10 tips for a stress-free Christmas

With Christmas around the corner here are some tips to help make the holiday season more manageable as well as our fun-filled Christmas wish from the team at LJ Hooker Ormeau.

1. Get Rid of the Gift Guilt

Once again, December has arrived without warning and Christmas feels like it may as well be tomorrow. And if you’re anything like the rest of us, you’ll be starting to worry about having everything prepared for Christmas – gifts, food, bedding for guests and the rest!

But there’s one thing you should always remember: Christmas is a holiday, first and foremost. You deserve as much of a break as everyone else in the household, so if you’re pulling the organising weight in your house these holidays, we’ve prepared some tips to help lighten the load.

So often, we get caught up trying to buy presents for everyone in our address book. If they’ve just commented on a Facebook photo of yours, that doesn’t mean they have to get a present! Work out those you truly want to give a gift, and erase those feelings of guilt about not buying for everyone – it’s simply impossible!

Budgets are tight for so many people around this time of year, and the less time you have to spend shopping for people whose tastes you don’t intimately know, the more time you have to relax.

2. Budgets are Beautiful

It might seem like an annoying task now, but if you set out a budget for the people you want to buy for, it won’t just stop you from overspending this Christmas – it’ll help to guide your credit card hand to the right stores!
Set yourself a spending limit per person and then you’ll immediately start shaping an idea of what you can and can’t afford, rather than spending hours poring over items deciding whether or not to break the bank and buy them.

3. Quantity, Not Quality

If you have several children in the home for Christmas, whether your own or someone else’s, it’s important to make sure they get the same amount of presents – check with other parents or present buyers in advance. We all know that young ones can stir up a tantrum over anything, so by making sure everyone has the same number of presents, you’re eliminating one potential stress factor these holidays.

They may not be as likely to kick up a fuss if someone elses present is more valuable than theirs – but oh boy, if they got one less present than someone else, it can be trouble!

Do some planning with the adults who’ll be bringing presents to Christmas celebrations, and you’ll save a lot of stress on the big day.

4. Try the vintage values

Sometimes, buying glossy items or the latest toy can bend your budget to the breaking point – so consider taking it old school! Most towns and cities have some fantastic vintage stores that can have great condition, quirky items at wonderful value. Try these out for some truly unique present ideas – especially appropriate if you have a few eccentric family members that are hard to shop for!

5. Jump online

Of course, we don’t all have a lot of time to go Christmas shopping. Setting present shopping time aside is difficult enough, but how about actually physically getting the presents into the house without the kids sniffing them out – now that’s hard work!

If this is the case for you, try buying online – you can get things shipped direct to your door, which cuts down on shopping hours. It also means you could get important gift buying done from the comfort of your own home or office. You don’t even have to put your shoes on!

6. Cut Down the Cooking

Sometimes you can spend the entire holiday preparing food for everyone else to eat, and end up working more than you usually would at the day job – it’s time to scrap this!

By sharing the load with a pot luck event or preparing your menu well in advance, you can reduce the amount of time you have to spend stressing about snacks and meals on the day.

Better yet, host a barbeque event – we’re sure there will be no shortage of people lining up to show everyone who’s the boss on the grill!

7. Enlist the support of the tiny troops

Do you have untold amounts of decorations to go up each Christmas? A Godzilla-sized tree to be adorned with candy canes and tinsel? Don’t go it alone, instead get the kids to help!

By seeing who can make the prettiest decorations or set up the most items, you can turn your Christmas setup into a fun game, taking out the stress and splitting the workload. Many hands make light work – even if they’re the hands of a six year old!

8. Paper Preparation

By the time the present opening is said and done, you can find your living area is a sea of paper, tape and candy-stuffed kids. This can be a cute sight, but also a stressful one. And it so often seems like a waste to spend money on the gift wrapping that so quickly turns into rubbish!

You could find a fun and inventive way around this by perhaps using named gift baskets and sacks – we’ve seen stunning Christmas themed pillow cases that contain kids’ presents, and can be used every year! What’s more, they make for a great satchel so children can carry their candy and toys around with them for the rest of the day, keeping the trail of mess to a minimum.

