Cookie Decorating and Cocktails: Themed Parties For the Holiday Season

The holidays are upon us, and one of the most timeless, beloved traditions is cookie decorating before Christmas time. Instead of setting aside an afternoon to bake batch after batch of Christmas cookies, why not plan a full-blown cookie decorating party to include friends and family?

How a Cookie Decorating Party Works

A cookie decorating party can work in one of two ways. You can ask all guests to bring their own favorite cookies, undecorated, to the party for a group decorating project. Or, you can ask guests to pitch in and make batches of cookies in your kitchen that you can all decorate together once they cool, fresh out of the oven.

For a smaller gathering with a few friends, baking cookies and decorating together will work well. For a larger party of five or more, it’s a better idea to ask guests to bring their own undecorated cookies so you don’t have to worry about squeezing a large group into a crowded, hot kitchen to bake cookies together.

To plan ahead, make sure that you have all of the necessary decorating supplies set up in advance in different stations throughout the room, including:

• Aprons or smocks
• Paper towels
• Tubes of icing in different colors
• Sprinkles and other assorted decorations
• Food coloring
• Small paintbrushes

From there, it’s time to get cracking! Guests can decorate plain cookies of their choice with different icings and assorted decorations, like sprinkles, chocolate chips, M&Ms, crushed peppermint, and more. You may also choose to splurge on fancy holiday cookie decorations like colored sugar, silver ball candies, and cinnamon hearts.

All of the decorations can be set up in individual bowls for use at each decorating station. Guests can also create their own colored icing with food coloring to paint different designs on each cookie using a small paintbrush.

Adult Beverages for Cookie Decorating

If this is an adults-only party, you have the perfect opportunity to pair holiday cookies with delicious seasonal cocktails to enjoy throughout the decorating process. Depending upon the type of cookies that you decorate, whether they’re plain sugar cookies, snickerdoodles, or even peanut butter cookies, you can pair your holiday drinks accordingly.

Decorated holiday sugar cookies will go well with a warm beverage like Irish Coffee or spiked cider. You can also make a large batch of alcoholic holiday punch with flavors of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, served chilled and topped with a splash of cranberry juice and sparkling wine.

For more flavorful cookies, like peanut butter or snickerdoodle, serve a refreshing holiday favorite like mulled wine, peppermint martinis, or rich yet satisfying alcoholic eggnog.

For an adult-themed cookie decorating holiday bash, make sure to provide guests with the convenience of arranging transportation to and from the venue with a limo rental or luxury town car. This will allow guests to ride safely to and from the party destination so that they can enjoy a few holiday cocktails without having to worry about driving home at the end of the evening. ‘Tis the season!

Publishing Industry Jobs

As recently as five to seven years ago, careers in the publishing industry were actually limited because of the small number of existing publishing houses, and the majority of those have been privately owned for generations and remain so today. However, many opportunities exist in the publishing industry because of the new innovative technology that has arisen out of the Internet.

Probably the most obvious job within the publishing industry is that of an author. The second most well known or recognized job outside of the publishing industry is that of a literary agent, and the third is editor.

Authors write the material or texts that are to be published. They submit their work to literary agents who forward the work onto the editors of publishing companies. Sometimes authors will forward their work directly onto the editor, foregoing the agent who will take a percentage cut of the author’s paycheck.

If the author is really lucky, the editor will call him directly with a job.

One of the problems is letting go of out-dated thinking and processes. While some places may have a ‘top-down’ problem, others have leadership that actually do think in terms of the 21st century and new media opportunities. But they are most likely the exception. Part of the problem is one of a slow-to-change work culture.

There are many (great) veteran editors and sales people in publishing companies near and far that have held on tightly to the same way of doing things; editors used to only have to work on a print version of a magazine and sales made fairly easy commissions on recurring print advertising. Now editors frequently have several outlets to satisfy (print, web, podcast interviews, webcasts and, yes, videos) while sales people have to sell sponsorships for these new content vehicles. Sales people also need to understand these new technologies to convincingly sell them.

