Recap: Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner

“Thanksgiving Day is a good day to recommit our energies to giving thanks and just giving.” – Amy Grant

Are you going to be hosting your family’s Thanksgiving this year? It’s never too early to start preparations, so here are a few things you can start to consider. Just think of them as advice from your favorite Massachusetts insurance agents!

  • Start working on your guest list and planning what dishes will be a part of your meal.
  • Account for any guests with food allergies or special dietary needs.
  • Review food safety tips to avoid food borne illnesses.
  • Make sure that your frozen turkey has enough time to thaw in the fridge or a cold-water bath.
  • Prepare some foods ahead of time to relieve some Thanksgiving Day stress.
  • Ensure that your home is free of tripping hazards to prevent a home insurance claim.
  • Have entertainment ready, including festive music, football, and Thanksgiving activities and games.
  • Make cleanup a breeze by soaking dishes as you perform other tasks.

In the end, remember that Thanksgiving is a holiday about togetherness and being grateful for what you have. If at the end of the day you have to order a pizza, it’s not the end of the world… it will be a great story for years to come!

If you need help with an insurance claim during the Thanksgiving holiday, call the Vargas and Vargas Insurance 24/7 emergency line at 617-322-5289. And, as always, you can call us at 617-298-0655 during regular business hours with your insurance questions or to get a free insurance quote.

Hosting the Perfect Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving is a time for celebration. No two families Thanksgiving festivities are the same, but most consist of some combination of good food and the joy of togetherness. If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner for your family (whether that means two or two hundred people) you want it to be perfect. Here are some tips from the Vargas and Vargas Insurance staff on some of the best ways to make Thanksgiving 2018 the best one yet.

Start Preparations Now

Thanksgiving may be more than two weeks away, but that is no excuse for not preparing as much as you can in advance! The most important thing you need to do is make two lists: your guest list and your shopping list.

Choosing your guests can mean the difference between an intimate affair and a huge gathering. When you invite everyone, let them know when you would like to know whether they will commit to coming for dinner – after all, you will need to know how much food to have on hand!

When you choose the dishes you will make, you will need to consider a few things, including what you will ask your guests to bring (if anything) and whether there will be anyone with dietary restrictions or severe food allergies present. Otherwise, you will need to ensure that you have a wide variety of dishes that will please all palates. Many people choose to do a variety of plates with a mix of both traditional dishes and new additions to the Thanksgiving table.

Review Food Safety Tips

Before you even think about dealing with food this Thanksgiving, consider reviewing the basics of food safety – after all, you will be responsible for the continued health of all the people that you host, and the last thing you want is for your guests to get food poisoning!

Thaw the Turkey!

Don’t forget that if you purchase a frozen turkey, you will need to let it thaw fully prior to cooking. According to Butterball’s website, there are two ways to do this. The first is by submerging the wrapped turkey in cold water for 30 minutes per pound of weight. The second is to put the turkey into the fridge ahead of Thanksgiving Day, allowing 1 day of thawing for every 4 pounds of weight.

“Make and Freeze” Foods

Once you have all your recipes picked out and the shopping is done, it’s time to figure out how much of the Thanksgiving meal that you can make ahead of time. You might be surprised at how many things can be made a day or more ahead and then frozen. And they taste just the same when reheated as they did when they were fresh.

Foods that can be made ahead include rolls and even mashed potatoes and gravy. While you’re at it, remember that many ingredients can be chopped and measured ahead of time (think the celery for your stuffing) or made the day before and left on the counter overnight (pumpkin pie).

Before Guests Arrive

When the big day arrives, you’ve undoubtedly got a lot to do. Enlist some help if you can to check the following non-cooking activities off your list. First, make sure that your home (including the walkways outside) are well-lit and free of tripping hazards. You should also make sure that anything fragile is put out of sight, especially if you will have young kids around.

