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    13 hours ago 34 minutes ago
    Organizing a Mini Watermelon Festival 13 hours ago 37 minutes ago

    August 3rd is National Watermelon Day, so what better way to celebrate than with a mini watermelon festival?

     

    When organizing a party of all things watermelon, consider having watermelon themed drinks, eats, deserts, decorations, crafts, and watermelon carving (who said carving was only for pumpkins?)

     

    *BONUS* If you are feeling adventurous you can also prepare and/or serve pickled water melon rinds (a southern delicacy) and toasted watermelon seeds – which are actually a very healthy treat!

     

    Drinks and Eats

     

    Fruit salads, desserts, and smoothies can all be easily made with watermelon as a main ingredient, but there are other recipes for less traditional fare: 

     

    Grilled Watermelon is sure to be a hit – brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt and pepper this is an unusual mix of sweet and savory. 

     

     

    Image source: Dawn Suzie HomeMaker Hardy via Allrecipes

     

    Watermelon salsa – Served with blue and white corn tortilla chips this salsa where tomatoes are replaced with watermelon makes a colorful, and flavorful addition to the snacks table.

     

    Watermelon lemonade – The summer staple just got more colorful. But be sure to taste the watermelon fist before working through this recipe. If it is super sweet reduce the sugar to taste.

     

     

    Image source: Inspired by Familia

     

    Watermelon Rice Krispie Treats – This is a fun twist on an old favorite. With two colors of krispies and chocolate chip “seeds” it is sure to be a hit!

     

    Watermelon Salad with Feta –A mix of spicy and sweet, this salad with olive oil, hot sauce, olives, parsley, sliced onions and feta cheese is a unique twist on a simple side salad.

     

    Decorations

     

    The easiest way to get into the theme is to put up some watermelon colored triangle flags and other watermelon party decorations. You can also use this free watermelon garland pintable, or make your own. 

     

     

    Image source: Amazon

     

    Also, consider a watermelon balloons set to hang around the room, and tape finished artworks to the walls as well!

     

     

     

     

     

    Crafts

     

     

    Image source: Crafts By Amanda

     

    Watermelon fans crafted from half paper plates are a fun activity for younger kids and perfect for the end-of-summer heat. You can view full instructions here.

     

     

    Image source: Crystal and Comp

     

    Watermelon-colored hand prints and rind-printing crafts are other option as well. Be sure that if you’re working with paint you inform parents ahead of time so they can dress kids appropriately. Also, use washable poster paints, keep lots of wipes and paper towels ready for cleanup, and protect furniture and floors from spills.

     

     

    Image source: See Vanessa Craft

     

     

    Watermelon carving

     

    Print out images and ideas to get people’s creative juices flowing. If available at your local library, check out a few books on fruit and vegetable carving as well for more pictures, ideas, and techniques. 

     

     

    Image source: Jolly Tomato

     

    To achieve these look, and inspire others to create their own carved fruits, you’re going to need to pick up a Carving Tool Set ($14) or two with various sizes of carving knives. You may also need a box of toothpicks and large spoons to scoop out the red fruit inside.

     

     

    Image source: Mental Floss 

     

    *BONUS* For an added treat, hire a local food carving artisan to come and show off their skills for a few hours with event attendees. 

     

    *TIP* Remember that watermelon can make quite a sticky mess, so be sure to have extra trashcans, towels, and wet wipes available to keep things tidy. Protect all work and serving surfaces as well as any floors and furniture from sticky hands. 

     

    Be sure to take tons of pictures of the families and crafts to post to social media and advertise your community! Happy watermelon day!

     

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    1 week ago
    Build Your Own Hot Dog Party 1 week ago

    The National Hot Dog and Sausage Council designates July as National Hot Dog Month and July 23 as National Hot Dog Day! 

     

    Even though you’ll have to wait until August for National Mustard Day, you can celebrate this favorite food by creating a Hot Dog Bar for your residents. Include all the condiments and sides needed to replicate the variety of ways to remix the classic hot dog. 

     

    Prepping for the event

     

    When putting together your Hot Dog Bar, be sure to keep these pointers in mind: 

     

    • Ensure that you have a few kosher and vegetarian versions of dogs available - for those residents that want or need them. 

    • Keep lots of extra serving spoons available in case someone walks off with one of them accidentally.

    • Ensure your condiments are well organized with clear containers and labels.

    • Print out a list of suggested hotdog "recipes" to create some of the classic hotdogs from across the country.

