How to Host a Holiday Party in a Small Space

It’s that time of year again: Christmas music everywhere you go, the contact sport of last minute gift shopping, and everyone wants to know when you’ll throw your own holiday party. Maybe you’ve been shopping for a new downtown Winnipeg apartment, or you’re just worried your friends and family will feel like sardines. How can you make the most of the room you have and host a party to remember?

The first step is optimizing your layout. Playing Tetris with your furniture can free up tons of floor space and even make the place look and feel bigger than it is. Try to open center space by moving couches against walls and moving your dining table to the corner of the room. Arrange the extra chairs around the coffee table instead or stack them for people to grab as they need. If your hallways are wide enough, consider putting a couple chairs against the walls for people to stop and chat away from the noise of the main party area, or just to rest their feet while they line up for the bathroom. Especially if you’re not planning on having a four-course meal, use your newly accessible table as a drink and snack station rather than a centerpiece. This way, people have space to move around, hang out away from the bustle, and pass by without fear of getting stuck in conversation –especially if it’s a family reunion. You’ll also prevent them from getting hungry by giving them free access to food and beverages.

Next, decorate for the space you have. If you’re getting a tree, consider a small artificial or LED tree instead of a full-sized one or the real deal. One huge advantage is that they’re compact, so you can put them up on a table or even your counter if they’re small enough, and you can just shove them away in a closet once the holidays are over. You also won’t have to deal with hauling outa sappy, needle-spreading mess, and buying a whole new tree every year. Use white, bright lights, like fairy lights instead of typical coloured bulbs to make the space seem more open and inviting. Less is more for things like wreaths and bows. Hanging a single sprig of mistletoe by the door is a cute conversation piece and it sets the holiday mood without being gaudy or in the way.

Finally, plan activities around your home, not just the generic house party. You have less space, and likely fewer seating areas. Maybe you just have one TV that would be uncomfortable for everyone to crowd around. Be conscious not just of who is coming and when, but what you have available to entertain them. Consider turning your TV to face the open room so people can watch the burning log as they chat. If you have party games lined up, try playing standing games like Charades that require more movement and fewer seats.

No matter what or how you celebrate, there’s no reason that your festivities shouldn’t totally rock just because you have less space. Think outside the box, and have a safe and happy holiday season!

What is a Studio Apartment?

Studio apartments, sometimes called bachelor suits, are often confused with one-bedrooms. They are in fact usually two rooms, a bathroom and a large space with a kitchen in the corner. The elephant in the room of course is that by that nature the studio apartment is usually smaller than a one-bedroom. While that can be a problem, particularly for couples who need some alone time, the more unique living style does offer some interesting possibilities.

The most obvious advantage is a financial one; the rent is much cheaper in a studio apartment, and utilities are usually cheaper as well as it’s a smaller space. There are a number of advantages here. Imagine you’re trying to find a downtown Winnipeg apartment, the rent of a studio could open up options in the neighborhood that might otherwise not be accessible. It can also allow you to save significant amounts of money and avoid a roommate.

Studio apartments are often referred to as “efficiency apartments”, which is another enormous aspect of living in a studio. Many take delight in concocting clever ways to create multifaceted spaces. This can be using a futon as a bed at the most basic level, or perhaps something a little more involved like a trunk in place of a coffee table, offering storage in addition to a surface. You also need to start to think of space vertically, whether a floor to ceiling storage set or shelves on the walls, to storing your clothes in a vertical stack. Admittedly people like me, short people, are at something of a disadvantage here.

A studio apartment encourages you not to hoard things. People sometimes find it liberating to need to carefully consider their purchases so as not to clutter. It lets them easily cut down on unneeded expenses and makes them much more aware of how much they own. It also encourages people to upcycle. This can be particularly enticing for the crafty and is an easy way to make your life a little greener.

There are a couple things to keep in mind if you are considering a studio apartment. First is the bathroom. You will have some limited storage; decide what you want to keep in there and make maximum use of space. It is one of two places that will have stationary installations for storage, and it is important to know what you are working with. When viewing the place, also make sure the bathroom is in a separate space that can be sealed off, just to offer yourself a little privacy. Second, have more than enough seating to entertain guests, especially if you opt for a bed rather than a futon. You probably do not want people to need to hang out on your bed, and you don’t want to be limited in having people over because they have nowhere to sit.

Studio apartments broaden your options on where you can live, and can be a fantastic way to save money, but it is important that you know what to expect.

