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5 tips to keep your pets safe this Halloween

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(Family Features) Costumes and candy make Halloween a highly anticipated event for children and adults alike, but the holiday can be particularly spooky for pets. Some of the same things that bring humans joy on All Hallows Eve can lead to poisoning, stress or anxiety, which may cause four-legged family members to run away or react aggressively.

To help ensure Halloween is fun for every member of the family, take note of these safety tips

from the experts at VCA Animal Hospitals, which has more than 1,000 locations across North America that cared for more than 4.5 million pets last year. Talk to your veterinarian if you need assistance dealing with pet anxiety.

Create a safe space for your pet at home. If your neighborhood is particularly busy on Halloween and the sidewalks are overflowing with exuberant trick-or-treaters, it may be best to leave your pet at home. Pets can be thrown off by extra people on the street or at the door in frightening costumes, which could lead to uncommon reactions such as growling or biting if they feel threatened. Even if your pets are mellow and enjoy greeting guests, consider keeping them inside as you sit by yourself near the door or outside to greet trick-or-treaters as they knock or ring the doorbell. Otherwise, consider keeping your pet in a room away from the frenzy with a TV, radio or white noise machine to dull the sounds.

Be cautious when taking your pet trick-or-treating. If you do decide to venture out with your pet, make sure he or she is always close to you on a secure leash (avoid retractable leashes). Observe your surroundings and assess people – especially friendly, excited children – approaching you and your pet, because physical contact from strangers in costumes may instigate a fearful or aggressive reaction.

Consider skipping the costume. It’s best not to dress up your pets for Halloween, but if you choose to, it’s important for pets to wear safe, comfortable costumes. They should be loose enough to provide freedom of movement but not loose enough to be a tripping hazard. On the other hand, costumes that are too tight can restrict breathing and make movement difficult. Make sure your pet’s costume does not interfere with vision or hearing. Also beware of small parts, like buttons or loose strings, that could be chewed off and swallowed.

Keep treats away from pets. Resist the temptation to share Halloween candy with your pet. In fact, keep all candy safely out of reach. Chocolate, candy or gum artificially sweetened with xylitol can be dangerous for dogs. Plus, cellophane or foil wrappers can cause problems if swallowed. Even natural treats like caramel apples should be off limits as eating items not normally on the menu can cause upset stomachs, GI blockages or pancreatitis.

Decorate with safety in mind. Festive decorations help set the mood, but they can also create health risks for your pet. While non-toxic, pumpkin and pumpkin seeds can upset stomachs, especially when consumed in large quantities. Lit candles in Jack-O-Lanterns may pose fire hazards if toppled by a curious four-legged friend. Decorative lights can brighten your porch but should be kept out of your pet’s reach as nibbling on electrical cords can cause electrocution.

To learn more, visit vcahospitals.com, where you can search for additional tips to make Halloween safe and fun for your furry friends.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images


SOURCE:
VCA Animal Hospitals

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Throw a party like a pro

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(Family Features) Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or simply catching up with loved ones, playing host can be as demanding as it is enjoyable. Before gathering your crew for your next event, make a plan to ensure you get to enjoy the day as fully as your guests.

Keep the Menu Simple
An ornate spread may be impressive, but your guests are just as likely to appreciate a less demanding menu with a few standout dishes. Offer a single main dish, a couple of tried-and-true sides, some finger foods for snacking and a seasonal dessert. Beverage staples like tea, lemonade and water are all you really need, but if that feels too basic, you can offer a flavor station with fresh fruit like berries and lemon wedges, flavored syrups and other sweeteners. If you’ll be serving alcohol, don’t try to cater to everyone’s favorite. Select neutral white and red wines and one or two beer varieties. A signature cocktail you can premix and serve is another way to add a special touch.

Set a Thoughtful Theme
One area many hosts go overboard is theming their events. While setting a theme can be a fun idea, it doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated, and your decorations don’t have to be over the top. Subtle color, centerpieces and serving pieces are all places you can inject some thematic vibes without investing too much time or money. You can also let your theme influence any games or activities you plan, as well as other entertainment like background music.

