A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Management

A Beginner’s Guide to Real Estate Management

If you’ve been searching for a way to diversify your portfolio and bring in some extra cash, you may be considering purchasing an investment property. Managing a rental is a great opportunity for those willing to put in the work. Here’s a look at a few of the things you should consider, as well as how to figure out if it’s the right move for you.

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Skills for Landlords

Running a rental property is a tough job. Do you have what it takes?

What It Takes to Be a Landlord

Is Becoming a Landlord Worth It?

What You Need to Know Before Renting Out Your Vacation Home

Picking Your Property

If you’re ready to get started, you need to make sure you have the right property. Here’s how to select — and care — for your rental investment.

Types of Apartments and Multifamily Buildings – Complete Guide

How to Pick the Perfect Investment Property in Nine Steps

Best Places to Buy Vacation Rental Property

How to Passively Invest in the Vacation Rental Market

Rental Property Care and Upkeep

All properties will need repairs, upgrades, and tweaks now and then to keep it looking great.

10 Issues to Address Before New Tenant Move In

Landlords: Save Time With These Low Maintenance Landscaping Design Tips

Long-Distance Rental Property: 8 Ways to Oversee Vacation Rentals

Beautify Your Home by Hiring Redesign + More

Financial and Legal Concerns

Working in housing means taking on legal and financial responsibilities.

How to Set the Perfect Rent Price for Your Rental Properties

What Are Typical Apartment Building Operating Expenses?

Safeguard Your Assets by Creating a North Carolina LLC

How to Price Your Vacation Rental Property

4 Things Landlords Are Not Allowed to Do

There’s a lot to learn for the investment property first-timer. Researching the ins and outs of becoming a landlord is a vital step. Now you must ask yourself: Are you ready to take on the challenges — and reap the rewards?

Photo Credit: Pexels

Article By

Suzie Wilson


Recession-Friendly House Hunting Tips for First-Time Buyers and Investors

Photo via Pexels

Recession-Friendly House Hunting Tips for First-Time Buyers and Investors 

The real estate market is showing a strong recovery following coronavirus-related shutdowns. Despite financially uncertain times and social distancing recommendations, people everywhere are still buying and selling homes. In fact, the current recession is an enticing opportunity for many buyers. Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or looking to invest in real estate, the recession may be a great time to purchase property and lock in a low mortgage rate! Here are some things to keep in mind before making your big purchase.

Ensure You’re Financially Prepared

For many people, the recession could be a great time to buy a house. But is it the right time for you? If you’re not financially prepared for this major purchase, don’t rush your plans just so you can secure a low interest rate on a loan. Do some research to find out how much home you can afford so you can get a better idea of your options. Looking into home loans is a good place to start. According to PennyMac, a conventional mortgage can be a good low-cost loan option for both primary homes and investment properties. Plus, you can choose between a fixed rate and adjustable-rate mortgage and enjoy a range of down payment options.

Of course, financial preparedness will look a lot different depending on whether you're buying a home as a principal residence or investment property. It’s a good rule of thumb to keep your mortgage expenses under 28% of your gross income. If you’re buying an investment property, make sure you will be able to charge enough rent to come up with a positive cash flow.

Be Careful About Buying a Home ‘As-Is’

As you start looking for homes, you may notice quite a few selling “as-is. ”These homes are more common during recessions as many owners can’t afford to make repairs before selling. Banks also list foreclosed homes “as-is”. While buying an “as-is” home may help you get a great deal on your dream property, it’s important to be cautious. 

Make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into by purchasing a home that may need substantial work. For example, Redfin warns that “as-is” homes could have major defects like structural problems, pest infections, or mold issues. If you decide to go after an “as-is” home, get a home inspection before closing your sale and be prepared to cover any maintenance issues yourself. These homes may not be your best choice if you’re looking for a low-maintenance first home or a turnkey real estate investment.

Try to Be Flexible 

When house-hunting during a recession, flexibility is key. Don’t limit yourself to your favorite neighborhoods. Whether you’re investing or buying your first residence, look into areas of town where you won’t get a lot of competition from other buyers. Working with a great real estate agent can help you discover up-and-coming neighborhoods where homes are more affordable and prices are projected to rise over time.