During the Gathering

Oftentimes, hosting Thanksgiving means much more than just serving a meal. People tend to come and hang out for most of the day, so you will need to provide them with entertainment. In addition to putting on some festive music and/or turning on the obligatory football game (the Patriots don’t play until Sunday, but the three Thursday games won’t disappoint), you can also break out family-friendly Thanksgiving-themed games and activities.

After-Party Cleanup

All your guests may have left, but the party isn’t over! You probably still have some cleaning up to do – after all, Thanksgiving tends to be a very messy holiday, especially in the kitchen. Instead of using excessive elbow grease, let tough dishes soak while you do other tasks like taking out the garbage and wiping down the table.

Do you have any more Thanksgiving tips that we missed? Leave a comment and tell us – we would love to hear your cheats, hacks, and secrets for hosting. And, as always, remember that Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency has all the secrets for the best home insurance in Boston. Call 617-298-0655 before Thanksgiving to make sure that your Massachusetts home insurance policy is ready to protect you and all your guests this holiday season.

Take the time now to do one more thing in preparation for the holidays: program the Vargas and Vargas Insurance 24/7 emergency line into your phone. It is 617-322-5289, and it is the best way to begin an insurance claim outside of our office hours.

Recap: Holiday Budgeting

“A budget tells us what we can’t afford, but it doesn’t keep us from buying it.” – William Feather

It’s still pumpkin season, but now is the perfect time to start making plans for the end of the year. The holidays can be expensive, so get a jump on your holiday budgeting by starting now. Check out the following prevalent sources of spending in November and December and see where you can make some adjustments:

  • Decorations – Hold off on buying anything new until after the holiday when everything goes on sale.
  • Entertaining – If you’re hosting a party, make it a potluck to ease the financial burden. When attending, bring affordable hostess gifts.
  • Travel – Make your holiday travel a road trip if you can, otherwise buy plane tickets early.
  • Gifts – Get the most bang for your buck by shopping at Black Friday sales. DIY gifts often cost less than store-bought.

To make some room for more spending, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655. Talk to an agent and see if we can save you money on your home insurance or auto insurance policy. Our trained Massachusetts insurance agents can check your existing policy and see if there are any savings that you could be taking advantage of. And make sure that you stay tuned to our blog to get more tips for the upcoming holiday season and the New Year!

Budgeting for the Holiday Season

It may only be October, but now is the time to start thinking about your end-of-the-year holiday budget. Most Vargas and Vargas Insurance customers that we talk to agree – the holiday season is an expensive time of year (let’s face it – the festivity and merriment don’t come cheap!) Before you even think about picking out the best-looking turkey for Thanksgiving, pick up a pencil and make out a quick budget for the rest of 2018. It doesn’t have to be perfect – any sort of guideline can help make sure that you start the New Year in the black.

Our agency wants to do our part to help! Here are just a few of the categories that you may want to include in your budget, along with a few ways that you can get more bang for your buck this winter:

Holiday Décor

Part of the fun of the holiday season is the festivity and merriment that accompanies it. If you’re one to “deck the halls” then you probably already have most of the decorations that you use every year in storage. Occasionally, though, something will need to be replaced.

Do yourself a favor and save money on the replacement by using the old item one more time (if you can, of course) and purchasing the replacement on a deep discount after the holidays are over.

Food and Entertaining

During the holiday season, many people throw holiday parties or host family events. Whether you are hosting or attending these events, you will need to budget some money for them. Hosting can be costly, but you can cut down on your spending by asking attendees to bring a dish to contribute to the table or buffet – sides and desserts are easy for others to make and bring.

If you are attending an event, offer to bring something to help the host. You could bring food, but alcohol and other hostess gifts may also be appropriate. Many local shops in the Boston area offer a great selection of items that would be perfect to bring to a party.

Travel

Around this time of year, many people are making plans to visit their loved ones. Whether you’re going to be there to eat turkey or open presents, you should start making your plans now so that you don’t get stuck paying last-minute prices.