9. Watch the Wine

Every silly season, it seems unavoidable that at some point, a family member is going to have a few too many. It might be an older son having their first Christmas with wine or an outrageous aunt who gets a little too intense, they can all cause the same holiday stress.

Designate someone to do the pouring of the alcohol at dinner, or to make sure people are eating and drinking water if they’re drinking. Everyone should be able to have a great time, and that also goes for you as the host!

10. Don’t Want to Clean? Throw It Out?

At the end of the Christmas dinner, the first thing most people will want to do is probably nap and digest. The last thing they’ll want to do is the dishes! To easily get around this, keep it simple – use paper plates, & strong cardboard cutlery, and make sure you have your recycle bin handy. You’ll reduce your dishes by a huge amount and hardly fill a single rubbish bag!

When you’re hosting Christmas at your home, it’s tempting to take control of the situation and make everything to your perfect vision. But by stepping back and having others help, you’ll ease the workload for yourself and be able to have a stress-free Christmas.

Do what makes you happy – it’s not your responsibility to tend to everyone’s every need and want, but it is your right to relax and have a fantastic time these holidays.

Until next time,

How much could fixing up one room add to your home’s value?

We’ve had a look at some very specific renovations that can add value to your property when the time comes to sell, which can cut down on energy bills and improve the practicality of a home. But what about doing over an entire room? Obviously fixing up a kitchen is a completely different beast from making over the master bedroom, with different costs involved and different amounts added to your bottom line.

So without further delay, let’s see what you should do to some of the key rooms in the home – and if it will put many extra zeroes on your sale price.

Keeping it in the kitchen

Historically, a kitchen renovation is the go-to task to add value to your home. However, it’s also one of the most expensive undertakings. According to a recent Improvenet research, the average cost of a kitchen remodel is a little over $22,000 in Australian dollars. Given that the rule of thumb is you shouldn’t spend more than 5 per cent of the value of your home on renovations, this should be within reach of many home owners.

Moreover, the work that needs doing will vary from home to home. For example, a basic IKEA kitchen setup for small areas can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, if you’re replacing cabinet fronts and splashbacks. Budget full kitchen kits can also be found for less than $5,000.

But for a full do-over, you’re looking at spending at least $10,000 – up to $25,000 for simple kitchens, and up to $75,000 for a true luxury do-over. This includes flooring, walls, countertops, sinks, plumbing, appliances – you name it, it’s covered.

While this might seem extensive, if it’s within your budget it can be very much worth it. According to finder.com.au, depending on your suburb, all costs can be recouped when you sell. Moreover, some vendors like IKEA provide guarantees that last up to 25 years, ensuring peace of mind that it will last.

Make sure it stays with the theme of the home though – an ultra-modern kitchen in an older cottage could ruin the home’s aesthetic and put people off!

Bulking up the bathroom

The same principles as the kitchen apply here – it can be done cheaply, but it depends on how much luxury you want to add. According to HGTV, it’s possible to renovate a bathroom for $100 per square metre. For small areas that can mean less than $5,000 without heavy customisation.

Brian Johnson from Collaborative Design Architects also told HGTV that it’s important to add a 30 per cent allowance to your budget, as sometimes things go awry, and costs can blow out. Adding a new toilet, bath or shower can make this an expensive task, numbering in the tens of thousands of dollars.

And as for returns? Gary Caulfield from Construction Cost Consultants told Westpac NZ that bathrooms can give you a return of up to $1.50 for every dollar spent on it. Gauge the suburb and likely buyers you will be getting – do they want luxury or practicality? Working this out with an agent and a professional remodeler can always be a good idea.

Adding a new bedroom

Found yourself in the enviable position of having two lounges, or perhaps a basement or attic that could be converted into a new bedroom? You might just have hit a goldmine. Mr Caulfield also told Westpac that you can double your return when you turn a three bedroom home into a four bedroom one.

