Category Archives: Holiday Ideas

Celebrate Summer’s Last Stand with a Special Labor Day Discount!

Just as Memorial Day marks the beginning of the glory that is summer, so Labor Day marks the end. The three day weekend, the great weather and the excuse for long days out in the sun with friends, food and frozen cocktails construct the fabric of Labor Day Weekend. Make this one extra special with an end of summer party complete with BBQ, umbrella drinks and backyard games that are perfect for morning, noon or night.  Don’t have fabulous outdoor furniture or the greatest grill?  Like us on Facebook for an exclusive Labor Day Discount!

Throw something extra special on the BBQ for the ultimate summer sendoff. Tri-tip, fish or Portobello mushrooms are all great alternatives to the typical hot dogs and hamburgers. Wrap some corn in tin foil for easy corn on the cob or cut up some zucchini and squash for a twist on traditional summer salads. Put all your favorite fixings on a skewer for kabobs that truly fit your style: vegetarian, meat only or an even blend of peppers, onions, tofu and the meat of your choice. With all these fixings, there is sure to be something for everyone! Beat the summer doldrums by cooking up a BBQ feast that is just your taste. Don’t have a BBQ yet? Our wide variety of styles and sizes are sure to suit your needs whether you need a full scale backyard entertainment unit, or simply a small grill suitable for a balcony or patio.  Finance your new outdoor accoutrements with ease by liking us on Facebook for a Labor Day Discount!

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Earth Day is Friday!

Earth Day is Friday April 22. This holiday has been celebrated every year on this day since 1970 to raise awareness about the needs of the Earth we all share and the trials and tribulations we put it through on a daily basis. Do your part this year and celebrate the earth in a fun and proactive way. Stumped on how to actively participate? Here are some ideas and inspiration:

1. Plant a tree. Perhaps the most obvious of celebratory acts, this can be a fun activity for the family or as a moment of zen for yourself. If you don’t have a place in the yard for a tree, plant some flowers or something small outside or in a planter. Hanging or potted plants will add some life to the living room, kitchen or even to the office. Additionally, youre new plants will clean the air around them and the Mother Nature will thank you.

2. Turn Things Off. Perhaps this is the easiest of all Earth Day actions. Simply turn off the lights when you leave a room, turn off and unplug appliances when you’re done with them and turn off the heater or air conditioner when you’re not home. Take things a step further and install sensor lights or solar lighting to save valuable electricity and avoid jamming the power grid.

3. Enjoy the outdoors. Take the family on a nature hike or plan a picnic. Enjoying the outdoors will reinforce your commitment to it and remind you why it is important for all of us to protect it. Being outdoors will probably improve your overall mood and if you’re being active outside, you can get your workout out of the way too.

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day! Even if you’re not in a relationship, Valentine’s Day is a great opportunity to tell those you care about that you love them. Oftentimes, we think that Valentine’s is just an excuse for Hallmark to sell cards, See’s to sell chocolate and the flower growers to sell bouquets. However, we can also think of it as a reminder. With our lives dictated evermore by Blackberries and constant pressure from our bosses, co-workers, kids, friends and family, it can be difficult to come up with the time to tell people you care. We can think of Valentine’s Day as a socially mandated love requirement. Rather than making it all about flowers and chocolate, make your Valentine’s Day about voicing your emotions to those you care about: it feels just as good to say it as it does to hear it.

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What to Do with Your Chirstmas Tree

Decorations, guests, presents, eggnog and December 25th have all come and gone and now we are just left with the holiday memories, leftovers and general debris. We know to save our bows and wrapping paper for next year, to keep boxes and packaging for future presents and to reuse what we can for other creative projects. If you have an artificial tree, you’re beginning to think of taking off the tinsel and ornaments and packing it safely away for next year. But if you bought a tree from the lot, you may be a little lost as to what to do with it.

Placing your tree on the side of the road and crossing your fingers is not the best way to go. This year earth 911 has put together the most comprehensive list to date of local recycling centers, reaching out to every city in America with a population of over 30,000. Remember, that just because someone hauls your Christmas tree away, does NOT mean it has been properly recycled; it may still end up in a landfill.

Many cities have curb-side pick-up options, but most have size and condition requirements (all trees must be void of lights, ornaments, tinsel, etc). In other cases, local volunteer organizations, such as the boy scouts, will pick up trees for a small donation. If all else fails, you can cut up the tree yourself and place It in your organic waste trash bin.

Other ideas on how to keep your tree out of a landfill include placing it in your backyard as a bird feeder/refuge, using small branches in your fish tank or aquarium as fish habitats and feeding areas or chipping it yourself and turning it into mulch for your garden.

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Happy Holidays!

To all our wonderful readers, customers and followers,
All of us here at Backyard X-Scapes would like to wish you and yours a very happy, healthy and safe Christmas weekend. We hope that your holidays will be filled with the love and joy that this magical season is all about. Whether you are making a big trip or just staying at home, be safe this season.  Remember that no matter what, the most important things about Christmas are telling those that are special to you that you love them and taking time to appreciate all the blessings in your life.
As always, we would like you to remember the environment during your holiday season and if your situation permits, do something nice not just for your family and friends, but for the planet we all share as well.
Happy Holidays and thanks for reading!!