Thepeople working in desktop publishing use a computer software in order to produce and format publication material. They basically use numbers, text and data to prepare the publication material. The publication material can range from newsletters, newspapers to magazines and books.

There is a huge demand for people in the desktop publishing industry. In fact the statistics show that about 4 out of 10 desktop publishing professionals work in various newspapers, books, periodicals and directories. Every 1 professional out of 4 work in the printing industry and other related activities.

The statistics also show that employment figures are also expected to grow faster in the near future.The jobs are easily accessible for people with a certificate or degree. To receive a degree you can get a training from an accredited vocational school or college. The time that you’ll have to invest in order to get a certificate in desktop publishing is not much, in fact it in about a year, what it takes to get yourself a desktop publishing certificate.

There are other lesser known jobs in the publishing industry other than author, agent, editor, and publisher. One of these lesser known jobs is that of author publicist. The publicist takes the published book, the author, and puts together a public relations campaign that goes beyond simply marketing. If the author is a growing phenomenon, chances are that the publicist can be seen right beside the author during book tours.

Commercial Real Estate Purchasing Requires Considering Many Factors

Today’s world economy is changing. More and more people are turning to the internet for their goods and services. As our ability to transport goods across international borders increases exponentially, the world is truly becoming as small as a tiny computer monitor screen. Faced with the prospect of competing with online vendors, what can today’s business do to offer a clear and attractive alternative? The key is, and always will be, the customer experience.

As the old adage goes-real estate is all about location, location, and location. That is no longer true than when you are shopping for commercial real estate. Firstly, the location must serve your basic business needs. Does the location offer you all of the space your business may need for today, and can it expand to meet tomorrow’s needs? Is the location safe for your workers, and is the area an attractive destination to potential customers?

Perhaps most importantly, your business must be accessible to these customers. The closer your business is to the customers that you seek, the more readily you can compete with online businesses. Nothing beats the experience of being able to take a short walk to a store and see, feel, and test the goods and services you might need.

A well thought out and researched piece of commercial property is more than a tract of land and a solid piece of construction. It can serve as a piece of advertising as well. The location of your commercial real estate can be in an area with a high level of traffic. With a sign on the building, you can essentially create a free, ongoing billboard advertising your business. Since your business model may depend on local business, this kind of free advertising can be invaluable as time goes by.

You may also look for commercial real estate in areas with little driving traffic but a high level of foot traffic. Areas with high foot traffic are great for retailers looking to attract new customers who may be out for a day of window shopping.

Likewise, buying property next to existing businesses with similar customers may be a great way to work with your neighbors to create a one stop shopping experience. Today’s customer who notices your sign can be the start of tomorrow’s word of mouth.

Aside from the location, the actual structure is the most important aspect of a commercial real estate purchase. Aside from space considerations, you must consider what elements are available to you within the property.

If your business is dependent on a high level of internet activity, you should seek out property with stable, high speed internet available to each of the spaces. If your business is retail oriented, you will need large floor plans, preferably with a certain level of window space available for passing shoppers. Restaurants, bars and certain service oriented businesses will need kitchens, bars, or special pluming needs.

While today’s economy is victim to many up and downs, particularly in the real estate market, those in the market for a commercial space may be able to find a bargain. This is especially true if you are able to find a ‘fixer-upper’ property that can be retrofitted for today’s business needs. As real estate prices once more rise, these commercial properties could become a source of new revenue for the future.

No matter what kind of space you may need for your business, trained and helpful real estate agents will be able to aid you in your search for a new commercial real estate property.

Commercial Real Estate – Listing Tools and Tactics

Attracting new property listings is an ongoing task that requires constant focus for the commercial real estate agent. Whether they are new or old to the industry, prospecting for new listings is (or should be) ongoing. Clear tactics are required if you want to dominate your market and the other real estate agents around you.

