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Fun for Kids This Holiday Season

by The Hat Team

Holiday break.  It sounds like fun. It should be fun. You start the break with images of snuggling up to read stories, making hot cocoa and going for adventures outdoors.  But sometimes it can be challenging for parents to figure out how to fill the hours of free time kids have over the holiday break. Before you know it, you are in survival mode – just trying to get through the break with your sanity intact.  That is why it is a prudent idea to start the break with a plan in mind. It certainly can’t hurt to have a few activities planned to fall back on to keep your kids entertained and engaged.  Here are five budget friendly ideas to keep your kids busy during the holiday break.

1. Creative Coloring 

A box of crayons and some paper can keep toddlers occupied, but as children grow, they may need a few more creative ideas for how to use those crayons to stay busy. Here are some creative coloring options:

  • Coloring wrapping paper. Who doesn’t need more wrapping paper for the holidays? This is a twofold activity. You get your wrapping paper at a low price, and you keep your kids busy awhile. Just buy rolls of cheap, plain-colored wrapping paper. (The cheap kind is thin, so darker colors work best.) Roll it out a few feet at a time on a table or a hard floor, and let the kids go to town.
  • Upside down coloring. Turn coloring on its head – literally – with this easy activity. Just tape coloring sheets to the bottom of a table, and turn your child into a tiny Michelangelo. This is a great way to keep them busy and build upper arm strength.
  • Color the windows. Kids love being able to use crayons on surfaces that are usually off-limits. Crayola makes some crayons specifically for coloring on windows. Grab a pack of these, and let kids decorate the windows for the holidays. Window Crayons
  • Try complex coloring sheets. Older kids may think freestyle coloring is boring. Try printing off complicated geometric coloring sheets. Kids can create gorgeous designs, and the challenge keeps them engaged longer. (Note: They may need colored pencils and a good sharpener to be able to tackle these detailed designs.) Complex Geometric Coloring Pages

2. Indoor Games

It can be especially challenging during the holidays when the weather doesn’t cooperate and kids can’t play outside. And you probably don’t have a gym like your kid’s school does where they can release their pent-up energy. Luckily, with some creativity and basic supplies, you can create your own indoor gross motor games to burn off that extra energy.

  • Obstacle courses. Obstacle courses are surprisingly easy to create, and you can customize them for kids of any age – even elementary-aged kids would love a superhero obstacle course. These can be heavy on the prep work, but one course could keep your kids busy the entire day. (Worth it!) This Indoor Obstacle Course is simple. This String Laser Maze is great for older kids, as well.
  • Hopscotch. What better way to burn off energy than with hopscotch? Crafty parents can put together this adorable Indoor Hopscotch Mat to use again and again, or you can just make a DIY Indoor Hopscotch Game With Tape.
  • Scavenger hunts. You may think scavenger hunts are just for outside play, but you’d be surprised. You can put together some fun indoor scavenger hunts. These are a great way to get kids to play independently or in teams while you get other stuff done. (Or just relax with a cup of coffee for 20 minutes!) This Indoor Bug Safari is great for little kids, or try a Christmas Themed Scavenger Hunt. You can come up with any number of scavenger hunts tailored to your kids’ ages and interests.
  • Tossing games. Throwing balls in the house is usually off-limits. But indoor tossing games turn that rule on its head. These Indoor Ball Games are great for practicing hand-eye coordination in a safe way.

3. Arts and Crafts 

Before the holiday break starts, plan some crafts for your kids to do. Then, hit your local craft store sans kids, and pick up the supplies you need. Stick supplies for each craft into a gallon-sized bag, and write the name of the craft and any necessary instructions on it with a marker. This may seem over the top, but when your kids are in the throes of boredom two days into break, you’ll be glad you have an activity to pull out and run with. Here are a couple of craft ideas to try:

  • Holiday gifts. Kids love to make things to give to others, and if you have a lot of people on your list, you can keep them busy all break long making DIY gifts for the holidays. Hand-painted ornaments are always a great option, and these Finger Print & Hand Print ones especially cute. Grab some canvas aprons, and let the kids decorate them with fabric paint as gifts. Older kids can also DIY No Sew Blankets & Pillows without much supervision. 45 Gorgeous Gifts Kids Can Make
  • Winter crafts. Kids of all ages will love to make and play with this Snow Clay, which you could use to make ornaments for gifts. This adorable Luminary Jar Ornament would be great for older kids, or try this Snowman Slam Game , which you can make and then play with. And, of course, kids of all ages love to make Paper Snowflakes!

4. Service Projects 

This is the time of year when many of us are trying to find ways to give back. Why not involve your kids in giving back this year? Some ideas include raking leaves for older neighbors or baking cookies for local police officers or firefighters. Another option is to make cozy No Sew Fleece Scarves for a local hospital or nursing home. Older kids can even plan, shop for and make a meal for ill or elderly neighbors, or the couple down the street with a new baby and no time to cook.

