Pink Fire Pointer June 2012

Christmas Lights - Finding the Best Lights for Decorating Your Christmas Tree This Year

                     When it comes to Christmas decorating ideas, the consumer is awash in choices every year - mini Christmas lights, purple, red, blue or green LED Christmas lights, candle lights, old-fashioned Christmas tree lights with torpedo-shaped bulbs, LED Christmas light nets - the options are endless.

As the owner of a small company that sells a unique kind of traditional Christmas Tree Candle, I enjoy watching trends in Christmas decorations and seeing what kind of Christmas tree lights people buy. This little light looms large in Christmas lore. It has a long and fascinating history.

Christmas Lights -- History

It all started with the simple Christmas candle, which is credited to Martin Luther who, legend says, came up with the Christmas tree in the 16th century. The Christmas tree survived quietly for centuries until electric Christmas tree lighting came on the scene in the early 1900s and, as they say, the rest is history.

The first electric Christmas lights debuted in the White House in 1895, thanks to President Grover Cleveland. The idea began to catch on, but the lights were expensive, so only the wealthiest of the wealthy could afford them at first. GE began to offer Christmas light kits in 1903. And starting around 1917, electric Christmas lights on strings began to make their way into department stores. Costs gradually dropped and the biggest marketer of holiday lights, a company called NOMA, was wildly successful as consumers began to snap up the new-fangled lights across the country.

Early Designs

Many early Christmas bulbs were shaped to look like what they had replaced: the classic Christmas tree candle. The candle shape fell out of vogue, and in time new varieties shaped like glass balls, animals, lanterns and Santa figures hit the scene. A new and improved candle-shaped bubble light re-emerged later on in the 20th century. This one was filled with percolating colored liquid that cast a flickering light on the tree as the bulb grew warm. You can still occasionally find vintage bubble Christmas lights like these in flea markets or antique shops. Electric Christmas lights continued to hold sway into the 1980s.

Today's consumers have been embracing LED Christmas lights as enthusiastically as their great-grandparents gobbled up the first generation of electric Christmas tree lights 90 years ago. Is the LED Christmas light close to the saturation point? Every year I think so, but then the manufacturers come out with a new twist - LED lights in a web, LED Christmas lights in a large mesh net, blinking LED Christmas tree lights or some other variation.

Hope for the LED-Weary Christmas Connoisseur

One thing is clear: LED Christmas lights are huge energy savers. That's a good thing. But virtue has its price. LED illumination has a different optical quality -- so different that some Christmas-lovers feel it is sterile and devoid of any warmth. LED-skeptic Christmas buffs who want to give their tree a real glow have been boxed in by a lack of choices -- but persistence pays in the end. There are a few sources that supply the original Christmas Tree Candles and traditional Christmas Tree Candle Holders, and people are beginning to tap them as an alternative.

If LED Christmas lights are too soulless for you, but you don't want to go back to the energy-gobbling electric lights you grew up with, consider switching to traditional Christmas Tree Candles this year. They've been around for centuries -- much longer than the electric light. And they're even greener than LED Christmas lights because they consume absolutely no electric power.

Christmas Off the Grid

Say the idea of an environmentally friendly, candle-powered Christmas tree appeals to you, and you've decided you "won't take LED for an answer." You would like to get off the grid and go candle this year. You'll have to make a few choices - but the process of looking at the design options and figuring out what you like best is fun.

First, you won't want to just melt the end of the candle and stick it on your Christmas tree (as Martin Luther is reported to have done). You'll need Holders for your Christmas Tree Candles. Find a source of good-quality traditional metal Candle Holders. And make sure they're German - they're the best.

Second, decide what kind of Christmas Tree Candle Holders will look best. This is simply a matter of taste. There's no right or wrong. The classic Clip On Candle Holder is a popular solution. It clamps on to the branch and has a swivel mechanism so you can adjust it. The Clip-On Christmas Tree Candle Holder is usually available in silver or gold.

The Pendulum Christmas Tree Candle Holder is an older design. It was first patented in the U.S. in 1867 by Charles Kirchhof. This model has a stem with a weight at the end, which balances the candle holder and helps it stay straight. This model generally has a ball-shaped (Kugel) weight or a star weight. All candle holders have a wax catcher to catch drips before they reach the carpet.

Third, get the right kind of Christmas Candle for your candle holders. The fit is crucial, so it's not worth cutting corners or trying to substitute another kind of candle. The candle really has to be snug in the base of the holder for safety reasons. Birthday candles are too thin. Dining candles, tapers and many pyramid candles are too thick. Make sure you get genuine Christmas Tree Candles. Again, the best are from Germany.

Finally: Stay flexible. The advantage of Christmas tree candles is that they don't restrict your overall design or look. You can use them with other Christmas decorations - for example, your favorite vintage, antique or contemporary ornaments or tree toppers - or virtually any other decorations you have. If you want, you can even use electric lights and Christmas candles together.

Virtue Has its Rewards

Christmas Tree Candles are Kilowatt-Killers. You can feel good about using them because they don't draw a single watt of electricity. You can also pack them up with your other ornaments at the end of the season and use them again next year.

But the real payoff is aesthetic. The sight of a stately evergreen bathed in the soft light of Christmas candles is heart-stoppingly beautiful. Candlelight hushes the heart and casts a warm glow that electric Christmas lights and LED lights just can't match. Candle power has a way of capturing the Christmas Spirit and spreading it among your family, guests and friends who will be seeing your tree over the holidays. Granted, you have to be careful and use common sense (position the candles so the flame won't get close to anything and stay in the room). But the delight and magic of your candle-powered Christmas tree will last the entire season.


I am publishing a series of articles covering the history of Christmas lights, practical tips, and information about lighting your tree with Christmas Candles. Be on the lookout for these articles. If you are interested in Christmas traditions or are thinking about "going green" this year, you will find them informative and useful.

Buying directly from the importer means that you will save. We source Christmas Candles and Christmas Candle Holders from one of the few producers in the world, a family-owned company in Germany, and offer them at our web store. For a close-up look at our imported Christmas Tree Candle Holders and German Christmas Candles, visit us at Christmas Gifts from Germany We offer authentic clip on Candle Holders and Pendulum Candle Holders in various styles. We also stock special Christmas Candles, imported from Germany.

Business owner Kurt Donner imports furnishings, decorative arts, antiques, furniture and other goods from Europe for retailers, collectors, antiques dealers and designers in the United States and other countries. He specializes in distinctive items from under-the-radar sources, artisans, small producers and workshops.

12 Days of Staging, A Home Staging Series

                    The art of great marketing is in the ability to position your product in the mind of the buyer as a product that will fill their specific need and desires. This well-known marketing concept is very powerful when it comes to home staging. "Positioning" focuses on what you do to the mind of the buyer rather than what you do to the product. In other words, a home seller does not need to make expensive renovations and redecorations to have a profound influence on buyers. Small improvements can make a big impact. For example: very thorough cleaning, removing unnecessary furniture, and de-cluttering. In our series "The 12 Days of Staging" we will show you some easy tips and tricks to speed up the sale of your home or listing.