Depending on how far you need to travel and how many people are going with you, taking a road trip may be a cheaper option than flying. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Road Tripping for tips and tricks to travelling by land. If you don’t have the time to travel by car, then flying is your best option. Buy your plane tickets as early as possible to get the best deal and remember when comparing prices to include the cost of extra fees and baggage to your total cost.

Gifts

If you’re someone that purchases gifts during the holidays, plan now so that you don’t overspend later. Make a list of everyone that you plan to gift to, and how much you will spend. Be as thorough with your list as possible – include family members and friends, as well as neighbors, teachers, your mailman… anyone who will get a present, even if it’s only going to be $10 or less.

When it comes to saving money on gifts, there are many options. For the brave, consider shopping during Black Friday sales to get great gifts at blowout prices. Some people may find Black Friday shopping a little too harrowing of an experience. If that sounds like you, (and you have even a little bit of creative capability) consider making your gifts this year. Often, DIY gifts are less expensive than store-bought, and they can hold extra meaning to the recipient.

As you budget for gifts, remember to also factor in the cost of cards and wrapping paper and bows. These are costly right before the holidays, but you can save money for next year’s presents by purchasing card multi-packs and wrapping paper on clearance and storing it with the rest of your decorations.

Once your holiday budget is complete, do your future self a favor. Take your estimated expenditure amount from this year and divide it by 12. Then you can set up an automatic deposit for that amount into a holiday savings account each month. By this time next year, you won’t have to worry about scrambling to find funds – you will have a lump sum ready to go for all your end of the year spending!

Remember – you can save money on your Massachusetts insurance policies all year ‘round with the help of Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. One call to 617-298-0655 and our agents will work hard to make sure that you have home and auto insurance policies that will give you the right amount of coverage without overburdening your bank account.

Recap: Halloween Safety Tips

Did you know that there are only a few weeks left before Halloween? Are you and your family prepared? Make the most of the spookiest holiday of the year by following the safety tips from last week’s full blog post. Here is a quick summary for your convenience:

  • When you decorate, make sure that you are making your home spooky without creating tripping hazards. When choosing lighting, opt for battery powered flickering lights over candles.
  • Pumpkin carving should be reserved for kids that can handle sharp objects. Little ones can use paint or stickers on their pumpkins!
  • When passing out candy, always give treats bought at the store instead of homemade confections.
  • Trick-or-Treating can be dangerous, so make sure that kids are wearing safe costumes and comfortable shoes. Be careful driving around on Halloween night, and always check candy for tampering before eating it.

At Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency, we always have a blast celebrating Halloween in the office. This October, we would also enjoy helping you lower your insurance premiums. Just call our office at 617-298-0655 to speak with one of our Massachusetts insurance agents about how we can help avoid potential frights from the unknown with our top of the line insurance protection.

2018 Halloween Safety Tips for Kids and Parents

The temperatures are steadily dropping, and that can only mean one thing here in Massachusetts – Halloween is just around the corner! It’s the time of year when you can let your spooky side shine… not to mention plan a costume that will knock everyone’s socks off. As October progresses, though, make sure that you follow these safety tips to make sure that you and your kids have a successful fright night!

Decorating Your Home

Some people like to go over the top when decorating the outside of their home for Halloween. We encourage you to get in the spirit, but follow a few simple guidelines:

  • Remove or clearly mark tripping hazards – Trick-or-Treaters will be coming up your walkway, so either remove obstacles or make sure that they are easily seen and avoided.
  • Light up paths – Some visitors will be wearing awkward costumes, so make sure that they can see where they’re stepping.
  • Don’t use real flames – There is something extra spooky about a flickering flame, but instead of using a real candle and risking a fire, opt for a battery-operated flickering light.
  • Be careful with extension cords – You may have lots of decorations that require power. Lights and inflatables are very popular nowadays but resist the urge to overload your extension cords and power strips.

Carving a Pumpkin

Will you be making a Jack-o-Lantern with your kids this year? For kids old enough to carve a pumpkin, make sure to use carving tools meant for pumpkins instead of sharper kitchen knives. Encourage kids to go slowly as they carve in the interest of safety and tell them to cut away from their bodies. In case there is a minor injury, have a first aid kit close by.

