1. Improved Communication
Team building can build bridges between individuals through group participation in activities. People, who are not used to working in an outdoor setting, get a chance to work as a team. By working through a set task, multiple strengths are highlighted in a very positive manner. The result is the emphasis on good communication and the development of multiple ways to accomplishing this.
2. Develop Team Roles
Naturally humans have roles that they are best suited to. For example, some people are best focusing on the big picture and delegating work; while others are most effective carefully checking finished work. Team Building allow for each member of the team to find his or her niche in a positive emotionally safe environment.
3. Time to Develop Skills
It can be difficult for employees to develop new communication skills in an office setting. It is also a challenge to find out what additional skill an employee possess. Carefully designed Team Building activities allow each member of a team to take charge and develop leadership skills, as well as learning about their colleagues skills and communication style.
4. Better Relationships
Team Building at Cedar Creek allows for team members a chance to participate on a level of equal knowledge about any given challenge. In order to complete the task successfully, a team must draw on team process skills. The challenge of a new experience also requires employees to communicate and work together to solve the mental and physical puzzle. Working in close proximity in an outdoor environment helps develop team relationships quickly.
Team Building days can help to reinforce the values and vision of an organization and can contribute to its overall organizational culture. Sometimes team building programs reinforce culture other times they may actually evolve culture in a positive healthy environment.
The following safety tips and advice came directly from the American Red Cross.
How to Prepare for a Flood
- You will likely hear weather forecasters use these terms when floods are predicted in your community:
- Flood/Flash Flood Watch—Flooding or flash flooding is possible in your area.
- Flood/Flash Flood Warning—Flooding or flash flooding is already occurring or will occur soon in your area.
- You’ll be better prepared to withstand a flood if you have the following items available – packed and ready to go in case you need to evacuate your home
- Water—at least a 3-day supply; one gallon per person per day
- Food—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
- Flashlight [Available on the Red Cross Store]
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible) [Available on the Red Cross Store]
- Extra batteries
- First Aid kit [Available on the Red Cross Store]
- Medications (7-day supply) and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, cane)
- Multi-purpose tool
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, deed/lease to home, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Family and emergency contact information
- Extra cash
- Emergency blanket
- Map(s) of the area
- Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
- Tools/supplies for securing your home
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
- Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
- Rain gear
- Insect repellent and sunscreen
- Camera for photos of damage
Responding Appropriately During a Flood
- Listen to area radio and television stations and a NOAA Weather Radio for possible flood warnings and reports of flooding in progress or other critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS)
- Be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice.
- When a flood or flash flood warning is issued for your area, head for higher ground and stay there.
- Stay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.
- If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.
- Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.
- Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
- Because standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to have protection from the floods associated with hurricanes, tropical storms, heavy rains and other conditions that impact the U.S. For more flood safety tips and information on flood insurance, please visit the National Flood Insurance Program Web site at FloodSmart.gov.
Flood Recovery Tips
- Return home only when officials have declared the area safe.
- Before entering your home, look outside for loose power lines, damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage.
- Parts of your home may be collapsed or damaged. Approach entrances carefully. See if porch roofs and overhangs have all their supports.
- Watch out for wild animals, especially poisonous snakes that may have come into your home with the floodwater.
- If you smell natural or propane gas or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and call the fire department.
- If power lines are down outside your home, do not step in puddles or standing water.
- Keep children and pets away from hazardous sites and floodwater.
- Materials such as cleaning products, paint, batteries, contaminated fuel and damaged fuel containers are hazardous. Check with local authorities for assistance with disposal to avoid risk.
- During cleanup, wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.
- Make sure your food and water are safe. Discard items that have come in contact with floodwater, including canned goods, water bottles, plastic utensils and baby bottle nipples. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Contact your local or state public health department to see if your water supply might be contaminated. You may need to boil or treat it before use. Do not use water that could be contaminated to wash dishes, brush teeth, prepare food, wash hands, make ice or make baby formula!
