Which Christmas tree to buy

All Christmas trees are cute – the sight of any should bring a smile to your face. And there are many types: from the small prepackaged collapsible artificial trees which you can pick up for a dollar or two to the 9.5 ft high Chesapeake Christmas tree, pictured, that comes with 1500 pre-lit clear lights and a $500 price tag. If you feel even splashier this season you may consider the famous 20 ft Soo Kee Christmas tree that could be yours for $1 million – you may keep the decorations that consist of 3,762 beads and 21,798 diamonds. If you’d prefer something smaller in the same price range, consider the 24k gold Ginza Tinaka Christmas tree. All of the above are, of course, non-drop trees.

Non-drop – meaning the needles are retained by the tree – real Christmas trees are the Douglas Fir, Fraser Fir or Nordman Fir spruce tree varieties with the Scots Pine said to be the best retaining spruce tree with its long needles and fresh pine smell. The Blue Spruce is a low-drop tree.

If you do not mind a bit of extra excitement with spruce fir needles among the gifts you can choose between the so-called Traditional Christmas trees: the Norway Spruce or the Omorica Spruce. The National Christmas Tree Association has all the tree facts.

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Tips for a stress-free Christmas

CUT THE STRESS: You don't need to spend a lot of money to have a good Christmas.

January is a bad month for social services charity Barnardos. In the weeks following the annual Christmas spending binge, holiday hangovers start to kick in.

It can be a highly stressful situation, says service manager Rachel Turner.

“Kids are hungry, there’s no money. It’s pretty miserable.”

Families are under pressure to provide a picture-perfect Christmas like they see on TV, with all the fancy gifts, glitzy decorations and delicious food.

But Turner says you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a good Christmas. Look back on your own memories.

“Usually you can’t remember what you were given, but you can remember how you felt,” she says.

“That what we’ve been saying to families; try and create an atmosphere that is loving and peaceful, rather than buying in to marketers and advertisers.”

Here are some tips for a stress-free holiday that embraces the true spirit of Christmas, with none of the greed, one-upmanship or outdated traditions.

Create family traditions

Barnardos social workers did some research where kids were asked what they wanted for Christmas.

The sprogs were surprisingly realistic about their limited chances of getting a pony or a PlayStation 4. Instead, they often just wanted mum and dad to stop fighting and to spend time together as a family.

“It might sound a bit Pollyanna, but that is actually what kids want,” Turner says.

Barnardos suggests a low-cost family tradition could be something as simple as going to church, or spending the day at the beach. If you are a sucker for punishment, you could even make it a tradition to watch Love Actually or some other suitably soppy holiday movie each year.

Make a list

If you are part of a big whanau or blended family it can be hard to keep track of all the rellies you are buying gifts for.

The best strategy is to use a good old-fashioned list, which you can cross off as you go.

Simple Savings author and money columnist Jackie Gower recommends setting an overall budget, and sticking to it.

You can then divvy up the money between each person. Gower says it also helps to give yourself enough time so that you can pick up bargains earlier in the year, rather than having to buy everything at once.

Cut back

Northland dairy farmer Lyn Webster, author of the popular book Pig Tits and Parsley Sauce, is firmly of the mind that Christmas is not defined by how much money gets spent.

“If you’ve got no money and it’s making you feel bad that Christmas is coming, that’s not what it’s supposed to be about,” she says.

Webster has been through her own tough financial times, and says her kids have generally been understanding.

“Honestly, they do not care. They’ve got a brain, and they can see,” she says.

In fact, Webster thinks it is time to re-think the whole gift-giving tradition, which usually results in a pile of unwanted ornaments, ill-fitting clothes or useless trinkets.

“Think about Nana, who’s been brainwashed into Christmas for 90 years, and she’s got no money,” she says.

“She buys you some pathetic thing, and everyone makes fun of it behind her back. There’s no joy there.”

If you do feel compelled to give, Webster reckons cash, grocery vouchers or a donation to a charity as a better alternative.

The other option which is becoming increasingly popular is a secret Santa.

“What we’ve done with adults, is just draw a name out of a hat, and buy one present for one person,” says Webster.

That way you can pool your $100 and get something decent, rather than buying a whole load of token gifts.

“A lot of that stuff is just entertaining crap, and it will just end up in the tip in a short period of time,” she says.

Shop off-peak

Turner suggests avoiding shopping malls if at all possible. As she points out, there are no clocks to mark the time passing as your wallet rapidly becomes lighter.

Wheeling through the throngs of people and festive displays, with Snoopy’s Christmas blasting in your ears, you will inevitably end up with a trolley laden with unintended purchases.

If you do have to do a mall run, take advantage of extended opening hours and try and go in the morning or late at night. Go alone, without nagging children or competitive friends to sabotage your budget.

Keep your list close to hand, and if possible, research online beforehand so you can find the best prices and get in and out as fast as possible.

Use cash

Another good strategy for sticking to the budget is to withdraw some cash and then leave your cards at home. That way you can’t succumb to weakness and rack up debt that will come back to haunt you in January.

Bring a plate

The women who slave away in the kitchen all day to produce a traditional Christmas feast are “martyrs”, says Webster.

She says the best solution so no-one gets landed with all the work and expense is a pot-luck, or assigning dishes to different people.

Gower agrees.

“A lot of us take it upon ourselves that we have to do it all ourselves, and we have to do it better than Aunty Mildred last year,” she says.

“[But] a lot of people expect to be asked to bring a plate, and they really don’t mind.”

As far as classic foods like Christmas puds and turkey go, both women think you should dispense with tradition and serve whatever suits your tastes and budget.

“People aren’t going to be scarred for life if you get a chicken instead,” says Gower.

Gorging yourself to the point of explosion and then picking drunken fights with annoying relatives is another tradition worth dispensing with.

“I’ve seen Christmas ruined,” says Webster. “Really it should be all in moderation.”

Plan ahead

After the big day, Gower prefers to chill out at home rather than join the throngs stocking up for next year in the Boxing Day sales.

“Only buy what you need,” she recommends. “Kids change their minds every five minutes.”

The other way to prepare for the year ahead is to regularly save throughout the year.

“A lot of people buy supermarket vouchers when they do their regular shop,” Gower says.

“By the time Christmas comes around, you’ve got several hundred dollars saved up.”

Others opt to put money towards hampers, but Gower cautions they are usually over-priced.

Instead you are better off making your own Christmas stash by buying non-perishable items when they are on special throughout the year.

Christmas Fuzzies

Gower had a bit of an epiphany recently.

“We think we have no choice but to spend, that you have to buy the right gifts, you have to spend enough,” she says.

But it is all nonsense. You do have control, she says. The decision of what is “enough” is entirely yours, not your neighbour’s, your mother’s, or your gossipy co-worker’s.

Like Turner, Gower says her favourite Christmas memories have nothing to do with the prezzies, or how big the ham was.

“It’s about the people. It’s about the atmosphere. It’s about creating all those Christmas-y warm fuzzies.”

Saving for Christmas – Are Christmas clubs worth it?

A number of supermarkets are offering Christmas clubs where shoppers can either make deposits or purchase vouchers with an end goal of having some extra money at Christmas time.

Unlike the infamous NZ hampers, the supermarket clubs let you choose what you want.

In the Countdown and New World schemes, you can also earn One Card and Fly Buys points on your Christmas shopping. And some stores have special club events with promotional offers for members as Christmas gets closer.

How they work

At Countdown, FreshChoice and SuperValue you can buy Christmas club vouchers in different amounts throughout the year.