Consider Your Plans for the Property

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of buying your first home or investment property. But don’t forget to think about the future! What are your plans for the property? How long do you plan to live in the home? Will you be making renovations or upgrades? Do you intend to rent out the basement suite to help with your mortgage payments? Investors also have to consider their future plans. If you want to rent out your new property as a short-term vacation home, you may need some extra money in your budget to make attractive renovations or interior design upgrades. 

When personal finances are in the right place, recessions can be exciting opportunities for prospective home buyers. This may be your only chance to score a historically-low interest rate on your dream home. As long as you’ve thought ahead, calculated your home affordability, and researched your loan options, this could be a great time to buy your first home or investment property! 

Article By

Suzie Wilson


Home Interior Color

Color comes with many choices keep in mind that paint colors in your home can influence your mood and energy levels. The way you function in a room and depending on your style determines your choice for warm, cool, dark or light colors.

Colors combined together add visual interest to a room, they can give a home a modern or traditional feel. Keep in mind when looking at color chart samples that pink to yellow are warm and green to purple are cool colors.

Dark deep reds, purples, dark blues and greens can give you a gloomy effect but when used in the right way as an accent element they help to comfort and make you feel secure.

Yellow, orange and pink shades give the room a higher temperature they are best used in rooms that receive less sunlight. They stimulate movement  avoid them in a room that you want to use for relaxation such as your bedroom. Yellow in a bedroom brings happiness so if you are someone that feels the winter blues this may be a room color choice for you.

Cool colors are your spa blues and greens they have a calming effect. For a bedroom these colors are a good choice as they help you relax and feel rejuvenated the next morning. Pay attention to rooms that have very little to no sunlight when using these cool colors.

Where family gathers and communicates dark colors like navy blues often create a cold feeling and conversation can be discouraged. I suggest not using these colors in family rooms and dining rooms.

Use red as an accent color it tends to raise the energy level in a room and can sometimes make some a little annoyed.

Gray has been one of my favorite colors coming in warm and cool tones its great for family rooms, living rooms, bathrooms and just about any room. Using in the kitchen may curb the appetite for some of us which might be a good thing sometimes.

Color maybe the easiest and least expensive way to transform the mood and energy of a room, choosing color can sometime be overwhelming. We can help guide you from start to finish so you will achieve a paint project that you love. Ready and available are a full line of Sherwin Williams and Benjamin Moore paint color samples to view.

Interior Design, Redesign, Holiday Decorator
Peggy Johnson

Ten contemporary ways to dress a window

Drapes, shutters and shades; there are many ways to dress a window, whether in a bedroom, kitchen, lounge or living room. Here are ten suggestions for you to consider.

Roller shades

Roller shades are simple, durable and easy to install. Materials range from vinyl, which is the most economical option, to more expensive fabrics, such as UV filtering and decoratively patterned materials. 

Balloon shades

Balloon shades are available in stationary or functioning styles; both feature voluminous quantities of fabric and are perfect for classically elegant rooms. Stationary balloon shades cover approximately 30 percent of the top of the window and the material hangs in impressive-looking folds. Functioning balloon shades utilize cords to pull the bottom rail upwards.

Roman shades

Roman shades are closely related to roller shades in that they lie flat against the window when closed. They feature rectangular sections of fabric which form horizontal folds when opened. Romans are great if you have a special feature to highlight.

Pleated and gathered drapes

Drapes are available in an almost infinite range of fabrics and patterns, so can be used to add character and elegance to any room, no matter what the décor or style. In addition to that old faithful, pleated and gathered drapes, there are a number of other styles to choose from.

Puddling drapes

As the name suggests, puddling drapes are cut excessively long and so ‘puddle’ on the floor. They provide the finishing touch to a luxuriously sensual looking bedroom.

Hemmed-up drapes

Hemmed-up drapes are cut to a length that reaches a predetermined point on the window; for example, the window sash.

Brush the floor drapes

Brush the floor drapes are cut to a length that causes them to just reach the floor.  


Shutters come in three basic styles: solid, café and plantation. Solid shutters are more traditional in style; they are closed at night and folded open during the day. They are particularly suited to Victorian style houses and cottages. Café style shutters cover only the bottom half of the window; however, a tier on tier variation is also available, which is effectively two sets of café style shutters fixed one on top of the other to cover the entire window. The most popular of the three styles are plantation shutters; they feature louvers which allow variable levels of light in, depending on how far they are rotated. This type of shutter is extremely versatile and can be used to make a feature of windows in almost any style of property. Shutters are particularly useful in that they can be manufactured to fit windows of almost any shape.