Day 1 Positioning: Start the "Positioning" process by having the homeowner take an active roll in the sale of their home. A wonderful source for information is right close by: take advantage of peoples opinions. Survey friends and family about the way your home looks and feels. Ask them to write down their comments to ease any discomfort involved in critiquing your home. After all, most home owners forced to sell in this market know that it won't be easy. Put them to task to expedite the sale of their home. The days of simply putting a house on the market without any preparation and selling it in a few hours or days is long gone.

Day 2 Curb Appeal: Many times curb appeal is at the top of our list because it literally is the first impression. This first impression is all-important because it sets the tone for the way the buyer will view the rest of the house. The clock starts ticking at the curb and within fifteen seconds the buyer will develop an attitude toward your house, either positive or negative. Then the buyer will be looking to reinforce their positive or negative initial impression throughout the rest of the home tour. By making the first impression a positive one, the buyer will seek other positive aspects of the home to reinforce their initial impression.

A great exercise to get the ball rolling is to standing in front of your home with critical "buyers eyes" and write down everything that comes to mind. It is always difficult for any home seller to see all the shortfalls of their own home yet it is critical in the success of the sale. To help you in this task ask trusted friends, neighbors, and family what they see when standing in front of your home. Ask them to be brutally honest, or invite them to write down their comments and put them in a hat to be pulled out only after everyone has commented. This way you might get better results and avoid making people feel uncomfortable about criticizing your home.

Day 3 "Here Kitty Kitty": Who doesn't love the sound of a cat purring in your ear? So soft, so SMELLY! Well, not always, but cat odors can be a big problem for home sellers. As cat owners ourselves (or "captors" as most felines would put it) we know just how stinky kitty can be sometime. For a home seller this issue can mean the difference between a buyer that stays and looks and one that runs for the door.

1. On days that you know your home is going to be shown consider taking kitty for a car ride. Cats become well accustomed to being in the car and most actually will enjoy the ride. (Note: Do NOT leave your pet in the car unattended. Especially during warm to hot days. Cats can overheat and suffer brain damage or death if left in the car. Dogs too!)
2. If possible on show day's move the litter box to an out of the way area, or better yet, out of the home.
3. Take up any wet food. Besides being unappetizing to look at it stinks to high heaven!
4. Keep litter boxes scooped as often as possible and replace every couple of weeks with fresh litter. Your cat, and potential buyers, will thank you.
5. Have you noticed that your cat produces an unimaginable amount of hair? We thought so. Keep it swept up. We know, it's a never ending cycle but our job is to help you sell your home. Tufts of hair on the floor make buyer's think "dirty house" and that is the last impression they need.
6. Kitty go outside the litter box? If this is a new problem you should take them to the vet. Cats can get crystals in their urine, which can be deadly if left untreated.
7. Help is on the way! Behold the "Stink finder"! This tool is a great way to spot just what kitty has been up to. Also known as a black light you can purchase one at your local pet supply store. Simply turn off the lights and walk around the walls of each room. If kitty has made a mess it will show up in the light. Also, move over every inch of carpet. (Keep blinds closed so your neighbors won't think you've gone crazy as you crawl around on your hands and knees in the dark holding a black light.)
8. If you find an area that is suspicious you will need to confirm with the good old fashion smell test. (For those of you not familiar with the unmistakable smell of cat urine, it can best be described as somewhere between ammonia and the worst smell imaginable. Consider yourself warned.)
9. After your blood pressure has returned to normal it's time to tackle the problem. Luckily today there are a number of good products on the market. First, pull up the carpet and seal the concrete to eliminate the smell. (Kilz is a good product) Cat urine does not lose its odor so it's imperative that you seal off the smell from the source. Next, either have the carpet professionally cleaned or purchase an enzyme type cleaner from the store. If kitty has gone on the walls or baseboards repeat the first step above using Kilz and then repaint the wall. (Aren't cats fun?!)
10. Lastly, keep your home as clean as possible. Pet dander is a real problem for some people so clean, clean, and clean and replace your air filter often. A buyer having a sneezing attack upon walking in your front door is more than likely not going to be a buyer clamoring to purchase your home.

Day 4 It's OK To Point...Focal Point That Is: Focal points throughout a home are particularly important. They pull a buyer into a space, bring emotions into play, and tell the story of a home's details. Every area has a focal point and every focal point must maximize the positive impact on a buyer touring a home.

As a seller ask yourself some tough questions concerning your home's focal points. Write down the questions and answers, and then ask friends and family to answer the same questions. You might be surprised at some of the answers. It's very hard for people to be impartial about their own home.

Use the questions below as a template:

1. What is the first thing someone notices when they walk into this room?
2. Is it positive or negative?
3. What is the focal point in this room?
4. What should be the focal point of this room?
5. Is it a positive or negative?
6. Does it compete with another focal point?
7. How can we complement the focal point?
8. Is your seating reinforcing the focal point?
9. Does the focal point pull you into the space?
10. Is the focal point well lit, clean, and inviting?

Once you have identified every room's focal point be sure to emphasize its positive attributes so it naturally draws the buyer's eye and inspires a positive emotional reaction. A buyer's attraction to a beautiful focal point is not just endearing, it also serves to downplay any negative elements a space might have.

Day 5 Skeletons in the Closet: Closets throughout a home are important, yet often overlooked by sellers. Buyers touring homes always look into closets, checking out the size, functionality and capacity of the space but that's not all buyers are looking for. Buyers are also looking to see if there is a story to tell just under the surface. A well organized closet says volumes about the seller, a home's maintenance, as well as the home's unseen details.

Everything in a home and every space throughout a home, even the closets, must look their very best.

Since you will be packing things away anyway tackle one closet at a time starting with the master closet.

1. Pack away anything you have not used or worn in four months. For most of us, it's about 80% of our wardrobe.
2. Group by item starting with shirts, blouses, jackets, skirts and lastly pants (If you have a walk-in closet, pants should be in the back.) Separate the His and Her's sections.
3. Make sure each item is facing the same direction (away from the door).
4. Organize shoes preferably in a rack on the floor.
5. Clear off and pack away anything on the top of the closet shelf.
6. Organize any "loose" items such as belts and scarves in matching boxes or baskets on the top of the closet.
7. Consider buying inexpensive hat boxes/nesting boxes for accessories to add a little drama.
8. Consider buying a closet organizer (Target has these now) which can be very appealing to homebuyers.
9. Finally, since closets usually don't have any natural light, make sure your artificial light is extra bright by replacing the bulbs and cleaning the fixtures.
10. Remember, preparing your home to sell is a process that takes time but will net you thousands in return!

Closets are an area that home buyers pry into, so it's a good idea to appear spacious, neat and organized. The neater you appear to be, the more your homebuyer will view the house as well "taken care of".

Day 6 Dog's playing poker: What is "art"? Webster's dictionary defines art as: the quality, production, expression, or realm, according to aesthetic principles, of what is beautiful, appealing, or of more than ordinary significance.

