How do you get people to come to your party? It’s all in the invitations

How%20to%20get%20people%20to%20come%20to%20your%20partyIt’s a story that’s been told a thousand times. You’re throwing a reception and need to purchase some generic invitations, but you’ve passed the six week mark. Ms. Emily Post recommends to send them in the mail to your potential guests. Once inside your nearest invitations retail location, you browse the aisles and get a sinking feeling when you realize that nothing truly fits your needs and you’re too late to customize something.
Or, perhaps you are a business owner seeking to retain your patrons by hosting a series of events and private parties to show appreciation for their business. You also have very limited time to dedicate to the creation of an invitation from the ground up, but you’d like to have something tangible to send to your customers. 
Here are some tips for meeting your invitation needs:
* When designing your invitation, first and foremost, you want to ensure that your guests have a clear understanding of when and where the event will be. It’s imperative that you allow enough time in your party planning to give those invited plenty of time to respond and reserve space in their calendars. If you find the date of your event quickly creeping up and you haven’t finalized anything aside from the date itself, a save-the-date may be a good option for you. It serves as a courtesy by notifying guests to reserve the day, and lets them know more details will follow.
* If you are hosting your event in a remote location, be sure to include directions and look into getting a group discount on hotel accommodations for out-of-town visitors. Integrating this information into the invitation will assist attendees in making the ultimate decision as to whether or not to attend your event. Additionally, when giving the location, state whether it’s outside or inside so guests can plan their attire. If you plan on holding your event on a boat, airplane or other vehicle, provide ample notice to your attendees. You should also feature the reason you’re hosting the event prominently on the invitation itself. For instance, if you’re hosting a gala to celebrate the election of a new president for your company, then attendees will know it’s more formal than a birthday party for a child.
* The design, color and paper quality selection also play an integral role in grabbing your invitees’ attention and getting them to commit to attend. This is why it is so important to take advantage of an invitation vendor who can accommodate your customization needs, with styles available in full color, in a matte, glossy or even linen finish and matching envelopes to complement your masterpiece. Be sure to include a way for your guests to RSVP. A low-cost option is to provide a phone number or email address where guests can leave their responses. If you want to be slightly more formal, include a response card with a pre-printed, postage-paid return address envelope with your invitations.
* Finally, it’s important to remember to stamp those invitations and RSVP envelopes. Otherwise, the chances of you getting RSVPs will be slim to none. Following these simple tips will help you create the perfect invitation for your next big event.

Courtesy of BPT

Small business networking solutions: cutting edge options you need to know

Network connection speed is always increasing, and small business owners should think about how they can stay abreast of improvements and use new technology to their advantage.

Since a growing number of commercial exchanges are gravitating from in-person transactions to online transactions, faster network connections translate into more revenue, better customer service, and increased efficiency. To unlock these benefits, however, business owners need to be equipped with the right technology and knowledge.

Staples, a trusted source for office and networking solutions and an expert in small business technology, has the following tips for small business owners who need help navigating these changes as they look to set up or update their network.

* Consider the number of people who will connect to the network and how it might change with time. Since a small business traditionally anticipates its workforce to expand, the best networking option will be flexible to account for change.

* A wired local area network, when possible, is often the best option for operations that demand high bandwidth Internet connections. Keep in mind that if a small business operates inside an office building with multiple levels and obstructions, the wireless signal may be disrupted. If this is the case, a wired connection or several business-grade wireless routers may be necessary. A small, standard-grade router will sufficiently supply Internet access inside a small building, but a stronger router, such as the newest 802.11ac router, is necessary to cover an expansive commercial space.

* Decide whether employees will need to connect to the network while away from the office. The most efficient and popular solution for setting up a remote office space is to establish a VPN, or a virtual private network, which allows employees to access files, applications, and even office hardware remotely through secure software.

* The exact type of VPN device a small business needs depends on the size of the company, the allotted technology budget and personal preference. The most important factor is that a business-grade cable or DSL router that features a consistent IP address supports the network. Higher-tier routers are designed with businesses in mind, and they come packed with features to comply with the demands of a VPN.

* The practice of cloud computing is a networking option that is becoming popular at an ever-increasing rate. The idea behind cloud computing is to make all facets of a business’s daily operations available online. Unless a business is originally established using a cloud infrastructure, switching to this option can be a large undertaking. However, cloud computing can drastically reduce or eliminate the amount of money spent on office space, manpower, equipment costs and more.