Adults and children alike have worked hard all year to be extra good and earn a spot of Santa’s Nice List in hopes of receiving wonderful surprises in their stockings and presents under the Christmas tree, and now Christmas Eve is less than 10 days away! With excitement and wonder filling the hearts and minds of friends and family this holiday season, make preparing for Santa’s visit a part of your Christmas tradition with a few tips:
Make sure there are no tripping hazards on the floor
Make sure that toys, shoes, and other small items are picked up off the floor so Santa won’t trip. We don’t want Santa to get hurt and he doesn’t want to wake us up!
Hang your Christmas stockings
Santa loves stockings and fills them with lots of treats and small gifts. To ensure that your stocking doesn’t fall, please hang your stocking using command hooks or strings such as twine, thread, ribbon or clear fishing line. We don’t encourage nails as that leaves holes. Stockings also do not need to be hung from fireplaces. They can be hung anyplace sturdy enough to hold a couple of pounds- deck railings, bed posts, the back of kitchen chairs, etc. As a side note, don’t forget to hang a stocking for your pet! Santa loves your whole family!!!
Leave a snack for Santa
Cookies_and_milkSanta has a very busy night and needs to keep his energy up! Sort of the same reason moms tells us to eat our dinner. Anyways, Santa loves cookies and milk, but also eats a variety of other tasty treats depending on what part of the world he is visiting. For example, Denmark families leave a sweet rice pudding called Risengrod. Swedish families leave coffee. In Chile, families leave a ginger sponge cake sweetened with honey called pan de Pascua. An in England and Australia, families leave sherry wine and mince pie to keep him feeling warm.
Don’t be surprised if Santa only takes a bite of the goodies you left for him. He cannot possibly finish all the food and drinks left by each family across the world!
Leave a snack for Santa’s nine reindeer
Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen, and Rudolph love apples, carrots, celery, hay, and cookies (sugar, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies are preferred as chocolate gives reindeer terrible gas!)
Other Santa Questions
How does Santa fit in the chimney?
Simply put, Christmas magic. Christmas magic builds throughout the year from three The most magic comes from acts of kindness. The second is being selfless and grateful, and the third comes from the joy of giving.
What if you don’t have a chimney?
It has been estimated that 60% of homes in the US do NOT have a chimney so Santa uses the magical Christmas key to unlock any door. Rumor has it that Mrs. Claus and the elves prefer it when he uses the Christmas key because chimneys are rather dirty and Santa is rather portly.
How will Santa find us if we aren’t at our home?
Santa keeps track of each child year-round to determine whether he or she has been naughty or nice so it comes as no surprise that he knows where each child will be for Christmas.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, and we look forward to spending time with our family. Having said that, we would like to let our friends and supporters know that we will be CLOSED December 25- December 27.
There’s no question about it – weddings are really expensive. According to The Knot’s 2014 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding in 2014 was over $31,000. Moreover, 45 percent of weddings ended up exceeding couple’s budgets.
Maybe you still want to have an awesome wedding but don’t have a ton of cash or don’t want to take out a mortgage to pay for one. In this case, it’s time to find a way to cut costs. One way to do so – serve as your own DJ at the wedding. With services such as iTunes and Spotify, you can keep the party up while saving as much as thousands by forgoing the DJ or wedding band altogether.
But cutting the DJ/wedding band isn’t all that easy — if you’re trying to provide a memorable wedding experience, you can’t just set your smartphone up and dance the night away. The music portion of the evening should be as meticulously planned as any other part of your special day.
Note: We aren’t trying to put all DJs out of work — there are some advantages to having them at a wedding. They can set the tone for the reception, serve as a party facilitator and can easily adjust the atmosphere during the party. We are merely mentioning it is possible to have a successful wedding without one.