Without new listings you cannot generate the commissions and quality of enquiry you require. What I will give you here is a well proven base plan and set of tactics for generating listing opportunity.

Understand this, the more enquiries you generate from the people you know, the better your real estate business. You have to know a lot of people to be successful in the real estate business.

With the advances in technology today you would think that this is prospecting process is easier than ever before, although some people still struggle with it.

So where can you generate the property enquiry that you need? Here is a list that will help you on the way:

  • Old real estate sales and leasing activity over the last few years will give you the names and dates of transactions that will soon potentially come back in the market. That means you should use the old property sales and leasing records from your region as a base of fresh prospecting and cold calling. Most investment property will change hands every 5 to 7 years. It is a cycle that allows you to target properties that have been held for some time by the same owners. They are likely to need your help soon.
  • Business owners may lease or own their premises. Make the call to these people or drop in at their offices to find out what they need and want in the way of property.
  • Walk the streets that contain the good properties and the good businesses. Leave your business card and pick up the business card of all the managers or proprietors.
  • Ask the people you meet in the local businesses about the local properties around them and any changes that they know about. This is a great source of market intelligence. They know the market around them better than you do.
  • Vacant land should always be researched as to the owner and what they are doing about the property. You can put your sign on vacant land if the owner lists their property with you. The more signs you get up the better for your market image and market share.
  • Old property listings that other agents have failed to sell or lease should be monitored in case the listing can be reactivated. As part of this keep a tally on the time on market for the listings. This will tell you when the market is changing with certain listing types.
  • Make cold calls on developers, solicitors, accountants, and architects. They all have an interest in commercial property and will have clients that need help from time to time.
  • Rent rolls and other property managements held by other agents are prime targets for new business. By their very nature, the owners of these properties are investors, and many investors own more than one property.

You and your daily activities are at the center of this prospecting process. Prospecting is hard for some people given that the level of self-discipline required is high. Many salespeople will find something else to do that is easier. Any excuse will do to avoid prospecting. Many salespeople will take the easy prospecting process of dropping flyers and sending generic mail to hundreds of local businesses where they do not follow up. Does this really work? Yes but only to a minor degree and the road to success is slow.

You have to talk to people if you want to fast track your listings and opportunity.

If you take on this challenge and practice your prospecting processes until they are second nature, then you will create better results. As you improve, the more meetings and presentations you can do, and this leads to listings.

It pays to keep a running tally of your calls, meetings, and conversions to listings. This helps you understand when you are getting better at the prospecting process. So who are you going to call? This is the research part of the prospecting model and every day you do a bit more research into the properties and the areas that you are interested in. This also helps you understand what is going on in your area.

New property listings help you build your database. It is the database that will bring you so much market share and qualified enquiry. The bigger and more accurate your database, the more people you can call when some enquiry or opportunity arises. Your database is a very personal thing and should be maintained by you personally. This helps you take ownership of the process.

Tips on Finding and Booking Car Rental Specials on the Internet

Car rental specials are a great way to get a cheaper car rental. They allow car rental companies to get their vehicles booked in advance and allow you to save money!

You can access car rental specials through each individual company’s website or through booking sites such as Expedia, Hotwire, Priceline, etc. In doing some research, I found that the majority of the rates found on the booking sites were the same as the non-discounted rate through the company directly.

I would definitely check both to get the best rate possible. I did find cheaper rates with prepaid booking sites (where you pay for the rental up-front) but these usually allow no modifications or cancellations of the reservation. If you are booking through a prepaid booking site, make sure to read the terms and
conditions very carefully and keep these factors in mind when you are checking prices.

When you are checking a company specific website, check the rate first with no discount, then with a discount code (if you have one), and with the special offered by the company. This way you are sure to get the cheapest rate offered.

You should always check the terms and conditions for any specials to make sure that your particular rental qualifies.

Common terms and conditions are listed further down.

On the car rental company websites there are basic types of specials that most offer.