When it comes to selling a home it's best to leave the art critics in the galleries. In other words, your "Dog's playing poker" or 5' tall velvet paintings of Elvis is not what buyer's are looking for. Think simple, classic and neutral (yes, art can be neutral). Landscapes, flowers, and abstracts are a great way to soften walls without detracting from what the space has to offer. We never know what a buyer's particular taste is going to be and in the high stakes game of real estate we need to make sure that your space feels like their space. This can mean all the difference between getting an offer or not.

You can often find nice quality looking art pieces at places like Ross or Marshalls. If you don't have a lot to spend consider purchasing some inexpensive frames and making your own art by printing out non-copyrighted pictures on high gloss paper. Place in a frame and "Voila!" instant art. Yard or estate sales are also a great way to find some bargains.

Remember, the key to a home that shows well is neutrality. You will have plenty of time to make a new home your own, so create a space that buyers will love. It's a simple as that.

Day 7 "It's a jungle out there": Today's will focus on the one of the common problems that sellers often overlook: the front and back yard of a home.

Sellers need to keep in mind that when a potential buyer is looking at their home they are not just looking at the inside, but the exterior as well. This article will help you prepare your exterior so that your home will be the best one on the block.

1. A brown lawn does not enhance curb appeal. Add fresh sod to any brown or dying areas of your lawn. This small investment will make a huge difference.
2. Take a walk around your neighborhood. Which houses look the best with regard to curb appeal? Ask yourself why?
3. Take pictures of yards that you love. This way you can use them as a template for your own yard.
4. Plant some fresh blooming annuals. They are inexpensive and will add a nice burst of color. Remember, as we talked about before but worth repeating, curb appeal is extremely important and your home truly needs to stand out.
5. Make sure that weeds are pulled and any dead growth is trimmed. If a buyer is distracted by untidy landscaping they will not only start a mental "To do" list but also feel that the home is not being kept up.
6. A few bags of red mulch can have a huge impact on the look of planting beds by freshening and providing contrasting colors in the plant beds.
7. Keep bushes and hedges trimmed down so that the exterior of the home can be seen. When trimming pay close attention to windows; trim all vegetation to expose all windows to maximize the available ambient light inside the home.
8. If you know that you are going to have a big open house weekend consider hiring a lawn service to come out the day before so that it is fresh looking.
9. If you have a pool make sure that swept clean and looks inviting.
10. Keep hoses coiled up and put away. Put away any gardening tools and maintenance equipment.

Too often sellers only focus on the inside of the home and neglect the all important exterior. Don't let this happen to you.

Taking care of these simple things can make all the difference in how your home shows to a buyer, and in today's real estate market you need all possible things to show in your favor.

Day 8 Is that take-out from two months ago? Yum!: When you place your home on the market it becomes a commodity or product. Today's buyers are faced with an almost overwhelming number of choices so to be competitive you must make your home look and show its best at all times.

An often overlooked, but still very important, area of the home is your kitchen. Having shown potential homes to thousands of people during my years in leasing and marketing I can tell you that buyer's will look in your refrigerator, kitchen cabinets, even the dishwasher!

Guess what? That take out container of General Tso's chicken from two months ago is not appealing. A dirty refrigerator with spoiled food can literally ruin a home tour. Why? Simply put, if a buyer sees that you aren't willing to clean out your fridge then they start to wonder "What else has not been taken care of?" Remember from our previous letters that the last thing we want during a home tour is a buyer to start a "To do" list in their head. This only reinforces negative opinions of the home.

Solution: Keep the refrigerator, cabinets, and the rest of the kitchen absolutely spotless at all times. Throw out any expired food, take out containers and make sure the refrigerator is wiped down and spotless. Keep a fresh box of baking soda in both the refrigerator and freezer to absorb any odors. And finally, have all items lined up and labels facing out and in one direction. Sound crazy? Nope and here's why. If I buyer opens your fridge and sees all the Coke cans lined up and orderly then they immediately assume that the rest of the home sees the same attention to detail. It's often the little things that can have a major impact on the way a buyer sees your home. The same goes for the pantry and cabinets. Selling a home is not just about the physical aspects and pricing. It's also about a psychology with regard to the buyer. This is why staging is so important in how a home shows.

Day 9 Feng shui: It's day nine in our "12 days of Staging". Feng shui (or Fung shui as some spell it) is not the dinner special at your local Asian restaurant. In fact Feng shui can be a powerful concept in real estate marketing, relating precisely to our ongoing discussion centered on the concept of "Positioning", which focuses on what you do to the mind of the buyer rather than what you do to the product.

Do buyers run through a particular listing? Never refer to it again? Turn their nose up when it's mentioned again? Does the space feel cramped, dark, or stale yet the home is spacious with lots of windows? Your listing may be suffering from bad flow, negative energy and bad feng shui.
Feng what? Pronounced ("fung shway"), it's a complicated philosophy from the Far East quickly making inroads in many cultures around the world. Simply put feng shui studies the art of placement, the art of living life, and the energy that stirs emotions. It could just as well be called "the art of flow." This ancient Chinese practice, literally translated as "wind" and "water".

In real estate sales feng shui is used to maximize the beneficial movement of energy through a space. A home's flow is crucial to buyers when touring. Buyers want to meander gracefully through a space, like a gentle breeze or a winding stream. They want to feel the exhilaration of taking in fresh air, warm sun light, and a clean environment. When buyers are nourished buy positive energy in a home it usually means the tour was a success. Buyers will aspire to live in a space that is clean and open and start to visualize their life in these surroundings. To accomplish feng shui walk through a home looking for natural flow in all the spaces. Ask does this space flow from one room to another? Is the flow natural? Are the windows easily accusable? Are rooms blocked with too much furniture? Does the space feel clean and look bright?

When the flow through a space is blocked, weak, or misdirected the buyer's perceived relationship to the home suffers, resulting in an unsuccessful tour. Dark, dirty, or stale spaces can choke the positive reaction to a home. Buyers may feel tired, run down, depressed, unable to focus, hampered in their efforts to move forward with the tour. It is almost impossible to turn that around in the buyer's mind. Once buyers have a negative feeling toward a home it permeates every reference to it. Remember most homes are purchased based on emotions. Often emotions can't be reasoned with, so it's important to manage every aspect of a tour keeping the energy positive and the buyer's imagination nourished by every aspect in the home.

In today's real estate market it is essential to minimize any negative aspects of a home, but even more important is highlighting the positive beneficial aspects of the home. Use the art of placement and feng shui to create that positive space crying out to be purchased.
If sellers think feng shui (natural flow, fresh air, immaculately clean, bright sunlight, uncluttered, and attention to detail) it will greatly influence every tour. As I mentioned, feng shui is complicated so take advantage of the resources you have available; contact your local home stagers who are ready and willing to complete an extensive analysis of your listings incorporating powerful tried and true philosophy such as Positioning, Feng shui, among many other marketing tactics which focuses on what you do to the mind of the buyer rather than what you do to the product.

