Crazy New Year’s Trivia We Bet You Didn’t Know

  • January 01, 2015
  • Jenna Maxwell

Every year we welcome in the New Year with many festivities, celebrating and lots of revelries.  How much do you know about the origins behind your New Year’s party?  Here are some fun facts about New Year’s that we’re betting you didn’t know! 

Thank Julius.  Julius Caesar was the first one to decide that January 1 would be the first day of the New Year.  Interestingly enough, January 1 seems to be a completely random day to choose as there is no real significance or meaning behind this particular day as would be the case for many other annual celebrations.  January was chosen to honor the Roman God Janus, the god of new beginnings.  The head of Janus traditionally has two faces--one looking backwards, one looking forward toward the future. 

It’s Not What You Know.  Ancient New Year’s tradition states that whom you hang out with when the New Year begins can make or break the next 365 days when it come to good fortune.  Most people choose to celebrate New Year’s with good friends and family, which is said to improve your luck in the upcoming year.  Kissing your significant other at midnight is also said to solidify the relationship for the upcoming year.

Eat Lucky.  There are certain foods that traditionally spell luck when eaten on New Year's Eve.  These fortunate foods include leafy greens for prosperity and various lentils for good fortune.  You might want to make sure your New Year’s spread is laden with some of these healthier foods; what have you got to lose?

Sing It, Baby.  The most traditional and enduring song to sing at midnight on New Year’s is an old Scottish tune entitled, “Auld Lang Syne”.  Do you know the words?  If so, you might be one of a very select few people that know the lyrics.  The song, written by Robert Burns in the 1700’s is a wistful tune about “the good old days”. 

New Year’s Is Old.  The tradition of celebrating New Year’s Day can be traced back 4000 years to the time of the ancient Babylonians.

Resolve to Make Resolutions:  The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions goes way back to the ancient Babylonians.  Today, about 45% of Americans will make New Year’s resolutions.  The most popular resolutions include resolving to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, quit smoking, budget and save money, and get a better job.  

Party!  The most popular New Year’s destinations in the United States are Disney World, Las Vegas and of course, New York City.  Over one million people will celebrate New Year’s in New York City’s Times Square.  The famous ball in Times Square dropped for the first time in 1907, a tradition that was instituted largely because of a ban on fireworks.  The ball has dropped every year since, except during 1942 and 1943 because of WWII. 

New Year’s Toast!  Over 360 million glasses of champagne will be consumed in order to toast in the New Year. 

New Year’s Baby:  The traditional symbol of New Year’s, Baby New Year, began in Greece in 600 BC. Folklore states that the famous infant will age into an old man during the course of the year.

Random New Year’s Traditions We Love:  According to Italian tradition, it’s very important to wear red underwear as you welcome in the New Year.  This time-honored custom is said to bring the wearer good luck.  Another method of ensuring an entire year of happiness is to consume twelve grapes at midnight--this tradition comes from our Spanish friends.  In Switzerland, a New Year’s celebration would not be complete without dropping some ice cream on the floor.

Happy New Year from Your Friends at Halloween Express! 

Tips To Help You Throw a Great Last Minute New Year’s Party

  • December 29, 2014
  • Jenna Maxwell
Last Minute NYE Party Tips

New Year's Eve.  Did you forget about it again this year?  The most epic party night of the entire year is easy to lose in the Christmas shuffle.  We are all so busy trying to make Christmas happen that once it's over it can be a bit of a mad, almost panicky rush trying to throw together appropriate New Year's plans.  There is no reason, however, why you can't pull off a last minute New Year's party with very little effort involved.  Take a deep breath and follow some of our last minute party tips--before you know it, you and your guests will be bidding au revoir to 2014 during what promises to be a truly memorable evening.

Invite Your Crew:  There is likely not time for official invitations if you've waited until now--so, pick up the phone and inform your inner circle that you intend to host a party.  Talking to your friends will immediately give you an idea of who is available to come to your event.  A last minute planned party probably isn't the best time to invite the entire world--keep your group to a reasonable size.Once you have a firm head count, then you can begin to formulate a party game plan.

Food:  A last minute party should be fairly simple when it comes to party food and fare.  Consider making your event pot luck as having each guest bring a dish will greatly simplify the food planning.  Assigning a food type to each guest (salad, dessert, appetizer, etc.) will ensure that you have a well-rounded menu.  If you decide to supply the food yourself, do yourself a huge favor and keep the menu easy and uncomplicated.  Appetizers. Finger foods and simple to prepare party dishes will make your life easier.