% Off Car Rental Specials

These types of specials can range from 10% to 50% off rates; usually weekly or weekend rates. Sometimes you will see seasonal specials or midweek specials or one-way specials.

Prepaid Car Rental Specials

Many rental companies will offer car rental specials if you prepay the reservation on their website. This will involve providing your credit card at the time of booking and the amount of the rental will be billed right away.

$ Off /Free Day Car Rental Specials

Many rental company websites offer $ off and or Free Day car rental specials. This would be considered an internet coupon offer. This can range from $5 – $50 off depending on the company and the length of the rental or the price per day if it is a Free Day offer.

Location Specific Car Rental Specials

Many companies will offer specials at either airport locations, neighbourhood locations or both. They may also offer car rental specials in specific cities at certain times.

The terms and conditions for most specials are:

Most specials are limited to specific car types and sizes, unless the special is for “all car sizes”.

Most specials have a minimum and a maximum rental period. Make sure that your rental conforms to these guidelines.

Most offers are not valid in conjunction with any other rate programs or special offers, and cannot be used with a coupon or on a one-way rental.

Any % off/ money off or free day specials will be on the base rate of the vehicle only, and will not apply to the taxes and surcharges at the location or any optional equipment or waivers that you may purchase.

Check for date restrictions. Most offers will require an advance reservation and are only available for a specified length of time. Look for terms such as

“Available through” a certain date (must be booked and rented before such date). This will sometimes be worded as “Offer expires by…” or “Rental must begin by…”

Look for the term “blackout dates” Most companies restrict their offer at peak times and holidays. Keep in mind that peak times can vary by location. If there is an annual large convention in a certain city and the rental locations are extremely busy they will generally blackout specials for that time. This
applies to large events as well (example: Nascar Events, PGA tour events, Mardi Gras, etc.) If the blackout dates are not listed, you should be able to call or contact the rental company to find out the specifics.

Most offers are available at “participating locations” and usually restricted to certain countries. Check to see if the offer is available at airport locations, urban locations, suburban locations or a combination of these.

Many companies do not offer specials in the New York are, Alaska or Hawaii. Check your terms and conditions for these restrictions.

For a prepaid booking special you will need to present the same major credit card you used to book the rental at the rental counter. The name on credit card and the name on the driver’s license must match. You cannot use someone else’s credit card to prepay your reservation.

For most prepaid car rental specials and advanced reservation is required. You usually have to book and prepay the rental at least 24 hours before you go to pick it up.

Debit cards are generally not accepted for prepaid reservations.

Even if you book a prepaid reservation online, you cannot cancel them online. You must call the company directly to cancel or modify. Keep in mind that if modifying, you are basically cancelling the reservation and rebooking; this will often affect your rate. Check to see if and what the cancellation and no-show policy is for prepaid car rental specials.

Many companies offer specials only available to subscribers – sign up for email notifications for any car rental companies you prefer.

For more tips on car rental specials,discount codes,coupons,policies and more, please visit my website below.

Tips to Boost Your Commercial Real Estate Career

When you start work in commercial real estate sales or leasing, there is a real temptation to do what everyone else does. That is a real danger in that most salespeople in the industry are not good role models. In fact some agents are really ordinary and they do not share information effectively for new people.

So to improve your chances of being a top agent, you can start to focus on the right things and those things that will build your market share and business. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Find out just who dominates the local property market as a top salesperson in your office and then watch what they do. Review their listings and market share. Drive around their listings and see what makes their listings and marketing different. Do they have more exclusive listings than open listings? How do they market property in this economic environment? What has their sales record been like over the last 12 months? How does their market share compare to other agents?
  • They are likely to have a solid database of local contacts. You will need to start this process for yourself anyway, so ask them what database software they use and if they could show you how they build their prospect list. How do they interact with their clients?
  • They may have been operating in the local property market for some time and this will have bearing on the activities that they undertake every day. They should however still be prospecting to maintain their position as a top agent. Ask if you can sit in on their cold calling time one day to see how they do it and what they say. Perhaps you could replicate their script to words that suit you and your area or property type.
  • Get to know your area really well, and that will mean property owners, business owners, vacant land, property developers, and professionals like solicitors and accountants.
  • Identify the top property locations in your area and inspect the properties for a real understanding of why those areas are favoured. Survey the factors that impact location such as transport, services, amenities, highways, roads, ports, and infrastructure.
  • Get to know the top property owners in the area. Whilst they will be dealing with many agents, you can connect with them now and start to build a level of trust for the time that you will have some property solution that you can offer them.