Kids that are too young to carve don’t have to miss out on the fun. Instead of making a carved pumpkin, break out the paints and stickers and let them decorate in an age-appropriate way.

Throwing a Party

Getting together with friends for a costume party is a fun thing to do this time of year. If you are hosting, there are a few things you should do to make sure that your guests can enjoy themselves without compromising their safety.

As you plan your party, make sure that your decorations are safe for guests. As we mentioned earlier as we talked about outdoor decorations, indoor décor should also not be a tripping hazard. Also, don’t overload poser strips or use real flames, and opt for flickering battery-operated lights over open flames. In addition, when you choose your costume make sure it is something that you can wear and still play host.

Passing out Candy

If you’re going to be staying at home on Halloween night and passing out candy to trick-or-treaters, make sure to do so in a safe way. You may have a killer recipe for a treat, but this isn’t the time to use it – only pass out candies that are sealed by the manufacturer. Some children who come to your door may have severe allergies, so you may want to have a few small toys ready in case they are necessary. Display a teal pumpkin at your home to advertise that you have these non-food treats available.

For your own safety as you pass out treats, you may opt to sit with other neighbors. At the very least, make sure that you are looking through your peep hole whenever the doorbell rings (as you always should) – you can never be sure that there isn’t a ‘trick’ on the other side of the door.

Trick-or-Treating

Going out trick-or-treating is a rite of passage for kids. As a parent, we know that you want your kid to have a great time while still being safe. Here are just a few tips that you should use to accomplish this goal:

  • Decide whether your child or children are mature enough to go out with friends without supervision. When in doubt, an adult should accompany them.
  • Some parents choose to drive their kids to a different neighborhood to trick-or-treat. If you will be driving on Halloween night, make sure to be exceptionally careful in residential areas after 5pm.
  • Edit kids costumes so that they can easily run around in them for an hour or more. Encourage kids to wear comfortable shoes and to leave their masks at home. For added safety, give kids a small flashlight to carry.
  • Teens that go out on Halloween night without supervision should have a fully charged cell phone with them in case of emergencies.
  • Before you or your kids eat a treat, it should be checked for tampering.

Here’s one thing that doesn’t have to be scary this time of year: your insurance premiums! Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a free insurance quote or checkup. Our agents would be happy to see if we can lower your home insurance, auto insurance, or other insurance premiums – and you don’t even need to leave your house! Call 617-298-0655 whenever you have questions about your Massachusetts insurance policies.

Recap: Insurance Awareness Day

“Insurance is the only product that both the seller and buyer hope is never actually used.” – Unknown

Did you catch our blog last week about how to celebrate Insurance Awareness Day on June 28? The day may have passed, but it is never too late to reaffirm the importance of insurance in your life. If you haven’t yet, here are some of our suggestions for making sure that your insurance portfolio is in tip-top shape, and that you are ready for anything that will come your way:

  • Check out our blog archives for more information about the importance of having the right insurance coverage.
  • Call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency for a free insurance review – you should do this at least once a year to ensure that your policies are up to date.
  • Refer a friend or family member to our agency for a free insurance quote – they may be able to get better coverage or a lower price on their policies.

Insurance may not be glamorous, but it is a crucial part of making sure that you and your loved ones would be financially covered if something were to happen to your home, car, health, etc., and that makes it worth celebrating on this Insurance Awareness Day!

