How to Host the Ultimate Outdoor Holiday Party

The holidays are here bringing plenty of reasons to entertain. From holiday gatherings with family and friends to posh parties to ring in the New Year, you’ll find plenty of ways to expand your space and enjoy the season by extending your festivities to the outdoors. Make your backyard merry and bright this holiday season with these tips from Darling Homes.

Create a Holiday-Themed Party They’ll Not Soon Forget

Holidays are always merry occasions, but ones that focus on a recognizable theme take the festivities to a new level. For an unforgettable holiday soiree inside and out, choose a theme your guests will go gaga over, such as:

  • Holly and Elves with you and yours dressed for the occasion and plenty of holly to help spread the cheer!
  • Cozy Comfort with traditional decorations in red and green for tried-and-true celebrations everyone will adore!
  • Glitz and Glam with gold and silver decorations adorning your home, settings and serving dishes for a glamorous party to ring in the New Year.

Whatever your theme, extending the merrymaking outdoors is a great way to expand on the fun and give guests more space.

5 Tips for Making Your Holiday Party a Hit

  • Set the stage for a spectacular evening. Renting extra lawn chairs and tables, as well as tablecloths and lanterns, are ideal ways to keep the party flowing. People who have more places to roam tend to stay longer and spend more time mingling with other guests. If weather may get in the way of your plans, consider adding a canopy or tent.
  • Create warm surroundings where people can gather and mingle. Fire pits and patio fireplaces provide a warm and welcoming feel for a holiday gathering. Arrange seating around your outdoor fire feature to encourage your guests to relax and stay cozy. You can even provide materials to make s’mores for an extra sweet treat. If your yard doesn’t include a fireplace or fire-pit, consider renting stylish outdoor heaters for the occasion.
  • Add extra lights for an enchanting effect. String lights from the back of your home across the yard for an extra light feature that’s as beautiful as it is practical. Likewise, adorn trees with glamorous globes in colors or white for an added touch that’s sure to get noticed.
  • Set up a self-serve bar in your outdoor kitchen. It’s an easy way to make your guests feel welcome without adding ‘mixologist’ to your to-do list.
  • Plan ahead with an area set with activities for kids to enjoy. Parents are often challenged to keep kids occupied at get-togethers and may even decide to change plans or leave early when there’s little to keep children entertained. Go from good hostess to great with these simple additions.
    • Set up an area outside for kids to congregate with their own table adorned with cute, kid-friendly dishes, tablecloths and crafts. Creating wearable holiday masks is a traditional favorite. All that’s needed are crayons, safety scissors, string and washable glue for themed masks of reindeer, elves, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. Other simple craft ideas include candy cane reindeer made with string and googly eyes, creating paper ornaments and toys and, for older children, origami figures they can give as presents.
    • Set up a table for cookie or gingerbread house decorating.
    • Create a backyard scavenger hunt for little ones. Hide festive gifts and treats inside bushes and under seating to keep kids busy and provide them with fun toys to play with throughout the day.
    • Have a television outside? Be ready with festive movies that are kid-favorites!
    • Have lots of extra space? Consider renting a blow up bouncy house or a slide.
    • And, always have a back-up plan. Be ready to bring the fun indoors on cold and blustery days.

With these tips for outdoor holiday hosting, you can make the most of every moment as you enjoy a day filled with the sights and sounds of the season.

Lifestyle Tips

Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

A new year is almost upon us. What are you looking forward to? What will change for you? What do you want to accomplish? Those are some of the questions people consider when deciding on New Year’s resolutions for themselves, but they often don’t consider how they will keep their resolution in the New Year. If you’re serious about accomplishing your goal, take a look at these tips to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution.

Plan Ahead

As the holidays roll right past us, we often forget about the New Year approaching and creating our resolutions. Don’t do that this year. Start thinking of your resolution as soon as you can. Make your resolution something more than just what you’re thinking of changing on New Year’s Eve!

Be Realistic

If you really want to stick to your goal in the New Year, make sure it’s something you can realistically accomplish. For example, if your New Year’s resolution is to stop drinking coffee completely, what happens if you are tempted to have a cup? Instead of making your resolution about having no coffee all year, it could be to drink less coffee or even limit yourself to two cups a week. That way, your goal is easier to accomplish and therefore easier to stick to.

