5 Things Every Holiday Host Should Borrow, Not Buy

Hosting for the holidays is a point of pride for many, but it can also be expensive. You’re spending a lot to prep for your guests, between stocking the kitchen and making sure everyone has what they need. Instead of buying all the extra items you don’t have, borrow from a friend, family member or neighbor. In many cases, people going out of town won’t need their coffee maker or extra air mattress.

Here are some important items to add to your “to borrow” list. Stock up before your guests arrive to make sure they have a festive and restful stay.

Extra Baking and Cooking Dishes

How often do you make a 3-course meal for 5+ people throughout the year? Likely not very often—so don’t buy a handful of extra dishes for this one meal. Instead, ask friends, family or neighbors if they have anything for you to borrow. Items on your list may include:

  • Glasses: wine glasses, coffee mugs and others for alcoholic drinks, like martini glasses
  • Serving dishes: bowls, trays, large plates
  • Baking/cooking dishes: oven-safe baking trays, extra pots and pans
  • Serving utensils: extra tongs, serving spoons, carving knife
  • Standard cutlery and dishes: bowls, plates, silverware

Go through your kitchen to make a list of what you need and start asking around. If you’re still missing a few items, head to Goodwill where you can get good-quality, used products for a steep discount. Keep it when you’re done or donate it back.

Table and Chairs

If you’re hosting for a big meal, your small family kitchen table is likely not big enough for a feast. As such, you’ll need extra tables and chairs to accommodate. These are great items to borrow, instead of investing in plastic tables and extra chairs—or even renting, which can be costly as well.

In the 2017 report, The Holiday Survival Guide for Hosting on a Budget, 47 percent of respondents reported borrowing these items more often than any others, including dish ware, decorations and linens. Ask for foldable chairs rather than plastic, which look nicer and are more comfortable, and throw a tablecloth over the plastic table to make it festive and more put together.

Mattress or Inflatable Bed

Guests need somewhere to sleep and you can’t give your bed to everyone. If you don’t already have extra mattresses, or you do, but your inflatable mattress empties by morning, this is a good item to borrow. In the same holiday survival guide, this was the second most borrowed item because many people have an extra lying around and it’s easy to part with if they’re not hosting.

The trick is finding space for the extra sleepers. Consider moving things around in the living room or putting a partition in a spare room for families who want their space but are staying in the same room. Perhaps you can borrow a futon or turn your living room into a bedroom to make everyone more comfortable.

House Gadgets

In addition to extra baking and cooking dishes, you may need an extra coffee machine, French press, hand mixer, and even extra chargers and outlet strips—most guests come with a lot of electronics in our digital age. Turn to friends who are going out of town for the holidays and may not have a need for something like their coffee maker. Add these items to the list of cooking goods you need so you don’t forget to ask for them. If someone offers extra, take it and return if not needed; it’s always better to have more than not enough.


You want your guests to have a great time during their stay and part of that is making sure there’s plenty around the house to keep them occupied. Instead of buying a bunch of games, see what you can borrow from friends. In addition to board games, you can stock up on:

  • Old magazines
  • Books
  • Arts and crafts stuff for kids 
  • Cards
  • Lawn games (depending on where you live or for the garage)
  • DVDs 

Get Ready to Host

Prepare your borrowing list and start asking. Get stocked up on everything you need at least a week before everyone comes so if you do need to order or buy something, you have time. When everyone arrives, they’ll never know you borrowed anything and will be able to relax and enjoy themselves—without you having to spend extra.

6 Stunning Ways to Replace Popcorn Ceiling

Realtors across the nation agree: popcorn ceilings repulse buyers. They see it as a significantly outdated style that also gives them asbestos suspicions. Removal has the potential to raise your home value and keep buyers interested.

You’re probably ready to take a stab at it with your putty knife, but it’s a good idea to have a next step in mind. Simple updates, like replacing popcorn with a different texture, can be as cheap as $1 to $3 per square foot according to HomeAdvisor. These easy-fixes might do the trick but can underwhelm new buyers.

While the tarps are down, you have an opportunity to make room-changing, home-value-increasing updates. Here are some fantastic options to bring your ceiling into the 21st century:


To make the coffered style, beams are installed in a grid pattern with panels in between. The result is dynamic while the beams make each panel look recessed. Thicker beams will create more depth, while thin ones will be subtle. You can use one uniform color for the beams and panels, or you can make dramatic color choices to further accent your ceiling.


This design will take your ceiling miles away from the manufactured look of popcorn texture. Beautiful wood or faux-wood beams can be installed across your ceiling in a variety of ways to accomplish your desired look. Select a natural wood stain for a cozy cabin feel, or paint the beams and the ceiling one color. You can also create the illusion of fully exposed floor beams, to turn any room into a rustic escape.


