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{February 22, 2012}   How a Girl Can Buy a Car

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How to Buy a Car

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Finding and buying the perfect car is no easy task. There are many decisions to make and many colors to choose from. The price of course, has to be a deciding factor, as well as how much you drive the car daily. After all, the price of gas should make you decide perhaps on a smaller car.

Steps

  1. Make a list of what you’re looking for in a car. Some criteria include appearance, performance, safety, reliability, size, comfort, fuel efficiency, cost, resale value, transmission type, engine size, kilometers, miles per gallon, mileage (if buying a used car), as well as color.
  2. Organize the list in terms of how important the criteria are to you. For example, if you had a choice between a slick, cherry-red convertible that has questionable safety standards, and a solid, protective Volvo that would sacrifice its life to save yours – but looks like something your mother would drive – what would you choose?
  3. Browse car books and judge models according to your criteria. Make a list of the models that best fit what you’re looking for.
  4. Search for your favorite models at car dealerships, in classified ads, and on the Web.
  5. Choose a dealership carefully. Once you find one you feel would fit your needs, select a salesperson. Visit the dealership, sit at the table and watch how they work with others, and how they talk on the phone to customers, and if they negotiate so that the customer gets a better deal. Also be careful, because many car salesmen can be pushy, they are after all trying to make a sale, so buyer beware. Make sure you check the car carefully for faults, or design problems. Availability of merchandise is always an issue for a dealership. It is impossible for every dealership, to carry every car, in every color, on everyday of the year, especially if you are buying clearance which is usually at the end of the year when vehicle production for that year has stopped.
  6. Before buying a used car, take the car to a qualified mechanic for a complete prepurchase inspection.

Tips

  • Check out Consumer Reports. It’s arguably the best place to look for impartial reviews, ratings, crash tests, reliability forecasts, and pricing guidelines for new and used cars. Start with their list of recommended cars, research them, pick out a few you like, and then go to the dealer. They also have an excellent guide to new car buying, a guide to used car buying, and even a guide to buying cars for teens. Much of their info is free, but a subscription is well worth it…they review everything from chocolate to computers.
  • When you have done your homework, and know what you want in a car, then visit the dealership.
  • Act as if you know what you are talking about, do not allow them to sway you from what you are honestly looking for. Be confident and firm, and if they start swaying you to another choice, then just leave.
  • When you go to a dealership, bring your spouse, or a friend. You are more likely to be taken seriously. If you do not have one, then walk in with an air of confidence. If you are a single woman, it is good to bring a male friend who knows about cars, so that you don’t let the dealer mislead you. Sales people will try to take advantage of you, don’t trust them.

Warnings

  • Make sure you read the contract completely. Do not sign, unless you understand exactly what you are signing. If you are not sure, then take the contract home, and have an attorney read it. Once you sign, you have bought the vehicle!
  • Always test drive the car, check things like; the sound of the engine, whether the windscreen wipers work, air-conditioning (if applicable), heater, indicators, and lights. Check for cup holders, compartments, the rear boot, the seat quality (no rips or stains), look in the bonnet to make sure nothing funky is going on, Check the comfort of the seats (will this car be comfortable on long trips?), The visibility (is it easy to see other cars?), does it have seat belts, air bags, roof handles, Sun shades, radio (CD or tape), and whether it works.
  • Always ask yourself if the car you are buying is worth the money they are asking. If not, make a lower offer, and if they refuse, don’t worry – there are plenty more cars out there, the perfect one is just waiting for you to come along and buy.

Related wikiHows

Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Buy a Car. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



{February 12, 2012}   How to Pay Less in Taxes

How to Pay Less in Taxes

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
A person doesn’t know how much he has to be thankful for until he has to pay taxes on it. ~Author Unknown
If you are paying too much in taxes there are two ways to get you in a lower tax bracket that will enable you to have more deductions or to have less taxable income.

Steps

  1. Buy a home. This is considered the number one way to reduce your taxes because of the interest write-off.
  2. Get a 401k and have part of your check deposited into the 401k. This reduces the amount of money you make but you cannot withdraw it before 59.5 without paying a penalty (plus you must pay takes then as well). This is a good idea because money invested pre-tax will grow a lot more in an index fund than post-tax money. You also are likely to make less after 59.5 so hopefully you will pay less taxes in the future.
  3. If you have a lot of credit cards, pay them off because you cannot deduct the interest. A lot of people will refinance the home or get a second mortgage on the home to pay off the credit cards. The interest on the new mortgage is tax deductable.
  4. If you owed the IRS last year, then you probably paid a penalty. Lower the number of dependents at work or you will pay another penalty when you do this years taxes.
  5. Start thinking of next year’s taxes this year and get a box and start collecting records for next year because the most important thing you can do to reduce next years taxes this year is keep records of anything that might be deductible.
  6. At tax time you will need to sort those records into likely deductions. Only you know what sorts of deductions you might be able to take. But here are a few examples of deductions that might help you on your way.
    • Have a child or support a disabled person. Dependents are a type of deduction.
    • Live off the grid. If you make less than $9,500 per year you do not have to file taxes.
    • Take a class. Going to college may be a deduction. Or you may be able to deduct the cost of classes you need for work.
    • Get a money-making hobby. Your hobby or business (or hobby business) can give you deductions. (In general, you can only deduct losses on a hobby that makes money in three out of five years. Regardless of whether you made money or lost, you need to run it as a real business. Keep records, get business cards, advertise, etc.)
    • Buy a house. Owning your own home (or two) means you can deduct for points on loans and for interest on loans.
    • If it is time to install a new roof installing energy efficient roofing (such as a metal roofing) can make you eligible for a tax credit. Keep records.
    • Repair your house. Fixing up a home to make it more energy efficient can make you eligible for a tax credit. Keep records.
    • If you buy a rental property, Any repairs are tax-deductable. Remodeling is not tax-deductable until you sell the property unless it is some form of energy tax credit that is deductable a little each year.
    • Buy a car. Buying an electric or alternative fuel vehicle can be a deduction. But be sure you won’t lose money in the buying of it. Sometimes the cost of an energy efficient car is too much to justify your anticipated savings and tax deductions.
    • Get a loan. If you have certain types of loans (school/home) they might be deductible.
    • Give to charity. Charities are a great way to get rid of stuff you don’t need or want any more. Keep records.
    • Serve for a non-profit. You might get un-reimbursed mileage and other expenses. Keep records. Out-of-pocket expenses are deductible as if they were cash gifts.
    • Be a teacher at a school. There is a deduction for things you buy out of your personal funds without reimbursement. Keep records. (The Educator Deduction has expired as of Jan 1, 2008.)
    • Pay sales tax. If you don’t pay sales tax on items shipped to you from another state, you may have to declare this on your state income tax return or face very high penalties. Penalties cut in to your tax bill.
    • Open an IRA or contribute to one.
    • Pay your alimony. It’s deductible.
    • Pay medical costs. Unreimbursed medical costs are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5% of your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI).
    • If you have a disaster, make sure to find out about any related deductions and use them.
    • There are other deductions available and your own individual situation will vary.
  7. Take all the deductions you are entitled to. That’s why they are there. Use the Geitner method to broaden those deductions.
  8. If your tax situation is complicated hire a professional to help you out because the money they save you often more than pays for their fees.


