If you are making plans to host a party during the holiday season or beyond, you have likely pored over decor, food, invitations, and—of course—drinks. One way to welcome and wow your guests at your next gathering is with a signature beverage to mark the occasion. Use custom ingredients and on-theme names to help shape the soiree and create a memorable toast. Consider a Mango Mimosa to set a celebratory tone for a Sunday brunch, or a Tequila Sunrise as a colorful welcome to a late-night gathering. It doesn’t take much to make your party neat. Here’s how.


Because holiday celebrations often involve proposing a toast, you might want to get some beverage suggestions before hosting your seasonal event. Poll those on your guest list to see which alcohol and mixers—say vodka and cranberry or rum and Coke—get the overwhelming vote. This way you’ll be sure to order the right ratio.


Before you whip up your specialty drink, get some additional inspiration. Cocktail recipes can come from your favorite bartender’s guide, online source, or iconic TV series. For example, if you are a fan of Mad Men, prepare Don Draper’s signature old-fashioned. You can even watch the show and dress the part for added entertainment.


Brush up on your bartender lingo and use terms such as neat, straight up, and on the rocks. Bring classic liquor bottles front and center with a distinctive display of popular spirits such as whiskey, gin, and vodka on a bar cart or tray. These crowd-pleasers get along swimmingly with a variety of mixers, from assorted juices to tonic water and club soda with a splash of citrus.


Make mocktails available for the younger set or anyone who prefers to skip alcohol. Get creative with your offerings. A Shirley Temple with sugar on the rim and a cherry on top to a virgin piña colada can be a fun nonalcoholic signature drink. Don’t forget about those decadent extras that make every beverage feel special, like cocktail umbrellas that add a slice of paradise to the overall experience.


Presentation goes a long way for any celebration. During the holiday season, add some bling to your bar with twinkle lights and other shiny touches like silver and gold accessories arranged around your glassware. White bowls filled with lemons, cherries, and limes elevate a traditional bar setting. Other garnishes such as a sprig of mint or handful of fresh berries turn your bespoke beverage into a work of art.


Stock up on barware such as a shaker, strainer, muddler, decanter, and bottle stopper. Make sure you have enough ice on hand for whatever you’re making. If your custom concoction requires a straw, stash some extras in a festive glass container. Include stylish coasters and cocktail napkins as a functional part of party decor.


Keep refills in a punch bowl or pitcher whenever possible, so there is less prep work for you. Stock your bar with basic beverages such as water bottles and soda. A charcuterie board with olives, meats, cheese, and nuts serves as the perfect pairing for your refreshments.


After you make your first round of drinks, you should have plenty of time to mingle with your guests. Pair cocktail recipe cards with mini liquor bottles for guests to take home. As always, whether or not your guests imbibe, keep designated drivers at the ready. Written by Jeanine Matlow. Photography by (clockwise from top) sveta_zarzamora/iStock/Getty Images Plus, MarianVejcik/iStock/Getty Images Plus, Lara Hata/E+/Getty Images, Eugene03/iStock/Getty Images Plus.


Try this yummy cocktail recipe when hosting a holiday bash and beyond. This creative concoction was provided by Sidecar Slider Bar in Farmington, Michigan (sidecarsliderbar.com/farmington).

Makes 1

  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 tablespoons crushed graham cracker
  • Honey
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce coffee liquor (Kahlua works great)
  • 1.5 ounces pumpkin spice creamer (Pumpkin Spice Baileys)
  • Cinnamon powder and cinnamon stick, for garnish

Combine the pumpkin pie spice and crushed Graham crackers.

Dip the glass rim in honey and then roll the glass rim in the pumpkin pie spice and graham cracker mix.

Fill the glass with ice. Pour the vodka, coffee liquor, and creamer over the ice.

Sprinkle cinnamon on top of the drink and drop in the cinnamon stick.

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OTTAWA — The number of homes sold nationally rose 11.3 per cent in November compared with a year ago but the picture varies significantly by region, said the Canadian Real Estate Association.

By: Canadian Press

OTTAWA — The number of homes sold nationally rose 11.3 per cent in November compared with a year ago but the picture varies significantly by region, said the Canadian Real Estate Association.

A major rebound in sales in the Greater Vancouver Area and continued growth in the Greater Toronto and Montreal regions propped up sales, while the Prairie cities of Calgary, Edmonton, and Regina saw declines.