Stained glass

Stained glass does not have to be traditional in style (for example, the windows we associate with churches and cathedrals). On the contrary, it can be stunningly contemporary with abstract patterns, almost clear glass with just a few subtly colored sections to grab the attention, or completely opaque. Have a craftsman design and assemble a unique window just for you.

Window netting

Window netting is an economical and attractive solution when a little extra privacy is required without completely blocking out the light, and there are many choices available. You could opt for traditional lace or lightweight voile material and finishes that range from plain to heavily patterned.

Contributed By David Charles                                                                

Top Tips For Updating Your Home on a Budget

It’s the time of year where the thoughts of homeowners turn to their interiors. Longer days make it easier to give your home a good spring clean, and the brighter sunlight pouring through the windows is highlighting all of those areas where your décor is looking shabby and your interiors are in need of an update. While you may be keen to make some changes though, your budget might not be so enthusiastic! If you have more dash than cash and want to update your home on a tight budget then here are a few key hints and tips:

Personalize Where You Can

Interior-savvy homeowners often avoid buying items from popular generic home stores because they don’t want a house that looks like everyone else’s. Whilst this is a valid concern, for those on a budget, these stores really do provide some fantastic and affordable pieces. The key to incorporating these into your home with style is to get creative and commit to some crafty personalization. Buying a plain white shower curtain will cost less than $15, for example, but you can make it look considerably more expensive, and tie it into your existing bathroom décor by trimming it with a deep fabric hem in a gorgeous on-trend fabric. Similarly, you can buy scatter cushions for your bed or sofa in plain bold colored fabrics and then embellish them with sequins, lace or even add your initials in fun felt or velour to really give your accessories that personal touch. Once you start personalization the possibilities are endless: add a ribbon border along the bottom of your lampshades and add a trim and homemade tiebacks to your curtains.

Make a Change

Sometimes we become so used to the way our homes look that we don’t consider the impact a different furniture formation could have on the space. Take a step back and look objectively at all of the furniture you currently have in your home. Is it working as hard as it could be? Do you have interesting pieces in your spare room, where nobody sees them, that would be used and seen more elsewhere? Reconfiguring your rooms can make them look completely different without having to spend a penny. You could also repurpose and paint worn out furniture and other décor to make it look and feel as good as new.

Add a Lick of Paint

You will be amazed at the impact a fresh coat of paint can have on a room, particularly if you choose a bold and attention grabbing color. If you opt for light or pastel shades then paint the whole room and you’ll be amazed by how much lighter and brighter it appears. If you prefer vibrant primary colors then painting the whole room may be overpowering. Instead, opt to paint just one feature wall: for the best impact choose the wall that either your sofa or another key focal point is placed upon so that you can ensure the color will draw the eye. For the color shy you can achieve a similar affect using new bold colored accessories in the room instead. Just ensure that the color you choose is vibrant and contrasts with your existing décor in a complimentary way.

Don’t Scrimp on Everything

No matter what your budgetary constraints, there are some things that you simply shouldn’t scrimp on when it comes to updating your property. Don’t try to complete difficult technical jobs, such as wiring or anything else electrical, yourself: It is often cheaper and less risky to your health to simply bring a fully qualified expert in to complete the job. You should also never scrimp on your home and contents insurance when your finances are tight: if you are burgled or the victim of a natural disaster then this is the time of your life then you would be least able to afford to replace all of your possessions.

Finally, don’t be afraid to buy or accept second hand furniture from friends and family. The quality of your furniture is important and, ultimately, you will want to have one piece of good qualityfurniture in every room of your home. By accepting second hand pieces you will be in a better position to save and buy new furniture the next time you come to decorate your home. 

 "Contributed by Jenni Ollerton"

Simple Ideas to Keep your House on Trend in 2014

Not everyone has the time, money or patience to do a complete overhaul on their whole house just to follow the fashions of interior design every year, but with a few straightforward additions/changes it can be simple for anyone to create a new, fresh feel to any living space.

There are a few key trends which are the focus of 2014 for interior design, and here are the main ones set to make an impact this year:

Painterly pastels

Painterly pastels are vital this year, and with the injection of soft blush pinks, hints of copper and pale petrol blues it’s easy to completely transform a space. Changing a few feature points is a great way to introduce 2014 trends. Invest in a high-quality bold-printedpastel rug to act as a focal point to begin the transformation. Warm up the colors of this trend which can sometimes appear quite cold, with natural oak and pine furniture. Incorporate soft shades in water-color art to act as a focal point, and remain minimal with accessories to create a chic, stylish environment for your living area.