     

     

     

     

    • Keep the drinks simple, classic, and eco-friendly with traditional recyclable glass Cokes and Sprites with straws, but also keep other refreshing drinks like chilled water, and lemonade available. 

    • Don’t forget the sides. Some great side dishes include classic chips, potato salad, garden salad, and fresh fruit. Many of the toppings can also double as sides as well – for those that don’t want to experiment with new toppings on their classic dogs. Have extra plates and bowls available for the slaw, chili, and beans.

     

    For a fully comprehensive hot dog bar prepare a few different types of dogs and toppings based on your community’s demographics:

     

     

     

    Read though this list from Huffington Post and Hot-Dog.Org for some of the more classic American hot dog preparations including collecting all the toppings and ingredients to make; Taco Dogs, Pizza Dogs, Ruben Dogs, Seattle Style Dogs, and Danger Dogs, as well as other traditional toppings and preparations.

    Food preparations

     

    • Prepare a mix of grilled and broiled all beef hot dogs, kielbasas split in half, and Polish sausages.

    • For a truly gourmet experience, make all sizes and types of rolls available, from classic buns to larger baked and seeded rolls. 

    • Consider prepping mini dogs as well for the kids by pre-cutting hotdogs and buns into half-size servings. 

    • For condiments that need to be kept warm, consider investing in a couple of crock pots for use throughout the year. Crock pots are great for preparing meals ahead and can also be used to keep toppings like nacho cheese and chili warm while serving. (*Note* - In the winter months you can reuse the pots for things like spiced apple cider, hot chocolate, soups, and stews.)

     

    Suggested toppings and spices:

    • Bell peppers

    • Green Relish

    • Chopped onions

    • Chopped or sliced tomatoes

    • Sliced pickles

    • Dill pickle spears

    • Pepperoncini peppers

    • Shredded cheese

    • Bacon strips

    • Pinto beans

    • Coleslaw

    • Chili

    • Sauerkraut

    • Nacho cheese

    • Celery Salt

    • Salt

    • Pepper

     

    Suggested sauces:

    • Yellow Mustard

    • Classic ketchup

    • Mayonnaise

    • Cream cheese

    • BBQ sauce

    • Thousand Island dressing

    • Hot sauce

     

    This party is not just about the food it’s about the whole atmosphere as well!

     

    For a truly authentic experience ditch the paper plates and purchase ahead some classic red and white food service trays ($7 for 50 pieces) to hold in the condiment-covered dogs and minimize mess. If you plan to make this a recurring event you may even want to consider buying a bunch of longer white paper hot dog containers, ($13 for 500 pieces) and a set of nostalgic red, yellow, and clear condiment containers ($6 for the set).

     

    Decorate the clubhouse with hot dog themed decorations, and condiment colored balloons. Think red, white, brown, and yellow! You may also want to download some free printable recipe signs, and make your plain white paper napkins ($3.50 for 250) more fun by folding them into pinwheels for an extra special touch.

     

    Also, remember to add labels on the condiments so your residents know what’s what!

     

     

     

     

    *BONUS* If you really want to go all out, consider renting or purchasing a classic hotdog or condiment costume to wear the day of your event. 

    *BONUS* Encourage residents to bring their own hot dog inspired dishes with recipe cards to share. Or collect the recipes from residents to put together in a recipe booklet and mail out in your weekly newsletter after the event.

     

     

     

     

    Have fun celebrating everyone’s favorite food!

     

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    2 weeks ago
    Spelling Bee Event 2 weeks ago

    Educational events are more than just fun community-builders, they also benefit residents in a concrete way by pushing children to excel academically and boost student morale. 

     

    Hosting a spelling bee in your community is a great way to encourage learning and healthy competition between residents. It’s also a great way to increase opportunities for marketing your community while opening up lines of collaboration with other local organizations and businesses.

     

    Image Source: Heather Temske

    Preparations

    1) Well in advance of the event, reach out to local businesses and bookstores to request donated prizes. This could include coupons for free meals or gift certificates for new or used books. 

    2) Be sure to advertise the event, and the awards, well in advance so that children have a chance to practice and prepare if they’ve never participated in a spelling bee before. 

    3) Have parent’s pre-register their children so that you can get an idea for the number of participants and their ages. This will help you choose age appropriate words.  However, try to be flexible by including children who were not able to pre-register.