The Countdown vouchers give you a 5 percent bonus when you use them between 1 December and 31 January – as long as you’ve purchased them before 1 December. They can also be used before 1 December but you won’t get the bonus.

At SuperValue and FreshChoice, you get a 5 percent discount on the vouchers when you buy them. FreshChoice also offers a Christmas Saver Plan which gives a 5 percent discount on weekly automatic payments towards vouchers. The vouchers can only be used in December or January.

New World and Pak’nSave, along with Four Square’s South Island outlets, issue Christmas club cards. You pay into your card through regular automatic payments or direct debit, or at the supermarket itself. You can earn a varying bonus on the saved amount.

In New World and Pak’nSave’s upper North Island and South Island supermarkets you can spend your savings any time before 1 December – but you won’t earn the bonus on any money you spend then. This also applies to the Four Square outlets in the South Island. If you don’t spend all of your money and bonuses at Christmas, unspent money and bonuses can be spent at any time in the following year.

In New World and Pak’nSave’s lower North Island outlets you can’t spend your savings before 1 December. You get to spend your savings, plus the bonus, between 1 December and 29 February. Unspent money will be carried over to the next Christmas Club year.

So, is it Worth it?

Supermarket Christmas clubs offer good value for money, be warned vouchers can expire (depending on which club you join). Cards have the advantage that they can be registered with the store and disabled if lost or stolen.

Cancelling and refunds

Each supermarket has their own cancellation policy, ensure you read it before you commit!

Happy shopping people.

Pak n Save

When should Christmas decorations go up?

There’s less than a month until Christmas and loads of towns have already got their trees and switched their festive street lights on.

But when do you put your Christmas decorations up at home?

Have you had them up for weeks, or do you wait until there’s just a few days left to go?

And what’s your favourite bit? Is it the lights, the tree and tinsel, or something completely different?

Maybe you don’t decorate at all, or hate it because it causes arguments with your brothers and sisters!

Modern tradition is to put up a Christmas tree the day or weekend after Thanksgiving (after the fourth Thursday in November). Thus on Black Friday.

In some communities it is tradition to put up the Christmas tree on the 6th of December in honor on Saint Nicholas.

The classic tradition is to put up the Christmas tree 12 days before Christmas day, on the 13th of December.

In Catholic tradition the Christmas tree is put up after noon on Christmas eve.

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100 Most popular Christmas Songs

Playing in the background of every restaurant, store, and holiday party from now until December 25th will be of course Christmas carols/songs ranging from today’s newest top 40 artists to the classics. We have compiled 100 of the most popular Christmas carols for you to enjoy.

1 White Christmas Bing Crosby

2 The Chipmunk Song The Chipmunks

3 Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer Gene Autry

4 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus Jimmy Boyd

5 Jingle Bell Rock Bobby Helms

6 The Christmas Song Nat King Cole

7 Snoopy’s Christmas The Royal Guardsmen

8 Here Comes Santa Claus Gene Autry

9 Little Drummer Boy Harry Simeone Chorale

10 Donde Esta Santa Claus Augie Rios

11 Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Brenda Lee

12 You’re All I Want For Christmas Brook Benton

13 Baby’s First Christmas Connie Francis

14 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Bruce Springsteen

15 Home For The Holidays Perry Como

16 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Four Seasons

17 Do They Know It’s Christmas Band Aid

18 Happy Christmas (War is Over) John Lennon and Yoko Ono

19 May You Always Harry Harrison

20 Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer Elmo and Patsy

21 Jingle Bell Rock Chubby Checker & Bobby Rydell

22 Jingle Bells Singing Dogs

23 Frosty the Snowman Gene Autry

24 Merry Christmas Darling The Carpenters

25 Little St. Nick The Beach Boys

26 Please Come Home For Christmas Charles Brown

27 It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas Perry Como & The Fontaine Sisters

28 Feliz Navidad José Feliciano

29 Santa Baby Eartha Kitt

30 Do You Hear What I Hear Bing Crosby

31 Blue Christmas Elvis Presley

32 Run Rudolph Run Chuck Berry

33 (Sleep in Heavenly Peace) Silent Night Barbra Streisand

34 Nuttin’ for Christmas Barry Gordon

35 Wonderful Christmastime Paul McCartney

36 Step Into Christmas Elton John

37 The Christmas Waltz Frank Sinatra

38 All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth Spike Jones

39 Please Come Home For Christmas The Eagles

40 Amen The Impressions

41 Monsters’ Holiday Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett

42 Holly Jolly Christmas Burl Ives

43 Give Love on Christmas Day The Jackson Five

44 Dominick, The Italian Christmas Donkey Lou Monte

45 White Christmas The Drifters

46 It’s Christmas Everywhere Paul Anka

47 Gee Whiz, It’s Christmas Carla Thomas

48 Christmas Dragnet Stan Freberg & Daws Butler

49 Sleigh Ride – (Instrumental) Arthur Fiedler & The Boston Pops

50 Pretty Paper Roy Orbison

51 Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) Darlene Love

52 If It Doesn’t Snow on Christmas Gene Autry

53 What Christmas Means To Me Stevie Wonder

54 Marshmallow World Dean Martin

55 Winter Wonderland Aretha Franklin

56 Merry, Merry Christmas Baby Margo Sylvia & The Tuneweavers

57 Frosty the Snowman The Ronettes

58 Christmas Auld Lang Syne Bobby Darin

59 Jingle Bells (Instrumental) Booker T and The MG’s

60 Silver Bells Johnny Mathis

61 Merry Christmas All Denise Montana

62 Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer The Melodeers

63 Santa Claus is Coming To Town The Crystals

64 Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas Frank Sinatra

65 Sleigh Ride The Ventures

66 The Most Wonderful Time of The Year Andy Williams

67 Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy David Bowie and Bing Crosby

68 Winter Wonderland Darlene Love

69 Happy Holidays Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme

70 Kissin’ By The Mistletoe Aretha Franklin

71 The Man With All The Toys The Beach Boys

72 The Twelve Days of Christmas Ray Conniff Singers

73 Here Comes Santa Claus Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans

74 We Need A Little Christmas Percy Faith Orchestra

75 Last Christmas George Michael & Wham

76 Silent Night The Temptations

77 We Wish You The Merriest Bing Crosby & Frank Sinatra

78 White Christmas Darlene Love

79 Santa Claus Is Watching You Ray Stevens

80 This Christmas Donny Hathaway

81 A Christmas Long Ago The Echelons

82 Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow Dean Martin

83 Sleigh Ride The Ronettes

84 Mistletoe and Holly Frank Sinatra

85 It’s Christmas Once Again Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers

86 ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas Fred Waring & The Pennsylvanians

87 This Time of Year Brook Benton

88 Parade of The Wooden Soldiers The Crystals

89 Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree Dion

90 Chrissy, The Christmas Mouse Debbie Reynolds & Donald O’Connor

91 Marshmallow World Darlene Love

92 Christmas Serenade Johnny Maestro & The Brooklyn Bridge

93 Christmas Ain’t Christmas The O’Jays

94 You’re My Christmas Present Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners

95 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus The Ronettes

96 I Believe in Father Christmas Greg Lake

97 Someday At Christmas Stevie Wonder

98 Merry Christmas Baby Otis Redding

99 Santa Claus Is Coming To Town Frank Sinatra & Cyndi Lauper

100 Bells of St. Mary Bob B. Soxx & The Blue Jeans

Minecraft characters and enemies

Blaze

A demon that i’m still not too sure about. They use fire attacks on you that can be deadly so watch out for that. They drop blaze rods. (im not sure how many.)