Day 10 On day #10 of "The 12 Days of Staging": we discuss staging the master bedroom by further highlighting the concept of "Positioning", which focuses on what you do to the mind of the buyer rather than what you do to the product.

A Master Bedroom should be an escape, a sanctuary away from the chaos of life. Relaxing colors, plush linens, and fluffy pillows all subtly display this desired effect. Blue is a favorite color for a Master Bedroom because subconsciously it is very calming to buyers. It is also a neutral color that goes well with white, the second favorite color in bedrooms.

Ask yourself: "What is the first thing someone notices when he or she walks into the master bedroom? Is it positive or negative?" Usually a beautiful bed with comforter and many pillows is the first thing buyers notice, it's the focal point. Due to the importance of the master bedroom we highly recommended that sellers purchase a new neutral colored bed set for their bed and lots of fluffy pillows. It will be one of the best staging investments you can make for this space and the great thing is you get to take it with you!

It is important to neutralize the master bedroom as much as possible so buyers don't enter and immediately profile the home seller. Buyers want the master bedroom to feel like it is their own escape, not yours. The bed should be on the longest wall across from the doorway with easy natural flow through the space to windows and master bath. Try not to position the bed so buyers have to walk around it to get to where they are going.

Bright, warm and inviting is always good for this space. The master bedroom should invite the buyer to linger and enjoy the space. Accomplish this by allowing as much natural light in as possible. Remove window coverings that are blocking out the sun. Add more lighting in the form of bright bedside lamps or a standup lamp. Make sure the bulbs are the brightest kind you can safely put in the lamps.

The master bedroom should not be a space that has accumulated clutter although many of us still tend to do so. Buyers are distracted by clutter and don't respond well when they see it especially in the master bedroom. Keep the furniture and accessories to a minimum, queen bed, two nightstands, a dresser and mirror.

Part of creating your sanctuary in the master bedroom is adding a reading space. Nothing draws a buyer emotionally more than a cozy chair that is complete with an ottoman, pillow and throw. It just makes the buyer want to curl up in it with a great book and cup of hot java. So if the space permits add an inviting, comfortable reading nook.

Day 11 "Update the Style": When it comes to prepping a home for sale one of the most important things to do is to make sure that your interior reflects what is current with design trends and what is "in". Buyers don't like outdated, especially when it comes to something as large as a purchase of a home.

If your home is older or outdated you might have some tough decisions to make. In addition to the master bedroom and living room, buyers are really interested in the kitchen and master bathroom. If your kitchen has older or outdated appliances this could potentially turn buyers off.

Replacing the major appliances can be a way to add serious value to your home. With the economy in such bad shape most of the appliance retailers are slashing prices in order to move inventory. What this means is that you may find some incredible bargains. Also, consider donating your old appliances to a charity such as "Habitat for Humanity" "The Red Cross" or a local organization. Besides helping someone else you can take advantage of a nice charitable tax deduction (see your tax advisor for specifics).

If you can afford it, consider stainless steel appliances. They are still very popular and look great in most applications. If you don't go the stainless steel route then make sure that your appliances compliment your kitchen cabinets and flooring. White cabinets and black appliances are a "No, no." If you have dark cabinets, say cherry wood for instance, then you should use dark appliances. Contrast should be limited in the kitchen, especially if the kitchen is smaller.

Another great way to update the look of your kitchen is to add new handles to the cabinets. Often times your locate discount store will have a great selection of handles. This quick, inexpensive trick will pay off in the long run.

A small or outdated master bathroom can be the death of a potential sale. Short of doing a full bathroom remodel (which can cost thousands of dollars) consider some cosmetic changes. A large number of master bathroom come with a standard non-framed mirror, plain sink, 3 or 5 strip lighting and a medicine cabinet. Yawn! Replacing these items with a new light fixture (around $80.00), framed mirror ($100.00) and adding a new vessel sink/cabinet combo ($300.00) finishes off the look. Adding plush towels and an appropriate shower curtain and you have a fresh and new looking master bath; and buyer's LOVE the word "New".

Red walls: Bad. Taupe or cream colored walls: Good! The color of your walls can make or break a sale. Sure painting is a relatively easy and inexpensive investment but today's buyers are looking for "Plug and play". In other words they don't want to have to move in and spend time and money changing your Pepto Bismol pink master bedroom back to a more neutral color. (And to answer your question: Yes, we have seen a pink master bedroom, on more than one occasion in fact.) A fresh coat of paint can make a huge difference and is something that should be highly considered.

Day 12 Open House Tip: Well here we are the last in our "12 Days of Staging" series. Our last topic is one of the most important, yet is often neglected by the home seller. There are differing opinions on whether an Open House is effective or not with regard to selling a home. No matter what your belief it is important for a seller to keep their home "Open house" ready at all times, especially if the home is on lock box.

The prospect of keeping your home neat, spotless and show ready at all times starts to become a daunting task. Everyday life, kids and pets can mean that sellers feel overwhelmed. What we're going to offer are some tips and tricks to maximize the homes appeal while minimizing the inconvenience to the homeowner.

Tip #1: Baskets are your friend. Buyers hate clutter, but clutter is often inevitable. A great way to minimize clutter is to purchase several wicker baskets of varying size to hold lose belongings. Toys, medicines, toiletries and the like can easy be placed in a basket and moved out of sight. Big Lots often has a nice selection of fabric lined wicker baskets starting at around $2.50.

Tip #2: How about some fresh air? During the cooler months take the time to open all the windows and let some fresh air circulate. Homes are great for trapping everyday odors and by letting a little air in we can all breathe easier. Store bought air fresheners are often effective but they can have a strong chemical smell and can even be a trigger for some asthma sufferers. A trick we like to use is to purchase a small bouquet of eucalyptus from Joann fabrics or Michaels. Separate the bouquet into smaller bundles (depending on the number of rooms), wrap the bundles in cheese cloth and place under the couch, behind the bed, in the laundry room, etc. They will make the whole house smell great, last a long time and are inexpensive. Note: Eucalyptus often has dye coloring added to it and can come off on carpets and fabrics if it gets wet, so please be careful.

Tip #3: Music to your ears. A great way to create a calm and pleasing touring environment for buyers is to have soft music playing in the background. (Think "Elevator music") If you have cable turn to the smooth jazz music channel on your receiver, turn the TV off and you now have a pleasing environment. (If you don't have cable or music channels use your stereo and tune to your local smooth jazz station.)

Tip #4: Turn up the lights. When you know your home is going to be shown make sure you have every light on in the home. A bright and open space is what buyers are looking for. They need to be able to see each room's features. Furthermore, open all blinds and shades to let in as much light as possible.