Recycling Tips for Good Apartment Tenants

Recycling can seem a little daunting if you’re living in an apartment, but we’re living in a time where people are striving to be greener than ever before. Recycling and reducing waste is important, and I’ve got some tips here for you to make it as painless as possible.

Winnipeggers have a consistent recycling program, so finding recycling bins at your apartment should not be a problem, but there are still some things you should check about the access while you’re looking for the best Winnipeg apartments for recycling. Speak to the landlord or caretaker, see if they’re onboard with recycling. If they are they’re more likely to be accommodating in future for anything you might need to help you along. You should also make sure you have relatively easy access to the recycling bins.

Get some bins for within your suit; the kitchen is an obvious spot for a recycling bin, but if you have a desk or an office having one there can also encourage recycling. Make sure you’re diligent when throwing something away, and most importantly do not throw garbage into the recycling. If you’re unsure, it’s safest to just throw it away.

Dispose of things properly to lessen the change of things finding their way to a landfill. This can be things like mattresses and appliances, batteries, and consumer electronics. Phones are a good example; many people have old phones at home that they don’t use anymore but feel uncomfortable throwing away. You can either just directly donate them (restore to factory settings first!), or you can bring it back to most cellphone sellers to have them recycle it. You can donate many other things to avoid wasting them: clothes, appliances, computers, and laptops, etc. Schools in particularly often appreciate having spare computer parts for their students to practice with.

Reduction and reuse are also an important factor. Reuse can be things like glass jars for condiments, which make excellent airtight containers down the line. Be careful though because some containers not intended for reused can break down and become harmful over time. Reduction can be something like using reusable bags when you go shopping and buying a water bottle to carry with you, to minimize the need for plastic water bottles.

The last thing is something you’ve probably run into a few times before: paperless billing. Most institutions are more than happy to bill you electronically. Cell phone providers and banks are probably the most well-known, but there are others as well. Many people don’t realize that the Canadian Government can handle tax returns and GST return electronically, student loans can be administered electronically, and other utilities like internet service providers can bill electronically. This is a win-win for everyone involved. You can reduce the amount of waste you’re generating, keep your home free of clutter, and the companies are more than happy to enable this, because it saves them money on paper, printing, and postage.

What is the difference between Condos and Apartments?

If you are looking for an apartment in Winnipeg, chances are you’ve had someone recommend that you get a Condo, along with a vague line about investing. Many people think that Condos are just “apartments but instead you own it”, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. The real difference is in the more administrative details behind the Condo.

The basic functioning of apartments is pretty straightforward. The renting agency or an individual owns the building full suits, with each suit rented out by a tenant. There is a landlord or caretaker on side, and they and their rental agency are responsible for the maintenance and repairs. You are generally responsible for some of the utilities, and furnishings and personal possessions. If the sink breaks though, you are not on the hook.

Condos on the other hand are a little less obvious. First you do own them, complete with mortgage payments and everything. This often is not all that much more than rent would be. It also allows you to build equity. Condos and houses, unlike most other things, build up value with the housing market if they’re properly maintained. Unless you’re in the midst of a pretty serious recession, your condo will always be worth a reasonable amount of money, which can be some savings for the future.

There are a few other costs associated, but they can come with some substantial benefits. You pay a condo fee, and this can cover a huge variety of things. Depending on how much is covered, your condo fee will scale. This can include things like utilities like trash hydro and water, and sometimes it can include things like internet costs. It can also include some things like a gym, a sauna, a pool, a concierge, extra security, and some communal areas. Some of those can be found in Winnipeg luxury apartments, but many of them are more unique to condos. These kinds of communal areas are not part of what you need to pay for directly.

Condos have a management of sorts as well. This can be a Condo Board, which hire a Property Management company to maintain the property, or the can deal directly with contractors. The condo board is made up of owners from the building, and are usually voted in. Any owner can be a member of the board, though sometimes there is a minimum residency period. This means you can have a direct say in the rules and regulations of your building, also known as the “Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions.

Pets are another area of difference. Because you are responsible for all fees within your suit including maintenance and repairs, there is usually more flexibility in pet ownership. While you still usually cannot have a huge English Mastiff, often there is permission for a dog that is on the smaller side. For dog lovers this can be what sways you; the options for apartments that allow dogs can be a little limited.