Cave spider

A slightly more powerful verison of the spider. As the name inplies, they are found caves and dungeons. The difference between a spider and a cave spider is that a spider is black and a cave spider is dark blue.

Cow

This is not an enemy just a animal. Kill it to get raw beef and leather thanks to the new update. Use a bucket on it to get a milk bucket which can be used to make a cake and get the achivement, “The lie.”

Creeper

An annoying creature. They will walk up to you and blow up. They are also afraid of cats and ocelots. The damage varies depending on how close the explosion was to you. They drop 0-2 gunpower when killed. (this does not count blowing himself up.) When lightning hits them they become a supercharged creeper which means the explosion is more powerful and deadly. A supercharged creeper has blue lightning swirling around it. They come out at night but the don’t burn in the sun.

Enderbrine

I don’t know much about this guy. He looks like steve but part of his face has the enderman’s eye (purple) and the other is a white eye and no pupil. I think he is like the devil of the minecraft world… Give me some info if you know something about him plz!

Ender dragon

Ah yes, the boss at the end. A hard to beat boss indeed! just look up on youtube on how to make a portal to the end because its too complicated to talk about. When fighting the Ender dragon, you must destroy the crystals because he will just heal himself if you damage him. If you manage to defeat him the game’s credits will start. and he drops a LOT of experence points. (yes there are credits for this game.)

Enderman

A tall black enemy with purple eyes. They come from the end… They can hold things (like dirt) and they can teleport. They drop 0-1 ender pearls which can be used to go to the end. arrows have no effect on them. (since they teleport) They won’t attack you unless you attack them or get close to them. They are hard to find.

Ghast

A oversized ghost that roams around in the nether world. They shoot fireballs at you just attack them and you can deflect them back at the ghast. They drop 1-2 gunpowder which is easier to get than killing creepers. Oh and another thing: always bring some cobblestone to make a little fort around the nether portal because the ghast can destroy it and trap you in the nether FOREVER!!!

Herobrine

This guy is a strange one. He looks like steve but with white eyes and no pupils. Some say he is the god in minecraft and some say that they have seen him. Thanks to the new update for the xbox minecraft, herobrine has been removed. I know how to summon him but that doesn’t matter anymore because he has been removed. The reason he has been removed is because he would appear and if he hit you, you would catch on fire and fly across the map.

Iron golem

Only in the PC verison, This huge enemy is a force to be reckoned with. They are very strong and i advise that you get some diamond armor and sword before fighting them. With a diamond sword, it takes 18 hits to kill! To make a iron golem, you will need 4 blocks of iron and a pumpkin or jack-o-lanturn. Place 2 blocks on top of each other then put the other 2 on each side. (to act as arms.) then place the pumpkin on top on the 2 blocks on top of each other. Some reason in water, they stop fighting you…

Magma cube

A fire-elemential slime. these guys are only in the PC verison. I think they are in the nether only im not too sure.

Mooshroom

A very wierd animal that is in the PC verison only. They look like a red cow with red mushrooms on their back. They are extremely hard to find and if you kill them they drop red mushrooms. I don’t know if this is true or not but i think you can get a bowl and like a regular cow, use a bowl (instead of a bucket) to get mushroom soup which restores a LOT of hearts.

Pig

Again this is an animal that will not attack. They drop raw porkchops in both verisons. Kill them with flint and steel to get cooked porkchops. They can be ridden on by a saddle. (which you can only get in a dungeon.) Let the pig take fall damage while riding it to get one of the most hardest achivements to get called, “when pigs fly.” (I still haven’t got it yet.)

Sheep

Another animal. Before the piston and sticky piston update on the xbox verison. You could get 1-3 wool from them but now you only get 1 if you kill them. You must use shears on them to get 2-4 now.

Silverfish

A small creature found in dungeons and caves. They travel in groups of 10-20. They usually live in cobblestone or moss stone or they are just moving around outside of blocks. They do tiny damage to you but if there is a lot of silverfish, then you’re in trouble…

Skleleton archer

A deadly and unsupecting enemy in the minecraft world. They use a bow to attack they are skilled archers so be careful. each arrow does about 3-4 hearts of damage if your not wearing armor. They come out at night and burn in the sun.

Slime

These enemies were just put in the xbox verison and thanks to the new update for the xbox verison, there everywhere in creative mode. But still a little hard to find in survival mode. These enemies can break apart after you defeat them into smaller slimes. Whatever you do, don’t let them get close to you! they will kill you with the snap of a finger if there are too many.

Snow golem

The same thing as a Iron golem but lives at snowy places. If you put 2 snow blocks on top of each other and put a pumpkin or a jack-o-lanturn on top of that you can make a Snow golem by placing 2 snow blocks on top of each other and then putting a pumpkin or jack-o-lanturn on top of the 2 snow blocks then congrats! you have made a snow golem! They look like a snowman with a pumpkin head.

Spider

An enemy that can climb walls and are very troublesome. They drop 1-2 string when killed. They appear at night and attack on sight but attack when you attack them in daytime.

Spider Jockey

A skleleton riding a spider or cave spider. The spider can attack you and the skleleton can shoot you so he is twice the trouble. Try to use a bow on these guys or steer clear of them.

Steve

The character you be in minecraft. You can be different characters in the xbox verison but you must have a skin pack first.

Villager

A computer player. They are not hostile in any way. They will not attack you even if you attack them. sometimes they can get in your way. They also act stupid at times. Only in the PC verison.

Zombie

A classic enemy. They drop rotten flesh when killed in both verisons. They make groaning sounds (which i think is funny) they come out at night but burn at daytime. Eating the rotten flesh will poison you and your hunger meter goes down faster for a short amount of time. If your drink some milk after you eat it, then the poison will go away sooner.

Zombie pigman

A nonhostile creature that lives in the nether. They will become hostile if you attack them. there are about 5-8 in a group so before you decide to kill everything watch out. They have golden swords too. They drop cooked porkchops in the xbox verison and the PC verison.

What to do when the tenant terminates the tenancy

Tenancies are lawfully terminated either on expiry of the fixed-term or for periodic tenancies, upon the expiry of proper notice to terminate.
When your tenant lets you know they want to terminate the tenancy, you should ask them for a written form of notice that records:

  • they are giving you 21 days notice to terminate (for periodic tenancies only)
  • their new address and new telephone number (so you can forward correspondence)
  • their confirmation that they will close any accounts with utilities, such as power, on leaving
  • they agree to leave the property in a reasonably clean and tidy condition
  • a final property inspection will be done at the end of the tenancy
  • they consent to reasonable access for the landlord to show any prospective tenants the property before the expiry of the tenancy
  • the arrangement for return of the keys.

Be prepared when you meet the tenant
You should always keep a file of key documents and correspondence for the tenancy of your property. When you meet the tenant you should take copies of:

  • the tenancy agreement with the property inspection report (noting chattels provided and the general condition of the property at the start of the tenancy)
  • the bond acknowledgment letter, and a bond refund form (provided by the Department when the bond was lodged and available at www.dbh.govt.nz)
  • recent utilities accounts, such as water rates, for any apportionments you need to do

Arrange a final inspection

Some landlords will ask the tenant to consent to a quick inspection after they give notice to terminate the tenancy, and another inspection just before the notice period expires. The first inspection allows the landlord to identify any issues (such as damage) the tenant may need to address before the tenancy ends.
Always use a property inspection report to record the condition of the property, reclaim any chattels you have loaned, and check for damage. Be prepared to shift furniture or mats to check for hidden damage.
Damage is a matter of degree. A few chips of paint might be considered fair wear and tear, which is the landlord’s responsibility.

