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Top Ten Things To Do This Weekend In Phoenix

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The Valley is finally sensing that wintery chill so complement your holiday season with one of these wonderous events! From outdoor skating rinks to holiday bashes, your weekend will never be better--until our fabulous Arizona sun returns, of course. Here are our picks for Dec. 17-Dec. 21. 

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8 Holiday Party-Planning Tips

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Whether you’re having an ugly sweater party or a classically chic soirée, there are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to throwing a memorable and comfortable holiday party. Celebrity event planner Stefanie Cove and lifestyle expert Jen Lawrence offer their expert tips on how to maintain stress as a hostess and keep your guests talking about your party for years to come.

1. Send e-vites. Go green this season and opt for an e-vite instead. With the help of Web sites such as Paperless Post, Cove says you can still make your invitations personal and tie in with your party’s theme. The best part about online invites, according to Lawrence, is that guests get to see who else is invited. “E-vites are really easy and I think for casual holiday parties they are perfect,” Lawrence says.

2. Break the ice. So all your guests are here, but not all of them know each other. The easiest way to break the ice, according to Lawrence, is to introduce people by their interests. Games such as Pictionary and Charades are also a good idea. Even if your guests already do know each other, Lawrence says try and get them to talk about something other than their kids. “Just get people talking about something other than what they always talk about when they get together because that can be really boring,” Lawrence says.

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3. Be personal and thoughtful. One way to make your party personal is whipping up your own signature cocktail. Lawrence likes pairing Champagne with pear nectar and a splash of ginger ale for a festive drink. Cove suggests offering guests more options with an adult hot chocolate bar, complete with various types of hot chocolate and delicious toppings. Before your guests head home, hand them a personalized takeaway gift such as a Turkish towel or felt soap. “Pick something your guests will actually look forward to using, wearing or consuming,” Cove says.

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4. Bring out the creativity. Cove says the key to making a memorable party is giving your guests more than one thing to talk about on the way home. Create your own photo booth by finding an open wall space in your home and decorating a festive border for them to stand with. Use lots of glitter, feather and gold for the border, then tape it on the wall. Complete the booth with props and plenty of Polaroid cameras and film set out on the table. Another way Cove recommends making conversation is with a mini wine tasting, where everyone can share their wine expertise.

5. Create a cozy atmosphere. “People make the party, and the atmosphere you create brings out the best in your guests,” Lawrence says. Lawrence suggests starting with proper lighting. Candlelight and table lamps are much more flattering on guests than bright fluorescent bulbs. Never make your home too crowded with guests, or too empty feeling. Lawrence recommends staggering your guests by having families with kids come from noon to 2 p.m. and other guests come from 2-4 p.m., etc. 

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6. Add some sparkle. Nothing is trendier for holiday parties right now than silver and gold. Some ways Cove likes to add sparkle to a soirée is making golden ice cubes by freezing water mixed with edible gold flakes in an ice tray. Another way to add sparkle is by dipping the wine glass rims into edible gold flakes too. “[Sparkle] just comes with excitement and joy,” Cove says. “It doesn’t go toward a specific holiday, it’s just the holidays, and the end of the year, and celebration in general.”

7. Set your own budget. One mistake most hostesses make is going so far over their budget that they have to sacrifice the important details such as food and drinks. In order to avoid this, Cove recommends setting a budget before going shopping and staying within it. Rather than focus too much on the little details, make sure the important things are covered.

8. Don’t stress out. As a hostess, the most important thing to remember is that your guests are there for the conversation, not your cooking or decorating skills. If you aren’t a good cook, then buy an already-prepped meal. If you’re not a good DJ, then turn to Spotify for an already-made playlist. Lawrence stresses the importance of wearing something comfy the night of the party, such as ballet flats and a dress that you won’t pop out of while bending down to get the roast out of the oven. “If you’re stressed out, your guests are going to pick up on your tension,” Lawrence says. Therefore, you should have a glass of Champagne a half hour before your guests even arrive and tell yourself to have a good time. “You should have fun with it so that everyone else has fun with it and not take it too seriously,” Cove says.

 

 

8 Tips for Traveling with Pets

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The holiday season is typically the one time during the year when the entire family can get together, but sometimes we’re forced to leave everyone’s favorite family member at home when traveling: our furry friends. Maybe the hotel doesn’t accommodate pets, your pet gets a little antsy flying or can’t sit still on a road trip. But there are a quite a few ways to make traveling a little easier with them. Heidi Ganahal, the CEO and founder of Camp Bow Bow, and Heather Owen, the owner of Camp Bow Wow and Home Buddies Avondale gave AFM their top tips to make Fido and the family more comfortable this traveling season.

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1. Time to fly: If your pet is going to fly with you, it’s essential that you check carrier size restrictions beforehand. Keep in mind that small dogs can usually sit with you and larger dogs will fly in the cargo section in a crate.     