But what about the cost? In a recent Domain article, it was estimated that adding a 20 square metre bedroom would cost anywhere between $50,000 and $70,000. This will be significantly less if you already have space in your house – Graeme Bell from GDB architecture converted a loft into a room for a mere $10,000!

You’re unlikely to get this cheap a renovation going unless you are an architect yourself, but it shows how it can be done on a small budget. Given the rising real estate prices in many of our cities, you could be in for significant profits too.

According to Real Estate Institute of Victoria figures, four bedroom homes in certain suburbs were the largest capital gains earners in Melbourne at the end of last year. Making your home join this category through renovation could be profitable indeed!

Don’t go overboard

Crucially though, you have to keep a cool head. Engage professionals for quotes, and get a set budget from several different firms – if they vary wildly, you need to be careful you’re not getting ripped off. On top of this, make it comfortable! If you don’t enjoy using these rooms while you live there, how can you be sure potential buyers will?

So no garish colours or experimental designs – keep it beautiful and functional for solid value-adding.

Until Next Time,

Time to bring out the Child in Everyone

“Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning” – Diane Ackerman

 

I love the smell of popcorn. Most people associate it with the movies, seeing as it’s the staple of a cinema experience, right alongside a quickly melting Choc Top. But whenever I smell popcorn, I immediately start to think of bright lights, happy shrieking people on rides, show-bags full of all sorts of goodies and music.

 

Have you worked out yet what I’m thinking of?

 

I’m talking about the local show, of course. The ones with the turning clown heads eager to help you nab a prize if you can just land the ball correctly. The dodgem cars, the cha-cha, the little ponies for the children brave enough to go for a circular led trot and the fireworks that light up the night sky.

 

When we were kids, there was something so magical about it. Trying to take it all in, full of a sense of awe and appreciation. Nowadays, while it doesn’t hold the exact same ‘Wow’ factor for an adult that it used to, we instead look to the children and can see the awe and appreciation in their faces.

 

Thankfully, we don’t have to look far for the next chance to have and share that experience. LJ Hooker Ormeau is proud to be sponsoring the upcoming 11th Annual Ormeau Lions Fair to allow us that opportunity to share what we had as kids with the current generations. And let’s face it – we’ll probably buy ourselves a Bertie Beetle show-bag on the sly, if they’re still available.

 

Running on the 15th and 16th of July, and with over 200 stalls, there will quite literally be something for everyone. There are school Dance and Music contests, performances by Dance companies, a V.I.P Dog show, Pony rides, the Classic Car Show and Shine (what a great way to appreciate some beautiful cars?), rides, show-bags, and yes, even the fireworks on the Saturday night. I’d advise allowing a later night than usual for the young ones, because how often do we get to physically see Fireworks these days?

 

The location for this year’s fair has changed, as the size of the fair has simply outgrown the previous location, so make sure you don’t head to the wrong place! This year, the fair will be located at Ritchie’s Auctions, 1-57 Burnside Road, Yatala. With free entry for everyone, the hours will be from 8.00am to 9.00pm on Saturday, and 8.00am to 4.00pm on Sunday. All funds raised from the Ormeau Fair will be used within the community to help support schools, hospitals, underprivileged people and many other charity organisations.

 

So make sure that your calendar is cleared, you’ve got your warm clothes, and some coins in your pocket. Go by yourself, go in a group, round up all of your kids, nieces, nephews and friends. Chances are that I’ll bump into you somewhere there.

 

And if you beat me there? Grab me a Bertie Beetle show bag!

 

Until next time,

 

 

 

Welcome to the School Holidays – Leave your Sanity at the door….

Tax time – fun, fun fun. Okay, I know, Tax time isn’t really fun. Or interesting – unless you’re a bookkeeper or an accountant. So if you are one of the lovely people belonging to those two amazing professions – it’s your mid year Christmas!

 

Tax time aside, lets focus on something else – the commencement of school holidays!