Rental Property – What insurance do I need?

It is up to a landlord to insure their rental property against any damage, either through accident or
otherwise. That insurance will usually be for the benefit of the landlord only. A tenant should
arrange insurance to protect their contents and liability for damage to the landlord’s property.

Advice for landlords

  • Make sure your insurance covers the premises and that the cover is for a rental property. The
    Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (RTA) requires you to pay the insurance premiums charged for
    that insurance.
  • Check exactly what it is covered by your policy. Some insurers offer special landlord insurance
    cover that includes issues to do with the tenancy (e.g. vacancy periods, damage by the tenant,
    etc)
  • Talk to your insurance company about their requirements for making claims. Some insurers
    require landlords to prove they have conducted a thorough tenancy selection process before
    honouring damage claims.
  • You may also choose to insure any chattels in the property that you own and that are listed in the
    tenancy agreement. Any damage to them will not be covered by the tenant’s contents insurance.

Advice for tenants

You need insurance. Your landlord’s insurance policy does not protect your belongings.
Under the RTA, tenants are liable for any damage they, or their invited guests, cause intentionally or
carelessly. Even if you are not named on the tenancy agreement, you should have a:

  • contents insurance policy to protect your belongings
  • personal liability policy to protect you from any careless damage you or your invited guests may
    cause to the property.

If an insurance company pays out a landlord for damage and believes that a tenant is liable for that
damage, the insurance company may seek compensation from the tenant. Personal liability insurance
may protect you in this situation.

A rental property for retirement income: Is it worth it?

With a family to worry about and the uncertainty of the government supporting retirees in the future, many New Zealanders a asking the question, should I be saving for retirement?

Personally, with the limited amount of dunds we have we are trying to grow our portfolio with a miz of investments (property and Kiwisaver included). Quite often, bonds, mutual funds and shares is mentioned but rarely do people mention becoming a landlord.

Pros and Cons of Owning Rental Property

At its best, a rental property can be a good earner (someone else paying the mortgage), guaranteeing you a lifelong source of income, especially when the property is paid off.

Better yet, the amount of that income will tend to rise with inflation since rents usually go up in tandem with prices.

The downside? Often, purchasing a rental will require a cash deposit and will also require years of cash support via repairs and maintenance. Also, owning a rental property can leave you exposed to a downturn in economy or a few months without a tenant can be crippling for some.

The only thing worse than having no tenant is having a bad tenant. If an occupant is particularly unruly, you may be forced to go to the tenancy tribunal.

Final Words

Buying rental properties is a great way to make money. Just remember that being a landlord is not all fun and games. Buying rental property is not for everyone but again is a good option to add to your investment portfolio.

Owning multiple properties comes with added stress but for most the additional purchase can turn out to be a real winner. Before you purchase, do your research, see if you can attend a meeting of a local investors groups, talk to people who own rentals already. The reality is there is no secret just lots of research and picking a property that will rent well.

For long term investors, quite often the answer coming back will be “I wish I had brought more and earlier”.

3 tips for first-time landlords

1. Use your people skills and intuition when finding and interviewing tenants.

2. Keep your house nice. If something breaks, have it repaired quickly and correctly. Between tenants, make sure that your home is clean and in repair. A nice clean home will attract renters who will work hard to keep it that way.

3. Have a cash cushion to cover maintenance and ongoing repairs.

Do you own rental property? What have you learned from the experience?

Keeping Your House Warm – Underfloor moisture barrier

I’ve been told that the ground under my house is damp and that I should get a polythene moisture barrier installed so that the house is drier and easier to heat. Can I do this myself?

Answer: Yes,

First check your underfloor ventilation. If you have an open underfloor or “hit and miss” battens, there is probably plenty of airflow and little value in installing a moisture barrier. If your have a concrete ring foundation or little ventilation, find out why your underfloor is damp and if possible deal with any plumbing or drainage problems first (get these checked by a professional).

If there is nothing you can do (without calling in the cavalry) because you are in a low lying valley or the house is cut into a hillside, a polythene moisture barrier can help keep your house dry and warm inside. In some cases it can make a substantial difference to the moisture levels inside the house.

Polythene sheeting is available from hardware stores. Purchase the thickest grade (250 micron is best) and cut it into approximately 2 metre strips to lay between the piles, cutting slits along one side to fit around piles. Slits need to be taped up with polythene tape around the piles, and the overlaps between neighbouring strips also need to be taped. Weedmat pegs (available at hardware stores or garden shops) can be used to peg down the polythene at regular intervals (every 2 metres or so), rocks or heavy objects will also do.

The Facts

According to researchers Charles Jennings and Thomas Moody, who worked on TVA’s weatherization program, installing a crawl space ground cover can reduce moisture from capillary rise by up to 90 percent.

How to Place Polyethylene Ground Cover in a Crawl Space

Heavy polyethylene plastic sheeting works well since it resists deterioration by mold. Covering the poly with one or more inches of sand or smooth rounded gravel will protect it from occasional trampling.

In new construction, where the polyethylene overlaps on the ground it should be overlapped by at least two feet, or sealed using a caulk or sealant that will adhere to the poly, and the poly should be carried up the walls several inches or more, at least to grade line – a height equal to the height of soil outside.

In building retrofit installations of crawl space moisture barriers, Jennings and Moody recommend leaving about 20 percent of the ground uncovered so that the structure is not subjected to undue shrinkage and movement. In particularly wet spaces, they suggest first covering 50 percent, then finishing up to 80 percent of the ground area in 10 percent increments every 4 to 6 weeks to reduce “moisture shock”.

Current best practice in controlling crawl space moisture involves:

  • Seal the crawl space from outdoor air – close off those crawl space vents – and convert the crawl space to conditioned space, providing a small amount of heat where climate dictates, to help keep the area dry and above freezing
  • Identify and cure sources of crawl space moisture, such as roof drainage spilling around the foundation. In roughly 90 % of inspections performed by experts, we find that wet or moldy crawl spaces or basements that had been blamed on “high water table”, “rising damp”, or “built over a spring” were actually being caused by gutter and downspout defects, perhaps combined with in-slope grade that concentrated roof drainage right against the building foundation.
  • Use a moisture barrier such as 6-mil poly continuously over the crawl space floor and lower crawl space walls, up to grade level, sealed as we described above. In new construction the poly may be installed under a crawl space slab or gravel. In crawl spaces that are rarely entered, placing sand or gravel over the poly is probably not necessary, and its use can hide depressions in the poly that may actually be holding ponding water on top of the poly in some cases.
  • Inspect the crawl space periodically, at least once a year, to be sure that the poly moisture barrier is working as intended. As we just suggested, an outside water leak, such as roof spillage entering through a foundation wall, or an inside water source such as from a leaky plumbing supply or drain pipe, can place water on top of your crawl space poly moisture barrier, leading to a costly building moisture and mold problem.

For New Zealand based polythene products, try TrademeInsulation WarehouseBunnings or your local hardware store.

We found one of the best prices to be United Steel

Doing something is better than nothing at all.

Want to Win Lotto this Xmas? Use These Tips From Previous Winners!