2. Carrier comfort: Let your pet sleep in the bed or crate they’ll be calling home for your travels at least a month before leaving. Traveling to an unknown destination is scary enough on its own.      

3. Buckle up: Your pet needs a seatbelt too if they’re not in a carrier. Dog seatbelts give them freedom to move around, but they’ll be safe in case there is a car accident.     

4. Feeding time: Pets can easily get carsick. Feed them no less than five or six hours before traveling to avoid cleaning up a mess.    

5. Hospitable hotel: Even though a hotel is “pet friendly,” this doesn’t mean pets can stay in the room alone. Consider a nearby Camp Bow Wow doggie day care facility to avoid this problem. 

6. Home sweet home: Bring their favorite things from home: dishes, blankets, toys or anything that can comfort them.   

7. Watch them via camera when away: Every room in Camp Bow Wow is monitored by a camera, so parents can be rest assured their animal is safe and sound. 

8. Find a trustworthy sitter: If you simply need someone to check in on your animal at home, Camp Bow Wow’s “Home Buddies” service is perfect to have a trustworthy sitter walk and play with them.

 

Top 10 Things To Do This Weekend in Phoenix

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Winter has been more than generous in 2014, keeping us toasty throughout December. But if you're feeling you're in need of a more Christmas-like overtone--maybe a little snow--catch one of these dazzling weekend events! From outdoor skating rinks to holiday ballets, you're sure to feel this year's wintery cool. Here are our picks for Dec. 11-Dec. 14. 

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10 Things to Do This Weekend in Phoenix: Family Edition

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This weekend, the Valley is bringing you unique and festive holiday experiences, from sledding down snow at the farm to Cowboy Santa. If that isn't enough, you can even grab breakfast with Santa or see him in puppet form at the Arizona Puppet Theater. Here is our roundup of all the best events going on!

Friday

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Phoenix Festival of the Arts

Take a break from the holiday madness and enjoy live entertainment and performances, delicious food truck treats and viewing art from dozens of local vendors. The festival will take place at Hance Park from 12 to 8 p.m. Admission is free. Get more details at http://phoenixfestivalofthearts.org/about-the-festival/

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The Night Before Christmas

Some of the best Christmas tales will be told with the help of an array of puppets and holiday music. The all-ages show is at 10 a.m. at the Great Arizona Puppet Theater. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for children. Go to http://azpuppets.org/shows.php for more information.

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CitySkate Ice Rink

The CitySkate Ice Rink is back at CityScape for the winter season. Skate in circles underneath Downtown Phoenix skyscrapers surrounded by holiday lights, music and hot chocolate. Admission is $12 per person. The rink is open from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. For more info, go to http://www.cityskatephx.com

 

Saturday

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Scottsdale Promenade Holiday Celebration

The Scottsdale Promenade is the place to be for all your free holiday activities. Enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride or skate a few laps around the ice rink after taking photos with Santa and decorating cookies. The celebration lasts from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Go to http://www.scottsdalepromenade.com/events-and-promotions/ for more information.

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12K’s of Christmas and Santa’s Pet Village

Get some exercise in before all of the holiday meals with a 1.2K Santa Sled Run, 6K or 12K run for the whole family. The day will also include pet adoptions and carolers to bring the holiday spirit. The event, which takes place at the Freestone Park in Gilbert, will run from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Admission is free. Register at http://www.12krun.com.  

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Snow Day at the Farm

If your kids haven’t yet seen snow this season, take them to Mother Nature’s Farm for a day of playing and sledding in the snow. The farm will have a snow hill, hayride, maze, air bounce and more available to visitors. Tickets are $7 for children and $3 for adults. The farm will be open from 9a.m. to 9 p.m. Go to http://mothernaturesfarm.com/xmas.aspx for more details.

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Cowboy Christmas

Experience a new kind of Christmas celebration with a westernized Santa, miniature horses dressed as reindeer and free wagon rides. Old Town Scottsdale will have all this and more from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, check http://www.experiencescottsdale.com/event/cowboy-christmas/

 

Sunday

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A Christmas Carol: The Musical

Join Ebenezer Scrooge as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future, and hopes to change his destiny. The classic tale will take place at 7 p.m. Tickets range from $15 to $20. Check http://www.fhtaz.org for more info. 

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Breakfast with Santa

Sunday mornings call for extravagant breakfasts. Spend this weekend with Santa decorating cookies, hearing stories from Mrs. Claus and enjoying a holiday breakfast buffet. The Rico’s American Grill breakfast times are at 8 a.m., 10 a.m. and noon. Tickets are $30 for adults and $18 for children. For more info, go here.

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A Charlie Brown Christmas

There’s no better Christmas story than the one told by beloved character Charlie Brown and his group of friends. Arizona Broadway Theatre brings the tale to life with gently falling snow, ice skating parties, Snoopy’s antics, and more. The show is at 10 a.m. Tickets start at $17. Go to http://azbroadway.org/index.php/the-shows/tya-show for more information.

 
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