The Backyard X-Scapes Team

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5 “Green” Gift Ideas

Christmas is this weekend and if you’re anything like me, you haven’t bought a thing. At Backyard X-Scapes we are always looking for ways to help our customers “go green” without breaking the bank or pushing too far outside the box. We believe that Christmas gift-giving can be meaningful, generous and eco-friendly. The following are 5 of our favorite ideas for green gift-giving.

iTunes or Gift Cards – While it goes without saying that digital gifts cut down on waste by eliminating packaging and carbon emissions by eliminating production and shipping, they are also in high demand in today’s tech savvy society. We all know that both iTunes and Amazon offer gift cards for downloading music, but they can also be used for video streaming. Instead of buying DVDs as gifts, give your loved ones the gift of waste-free entertainment; they can stream almost any movie as well as entire television series.

Homemade Gift Coupons – Give the special person in your life many gifts in one without costing you a dime.  Coupons for massages, breakfast in bed and babysitting are all great options that only require time and effort on your part. This gift is ultra-personal, won’t drain your checking account and doesn’t produce an ounce of waste, especially if you use recycled paper to craft each coupon.

Sony Ericsson GreenHeart Cell Phone – The techie in your life will love Sony’s new GreenHeart line of cell phones and accessories. These phones create 15% fewer carbon emissions than traditional phones by eliminating the paper manual (it is stored digitally within the phone), utilizing recycled plastic in the phone’s structure, employing an energy efficient display and waterborne paint. The packaging is also eco-conscious.

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Have Christmas in the Tropics Without Leaving Home

If you have yet to start decorating your home for Christmas; join the club. Whether your reasoning for getting a late start on the holidays this year stems from a complete lack of time or you have just been avoiding exerting the effort or dreading the inevitable start to January and the daunting task of UN-decorating, there are only a couple of weeks until the holiday and if you are going to decorate, it is now or never. However, if you have been avoiding holiday decorating because you can’t stand another year of nutcracker figurines and gingerbread houses, try something new in 2010. Here are some tips for creating a tropical-themed Christmas right in your own home.

The Tree: If you can’t get around the idea of a traditional pine tree in your home, jazz it up this year with a beach theme. Substitute your red and green lights for more yellows, oranges and blues. Then decorate with a tropical vacation in mind; cocktail umbrellas, seashells, plastic sea life, sea glass, paper pineapples and even mini bottles of rum make great ornaments. Use brightly colored ribbon or string to tie individual pieces on to the tree or create long loops using many pieces. Top off the tree with a dried starfish instead of a traditional star or angel.

Décor: Remember that when decorating for an island-style holiday that everything can be substituted. Santa needs a Hawaiian shirt and swim trunks and to be pulled in a canoe by dolphins rather than in a sleigh by reindeer. Wreathes are made of palm fronds instead of pine or fir branches. If you are really committed, you can substitute a palm tree for a pine tree and roast a pig instead of cooking a turkey.

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What are you doing this Thanksgiving?

Every year it’s the same old thing: driving to parents, in-laws or other relatives houses for the same old turkey dinner, the retelling of the same old stories, the asking of the same old questions. Why not do something different this year? Something out of the ordinary? Something to shake things up? Travelling is a great way to “spice things up” and get out of the same old boring routine. Thanksgiving is a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a long weekend and, if you do it right, can be cost-effective and hassle-free. Here are some great destination ideas as well as some travel tips to make sure you have a Thanksgiving experience that is anything but ordinary.

First, narrow down your choices by considering things like weather, school stress for children, celebrations and American History. For example, if you live in a chilly climate, a tropical vacation might be for you or if you live in a desert or temperate climate (such as San Diego) you may want to visit a cooler “holiday” destination. Also, remember that just because your kids are allowed a long weekend does not mean that they are free from homework, studying and projects. Don’t plan a long or exhausting trip if your student is just going to be more stressed out upon your return. Cities with special Thanksgiving celebrations are also a good option, such as New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or Chicago’s Thanksgiving Parade or pick a spot rich in American history such as a road trip through the 13 colonies or a trip to your favorite President’s hometown.

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Fourth of July is On It’s Way

First came Memorial Day, then Father’s Day and now Fourth of July is upon us. Summer just provides us with endless reasons to get together with friends and family and enjoy the great outdoors. With all these excuses to throw parties or host gatherings, isn’t it about time to jump on the summer bandwagon and start having some events of your own? Here are some tips to make your backyard a little more summer friendly.

First and foremost, no Fourth of July, or summer in general for that matter, is complete without a full-scale, no-holds-barred, caution-to-the-wind and burgers-on-the-grill outdoor barbeque. A grill is a great excuse to have people over as well as a fairly easy event to hold. Turn the party into a potluck to save some time and money and recruit one of your guests or significant other to fire up the grill (using only compliments, of course). Lastly, decorate with a couple of American flags or star-spangled confetti to get in the spirit and let the good times roll.

The ultimate in summer luxury starts in the islands and while most of us can’t afford to hop on the next plane to Aruba, there is no excuse to not have a little taste of the tropics everyday at home. A large but empty backyard can be magically transformed into your own tropical getaway with a Tiki bar and matching stools. There is no better time to debut a new piece of outdoor furniture than by inviting family and friends over for Fourth of July. Have your guests dress for the occasion in Hawaiian shirts and sandals or American-themed outfits or both, put some ice and cold drinks in a cooler and feel the instant gratification of a new party centerpiece.

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Happy Canada Day!

To all our Canadian followers, Backyard X-Scapes would like to wish you a very happy Canada Day. Eat, drink and be merry on this holiday as you celebrate the anniversary of the Canadian Confederation. Honor this day in traditional Canadian style by doing whatever you want! Canadians celebrate with everything from firework and air shows to citizenship ceremonies for new citizens. Choose your own style for kicking up your heels on July 1st or light up some tiki torches and celebrate island style. No matter what, spending time outdoors in these warm summer months is a good time waiting to happen.

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