Tips

  • Keep records in any way it is convenient for you. Write it on the back of the receipt and file it away for the end of the year. Put it in a jar or several or put it in a file cabinet or get a box.
  • Remember that even with paying taxes, you will still have lots of your own money left over to spend. Out of control spending and debt can make taxes seem like a burden at tax time. Each purchase you make is an investment in your future tax picture.
  • Be aware what is coming up next year. Some tax deductions get eliminated each year and others get added.
  • Check the IRS website.
  • There is a tax course on the IRS website called “Link & Learn.” It will teach you everything a tax preparer needs to know. Then you can do your own taxes, and you can do other people’s taxes as a Paid Preparer. On the IRS site you can apply for your PTIN (Preparer’s Tax ID number) which allows you to do taxes as a Paid Preparer.


Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Pay Less in Taxes. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Start Your Own Babysitting Business

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Have you ever wanted to earn some extra money, but are to young to get a full job? Or do you just simply love to watch young children? Then this is the article for you!(It’s best if you are at least 11 years of age.)

Steps

  1. Make sure your parents give you permission to be able to babysit before you start anything!
  2. Once you have permission, start out by telling your parents, friends, or any relations, to please recommend you to anyone they know who needs a babysitter.
  3. Take a Red Cross Baby sitting course. They are very helpful and informational, and many parents will feel better about leaving their kids with you if you have taken one.
  4. Choose a name for your business, you can also create some business cards with your computer. Then advertise your business by posting it online and hang it around billboards or anywhere you know your poster is gonna be read.
  5. Choose the age range you want to baby sit. If you think taking care of little 5 year olds is hard, don’t take that job. If you don’t like taking care of infants, don’t take care of them either!
  6. Decide what you will charge for babysitting. Charge the right amount of money, not too much or too little.
  7. Make sure you know how to gain control of a situation. Make sure ahead of time that one of your parents is going to be home, in case of an emergency.
  8. Post fliers or make business cards.
    • Use a search engine to search for “Red Cross Babysitters Training.”
    • Once the search page shows up, go to the one that says redcross.com at the bottom of the description. Once you are there, click on the extras. For example: Business Template A. These are free, printable, and editable! Edit the information to reflect your correct information.
    • Once you have printed all of those off, it’s time to start advertising. First, make some fliers stating that you are a babysitter. Be sure to include ages you will babysit, your phone number, and days or hours you would be available. Do not give out your address or full name yet!! Some people may be looking for you for the wrong reasons! See warnings.
  9. Wait for people to contact you. Stay active by offering your services to parents of children you know.
  10. Talk to the parents of the child ahead of time, to figure out things about their daily lives. This includes how to discipline the child, basic food and eating habits, and rules.
  11. Pay attention! Don’t be talking on the phone while the baby is playing. Watch them! This is exactly why you got the job, to watch the kids!
  12. Always keep the phone number of their parents by your side.
  13. Get a list of thing that the child should eat, can’t eat, and are allergic to. This is always good to know so that you can put these things out of reach of the child, who may look around.


Tips

  • Be sure to have permission before doing any of these steps!
  • When someone calls be sure to have your parents speak to them! This way, you all can set up a date to meet with each other.
  • Be sure when meeting the family that a parent or guardian is with you, this way they will be comfortable with where you are going, and the kind of people you will be babysitting.
  • While many prefer to take the Red Cross Babysitting training course, simple CPR and First Aid training will suffice.
  • Make sure you have your CPR and First Aid certification papers! Parents will think of highly of someone with their paperwork handy.
  • Be sure to have your parents look over everything that you are going to do.
  • Make sure you are able to control them!


Warnings

  • Do not do any of the above without parental consent. Some people may be looking for your phone number and address for the wrong reasons!
  • Do not start babysitting unless you are experienced enough! You don’t want to start babysitting, have an emergency happen and not know what to do
  • Please be sure to be careful and safe while doing this.
  • “Have your parent/guardian meet other parents with you, don’t just talk to anyone”


Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Start Your Own Babysitting Business. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Like most people you’ve probably made resolutions in the past that went unfulfilled. It’s easy to give up on making resolutions because you’ve convinced yourself you just can’t change. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Here are some tips to make realistic New Year’s resolutions for your lifestyle and great tips on keeping them up throughout the new year.

Contents

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Steps

Creating resolutions

  1. Find a place where you can sit and reflect. Have a pen and paper available, or a tablet device if preferred.
  2. Think about changes and improvements you’d like to make. These can be about anything and not just the usual quit smoking and lose weight big guns everyone associates with New Year’s resolutions. Start a list to jot down some notes. Ask yourself the following questions to get you started and then add questions of your own:
    • What can I do to improve my health?