How to Win New Zealand Lotto or the Lottery

Lottery numbers are randomly drawn. But randomly drawn numbers form patterns that can be tracked and used to our advantage. Having carefully analyzed all the drawings in past lotto results of more than 190 different lotto games worldwide, with histories going back as far as 1955, Gail Howard has verified the following incredibly simple rule:

That which is MOST POSSIBLE happens MOST OFTEN.
That which is LEAST POSSIBLE happens LEAST OFTEN.

The key to Gail Howard’s successful lotto number selection methods is playing the probabilities. If you play a pattern that occurs only five percent of the time, you can expect that pattern to lose 95 percent of the time, giving you no chance to win 95 percent of the time. So, don’t buck the probabilities.

DD-EVEN LOTTO NUMBER TIPS
When you select your lotto numbers, try to have a relatively even mix of odd and even numbers. All odd numbers or all even numbers are rarely drawn, occurring only one percent of the time. The best mix is to have 2/4, 4/2 or 3/3, which means two odd and four even, or four odd and two even, or three odd and three even. One of these three patterns will occur in 82 percent of the drawings.

HIGH-LOW LOTTO NUMBER TIPS
Winning numbers are usually spread across the entire lotto number field. If we take a number field and cut it in half, we have the low half and the high half. In a 40-number game, numbers 1 to 20 would be in the low half, and numbers 21 to 40 would be in the high half. All high numbers or all low numbers are rarely drawn, occurring only 1 percent of the time. The best mix is to have 2/4, 4/2 or 3/3, which means two high and four low, or four high and two low, or three high and three low. Winning number groups with these three lotto patterns occur in 80 percent of all drawings.

LOTTERY NUMBER GROUP STRATEGIES
Look at a list of past winning numbers for New Zealand Lotto, and you’ll see, more often than not, that one or more of the number groups is not represented. For example, in the combination 5-14-17-32-38-42, there are no 20’s. Tracking and studying Number Groups can help you decide which group to omit and which group to give extra heavy play.

LOTTERY GAMES SKIPPED STRATEGIES
List the number of games skipped (games out) since the last hit (win) for each of the winning numbers during the last five games. Then mark the number of times each skip occurred. If any skip from 0 to 5 did not occur, play the Lotto numbers that are out that many games. (Help working with lotto games skipped.)

LOTTO NUMBER SUM ADVICE – PLAY A BALANCED GAME
After you choose six numbers you want to play, add them together and make sure that the sum of the six numbers adds up to somewhere between 95 and 151. Sums that fall within that range will account for over 70 percent of all lottery jackpots won.

REPEAT HITS LOTTERY TIPS
In Lotto 6/40, on average, one lottery number will be a repeat hit from the last drawing 64 percent of the time.

HOT NUMBER LOTTERY SECRETS
Numbers that have been out (losers) for four games or less account for about half of the winning numbers drawn. Losing numbers that have been out ten games or less account for 81 percent of all the winning numbers. This tells us that hot numbers are more likely to hit, but don’t forget to include at least one long shot in your group of 6.

COLD NUMBER LOTTERY SECRETS
It is difficult to know when a lottery number will end a long losing streak. If you play a number every drawing because you think it is due, you could be chasing it for many months. (Number 45 in New York Lotto sat out 100 drawings before it finally hit.) Although, when a number has been out for 70 games or so, it might be worth chasing.

CASH IN ON THE LUCK OF OTHERS
When you form a Lotto pool, your group is also pooling its aggregate luck. A lotto jackpot could happen because of the luck just one member brings to your pool. Select your partners carefully. Share your luck with winners, not losers. Avoid negative people. Not only are they unlucky, but they dampen enthusiasm and drain energy from others. You want to enhance your own luck, not dilute its strength. One quick way to tell winners from losers is simply to ask them: “Do you think you are a lucky person?” Many people quickly admit, “I’m unlucky. I never win anything.” They won’t bring good luck to your group either.

CASH IN ON A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
No one should play games of chance out of desperation because they need the lotto winnings. The needy have a greater fear of losing the hard-earned money they gamble with. It is just one of life’s dirty tricks that the very fear of losing blocks the winning forces. Thoughts are charged with energy, especially when triggered by emotion. Fear attracts exactly that which one fears. A strong desire for a goal that is charged with positive energy, attracts a positive response, especially when every effort is made to attain that goal.

Tips For Targetting Monster Twizel Canal Trout & Salmon this Xmas

Whether you want to fly, spin or bait fish, the Tekapo/Twizel canals are rates as an easy fish but have proven great for beginners or family outings.

Some people spin, some people fly fish, some people walk up and down with a Huhu grub on the end of a sinker and hook. My preference is to sit down, relax and enjoy the outstanding scenery. here is a simple rig we use for fishing.

Tekapo Canals Rig

Rig Makeup

  • 1 x Triple Swivel (attaches to mainline, sinker and fly)
  • 1 x Booby Fly, black seems to work the best (found at most fishin shops for around $3‐$4.50)
  • 1 x green garden twist tie, found from the Warehouse in Rolls (Around $10 a roll) – optional
  • 1 x Sinker (note in a heavier flow, use a heavier sinker) Approx $1‐$2

The line for the sinker and to the green stuff is 50lb to minmise twisting and maximizes sinking and
floating of the fly. The leader to the fly is 20lb, play around and see what suits you best, check the knots regularly.

Using the Rig

  1. Best used around the Mount Cook Salmon Farm
  2. Best fishing times found with the rig, 7‐10am, 2‐6 pm or 4‐7pm
  3. Brown and Rainbow Trout seem to like the rig on the own, for the salmon, try a tiny bit of shrimp, huhu grub or small fish such as anchovies, smelt (its always nice to catch a salmon first up, the big rainbows and brown will take time and more patience, during the right time, this rig can be pulling in a fish every few minutes (basically fish on by the time it sinks)
  4. Try and cast close to the nets, especially in high flow
  5. Ensure you have a good salmon rod or at least have drag off, when the rig is taken, the big fish
    will RUN!

Best Christmas gifts for him 2017: Top last minute presents including Vinyl, Fitbit trackers and Monkey Shoulder Whisky

We know men are hard to shop for, that’s why we’ve rounded up these top gifts – ranging from fitness trackers to salmon curing kits.

Need some gift ideas for what to get the man in your life?

Whether you’re racking your brains over what Christmas present to get your beloved boyfriend, or wondering how you’ll find something your son will actually appreciate without it leaving you skint – don’t worry we’ve got it covered in our round up below.

Running out of time to do your Christmas shopping as the countdown to Christmas continues? For those who have left it to the last minute, there is still time to pick up gifts – check last Christmas order dates for all major retailers and Christmas postal dates to ensure everything arrives just in the nick of time.

Top Christmas gifts for him

Why not try this Monkey Shoulder Whisky? It’s described as the ‘world’s first triple malt whisky matured in first fill ex-bourbon casks’ which aims to ‘impart a smooth and mellow vanilla flavour’ and a ‘zesty orange nose and wonderful smooth finish’.

They can put their best foot forward in these beautifully bright Ted Baker socks from John Lewis. Eye catching, but not too brash, they are a statement piece for the fashion conscious gent.

Football fans are in for a treat with Joey Barton’s autobiography. It was ‘Cross Sports Book Awards Autobiography of the Year’ last year. It’s candid, gripping and brilliantly written, you’ll be hooked.

Any music mad man will probably have a vinyl player, so get him a classic for his collection. Oasis’ best selling ‘(What’s the Story) Morning Glory?’ will take him back to his youth whatever his age.

Foodies will love this Salmon Curing Kit. It contains everything you need to make your own cured Salmon, including smoky, gin and beetroot cures. You just need to add salmon!