    4) For a truly competitive spelling bee you are going to want to aim have at least 8-10 participants. Keep in mind, however, that the children will vary widely in age, so even though the kids are competing in the same spelling bee, you can use words that correspond with each child's age group.

    5) Once you have all your participants registered, ensure everyone participating is familiar with the rules and what word lists will be used. These spelling bee organization tips will help you plan and organize, this site will also give you useful tips on how to manage the event.

    6) If possible, create a special page on your website that has all the instructions and practice words well in advance so that children can get a feel for the activity and practice the words. Consider also reaching out to your local schools to get their word lists for the various grades.

    7) Many communities have computers in the clubhouses and business centers - consider adding spelling games to the computers so children have access to additional learning tools. You may also want to ask your local librarian for suggestion of books, games, and other related materials that are available for checkout at your local library.  PBS Kids has several spelling games for kids.

    8) Share spelling tips for students and parents from the National Spelling Bee website with your community.

    *BONUS* Invite residents to participate in a contest to design the spelling bee logo for your community. The winning design could be used on promotional materials as well as T-shirts you may want the staff to wear (or sell) on the day of the event. 

    Decorating for the Event

     

    A fun way to decorate for the bee is to use a bee and flowers theme. Consider crafting giant bees to hang around the room along with smaller cute accordion folded bees:

     

    Image source: Pinterest

    You can also add some additional bees in a honeycomb (using recycled yellow Easter Eggs) as another fun idea!

     

    Image source: Wonderful DIY

     

    ….along with giant balloon and tissue paper flowers.

     

     

    Image source: Just One Mom Trying

     

    Day of the Event

    1) Ensure that you start on time to give maximum time to all participants. 

    2) Have simple snacks and water available for participants and parents.

    3) Ensure that the PA system is in working order (if you have one) and make sure that you keep the event moving along.

    4) Have all trophies, medals, other community donated prizes, and participation certificates ready.

    5) Ensure someone is available to take pictures during the event. Also, encourage parents take pictures as well and share them on the community social media pages. 

    *BONUS* Ask a face painter to paint bees on participants and staff faces on the day of your spelling bee.

     

     

    Image source: Nadia Art

    After the event

    1) Be sure to give proper recognition to all participants in a group shot, and also post the picture in the clubhouse. 

    2) Put together as special social post to recognize the finalists and winner(s) on social media to allow their proud parents to share the news!

    3) Request feedback from participants and parents so you know what they liked best and what you can improve on for the next event.

     

    Paint Party 2 weeks ago

    One of the biggest trends right now are group painting parties, and it is a great opportunity to get your residents involved!  Essentially, it is a social event where a group gets together to paint their own work of art at a local art studio.  There are places popping up all over the country, and here is an explanation of the program from Pinot's Palette:

    Join us for an unforgettable evening of fun, friends, and fine art where you bring the Cocktails and we provide the Canvases! All you need to do is bring your friends, open your favorite bottle of wine and get ready to be inspired by our local artists who will guide you step-by-step through a featured painting. At the end of the night...leave with your own masterpiece.

    Every place will have its own rules, but most allow attendees to bring wine and cocktails, as they challenge their inner creative self.  Often, the group picks one picture to bring to life, and there are often great choices for kids, as well.

    One of the great aspects to this event is that residents then have something memorable to take home, and potentially hang on the wall.  It will always serve as a visual reminder of the event and the experience.  Also, it gives the community some potential options for sharing the pictures on Facebook, or even creating a mini-art gallery in the community clubhouse!

    The event can get a bit pricey, so talk with the provider about group discounts, and from there, you can either pay for each attendee, pass it along to the residents, or split the cost.

     

    Have you seen paint parties spring up in your area?

     

    Update:  We found a similar event created by Augusta Houston, but instead of a traditional canvas, they painted on wine glasses!  Love this idea, so residents can use their art whenever they want!

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    CMC Apartments' Resident Appreciation Week 3 weeks ago

    Thinking of throwing a Resident Appreciation Week at your community? It doesn't have to be costly or too far-fetched from resident events already in your arsenal. At CMC Apartments in Florida, we have hosted an all-portfolio Resident Appreciation Week (or RAW) for the past three years.  The following is an snapshot  from various properties during CMC RAW 2013. For more photos and ideas, check out #cmcRAW

    Do you host a RAW? We'd love to hear about it. Send us a tweet - @CMCapartments


    In 2013 our leasing and maintenance staff in Gainesville, Winter Park and Lakeland, Florida engaged in cutthroat healthy competition to outshine the other participating CMC communities for our annual CMC Apartments' Resident Appreciation Week - a fun, festive and free lineup of events offered to all residents. Here's a recap of Day 1.