Tip#5: High end hotel. The last, and final, tip is to "stage" your home like a high end hotel room. Neutral spaces that are warm and inviting can go a long way in enticing buyers to consider your home over the many others they are possibly looking at. Neutral bedding, throw pillows and floral art is a good route to take. Remove all traces of your personal items (family pictures, religious artifacts, political affiliations) from the home. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is to sell your home and move on. It becomes hard, if not downright impossible, to accomplish this if a buyer feels as if they are in "your" space and not theirs. A little bit of inconvenience now can make all the difference later

The Truth About Christmas

                   Have you ever wondered about Christmas? From the time you first found out there really was no Santa Claus, did you ever question other aspects of this incredible holiday ? Did you ever wonder where Christmas came from? Why have a Christmas tree? Where did the idea of Santa Claus originate? Why is this day celebrated on the 25th of December? What do all these symbols and festivities really mean? What is God 's perspective on these things? If you were surprised when you first discovered the truth about Santa Claus, you will be even more surprised by the rest of the story.

Christmas Is Not Christian!

As shocking as it might sound, there is nothing Christian about Christmas. It was men who created the word "Christmas" from the phrase "Mass of Christ." In this way, Christ's name came to be associated with this holiday and millions have come to believe it is a Christian observance. The truth is that this holiday, with the same symbols and ceremonies, was practiced many centuries before Jesus was ever born. In fact, it did not become a part of professing Christianity until hundreds of years after the Savior's crucifixion and ascension to heaven.

This truth is confirmed by the testimony of both religious and secular authorities. The 1911 edition of the Catholic Encyclopedia illustrates that Christmas did not originate in Palestine but rather in Egypt.

Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church...the first evidence of the feast is from Egypt... Pagan customs centering around the January calends gravitated to Christmas.

The celebration of Christmas was not embraced during the days of the apostles or the early New Testament church. Consider the words of the Encyclopedia Americana, 1944 edition which states:

Christmas... was, according to many authorities, not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian church, as the Christian usage in general was to celebrate the death of remarkable persons rather than their birth.

The Origin of Christmas

Biblical authorities and secular historians agree that the celebration of Christ's birth did not enter the church until hundreds of years after Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. It was not until the fifth century that the Roman Catholic Church ordered this day to be celebrated. Furthermore, the church directed this celebration to take place on the same day as the pagan festival dedicated to worshiping the sun god.

The connection between Christmas and a variety of pagan practices is thoroughly documented. Not only the day, but its symbols are intimately connected to religious practices embraced by the pagan world. William Walsh, a recognized authority on Christmas, writes:

...the Christmas a gradual evolution from times that long antedated the Christian period... It was over laid upon heathen festivals, and many of its observances are only adaptations of pagan to Christian Ceremonies. (The Story of Santa Klaus p. 58)

...It was on or about December 21st that the ancient Greeks celebrated what are known to us as the Bacchanalia or festivities in honor of Bacchus, the god of wine. In these festivities the people gave themselves up to songs, dances and other revels which frequently passed the limits of decency and order. (The Story of Santa Klaus p. 65)

...the Saturnalia, held in honor of Saturn, the god of time, began on December 17th and continued for seven days. These also often ended in riot and disorder. Hence the words Bacchanalia and Saturnalia acquired an evil reputation in later times. (The Story of Santa Klaus p. 65)

Why December 25?

Today, most of the world celebrates Christmas on the twenty-fifth of December. Werner Keller writes in The Bible as History:

December 25 is referred to in documents as Christmas day in A.D. 324 for the first time. Under the Roman emperor Justinian [in the 500's] it was recognized as an official holiday. An old Roman festival played a major part in the choice of this particular day. December 25 in ancient Rome was the 'Dies Natali Invictus,' 'the birthday of the unconquered sun,' the day of the winter solstice and at the same time, in Rome, the last day of the Saturnalia,...a week of unbridled carnival... (p. 331)

It is clear from the record of history that Christmas originated during pre-Christian times and was celebrated by the pagan world for centuries after the death of Christ. This day then became embraced by the Roman Catholic Church in the fifth century. Where did the pagans get their ideas regarding such a celebration?

Through her politics and the use of her son's Nimrod's name, Semeramis became the queen of Babylon, the home of the Chaldee Mysteries. She was also regarded as the "queen of Heaven" and "the mother of the divine son." After generations of these idolatrous practices and traditions, Nimrod came to be considered the son of Baal, the sun god. He and his mother became the chief entities of worship as a Madonna and child.

This belief and practice spread to Egypt, where the names of the gods were Isis and Osiris. The son Osiris was born December 25. In Asia it was Cybele and Deonius. In Rome they were called Fortuna and Jupiter. Throughout the world we still find the remnants of mother and child worship to this day. It is no surprise that this same system still exists at the end of the age. It is called "Mystery Babylon" (Revelation 17:5). Shockingly, it is disguised as Christianity and is still practiced in Christmas.

From Paganism to Christianity

The great historian Will Durant described how paganism actually took upon itself Christianity and converted it to pagan purposes.

Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it... From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity... [and] the adoration of the Mother and Child... From Phrygia came the worship of the Great Mother... The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the Eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. [Modern day] Christianity was the last great creation of the ancient pagan world. (The Story of Civilization, p. 595)

It is clear that a wide range of pagan practices became assimilated into the Roman Catholic Church. It began with embracing the birthday of the sun god and establishing the date of this celebration as December 25.

It is interesting to note that the practice of sun worship began in early Egypt. There the priests would make a round wafer to represent the sun. The celebrants would eat the wafer, symbolizing the sun god's life and the nourishment of man's soul.

Clearly, the church was embracing paganism in an attempt to increase its numbers and draw in a non-believing world. In reality, it was the church being absorbed by those who practiced beliefs totally contrary to Christianity. In his book The Two Babylons Alexander Hislop characterized it this way:

Long before the fourth century, and long before the Christian era itself, a festival was celebrated among the heathen at that precise time of the year, in honor of the birth of the son of the Babylonian queen of heaven; and it may fairly be presumed that, in order to conciliate the heathen, and to swell the number of the nominal adherents of Christianity, the same festival was adopted by the Roman Church, giving it only the name of Christ. This tendency on the part of Christians to meet paganism half-way was very early developed... (p. 93)

The church eventually adopted and merged several different pagan ceremonies to eventually end up with the modern day practice of Christmas and the New Year celebrations we witness today.

Christmas Through History

During the latter part of the third century, Deus Sol Invictus became the official deity of the Roman Empire. At that time, a great temple was built in honor of the sun and the sun's birthday was officially set as December 25. This date was chosen because it was the accepted date of the winter solstice. Less than 100 years later, Emperor Constantine came to power in Rome. At the beginning of Constantine's rule, it was a violation of Roman law to practice Christianity. Christians were hated by the state and were subjected to great persecution.

However, Constantine saw something in Christianity he believed could be very valuable in holding the empire together. Despite great persecution, Christians remained dedicated to their faith. This commitment so impressed Constantine that he issued "The Edict of Toleration" in 313 A.D. and made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. As a result, state persecution of Christians stopped. However, the news was not all good. Because Christianity became the state religion, the church became very political and the doctrines embraced by the church were watered down and seriously compromised. Jesse Hurlbut describes this period in his book, The Story of the Christian Church.