Paint is a great way to incorporate your ceiling into a design scheme, rather than leaving it out entirely. Match the ceiling to the walls or paint it a strong accent color. Build dimension with flourishes like faux medallions, ceiling rings and moldings, and paint them in either the same color or one that contrasts. Interior designers suggest bold finishes, like metallic or lacquer. 


Ceiling tiles come in a variety of materials, including Styrofoam, wood and tin, and can completely change the atmosphere of a room. Styrofoam and faux-tin tiles are light and easily installed, and they can add instant beauty and structure. These tiles can be as ornate or simple as you prefer.

One of the purposes of popcorn ceilings was to dull sound. If you’re concerned that the acoustics of your room will go haywire after you remove this texture, acoustical tiles are a great replacement. They are specifically designed to mute or muffle sound and can be applied directly to your ceiling. If noise is a major concern for you, check out this soundproofing guide.


Beadboard and wooden planks are perfect materials for a paneled ceiling. You can maintain the raw wood stain of the planks or paint them to fit your color scheme. Panels have a streamlined and organized appearance, which is in strong contrast to the splotchy look of popcorn ceilings. They can make a room seem more put-together and calming.

Mix and Match

Having a hard time deciding which design you want more? You can mix some of these styles together for an even stronger impression. Wood-paneled ceilings look excellent with thick beams hung across them. Coffered ceilings pair well with faux-tin tiles in place of panels. It might be best to consult an interior designer, so that you get choose the materials and colors that work best.

If you don’t want buyers running for the hills, get rid of that old-fashioned texture and trade up for something breathtaking.

Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® Announces Altoona Branch Manager


(Des Moines, IA – November 29, 2017) – Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® President, Robert Burns, has named Liz Price as Branch Manager of the Altoona Office.


Price is a St. Louis-area native and attended Louis and Clark Community College and Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She was formerly a recruiter for Edwards Jones Investment before moving to the Des Moines area in 2007.

Price obtained her real estate license in 2010 and was the manager at an Ankeny brokerage before joining the Coldwell Banker Ankeny office. In the Spring of 2017 she became the Assistant Manager in Altoona.

In her time as Assistant Manager, Liz has worked to create a supportive, collaborative, and fun culture in Altoona, which has resulted in excellent retention and a number of recruiting wins for our company,” Burns said.


Price is currently working on winding down her successful real estate practice and will step into the management role officially in January.


“I love Altoona for its forward thinking and the amenities it offers,” Price said. “I love working with some of the best agents in the Metro and I’m excited to take on this new role as manager and continue the successful growth of this office.”

Price has two children, Caroline and Mary Kate, and lives in Ankeny with her husband, Cole.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, golfing and attending her daughter’s music and sporting activities. She also loves musical theater and attending concerts. 

“I am confident that the Altoona office will thrive under Liz’s expanded leadership responsibilities,” Burns said.


Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® is an Iowa based member of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Corporation.  Mid-America Group, a land owner and developer with over 35 years of experience, affiliated with Coldwell Banker in 1990.  By combining local ownership, market expertise and national support services, Coldwell Banker Mid-America Group, Realtors® offers a full range of premier real estate services.

Pile on Textures for a Comfy and Cozy Space This Season

As nights get shorter and the weather gets colder, a lot of us will be retreating indoors for warmth and comfort. If your room still resembles a bright and breezy summer oasis, this might be the time to refresh its look for fall and winter. Fuzzy blankets and snuggable pillows are some of this season’s essentials, so get ready to layer these textures..

Go for velvet. This material is making a huge comeback in recent style trends and is a must-have staple of fall decor. The rich fabric adds undeniable elegance to any room. It practically begs you to sit down and stay a while. Velvet furniture comes in a variety of beautifully bold colors, such as this navy sofa that brings instant drama to this living room. You can also reupholster your own piece of furniture in velvet instead of buying a new one.


Add a sheepskin rug. If you love wearing slippers around the house and are craving for more warmth underfoot, look no further than a classic sheepskin rug. They are incredibly versatile and can work in any room. Drape one over the back of a chair or sofa or use it as an extra layer on the bed. Its warm, fuzzy texture creates an effortlessly luxurious look. They’re mostly seen in snow-white shades, but they can be customized in a variety of colors.


Consider wool, cashmere and knits. These fabrics aren’t restricted to cold-weather clothing; they can be used in home decor as well. Resembling your favorite fall sweater, they immediately conjure up feelings of warmth and stay true to that promise when used as blankets and throws. Available in a multitude of colors and price points, you can easily match them to your current decor scheme and budget. This charmingly chunky knit throw blanket invites you to hibernate here.