If you need a free Boston insurance policy review for your home insurance, auto insurance, business insurance, or any other product, simply call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

Recap: Avoiding July 4th Insurance Claims

“Opposites generally create intense chemistry. There are more chances of fireworks when different people are together than similar personalities.” – Sonam Kapoor

The Fourth of July is just one week away! Have you finalized your plans yet? No matter what you’ll be doing, make sure that you do it safely, and avoid having an accident that would necessitate an insurance claim. Here are a few tips from your local insurance experts:

  • Hosting a party? Prepare for guests by removing breakables and valuables from common areas.
  • If anyone is going to be enjoying the pool, make sure that they are safe. Children should be supervised, and everyone should practice safe sun while at the pool or outside during the day. And make sure that everyone stays well hydrated!
  • Fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts (and it’s also illegal to buy fireworks in another state and bring them to Massachusetts), so if you want to see a display you will need to locate a professional firework show in Boston.

Before the festivities start, do your due diligence and check on your home insurance policy. Your experienced insurance agent can review your current policy to make sure that it is as ready for the fireworks as you are. Remember – for any and all of your Massachusetts insurance needs, call Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency at 617-298-0655.

June 28 is Insurance Awareness Day!

Throughout the year, there are many holidays to celebrate. Any given day seems to host at least a few different holidays. June alone has many – National Donut Day on the first Friday, Red Rose Day on the 12th, National Kissing Day on the 19th, Take Your Dog to Work Day on the Friday after Father’s Day – and the list goes on. Our favorite here at the Vargas and Vargas Insurance office, though, is without a doubt June 28th – Insurance Awareness Day.

As an insurance agency in Greater Boston, we are always on a mission to make sure that our clients know how important it is to have proper insurance coverage for all of the valuable things in life – from your home to your car to your business, and even your health and life itself!

In honor of Insurance Awareness Day, we have a few ideas for things that our clients and their families can do to ‘celebrate’ this important holiday. If insurance is a part of your life, we encourage you to pick out one or a few of the items on this list, or even make your way through the whole thing!

Read Our Blog Archives

Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency has been serving the Greater Boston area for many years, and we have been sharing a portion of our knowledge with you, our customers, through our blog posts. Take a moment and learn something about insurance by looking back onto our blog archive. We make it a point to post about our insurance expertise and about this great city that we call home. Hopefully you find something useful while perusing and visit the blog often for more updates.

Teach Your Kids About Insurance

In today’s world, many kids graduate high school without knowing how insurance policies work! This is concerning, so on this Insurance Appreciation Day take the opportunity to teach your kids what insurance is, and why it is important to have. This can be done with kids of almost any age. Here is an article from Pocket Sense about how to do this in order to take one additional step toward preparing your children for their impending independence.

Review Your Insurance Policies

Your life is always changing. You go through new challenges as you get older. If you have children, they are maturing day by day. You need to make sure that your insurance policies reflect that change. That’s why it is important to have a thorough insurance review at least once a year. Call your insurance agent and schedule a checkup for your home insurance, auto insurance, and any other insurance products that you carry. Ask about whether it’s time to think about life insurance if you don’t already have a policy.

Have a Little Insurance-Related Fun

“Insurance” and “fun” aren’t words that are usually used in the same sentence. Insurance tends to have a reputation for being tedious and boring – but it doesn’t have to be! Have some fun this year on Insurance Awareness Day and watch a movie, or at least a movie clip, with one of the world’s most loveable insurance agents – Ned Ryerson!

Plenty of other movies also have an insurance plot or sub plot, including The Rainmaker, Memento, The Truman Show, Death of a Salesman, and even The Incredibles (the second is now in theaters).

There are also a multitude of insurance comics out there that you can enjoy and share with your friends. Here are just a few examples from the very funny Randy Glasbergen.

Share an Insurance Story

Do you have a story about how insurance has helped you? Whether you have filed a home or car insurance claim, or if health insurance has ever let you focus on recovery rather than medical bills, we want to hear! Post to the Vargas and Vargas Insurance Facebook page about why you love insurance, and if our agency has ever gone above and beyond to help you, we hope that you will leave a review and tell others about our great work!

Recommend Our Agency

Do you have a friend or family member who needs an insurance quote or review? It would be our pleasure to help them! Just send them a link to this blog post or give them our phone number (617-298-0655). Our Massachusetts insurance quotes are always free, and there is no obligation to buy!