    • What can I do to be a better parent?
      • Can you attend a sporting event or other activity each week?
      • Can you proofread papers or help with homework?
      • Take you kids on an educational trip over the summer? Take a weekend and see a historical location or museum? You don’t have to travel far and it could just be a day trip.
    • What can I do to be a better friend?
      • Make a list of everyone’s birthday and address to send cards?
      • Contact or visit a friend you haven’t seen in years?
      • Are there “friends” you need to get rid of? Are they unhealthy or negative?
    • What can I do to be more successful at work?
    • What can I do to be happier at work?
      • Learn to say no to the procrastinators?
      • Don’t skip lunch no matter how busy you are?
      • Take your vacation days instead of putting the company first?
      • Get some exercise or networking in during lunchtime.
  3. , volunteer or just recycle a little more.]]Consider more external changes in your life, the ways that you can make a difference through activism, awareness raising or promoting a cause. Ask yourself questions such as: What can I do to improve the world?
  4. Look over your list and see what items on it are most important to you. Don’t take too long choosing; often it’s the things that leap out at you straight away that have the most meaning for you personally.
  5. Don’t just address the big battles. Think of the smaller habits that turn into big problems when not addressed. Indeed, it is often smaller, more discreet resolutions that are most effective and that can be built upon to reach bigger overall goals. Try to be realistic and adjust any goals that may be too hard to tackle.
    • Break down larger goals into smaller actions. For example: Instead of resolving to lose 30 pounds in the following year, you can resolve to cut out fast food, soft drinks, sugar snacks and drinks, drink more water and walk three days a week until March and then gradually add in two days at the gym. Before you know it, your 30 pounds will be gone, almost as if by stealth. Instead of having the 30 pounds goal looming over your head, you can chip away at it by achieving your smaller resolutions. In the long run you’ll be much healthier and much more likely to maintain the weight loss as you’ve formed a new lifestyle pattern instead of a deprivation regime.
  6. Make your list of resolutions. Don’t make a short list of huge goals. Make a list with many smaller goals. If you need to put down 20 resolutions, go for it!
  7. Sit down with your family and friends and discuss your goals and why you made them. Ask for their support on these goals throughout the year. If possible, team up and visit the gym or shop at the health food store together. Ask them to speak up if you slip and order a Diet Coke instead of a water or forget another goal on your list.
  8. Print or write out copies of your resolutions. Save a copy on each computer or electronic device you own, such as your cell phone, tablet, eReader or MP3 player (if it accepts notes).
    • Email a copy to your work address.
    • Make a smaller copy and keep it in your wallet.
    • Post a copy on the outside of your refrigerator! Use bright paper so it catches your eye and don’t let it get hidden behind coupons and artwork.
    • If possible, post a copy up at the office or your place of business. Consider sharing your list with an office friend. You’ll have that support system everywhere you go.
  9. Congratulations! Your resolutions have been made. Keep checking back to your list daily to keep your eye on the ball. Don’t be afraid to add new goals throughout the year.
  10. Keep at it. The best goals in the world will do no good if you don’t follow through with consistent actions.

Keeping resolutions

  1. Develop a time-activated plan under each goal. For the top three goals you listed, make a detailed, achievable plan. For example, for losing weight, ask yourself how you will do that. Will you stop eating carbs? Cut calories? Go to the gym three times a week for 20 minutes at a time?
  2. Create accountability. Set up dates for evaluation with a mentor. This helps you to stay focused and evaluates methods for improvement. It’s even better if you find someone who has the same resolution.
  3. Remind yourself about your goals. For every day on your calender or schedule, write down what you will do for that day, what time you will do it, and don’t forget to actually do it, no matter how busy you are. They’re called challenging for a reason!
  4. Focus on the process rather than the end goal. Take each step one at a time and be happy with your progress. The only way you’ll get to where you want to go is to complete every small step along the way, checking it off with pride as you accomplish each step.
  5. Reward yourself for a job well done: determine ahead of time what rewards will be at small milestones of accomplishment. Have frequent small rewards and the “Grand Prize” for completion. It’s even better if this grand prize is contingent on what you’re aiming to achieve, such as running the marathon if you train hard enough, buying a new wardrobe of clothing if you meet your target weight, going on an overseas vacation if you save enough money, etc.

The dreaded wane in enthusiasm

  1. Accept that your enthusiasm will wane over time. It can be hard to maintain your motivation and dedication to making a change in your life when you can’t see immediate results for your efforts but at each low point, have faith that persisting and being consistent in reaching your goal will pay off in the long run. This is why the small milestone rewards matter so much because they confirm that you’re achieving.
  2. Don’t choose goals that deliberately sabotage your desire to change. Four days on your all-pineapple diet is going to seem like forever and it’ll be small wonder you toss it in. Choosing a goal wisely means ensuring that the goal is something you can stick to because it contains moderation, variety and breaks. For example, instead of an all-pineapple diet, have a balanced fruit and vegetable one that allows for the occasional treat. You’re going to far more enthused about sticking to it.
  3. Face your fear of change. Fearing change often stops us from achieving a goal. It sounds good at the time we resolve to change but then in the doing, the fear surfaces and swamps us. To avoid this happening to you, realize that your excuses are a way of covering up a fear of change. Excuses might allow you to be lenient on yourself but they are also a way of giving up responsibility and sabotaging your own power.
    • Look beyond “I can’t” and start substituting this with “I can” and “I am”.
    • Identify your excuses for not going through with parts of your goal. By listing excuses, you can see them for what they are and move beyond the fear of change.
    • Sidestep blaming other people or circumstances for not achieving your goals. If you take responsibility for achieving your goal, these external factors cannot sap your power to do what you’ve said you’d do.
  4. List your self-defeating behaviors and deal with them. You might prefer to spend time playing Bejeweled on the iPad instead of completing your work report but is the choice going to get you up the corporate ladder? Hardly. Write down the things you do to distract yourself from what really matters and then list things that you consider to be more positive and fulfilling behaviors and choices you want to do instead.
  5. Begin again without any recriminations. When you fall off track with your resolution, use the next Monday as the day to recommit. Healthy Monday, a non-profit national public health campaign association with Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, encourages people to use Monday as the day for health and disease prevention. If you have a weekly chance to get back on track with your New Year’s Resolution, you’ll have a greater chance of success.
  6. Lean on your support team. Whoever you’ve chosen to help you, be it family, friends, a life coach or therapist or someone else, lean on them to support you through times of weakness, when you need a booster to get back on track. Don’t expect to do this completely alone; look for other people’s advice, ideas and feedback to help you keep going.
  7. Keep a gratitude journal. Document at least one thing every single day in the following year for which you feel grateful. What memorable moments can you draw from each day? In what ways did you grow today or find that your awareness shifted? Keeping note of this will help you to stay grounded and motivated.


Video


Tips

  • Out of the following 12 months, choose one day a month to be your “amazing” day. On this day, make a deliberate choice to do things that blow your mind. It might be visiting places in your city pretending you’re a tourist, it might be trying something you’ve never done before, like bungeeing off a building or riding a horse or might be taking time to take your or someone else’s children to events that they’ll be awe-inspired by. Try to vary each of these days and not involve them with your actual resolutions. These are simply days to let down your hair, rediscover the joy of living and to have a great, wonderful time finding out that the world is an incredible place to be a part of.
  • Don’t try to plan your resolutions when you’re in a bad mood or pressed for time. Taking time to make a thoughtful list will make your goals easier to achieve.
  • Consider setting up a little competition with your family or friends to keep focused on a tough goal. Does the loser buy a healthy lunch? Maybe take a family vacation to a great beach if everyone hits their goals by July.
  • Don’t get discouraged if you slip. By checking your list frequently you can stay on track or refocus after a bad spell.
  • Try to volunteer each year. Whether you volunteer alone or with your family it sets a good example.
  • Here’s a great resolution: Purge your closets of all those clothes you haven’t worn in years. Donate them to a charity or donate the appropriate clothes to a homeless outreach facility. (See your local VA hospital.)


Warnings

  • Picking unrealistic goals can really lower morale when you can’t meet the goals. Start small.


