Will COVID-19 Impact Where People Want to Live?
Recently, Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist released a video about the effects COVID-19 is having and/or could have on consumer tendencies in real estate. There seems to be quite the paradigm shift happening due to health reasons, appreciating simpler schedules, and the new phenomenon of many people working from home. Along with Matthew, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World and Keeping Current Matters are reporting similar indicators due to COVID 19.
The Flight to the Suburbs: Many buyers are listing more open space and less density as one of their top features when looking for a new home. The larger yards and separation from neighbors found in the suburbs versus urban areas are appealing for health reasons, due to the need to socially distance. Higher density buildings and townhouses found in-city were more appealing due to shorter commute times, but the newfound option to work from home has encouraged some buyers to venture out and consider commute times as less of a factor when choosing where they want to live.
Many high-tech employers such as Amazon, Google, and Facebook have extended the work-from-home option until the end of 2020 despite the phasing to get businesses re-opened. Companies like Twitter told some employees they could work from home indefinitely. This will have some buyers in these types of jobs capitalizing on suburban living, which is typically less expensive than in-city living and includes larger homes and yards. Look at the weekly stats for both King and Snohomish counties below. This compares the number of pending sales per week this year versus the same week last year, and the more suburban and affordable area of Snohomish County is thriving!
Return of the McMansion: Millennials had already begun looking at the suburbs as they embarked on crossing the threshold of big life events such as getting married and starting a family. Now, with more people working from home and desiring more space, the larger square footage homes are becoming more appealing.
This affords more flex spaces for at-home offices, especially if more than one adult is working from home. Space to enjoy hobbies and passions such as an in-home yoga or craft studio or in-home gym are predicted to be popular. Further, private outdoor spaces are a hit, such as fire pits, play areas for children, and outdoor entertaining space which encourages recreation and distancing.
Second-Home Market Boom: With air travel severely reduced, the desire to have a second home within driving distance has increased. Many people’s commitments have simplified and their dreams have shifted to accommodate more down-time closer to home. The change of scenery a lake, beach, or mountain property provides along with space to distance is quickly becoming in-demand. The use of homes like this versus large travel budgets could make a comeback, especially if future rental income is considered. Overall, we have seen an increased value put on local access to nature to decompress and down-shift.
Single-Family Residential Rentals vs. Apartment Rentals: Again this comes back to density versus open space. Renters also desire more room, and some are also working from home, so they may opt for a single-family home over an apartment building with shared space. There could also be a push for college students to prefer renting a single-family home instead of living in a dorm, increasing the rental value of such investment properties in college towns.
Check out the video below to hear Matthew’s entire take on all of these possible changes in how and where we want to live based on COVID 19 and the life lessons were are learning as we navigate this new way of life. What I can tell you is that the real estate market is moving! Activity has seen a large uptick since the first of May, and in many areas and price points we are lacking available inventory to meet the buyer demand.
If you are curious how these new trends and the state of current real estate market relates to your personal needs and dreams, please reach out. It is my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower storing decisions, especially during these unique times. Be well!
I am excited to share some updates from the Martha Perry Veggie Garden in Snohomish, WA! We have already purchased the vegetable starts to help support the Snohomish Garden Club, and have begun planting for the harvest. My office is working in socially distant groups, broken up by nine groups working over three weeks to get this acre of produce in the ground. By using starts instead of seeds we will be able to provide the harvest sooner and for longer throughout the season.
This is all possible thanks to your generosity! Our office raised $8,000 in under two weeks to benefit local food banks through our Neighbors in Need Program powered by the Windermere Foundation. A portion of that money was earmarked for this garden project and replaced our annual Community Service Day project that was done for the last four years in a large group of 50 people. This will provide local food banks with thousands of pounds of fresh produce throughout the summer and early fall and will be especially meaningful during this challenging time. Check out some of our first groups getting to work, making it possible for those in need to enjoy fresh produce instead of only non-perishable foods via the local food banks.
There have been a lot of questions that I have encountered about the stability of the housing market due to the global health crisis of COVID-19. I have kept close track of the statistics and daily activity in our market in order to help keep my clients well informed. Inventory levels remain very tight and buyer demand has started to return since the Stay Home Orders were put in place.