    CMC's Resident Appreciation Week 2013

    Hunters CrossingWoodland Villas and Lakewood Villas started the day in the rain offering residents fruit, muffins, donuts and drinks in their respective Drive-Thru Breakfasts. What troopers!

    Maintenance serving Breakfast for Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments

    Huntington Lakes also served morning treats, instead they set up a breakfast cafe in their clubhouse. Residents were invited to enjoy complimentary bagels, muffins, croissants, danish and donut holes with Starbucks coffee and fresh OJ all morning. They also handed out Starbucks giftcards – good at the nearby location.

    Breakfast Cafe Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments

    WillowBrooke Apartments in Lakeland kicked off the week with these cute custom fortune cookies. All week they are attaching them to work orders so their residents know they feel. Who says cookies are bad for you!

    Custom Fortune Cookies for Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments

    Spyglass Apartments announced their Resident Appreciation events with door hangers (claiming their residents are O-fish-ally That afternoon at their Monday in Mexico party residents were invited to join their fully loaded nacho and taco bar.

    Officially our Favorite Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments
    Nacho Bar for Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments

    That evening at Lake Crossing the crowd gathered for Cupcakes and Cocktails. The staff hosted a ladies night at the clubhouse. Meanwhile in Winter Park, Summerlin At Winter Park hosted an all-day cereal bar: varieties of bowls and milks were set up to create combos.

    Cupcake Cocktail Party Resident Appreciation Week | CMC Apartments

    The Courtyards in Gainesville and Hunter’s Ridge in Orlando both gave away fun door hangers to each unit announcing the week of events. Hunter’s Ridge teamed up with Goodwill this year. To make spring cleaning more convenient there is a Goodwill dropbox on site all week long.

    Stick with us this week – we’ll update you to all the fun things our property staff has planned!

    Door Hangers for Resident Appreciaton Week | CMC Apartments

    Take n Go Spice Mixin' Party 3 weeks ago

    Every community has its share of "foodies", those whose food is their passion.  And for that group, a new trend is hitting the country - Spice Mixing Parties!  Spice blends have been a popular staple at Pampered Chef parties, Wild Tree, and Taste of Home Entertaining, and now people are taking it upon themselves to create their own spice blends.

     ‘Take n Go Spice Mixin’ parties are an easy, low-key event that takes very little to organize and host.  Request each attendee bring their own set of measuring spoons, and sandwich size ziplock bags. Freezer safe baggies are recommended so the freshness of the ingredients last longer, but generally they should be used within approximately 3 months afterward.  

    As the host, a couple days ahead, collect personal mix suggestions and recipes from the projected attendees or Pinterest for things like Dill Dip, Taco Seasonings, and Guacamole, then purchase those ingredients in easily accessible and clearly labeled containers to be shared.  For example, you should have a separate jar of oregano for each Mix Station requiring that ingredient, and enough of that ingredient per station that allows every person one of the filled Spice Mix bag recipes each.  You have ‘stations’ that are just individual groupings of the ingredients for each recipe, and the party goers circulate with their stash of baggies, filling one baggie from each station to ‘Take n Go’.  

    I’ve found the easiest and least confusing way to present this is with an easy to read large print-up of the Recipe’s Name, ingredient list, and portions placed or taped at each station.  At the beginning of the evening, have each person label the outside of each baggie with the name of the spice mix that will be placed inside, and any further instructions needed.  For example, 'Dill Dip: add to 1 cup sour cream’.  This will cut down on the congestion of people and lack of markers at each station, keeping the flow moving.  Every person should be armed with their personal box of baggies, labeled, and a set of measuring spoons.  For each person, print out a collection of the recipes shared that night, and any further additives needed to complete it.  For example, my Ranch Seasoning requires sour cream, but I won’t store that with the ingredients, and need to know how much to mix with my new ‘Take n Go’ packet just prior to using it.  Again, a suggestion would be to mark these additional instructions alongside the name on each individual baggie.  Every person will have the Recipe Collection print-out to recreate any and all of the mixes in the future.

    Much like Bunco, this type of activity is quick and brainless, so conversations spread, and people are forced to move and mingle by the party’s very nature.  And everybody’s a Winner!  We all either swap great recipes for that next savory home-made burger, or have hours of Pinterest-surfing pay off!!!  Who doesn’t want to check something off their Pinterest List?!??!!  I need more Pins in my “Tried and True!” board, and less of the questionable Pinterest Fails.  

