you increase the odds of having enough to go around. Plus, everyone will have something they like, regardless of whether they’re super picky, gluten-free, vegetarian, keto-friendly …

    • Put a favorite delivery restaurant on speed dial. Sometimes your plans will be off or people bring their own guests who didn’t RSVP. For times when food is running low, prepare to order takeout in a hurry. Decide before the party what you’ll order so you’re not staring at menus in a panic.

    • Designate a gopher. Similar to having Door Dash bring you refreshment reinforcements, tap a family member or friend whose co-hosting duties include emergency runs to restock unexpectedly low reserves of food, drinks or ice.

    Party Foul #4: Not having everything ready when guests arrive

    Woman setting table for holiday dinner party.

     

    A small but significant number of Joybird’s respondents said that not having everything ready by the time guests arrive was a major party-hosting error. Make sure you plan and create a good timeline for all your tasks – cooking, cleaning, showering – so you can be ready at the first ring of the doorbell. You also don’t want to ignore your guests while you finish those jobs you forgot until the last minute.

     

    Another good list to have on hand, days or even weeks before the gathering, is what to stock your guest room with if your party-goers are staying overnight. Start with these tips for how to make overnight holiday guests feel at home. With a good checklist, you’ll be able to purchase necessary items well in advance and you’re less likely to forget small but important details.

     

    And in case you’re wondering, the Confused.com study found that bedding is the first thing people notice in bedrooms, followed by the chest of drawers and windows. Thoroughly wash the bed throw and bedspread to eliminate dust and musty odors, especially if you haven’t had guests in a while, and clear clutter from the dresser tops.

    Party Foul #5: Lacking the party vibe

    Women enjoying outdoor dinner party

     

    Interestingly, a lot of folks – from entertaining experts to Average Joes – say the first thing they notice when they enter someone else’s house is the feeling or mood. Ways you can improve the vibe for your next soiree is to focus on décor in general and lighting in particular. Set the tone for a game night with brighter lighting, or help people unwind for a relaxing dinner party with dimmers and soft bulbs. If you’re entertaining outside, remember that your natural light source could soon be setting. Don’t leave anyone out in the dark or stumbling over unseen obstacles in the yard. Get some tiki torches, twinkle lights or lanterns for a safe and enjoyable evening after the sun sets.

     

    The coronavirus pandemic changed a lot about the way we host parties – who to invite, where we meet, what kinds of food we serve. As we begin to rekindle our holiday traditions, it’s important to keep some of those lessons in mind. Help everyone enjoy the season comfortably and safely with these tips for hosting guests during a pandemic.

     

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