Things You’ll Need

  • Calendar
  • Support group of friends or family
  • Paper
  • Pen or pencil
  • Computer
  • Email
  • Resolve


Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Celebrate Christmas Without Going Broke

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
Sick of commercialism at Christmas? Tired of fainting at the January bills? Put the meaning back into Christmas and take the consumerism out of it and you’ll find yourself enjoying Christmas without going broke.

Steps

  1. Simplify the decorating. While it is possible to buy a lot of decorations for next-to-nothing, they soon add up and they soon look crass when strewn all over the house. Have fewer decorations but choose some finer quality ones to place in strategic areas such as a centerpiece for the table, a decoration for the mantelpiece and some simple but elegant pieces for the tree. Another alternative is to skip decorating and just rely on the Christmas cards you receive, a table tree centerpiece and the Christmas napkins to do enough of a job suggesting it’s Christmas time.

    • Make your own decorations. These are both a form of getting involved in self-sufficient craft and a way to save money.
    • Do a turnabout and donate decorations you’ve over-indulged in from previous years rather than upgrading to new ones. Give them to a charity store or a charity organization. Simplifying is about having less but getting more enjoyment from what you do have.
  2. Set a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts and food for Christmas and don’t go beyond it. Use the budget to make you more aware of needing to reuse, recycle and make do with the things you do have.
    • Choose to stay away from the stores when they’re crowded. The pressure created by last-minute shopping in crowds can be intense and cause you to buy things that are more expensive than you intended just to escape the place faster.
  3. Limit the gift giving. Agree in advance with family and friends that you won’t give each other lots or expensive gifts this year. In fact, set a limit of one gift each and perhaps even set a spending limit on each gift too. Emphasize that Christmas is about getting together, not about outdoing one another in the gift zone.
  4. Make gifts. Whatever your skill, there are lots of possibilities for making items, including knitted and crocheted items, paper craft, woodwork, writing of a poem or short story, programming a special program just for them, creating them a website, etc. Use the skills you have!
  5. Purchase gifts that have been handcrafted by people in developing countries. Use organizations that support fair trade, training programs and self-sufficient savings. That way, you’re supporting artisans and their craft and ensuring that they can survive and make a living. Many of these handcrafted items are very unique, making them an ideal gift and most don’t cost a lot.
    • Buy a donation gift. This consists of a gift that keeps on giving through a reputable charity that promises to deliver the item you buy to those in need. Buy an animal, seeds or other item for a family in need in a developing country through a charity. Donate this gift on behalf of a family member or friend and give them the details of how their gift is helping others to lead a better life.
  6. Have a potluck for Christmas dinner. Ask everyone who is coming along to bring their favorite dish rather than expecting one person or family/household to do all the work and carry the costs. This way you get a lot of variety in food and you all get to share the workload.
    • It’s a good idea to ask for mains, desserts, and other courses to ensure a good balance. Don’t specify the recipe, just the course.
    • Don’t forget the vegetarians, gluten intolerant and any other special dietary needs.
    • Have children set the table and clear away as part of their contribution to the Christmas helping spirit.
    • Give serious consideration to a restaurant meal. After buying all the different types of food and spending hours in the kitchen, a restaurant meal may prove cheaper and kinder on everyone who is usually responsible for preparing everything.
  7. Help others. Consider volunteering or asking people who seem to be left out of Christmas because of their family situation or being foreigners, etc. This is something that doesn’t cost you anything more than time and possibly a few donations but the value far exceeds what you put into it. And for yourself and your family, it’s a lesson in giving of oneself, of one’s skills and time, and in creating community spirit, all something that can only be passed on to future generations in the doing instead of the purchasing.
  8. Focus on the true spirit of Christmas. Attend your place of worship more often. Find out what free events are being held through your place of worship and take the family along to all of them. You can easily keep so busy during the season that you won’t notice any lack of spending!
    • If you’re not religiously inclined or church-going, or you’re not a believer in Christianity but follow secular Christmas traditions, this is still a good time to think about your spiritual, community and humanist values. Think about how to make Christmas time a meaningful and connecting event.


Video


Tips

  • Save all year. When you receive your paycheck, and you put a bulk of it away in your accounts, leave out a small portion. For example, $20.00. Keep this small amount in a separate interest bearing account. Begin doing this in January, and by December you should have approx. $1000.00 in cash, to spend on presents, decorations, food, etc. No need to use either the credit card or debit card.
  • Less decorations means less to put out, less to tidy up and less to store. This is good all round!


Warnings

  • If you think yourself deprived, then you’ll feel so. Choose instead to see smaller expenditure on Christmas as liberating and as a way of restoring its true meaning in your life.


Things You’ll Need

  • Budget
  • Handmade gifts
  • Simple decorations
  • Potluck food
  • Place to volunteer
  • Place of worship


Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Celebrate Christmas Without Going Broke. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



{December 14, 2011}   How to Send Christmas Cards

How to Send Christmas Cards

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit
One of the oldest traditions of Christmas is sending cards. They are a great way of giving a little Christmas cheer to far-away relatives. These steps will show you how to send one!

Steps

  1. Choose a good design. You could get the Classic ‘Red Robin’ card, or opt for something different like a Christmas tree, Angel, Santa, ETC.
  2. If you get a card with a message, you can include their name and yours and leave it, but if you have a blank card, move onto step 3.
  3. At the very top write, Dear/To, and then their name.
  4. If it doesn’t already, write in the middle, HAPPY/MERRY CHRISTMAS!
  5. If you want, write a little passage just below the Happy Christmas! Something like a poem, or a passage about the person.
  6. Finish it off by writing, From/love/yours sincerely/yours faithfully, and then put your name and a few kisses of a smiley face (Or whatever) next to your name.
  7. Most store-bought cards come with an envelope, if not, you can buy one separate. When you get one, write the person’s name, and address (Including postcode or zip code).
  8. At the back, write a return address (Your address) so if the card doesn’t get posted, it could be returned to you.
  9. Then, you are ready to post!


Tips

  • Write a poem about Christmas on the card.
  • To save money, write and make your own card!


Warnings

  • Remember to include a stamp with your letter!
  • Don’t write an offensive message, racist comment or a bad message on the cards. Most letters get checked at the post office, so if they find something bad, they will sent it back, and depending on how bad it is, you could get fined

If sending a card to someone you don’t know, don’t put kisses. That person will think you are a little weird, so use kisses only to people you know well (EG parents, grandparents, girlfriend/boyfriends, spouses, siblings, or friendly bosses, or even teachers!)