Make a Plan

When you plan out how you will accomplish your goal ahead of time, there’s a more likely chance that you actually will accomplish it. If your New Year’s resolution is to be more active, make plans to accomplish that. Get a gym membership and coordinate workouts with friends or a trainer. Create a schedule for yourself that will outline when and how long you will be at the gym. Making a plan will keep you accountable and make your goal easier to accomplish.

Talk About It

Tell everyone about your New Year’s Resolution. The more people that know, the more people to keep you accountable. If you keep your goal a secret, it will be that much easier to forget about it. But if you share your resolution with your friends and family, you may just find someone else who shares the same goal and you can help each other along the way.

Stay Positive

Root for yourself during this process! Resolutions can be hard to stick to but if you keep telling yourself you can do it, then you will. If your goal is to eat healthier in the New Year, remind yourself that you’re better than those free donuts left in the break room at work. Mind over matter.

Keep Trying

On an occasion, you might slip up on your goals. Maybe one day you oversleep and can’t make it to the gym or maybe you get to bed late and desperately need coffee for work in the morning. That’s ok. You might have strayed from your goal a little, but that doesn’t mean you have to quit! Don’t wait until the next year to try again, start over the next day.

If you want to make 2019 your best year yet, start today by planning how you will accomplish your New Year’s resolution. And if your resolution is to own a beautiful new home in Dallas or Houston, we can help you accomplish your goal!


Top Five Holiday Light Tours in Houston

The holidays are a magical season in Houston. As you take the time to cherish all the little moments before they soon become memories, you can also experience a number of festive lights displays around Houston this holiday season.  Check out the following list of the Top Five Holiday Light Tours in Houston.

Houston Zoo Lights

Experience Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo as the zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland for its guests and animal inhabitants. Over two million lights will adorn the zoo grounds and enchant those who journey inside. Guests can enjoy a range of different sights from a giant holiday tree to an Enchanted Forest.

Hello, Trees: A Walking Serenade

Discovery Green is home to gorgeous century-old oak trees that will be surrounded in holiday cheer this season, both visually and sonically. Hello, Trees: A Walking Serenade is probably one of the most unique holiday light tours Houston has to offer this year. Montreal art collective Daily Tous Les Jours installed a series of holiday arches under the park’s live oak canopy with an input station at the end that guests can speak into to transform their voice messages to light patterns and music that travels along the arches. This display was inspired by the nonverbal cues that trees use to communicate.

Magical Winter Lights

Wish to escape to a land of holiday magic and enchantment? Look no further than the Magical Winter Lights at Greyhound Gulf Park in La Marque. Not only is this light festival the largest holiday light festival in the area, but it’s also the largest lantern festival of its kind to take place in the United States. Chinese lanterns are transformed into larger than life remakes of well-known landmarks, making it a festival like no other.

Sugar Land Holiday Lights

Spend the season among the sparkle and shine of the Sugar Land Holiday Lights. This showcase of lights takes places at Constellation Field and features 2.5 million lights and over 100 enchanting walkthrough displays. Food trucks, shopping, and children’s activities will also be present. Santa Claus will be in attendance, spreading holiday cheer every night until Christmas Eve, of course.

Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting

Enjoy a Houston holiday tradition that has taken place for 98 years. On December 1, the Mayor’s Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting will take place. This spectacular experience includes festive music, captivating fireworks, a visit from Santa, and much more. Not to mention the joy of getting to watch City Hall’s towering tree light up adorned in glowing lights, shimmering ornaments and a gorgeous tree topper. Make sure to bring an unwrapped toy to the Reliant booth for donation to the Salvation Army and receive a light-up Santa hat.

The holiday season has plenty of festive activities in Houston this year. What’s your favorite holiday tradition?


Top 5 Holiday Light Tours in Dallas

Have you made your holiday to-do list? Before finalizing plans, review our list of spectacular light tours taking place in the Dallas area this holiday season.