  • Chips/Dip/Salsa
  • Wings
  • Appetizers
  • Cheese/Crackers/Deli meats
  • Veggies and Dip
  • Nuts
  • Mini Pizza’s or Quiche’s

Note:  Make your life easy and use disposable paper plates, cups and cutlery for your party.  After a night of partying, your clean up process will be greatly simplified, which (trust us) will be a huge relief!

Booze:  If you are hosting a New Year’s party, more likely than not, your guests will expect there to be alcohol served.  Champagne to toast in the New Year is a tradition and depending on your guest list, you may want to have other drink choices available.  Consider who your guests are and what their beverage choices may be; asking your guests to help stock your bar is not a bad idea for informal soiree.

Décor:  Last minute parties don’t have to be boring when it comes to décor.  Simple, festive and colorful decorations will go a long way in creating a party mood.  Balloons, streamers, banners, are easy to put up and by all means, have some hats and noisemakers on hand for the big moment at midnight!

Music:  Your New Year’s playlist should be comprised primarily of upbeat, party style music that will be appreciated by the age group of your guests.  Music apps like Pandora and Spotify can make getting music into your party super easy.

Relax:  Remember that New Year’s is supposed to be a fun celebration with your closest family and friends.  Once you’ve assembled your best peeps along with food, drink and great music, it’s hard to not have a good time, so don’t worry--just relax and enjoy yourself!

Happy New Year from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Last Minute Help For Christmas Shopping Procrastinators

  • December 22, 2014
  • Jenna Maxwell
Last Minute Shopping Help

Hello, my friend.  Didn’t we meet here about this time last year?  Did we not resolve right then and there never to let this happen again?  Well, if it seems that once again you’ve left much of your Christmas prep to the final hours, we’re here to help.  The good news, fellow dilly-dallier’s, loafers and stragglers--there is no reason at all why you can’t make your Christmas shopping a success without ending up anywhere near Santa’s naughty list. 

Don’t Panic.  Even if you are stuck at the office and simply do not have time to head to the mall, there are a plethora of retailers that can still make online purchases arrive at your home on time if you order them by the 22nd or in some cases, even the 23rd of December.  Read the small print about specific shipping details at checkout; in some cases in order to get rush service there may be extra shipping fees.

Gift Cards.  Don’t worry if you’re lack of planning ahead has forced you to give a few gift cards as presents. First of all, although no one is going to jump up and down about getting one, more likely than not, an appropriate gift card will be appreciated and put to good use.  There are ways that you can make your gift card look as if you put a little bit of effort into it as well.  Buy a pretty gift card folder or make one of these yourself.  Add a cute verse to the presentation to make your gift card seem a little less boring while adding the personal element of sentiment or humor.

D.I.Y.  Make up for your lack of planning ahead by creating something yourself for your recipients.  If you look online on various blogs or websites like Pinterest, you will see many amazing ideas for quick and easy gifts that you can make yourself at the last minute.  Putting the extra effort of personal touch into your gift giving makes your gifts not only more thoughtful and heartfelt and these gifts are sure to be very well received.

Brave the Storm.  The good news about last minute shopping at your local retailer is that there are always an abundance of unbelievable deals to be had by shoppers. The downside, of course, is that you can’t be super picky about what you want to buy when you shop this late, as some of the available wares will obviously be picked over.  With discounts on merchandise up to 50% off, however, you may be very happy that you have waited until crunch time.  Don’t be surprised if some of your more organized friends are envious of the deals you can score by last minute shopping.

Ultra Procrastinators.  Ok, so it’s Christmas Day, and you still haven’t bought a gift for your Aunt Mabel.  Believe it or not, there still is a way to save your bacon.  Many corner drugstores are open, even on Christmas day and these stores carry a wide variety of items that are perfect for gift giving.  Re-gifting is also always an option, as we all have those items that we’ve received that might actually be more appreciated by someone else. 

Last minute shoppers never fear.  You’ve been in this position before and more likely than not, will find yourself here once again.  There’s no more time to waste, however as the final countdown to Christmas has already begun.

Merry Christmas from your friends at Halloween Express! 