Interest rates are at the lowest point they have ever been, providing amazing opportunities for both buyers and sellers. Interest rates continue to fuel buyer demand and create an audience for home sellers. Recently, rates were as low as 3.33%, which is historic.
Below is a chart that shows the amount of weekly pending sales in 2020 in relation to the weekly pending sales during the same week in 2019.
In King County, you can see that we started the year off with activity similar to the robust year of 2019. In February 2020, there were more sales, but that was due to “Snowmageddon” in February 2019. March 2020 started off in concurrence with 2019, but once the Stay Home Orders were put in place there was a dramatic and expected drop in pending sales activity.
When the Stay at Home Orders were first put in place, showings were not allowed, causing a legitimate pause in transactions. The following week, the orders were adjusted to allow for showings and since then the amount of pending sales has increased each week. Protocols for showings include only two people in the home at one time, by appointment only, while practicing 6-foot social distancing.
These protocols, along with virtual showings and many different digital tools using video, have helped buyers and sellers safely come together in transactions. Agents are getting creative in order to best serve their buyers and sellers during this unique time. This has helped quell demand brought on by interest rates and the many industries still thriving despite recent unemployment numbers. See this video from Matthew Gardner regarding the latest unemployment report and his forecast.
Snohomish County followed the same initial pattern as King County, but has seen a quicker return to 2019 sales levels. This is due in part to the more affordable price points in Snohomish County compared to King. In fact, the days on market for closed sales in April 2020 were quicker by 34% at 21 days, and the list-to-sale price ratio was up 1% to 101% over April 2019. Additionally, the median price is up 3% complete year-over-year. In King County, the median price was up 1% complete year-over-year and days on market quicker by 41% at 17 days, and a flat list-to-sale price ratio of 101%.
Tight inventory started in January and continued due to sellers holding off coming to market amid COVID-19. Available inventory is currently not meeting the buyer demand in the market, especially in the lower to middle price ranges. The higher price points have been affected by the increased cost to obtain a jumbo loan, but are still seeing movement. We anticipate more homes coming to the market as we enter into the different phases Washington State has planned to reopen the economy and remain as safe as possible.
For some, now is the right time to sell, and for some it will be later down the road. The timing, safety, and comfort all need to be assessed along with the market data. What I’m pleased to report is that our market is not crashing. In fact, it is adapting! We will most likely find a balance as we head into the remainder of Q2 and start Q3. Many jobs are set to return as the phases unfold. Unlike the 2008 Great Recession, this is a health crisis, not a housing crisis; see this video from Matthew Gardner on this topic. The numbers are telling that story and so is the recent activity.
I strive for excellence when it comes to educating my clients, especially during these historic times that have created uncertainty. I am committed to providing accurate data and real-time information. Please reach out if you’d like to discuss this information and how it relates to your investment and lifestyle. It is simply my goal to help keep you informed and empower strong decisions. Be well!
We couldn’t have done it without you! Thanks to your generosity, we have surpassed our fundraising goal to benefit local food banks. The Windermere Foundation is matching every dollar up to $3,500, so we will be able to give a total of $7,500 to help feed our neighbors in need.
A portion of this money will go towards buying vegetable starts for the Martha Perry Veggie Garden, which will provide thousands of pounds of fresh produce to local food banks through the summer. Our office will soon get to work helping plant those starts along with the Snohomish Garden Club. We will be in small groups practicing proper social distancing over the course of several days in order to efficiently and safely get this acre of land planted. The rest of the funds will go to the Volunteers of America, who will stretch every dollar to its fullest extent throughout many food banks and food pantries across the county.
This is a portion of a larger fundraiser throughout the Windermere network. The funds are still being counted, but the total amount being given to local food banks is currently over $600,000!
Are we Headed Towards a Repeat of the 2008 Housing Meltdown?
The pressure the COVID-19 global pandemic is putting on the economy is a reality. As a real estate broker, I take great pride in having the honor of being your trusted advisor when it comes to your investment in the housing market and protecting the value of your home. I have been asked several times, “Is this the Great Recession all over again?”
