December 2017 Merry Christmas…Happy Holidays…Happy New Year!However you want to say it all of us here wish you and your loved ones nothing but the best this time of year. And… remember to stay safe!How to Enjoy a Claim-Free Holiday SeasonNo one puts “insurance claim” on their holiday wish list. Most would rate this item right below a lump of coal. Yet, due to a lack of safety measures, this is what many people get.Accidents and fires related to decorations are fairly common during the holiday season, but they are avoidable with the proper precautions. Avoid holiday hazards and enjoy a claim-free season with these tips:Trim the tree with care: Will you be using a real tree? Keep it stable and hydrated with a large, non-tipping tree stand that holds water. Place the tree away from heating ducts, doorways, and busy areas. Well-placed and well-watered, your tree will stay fire- and accident-free for the season.Keep your cords nice, not naughty: Exercise caution when working with electricity. Don’t overload your outlets. Use extension cords sparingly. Check flickering lights. Immediately replace those with loose connections or corroded sockets.Be cautious with candles: Candles add ambiance and appeal to your space, but they can also cause devastation. Keep them away from flammable materials. Never leave them burning unattended. If you don’t want to worry about extinguishing candles before leaving or going to bed, consider using the flameless ones this year.Don’t fall for outdoor lighting: Yes, your roofline may look great with perfectly strung lights, but don’t risk your life to get them up there. Use proper safety measures and products designed for outdoor use.Take the time to do décor right. Be happy, healthy, and, most of all, wise this holiday season. Worth QuotingThis month, some famous quotes on the topic of gifts:Each day provides its own gifts.– Marcus AureliusOne of the greatest gifts my father gave me – unintentionally – was witnessing the courage with which he bore adversity.– Ben OkriTry not to get lost in comparing yourself to others. Discover your gifts and let them shine!– Jennie FinchYou have a good many little gifts and virtues, but there is no need of parading them, for conceit spoils the finest genius.– Louisa May AlcottTechnology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.– Carrie SnowYesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why they call it the present.– Bil KeaneTomato and Mozzarella PocketsYields 18 pockets for a colorful Holiday appetizer1 box puff pastry1 8-ounce jar oil-packed sundried tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped1 cup shredded mozzarella18 large leaves basil1 egg lightly beatenFinely ground sea salt and pepper to tasteStore-bought balsamic glaze to drizzleDirectionsPreheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 baking trays with parchment paper. Place one sheet of puff pastry on each tray. Cut each sheet into 9 equal squares (3×3 inches). Place a rounded teaspoon of tomato in the center of each square, spreading it out to opposite corners. Sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese along the same area and place a basil leaf on top. Fold opposite corners together. Press firmly to hold in place.Brush with egg wash and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool slightly then drizzle with balsamic glaze. Serve warm. Add a New (and Fun) Twist to This Year’s Holiday EntertainingSick of hosting yet another sit-down dinner, or the usual holiday open house? Mix it up this year. Your guests will enjoy the new twist. Best of all, so will you.Here are four new takes on holiday parties:Do it after ChristmasFinding a December date that works for everyone can be tough. Why not wait until after the craziness dies down and host a relaxed, post-holiday bash? Everyone will still feel festive but probably not stressed.Order inWho says hosting means cooking? Order in instead. Offer a selection of gourmet pizzas, sushi, or Chinese takeout. It’s fun, delicious – and easy. Don’t fuss with cutlery; supply chopsticks and lots of table napkins. Set out a variety of beverages, add a simple dessert, and you have a dinner party!Try brunchHost a brunch. Waffles, fruit salad, eggs, bacon, and French toast can all be whipped up quickly and served buffet style. Skip the dining table and eat in the living room for a relaxed party atmosphere.Turn it into a gamePotlucks can be boring, but not when you add the element of competition. Host a contest. Call it “TV Chef: Holiday Edition,” and ask each guest to contribute a dish. Assign categories, such as appetizers, salads, mains, sides, and desserts. (Hint 1: ask what they’re bringing ahead of time to avoid duplication.) You’ll need volunteers to judge. (Hint 2: kids might enjoy being on the judging panel.) The winning dish gets a fun prize. You relax. Everyone enjoys. It’s a win-win! Nathalie Kagy New President for Visalia Republican Women FederatedOur office manager and marketing director, Nathalie Kagy, was recently installed as the new President for 2018 for this organization. Above is a photo of Nathalie (far left) and the other officers at their recent installation ceremony . Congratulations, Nathalie, we know you’ll do a great job!