So, how will you celebrate Insurance Awareness Day this year? It may not merit a label on your calendar, but you will be glad that you took a few minutes out of your day to do something in celebration, whether it is learning something or getting a review of your existing policies.

Remember, it’s quick and easy to call your insurance agent for a free policy review, and you’ll be glad you did if you end up needing to make a claim in the future!

How to Avoid Fourth of July Insurance Claims

What will you be doing in a few weeks to celebrate Independence Day? This Fourth of July, Americans will be celebrating the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. There will be parties and gatherings all across the country, as well as plenty of fireworks displays! The staff here at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency is looking forward to the holiday, and the plans being made involve plenty of grilling, swimming, and spending time with loved ones.

Throwing a Party?

Independence Day is a great opportunity to gather with your neighbors, friends, and family for some good-spirited celebration. If you’re planning on throwing a party, there are a few things that you will want to think about:

  • It’s all about the good old US of A. Make your party festive with plenty of US flags and red, white, and blue themed decorations. You don’t have to break the bank to add some flair to your get-together – check out these ideas from Good Housekeeping.
  • Food on the Fourth tends to revolve around the grill. If you want to be adventurous, offer more than just hot dogs and hamburgers! Grill up some sides and try grilled fruit for dessert! That smoky flavor is something you just can’t get with any other method of cooking.
  • Before your guests arrive, make sure that you have relocated all of your breakables and valuables that are in common areas. Close off any areas in your home where you don’t want guests to go.
  • If you will be serving alcohol, you need to keep a close eye on how much your guests are drinking. If someone overindulges, offer them a ride home or call a cab. Otherwise, you may wish to have your spare room ready in case someone would rather crash with you until it is safe for them to get behind the wheel.

If hosting or attending a party isn’t something you’re interested in, that’s ok too! There is nothing wrong with having a quiet movie night at home. And there are even several movies appropriate for the holiday – like 1776 or Independence Day!

Enjoying the Water?

The Fourth of July is the perfect holiday to enjoy at the pool or beach. We hope that you have fun enjoying the water, but make sure that you put safety first. Little ones should be coached on the rules of the pool or beach before they don their bathing suits. This includes no running and no diving. Children should be supervised at all times. Make sure that anyone that is in the sun applies (and reapplies) sunscreen, and that they stay properly hydrated.

Also make sure that you are safe if you’re going boating. For more information, read our blog all about Boating Tips!

Seeing Fireworks?

Did you know that fireworks are illegal in the state of Massachusetts? Our state adopted the Model Fireworks Law as promoted by the National Fire Protection Agency, making the sale, purchase, and use of fireworks illegal in our state. It is important to know that even though fireworks are being sold in neighboring states, it is illegal to bring these fireworks into our state, by penalty of confiscation and possible fine.

Because of the fireworks ban, those of you that want to see fireworks this Fourth of July will need to find a display that is being run by licensed professionals.

One of the most popular events in the area is the Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular. This free event takes place on July 3rd and 4th at 8 pm at the DCR Hatch Shell. The concert on the Third is music only, but if you go on the Fourth you can see the concert at 8 and then the fireworks begin at 10:30. This year, the headliner is a Massachusetts native – Rachel Platten! For those that don’t want to brave the crowds to see the concert and fireworks on the Fourth, the concert will be broadcast on Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg.com, and more.

Remember your furry friends this Fourth of July – many animals are afraid of fireworks. If this is the case, ask your veterinarian what can be done to make them more comfortable. They may recommend medications or comfort items that will help your cat or dog remain calm during one of the more stressful days of the year.

No matter what you choose to do to celebrate this Independence Day, the unexpected is always possible, so make sure that your home and family are protected with a home insurance policy from your local Massachusetts insurance agents at Vargas and Vargas Insurance Agency. One call to 617-298-0655 and you can review your insurance or get a free and no-obligation quote.

And remember – this Fourth of July and every holiday – stay safe and have a great time with your loved ones. Happy Fourth!