Prairie Lights

Drive into a holiday fantasy of dazzling lights and festive activities at Prairie Lights presented by Grand Prairie Parks, Arts and Recreation. Prairie Lights has always amazed audiences with over four million lights, but this year will feature hundreds of new designs in shapes of all sizes. Not to mention, half way through the drive, guests can exit their car to experience exciting activities under the giant holiday tent. Activities include, pictures with Santa, the Holiday Magic Lighted Walk-Through Forest, and a gift shop for some quick holiday shopping.

Fort Worth Gift of Lights

Give a magical holiday experience this year at the Gift of Lights tour at Texas Motor Speedway. Guests can experience the magic of the holidays while enjoying more than a million sparkling lights and 100 captivating displays all from the comfort of their own vehicle. Grand opening night will take place on November 29.

Enchant Christmas 2018

The wonder of the holiday season awaits at the world’s largest Christmas light maze and market, Enchant Christmas 2018. Lose yourself in holiday attraction and make cherished memories under the glow of millions of dazzling lights located at Globe Life Park in Arlington.

Holiday in the Park

How about an amusement park for the holidays? Six Flags Over Texas is decorating with more than a million lights for its annual Holiday in the Park celebration. Six Flags puts on five holiday shows, hosts toasty campfires, serves delicious hot cocoa and displays a huge festive tree. Not to mention, guests can also explore Santa Land and take pictures with the jolly old man himself.

Christmas Lights, Chocolate & Sips Tours

What could possibly be better than a holiday light tour? How about a light tour plus Chocolate? Now we’ve got your attention. Yes, a holiday weekend would not be complete without Christmas Lights, Chocolate & Sips Tours presented by Dallas by Chocolate Tours. Delight in scrumptious treats from premier local dessert venues before enjoying some of Dallas’ most spectacular light displays all from the comfort of a private heated motor coach. Tours will take place in Vitruvian Lights (Addison), Farmers Branch Historical Park, downtown Dallas and select homes in the Park Cities.

It’s easy to experience the magic of the holidays through enchanting lights around Dallas this season.

Lifestyle Tips

Top 5 Mudroom Organization Tips

When guests enter your home, the mudroom sets the tone for what they expect to see in the rest of your house. With that in mind, Darling Homes is helping you set the stage for great first impressions with our set of tips for beautiful, well-organized mudrooms.

Mudroom Lockers

In order to keep backpacks, raincoats, and shoes in check, Mudroom lockers are ideal. Separating each family member’s items into their own space will help keep everything together so misplacing items can be avoided. Darling Homes’ built-in mudrooms do just that with divided spaces that can be used by the homeowners, kids, or a combination of both, providing everyone their own space to place their things when they enter the home.

Utilize Baskets

Organizing smaller items like hats, key rings, sunglasses and even shoes is a great way to keep everyday items handy when it’s time to leave for the office or take the kids to school and can be easily done with attractive baskets, bins or boxes. Choose ones that complement the look of your decor for space that goes relatively unnoticed by guests.

You can separate items by bin or assign a bin to each member of the household to store their own items. Whichever you prefer, you can’t go wrong with this easy storage tip.

Mudroom Benches

Sometimes putting on your shoes in the mornings isn’t the easiest job and taking them off can be even harder, especially if you want to avoid tracking in mud and dirt. Having a bench in your mudroom is more than ideal. Luckily, Darling Homes includes mudroom benches in your built-ins to make changing shoes easy.

Umbrella Storage

Using a tall planting pot as a place for storage in your mudroom is more useful than it seems. Umbrellas, canes, and even baseball bats and golf clubs can easily be stored and help keep your space neat and tidy.

Vertical Hat Rack

Oftentimes, vertical storage is overlooked but helps to organize numerous items using minimal amounts of space. You can use stylish hooks or vertical racks to hang hats, jackets, raincoats, umbrellas and even dog leashes. The more organized the better. After all, your mudroom isn’t just a place to keep things, it’s there to help you stay organized so outings and trips become an easier part of your daily routine.

No matter how you choose to organize your mudroom, Darling Homes Houston and Darling Homes Dallas offer homes with attractive and sensible mudroom designs built to help you keep your home organized and tidy every day of the year.