To rise to the top of your market, you simply need to watch the right people and practice what they do. Build your database from deliberate and directed effort; the property market awaits your involvement.

Take an Inventory of Kids' Clothing Before Shopping For More

When the time to shop for new school clothes draws near, it is helpful to take count of what clothes your youngsters still have and what they will be wanting for the upcoming school year. Every family’s needs and wants will change from time to time, but this can be extremely helpful when it comes time to make purchases.

Making note of an inventory of your youngsters clothing items is really helpful when one doesn’t want to buy more than is needed, or if you are shopping on a tight budget. It is also helpful when you are trying to reduce the number of clothing items that your kid already has. Most families have one child that often throws all their clothing onto the floor while trying to find a special article of clothing. Minimizing their clothing numbers helps kids be more orderly, take better care of their clothes, and you’ll have a neater room as a bonus.

One way to aid in making inventory fun is to hold a kids fashion show. Ask the children to model all their clothing for you. Make certain they have shirts and pants that match, and that each item is big enough. Keep track of what they own and what they will be needing in the near future. The inventory taking show may be a lot of fun and as involved as you and your kids desire.

As your youngsters show off their clothing, make certain they are the right size and that they aren’t too worn to wear. When you are looking through their clothes, don’t forget to pay attention to accessory items that they might need for their outfits. Be on the watch for separates that can be mixed to make different and new looking outfits.

Figure out how many tops and bottoms each youngster will need. This will help a lot when the time arrives to go clothes shopping for your child. When you find a clothing item that’s not big enough anymore, be certain to pass it along to another child or donate it to Goodwill.

Quiet Air Purifiers

If you reside in an area where there is a great deal of air pollution, you will want to consider shopping for quiet air purifiers. These devices not only provide you with clean air in your home, but can do so without making too much noise. It is not a good idea to live in a busy city where you are inhaling smog and other harmful substances everywhere you go. At least you can control the quality of the air in your home.

Air purifiers are necessary for your health if you live where the air is not the cleanest around. Respiratory problems can come about if you allow your lungs to take in this dirty air every day. You will save a lot of time and money in the long run if you invest in a purifier for your home today. Medical bills that could be incurred from taking in unclean air could be cost you a great deal more than even the most expensive air purifier.

If nothing else, these tools can help to cut down on allergies from pollen and other substances.

Quiet air purifiers not only help you live in a healthy manner, but they can also provide you with a more comfortable home. Many purifiers filter out odors, so you will have clean and fresh air that you breathe in. This is very effective for a home that is smoked in. Even if someone smokes just outside the door, the cigarette smell can travel into the home. The purifier will help to remove this scent from the air so no one will have to deal with it. Getting a silent purifier will give you fresh air without all the noise of other purifiers. This really comes in handy when you are trying to sleep or concentrate on working or reading.

Look for air purifiers that offer a HEPA filter.

These filters have passed specific standards set by the Department of Energy. With such a filter, you can remove 99.9% of all allergens and other substances from the air in your home. This will allow you to decrease the amount of dirt, toxins, and other particles that you breathe in on a daily basis.

As you can see, quiet air purifiers are a great investment, especially if you live in a busy, smog-filled city. Even if you live away from pollution, you may benefit from these devices if you are prone to allergies. It can help to filter out pollen, cigarette smoke, and other elements that could irritate your lungs and airways. Be sure to get one with a HEPA filter so you can be sure that you are making a wise investment into a device that will work effectively to remove harmful particles in the air.

