4 Low-Cost Ways to Use Christmas Lights for Wedding Decorations

One of the most exciting wedding trends of the last few years has been the use of Christmas lights as decor. These lights are incredibly affordable and provide tons of drama to any space. The soft light that they provide creates a feeling of intimate ambiance that you simply can’t get with other types of lighting.

In addition to being cheap, Christmas lights are also incredibly versatile. You can string them practically anywhere. Here are our four favorite uses for Christmas lights when it comes to wedding decor.

1. The Ceremony Arch

The arch that is placed behind the couple during the ceremony is meant to be dramatic. It frames the couple and sets the tone for the rest of the day. Many people choose to decorate this arch with flowers and garlands. However, this can get very expensive.

Luckily, Christmas lights can provide the same amount of drama without breaking the bank. Simply wrap several strands of these lights around the arch along with some pastel-colored tulle to create a dreamy backdrop for this incredibly meaningful moment. The soft light of the Christmas lights will add a warm and intimate glow to match what is perhaps the most intimate moment of a couple’s life.

2. Outdoor Trees

If you are having an outdoor wedding in an area that is surrounded by trees, consider stringing Christmas lights around all of the branches. When your guests approach the reception area, they will feel like they are walking into an enchanted forest.

If you’re feeling extra crafty, hang meaningful photographs from the lights. Simply attach clothespins to the strands of the lights and use them to hold photos of important friends and family or of the two of you throughout the years.

3. Centerpieces

If the look that you’re going for is rustic chic, look no further than Christmas lights when it comes to creating centerpieces. Today, you can get Christmas lights that are battery-operated. Simply stuff strands of the lights into mason jars and place the jars in the center of each table. The glow that comes from the lights will be warm and intimate.

4. Cake Backdrop

Wedding cakes can cost as much as $1,200 thanks to all of the time and labor involved. Needless to say, something this expensive deserves a breathtaking backdrop. Why not create a DIY Christmas light backdrop for your cake?

Simply attach a few yards of blush or white tulle to a pole and hang it behind the cake. Then, behind the tulle, drape long strands of Christmas lights to illuminate the space.
With today’s average wedding costing almost $40,000, Christmas lights offer an affordable alternative to decor items that can seriously bloat your budget.

3 Things to Check When Buying a Used Computer

Desktop and laptop computers can be significant investments. Since many users don’t need the latest and greatest for their purposes, a used computer can be a great investment. Of course, used computers come with some concerns. There has been wear and tear on them obviously, and it’s important to ensure that the equipment is in good enough condition to deliver the expected value. With that in mind, here are three broad points to consider before making a buying decision.

1. Check the Model Number

Manufactured desktop computers and laptops will have a brand name, a model name, a model number and a serial number. The brand and model information will usually be posted on the case itself. The serial number will generally be posted on a sticker attached to the rear of the device. Use these details to search about the machine online, and be wary of used machines that have had their stickers or model information scratched away. Search to determine what the machine’s specifications are. You can use this to determine what components the computer should house and what operating systems it can run. Avoid machines that can only run OS versions that have become deprecated because their usefulness will be limited an increasingly so.

2. Check That the Computer Powers Up and Posts

If you’ve determined after research that the computer is suitable to your purposes and includes all the components and peripherals it should, then the next step is to ensure that it works. Make sure a monitor is connected to the machine. Put the PSU on switch in the off position. Connect the power cord to the computer, and then, plug it into a wall outlet. Turn the PSU switch to the on position, and then, press the computer on button. The computer should turn on and then post. If an OS is installed, then the computer should boot into that operating system. Let the computer run a while to ensure stability, and if you have doubts, then consider a computer stress test.

3. Check the Fit and Function

If you’re purchasing a computer with a battery, such as a laptop, then you should expect limited usefulness from that component. That means you should know how much a replacement costs and how easy it will be to get that part when needed. If you’re purchasing a computer with a monitor or built-in screen, then you should visit all-white and all-black webpages in order to inspect the display for dead pixels. You can also check peripherals like the mouse, keyboard and external speakers. If the hard drives or RAM are a point of concern, then there are utilities available to analyze their health as well.

5 Questions to Ask a Moving Company Before Signing a Contract

There are many areas in life where it doesn’t pay to go cheap. Choose the wrong moving company — or the company with the cheapest rate — and you may arrive at your destination with missing or broken belongings and little to no protection. This certainly doesn’t mean you need to hire the most expensive moving company — after all, the average interstate move is over $5,600, according to the American Moving and Storage Association — but you should do your homework to select a company you can trust. Here are 5 important questions to ask before you sign the contract and hand over your valuables.

#1. Does the company have a good reputation?
Check the company’s rating with the Better Business Bureau then check for reviews and complaints on popular sites like Yelp, Google Plus, and Facebook. You can also ask for recommendations from friends, family members, coworkers, and your real estate agent.