Layer up the drapes. Give your walls some love this season by investing in floor-to-ceiling window treatments. They can help a small space look and feel taller when mounted to the ceiling while thick, billowy curtains can bring a snug feeling to a large and drafty room. Insulating soft fabric also combats the soon-to-be cold weather outdoors. Neutral colors, such as beige and gray, work best to create a calming and peaceful vibe, as seen in the living room above.


Keep a basket of blankets handy. Bulky blankets are always welcome on cozy fall nights, but they can be a struggle to store if you don’t have a linen closet. Handwoven and braided storage baskets are a great solution. They’re both budget-friendly and adorably fitting for most rooms. They add an extra layer of texture to the room. Most are deep enough to store several thick blankets. These baskets take up very little space, so they can easily be placed next to a sofa, in an empty nook or near the hearth. Take a hint from this living room and leave the corner of a blanket hanging out for some fuzzy flair.


Consider floor pillows and poufs. If you’re hosting a lot of family and friends this holiday season, floor pillows can work double-duty as decorations and seating. Poufs can be surprisingly comfortable and easily stacked in a corner as a beautiful display when not in use. They’re also a low-commitment way to experiment with fun prints around the house.


Decorate with festive throw pillows. Throw pillows are easy, minimal decorations that pack a punch of style. Available in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes, they can be customized to your design preference and color palette. Alternatively, you can venture out of your comfort zone and test bold colors or interesting patterns. In this Scandinavian living room, the silver tufted pillow and orange ruffled pillow bring interesting dimension to an otherwise minimalist and neutral space.



Cozy up by the fire. If you’re lucky enough to have a rustic stone fireplace at home, you have plenty of texture and dimension to work with this fall. For those of us who don’t, you can still play up your fire feature by displaying cute collections or holiday ornaments on the mantel. Even if you have an electric fireplace, stacking wood indoors creates the cabin ambience that is essential to this lovable season. If you don’t have a fireplace at all, consider placing candles around your home. Renters and childproofers might try LED candles, which have become very realistic and even scented. Flame or no flame, the soft flicker and warm glow will instantly cozy up any space.

How to Avoid the Top 5 Home Seller Mistakes

When you are selling your home, it can be easy to be in a vacuum. You have a certain idea of what the market should pay for your home and what may or may not be an issue. After all, you are king of your castle, right? Your home has x, y and z . The location can’t be beat. It’s just around the corner from (insert fabulous restaurant, park, coffee shop, school, etc. here).

However, when buyers and agents are coming through your home, it can be where distorted perception meets reality. Here are the top mistakes sellers make and how to avoid them.

1. Overpricing Your Home

If your home is overpriced, two things won’t happen: showings or offers. The price is what sets the tone for showings. It is the nonverbal message that either invites or discourages activity. If it is too high, buyers that can afford it may be interested in something else, as they can go higher in price range, and the audience for whom it was intended price-wise are usually shut out. To avoid frustration over offers much lower than your set price, have an open discussion with your real estate agent to set the right price for your home.

2. Making Showings Difficult

Restricted showing times, no lockbox or having to be present for all showings can impact the ability of showing traffic through your home. If there are umpteen instructions or restrictions, agents and their buyers will simply move on to those properties with less rules. Work with your real estate agent to find a way to make showings convenient for both you as the seller as well as potential buyers.

3. Not Countering an Offer

While everyone would love to get the most for their home, a seller also needs to keep a realistic balance. It is too easy to get hung up on the starting number in an offer when the focus should be on what the end result is. The opening offer is simply that –a starting point. It gets a conversation going and results in hopefully a happy medium that is amenable to the buyer and seller. Not countering an offer is like having a one way conversation. It won’t work. How can you move to sold if you can’t have a dialogue of back and forth? It doesn’t mean that the buyers aren’t serious, they are simply being conservative in their first offer to get a feel for how the negotiation is going to go. It doesn’t mean that is the most they are willing to pay unless the offer was positioned that way. Failure to counter sends a discouraging signal to the buyer that can create an uncomfortable situation, perceived or real. Buyers want to do business with sellers who are eager to do business with them. You don’t have to give away the store to do so, but certainly responding with a number in good faith is a step in the right direction.

4. Property Condition Denial

Would you as a buyer pay top dollar for a home with original systems approaching the end of their life? In today’s real estate climate, buyers, lenders, appraisers and inspectors are more scrutinous than ever. It is not only the buyer, but the lender, appraiser and the buyer’s insurance company that could be making the call on a home’s condition. Before you sell, be realistic about the condition of your home. Unless the home is deeply discounted below market value, which realistically means it would be far too low pricewise that you would agree to accept, the buyer will care about it and if they don’t, their home inspector certainly will!