...the establishment of Christianity as the state religion became a curse... Everybody sought membership in the church, and nearly everybody was received. Both good and bad, sincere seekers after God and hypocritical seekers after gain, rushed into the communion. Ambitious, worldly, unscrupulous men sought office in the church for social and political influence...

The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The forms and ceremonies of paganism gradually crept into the worship. Some of the old heathen feasts became church festivals with change of name and of worship.

Legalizing Christianity solved one problem for the church, but it caused another. Millions of pagans were suddenly made "Christians" literally overnight. These pagans had no desire to give up their pagan practices, however. Try as it would, the church could not prevail on the people to give up the paganism that they embraced. The church's answer was to finally "Christianize" numerous pagan practices.

This adopting of pagan festivals was not without opposition however. While many professing Christians welcomed the liberty to celebrate these pagan practices, others objected. Many at the time understood that such practices were rankly pagan, ungodly practices which should never have been brought into the church. Christian preachers of the West and the Near East protested against the unseemly frivolity with which Christ's birthday was celebrated, while Christians of Mesopotamia accused their Western brethren of idolatry and sun worship for adopting as Christian this pagan festival.

Despite opposition by Christians committed to pursuing the teachings in scripture, pagan influence simply overwhelmed the church, transforming it into something far different from that raised up by Jesus through Peter and the apostles. This fact is confirmed by The Encyclopedia Americana which states:

Christmas... according to many authorities, was not celebrated in the first centuries of the Christian Church... In the fifth century the Western Church ordered it to be celebrated forever on the day of the old Roman Feast of the birth of Sol.

As you can see, ancient rites practiced by the pagan world were eventually grafted into Christianity. Rome had been pagan centuries before the birth of Christianity and it simply was not going to abandon its false religion. When Emperor Constantine ordered Christianity placed on equal footing with paganism, people preferred their old ways. They enjoyed those things they had always known, and simply adapted the old to appear to conform to the new.

They changed from worshiping the "sun" to worshiping the "Son" and this was done retaining all their old practices.

Most people today know little or nothing of the pagan origin of Christmas. They are unaware that faithful Christians first opposed these heretical practices. Additionally, most Christians today don't understand that believers dedicated to keeping the truth of God were forced to go underground, some suffering martyrdom rather than allowing themselves to participate in such things.

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree is arguably the most prominent symbol of this season. Millions of people bring an evergreen tree into their homes and decorate it with beautiful glass balls, tinsel, and lights. These same millions would never think of the Christmas tree as an idol which God abhors.

The tradition of bringing a tree into the home and decorating it came from a fable regarding Saint Boniface. According to tradition, Saint Boniface cut down the "great oak of Jupiter," a tree worshiped by pagan Teutons in Germany.

The story is that Saint Boniface came upon a band of heathens who were worshiping a huge oak tree. This band was about to offer a human sacrifice. Boniface intervened, stopping the sacrifice. He then ordered the tree cut down. Legend has it that a small fir tree sprang up in it's place. Boniface proclaimed that this tree was the tree of life and represented Christ.

Careful examination of this story reveals striking similarities to the story of Nimrod and Semeramis. After the death of Nimrod, his mother Semeramis declared that Nimrod was reincarnated in the form of an evergreen tree which sprung up overnight. History reveals that the worship of trees and nature was a common practice among pagans and continues to this very day.

It is important to understand that such practices are abhorrent to God. The tenth chapter of the book of Jeremiah illustrates this point. Here, God commands his people to "learn not the way of the heathen." He then goes into great detail describing a tradition in which the heathen cut a tree out of the forest and decorate it. God goes on to characterize this tree as a graven image (Jer. 10:1-2).

Although many argue that Jeremiah is not referring to the Christmas tree, in these verses, their argument misses the point. What God revealed through Jeremiah is that His children are to avoid practices that resemble those embraced by the pagan world. He did not say that it was appropriate to modify their practices and call them Christian. The Christmas tree is clearly a symbol of a faith that was vastly different from anything advocated by the scriptures.

The Christmas tree's origin in paganism is thoroughly supported by the testimony of history. Consider the words of Alexander Hislop.

The Christmas tree, now so common among us, was equally common in Pagan Rome and Pagan Egypt. In Egypt that tree was the palm tree; in Rome it was the fir; the palm tree denoting the Pagan Messiah, as Baal-Tamar, the fir referring to him as Baal-Berith.

The Christmas tree... recapitulates the idea of tree worship...gilded nuts and balls symbolizing the sun...all the festivities of the winter solstice have been absorbed into Christmas day...the use of holly and mistletoe to the Druidic ceremonies; the Christmas tree [ It is clear that the Christmas tree is a powerful symbol and conjures many images concerning the celebration it pictures. However, there is one thing the Christmas tree is NOT - it is not Christian. Everything about the Christmas tree can be traced to beliefs that are strongly condemned in scripture. There is no connection between the Christmas tree and the birth of Christ. It is a pagan symbol that God condemns.

In 1974, United Press International, one of the world's leading press agencies, carried an article regarding the origin of the Christmas tree. This article spoke volumes about this symbol that has come to be strongly embraced by the Christian world.

Toward the middle of winter, as the sun began setting further in the south, and the nights grew longer, ancient pagan priests put candles which they called fairy lights on trees in an attempt to lure the sun back toward the north. (December 17)

Today, millions of Christian homes around the world are adorned with evergreen trees every Christmas. Tragically, people fail to understand what these trees picture because they simply don't ask.

Santa Claus

One of the most prominent images associated with Christmas is that of Santa Claus. Every year, children around the world long for his arrival, for he is the giver of gifts. Today, Santa Claus is depicted as a lover of children and a true giver. During the Christmas season, people are even encouraged to join his great army of elves so that children around the world can be touched by his goodness. So popular is Santa Claus that adults tell children stories of his exploits. These stories are conveyed with such conviction that children believe them without question. But who is Santa Claus? And where did his story begin?

Many articles and books have been written to explain that Santa Claus was a bishop by the name of Nicholas who lived in Asia Minor during the fourth century. It is true that such a bishop did exist but much of what is attributed to him is untrue.

The second Vatican council formally stated that while there was a Roman Catholic bishop named Nicholas, they acknowledged that many concepts associated with him actually came from pagan sources. William Walsh wrote:

Santa Claus comes from Saint Nicholas, the saint whose festival was celebrated in December and the one who in other respects was most nearly in accord with the dim traditions of Saturn as the hero of the Saturnalia. (The Story of Santa Klaus, p.70)

Tony Van Renterghem writes the following in his book, When Santa Was a Shaman: The Ancient Origins of Santa Claus & the Christmas Tree:

In the newly Christianized areas where the pagan Celtic and Germanic cults remained strong, legends of the god Wodan were blended with those of various Christian saints; Saint Nicholas was one of these. There were Christian areas where Saint Nicholas ruled alone; in other locations, he was assisted by the pagan Dark Helper. In other remote areas... ancient pockets of the Olde Religion controlled traditions.