#2. Is the company licensed?
A moving company for an interstate (between state) move should have a US DOT number, a unique license number issued by the US Department of Transportation. You can check the moving company’s DOT number is still valid with the DOT database. For intrastate moves, the company should have a state license.

#3. Is the moving company insured?
You want to know that you are protected if something goes wrong during your move. You can use the same DOT database above to make sure the moving company has adequate insurance to cover you if your belongings are damaged, lost, or stolen in transit. It’s also a good idea to buy your own supplemental moving insurance because your belongings may not be protected during transit by your homeowner’s insurance policy.

#4. What do the rates include?
Don’t assume that low rate you see advertised will be the final bill. If you aren’t sure what’s included, ask. Find out if fuel charges are included in the quote, how rates change depending on the day of the week, and whether any labor is included or if you will need to load and unload everything yourself.

#5. What happens on moving day?
Finally, make sure you understand what to expect when the company shows up at your door. Will the crew protect your furniture from damage? Are you expected to have belongings packed and ready, or will the crew help? Will the moving crew move heavy furniture down stairways? How many movers will be working on the job? How long will it take to load then unload your belongings? Will you be charged extra if the job takes longer than expected? It’s important to know your responsibilities on moving day and what the company includes in the estimate you’re provided for an easy and painless move.

5 Benefits of Using a Professional Moving Service Instead of Friends

Moving can be expensive, and to save money, you may be tempted to try to do it yourself with the help of friends. However, there are some distinct benefits to using a professional moving service that help justify the cost. Here are five benefits of using a professional moving service instead of your friends.

Professional movers know what they are doing
Though your friends will be well-meaning, they probably don’t have any experience with moving, and most people don’t realize there is so much more to moving than just carrying boxes into your home. Professional movers will be able to pack the truck better so that you get the most efficiency, and they also will know the best ways to get large, heavy objects into your home, such as furniture.

A moving company can pack for you
Most professional moving companies offer packing services, meaning they will pack most or all of your belongings for you. Not only will this save you time and energy, but you also will get your things packed efficiently and safely. Allowing the moving company to pack for you can mean fewer boxes and fewer issues with things getting lost and broken.

Movers are reliable
Not that your friends would bale on you, but if they get sick or injured, they may not be able to help you with your move when the day comes. That’s not an issue if you hire a professional moving company, because it will provide the number of movers that it guaranteed you signed the contract.

Moving companies may be able to provide storage
Many moving companies either operate their own storage business or they have a partnership with one, so you have a built-in option when you hire them. That can come in handy if you find an item won’t fit in your new home or you miscalculated and the amount of stuff you had in storage at your own place won’t fit in the storage space you have in your new place.

Movers are insured
Probably the most important benefit of using a professional moving company instead of your friends is that a professional mover is insured. If the truck gets into an accident and your stuff is damaged, or if a mover drops your really expensive vase, the mover will have insurance to cover it. If you are using your friends, any damage that happens to your stuff is going to be your responsibility financially.

5 Tips for College Students with Storage Needs

Most college students live in small apartments or dorm rooms where storage space is limited. Especially if you have roommates, storage can be a serious problem. The following tips and tricks will help ensure that you always have enough storage and that your living space stays clutter free and organized.

1. Choose furniture that doubles as storage.

Many furniture pieces double as storage. For example, some coffee tables, couches, chairs and footstools open up to reveal extra storage. These are the furniture pieces that you should be buying. If you don’t have enough money to buy them brand new, consider buying them used from a thrift store.

2. Ask your parents if you can keep some of your things at home.

If you have so much stuff that it won’t fit in your dorm room or apartment, consider asking your parents if you can store some things with them. Most parents have larger homes where they could store some of your things.

3. Rent a storage unit.

If your parents can’t store things for you and you still have too much stuff to keep in your dorm room or apartment, consider renting a storage unit. These aren’t too expensive, and you can keep your things there for as long as you want to continue paying the rental fees.

4. Be organized.

Staying organized as a busy college student may seem like a challenge. But it’s definitely possible, and it’s certainly true that being organized can revolutionize your life. Even if you’re in college and feel like you have no time or money to be organized, there are certain things that you can do to promote organization. First, set aside time each day to clean off your desk and make your bed. Second, set aside time each week to do your laundry and some light cleaning of your dorm room or apartment. Finally, always put things back when you get them out. All of these things will help you stay organized.

5. Get rid of clutter, and don’t buy anymore.

You won’t have a storage problem if you don’t have so many things that you don’t have places to store them. This means that the best answer to a storage problem is getting rid of some of your stuff. There are likely many things that you own that you never or rarely use. Get rid of these things by tossing them, giving them away, recycling them or donating them to charity. Furthermore, make sure that you don’t buy anymore stuff that you won’t end up using.

By using all of the tips above, you’ll be sure to fix your storage problems and help yourself stay more organized and clutter free.