Hollywood Glamour

Another big style this year to get inspiration from is Hollywood Glamour. Any form of glamour in fact this year is set to remain massive, and with such a quintessential theme this is a trend that will just last and last. Grey, mustard yellow and turquoise colors are vital when following this style. Timeless furniture is also essential for this trend, therefore it’s a great idea to concentrate on what type of sofa you need to suit this and complement your chosen color theme. It’s an idea to purchase your perfect furniture pieces first and build out from this. In order to re-work this style year after year, consider a grey, simple box sofa and add themed colors of Hollywood Glamour, to create a dateless living room space.

Ethnic Prints

Adding either authentic or mock ethnic fabrics,upholstery and prints to your living space will definitely add a fresh vibe and will complement existing furniture in classic materials and fabrics, such as quality leather. This is a great easy but effective way to completely transform an area without having to redecorate or invest in any expensive alterations. If you can get your hands on authentic then all the better as these will not only provide wonderful conversation pieces, but also little tokens of memorable times from travelling abroad. Go for quite a simple decoration that will be able to stand up to these prints, which could get lost in an overly fussy room. So even though beige colors are not as hot this season, this will act as a great base for incorporating bold prints to match this theme.

Victorian Frenzy

If vintage is your thing, Victorian style is set to be massive this year. Be that parquet-style laminate flooring, dark-stained flooring or anything else of this dramatic nature. There are far less imposing ways to still revamp a room into a Victorian dream, though. Eccentric Victorian trinkets and ornaments are a great place to start, but consider also branching out into a staple couch and armchairs. Don’t be wary of introducing Victorian imagery to really enhance the theme. Flea markets can be a source that’s great to pick up authentic pieces; watch out for globes, quirky printing blocks and old-fashioned telephones. According to Independent Mail the best time to hit flea markets is in winter and early spring. This trend really is one to have fun with and the possibilities are quite endless. Another great focus for this style is to bring through literature inspired artwork and collectible copies of classic novels.

Flower Power

An interesting new trend that has begun to take form already this year, and is set to come into its own over the summer is to merge the outdoors with the in. This is going to mean getting creative with flower displays. The flower vase on the mantel piece simple isn’t going to cut it this year. It’s really worth visiting a local flower show or event to get an idea of what you think you can realistically accommodate into your living space. Conservatories are a really good place to first introduce this theme, but why not be adventurous and see where you can take it in the rest of your house, too?

So this year why not try your hand at reinventing your living space to create a whole new feel with these trended inspirations. It really is that simple.

"Contributed by Jenni Ollerton" 

Amp Up Curb Appeals

Buyers are quick to judge a home by what they see on the outside. Are your sellers ready for the scrutiny? 



A property’s curb appeal naturally makes a critical first impression. “If everything within the front space is well-chosen and in perfect repair—from the mailbox and house numbers to the walkway and landscaping—buyers will think, ‘This house is obviously well-cared for,’ ” says Lisa Grant Vail, a real estate professional with Keller Williams Atlanta Perimeter and coauthor of Creating Curb Appeal (Schiffer Publishing, 2009). “This message is imprinted on their brains, even if the rest of the house is actually not as well cared for. It’s very hard to change a first impression.”

While most real estate professionals advise their clients to tend to the yard work, trim the trees, and put out a new welcome mat, they may miss other opportunities to help sellers improve a home’s curb appeal. Staging and real estate professionals offer some compelling ideas for sprucing up exteriors.

Front door

A front door can be a home’s focal point—but you don’t want that to be because of its peeling paint or dinged hardware. Replacing an entryway door with a new steel door (which costs about $1,200) actually offers among the biggest bang for the buck at resale (an average of 73 percent of the cost may be recouped, according to Remodeling magazine’s 2011–2012 Cost vs. Value Report, which analyzed 35 remodeling projects’ payback potential).

Sometimes a front door can be salvaged with a fresh coat of paint. Just don’t overdo it: Vail recalls when her clients went too bold with their door’s hue—a vivid blue that didn’t complement the home. It had dated brass handle and lock hardware, too. (Satin nickel and black or oil-rubbed bronze are more the trend these days.)