Planning is Essential
Throughout the evening, there will be several times where the music should be stopped (dinner, toasts, anything of that nature). There will also be several points in the evening where the music will fit with a particular activity (first dance, throwing of the bouquet, etc.) Don’t just wing it, make sure this is adequately planned out. Moreover, who’s going to know exactly when this is coming up? Make sure someone is available to pinpoint those parts of the wedding.
Must Have the Right Flow
Think of the weddings you have attended. What kind of music did they play? You’ve probably noticed some similarities. While the music playlist should be adjusted based on the guests at hand, there are definitely some safe bets and definitely off-limits songs. Use discretion when building the playlist.
But really, the playlist should fit you and your significant other. What songs have meaning to you? Was there a specific song that you danced to with your now-spouse for the very first time? Include it. Is there a song you and your friends love to rock out to? Include that too (within reason). Another good idea would be to solicit input from your guests. Consider adding a line for music requests on the invitation.
Also, build a playlist a bit longer than you would anticipate needing. There would be nothing more awkward than finishing a playlist early or having to repeat songs.
Same Goes for Equipment
You obviously just can’t show up with your iPhone and call it a plan. Make sure to have a good set of speakers that adequately fit the venue and its acoustics. Moreover, make sure that a good microphone (or two) is on hand. Often times the mics are provided by the DJ, so it’s something you’ll have to think about if you go without.
In addition, depending on the venue and the atmosphere you want to provide, you need to think whether you want to provide any additional lighting. If you want to control the lighting in the venue throughout the evening, someone needs to volunteer to take on that responsibility.
For both lighting and sound, the equipment that you will need will vary considerably depending on the venue you use. Make sure you get clear guidance from a venue staffer on the acoustics and lights. Once you receive that information, then you can go about the rental process. Needless to say, there are a lot of places online and in-store to look into when trying to find the right equipment. Given the event is one day, make sure that you can find a place, if possible, that will rent you the equipment you will need by the day.
A Backup Plan is an Absolute Must
Maybe one of the speakers goes out. Maybe your device goes bad. Or maybe you just get the vibe that people just aren’t quite into the dancing mood. Whatever the case may be, having a clear plan in place when things don’t necessarily work out as planned is an absolute necessity.
If you’re going to DJ your own wedding, a good backup would be to have at least two sets of everything: speakers, iPhones, playlists and microphones.
Have any other good tips to keep down the cost of the wedding? Feel free to provide your suggestions in the comments.
For more information, please contact a wedding coordinator by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Simply put, a portrait is a photo of an individual’s face. Why the face? Photos are frozen moments in time, and the face is the most expressive part of the body as well as the easiest to interpret. Unfortunately, today’s portraits show the individual smiling with a blurred background so that their features are highlighted. However, while these portraits are incredibly beautiful, it does not capture the individual’s uniqueness or personality. Because of this, lesson 2 of our tutorial will focus on how to take a true portrait of an individual with the intent to display the likeness, personality, and even the mood of the individual.
It is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and thus portraits should have sharp images of the eyes.
For a staged photo session, set your camera to single point focus mode. In this mode, you will see all of the focus point brackets when you look through the viewfinder, but you will only use one. The focus point should be set on one eye.
For a photo session in which the subject in moving around constantly (think children!), set the camera to continuous focus mode, which will allow you to choose the focal points by toggling the brackets while you camera attempts to adjust focus.
After you have captured your shot, always review your photo and zoom in on the eyes to ensure that they are indeed sharp.
For more information on setting autofocus, we recommend reading “Master your camera’s autofocus: which AF point to use and when to use them” by Digital Camera World.
Based on the individual’s level of comfort, a photographer can take several portrait depths to capture an individual’s personality.
No Background- the frame is full of face. Many people do not feel comfortable with this type of photography as it is very exposing. However, the effects, especially in black and white, are captivating and raw with emotion. These types of photos are taken in a studio with the camera on a tripod to add stability to the image.