Keep warm in this amazing ASOS Cable Knit jumper .Warm enough for cold winter days this Christmas, but still looks smart.

Tech fans and gym bunnies alike will love this Fitbit. It’ll help you maximise your workouts and keep you updated on your progress, you’ll be hooked.

The Most Requested Christmas Presents by Age

Stuck on what to get your child or relative for Christmas? In order to help Santa has created a quick list of the most commonly requested toys from children around the world.

If you have a favourite toy, add it as a comment below or Send a letter to Santa.

christmastree

Boy 0-5

Action Figure
An Orange And Black Bike
Angry Birds Telepods
Arctic Lego
Batman Toy
Bike
Books
Buzz Lightyear
Camera
Car Track
Cars
Clone Attack Toys
Diesel works
Dinosaur Transformer
Elmo Toy
Fishing Rod
Flutterby flying fairy
Guardians of the galaxy ship
Hot Wheels Mega Garage
Hot Wheels Racing Set
Hulk Action Figure
James Train
Lego Police Station
Lego Racing Car
Lego chima lion chi temple
Lego ninjago battle for ninjago city
Light Saber
Littlest pet shop
Marshall fire truck paw patrol
Minecraft Lava Bucket
Minecraft Shovel
Nerf gun Demolisher
Ninja Turtle Outfit
Ninjago nindroids movie
Pirate Ship
Playmobil Police car with boat
Power Ranger Mega Force
Remote Control Car
Remote contol fire truck
Ride on Car
Sea Monkeys
Shopkins
Skateboard
Tauntaun
Tekno robotic puppy
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Lego
Toy Car
Toy Dragon
Toys
Transformer
Truck And A Car Book
Water Toys
Yellow Scooter
Zombies

Boy 6-12

2 Beyblades
A Pokemon Game
American football jersey
A Real Crystal
Action Man
Avengers hero mashers figure
Back Scratcher
Battlefield 4 PS3 game
Baymax disney infinity 2.0 figure
Ben 10 Figurine
Boom Boom Balloon
Bulldog plane
Cars
Chocolate
Cakes
Chicago Bulls Hat
Dinosaur Toys
Disney Set (Mike / Mater)
Disney Infinity for Xbox 360
Fishing Gear
Furby Boom
Go Pro
Green Machine
Green lantern lego set
Groot disney infinity 2.0 figure
Guitar
Harry Potter Lego
Hellecopter
Hot Wheels
Kayak
Leap Frog
Laptop
Lego
Lego City
Lego High Speed Passenger Train
Lewis Rd Creamery chocolate milk
Marvel’s superheroes PS3 game
Malificent disney infinity 2.0 figure
Marvel Heroes
Miami Heat Hat
Minecraft Lego
Minecraft PS3 game
Minecraft foam diamond sword
Minecraft movie
Money $500
Nerf gun
Nerf Retaliator
Nerf Vest
Playstation Vita
Playstation microphone
Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfear
Play Station 3 or 4
Psvita Minecraft Game
RC Plane
Remote Control Boat
Remote Control Helicopter
Ripslinger  plane
Robofish
Rock Crawler
Slay
Spy Kit
Swiss Army Knife
Star Wars lego
Tramping Boots
Traming Pack
Surf Board
Toys
Wizard101 $15 Giftcard
Xbox One
XBox 300 or One with Minecraft Disc
Xbox-360 Minecraft
Zombie and Skeleton Teddy Minecraft
Zoomer

Girl 0-5

A Doll
A Little Purple Car With Pink Dots
A Mouse
A Toy Mouse
A Yoyo
Arm Floaties
Baby Clothes
Baby Doll
Baby Kichin
Barbie
Barbie Camper Van
Barbie Campervan
Beados
Bicycle
Board Games
Boogie Board
Books
Books – Geronimo Stilton
Bubba
Buzz
Care Bear
Chocolate Fish
Clothes For My Barbie Dolls
Clothes with dogs on them (tshirt, undies, shorts)
Colouring in book
Disneyland Santa  Paws Suitcase
Disneyland Tickets
Doc Mcstuffin
Dolls
Dora
Dora Car
Ear Muffs
Elasa Ana Toys
Elsa
Fairy Barbie
Frozen Dolls
Frozen Dress Ups
Frozen Dvd
Fuzzy Socks
Giraffe soft toy
Good Quality Earrings
Hello Kitty Dough Set
How To Train Your Dragon Toy
Ipad
Jandals
Kinetic Sand
Leap Pad
Lego Jedi Scout Fighter
Lego Horse Stable
Merida doll
Monster High Doll
Music Box
Ninja turtle nun-chucks
Olaf
Onsie
Paddling Pool
Paw Patrol Toy
Peppa Pig Kitchen
Peppa Pig Toy
Piano Accordion
Play Hose
Playhouse
Princess Lego
Purple Barbie Car
Rapunzel doll
Robot Dog
Sleeping Bag
Santa Doll
Shopkins set
Scooter
Sewing Kit
Sewing Machine
Singing Tea Set
Singing Hippo
Snow White Dress
Stickers
Swimming Pool
Telescope
Trampoline
Tricycle
Unicorn Tummystuffer
Violin
Watch
Woody
Y Flicker

Girl 6-10

$50
A Bag Of Macadamia Nuts
A New Barbie
A New Book
A New Ipod
A Watch
Agent Nerf Bow
Animal Jam 12 Month Membership
Anything Minecraft
Arts And Crafts Kit
Auto Tuner
Babyborn doll
Barbie Daluxe Head

Barbie deluxe camper van
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror
Barbie doll Elsa
Beados
Candy
Candy Maker
Cashews
Charms
Cheetah patterned sneakers
Chill Factor slushy maker
Choclate
Collecta Dinosaurs (But Not The Ones I Already Have
Colour splashes
Dance Clothes
Dareway 12 volt scooter
Dip Not Machine
Doll Pushchair
Dork Diarie Books
Drum Set
Elsa dress up
Evolve Charms
Fizzy Bath Bomb Factory
Iphone2
Ipod normal or Mini

Ipod 5
Itunes Card
Iscrem Maker
Janimals
Kinetic Sand
Laptop
Lego Friends
Lego Friends Horse Stable
Lps short hair cat number #1024
Lps collie number #54
Lps spaniel
Luxury Soap Science Lab
Makeup
Makeup Kit
Message Bow
Mini Presents In My Stock`N
Monster high or ever after high doll
Mystery Of The Myth
Onesie
Osmo
Perfume Laboratory
Play-Doh Perfect Twist Ice Cream Playset
Pony Rocks person Twilight
Rainbow Loom
Robeez
Shleich
Skooter
Slushy Maker
Smiggle Supplies
Tablet
Techno Puppy
Teddy Bear
Tummy Stuffer
The Game of Life
Wigs
Winter Dress
What we do in the Shadows (DVD)
Zhu zhu pet

Girl 11 +

1989 taylor swift cd and meghan trainor tittle cd
A $1000 Shopping Spree
Book Light
Earrings
Iphone
Iphone 6
Iphone 6+or Samsung s5
Ipod
Laptop
Lava Lamp
Macbook Air
Mario 3d world
New super mario u
Pens Pencils and Drawing Books
Pony club rivals book 1 and 3
Rainbow loom
Redband gumboots
Samsung Galaxy note 4
Schleich
Smiggles Bag
Sylvanian familys
The Hunger Games Barbie Dolls’
The Hunger Games’ Book Series
The Hunger Games Series Books
Typo pencil case
winter hat, winter gloves

New Zealand Bank BSB Numbers and SWIFT Codes

Sometimes when children ask for money, Santa needs to know which bank account to use. We have written this page so Santa can understand the New Zealand bank account system even better….