Overall, there were 37,213 homes sold through CREA's MLS system, up from 33,437 in November 2018.

The increase in sales came as the national average price for a home sold in November was about $529,000, up 8.4 per cent compared with a year ago. Excluding Greater Toronto and Greater Vancouver, the average price was around $404,000, up 6.9 per cent compared with last year. The MLS home price index rose 2.6 per cent year over year to $638,300.

Price gains also saw regional variances, with the Greater Vancouver benchmark price down 4.59 per cent from a year ago and Prairie home prices also down, while Greater Toronto saw gains of 6.52 per cent, Greater Montreal had gains of 8.72 per cent, and Ottawa registered gains of 11.45 per cent.

"Sales continue to improve in some regions and not so much in others," said Jason Stephen, president of CREA in the release.

In its updated outlook, the association says it expects home sales this year to total 486,800, while it says the national average price is on track to rise 2.3 per cent.

That compared with an earlier forecast for 482,000 home sales for 2019 and a 0.5 per cent increase in the national average price.

Prices rose as the number of newly listed homes slid 2.7 per cent, driven primarily by fewer new listings in the GTA.

Nationally there is 4.2 months of inventory, the lowest recorded since the summer of 2007. The inventory, which represents how long it would take to liquidate current inventories at the current rate of sales activity, is well below the long-term average of 5.3 months.

For 2020, CREA says it expects home sales to rise 8.9 per cent next year to 530,000. The national average price is forecast to rise 6.2 per cent to $531,000.

TD economist Rishi Sondhi said he also expects rising sales in 2020 from job growth, population gains and a mild boost from government programs for first-time home buyers, though he notes there is some room for caution.

"This view rests on financial conditions remaining accommodative. The backup in bond yields since September, if sustained, could offer some downside risk to our forecast."

He said the recovery in home sales, especially helped by the Greater Vancouver Area's 55.9 per cent jump, would yet again support fourth quarter economic growth.


When you think of the best timing of selling your home, winter might not be the first season that comes to mind! Aside from the freezing temperature outside, people are often preoccupied with the holiday season! However, there are many reasons why you should consider selling your home during the winter.

If you want to sell your home during the winter but are hesitant, here are five reasons to do it!

1. The buyers are serious.

Unlike popular belief, demand does not really go that low during winter. And while it is not the peak buying season, the buyers that will encounter are much more serious and motivated. The buyers you will encounter during winter are often in a rush, are ready to make offers, and plan on moving in before or after the new year. This is a great advantage for sellers because you don’t have to waste your time with buyers who are just looking.

2. There Is less competition.

You won’t have that much competition if you sell your home during winter. Many people decide against listing their homes during winter and wait for Spring instead. With less competition, it will be easier for your listing to stand out. You’ll be able to have a higher chance at attracting buyers and selling your home much quicker and at a better deal for you.

3. Loans are processed quicker.

For lenders, winter is a time when the inventory is smaller and they have more time to process loans. Since loans can be processed more quickly than other seasons, your selling process will be much smoother and your road to closing will be faster. If you or your buyer is in a rush to close the home before the new year, your buyers will not have s problem processing their loans.

4. You can get better deals.

Since there is less competition and buyers are much more motivated during this season, you can definitely negotiate better deals with your buyers. According to Redfin, listings during winter actually sell faster and for more money. Make sure to stage your home, create a good and sound contract, and have it inspected so you can put a premium on its price. You can take advantage of serious buyers and try to sell your property at a higher price and better payment terms.

5. It’s a great way to start the year.

If you’ve been wanting to sell your home or if there’s an inevitable reason to do it, doing it before the start of the year is definitely the best time. The end of the year is the perfect time to let go of your property. It is the perfect timing for Spring where you’ll be able to move on and start anew without carrying any pieces of baggage from the year before.

Selling your home during the winter, whether it’s because of financial reasons, relocation, or if it’s an investment property you’ve been holding on to, is a decision that you will be thankful for when Springtime comes.

If you think that it’s best for you to wait for Spring or Fall to sell your home, you better think again. While there are many factors that can contribute to your listing being sold, winter can definitely be a good time to sell it if you give it a chance. Keep these five reasons in mind the next time you hesitate on selling a home during winter!