Little- the frame is 2/3 face and 1/3 background. This type of portrait tends to feature the blurred background. Given the level of blurriness in these types of photos, most professional photographers prefer to take these photos in studio since that is where they are most comfortable with lighting, and they don’t have to haul their equipment around; however, offsite photos can be accommodated.
Half and Half- the frame is half face and half background. This photo captures the soulful aspect of the musician while highlighting his ability to sing. These types of photos are usually taken offsite at an agreed upon location.
Majority-the frame is 2/3 background and 1/3 face. These types of photos are usually taken offsite at an agreed upon location.
As stated previously, the most popular background in portraits is a blurred scene. However, using a background can help display a person’s individual traits. For an athlete, a gym or field. For a performer, a studio or stage. An avid reader, a library. However, remember to keep your background minimal to avoid clutter or distractions. This is done by using a wider aperture and/or restricting the depth of field.
Other helpful tips:
- Natural light is the most flattering due to its soft nature.
- Always keep the light behind the photographer to ensure natural lighting on the individual.
- When it comes to choosing clothing and backgrounds use complimentary colors.
- Make sure the individual being photographed is relaxed. Here is an excellent article titled “Communication: A Vital Detail Often Ignored” by Dani Diamond that offers several tips.
To continue to enhance your skills as a photographer, we also encourage taking photos regularly to increase familiarity with your camera. For learning experiences as well as personal (non-professional grade photography), we invite you to visit Cedar Creek during our normal business hours on Saturday and Sunday.
For professional grade photography sessions, including portraits and engagement sessions, please contact us.
Very few people enjoy tax season, but if you own a small business, this time of year can be a massive headache. Countless exemptions, credits and deductions are available to you, but you don’t necessarily have the troves of accountants and lawyers available that a Fortune 500 company would. Just when you think you’ve done your taxes just right, you find out that you could have deducted this or that you shouldn’t have deducted that.
Although we can’t list every tax deduction available, we want to let you know about a few major ones you should take full advantage of. But beware – don’t get too carried away, or you might find yourself entangled in far more problems than you had before.
There are two different ways to deduct automotive expenses. The first is the actual expense method, where you keep track and deduct all of your actual business-related expenses using the car.
You can also opt for the standard mileage rate method. For 2014, you can deduct 56 cents per mile driven. (That jumps to 57.5 cents for 2015.) Also eligible for deductions are those pesky parking and toll fees; the business part of the interest on your car loan; and state and local property taxes.
Beware: If you try to deduct parking tickets and fines for blowing the toll booth, expect an unfriendly letter from the IRS.
You can write off any fees for professional development events, corporate conferences, team-building activities and trade shows. Also, feel free to deduct subscriptions to trade magazines and webinars – anything that helps you keep up to date with your skills and industry demands.
Beware: Of course you want to go to that high-tech trade show coming to town. But if you’re an accountant, insurance salesman or something else that doesn’t relate to the conference you’re attending, keep it off your tax forms. Also, your Sports Illustrated subscription is not tax-deductible unless you’re a sports writer.
If you pay for entertaining current or potential customers / clients, you can deduct half of the cost. But one of two criteria must be met: It must be directly related to the business and business is discussed at the event, or it must be associated with the business and entertainment takes place immediately before or after a business discussion.
Beware: Going to the baseball game with your five closest friends from high school does not constitute business entertainment.
Do you have an accountant who runs your books? Deduct it. An attorney who provides legal counsel? Write it off. Any professional services fees are 100 percent tax-deductible.
Beware: We understand that running a business is stressful. But writing off your visits to a therapist because you think it will help you operate your business more effectively probably won’t work with the IRS.
Employee or Client Gifts
Want to show employees and clients your appreciation? Uncle Sam approves — any gift to a client or employee can be deducted in full, up to $25 per year per person.
Beware: If your mother-in-law uses your law firm to have her traffic tickets fixed, she should receive the same gift that other clients receive.