 

download

Stuck trying to figure out that Trademe payment and what to do with a person that as sent you an account ending in 2 or 3 digits numbers.

Here is the rule..

The last three (or two for some banks) show your account suffix. You can have several “Sub accounts” from one main account.

If your account suffix has two numbers and you’re being asked for three, add a zero before it. For example, if your account ends with 51, enter 051.

If your account suffix has three numbers and you’re being asked for two, simply remove the zero before it. For example, if your account ends with 051, enter 51.

BSB (Bank-State-Branch) Number or National Clearing Code is a six digits numerical codes used to identify an individual branch of a financial institution in New Zealand. To make money transfer , the BSB Number is used together with the bank account number of the recipient. In New Zealand, the BSB Number is also known as Clearing Code.

For international inward money transfer, a SWIFT code must be used together with a BSB Number and Account Number.

All bank account numbers in New Zealand used the following pattern,

AA BBBB CCCCCCC DDD

where, the first six digits (AA BBBB) denote the BSB Number.

  • the first two digits (AA) show which bank manages the account.
  • the next four digits (BBBB) show branch number.
  • the next seven digits (CCCCCCC) show the account number.
  • the last three digits (DDD) (or two for some banks) show an account suffix.

The BSB Numbers or Clearing Code feature on this website is only applicable to be use in New Zealand. For Australia, kindly browse to Australia BSB Numberwebsite. Click on the BSB Number to find out the bank details, address, postcode, telephone number & maps.

International Bank Transfer

To make international bank transfer from New Zealand to another country, SWIFT code is required on top of recipient name, bank name & branch and account number. The information can be found in online SWIFT codedatabase.

List of Financial Institution Codes

Number Bank Name
01 or 11 Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited
12 or 24 ASB Bank
02 or 08 Bank of New Zealand
31 Citibank
30 HSBC Bank
38 Kiwibank
06 or 25 National Bank of New Zealand
15 TSB Bank
03 or 23 Westpac Bank

Christmas and Christmas Traditions

Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual festival commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ observed most commonly on December 25 as a religious and cultural celebration among billions of people around the world.

In several countries, celebrating Christmas Eve on December 24 has the main focus rather than December 25, with gift-giving and sharing a traditional meal with the family.

The celebratory customs associated in various countries with Christmas have a mix of pre-Christian, Christian, and secular themes and origins. Popular modern customs of the holiday include gift giving, completing an Advent calendar or Advent wreath, Christmas music and caroling, lighting a Christingle, an exchange of Christmas cards, church services, a special meal, and the display of various Christmas decorations, including Christmas trees, Christmas lights, nativity scenes, garlands, wreaths, mistletoe, and holly. In addition, several closely related and often interchangeable figures, known as Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas, and Christkind, are associated with bringing gifts to children during the Christmas season and have their own body of traditions and lore. Because gift-giving and many other aspects of the Christmas festival involve heightened economic activity, the holiday has become a significant event and a key sales period for retailers and businesses. The economic impact of Christmas is a factor that has grown steadily over the past few centuries in many regions of the world.

Christmas traditions vary from country to country. Christmas celebrations for many nations include the installing and lighting of Christmas trees, the hanging of Advent wreaths, Christmas stockings, candy canes, and the creation of Nativity scenesdepicting the birth of Jesus Christ. Christmas carols may be sung and stories told about such figures as the Baby Jesus, St Nicholas, Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Christkind or Grandfather Frost. The sending and exchange of Christmas cardgreetings, observance of fasting and special religious observances such as a midnight Mass or Vespers on Christmas Eve, the burning of a Yule log, and the giving and receiving of presents. Along with Easter, Christmas is one of the most important periods on the Christian calendar, and is often closely connected to other holidays at this time of year, such as Advent, theFeast of the Immaculate Conception, St Nicholas Day, St. Stephen’s Day, New Year‘s, and the Feast of the Epiphany.

See more on Wikipedia

Mid Winter Christmas

Do you have any plans for a mid winter Christmas this year, here are some great suggestions from the Kiwi Families website

Set the Scene

Deck the halls with boughs of holly – literally! Pull out your Christmas decorations, go hunting for pine cones, and bring the best of your winter garden inside. Don’t skimp on the decorations just because it’s winter, use it as a reason to go overboard.

You can exaggerate the winter theme by painting fake snow on the windows, and stretching cotton wool around the room. Polystyrene makes great imitation snow, and can be cut into all sorts of fun shapes. Be aware that polystyrene is a choking hazard, so only use it if your children are out of the danger range.

If you don’t have a fireplace, create a fake one in the corner of your lounge using red and orange cellophane, and a few logs of wood. You can create an entire winter scene with snowflakes, marshmallow toasting sticks, and even a snowman. Add a pair of black gumboots for a little kiwi flavour.

Have Some Fun

Make the most of the Christmas spirit, and play some silly games with a winter or Christmas theme.

Pin the Red Nose of the Reindeer

Just like pin the tail on the donkey, draw a picture of Rudolph on a large piece of paper, and have everybody try to pin the nose in the right place while they are blindfolded. To make it easier for younger players, you could use red sticky dots instead of sharp pins.

Paper Snow Ball Fight

Roll up lots and lots of ‘snow’ balls from old newspaper, and have a good old fashioned snow ball fight. You could set up all sorts of challenges, or simply see who can get rid of their snowballs the fastest. Remember, as you are emptying your corner, other players will be filling it up!

Go Sledging

If you don’t have a snowy hill nearby, you can still go sledging (or sliding) on the grass. Wait for a frosty morning, and hit the slope with a plastic rubbish bin lid or boogie board. You have to catch the grass while there is still dew on it, but it is lots of fun.

Get Creative

Christmas is a great time to get creative, and a mid winter Christmas is no different. Pull out your craft box, and have a go at these Christmas craft ideas.

Snow Globes

Using waterproof adhesive, glue plastic figurines to the bottom of a jar lid. You could add trees, miniature buildings, vehicles or special characters, depending on the size you have to work with.

Once you have finished creating a winter or Christmas scene, put 2-3 teaspoons of glitter into the jar, and fill it up with water. Tightly screw the lid on to the jar, and turn it upside down to see the snow (or glitter) fall.

If you are making these snow globes with preschoolers, you may want to use plastic jars, and check the lid is screwed on extra tight.

Winter Decorations

Create sparkling snowball decorations by covering ping pong balls with silver and white glitter.

Start by laying a piece of ribbon across the ball, and taping it in the centre with a piece of double sided tape. Roll the taped piece of the ball into coloured glitter.

Criss-cross more pieces of double sided tape around the ball, and keep rolling it into the glitter until you are happy with the design. Add more tape, and more glitter as necessary. Once finished, take the loose pieces of ribbon, and tie the snowball to your Christmas tree.

Enjoy Some Traditional Winter Treats

There are some Christmas treats which are just not the same in the middle of summer. Make the most of the cold weather and enjoy some traditional Christmas treats, (in weather they are suppose to be eaten in).

Mulled Apple Juice

Mulled Apple Juice is a non-alcoholic alternative to mulled wine – and it’s just delicious.

  • Boil together 300ml of water, ½ cup sugar and 1 cinnamon stick until all the sugar is dissolved.
  • Add 2 sliced lemons, and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  • Pour in 2 litres of apple juice and heat through.