Here the Dark Helper ruled alone. Sometimes in a most confusing manner, using the cover name of Saint Nicholas or 'Klaus,' without in any way changing his threatening, Herne/Pan, fur-clad appearance.

By absorbing such pagan feasts and traditions, the Christian Church turned Herne into Saint Nicholas' captive, chained Dark Helper; none other than Satan the Dark One, symbolic of all evil...

The Worldbook Encyclopedia provides some interesting insights into some of the traditions regarding Santa Claus.

Some of Santa Claus's characteristics date back many centuries. For example, the belief that Santa enters the house through the chimney developed from a Norse legend. The Norse believed that the goddess Hertha appeared in the fireplace and brought good luck to the home.

Other traditions from the Druidic time suggest that Santa's red suit is a leftover from the times when ancient peoples worshiped the god of fire. Tradition has it that this fire god came down the chimney. Consider too, that in ancient times, Druid homeowners would leave a treat consisting of milk and pastries to appease this god who came down the chimney into their fireplace. This is how the tradition of leaving milk and cookies out for Santa began. The idea of placing stockings on the fireplace mantel also comes from this legendary pagan practice. It is clear that the modern Santa traces his origins back to ancient pagan traditions.

Christmas Presents

Most people believe the tradition of giving Christmas presents comes from the Bible. The assumption is that the wise men gave gifts to Jesus, therefore it is appropriate for us to give gifts to each other.

However, careful examination of this tradition will reveal that gift giving has nothing to do with Magi or the gifts they presented to Christ. Both religious and secular history reveal a clear connection between giving gifts during the Christmas season and pagan practices. Consider the following insights concerning this practice.

The interchange of presents between friends is a like characteristic of Christmas and the Saturnalia, and must have been adopted by Christians from the Pagans, as the admonition of Tertullian plainly shows. (The Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 12, p. 153)

Tertullian wrote in his work, On Idolatry that during the pagan feast of the Saturnalia which was celebrated in December, gifts were "carried to and fro."

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, exchanging gifts at this time of the year may have been influenced by similar customs practiced by the pagans on January 1.

"Gifts are exchanged by the French on January 1, by the Spanish and Italians on January 6, and by other nationalities on December 25. In most parts of Europe it was the Christ Child who brought the gifts. After the Reformation, the day itself was personified, and the figure of Father Christmas was later combined with St. Nicholas, [who later became] Santa Claus." (p. 659)

William Walsh provides additional insights into the tradition of exchanging presents.

Christmas gifts themselves remind us of the presents that were exchanged in Rome during the Saturnalia. In Rome, it might be added, the presents usually took the form of wax tapers and dolls - the latter being in their turn a survival of the human sacrifices once offered to Saturn. It is a queer thought that in our Christmas presents we are preserving under another form one of the most savage customs of our barbarian ancestors. (The Story of Santa Klaus, p.67)

Gifts to a King

It is important to understand that the wise men did not give gifts to each other. Additionally, the gifts they brought to Christ were not birthday presents. Jesus did not receive toys from these visitors, but rather unusual offerings that many believe carry great significance.

It has been suggested that gold was is a gift given to a king, frankincense a gift given to a priest and myrrh-a spice used in preparing a body for burial-was a gift that was given to a condemned man. It is clear that the wise men presented gifts to Jesus because they understood Him to be a great King. The protocol at that time was to never approach the presence of kings or dignitaries without bearing a gift. Adam Clark's commentary expresses it this way:

"The people of the east never approach the presence of kings and great personages without a present in their hands." (Vol. 5, p. 46)

The truth is that gift giving at this time of year is not scriptural and has no basis in the story of the wise men. The giving of gifts at this time of year came from the practice of the ancient Saturnalia. Today, this worship of Saturn has merged with the worship of Mammon, the god of money.

Commercialism, Not Christianity

Over the centuries the practice of giving gifts at this time of year has amplified to become big business! Hallmark, one of the nation's top three wrapping paper manufacturers, announced that during one Christmas season, it will produce over 24,000 miles of wrapping paper and Americans will spend over seven billion dollars on children's toys during the Christmas season.

Collectively, agencies and photo studios suit up and ship out as many as 20,000 Santa Clauses to malls, parades, and parties every year. It has been estimated that retail stores can generate $35,000 in additional income simply by having a photographer and a rented Santa Claus for the season. It is also estimated that mall traffic increases by 15% when a Santa Claus is in one of the big stores.

In the city of Los Angeles alone the number of Christmas trees sold tops 1.1 million. In addition, 3000 letters addressed to Santa Claus will go through the Los Angeles Post Office and this county will also consume over ten million kilowatt hours of electricity to support its Christmas lights. This is the average monthly usage for many third world countries and this is just one City of thousands across the U.S.

The average American family will receive 26 cards while 650 million Christmas packages will be sent to friends and loved ones through the mail during this season. The city of Beverly Hills will spend over one million dollars on their holiday decorations while See's Candy will sell over 12 million pounds of candy.

In the United States, retailers have glamorized Christmas as no other holiday. They lavishly decorate their stores, pipe in special music and hire men in Santa Claus suits, all for one purpose: to lure shoppers into a spirit of consuming.

So important is Christmas to the economy of the United States that the absence of such a holiday could literally paralyze the country. It has been suggested that 50% of annual profits enjoyed by retailers is generated by Christmas-related sales. Recently, an executive of one of America's largest retail chains suggested that 75% of their profits were generated between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Tragically, all of this vast spending does not really make people happy. During this time of the year 35% to 40% of Americans will become so depressed they will use alcohol or drugs to simply cope with the emptiness they feel at this professed "joyous" time. Reacting to this gross commercialism of Christmas, numerous religious leaders have been heard to exclaim, "We ought to put Christ back in Christmas." But the truth is, Christ was NEVER in Christmas and He never will be!

Regardless of how Christmas has been packaged it is a pagan holiday that is wholly dedicated to materialism. It is sin wrapped in colorful paper, dressed up in a red suit and swathed in soft fuzzy angel hair. People may tell themselves that they are worshiping Christ when they celebrate it, but the truth be known that Christmas has absolutely nothing to do with the Savior of mankind and He will never have anything to do with it!

As benign as these symbols may appear, make no mistake about it: they are deeply rooted in practices God condemns throughout the scriptures. God does not need the Yule log, holly, mistletoe, or any other form of vegetation used in the worship of false gods. The Bible records that while speaking to a woman from Samaria, Jesus said that God must be worshiped in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).

The belief that these symbols are legitimately connected to Christ's birth is totally false. They are pagan to the core and should be forsaken.

The Birth of the Messiah

The belief that Jesus was born on or near December 25 has no basis in fact. Actually, this date has a very sullied past. It was the birthday of the sun god Mithra and of Nimrod and is connected with many vile practices associated with paganism. Virtually all credible records indicate that the early Church did not even celebrate birthdays.