* According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 98 percent of small business security breaches occur at the hands of outside agents. Utilizing encryption software, taking advantage of penetration tests, and setting up a secure firewall are all viable steps a small business owner should take to keep important files, including finance information, safe from intruders.

* New and improved networking devices exist for a reason. As the average amount of bandwidth consumed per person rises, the technology that delivers that bandwidth must also grow. New technology like cloud computing servers and the 802.11ac router meet these demands by improving on previous models and networking techniques. Along with increased performance also come new features. The 802.11ac router, the latest from Netgear, includes the ability to connect plug-and-play devices, such as printers or external hard drives, directly into the router, instantly making them available to any computer or device on the network. The ability to connect to a printer from a phone or tablet adds a new level of convenience that can simplify the daily operations of a small business.

Switching to or setting up new technology can be both exciting and intimidating for any small business owner, but the promise of prosperous, more productive work processes serves as a good industry motivator. Take advantage of the latest technology as it rolls out, and begin experiencing how upgrading your networking system can revolutionize the way you do business.

Courtesy of BPT

Enhance your wedding with memorable aromas

Enhance%20your%20wedding%20with%20aromasWeddings are a feast for the senses. Anyone who’s been part of planning a wedding knows that every detail of the sights, sounds and tastes of the event are given attention. But what about the aromas? You can make your special day even more memorable by using the clean, natural scents of pure essential oils to create the perfect atmosphere for your celebration.
The ceremony. The fragrance we inhale during any important event often becomes inextricably linked with our memories of that event. In fact, the scents that your guests encounter when they first enter the wedding venue are no less important than the decorations they see. So pick a scent that you want the wedding to be remembered by. Take cues from the style of your gown, the time of year and the setting. Here are some examples of how you might match essential oils to your event:
* Elegant little white dress during the warm season (especially outdoors) is the perfect stage for fresh aromas such as citrus (bergamot, sweet orange, grapefruit) and orange flower (neroli).
* Traditional lace dress with tulle and train in a church setting trends toward timeless rose and jasmine underpinned with the balsamic, resinous scents of frankincense and sandalwood.
* Bold color dress choice in an autumn or wintertime setting equals luscious aromas of spice and fruit, coriander, cardamom, tangerine and Mandarin orange.
The reception. You’ll want to stay very low key here. Since aroma and taste are so intricately intertwined, you don’t want to introduce outside aromas that might clash with the flavors and aromas produced by any food you’re serving. There may be opportunities for subtle citrus or spice scents – perhaps at an isolated drink or snack table – but for the most part, let the aromas of the food prevail.
The dance. When the tables are cleared, and it’s time to kick up your heels, reinforce the change by introducing a distinct party aroma. Take a cue from the kind of music you’re offering:
* String quartet and elegant classical music: sophisticated cedarwood, balsamic myrrh, and earthy vetiver, sweetened with a generous dose of sweet orange.
* Lively dance band: tangy-sweet lime, bergamot, sweet orange, and spicy, candy-like fennel, anise and coriander seed.
* DJ spinning contemporary tunes: invigorating peppermint, spearmint, and uplifting citrus (lemon, sweet orange).
Diffusion is the key to designing an aromatic ambience at your wedding. This can be accomplished using a variety of apparatus that feature a fan and/or heat to propel the evaporation of the essential plant oils into the air. Simply place the oils in the device according to the instructions and add more as needed. Visit for more tips on using essential oils as well as a wide selection of plug in diffusers, vaporizers, candle lamps and essential oils.
By considering aroma – along with color, sound and flavor – during the planning stages of your celebration, you can create a complete and memorable impression on your big day.