Things You’ll Need

  • A card (Store bought or make-your-own)
  • Envelope (Some cards include one)
  • Pen or pencil
  • Stamps
  • Post office or mailbox

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Send Christmas Cards. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Find Someone to Date at the Bookstore

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Meeting new people can be hard but it’s no surprise in our consumer culture that people are finding love in the aisles of stores everywhere, from Walmart to their local supermarket.[1] So, for the more intellectually inclined book lovers among you, finding a date in a bookstore may just prove to be the ideal way to connect with someone of like-minded intellect who enjoys thinking and who has a love of reading. And even if they’re just lurking there because the coffee’s good, there are plenty of chances to strike up a conversation with someone you like the look of. Be creative and set your sites on finding a date in a bookstore!

Steps

  1. Choose a bookstore. You might like to start with a bookstore of a decent size so that you don’t have the bookseller and everyone else listening to your dating overtures when you clap eyes on someone. Then again, some of the smaller more specialist bookstores might have the very person for you if they stock those comics, sci-fi or poetry books that you’re really into – it’s a good sign the person of your dreams will also like those very things too. Perhaps try a mixture of different bookstores rather than tying yourself down to one; it’s really about being more alert for date possibilities when you’re in the bookstore, so the size of the store might not make much difference as long as the place actually has patrons!

    • A bookstore with a cafe can have an edge over one without because you can always suggest the two of you have a coffee. However, a bookstore with a cafe close by will also work.
    • Find a bookstore that is open longer hours or during the weekends. You’ll probably be better off looking for potential dates when people are in down mode than rushing about at lunchtime or at peak home time. Then again, more people means more possibilities!
  2. Choose your most likely scouting options. There are several ways to approach this and you might like to try them all in turn to see what works for you. Most of all, you’ll need both patience and tenacity because picking up someone in a bookstore isn’t necessarily going to be easy!
    • Hang around the area of books that you enjoy reading. If you spot someone you fancy enjoying books you fancy, there might be a match made in heaven.
    • Lurk near the magazine section. People are easily attracted to the magazine section, especially if there is seating nearby. This area can be rife with excuses for opening a conversation such as “Could you please pass me that magazine you’re in front of?” to “I can’t find the last copy of “X” – oh look! You’ve got it! Would you mind awfully if I looked at page 20?”
    • Check out the cafe. Cafes in bookstores are a boon because people usually settle in for at least one drink and a leisurely read of a book or even a pile of books that they’ve collected in the store. You have a lot of opportunities to sidle up and ask if the seat is free, then start discussing the merits of the book or books on the table.
    • Sit in seating areas of the store. People are at their most relaxed when seated and reading and this can be an excellent opportunity to ask them about their reading matter and casually engage them in conversation.
    • Staff counters or staff putting away books on shelves. Don’t discount the possibility of your new love being one of the staff! Just be sure that when you’re trying to charm them that you don’t take up too much of their time – you don’t want to get them in trouble and you can always suggest the two of you meet up when it’s knock-off work time.
  3. Be astute about the person you have your eye on. You can’t be sure of their relationship status just by looking unless there is an evident wedding ring. If you see a ring, clearly you’ll need to back off. If you see a girlfriend or boyfriend hovering nearby, you’ve been warned! Otherwise, there is no harm probing for relationship status as you continue your chat with this person.
  4. Find ways to break the ice and start a chat. You’re in a bookstore, so the list of potential chat topics is as wide as the book subject matter in the store. However, initially you need to get that person’s attention. Here are some suggestions:
    • Casually stand near the person and look over at them every now and then. Gauge whether or not they’ve noticed you and if they seem to be looking back.
    • Find ways of interrupting them, such as pretending that you’re looking for a book and asking them if they’ve seen it on the shelf. Or, drop a book near their feet and apologize profusely as they bend to pick it up for you. Or, spot a book in front of them and ask if they mind passing it to you.
    • Comment on what they’re looking at, especially if you’re aware of what it’s about. With any luck, you may have read it yourself or know enough about it or the author/genre to start a good conversation about it.
    • Seek to appear friendly and knowledgeable about the book, genre, author or even the store, without coming across as annoying. Offer some good advice about their read and perhaps additional advice about books you’d recommend.
  5. If things appear to be going well at this stage, casually suggest a coffee (or another coffee if you’re already at the cafe). Make it seem that you’re extra keen to pursue the conversation on the topics you’ve raised and that your targeted person seems genuinely interested in. If you’re lucky, the other person will agree to further discussion over coffee and you can start getting to know one another more.
    • Don’t forget to ask for their contact details at the end of your coffee. Suggest that it’d be great to meet up again to compare notes on what the other person thought about the book, etc.
    • Even if you don’t manage to have a coffee together, you can still suggest that the two of you get in touch again later, perhaps through email, Facebook, etc., to discuss the reading and to keep in touch.
  6. Be alert to the cues. As with any potential date, you need to be conscious of the other person’s level of responsiveness. If it’s clear that you’re crowding them out and bothering them, leave things where they stand and don’t pressure the other person any further. On the other hand, if you’re certain that there’s a spark of interest and a willingness to continue the tango of getting to know one another, go with the flow!
    • Even if they don’t want to catch up with you again, thank them for the discussion and wish them well. Not everyone is thrilled at the thought of being checked out when they’re pursuing quiet intellectual time in their own head space and you need to take into account that they may just want to be left alone.
  7. Give it a few more tries. If at first you don’t succeed, try with different people who appear interesting to you and try in different bookstores. While a bookstore isn’t a place high on the list of “where to find dates”, the fact that the people in them clearly like reading and have similar interests to your own does make this a worthwhile way to try and find a date. If you’re persistent enough, even if you don’t find a love interest, it’s always possible that you just might make a new friend.


Tips

  • Be aware that some people won’t appreciate being bothered in a context such as a bookstore. If you notice that you’re bothering them, back off and look for someone else to strike up a conversation with.
  • Another way to open a conversation in a bookstore is to ask someone to help you carry your heavy pile of books to the seating area or the counter. You can strike up a conversation in response to the comments about your heavy pile!
  • Be respectful of sexual orientation


Warnings

  • Don’t go around and bother people at a bookstore they want you to be quiet at all risks possible to take.
  • Make sure you see the sign that says no yelling or talking loudly at the bookstore doing this bothers so many people and later on you might be reported you have been warned.
  • Don’t make jokes or talk about adult things people might think there’s something wrong with you and that you are crazy don’t let them think that and just keep it all to yourself.
  • Do not admit your mistake to anybody because they don’t want to hear it or you will be in trouble.
  • Don’t talk about things you don’t want to talk about and be respectful to the people around you they are busy readers and they like to read without taking their eyes off their book if this disturbs them to the point where they wanna move away from you then that’s what thei’l do remember be quiet and don’t be too loud.
  • Don’t make a conversation with other people who are reading they don’t want to hear it and will not wanna listen to you.