The World Book Encyclopedia reveals the following:

The exact date of Christ's birth is not known. The early Christians did not celebrate His birth, because they considered the celebration of anyone's birth to be a pagan custom. The first mention of the observance of Christ's birthday appears about A.D. 200. For many years, several dates were used. December 25 was first mentioned in 336. (article "Christmas")

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

It is undeniable that Christmas is the most anticipated time of the year for millions of Christians. It is a time of beautiful music, delicious food, bright colors, and family reunions. However, there is one thing Christmas is not; it is not now, nor has it ever been, Christian. The Puritans understood this vital point. William Prynne wrote the following during the time of King Charles:

Our Christmas lords of Misrule... were derived from the Roman Saturnalia and Bacchanalian festivals; which should cause all pious Christians eternally to abominate them. (Book of Christian Folklore, p. 8)

As innocent and appealing as this day may appear, it has at its very roots a dark and godless origin. Tom Flynn, in his book, The Problem with Christmas, provides a very interesting observation about the message Christmas sends.

If His purpose in coming was anything like what is supposed, then in celebrating His birthday each year Christians do violence, not honor, to his memory. For in celebrating a birthday at all, we sustain exactly the kind of tradition His coming is thought to have been designed to cast down. (p.42)

It is absolutely essential to understand that God hates a lie, no matter what form it takes. Satan himself was characterized as the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) and the deceiver of the whole world (Rev. 12:9). The scriptures also reveal that Satan appears as an angel of light. Is it any wonder that festivals honoring him would possess great beauty and appeal?

A Final Thought

Is Christmas Christian? The simple answer is "no;" it is an emphatic "no!" Christmas is not Christian; it is pagan to the core. Its images and symbols were embraced from pagan practices and should be abandoned by all true believers. While speaking to the children of Israel, God gave a strong admonition concerning the assimilation of false religions into the worshiping of Him.

Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, "How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise."

Thou shalt not do so unto the Eternal thy God: for every abomination to the Eternal, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it. (Deut. 12:30-32)

The Bible reveals that Jesus Christ will return to this earth and establish His millennial Kingdom. When He comes, will He find His children have returned to Egypt? And what about you? Will you accept the teachings of a world that embraces pagan practices and dresses them up as Christianity, or will you worship Him in spirit and in truth?

The Christmas Card-To Send or Not To Send

                 Strictly speaking, a Christmas card is a greeting card specifically oriented for the Christmas celebrations of December 25th. The Christmas card is a message to all the people here and gone that we will remember them every year when the weather gets a bit colder. More often than you might like to admit, a Christmas card is the only news your friends and family get from you over the year. A Christmas card is the way to bring our love and wishes of happiness and health to all people we know. The Christmas card is a charming addition to traditional seasonal pop music. In theory sending a Christmas card is a gesture of regard so straightforward that it borders on the banal. Most Christmas cards are printed on a premium paper and comes with matching envelopes.

The Christmas card is not a Danish invention, but came to the country from England where the first Christmas card was sent in 1842. The first Christmas card is thought to have been designed by British artist John Horsley in 1840, a Royal Academician. The Christmas card is a Victorian creation, which began as a kind of stationery. The founder of the American Christmas card is said to be Louis Prang of Boston who printed a wide variety of album cards and visiting cards. The corporate Christmas card is a later invention, that wonderfully heart felt standard issue message from one company to another company. In fact the corporate Christmas card is a relatively modern invention.

A more recent invention is the photo Christmas card which is not likely to make it to the rubbish bin but more likely to be kept and either framed or placed into a photo album. A personalized Christmas card is a wonderful way to connect with friends and family during the holiday season. A handmade Christmas card is a great present to give. Even Prime Ministers send Christmas cards, Mr. Tony Blair's Christmas card is illustrated by a picture of him and his young family on the steps of No 10 Downing Street. When you want to surprise someone with a unique gift for Christmas, a personalized Christmas card is the best option for guaranteed originality. If the photo Christmas card is high quality, it will surely be displayed on friends' and family's mantels long after Christmas is over. A hand-made Christmas card is always a treasure to keep. Receiving a handmade Christmas card is somehow more special. Of course, making your own photo Christmas card is becoming easier than ever, with the introduction of the low cost color printer and the many services on the internet which specialize in making personalized Christmas cards.

The most apparent of what you're looking for in a Christmas card is the look. Think the Christmas card is the least important part of the Christmas present? Sending a business Christmas card is more than just a nice touch; business Christmas cards let you build a relationship with your clients and prospects. Creating a company Christmas card is an opportunity to send festive greetings to clients and customers. You may think a humorous Christmas card is hilarious, but this is not the time to test to see if your clients have a good sense of humor. Make certain that the type face used on your business Christmas card is large and clear enough for all your clients to read easily.

A Charity Christmas Card is a simple and effective way of giving to someone less fortunate than yourself. Of course, in the age of email, a Christmas card is a rare opportunity to send a message (such as a key fingerprint) by a pretty secure channel. The most important consideration for choosing a Christmas card is the picture. A lighthouse Christmas card is one of the most sought after cards during the festive season. It has to be said that the life of a conventional Christmas card is extremely short, particularly those sent business-to-business, you can increase the length of its life by making it stand out.

In order for a photo Christmas card to be aesthetically pleasing, great care should be given to the photo that will be used. So when Christmas is here celebrate with family and friends the gift of a photo Christmas card. There are many photo Christmas card companies on the internet that are offering unique, original, personalized designs. In spite of all the difficulties, there are few things more valuable or worthwhile than enclosing a family photo within a Christmas card. With your family's photo and the wording of your choice you will have the perfect Christmas card to spread the Christmas joy this season. Surprise loved ones with updated family photos on your personalized photo Christmas Card.

We truly believe that Christmas just isn't the same without a personalized Christmas card on your mantle, above the stockings, and we're here to help. Nothing personalizes this holiday season more than a photo Christmas card. Remember that a well thought out and personalized Christmas card can help build and cement relationships. Personalized Christmas greeting cards, what better way to stay in touch with close friends and family members than to send them a Christmas card. Surprise your child this Christmas with a personalized Christmas card from Santa Claus and the North Pole.

Should you include a business card with your business Christmas card? Should you send business Christmas cards to clients and customers? Business cards are Powerful ways to promote your Business. This allows you to feature your company logo, business related photographs or personal photographs as part of the finished Christmas card design. Get just the right business Christmas card or corporate holiday card for your profession or occupation. Will you be sending a business Christmas card to your clients this holiday season. Just let me say, forgetting to send a card to an important client is considered the ultimate snub in certain business circles. Business Christmas, Holiday and Thanksgiving cards can be personalized with your company name or logo. Most business professionals believe that it is not tactful to include your business card in with a Christmas card, but I will leave that extra step up to your judgment.

Clearly the Christmas card is a must at this festive time of year if you want to show your how important friends, family and business associates are to you. The question is not, should you send a Christmas card but, what form should that card take. With the many options available to you from the e-mail card, to the photo card to the traditional Christmas card there is no reason not to show your appreciation to your friends and business associates.