The gas, electric, trash, water and telephone bills at the office are all fully tax-deductible. If you work from home, you should measure your work area and divide it by the total square footage of your home to determine how much you can claim.
Beware: If you deduct telephone bills at the office, they must be for business calls, not personal ones.
If you rent office space, those monthly payments are tax-deductible. If you work outside of your rented apartment, you once again should measure the work area and divide it by the total square footage of the unit where you reside.
Beware: There’s one important caveat to this rule: you cannot deduct any rent if you have any equity whatsoever in the property or if there’s an agreement that you will receive some in the future.
Feel free to deduct the interest and carrying charges used to finance business purchases on credit. You can also deduct the interest on your personal loans, provided that money was used for business purposes.
Beware: Did you max out that Visa card to remodel your basement? Unless that’s your primary work location, you cannot deduct that.
If you purchase an asset that will be used beyond the current tax year, you must spread the depreciation tax deduction out over the expected life of the asset. For instance, if you buy a machine for your business that is expected to last 10 years, you have to slowly write off that expense over time.
Beware: Certain things can’t be written off even if they do depreciate, including inventory and land.
Any charitable contributions that a company makes can be written off. If your business is a partnership, LLC or S corporation (taxed like a partnership), the deduction can be passed down to your personal tax return. A C corporation can deduct charitable contributions from its own tax returns.
Beware: Charity does not include your brother-in-law’s political campaign or your daughter’s Kickstarter campaign selling hipster sunglasses.
For more information on business tax deductions, check out these resources:
Cedar Creek provides a picturesque option for amateur, hobbyist, and professional photographers alike. In fact, so many people come to Cedar Creek for photo opportunities that we decided to pull together a variety of tips to help our guests capture the perfect shot. In this lesson we will be reviewing the three main settings on a camera, which are ISO Sensitivity, Aperture, and Shutter Speed. These settings will need to be adjusted to capture all genres of photography.
Essentially, ISO Sensitivity is a measure of the camera’s ability to capture light. Digital cameras convert the light that falls on the image sensor into electrical signals for processing. ISO sensitivity is raised by amplifying the signal.
- Tip 1 from Nikon (DSLR Camera Basics) Low ISO sensitivities require slow shutter speeds for correct exposure, resulting in blur caused by subject motion. High ISO sensitivities allow correct exposure to be achieved at faster shutter speeds, making it possible to take photographs that “freeze” motion.
- Tip 2 from Nikon (DSLR Camera Basics) When lighting is poor, you can use a flash to light portrait subjects. Flash units, however, have limited range. If you raise ISO sensitivity, you can optimally expose both the portrait subject and the background without using a flash at all.
- Tip 3 from PhotographyLife.com When there is plenty of light, you should always use the lowest ISO, to retain the most detail and to have the highest image quality. This means you should increase the ISO when there is not enough light for the camera to be able to quickly capture an image.
When you adjust your aperture you are adjusting the setting that controls the amount of light you let in with each exposure. The larger the opening, i.e. the wider the aperture, the more light you are letting in with each exposure. The smaller the opening, i.e. the narrower the aperture, the less light you let in with each exposure.
A device called a diaphragm usually serves as the aperture stop, and controls the aperture. The diaphragm functions much like the iris of the eye – it controls the effective diameter of the lens opening. Reducing the aperture size increases the depth of field, which describes the extent to which subject matter lying closer than or farther from the actual plane of focus appears to be in focus. In general, the smaller the aperture (the larger the number), the greater the distance from the plane of focus the subject matter may be while still appearing in focus. (Wikipedia)
In photography and digital photography the shutter speed is the unit of measurement which determines how long shutter remains open as the picture is taken. The slower the shutter speed, the longer the exposure time. The shutter speed and aperture together control the total amount of light reaching the sensor. (Webopedia)
The following tips are from Understanding ISO, Shutter Speed and Aperture – A Beginner’s Guide by Nasim Mansurov
What should I do in low-light situations?