Things You’ll Need

  • Bookstore


Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

  1. For example, Teen Mom is one example showing that participants would find new dates by visiting Wal-Mart, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Mom

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Find Someone to Date at the Bookstore. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



{December 12, 2011}   How to Date on a Budget

How to Date On a Budget

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Are you on a tight budget? A little creative thought on your part, and a laid-back, open-minded person, can make a great date, and still leave some change in your pocket. Plus, it’s a great way to make sure you’re not dating a gold digger!

Steps

  1. Take a walk. Whether it’s in a park, or downtown, or wherever, walking for the sake of walking is a good way to see how you and your date get along. Can you two hold a conversation? Are your silences uncomfortable, or do you glance at each other and smile?
  2. Go hiking. If you and your date are nature lovers, this is the ultimate cheap date. All you really have to pay for is gas to get to the hiking trail, and snacks. Make sure you are prepared, though; bring water and wear layers.
    • Want to make it memorable? Go barefoot hiking.
    • Don’t get lost. Even if you impress your date with your survival skills, it’ll still be more of a stressful experience than anything else.
  3. Take a photography tour. If you don’t have a digital camera, buy a few disposable ones — they’re not that expensive. Then wander around and take pictures. This is best for creative, fun-loving types. You can take pictures of each other in wacky poses with all kinds of faces; you can photograph things big and small, from unique angles. And you’ll have something to remember the date by – how romantic!
  4. Hit the books. Spend a few hours at a local bookstore or library. Talk about your favorite books. Browse the art and photography books and point out what you each like. Giggle at the section with all the sex books. Go through architecture books and talk about which houses you like. Be as corny or as intellectual as you’d like!…If you’re not bookworms, go to a music store instead!
  5. Make dinner for your date. A meal made from scratch can actually be quite inexpensive, as well as delicious. Making gnocchi, for example, just calls for flour and potatoes. Throw in a few candles (and perhaps some home brewed wine?) and you’ve got a romantic dinner on your hands!
  6. Go ice skating. It’s a great excuse to hold hands!
  7. Play pool or darts. The best place for this is a bar. If you go during happy hour, you can get cheap drinks and food too.
  8. Go to a pick-your-own farm. Pick berries, pumpkins, fruit…or maybe even milk a cow! Bonus points if you can use your fresh-picked produce for a home-cooked meal.
  9. Visit wineries. Some offer free tastings, others charge a few dollars. If you get free wine glasses out of it, that could make for a nice memento. (Psss…if you’re not really into wine, read How to Acquire the Taste for Wine and How to Taste Wine before embarking on this date.)
  10. Check out the local music scene. If you live in a medium or large city, there are probably plenty of bands that put on free shows, or charge around a $5 cover and are great.
  11. Take a dance class together. Many dance studios and instructors offer free or low-cost beginner group lessons. Consider swing, salsa, or (for a little extra intimacy) tango.
  12. Hit the gym. Many gyms offer a free day pass for you to “test” the facilities. Challenge each other with weight training, take a yoga or aerobics or spinning class together, and splash around in the pool.
  13. If there’s a minor league sports team nearby, go to a game. Tickets to these events are often only a few dollars, and are a great way to spend the afternoon or evening.
  14. Check around your community for independently-owned or discount movie theatres. Tickets will cost less (often only two or three dollars), as will concessions. In addition, these theatres will be less crowded, so you’re less likely to get stuck behind someone tall or in front of someone loud. Alternatively, you can always borrow movies from your local library!
  15. Check out your local zoo or museum; usually these are inexpensive places to go on a date and explore a little. Occasionally, these places will also have free days. Some are free every day!
  16. Check out whether your church or other local organizations have weekend retreats and camping trips. You can find very inexpensive weekend getaways if it’s organized by a group that’s not for profit. If you’re a member of the group and your date is too, you may find lots of time to enjoy together out in the woods sharing an activity you enjoy. Science fiction conventions and other shared personal interests can be great weekend or day-trip activities at very little cost and often turn romantic as long as your partner’s as interested in it as you are. Society for Creative Anachronism events are as colorful as Renaissance Faires but much less expensive, also you participate more wearing medieval clothes and helping out with the event. Volunteering some of your time at these events also often gets you half price on your entry fee because they all always need people to fix and serve meals, check folks in at the door, clean up the campground afterwards.
  17. Take her on a picnic! Everybody has some different types of food in their fridge, surpirse her! And a choclate cake doesn’t cost that much either. She’ll be impressed and she’ll think you are romantic.


Video


Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Date On a Budget. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Cat Proof Your Christmas Tree

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Is your cat smitten by your Christmas tree, so intrigued that she clambers onto it, knocking needles, decorations and tinsel everywhere? Or perhaps she has even come close to knocking over the entire tree? Keeping your curious cat out of the Christmas tree is a wise idea for everyone involved, to help avoid injury to your cat and the potential for further damage to the items near the tree and people in the vicinity of it.

Steps

  1. Start off smart by considering the type of tree you’ll use. Real Christmas trees are potentially more dangerous to your cat than artificial ones. This is because the needles on a real tree are sharp and can pierce or puncture the skin of an overly curious cat, while the pine needles themselves are irritating to mildly toxic if chewed (depending on the species of tree used). However, a chewed artificial tree isn’t going to be that healthy either, so balance the choice of tree type with how you intend to keep the tree safe from your cat using the remaining steps.