I like to transfer the mixture to my crock pot and leave it simmering all day.

Toasted Marshmallows and Roasted Nuts

Stoke up a fire in an outdoor brazier, and toast marshmallows on long sticks. When the marshmallows are gone, place a tray of nuts over the top of the brazier, and pour in some maple syrup. After about 40 minutes, the nuts will be hot and deliciously sticky!

Non Alcoholic Egg Nog

New Zealanders are still learning about the wonders of egg nog, but in many countries around the world, Christmas isn’t complete without it. True egg nog is full of brandy and rum, but here is a child friendly version that your whole family can enjoy.

  • Separate the yolks from the whites of 12 eggs.
  • Beat the egg yolks with ¾ cup of white sugar, until the mixture is creamy.
  • Beat the egg whites until they are stiff, then stir through ¾ cup of white sugar.
  • Whip 300ml of cream and teaspoon of vanilla essence until thick.
  • Fold all 3 mixtures together, and leave in the fridge for about a day.
  • Shake well before serving.

Make the Most of Winter Gifts

By default, kiwis usually get summer orientated gifts for Christmas – things beach towels, jandals and sun hats. Why not wrap up a few special winter gifts, to make your family feel snug and warm. Some great winter gift ideas are:

  • Novelty Slippers
  • Polar fleece hot water bottle covers
  • Woolen socks, hats and gloves
  • Fun and funky thermals
  • Hot Chocolate mixture complete with marshmallows
  • Wheat bags
  • Bubble bath

Remember, Christmas isn’t just about presents, it’s about fun, family, and memories. So instead of hibernating this winter, why not take the chance to celebrate one of our favourite festivals again. See, Christmas can come more than once a year.

Midwinter Christmas Celebrations

from nzs.com

Looking for ways to heat up your winter? Throwing a Midwinter Christmas party is a great way to get all your friends and family together and recapture the magic of the silly season.

Remember the good old days of the Midwinter Christmas disco when you were at primary school? Midwinter Christmas parties may have gone out of style over the last five years or so, but this year they’re back with avengeance.

Thinking about throwing your own Midwinter Christmas soirée but not sure where to start? Check out our top tips to heating up your July with a taste of the silly season.

What is Midwinter Christmas?
A uniquely New Zealand tradition, Midwinter Christmas is the chance for Kiwis to celebrate Christmas-themed social events with a real wintery theme. Generally celebrated during the coldest month of July, Midwinter Christmas is a great chance to get together with friends and family and warm up with a little holiday cheer.

Besides, Christmas offers the perfect excuse to eat too much, overindulge on bubbles and eggnog and give and receive pressies, so why should it only happen once a year? If you’re thinking about bringing Midwinter Christmas festivities back to your home, throwing a themed party doesn’t have to be stressful or expensive.

Plan, plan plan
You don’t think planning is necessary? Even Santa plans his giant Christmas party for the elves every year (or so we hear), so if you want your Midwinter Christmas party go off without a hitch – and with as little stress as possible – doing a little pre-party planning can mean the difference between delight and disaster.

You don’t have to schedule every last thing with military precision, but at least knowing who’s bringing what and giving your guests an idea of the date a couple of weeks ahead of time will get the ball rolling.

Obviously the first thing you should decide on is the where and when, so choose whether to host your Midwinter Christmas shindig at your place, someone else’s, or even at a restaurant or function venue. Most of the time Midwinter Christmas events are held around July 25 – because that is exactly six months between annual Christmases – but you can really hold your event whenever you like. Just give yourself enough time to plan your Christmas function and let your guests know in advance if you want a good turn out.

Guess the theme
The good thing about Midwinter Christmas parties is that your theme is already decided for you. Christmas is a great theme for a party because it’s merry, it means loads of food and drink, and you’ll already have all the decorations you’ll need.

Dig out the Christmas tree from December if you have an artificial tree, or borrow someone else’s, and load it up with decorations in a prominent spot. If you feel like really going over the top decorate all the entertainment areas, and try and find someone willing to don a Santa suit for a couple of hours.

You can plan Christmas games to keep your guests entertained, and you might even want to arrange a Secret Santa and have all your guests bring a $5 gift to pop under the tree.

By invitation only
Every good party has a VIP list, so make sure all your guests feel like very important people for your Midwinter Christmas event by sending them unique invitations.

Sending a text or a boring email isn’t going to cut the mustard if you want your Midwinter Christmas party to be really memorable, so be sure to send out thoughtful and creative invitations to capture your guests’ interest and imaginations. You could create something cool with clip art or even old Christmas photographs on your computer, or if you have a bunch of old Christmas cards filed away from years gone by, recycle them and create new Midwinter Christmas card invites by cutting off the front half of the card and writing on the back like a postcard.

There are also some great e-vites available for free online, so if cyber inviting is more your style, personalise a free e-vite template and send it out via email or your Facebook invitation tool.

Eat, drink, and be merry
Obviously Christmas is all about eating and drinking, and Midwinter Christmas is no different. Hosting a Christmas-themed party during this time of year gives you the opportunity to really tuck into some delicious, steaming comfort-Christmasy foods that would otherwise be too hot to indulge in during a typical Kiwi-style barbeque Christmas. If you’re on a budget and you’re a whizz in the kitchen, ask all your guests to donate a few dollars to go towards the food, or if you want to cut down your workload have everyone bring a plate of their favourite hot winter foods. You can even hand out a special Christmas recipe to each guest for them to prepare before the event.

The beauty of having your Midwinter Christmas party at a restaurant or function venue is that all the food and drink will be prepared by someone else – and you don’t have to worry about the washing-up! Some venues even decorate for Midwinter Christmas in July which can add to the festiveness of your event.

Shop smart this silly season

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1. Not sure the present you’re buying is right? Ask for an exchange card so the recipient can change it for something else in store. If you only have the receipt, some stores may still be willing to exchange the item.

2. In most cases we don’t think extended warranties are worth it. That’s because the Consumer Guarantees Act means retailers have to repair or replace faulty goods or refund your money.

3. Buying a gift card? Ask what the expiry date is. Short expiry dates mean the card can become worthless before the recipient can redeem it.

4. Bought something online that never showed up, or was nothing like what had been described? If the retailer refuses to put things right, get on to your bank about a credit-card or debit-card chargeback. If your claim is accepted, you’ll be returned your money, but an unsuccessful claim will cost between $5 and $10.

5. Safety is the most important consideration when buying for kids. Watch out for parts a child could pull off and swallow. If a toy has button batteries, make sure the child can’t get to them.

6. Check your receipts and bank statements. It’s a busy time of year and mistakes happen.

7. Know what you want to buy someone but not sure what model to get? At consumer.org.nz you can compare the test results for thousands of products.

8. Making the most of the Boxing Day sales? Check you’re really getting a bargain. Browse the websites of similar retailers to make sure they’re not offering a better deal.

Consumer New Zealand

The worst Christmas decorations ever

Christmas decorations can be like clowns – there’s a very thin line between festive and frightening.

In our search for the worst Christmas trees and decorations ever, we’re looking for things that have crossed that line, or perhaps gone in another direction towards just plain tragic.

Auckland’s creepy Santa is the obvious front-runner in New Zealand right now, but we’re sure our readers can dig out something worse.

Sad, weepy trees, misshapen reindeer, baby-Jesus-turned-potato-head in the manger. If you’ve seen or owned a truly terrible Christmas decoration, send a us a photo or comment below.

As inspiration, here are the ugliest Xmas trees