Here Comes Santa Claus! Apps To Track That Jolly Ol’ Elf

  • December 15, 2014
  • Jenna Maxwell
Santa Tracker On Christmas Eve, generations of children have anxiously watched out their window for some kind of confirmation that Santa Claus is on his way. For decades, the very best a kid could hope for is perhaps to hear the faint jingle of sleigh bells or maybe to glimpse the dim red light that could be Rudolph the reindeer’s nose.  When it comes to tracking Santa, however, today’s lucky kiddos have it a lot easier.  Instead of heading to the front window only to wonder, they can now go to their computer and let technology do the work for them.  A nifty Santa tracker app will tell kids exactly where Santa is located, making those visions of sugarplums dancing around in the gray matter, a whole lot easier to come by. Over the years, Santa has become pretty notorious for his ability to spy on kids and see what they are up to.  Legend states that Santa watches children through his crystal snowball, and is well aware if a kid is naughty or nice.  Everyone gets listed somewhere, and of course, making Santa’s nice list is the place every child wants to be come Christmastime.  Perhaps being able to track sneaky ol’ Santa is a bit of payback for all those years of stealth voyeurism. At the very least, tracking Santa gives kids a chance to turn the table on Saint Nick, as youngsters can now see what he’s up to for a change. Both Google and Microsoft have their own versions of Santa tracking apps.  Now it’s easy to follow Santa on your computer, or even on your mobile phone or tablet.  These clever apps not only will tell you the precise location of Santa on Christmas Eve, but they also feature a countdown to Christmas mechanism that works like a very techy advent calendar.  The apps are also filled with games and various activities that will help kids get excited about the big day that lies ahead. Google’s Santa Tracker will unlock a new activity or game each day prior to Christmas.  On this site, kids will enjoy exploring Santa’s Village and doing all sorts of things from racing reindeer to parachuting for presents.  Kids will also be able to use the help of Google (and Santa’s elves) to track the whereabouts of Santa on Christmas Eve. Microsoft has combined their Santa Tracker with the efforts of NORAD, a company who has been helping children track Santa for over 60 years.  In 1955, in a newspaper advertisement mistakenly listed the wrong phone number for calls to Santa. The phone number belonged to NORAD’S predecessor, CONAD.  Suddenly getting hit with all sorts of excited young callers looking for Santa, the good folks at CONAD decided to play along with the kids, creating a wonderful new holiday tradition that they have chosen to continue.  Microsoft and NORAD’s Santa Tracker not only has a countdown feature but it is also filled with entertaining games, music, and movies.  This app is sure to provide hours of fun for kids as their anticipation for Christmas builds. Answering the proverbial inquiry, “How many days until Santa comes?” just got a whole lot easier for parents and children everywhere.

Putting up Holiday Lights without Stress

  • December 08, 2014
  • Jenna Maxwell
Putting Up Holiday Lights Without Stress

Have you decorated your home for the holidays yet?  Getting ready for the Christmas season is an annual ritual for many of us, and decking the halls is a huge part of the holiday tradition.  At this time of the year, there are lights to string, wreaths to hang, trees to decorate--well, you know the drill.  The Christmas season is with fun and lots of joyful celebrating, but this festive season can also be a lot of work. 

One of the most popular ways to decorate your home for the holidays is to put up Christmas lights.  Here are some great tips that will help you get your holiday lights up without completely pulling your hair out in the process.

•    Decorating should meet your personal needs and desires.  We’ve all seen movies in which holiday decorating is taken to an extreme.  Don’t make putting up Christmas lights into some neighborhood rivalry. You don’t need extra stress during the holidays, so decorate according to your heart's desire and what is fun for you and your family.  Your holiday lights do NOT need to be seen from outer space, and if your home isn’t decorated better than the Joneses, the world will not come to an end.  Holiday decorating made into a competition instead of being a joyful expression of your family is nothing less than self-induced stress.  In other words, do not feel pressure to go overboard just to impress others.

•    Take Inventory.  Before you begin putting up your holiday lights, it’s important to assemble what you have and take an inventory.  Because your lights have been stored since last year, now is the time to plug in the lights and see what is working and what may needs to be replacing. You may also want to consider upgrading some of your old incandescent lights with new LED lights that use far less energy.

•    Create a Plan. Once you know what lights you have to work with, come up with a solid idea of where you are going to put those lights.  If you need to purchase additional lights or other décor items in order to implement your game plan, take some basic measurements and decide what new décor items may be practical for your family. 

•    Divide and Conquer.  When you are ready to begin putting up your holiday lights, plan to put them up in stages.  Putting the lights and decorations up this way will greatly reduce the pressure and stress of your decorating project.  Consider putting up your lights in three phases.  First, begin by putting lights around the perimeter of your home or along the roofline.  In the second stage of lighting, you can add lights to your nearby bushes.  The final stage of decorating with lights would be to get a little more elaborate and add lights to your walls, fences as well as smaller trees and foliage.  The primary reason for doing your lights in phases like this is that each phase is a finished project.  If you never make it past any individual phase, your lighting will still look great.  By working in stages, you are far less likely to get overwhelmed by your holiday lighting project.

•    Be mindful of safety.  Make sure you have a sturdy ladder to use when you are putting up your lights.  Having another person nearby to act as a spotter may also be beneficial. 

Christmas lights are one of the most beautiful and simple joys of the holiday season. With a little organization and planning, getting your lights and holiday decorations up will be simple and stress-free!