Wash them—inside and out—and remove the screens for added sparkle. Then, try dressing up the windows with flower boxes, suggests Peggy Johnson, owner of Redesign + More, a Charlotte, N.C., interior design and staging firm. Also, consider a new color for shutters. The trend is a shift away from high-contrast green, red, or black to more monochromatic palettes that blend with the rest of the house, according to the Paint Quality Institute.


Depending on its orientation to the house, a garage can make a huge impact. Does the door need paint or repairs? Should it be replaced? While sellers might not be willing to spend on a stylish new cedar wood door, they can find more budget-friendly options in metal or fiberglass. A new steel garage door can cost about $1,500, but sellers, in average, recoup nearly 72 percent of that investment at resale, according to the Cost vs. Value Report.

Front porch

Don’t overlook this key selling point. “It’s an iconic symbol of American living,” Vail says. “‘Sell’ your front porch as additional square footage by staging it with as much care as you would other rooms. Invite buyers to ‘sit a spell’ with a pair of rocking chairs, Adirondacks, a porch swing, or even an outdoor living suite.” And don’t forget to “add a coffee and a side table for writing up contracts,” Vail notes.


Is the driveway covered with cracks and oil stains? If sellers can’t afford a complete resurfacing (which may cost about $2,000 for concrete driveways), encourage them to look into patching up cracks using premixed concrete materials, Johnson says. Driveway cracks a quarter-inch or smaller may be able to be filled with asphalt or concrete that comes in caulk-like tubes. A patching compound for asphalt can be used for larger cracks. Some experts recommend kitty litter for removing oil stains, though hardware stores offer designated products, too.

After dark 

Evening curb appeal also matters. “Conceal a couple of portable outdoor lamps and aim them at the house or a beautiful tree for low-cost, high-value impact,” Vail says. Have outdoor lights on a timer so they’re always on for nighttime showings. Interior lights, too, work to create a warm glow from the curb. If the home isn’t wired outdoors, line a pathway to the door with solar lights. “The technology has improved considerably over the past few years, and solar lights are much cheaper to install than hardwired lights,” Vail says. “Plus, sellers could probably take the lights with them when they move.

Welcome Spring: Longer Days, Cleaner Home

Spring Into Action With a Clean Sweep of Your Home
By Craig Tomashoff, Contributor


When you think of the four seasons, certain images immediately come to mind. For summer, it’s barbecue grills, swimming pools and lawnmowers. For fall, it’s pumpkins, turkeys and footballs. Winter is hot chocolate, snowmen and stockings. And spring? How about buckets, brushes and a mop? While the season is a sign of new birth, it's also when most people take the time to clean up.

“It’s a good thing to get in the habit of," said Newell Turner, editor-in-chief of "House Beautiful." "It’s out with the old, in with the new, a fresh start. Spring connotes all those things.”

Brightening Things Up Inside

For centuries, spring has been the season for cleaning. In Chinese culture, they have traditionally swept their floors and cleaned out their houses to purge any bad luck and prepare for the coming of a new year. According to Jewish lore, Passover is a time to clear out the home of all leavened products. This led to a full spring cleaning of the home.

Meanwhile, in America, the idea of spring cleaning has become a tradition for very practical reasons. The cold and darkness that trapped you in your house all winter fade away and are replaced by longer days and warmer weather.

“Spring cleaning is psychologically important,” said Danny Lipford, a veteran remodeling contractor and frequent contributor to CBS’ "The Early Show." “We’re ingrained with the idea of cleaning up once we’re unleashed from the house in the spring.”

For Peggy Johnson, a North Carolina-based specialist in budget-friendly redesign, spring cleaning is more than just tidying things up. It’s about change and shaking things up for a whole new look around the house that suits the spirit of the season. For instance, she suggests using bright baskets rather than plastic containers to organize items like newspapers and keepsakes. It’s a way to clean up and “create texture, as well as adding another element to the room, something fun.”

If your cleaning is mostly about changing the look of your place, it does not have to be expensive. Something as simple as moving artwork to different walls can give your home a different look.

“Rearranging your furniture is good,” Johnson said. “Or you can take that large, dark piece you have and give it a light-colored paint job to make the room feel fresh and clean.”

After all the gray gloominess of winter, painting a chair, table or plant stand a sunny color, or getting new pillows for the sofa, is the perfect way “to do something bright and cheery,” Turner said. “These things elevate the mood of a room, and they aren’t big projects.”