Use Aperture-Priority mode, set your aperture to the lowest possible number. Be careful if you have a fast lens such as Nikon 50mm f/1.4, because setting aperture to the lowest number (f/1.4) will make the depth of field very shallow. Set your “Auto ISO” to “On” (if you have it) and make sure that the maximum ISO and minimum shutter speed are both defined, as shown in section 3. If after increasing your ISO you are still getting small shutter speeds (which means that you are in a very dim environment), your only other options are to either use a tripod or a flash. If you have moving subjects that need to be “frozen”, you will have to use flash.
What do I need to do to freeze action?
First, you will need plenty of light. Freezing action during the broad daylight is easy, whereas it is extremely tough to do it in low-light situations. Assuming you have plenty of light, make sure that your aperture is set to the lowest number (again, be careful about depth of field), then set your “Auto ISO” to “On” (if you have it) and set your minimum shutter speed to a really high number such as 1/500th or 1/1000th of a second.
What settings do I need to change to create a motion blur effect?
Turn off Auto ISO and set your ISO to the lowest number. If the shutter speed is too fast and you still cannot create motion blur, increase aperture to a higher number until the shutter speed drops to a low number below 1/100-1/50 of a second.
What do I do if I cannot get proper exposure?
The image is either too dark or too bright. Make sure that you are not shooting in Manual Mode. Set your camera meter to “Evaluative” (Canon) or “Matrix” (Nikon). If it is already set and you are still getting improper exposure, it means that you are probably taking a picture where there is a big contrast between multiple objects (for example bright sky and dark mountains, or sun in the frame) – whatever you are trying to take a picture of is confusing the meter within your camera. If you still need to take a picture, set your camera meter to “Spot” and try to point your focus point to an area that is not too bright or too dark. That way you get the “sweet middle”.
How can I isolate my subject from the background and make the background look soft and smooth?
Stand closer to your subject and use the smallest aperture on your lens.
To continue to enhance your skills as a photographer, we also encourage taking photos regularly to increase familiarity with your camera. For learning experiences as well as personal (non-professional grade photography), we invite you to visit Cedar Creek during our normal business hours on Saturday and Sunday. For professional grade photography sessions, including portraits and engagement sessions, please contact us.
Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. If you haven’t started thinking about how you’ll be taking part in this tradition, you’d better start now.
The possibilities of a fun outing are endless, but it might require delicate planning on your part to make sure the weekend goes smoothly. Take inventory of what she enjoys and plan a day around that. Don’t forget to make sure the day includes something you enjoy, too.
If you come to Cedar Creek, you can participate in activities both together and separately — if that’s what you choose. For instance, she can spend the afternoon on the hiking trail while you shoot some pool. Then, you can come together for a romantic four-course dinner made by the award-winning Chef Connolly in the evening.
Once you have your romantic weekend getaway all planned, you might be tempted to just go into cruise control and just “let everything play out”, but remember that a lot of effort goes into building a great romantic weekend getaway. Make sure you have the details all locked down before you set out on your way.
If you’re unsure of where to start, we have some tips to help get the ball rolling.
- Sitter: If you haven’t done so, now is the time to figure out arrangements for the kids. Will they stay with the grandparents or will you hire a babysitter for the weekend? If you choose to hire a babysitter, make sure a relative or someone close to your family is on call, just in case the sitter backs out at the very last minute. We won’t give hard figures since each budget is different, but be prepared to pay the babysitter well. After all, it is for an entire weekend.