5. Sensory Bins

Finally, crawlers to elementary-age kids love sensory bins. (They can be surprisingly fun for parents, too!) Yes, these can get a little messy. The best trick is to set up a sensory bin on an old-fitted sheet. Weigh down the elastic corners with books, and you’ll create a little valley to catch most of the mess. Here are some sensory bin ideas for the holiday season:

  • Dried Corn Sensory Bin  - This one includes popcorn seeds, Indian corn, mini pumpkins, silk fall leaves and cookie cutters in fall shapes. You’ll want to include some cups and scoops in this and all your other sensory bins, too.
  • Apple Pie Bin -  This simple sensory bin is just dough (flour and oil), a pie plate and some measuring cups. You could add in cinnamon for apple pie smells, and include red gems to look like apples.
  • Apple Cinnamon Scented Sensory Rice Bin - Making colored, scented rice is simple. And it’s a great way to theme your sensory bins. This apple cinnamon scented rice would pair well with play apples, cookie cutters, measuring tools or fall leaves.
  • Cotton Ball Snow Bin -  For a less messy sensory bin, fill up a tub with cotton balls. Add in some measuring cups and winter-themed toys, and you have your very own (not-so-messy) snow-scape.
  • Decorate a Tree - This is a genius idea that may keep some of the sensory bin materials more contained. Instead of measuring and pouring, this decorate-a-tree activity lets kids carefully place decorations on their own tree.
  • Sparkly Snow Bin - This sensory bin features sparkly snow made from Epsom salt, iridescent flakes and tinsel garland. Add in some winter-themed plastic animals, and you’re good to go.

So, if your kids are bickering or complaining that they are bored, save the day with these fun, inexpensive activities and enjoy the holiday break!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs! Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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Kitchen Remodel 101

by The Hat Team

Have you been thinking about remodeling your kitchen, but you’re not sure where to start?  Kitchens are important to resale value, so if you’re going to invest money in a remodel, you want to be sure that you end up with a kitchen that will stand the test of time. So, instead of following fads that are currently popular, stick with classic features that will not only bring you joy, but will entice buyers should you ever sell your home.  Here are some tips for creating a kitchen that is timeless and functional:

  1. Brighten up your kitchen using white as the dominant color. White is the most marketable color and never goes out of style. It is associated with happiness and new beginnings.  It makes small spaces look bigger.  And best of all, it’s easy on the budget due to its availability. The Best White Paint for Your Kitchen
  2. Install hardwood flooring. Hardwood floors are popular among buyers of any age; both male and female.  Hardwood adds warmth and coziness to a home.  It’s great for open floor plans because it flows beautifully from one room to another. It’s durable and long-lasting. And if “going green” is important to you, hardwood is echo-friendly.  It’s considered a “green” building material when it has been certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and comes from sustainably managed forests.
  3. Choose cabinets that have clean lines, like Shaker Kitchen Cabinets.  The clean lines of these cabinets will be in style forever. Their beauty is in their simplicity.  They help limit the “busyness” of the kitchen, creating a soothing, peaceful vibe.  They also transition easily should the next homeowner want a change of style.  Whether you want a traditional or contemporary look, these cabinets will work for both.
  4. Go with marble countertops; specifically, Carrara marble. Carrara marble has been used in homes for centuries.  It looks fantastic in a white kitchen, but also with other colors. It’s affordable and readily available and will last for generations.  You will find some critics who will tell you that it stains easily, but that can be avoided with proper sealing. If you want a truly timeless look, Carrara marble is the way to go. Carrara Marble Kitchens
  5. Include smart storage.  If you currently store many of your kitchen supplies in other areas of the home due to lack of storage space, now is the time to change that!  Cabinets that are being made today feature a plethora of storage options including shelves and compartments that unfold, extend, slide and turn.  Have fun and be creative when designing kitchen storage.

You will love your new kitchen and future potential buyers will find it irresistible!

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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3343 Allendale Place: Spacious Home on Quiet Street!

by The Hat Team

3343 Allendale Place, Montgomery, AL 36111

MLS# 464817

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 2,634 sq ft | McGehee Estates

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Nestled on a quiet street in the heart of McGehee Estates you will find a lovely home awaiting it's new owner. Tastefully updated throughout, with an open kitchen that has a huge island, granite counter tops, stainless appliances with a newer Dacor cooktop and Kitchen Aid refrigerator. Plenty of room to spread out with the formal living room, formal dining room, dining area off the kitchen that opens into the family room/den with vaulted ceilings. Great entertaining space that flows out onto the brick patio and even a private screened porch perfect for watching games or relaxing in the evening. Separate yard for a playset or pets, outside storage and nice landscaping. Check it out this Midtown Montgomery home today!


Marketed by Montgomery AL Realtor Lauren Layfield, Sandra Nickel Hat Team!