Anticipate Guests’ Needs
Thinking ahead about your guests’ comfort can prevent scrambling once the party is underway. Consider needs like seating, where you’ll keep extra food for quick refills and essentials like more toilet paper in the guest bath. Also anticipate accidents like spills and have supplies ready to efficiently correct inevitable incidents. Remember to plan for extra trash bins and if guests will be congregating outdoors, provide extra sunscreen, bug spray and fans.

Organize Entertainment
Depending on the purpose of the party, your entertainment may be pretty clear, but if it’s a casual gathering, you’ll likely want to provide guests some ideas for passing the time. Board games and backyard games are almost always a hit. A playlist that fits your theme can add ambiance and provide background for conversation, but you can also inject some musical fun with karaoke. If you’ll have kids in attendance, provide age-appropriate options for shorter attention spans, too.


Make Cleanup Easy
After the last guest leaves, you may be ready to call it a night, but taking care of a few quick chores can make cleanup easier in the morning. Load the dishwasher and set it to run overnight, leaving any tough dishes to soak in hot, soapy water. Check for any spills or stains that need immediate attention and get a jump start on the floors. For a convenient hands-off experience, try the Eufy S1 Pro Robot Vacuum and Mop, which achieves a 99.99% sterilization rate when mopping and, using automated sensors, elevates the mophead and converts to powerful suction for carpeted areas. After cleaning, the robot docks to automatically empty its dustbin, dispose of wastewater and clean its mopping pads, drying them with hot air to inhibit bacterial growth and odors.

Explore more ideas to tackle entertaining (and its aftermath) with ease at eufy.com.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock (group of friends)


SOURCE:
Anker Innovations

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Explore your dream destination:Tips for a a travel adventure

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(Family Features) If you find yourself dreaming of sunshine, sand and sparkling pools, it may be time to start looking forward to your next vacation getaway. Get a jumpstart on building excitement for the journey ahead by beginning preparations early, which offers many benefits, including better rates and more time to research your options.

Start exploring ideas for a fun-filled trip with these tips from the travel experts at Funjet, which specializes in providing travelers with vacation packages to hundreds of destinations around the world:

Plan Ahead
Booking your vacation well in advance allows you to take advantage of the best deals at
the most popular hotels and hottest travel dates. In addition, by being flexible with travel dates,
families can save hundreds of dollars. Moving travel dates by a day or two can result in major savings, often even more than the discounts you can get on last-minute trips.

Research Dream Destinations
Deciding where you want to go is the first step, but with a literal world of possibilities, it can be difficult to narrow down your choices. One place you can find inspiration is by exploring the top travel destinations others are choosing. For example, the top 10 travel destinations booked with Funjet in 2023 include numerous international destinations. Las Vegas is the only U.S. city to make the top 10 list. Mexico is especially popular, with Cancun, Cozumel, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose Del Cabo. Others include Belize City, Belize; Liberia, Costa Rica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Panama City, Panama; and Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.

Consider All-Inclusive Options
Whether you prefer adults-only or family-friendly, luxury or budget-friendly, there’s a diverse range of all-inclusive resorts to choose from. All-inclusives are known for their convenience and value. They offer hassle-free experiences with meals, drinks and often activities included. While many resorts in Mexico and the Caribbean islands are all-inclusive, be aware that smaller islands like Antigua may feature European plan-style hotels, where meals and drinks are not included.

An all-inclusive package usually encompasses a variety of activities and amenities curated to offer an enjoyable and cost-effective vacation. Within these packages, guests often have the opportunity to access amenities such as swimming pools, engage in sports activities, participate in fitness classes and other entertaining experiences.

Pack Like a Pro
Gathering everything you need for a vacation, especially with kids in tow, can be stressful. To make the process easier, organize your packing based on factors like the length of your trip, airline policies and your family’s activities. Essentials like an umbrella should not be overlooked, especially if your destination’s weather can be unpredictable. Maximize luggage space by packing travel-sized toiletries and put electronic necessities like your mobile device, charger and headphones in your carry-on bag.

Anticipate Extra Expenses
While all-inclusive resorts make tropical getaways stress-free and economical, it’s customary to express appreciation for exceptional service with tips. Resorts typically don’t require tipping, but guests commonly tip as a gesture of gratitude. When deciding to tip, families should consider modest amounts, like $1-5 per meal per person, and be mindful of different service levels as well as the convenience of using local currency. Having cash on hand makes it easier to tip as needed and ensure you have extra for souvenirs and other purchases.