    • Consider the size of the tree. A small tree will be safer than a larger tree because there is less of it to crash down if things go horribly wrong. For a kitten, a tabletop tree might be a suitable choice until she grows up and stops being so playful.
    • If you do choose a real tree, also choose a water container for the tree that is completely inaccessible to the cat. If she tries to drink from it, she risks poisoning.
    • For small kittens, wrap tinfoil around the trunk. They don’t like putting their nails into it and it will keep them from climbing the tree.
  2. Select a strong and unwavering base for holding the tree. Always err on the side of caution when selecting a tree base and get one that is guaranteed to stay firmly in place if the tree is knocked. This is as important for the safety of children as it is for pets. Ask your retailer for advice on the options provided in-store.
    • Even an artificial tree should have a firm and solid base.
    • Use a tree skirt to hide all ugly but practical safety fixes at the base of the tree (including electrical items, see below).
    • As well as a solid base, anchor the tree to the wall or ceiling to help prevent it from toppling over should your cat land in the tree or pull on it.
  3. Choose a safe location for the tree. There should be plenty of room around the tree so that it isn’t too near climbing items. If there are tempting shelves or furniture pieces to act as launchpads for kitty, she’s very likely to avail herself of them and jump onto the tree. Keep the tree in a clear space that makes jumping either difficult or unlikely.
    • If possible, select a placement for the tree that allows you to shut the door at night or when nobody is about, in order to keep the cats away from the tree. Obviously this isn’t always possible or even doable but if it is an option, make use of it.
    • If the tree is shorter than 6 feet (180cm), you might find it handy to use duct tape to tape the legs of the holder to a piece of wide plywood and put the whole tree on a short but very sturdy table. This keeps the tree above the level of the cat and the cat won’t be as interested. Of course, you still need to ensure that the tree is nowhere near any launching points for an opportunistic jump.
  4. Consider not decorating the tree initially. The rationale behind this is to provide adjustment time to the tree, as well as a possible lesson for your cat in leaving the tree well alone. Fill a spray bottle with water and hang on to it. It is a good idea to set the tree in place, then let her in to investigate but hover in the background with the spray bottle, just in case. If your cat shows any signs of wanting to leap at or on the tree, a light spritz of water on her back and a stern “NO!” will get the point across. This should deter her from trying it again and should be enough to teach her that the Christmas tree is not her playground.
    • If you’re still concerned prior to decorating the tree, spray it with a product called Apple Bitter. This will deter her without leaving a noticeable odor to human noses. Or, you might try a citrus spray, as cats are repelled by citrus odor too.
    • If it’s a plastic tree, a small amount of Citronella oil shaken into a bottle of water and misted on to the tree makes it smell unpleasant to the cat but fresh and citrus-like to you.
    • You could also place orange peels under the tree to make your cat less likely to go near it. (Cats also dislike the smell of rotten apples but then you probably won’t like that smell much either!)
    • Spray some pine cones with Citronella and pile them around the base of the tree. Cats do not walk on pine cones! (Pine cones also have the same effect in the base of your houseplants.)
  5. Decorate the tree with your cat firmly out of the way. It’s hard enough fiddling with trees, decorations and breakable ornaments without also having felines running up past you and pelting at the objects as you’re gingerly hanging them up. Your cat will assume this is a game you intend for her to play, so it’s just easiest to keep her out of the way until everything has been set up.
    • While decorating, if your cat is about, resist the urge to tease her with decorations as you’re adding them. Doing so will only encourage her to see the glittery items as toys and things to swat at anytime she pleases.
  6. Choose ornaments less likely to be attractive to your cats. Some ornaments will prove irresistible because they sparkle, glow, dangle and shimmer. On the other hand, blander, less shiny or flat matte objects which don’t dangle much will have less allure for your cat. Felt, paper and plain decorations might be the best choice. And avoid anything that dangles a lot, jumps about or spins.
    • Never put catnip stuffed items on the tree. That’s just asking for it.
    • Consider not having certain decorations at all. Tinsel is potentially hazardous for cats who chew it and swallow it and it is not recommended for households with cats; it can cause choking or other internal problems if swallowed, such as intestinal blockage. So can ribbons and other items with length that dangle from the tree. Artificial snow is toxic and should not be used when you have pets and small children. Christmas is stressful and expensive enough without the emergency surgery necessary to save your cat’s life if sharp-edged tinsel slices through the intestinal wall or causes a blockage.
    • It is recommended that you don’t use real candles on a tree when you have pets. Things can all too easily go wrong with a quick swipe of the paw and flames upon flammable items as a result.
    • If you like decorating the tree with food, be careful what you add. Chocolate of any kind is toxic for cats and the odor may be tempting to them if hung from the tree. Lots of sweets aren’t healthy either.
  7. Place decorations that are especially delicate, enticing or dangerous high up the tree, in the top two-thirds of the tree. Your cat is less likely to reach for higher parts of the tree (provided you’ve ensured there are no leaping ledges or spots nearby), which will help to keep these items safe. Tinsel, if used at all, should be placed up high as it is likely to be dragged off by a curious cat and as already noted, it can be very harmful if ingested, including getting caught in the stomach and intestines. Some people choose to not even decorate the lower third of the tree at all. That way, there is nothing of interest at cat’s eye level.
    • Some cats cannot help themselves and will climb up high whatever you do. If your cat is like this, then avoid having any delicate or potentially dangerous items on the tree at all.
  8. Attach ornaments onto the tree securely so that they cannot be simply pelted or lifted off. Use metal hooks that clamp to the tree and avoid using string, rubber bands or anything else dangly to attach the ornaments with. When you’ve attached the decorations, give them a tug to check that the method of attaching that you’ve used is adequate and requires dexterous strength to remove.
    • Hang ornaments by using quality wire ornament hangers. Use a pair of pliers to clamp the hook part around the branch so that it doesn’t dangle and cannot be simply pulled off.
  9. Be careful with electrical wires and lighting. A Christmas tree is complete when its lights are on but the wires can prove too much of a temptation to a curious kitty. Be sure to tape down excess wire and to make it too hard for the cat to reach the power point and cord join. Do not leave any wires dangling – wrap wire around the base or tree rather than having it dangling anywhere. It can also be helpful to cover exposed wires in wire covers or piping to prevent the cat from chewing them.
    • Cords can also be coated in “Bitter Apple”.
    • Plug the tree lights into a short indoor extension cord and tape the plug into the socket with electrical tape. Simply unplug the lights from the extension cord to turn off.
    • Consider using cords that shut off if damaged.
    • Always turn off Christmas tree lights when there is no responsible adult in the room to keep an eye on them.
  10. Relax now. You’ve done all you can to secure the tree and to make it a safe experience for your cat. Some cats will climb into the tree whatever you do and provided you’ve made it safe, it’s best to reach a place of acceptance about this and go with the flow. Decide to make it your cat’s Christmas and decide that you are not going to get frustrated trying to outsmart your cat this Christmas. Provided you’ve secured the tree to keep it from toppling and properly clamped ornaments to the branches, you will be able to cope if your cat does hop into the tree. And if that happens, be ready to take pictures of your cat sleeping in the Christmas tree branches – and smile.


Tips

  • Consider getting the baby fences. This way, your cats can’t go near the tree, but they can still explore the house. The baby fence could even be painted holiday colors to make it less ugly. Decorate it too!
  • Make sure that your kittens(or cats!) are way from the presents so that they don’t rip off the gift wrap.
  • Consider getting Scotch Pines. They have sharp needles to repel cats. However, this very sharpness can be a potential hazard, so weigh this up before deciding.
  • Distract your cat. Place toys she likes in the same room as the tree and place her scratching post reasonably near to the tree. These are her things and encourage her to use them rather than hang around the tree.
  • Apple cider vinegar can be sprayed in place of “Bitter Apple
  • You can place clear contact paper, sticky side up, under the tree. Cats won’t walk on sticky surfaces.