    I’ve made your first ‘Take n Go Spice Mixin’ party easy by collecting a few recipes here for you, with a special ’Thanks!!’ to my friend, Katrina Smith.  I hope it gets your creativity rolling, and something delicious at your next gathering or dinner with the kids. 

    Good luck and Have Fun!

     

    Dill Dip:

    2 Tbsp Minced onion

    2 Tbsp Parsley Flakes

    2 Tbsp Dill weed

    1 tsp Garlic Powder

    1 tsp Salt

     

    Mix with 1 cup of mayo and 1 cup of sour cream and chill overnight for best results.

     

     

    Taco Seasoning:

    1 Tbsp Chilli powder

    1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

    1/4 tsp Onion Powder

    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

    1/4 tsp Dried Oregano

    1/2 tsp Paprika

    1 1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

    1 tsp salt

    1 tsp Black Pepper

     

     

    Poultry Seasoning:

    2 tsp Sage

    1 1/2 tsp Thyme

    1 tsp Marjoram

    3/4 tsp Rosemary

    1/2 tsp Nutmeg

    1/2 tsp Black Pepper

     

     

    Steak/Hamburger Rub:

    3 Tbsp salt

    1 Tbsp Onion Powder

    1 Tbsp Garlic Powder

    1 Tbsp Paprika

    1 Tbsp Black Pepper

    1 Tbsp Sugar

    1/2 Tbsp Nutmeg

     

     

    Ranch Seasoning:

    2 Tbsp Dried Parsley

    1 1/2 tsp Dill Weed

    2 tsp Garlic Powder

    2 tsp Onion Powder

    2 tsp Minced Onion

    1 tsp Black Pepper 

    1 tsp Chives

    1 tsp Salt

     

    *3 Tbsp = 1 packet

    1 ‘packet’ + sour cream for dip

    1 Tbsp + 1/3 cup Mayo + 1/3 cup buttermilk = dressing

     

     

    Southwestern Dip:

    1 tsp Parsley

    1 Tbsp Minced Onion

    1 Tbsp Chili Powder

    2 tsp Cumin

    1 tsp Dried Chives

    1 tsp Salt

    1 tsp Paprika

    Optional: crushed red pepper flakes

     

    Add 2 Tbsp to 1 cup Mayo + 1 cup Sour Cream

     

     

    Attention all Military Housing Property Managers! Are You Ready For Military Spouse Appreciation Day? 3 weeks ago

    Celebrated every year in May, National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM) offers the opportunity to express our appreciation to both current and former members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including all of those who have given their lives to safeguard our freedom. While Memorial Day may be one of the highlights of the month, a unique opportunity comes a bit early: Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Celebrated every year on the Friday before Mother’s Day, NMAM honors the unsung heroes who keep things running smoothly on the home-front. Here are three ways military housing property managers can acknowledge the ongoing sacrifices of military spouses this May 8th.

    1. Get Decorating
    Whether you tie yellow ribbons around trees throughout your community, fly the American flag in a visible place, or bedeck mailboxes with red, white and blue balloons, decorating can give your neighborhood a festive feel while honoring not only the men and women who serve….but also the men and women who love them.

    2. Host a Patriotic Party
    The work of a military spouse can be never-ending. Give them a day off from kitchen duty by inviting residents to a neighborhood block party or cookout with spouses of servicemen and servicewomen as your honored guests. Serve all-American foods and play patriotic music to ensure a festive fete. This also brings people together and promotes a sense of community. Get the kids involved too by organizing a bike decorating party and parade.

    3. Make a Donation
    Military families make sacrifices every single day. And while money can’t remove all of these obstacles, it can make the path a little easier. Many organizations exist to help military families, including the National Military Family Association (NMFA), which helps military families in a number of different ways — from educational scholarship to better access to medical care for sick military kids to healing adventures for wounded, ill, and medically retired soldiers and their families. A donation to the NMFA or other charitable organization is a meaningful expression of gratitude.

    General Raymond T. Odierno, General and 38th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army said, ““The strength of our soldiers is our families.” Our military would not be as mighty without the behind-the-scenes people who keep our soldiers strong while they answer the call of duty. These three ideas can help you show your support while building a stronger community for servicemen and servicewomen, their spouses, and their families.