Boost Your Cold Calling Results in Commercial Real Estate

To make your prospecting system work for you in commercial real estate, you really do need to systemise it and set some priorities. Systems help build the future; random undirected action does little for you as a commercial real estate agent.

When you set the priorities you will not be wasting your time on things that don’t matter or perhaps have little results and conversions for you. It’s tough enough finding the time to prospect every day, let alone spending time on things that are not good converters of business opportunity for you.

So what can you do here? You can set a plan up that keeps you focused on the highly converting prospecting processes. You need new business to make your career work for you and prospecting is the key to pulling it all together.

Here is a priority model used by salespeople that I have helped in shaping their market share.

  1. Practice your call pitch for 30 minutes at 8:00am every day. This single one fact will help you convert more people faster to opportunities.
  2. Start the day with cold calls to new people. This should happen for a period of 2 hours. Start your calls at 8:30am.
  3. It will take you 30 minutes to build momentum as part of the call contact process. After 30 minutes you will be comfortable with what you are doing and the conversations will flow. The calls will get easier.
  4. Remove any meetings from the start of a business day. That includes team meetings. Focus on prospecting before anything else. Don’t let other people waste your prospecting time.
  5. Any follow up calls to established contacts should happen later in the day outside of your prospecting time. Create a habit of prospecting for new business. Don’t let existing customers or contacts derail your prospecting system.
  6. Towards the end of the day you should enter the results of the calls into your database. Perhaps you can do that as you are making the calls; the data does however have to be entered and you must take responsibility for that.
  7. End the day with research related to new prospects that you are to call tomorrow. Who are they and why are you calling them. You will need to know those facts as part of the process.

So these are some very rigid rules. When you stick to them you will find that opportunities develop. In any market and at any time the business is out there; it is just a matter of opening up the relationships with the right people.

Unintended Consequences of DMEPOS Competitive Bidding

Medicare’s DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program has been in the public eye before its implementation in January 1, 2011 with lots of clamor on its possible negative impact on the Medicare population. DMEPOS or durable medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and supplies include wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, pacemakers, hospital beds, prosthetic limbs and other medical equipment intended for typical elderly and/or disabled.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) competitive bidding program for durable medical equipment give emphasis on price competition among suppliers and providers. The innovation made on DMEPOS competitive bidding program greatly affects vulnerable medical beneficiaries of Medicare specifically on their freedom of choice, access and avail quality DME supplies. During the testing phase of the competitive bidding program, major problems were encountered by patients and beneficiaries that include additional costs to Medicare for numerous emergency room visits and longer hospital confinement, unfamiliar DME providers, and inaccessibility to vital equipment and services.

The CMS Medicare program will also take its toll on the marketplace with DME suppliers and providers engage in cutthroat economic competition to get their bid approved. Reduction in the cost of durable medical supplies will lead to inferior product quality and service for Medicare beneficiaries. Most DME bidders will resort to “predatory” and “suicide” bidding that result to unrealistically low bid prices. Small players in the bidding market such as Dallas medical supplies companies will have a hard time competing with large firms. The DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Program could take out most trusted and preferred DME suppliers of Medicare beneficiaries.

Various Home Medical Equipment (HME) organizations and advocacy groups are lobbying for the repeal of the competitive bidding program from influential members of the House of Representative. Certain bills for its repeal or modification are already sponsored for deliberation in the US Congress. Toll-free numbers are set up by HME groups for queries, feedbacks and updates of the program. The competitive bidding will affect nine major metropolitan areas of Charlotte, N.C.; Cleveleand, Dallas-Fort Worth, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Orlando, Miami, Pittsburgh and Riverside, CA. The unintended consequences of DMEPOS Competitive Bidding have yet to come and change the culture of the United States Medicare program.