The same goes for the bedroom, where Turner recommends just buying new sheets or a duvet to alter the look of the space. The dining room can get a spring facelift, too. It’s getting brighter outside, so try the same inside by doing what Johnson likes to do: put a bowl filled with colorful, seasonal fruits like oranges and lemons apples on your dining room table.

While it may be a little more time consuming and expensive, spring is also the best time of year to install ceiling fans.

“Without a doubt, they help you save energy but also have a cooling effect in the summer,” Lipford said. “They can keep fresh air circulating and make a room feel seven or eight degrees cooler. So March or April are the perfect months to install ceiling fans, before the heat of summer sets in.”

The Great, and Clean, Outdoors

As the weather warms up, you know you will leave the windows open to catch a nice breeze. That makes spring the time to free the screens of dust and grime. Lipford creates what he calls “a screen bath" for the job. He fills a watertight object like a kiddie pool with soap and water, then places the screens in the mix. They only need to soak for several minutes before they're ready to go back in the window.

Spring also offers the first chance in months to get out and spruce up your yard. Lipford suggests starting with improving the curb appeal of your home by working on the first thing you see when you come home and the last thing you see when you leave -- your mailbox.

“Straighten it up, plant a plant there, put some new numbers on it,” he said. “You’re looking at it every day, and with just a little work, you’ll have a big impact.”

Spring is traditionally the time for planting, but you also need to get the soil healthy enough for flowers like the summer hydrangeas. According to Lipford, pH testing kits are cheap and available at most home and garden stores. They’ll let you determine if your yard has an acceptable level of lime to allow plants to thrive. They must be used early in spring so you have plenty of time to improve the situation if your soil isn’t healthy.

“If necessary, you can help by aerating the yard,” Lipford said. “You can rent a machine for $25 or so, and it well help loosen the soil in spring so the grass has more avenues to flourish and not choke.”

The earlier you can start on spring cleaning projects, the longer you’ll have to enjoy your handiwork.

“It’s good to start all this in the spring so you can enjoy the work you’ve done through the fall,” Johnson said. “Do it all now, and you’ll have it behind you.”

Read more: Welcome Spring: Longer Days, Cleaner Home | eHow.com www.ehow.com

Debt-Free Holidays: Eight Ways to Decorate on a Budget Martha C. White

Getting your home ready for the holidays can really put you in the spirit of the season, but not if those displays are putting a crimp in your budget. This year, why not stay debt-free when decorating for the holidays? Whether you're hosting a house full of relatives, inviting friends over for some bubbly or just enjoying a quiet night by a crackling fire, our tips for festive décor can add to your enjoyment of the holidays without leaving a hole in your pocketbook. "Use natural products," says Peggy Johnson, owner of Redesign + More. "Right here in our backyard, we take pine cones and get creative." One idea: Johnson likes to combine pine and holly boughs with pine cones and artificial garland, then spray with aerosol "snow" to give her creation a unified look. When it's finished, no one will know that the display gracing your table or mantel didn't cost big bucks. Even if you're a city slicker, you can hang on to the boughs you lop off your tree to fit it into the stand, then use them to decorate another part of your house, like the mantel.

"Depending on budgets instead of buying centerpieces at Pottery Barn or Frontgate, I create my own," says Johnson. Don't be afraid to comb through your attic or even your china cabinet to unearth unused clear glass containers. These can be filled with holly berries, inexpensive round plastic ornaments or pine cones to create unique, low-cost centerpieces.

Professional party planners and decorators can't get enough of candles. They're cheap, don't require any DIY crafting skills and blend with any home's existing decor. Get a big bag of tealights, and set them out on a heatproof platter or tray for an effortless centerpiece. A small mirror or silver platter reflects the light, doubling the impact instantly. Even mason or jelly jars can be dressed up with a ribbon around the neck and a votive candle in the bottom. (Add a little water to the bottom to make clean up easier.)

When it comes to your yard, you don't need an inflatable Santa or an army of animatronic reindeer to make it look festive. In fact, you don't need to spend very much at all, says Johnson. White, indoor-outdoor lights on shrubs flanking the doorway or front walk are classic. If you want those bushes to have some pop in the daytime, too, pick up an inexpensive roll of ribbon from a craft store and tie a scattering of small bows around the branches, she suggests. For an alternate look, pick up a container of super-cheap plastic balls and decorate shrubbery with those.

Courtesy of Wallet Pop AOL