These Pointers Will Help You Sell Your House in Autumn

by The Hat Team

We are in the thick of Autumn, and you may think that you should wait until next spring or summer to sell your house.  While it is true that the warmer months are popular for home sales, that doesn’t mean autumn is a bad time to sell.  Some buyers, such as empty nesters and millennials, prefer shopping for a home when there is less competition from people trying to move before the beginning of the school year.  So, if you would like to sell your house before winter, here are some pointers for making it attractive to buyers during autumn:

  1. Keep the exterior of your home neat and clean.  Curb appeal matters…a lot. It doesn’t matter how pristine the interior is if prospective buyers never walk through the front door.  The first impression is made when they first see the property and if it doesn’t look good on the outside, they may not want to look inside.  There are unique challenges to keeping your yard looking nice when the weather is cooler and the days shorter. If you have a lot of trees dropping leaves, raking will be a full-time job.  You want buyers to see your grass!  Any dead or dying plants and flowers need to be removed or cut back.  Use a fall maintenance checklist to make sure you have your property in the best shape possible.  And if you really want to impress, plant some fall flowers in bold hues to add pops of color to your yard. Fall Home Maintenance Checklist
  2. Stage your house for the season, but don’t go overboard.  There are holidays to look forward to during the autumn season.  Potential buyers will enjoy seeing your home decorated accordingly. It will help them picture celebrating the holidays with their own families there. Keep it simple though, because you don’t want to take the focus away from the home itself.  You risk having your house look cluttered if you have too many decorations.  Embrace autumn and the warmth and coziness it exudes.  The smell of a freshly baked apple pie, the crackle of a fire in the fireplace and tasteful autumn décor might be all it takes to seal the deal on a sale! 16 Simple Home Staging Tips for Fall
  3. Make sure lighting is sufficient.  There will be prospective buyers who want to see your house after work and with the days being shorter, it might be dark outside when they get there.  You are not going to want them walking into a dark, unlit home.  Turn on the lights inside and out. Exterior walkways and entertainment areas, such as patios and decks, should be well lit.  If you know your house is going to be shown, leave lights on in every room.
  4. Price your house appropriately.  It’s important to know what homes are selling for in your area and to price yours accordingly.  Utilize the current marketing analysis to determine the value of your home.  A professional Realtor can help you set the right price for your home taking into account the season and market in which you are selling.  You don’t want to scare buyers away by overpricing your house. How to Price Your Home to Get the Highest Offer

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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3436 Wellington Road: Charming Updated Home!

by The Hat Team

3436 Wellington Road, Montgomery AL 36106

MLS# 464815

3 Bedrooms | 2 Bathrooms | 1,800 sq ft | Idlewild

This warm and inviting Cloverdale Idlewild home has been updated throughout while retaining all of the cozy charm, including high ceilings and hardwood floors, separate living and dining rooms, roomy kitchen with granite counter tops, adjacent sunny breakfast nook and attractive bathroom updates. The covered side porch off kitchen has cable to watch those games or to grill out of the weather and a nice big back yard. Check it out this MIDTOWN MONTGOMERY today!

Using the Psychology of Color to Help You Sell Your Home

by The Hat Team

Selling a home can be stressful, especially if you need to update it to sell.  But there is a way you can give your home a new look that will attract buyers without breaking the bank.  All it takes is a few cans of the right colors of paint!  By using Color Psychology you can quietly influence potential buyers’ emotions.  Think about how different colors make you feel. Using the right color combinations can make all the difference in how a room feels. For some buyers, a blank canvas is attractive.  By painting rooms neutral colors like cream or beige, people can envision the room decorated in a way that suits them.  However, you don’t want the home to look so plain that it becomes forgettable.  So, it is important to choose the right colors to sell your home. 

  • White - White seems plain, but it also represents purity and cleanliness which is certainly appealing to home buyers. Be careful though, because it can also make a room feel cold and bare.  Consider using it in rooms that have a lot going on; like your kitchen or bathrooms.  It will make them feel bigger and brighter.
  • Red - This color represents excitement and can give a room a “wow” factor if used properly. It is associated with energy, passion, and warmth.  But keep in mind that a little bit of red goes a long way!  A huge wall of red might be overwhelming.  Think about using it as an accent color to bring warmth to a room.
  • Green - Bring nature indoors for a calming effect using shades of green.  Combined with natural light, green creates a comforting, beautiful aesthetic.
  • Blue - Think quiet serenity.  Shades of light blue are perfect for a bedroom to create a tranquil oasis that will make house hunters want to stay!
  • Yellow - The friendly color.  Cheerful yellow creates a positive vibe that will influence buyers by making them feel happy in the home.  But you don’t want to overdo it.  Save it for rooms where your family gathers like the kitchen or family room.

You will be amazed by how different your house feels when you simply paint a few walls with the right colors.  Your new decorative scheme can help you sell your home faster without a lot of out-of-pocket expense. Estimated Cost to Paint Home Interior

If you are in the market to buy or sell a home, let Sandra Nickel and her Hat Team of Professionals assist you with all your real estate needs!  Call them today at 334-834-1500!

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