With just a few days left until Christmas, hopefully all the gifts are wrapped, ready and under the tree. The holiday season is a time for families to get together, remember the past year, and look ahead to the new year.

After all, families are what make a house a home. In that spirit, here are a few items to update, entertain, and maintain your home in 2018:

Wireless Doorbell

If your home is old enough to not have a doorbell, wireless doorbells are easy solutions.

Wireless Doorbell

If your home is old enough to not have a doorbell, or you’d like to update your existing one, wireless doorbells are easy solutions. There are several styles and brands, and depending on what you want from your doorbell, prices can range from $20 to over $200.

Ring offers doorbells that can be linked to your smartphone with an app allowing you to see who’s on your doorstep even when you’re not there and records video in full 1080 HD with additional cloud storage to store it for up to 30 days.

A Faster Slow Cooker

Currently all the rage for foodies, the Instant Pot speeds up the slow-cooker process, uses less energy, and can clear out some kitchen storage room in the process. More than just an appliance for preparing a Sunday pot roast, the Instant Pot can be a rice cooker, yogurt maker, browning pan, warming pot, and pressure cooker.

There are currently eight different versions of the instant pot, from the Mini 3 Quart Lux model to the 8-quart Duo model, and even a Bluetooth 6-quart model. The Instant Pot website has a comparison chart of all the different models and how they can be used.

Streaming TV

Smart TV

Streaming entertainment services are gaining popularity every year.

The “cord-cutting” cry seems to get louder with each price hike from the cable or satellite companies. While the cord doesn’t get cut completely (let’s face it – we’ll never get rid of the internet), streaming entertainment services are gaining popularity every year.

The first step is to get a streaming device, such as Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, or Google Chromecast, which are the most popular brands. There are no monthly fees to operate these devices, although they do need access to the internet. Users then download services to these devices, much like you would download an app to a smartphone. Sling TV and PlayStation Vue offer stations like HGTV, ESPN, TNT, and FX while premium channels like HBO are offered individually.

The downside? Streaming services, especially if used wirelessly, are at the mercy of your connection speed. A bad connection, or no service at all, and no entertainment for you.

Devices: Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast

Services: PlayStation Vue, Sling TV, HBO Go

The Useful Book

The Useful Book is full of solutions for fixes around the house and kitchen.

Something Useful

Some of us are old enough to remember Home Ec and Shop classes. Of course, some of us opted out of those classes to take Spanish. For those of you who aced hemming a dress or making a birdhouse, this gift idea may not mean much.

But for the rest of us, “The Useful Book: 201 Life Skills They Used to Teach in Home Ec and Shop” might come in handy. Full of solutions for fixes around the house (hanging a shelf and basic plumbing), kitchen suggestions (stocking a pantry, roasting vegetables) and other household problems (how to fold a fitted sheet), the book is a must have for college students or grown kids ready to strike out on their own. Available at Barnes & Noble.

Get Ready for Spring

With below freezing temperatures meeting us in the mornings, the last thing anyone wants to think about is gardening. However, Spring will arrive soon enough, and a well-stocked potting bench will give the gardener of the family a head start on the season.

For those with a big green thumb, Gardener’s Supply Company offers a large bench made from rot-resistant Western red cedar and plated steel hardware. This bench will stand the test of time. Lower shelves will hold water cans, mulch bags and unused pots while the upper shelf is perfect for high-use items like shears, snippers and gloves. A large working surface slides open to reveal a plastic bin that can be used as a dry sink.

We hope these are helpful ideas, and that your home appreciates receiving a gift. Enjoy being home for the holidays, wherever that home might be.

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