- Reservations: This seems like an obvious task, but people do forget. For Valentine’s Day at Cedar Creek, we are offering a four-course dinner in the Town Hall Restaurant prepared by our award-winning chef, Dennis Connolly, followed by dancing. Reservations aren’t required, but they are highly recommended. And, of course, we welcome you to stay the night in our cozy Cedar Lodge or one of our beautiful historical houses on the property. If you’re planning on joining us for dinner but staying at another hotel instead, we still recommend that you make reservations for dinner as far out as you can, even though they are not required. Having to wait around, hungry, with others who didn’t make reservations can really kill the buzz of an otherwise flawless romantic weekend getaway.
- Gifts: Gift giving is incredibly fun, especially when it’s for someone you truly care for. But it can be tricky to figure out what she’s going to enjoy most. For that, you may want to solicit the advice of a platonic female friend or even a sister. They can help you determine good gift ideas, and once you settle on a gift, they can go with you to help pick out the perfect brand, color, type and so on. Gifts can be very expensive, especially if you choose to buy something such as a designer purse, clothes or jewelry. We guys sometimes want to impress women by buying things a little out of our price range, but it’s often not always the price tag that makes a gift perfect. Make sure you’ve already planned out how much you are able to spend and try to stick to that.
Finally, don’t forget to buy a card, wrapping paper and a bow. Going all out with the presentation can really put a smile on her face.
The Friday Before
As you get closer to your romantic weekend getaway, you might once again be tempted to check in to Fantasyland and forget about the necessary preparations. DON’T! Keep in mind a few things right before executing Operation Romantic Weekend Getaway:
- Outfits: You wouldn’t want to make the trip all the way out to Cedar Creek (or any other place) and then realize you forgot your slacks and jacket for a nice dinner.
- The little things: If you bought a present, make sure it’s wrapped. Candles, a nice playlist and chocolates can go a long way and will surely make her smile. Take the extra step and think about the little things. You won’t regret it. You might want to ask the hotel what they offer. For example Cedar Creek offers add on options for their guestrooms such as bottles of wine, roses & chocolate covered strawberries.
- Double-check with the sitter: Make sure your sitter didn’t forget and make other plans — the last thing you want is for that person to suddenly bail on you for better plans. (If that does happen, let’s hope your mother loves her grandkids.) Also, make sure the sitter knows what time they need to arrive to your house and when they can expect to leave.
The day has arrived. And, if you did everything right, all of the hard work has been taken care of and now your job is to simply enjoy the day.
Looking to make reservations for your romantic weekend getaway to Cedar Creek? Click here.
The beginning of the year is a great time to get everyone at the company on the same page. Companies often add new employees to the ranks within the first month. New goals have been outlined and the company vision going forward has been set.
Now is the time to get people excited about 2015. But with employees scattered among different offices and priorities shifting constantly in a fast-moving business climate, it can be tough for employees to even get to know one another, much less move in the same direction.
In addition to all-company meetings, many organizations want to incorporate team-building activities into the schedule. These can be a great way for people to learn more about their co-workers, establish rapport and have fun. However, some team building activities are more effective than others. The best have a particular mission attached to them.
Here are some team building activities you might want to look into and the specific objectives they accomplish:
Build an obstacle course either in a large room or outdoor field. Each member of the team will take turns going through the course blindfolded, with the rest of the team members guiding verbally. When going through, prepare to feel confused and bump into things. When guiding, expect to feel frustrated that your message isn’t always getting across.
What the activity accomplishes: Building effective communication skills, learning to overcome challenges.
Break off into several teams. Each team has a certain number of legos and the goal is to make the largest tower possible. Or reach a certain height in the fastest amount of time. Or making the most cost efficient tower. Whatever the end goal, the group likely will need to reconfigure or even start over numerous times.
What the activity accomplishes: Becoming a better listener, learning to delegate responsibility, thinking outside of the box.
The group is assigned to develop and deliver a speech about a specific topic and each person is tasked with writing a specific portion and delivering that portion to the other attendees. The objective is, despite different writing and delivery styles, to make the speech come across as fluid as possible.
What the activity accomplishes: Fostering collaboration, enhancing both oral and written communication.