5. Selective Memory

Sellers often fear that if they disclose too much or provide too many details, that it could affect their ability to sell for top dollar; however, failure to disclose could open you up to liability after the sale. Leaving questions blank, or not being clear on the age of certain things only creates more red flags and concern for a potential buyer. If you answer the questions honestly and fully disclose any known issues or repairs that were made (with receipts to document and provide a history) it will eliminate buyer fear and doubt.

The Thankful Tree and Thoughts of Home

Sitting on my kitchen counter for the last week is something called a “thankful tree;” a small wooden tree with miniature paper leaves my wife found while out one day. The purpose of the thankful tree is that each person within the home writes down a few things they are thankful for on a leaf and puts it on the tree.

Our tree has 18 leaves, and seeing that there are six people (four boys, my wife, and me) in my home, we each got three leaves. The kids genuinely got excited about doing this, and as I looked at what was written on the thankful tree, I noticed a common theme – home.

There were some leaves that contained the physical things of home, like certain toys, the actual structure, and the newly self-renovated kitchen — but many of the emotional aspects of home that extend beyond our four walls were also represented, and those are what really stood out.

Family, grandparents, our church, teachers, and friends. Even “Daddy’s job” made the thankful tree, which you may not think of as being home-related, but to me (and my family), it truly is an extended family.

While home tends to be thought of as the rooms in which we abide, as I read the leaves on this small Thanksgiving-themed decoration, it made me pause and appreciate all that home truly is and how it extends beyond the property lines which we pay taxes for.

It made me reflect on friends in Puerto Rico, Texas and Florida who’ve lost their physical home due to natural disasters, and those who’ve had the emotional elements of home ripped apart due to hate, terror and unforeseen acts. I was forced to reflect on what I have been given and how I can give to others, not just in donations, but in time, support and aid where it is most needed.

Home, at its most basic definition, is shelter, and while it provides that, it does so much more. Those that have a home, whether it be an actual residence or just a state of comfort, have so much to be thankful for.

You may not have a thankful tree planted on your kitchen counter, but I trust this season of thanks gives you reason to appreciate all that home means to you.

Fall Closet Cleanout: What to Keep, Toss, and Buy

The weather is getting colder, and it’s finally time to put away your summer clothes and pull out your comfy knits and favorite pair of jeans. As you begin to swap out your seasonal clothing, set aside some extra time to clean out your entire closet. After all, you might discover you just have too much stuff. Many of us have our favorite pieces and others fall by the wayside, no matter the season! Here a few tips for your fall closet cleanout, including what you should keep, what you should buy and what you should get rid of.

Toss: Any Damaged or Unworn Items

We’ll start with what to toss. Inspect all your clothing carefully, whether it’s the summer shorts you’re putting away or the fall sweater you’re bringing out. Set aside anything that is damaged, stained or worn out. Next, identify items that you know you haven’t worn in months (or even years). They might have been in storage and you haven’t missed them, or they simply don’t fit your body or your style anymore.

Before you head to the dumpster, consider donating your damaged and unwearable clothes to a textile recycling program. You can donate any clothes that are still in good condition to a thrift store or consign them for a little extra cash.

Keep: Your Standby Favorites

You might come across some pieces that you like, but you’re not totally sure about them. Use the “Hanger Test” strategy to test them out. While you are putting away and organizing your fall clothes, make sure all of your hangers are facing the same way. After you wear an item, put it back in the closet with the hanger facing the opposite way. At the end of the month or the season, you can see which items went unworn and are still hanging in their original way. Chances are you can get rid of these pieces without missing them. If you really don’t want to part with them, box them up and put them under your bed or in the attic or basement. If you’ve forgotten about them after 30 days, you don’t need them.

After you have identified the pieces you no longer need, organize what you have left. Choose a system that works for you—arrange garments by color, type or use, whatever fits your organizational style. Your clothes should be easy to find in your closet or dresser drawers so that you know what you are working with when you start to build outfits.

Buy: The Missing Essentials

Now that your closet is organized, take an inventory of everything so that you know what you have available to you. This way, it’s easier to spot gaps and see if you’re missing any pieces that are essential to your wardrobe. Buy new versions of basics you tossed, like that go-to pair of black pants that were worn out or your favorite white blouse that was stained. Pieces you do not need to replace yet include formal dresses, fast fashion trends that are likely to go out of style, and loud, flashy pieces you aren’t likely to wear often. Do your wallet a favor—and avoid having to get rid of more clothes next season—by shopping for long-lasting, high-quality, versatile basics at secondhand stores. Today, there are many online thrift stores where you can find like-new designer clothing at a big discount.

With an organized closet full of pieces that you wear regularly, you’ll feel more confident every day. Be sure to keep your closet stocked with the basics like jeans, simple tops and comfortable shoes, and you will be set for the season. You won’t be overwhelmed with options, and your closet will stay neat. Getting dressed every day might actually be fun!