6 Tips for being a Good Apartment Pet Owner

Most pets are pretty easy to manage in an apartment. Cats don’t really bother the neighbours much, just don’t let them get into the hallway. Same for lizards, mice, gerbils, rats, and any number of other animals. Issues can arise when we get to our dogs. Here are 6 tips on how to manage:

  1. Know your dog breed. If you can, you should understand the breed of your dog, this can give you some insight into its genetic tendencies, and help you head off problems in the future.
  2. Follow the rules. It may seem self-evident but make sure you look for pet friendly apartments for rent. Don’t lie, don’t count on the landlord loving your dog or cat, just don’t take the risk. Life will be much less stressful if your pal is allowed to be there in the first place. You can also check to see if your building has any restrictions on what kinds of pets or behaviour and expectations or anything like that.
  3. Mind the health of your pet. You will want to find a vet for your friend. Of course, you care about your own pet’s health, but it also helps other people care for their pets. If your buddy is not up to date on their vaccines, that can cause problems for the other animals in the building. The less fun side of this is making sure that if your friend gets a little too excited and bites someone, you have all the information needed.
  4. Give your dog a room. I don’t mean literally give your dog a room, but make sure it has a space it can go to if it wants. Put its bed, food and water bowls, a few toys, and its crate if it has one in the same general area. That way if your dog is feeling stressed or anything, it knows where to go. You enjoy having your own space, why wouldn’t your dog? This can also help your dog with some of the other things on this list.
  5. Control their barking. There are a ton of reasons why a dog might bark, especially if it’s an excitable little guy or girl. Make sure your dog is trained so that it barks less, give it plenty of attention when you’re home so that they don’t get lonely, and make sure they’re at least somewhat used to people so that they don’t panic when someone comes to the door.
  6. Clean up after your dog. As many people are fond of saying, everybody poops. This includes your dog. Make sure you clean up after them and dispose of it appropriately. Aside from city bylaws, it’s just polite. No one wants to see that on their lawn or on the street, and it takes minimal effort. In the same vein don’t track mud inside after a walk, help keep your lobby clean.

Dogs are great, make sure yours is a lovable neighbour too, so people will agree that yours is just the best in the world.

Pets are Family

“Pets are family” has become a common mantra; as someone who worked in the pet industry for a number of years, I can tell you that this is a state of mind, not a carte blanche state of affairs. Plenty of people, especially in rural environments, consider their pets as tools, rather than family; cats are there to hunt for mice, dogs are there to protect livestock, and any further attachment is sentimental nonsense to this mode of thought. I also know people who claimed that their pets aren’t family, then proceeded to spend thousands of dollars on treatment, medication and food. When you believe your pets are family, whether you express it or not, you’re willing to spend money and time on them; you’re looking for pet friendly apartments for rent as a necessity, not a luxury.

Why do we form such incredible attachments with our pets? There’s a wide variety of reasons, as it turns out. Familiarity is no doubt a major element; anyone who has spent some time around animals comes to realize they are sentient beings with feelings, thoughts, and personalities all their own. We come to cherish their idiosyncrasies, just as we do with those of humans; their little quirks remind us there’s a whole universe that exists solely within them. It exists within each of us, too.

There are health benefits to having a pet, too, and these can create an important bond. Getting out to walk your dog is a great excuse to go for a bit of a workout; you’ll have an unfailing exercise partner who is incessantly optimistic, and can think of nothing more enjoyable than a stroll around the block with you. Tending to another being’s needs also commits you to being mindful; you can’t simply forget to feed your cat for a day, and you will be reminded that food is to be had. This helps us to develop schedules, which are sometimes missing in our chaotic modern lives.

Humans have a strong ego; we are filled with a burning desire to do right, to alter the course of history in a way that elevates our fellows. We can be plagued by guilt, shame, and indecision when we feel we have done wrong; these feelings can obscure the profound beauty of forgetting about your worries and absorbing your surrounding, of living in the present. Animals, while they may have an ego, certainly don’t show it in the way humans do; it seems tremendous self-awareness is needed to have ego. When we spend time with animals, there’s data that shows endorphins are naturally released through our system, de-stressing us and making us happy. But animals might do more than that for us; they might remind us to turn off our constantly thinking, worried about the past-and-future selves. They might remind us that it’s okay to run, to play, to breathe and be noisy and enjoy all of the wonderful mess that is life. Our pets are our family; sometimes the only ones who can remind us of what it truly means to live.