Courtesy of ARA

Lights, camera – applause! How to edit great videos at home

Lights%2C%20camera%20-%20applause%21When you assemble family and friends to see the video of your latest vacation, do they groan or fall asleep before the end? Here’s how to create an exciting video – right at home – that will make everyone sit up and watch.
“The basic concepts of how to edit video are simple,” says Anthony Pires, academic director of digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Philadelphia. “First, move recorded video from the camera to your computer. Second, use a video editing program to pull out the scenes you want and rearrange them on a timeline. Then use the program to add transitions, effects, titles, narration, music and sound effects. Finally, save the edited content as a new video file.”
Start with great video footage
It’s essential that you get to know your video camera. Read the instructions and practice so you are comfortable with its operation and features. There’s nothing worse than shooting your family at grandma’s birthday party or your child’s high school graduation, only to find that the camera was not recording.
Second, make a plan. Know beforehand what story you want to tell and plan the shots you will need.
Third, make sure the footage is interesting and tells the story. “Use a variety of shots,” recommends Alex Buffalo, department chair of digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Tampa, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “Start with a shot that establishes the location – a sign or recognizable landmark. Include close, medium and wide shots. Shoot from different angles and positions, such as high and low, or the front, side and back of the subject. Include some cutaway shots, such as others reacting to the activity in the main shot. And be sure to hold each shot for at least 10 seconds.”
Other tips include minimizing the use of pan and zoom (and pan slowly if at all), getting the best natural sound possible (and don’t narrate while you shoot) and keeping the camera as still as possible, using a tripod where you can.
“Check your plan during the shoot to make sure you get everything you’ll need to tell your story,” Buffalo adds.
Edit to tell your story
Once you have your footage, you’re ready to edit. Video editing programs have become more sophisticated and more user friendly.
“Most computers come with a built-in video editing program,” says Nadia Ramoutar, faculty member in digital filmmaking and video production at The Art Institute of Jacksonville, a branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. “Go ahead and start with whatever is provided. You’ll often find Windows Movie Maker on PCs and iMovie on Macs. Both software programs are frequently included at no extra charge with your computer purchase and are easy to use. If you are not happy with the software that comes with your computer, consider purchasing PowerDirector 10 for the PC or Final Cut Pro X for the Mac. They are easier to use than the professional-grade programs we teach at The Art Institutes schools, but offer plenty of power for most home users.”
The user’s guide for your editing program can tell you how to move the video from your camera to the computer. Select your scenes using the program’s cutting tool and arrange them in sequence on a timeline. Choose your transitions and any special effects from the library offered by your editing program. You’ll also have the opportunity to create a title screen and titles for some of your shots or sections. Music can be selected and narration recorded. And if the waves crashing doesn’t sound as crisp as you’d like it? Just add in a sound effect or two.
Once you’ve previewed and saved your video into its final form, you’re ready to share it. Show your video story on the big screen TV in your home, send DVDs to family and friends or post it to YouTube – the choice is yours.To learn more about The Art Institutes schools, visit

Courtesy of ARA

How to make moving easier for military families.

How%20to%20make%20moving%20easier%20for%20military%20familiesMilitary families frequently relocate from base to base all over the United States. Even though these moves aren’t unusual, they can cause some stress for all members of the family, especially if the relocation happens without a lot of warning.
Permanent Change of Station (PCS) and Personally Procured Moves (PPM)  come with military assistance to help soldiers and their families make the transition. Families can also take advantage of the do-it-yourself (DITY) option offered by the military, which could make the overall transition much smoother.
No matter how quickly the move happens, or what kind of moving assistance your family requests, here are some moving tips from Penske Truck Rental to keep in mind to help keep everything in order.
* Planning – PCS notifications can come without a lot of warning, or families may know about a potential move far in advance. For both instances, getting a plan in place is a good start. Gather important information into one folder, containing phone numbers, contact names, dates, receipts and checklists in this folder so you can easily track everything about your move. For some planning tools that focus specifically on military moves, visit the U.S. Department of Defense website.
* Moving – Many families choose the DITY option because it gives them more control over the move, and they can also potentially make some money in the process. The military provides an allotted cost for moving, and if you can come under that cost through your own planning, the military will pay you the difference. For example, Penske Truck Rental offers active military personnel a 20 percent discount for every truck rental, and will price-match any competitive offers on one-way truck rentals as well. Visit to learn more.
* Weights – Military rules require soldiers to certify the weight of the rental vehicle when empty and after it’s fully loaded. Weight limit reimbursements are set depending on a soldier’s rank and dependents, but the traditional weights are estimated at 1,000 pounds per room, excluding bathrooms and storage areas. Then add in the estimated weight of large appliances, garage items and items in storage. Compare this number to what is allowed and determine if you can reduce the load in any way to avoid paying overweight costs. To help with weight certifications, Penske offers a Certified Public Scale locator tool online to help DITY movers in finding weigh stations.
* Contact info – File a change of address form at your local post office so mail can be forwarded, and also make certain your new information is updated with your specific branch of the military.
* Explore – Get to know your new neighborhood, both on and off base. If you have children, explore the schools and the after school activities available. Learn a bit about the city’s history and gather information on the services the city offers so that on moving day, your water and electricity will be available when it’s needed.
When in the military, a move is practically inevitable, but the process can be much less stressful on both emotions and finances with a little organization and planning from the get-go.

Courtesy of ARA