People are broken off into pairs and given a video camera. They are required to produce a one-minute video about the other person, and then everyone sits down and watches the videos together. The activity doesn’t have to involve competition, but it can.
What the activity accomplishes: Learning about team members more in-depth, building creativity, storytelling.
Sometimes, you aren’t necessarily looking to do these team-building activities in the strictest sense of the word, but are looking for events to get the team together for a fun excursion. Again, have an idea of why you want to do these activities, other than just for “having fun.”
Community service projects are very popular at companies. They provide a great way to reach out to the local community while also getting team members inspired and working together. Research has shown employees, especially millennials, place an emphasis on a company’s do-good image, so these types of projects can also retain talented employees.
What the activity accomplishes: Making a difference, networking, providing a good name to your firm.
We have reservations about this since sports aren’t always a great team-building activity. Some people can’t or choose not to partake, and less-skilled individuals who do end up participating often feel self-conscious. But bowling is often an exception since the majority of people can’t knock down pins to save their life. People can cheer one another on, and the bad bowlers can laugh it off. Plus, there is plenty of time to get to know each other between rounds.
What the activity accomplishes: Friendly competition, getting to know each other better.
A cooking class maintains the balance of fun but low-key. This activity can involve traveling offsite or having a culinary instructor come to the workplace or visit an employee’s home. The instructor facilitates the class but the participants (preferably in groups) create the dish from scratch. Also, you could consider having a cooking showcase in lieu of a class. At the end, people have the opportunity to try one another’s dishes and, if it involves competition, vote for the winner.
What the activity accomplishes: Learning to try new things, building collaboration skills, promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Have more good ideas for effective team building activities? Feel free to drop us a line.
Beers come in all different flavors, colors and textures. Some people enjoy lighter, others enjoy darker. Some enjoy hoppy beers, others not so much. And some beer aficionados enjoy drinking all different beers, ordering a new one every visit to the bar.
Perhaps you are one such aficionado, or maybe just the casual beer drinker. A beer tasting outing can satisfy the most novice of drinkers to the biggest connoisseurs. But beer tasting doesn’t just mean blindly going to a bar and downing a few different drinks. It instead involves a whole process of preparing your senses for an enriching drinking experience.
Beer tasting soon? Here are six tips to improve the occasion:
- Look, swirl, smell taste: These four steps are the key to any beer tasting activity. First, look at the beer to gauge its true color, head and consistency. Then, swirl the beer gently in the glass to bring out the beer’s distinct aroma and flavor. Next, smell the beer through your nose to stimulate senses. Finally, sip the beer without immediately swallowing to let the flavor move around your pallet.
- Check the way you pour beer: Pouring beer is definitely an art. If drinking a full glass, first pour at a 45 degree angle, and then move up to a 90 degree angle once the glass is half-full. Begin pouring gently and then become more aggressive as the glass fills. Both these techniques allow the aroma to stay trapped in the glass.
- Environment matters: Beer tasting involves all five senses. Therefore, the environment you choose to drink in can either enhance or detract from your experience. Drink in an environment soothing both mentally and physically. Drink under natural light and not artificial light (such as fluorescent lighting). Tasting in an environment without excess noise will also enhance the experience, making you less distracted when tasting.
- Mild first, bitter last: When tasting a variety of different beers, make sure to drink the mild, sweeter beers first and hold off on the thicker, bitter beers. If you drink bitter too early, the taste buds could become overstimulated, leading to a weaker taste for the sweeter beers.
- Avoid smoking: Smoking dilutes a person’s sense of smell and taste, making beer less pleasurable to the tongue.
- Same goes for greasy foods: True, greasy foods do help better process alcohol. But beer tasting shouldn’t involve drinking that much alcohol. Rather, eating these foods either before or during the tasting will just leave residue on the lips and pallet that can dilute the head retention of the beer. If you really need something between drinks, dry bread, salt-free crackers or even ice water.