Unplug and Unwind
Although most travelers believe it’s essential to stay connected, it’s a good idea to limit screen time so you can make the most of your vacation. Schedule a specific time, preferably in the morning, to address emails and online tasks then enjoy a worry-free rest of the day. While phones are often used to capture photos and videos or look up information about nearby attractions, putting away the screens means you’ll be able to enjoy the scenery, connect with loved ones and have a truly rejuvenating experience.

Protect Your Group Travel
When traveling with a group, there’s a greater chance of something happening that changes plans between when you book your trip and leave. That’s why it can be a good idea to take a “travel with confidence” approach and consider including a travel protection plan in your reservations. This insurance allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason, if necessary. When traveling with a group, stick with nonstop flights when possible, as you’re more likely to stay together, which can mean more cost-effective travel.

Enjoy the Experiences
While spending leisure time by the resort pool with afternoon cocktails can be a relaxing reward, you can make the most of a destination vacation by also planning a tour. Many destinations offer services that can assist travelers with booking various adventures, ranging from catamaran cruises to hikes and almost everything in between.

Find more tips and plan your next adventure at Funjet.com or call your local travel advisor.

Where to Stay
Start planning your dream getaway by checking out these traveler-favorite destination properties, based on bookings through Funjet:

Top 10 All-Inclusive Resorts

  • Dreams Onyx Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Bahia Mita Surf & Spa Resort (Nayarit, Mexico)
  • Riu Caribe (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Riu Guanacaste (Costa Rica)
  • Riu Negril (Jamaica)
  • Iberostar Grand Paraiso (Riviera Maya, Mexico)
  • Riu Cancun (Mexico)
  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Secrets Maroma Beach Riviera Cancun (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Secrets Huatulco Resort & Spa (Oaxaca, Mexico)

Highly Rated Hotels for Groups

  • Royalton Riviera Cancun, An Autograph Collection (Mexico)
  • Dreams Playa Mujeres Golf & Spa Resort (Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  • Dreams Flora Resort & Spa (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Oasis Palm (Cancun, Mexico)
  • Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  • Marival Emotions Resort & Suites (Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico)
  • Royalton Punta Cana, An Autograph Collection (Dominican Republic)
  • Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa (Oranjestad, Aruba)
  • Bahia Principe Grand La Romana (Dominican Republic)
  • Dreams Macao (Punta Cana, Dominican Republic)
  • Secrets Playa Blanca Costa Mujeres (Mexico)
  • Zoetry Agua Punta Cana (Dominican Republic)


SOURCE:
Funjet

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Live Better

Go green with home cleaners

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(Family Features) If you’re among those looking for ways to clean your home while also going green, it may be easier than you think.

Consider these easy and affordable solutions to help you live more environmentally friendly. You may be surprised to find you already have many of these household products on hand.

Baking soda: A natural, safe, effective and gentle solution, baking soda can serve multiple home cleaning needs. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub onto silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry for shining serving or decor pieces. Additionally, you can sprinkle baking soda on upholstery and carpet to get rid of odors.

Vinegar: With the acidity to help get rid of dirt and grime around the home, vinegar can be used to clean cloudy glassware. Simply soak paper towels or a cloth in full-strength white distilled vinegar and wrap around both the inside and outside of the glass. Let sit before rinsing clean. To remove lime deposits on your tea kettle, add 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar to the water and let it sit overnight. In the morning, boil the vinegar for a few minutes then rinse with water.

Lemons: With a fresh, natural smell, lemons have the acidity to remove soap scum, clean and shine brass and remove hard water deposits. Just spray some lemon juice on tile surfaces to remove soap scum or hard water deposits. Squeeze lemon juice on a cloth and use to polish brass around the home.

Houseplants: Plants serve as natural air purifiers. African violets and ferns are beautiful ways to help clear the air.

Other easy, green ideas for keeping your home clean include opening windows and doors while you clean to improve air quality and taking off your shoes when you come inside, which can help avoid tracking dust, dirt, pollen and more throughout the house.

Visit eLivingtoday.com for more eco-friendly advice.

Photo courtesy of Unsplash


SOURCE:
eLivingtoday.com

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