 

For the rest of us, it’s the time where our dear little darlings are full of excitement because, no more school. That exuberance is infectious – at least for the first ten minutes. After that, every mother starts searching for the best thing to get her through the next 2 weeks of loud noises, no breaks and the endless streams of “Muuum, I’m Borrrrreed’.

 

And that is where this blog post comes in – we can help!

 

There is so much available to do, and being school holidays, a lot of the upcoming events cater to children. Ah, community – keeping parents sane since, well, since forever.

 

The Gold Coast City Council is running a complete “Game On Festival”, featuring events such as Obstacle Courses, Come and Try Sports, Healthy Grub kids cooking classes, Kite and Lantern Making, Dance Workshops – and this is to name a few! For more information on these activites, click here – your kids (and your sanity!) may thank you for it.

 

If you’re looking for something that is a little less energetic but still entertaining enough to keep your beloved munchkins happy, why not take them up to the Upper Coomera library? The library has a variety of kids workshops happening where the kids can learn how to build a catapult or even how to fold – and fly – a perfect paper plane. Of course, the job on enforcing a strict ‘no projectiles in the house policy’ afterwards will fall to the dutiful parents 😉 For more information, check out this website.

 

Lastly, you could honour a time old tradition and head off to Surfers Paradise to treat your children to a Pantomine, with a production of Peter Pan & Tinkerbell taking place at The Arts Centre on the Gold Coast. It’s a once in a lifetime experience that will definitely fill your child’s first few Show and Tell news stories upon their return from holidays. Click here to book tickets.

 

You can guarantee that no matter what you come up with, your kids are just happy to take a break from the routine that is school. And although it may seem that the purpose of school holidays is simply to drive parents mental, sometimes it only takes the simplest things to keep them happy.

 

Build a pillow fort in the loungeroom. Give them some coloured chalk and let them use the concrete in your yard as their canvas. Take them down to the park to run of that excessive energy. It doesn’t matter what you do, the very fact that they are building memories with you is what makes time spent together memorable.

 

But you’ll still be forgiven for that sigh of relief when the school holidays are over 🙂

 

Until Next Time,

 

Pass out the Marshmallows

“Autumn, the year’s last, loveliest smile.” – William Cullen Bryant

 

The leaves on the trees are turning gold, the wind has a sharper bite, and the evening already smells different. All of these observations are of course, pointing to one thing – Winter is just around the corner.

We are quite lucky to live where we live. We don’t feel the cold as much as they do in Canberra, or Melbourne. We are less likely to get a large amount of snow fall. But we still notice the drop in the temperature, the sting in the rain that is not apparent in any other season.

It is also the time of year that the clothes get swapped over – from the light layers of Summer to the copious wrappings of warmth. The drinks are of the warmer variety, the meals of the heavier, comforting cuisines – and the heaters come out.

Maybe you’re like some people I know, who have in-built heating systems. Or maybe you just head off to K-Mart or Target to get a small unit to heat a specific area of the house. One thing is certain – you are at a higher risk of having a house fire in Winter with inadequate heating products than most other times of the year.

Which is why I’m recommending that you get your smoke alarms checked, and/or batteries changed.

There is nothing more important than the safety of your family. Your property is pretty important too, but people come first.

Faulty wiring, items falling onto heating surfaces – a fire can start in minutes, while you are in the other end of your house, or cooking dinner, or even asleep. Ensuring that you have fully working smoke alarms is such a necessity that there is even a trend in the daylight savings areas of Australia of checking the smoke alarms when the time change occurs. Seeing as we don’t have that here, I always make sure I do it when I notice the leaves change.

The other thing that you need to be aware of is the changes to the Smoke Alarm Legislation in Queensland, which cover the type of alarm, positioning, and interconnectedness of alarms within your home. If you are unsure as to whether or not your property is compliant, you can simply head to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services website to double-check.

This is not to say don’t have a fire at all – as long as it’s a (legal) campfire, a bonfire, or a fire in the fireplace. Just make sure that it is a fire that you are aware of and in control of.

Once you know everything is working as it should, you can enjoy the onset of Winter with a free and clear mind – and maybe a glass of mulled wine.

 

Until next time,

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