Warnings

  • Never use tinsel around cats. They may pull it down and spread it over the house and possibly chew on it and choke. Tinsel will cause the cat serious injury or death if ingested – contact your vet right away if you think your cat has chewed, eaten or swallowed any tinsel (or any ribbon or string for that matter).
  • Aspirin is often added to tree water. This is toxic to your cat. Add sugar instead but still ensure that your cat cannot reach the water because it is likely to have pine sap, preservatives, pesticides and other toxic elements in it.
  • If you have a live Christmas tree with needles, always sweep up dead needles daily to remove temptation from pets and little people.
  • When you lock the cats up for the night, try to shut the door to the room with the tree. You’ll sleep better knowing they’re not swaying from it during the night.
  • Be extra vigilant with kittens. Keep them from chewing on the extension cord and shocking themselves. Anything that wiggles and jiggles will attract their attention.
  • Do not put any harmful things on the tree, like human food. If your cat decides to be curious and lick or eat it, then it could make your kitty very sick.
  • Do not leave hooks laying around, your cat can eat them, and this will probably hurt your kitty’s insides.
  • Don’t spray a tree that has electrical items on it. Water and electricity have a habit of short-circuiting into a house fire.
  • Don’t decorate your cat. Allow her the dignity of not being your plaything.
  • Never leave a kitten in a gift box or carrier under the Christmas tree as a gift; this is dangerous and cruel. If giving a wanted and agreed upon kitten for Christmas, keep the kitten in another room well cared for and bring her out as a gift when it’s time, in your hands. Be sure that someone responsible is available all day to care for her, as the noise and excitement is likely to be overwhelming and she should be allowed to retreat as needed. Most importantly, a cat should only be given as a Christmas gift if a family decision has been reached that this is a life-long commitment that particular family members willingly take on.


Things You’ll Need

  • Cord ties, cord covers
  • Bitter Apple, citronella oil, apple cider vinegar, etc.
  • Spray bottle and water
  • Things to tether or anchor the tree
  • Solid, heavy tree base
  • Proper metal clamp hooks and pliers
  • Safe decorations
  • Cat distractions


Related wikiHows


Sources and Citations

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Cat Proof Your Christmas Tree. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



How to Make Gingerbread Houses Using Graham Crackers

from wikiHow – The How to Manual That You Can Edit

Gingerbread houses are a fantastic Christmas tradition that the whole family can help make. Some of the work is fiddly, but young hands can definitely add the decorative elements. Make ahead and put it out on the table or in a decorative corner for Christmas Day.

Steps

Preparation

  1. Collect all of the needed materials. Place in a well lit work area.
  2. Protect the work surfaces. Crushed candy and dripping icing are very sticky and the candy can even be abrasive. Cheap vinyl tablecloths work well, as does newspaper.
  3. Set out the various candies into bowls. This saves the hassle of opening bags of candy with sticky fingers later.
  4. Place the pie tin upside down in front of you.
  5. Make the royal icing. Aim for a consistency of stiff peanut butter.
  6. Place large spoonfuls of the royal icing into quart-size zipper style freezer bags. Avoid regular thickness sandwich bags because the plastic is too thin and won’t hold up to the punishment of being used as a pastry tube. Approximately one cup of icing per bag is sufficient.
  7. Close the bags.
  8. Snip off a 1/4 inch (6.35mm) of one corner of the icing filled bag. You now have an “icing tube”. Squeeze the icing toward the snipped corner and use it to dispense a bead of icing where you want it.

Assembly

  1. Count out six whole, uncracked, unseparated, unbroken crackers and set four of them aside to form the roof and two long sides of your house.
  2. Cut the two remaining crackers to form end gable pieces. Use a gentle “sawing” motion with a serrated knife. Use the short end of a cracker to measure the angled line from the center of the long side to the center line of the cracker.
  3. Repeat for the second gable end.
  4. Squeeze icing along the edges of a gable end and 1 whole graham cracker.
  5. Place the long edge of the wall cracker perpendicular to the base edge of the gable end cracker. Stick the side edge of the gable end cracker to the bead of icing on the flat side of the wall cracker. The walls should hold each other up.
    • Important: If the icing is too runny, this will not work. If the icing does not behave like putty at this point, you will need to either add more powdered sugar to it or just start over again and make an icing of thicker consistency.
  6. Add the other gable end and wall in the same manner, and use a bead of icing along the bottom to stick it to the pie tin. Also use a bead of icing where the two walls will join at the corners.
  7. Add the roof crackers in the same manner as the wall crackers, but pipe the icing on the flat of the roof, not on the edges. Then stick the flat of the roof to the top edges of the gable ends and walls. Allow the icing to set for 15-20 minutes before touching the house again. If you place candies on it too quickly, you risk it collapsing.

Decoration

  1. Line the roof with icing where you want to add the shingles.
  2. Add the shingles using your desired candies.
    • You can also use cereal as shingles.
  3. Use your imagination and decorate the entire house whatever way you like! Some examples:
    • A roof ridge.
    • A candy cane door.
    • Cobblestones.
    • A male teenager’s house.
    • An adult’s house.
    • Another adult’s version.
    • A six year old’s house.
    • A four year old’s house.
    • A small various candy house.

Tips

  • At the end of the season, keep the photos of your house, and if you want, you can make a scrapbook of what you have done, then eat it! Share your photos around Facebook for others to see.
  • Sprinkling powdered sugar over the house and yard makes it look like it was snowing!
  • You can spray a sealant on your house to extend its life. (This prevents you from eating it too.)
  • Using a small whipping cream carton and gluing the graham crackers to the sides works well for young children so the sides or roof do not cave in.
  • Use cake icing nozzle to make flowers if you are looking for a spring time effect.

Warnings

  • Keep it out of reach of your pets or you will find them “sampling” your house. This can be especially tragic if a little person in the house has his or her creation half eaten by the family dog!
  • Keep away from ants–they can be attracted to such a sweet temptation in warmer climes at this time of year.
  • This will soften quickly in a humid environment, causing the walls to sag and eventually collapse within days or even hours. Don’t keep it too long if you’re in a humid environment, or find and airtight container and dry spot to store it in.

Things You’ll Need

  • Unbroken graham crackers
  • Christmas candies for decoration. Hard candies work best; many softer or “gummy” candies have a release oil applied to their molds which then is retained on the surface of the candy and prevents proper sticking to your creation
  • Disposable aluminum pie tin
  • Royal icing–see How to make royal icing for instructions
  • Zipper style freezer bags – avoid the thinner plastic bags used for sandwiches. They will not hold up to being used as icing tubes as will the “freezer bags”

Related wikiHows

Article provided by wikiHow, a wiki how-to manual. Please edit this article and find author credits at the original wikiHow article on How to Make Gingerbread Houses Using Graham Crackers. All content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons license.



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