At Windermere, we have continued to rely on the expertise of Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist. Above is a chart he shared from Black Knight Financial comparing the housing market as we headed into this global health crisis versus the start of the Great Recession in 2007. Below is an 11-minute video going over the chart line by line. I urge you to watch the video and key in to his expertise versus what you might hear in the media. Matthew predicted the Great Recession and does not shy away from heeding the truth, even if it is not great news. I trust him and I hope you do too.
Bottom line, we are heading into this economic challenge with a much more formidable foundation based on more stringent lending practices, higher equity levels, and we are anticipating a shorter 1-2 year V-shaped recovery, compared to the long U-shaped recovery of the 5-year Great Recession. In fact, we have seen pending sales rise over the last three consecutive weeks, some even with multiple offers. Every neighborhood and every price-point has its own story. Please reach out with any questions or concerns. It is my goal to help keep you informed and empower strong decisions.
We’re on a mission to help our local food banks keep their shelves stocked during this uncertain time. For every dollar our office raises, the Windermere Foundation is matching up to $3,500 through May 5th! This is a part of a total of $250,000 in matching funds from the Windermere Foundation, with the goal to give $500,000 to food banks across the areas that Windermere serves.
The need has never been greater, so we’re partnering with the trusted Volunteers of America (VOA) of Snohomish County, who know how to stretch every dollar to its fullest extent and successfully manage many of the food banks and food pantries across the county. In addition, a portion of the total raised will go towards buying vegetable starts for the Martha Perry Veggie Garden (MPVG) managed by the Snohomish Garden Club (SGC) – which will supply local food banks with thousands of pounds of fresh produce throughout the summer and early fall.
Our team of agents at Windermere North will be planting close to an acre of starts on behalf of the VOA at the MPVG with the SGC the end of May into early June in small groups practicing proper social distancing. We have done this project for three years as a larger group and we are thrilled to creatively get it done this year. Food Banks have always coveted fresh produce and this effort will be more meaningful than ever this year.
If you are able to give, any amount will help make an impact and directly benefit our Neighbors in Need: gf.me/u/xy7ikd
Due to the Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders being extended through May 4th, our annual Shred Event & Food Drive has been postponed to July 18, the first Saturday after the new income tax filing deadline. The safety of the attendees, our agents, staff and the public at large is our highest priority. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and look forward to seeing you in July!
This is our 9th year partnering with Confidential Data Disposal; providing you with a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce your paper trail and help prevent identity theft.
Saturday, July 18th, 10AM to 2PM
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood.
Bring your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site. Limit 20 file boxes per visitor.
We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.
**This is a Paper-Only event. No x-rays, electronics, recyclables, or any other materials.
As we head into week four of the Stay Home/Stay Healthy orders in Washington State, I turn my thoughts towards my gratitude for housing. It’s safe to say that over the last few weeks we’ve become quite intimate with our four walls, the brick and mortar that we call home. Concrete, steel, wood, and glass make up the structure that keeps us safe and protected, but it’s who and what is inside that makes it a home.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never spent so much time in my home. This has developed a greater appreciation of the little things that make it special and even an acceptance of my not-so-favorite features. That quiet corner I can sneak away to, a blooming spring garden, a functional kitchen to create meals, and the community that surrounds us during a time of isolation are just a few items on my list of thank-yous. Our homes have become our sanctuaries, now more than ever. It goes beyond the sticks and stones that hold it upright; it is the heart in which our lives are pulsing.
I’ve always taken my role in helping people with their housing very seriously. To be asked to assist people in the purchase or sale of their home is an honor. The careful steps taken to protect liabilities and keen negotiations to ensure the highest and best value are very important components and ones I have a passion for. Now though, envisioning the connection one has or could have with a home is seen more deeply.
It is customary to have a list of features that one desires in a home and to pursue those features in the hunt for new housing or to celebrate them when selling. Buying and selling real estate is an emotional process and this experience has highlighted that connection more than I’ve ever realized before. Navigating finances is sensitive, but getting to the core of where you will spend your days or say good-bye to the place that housed you is meaningful. I’ve always seen real estate as a relationship business; while we do transactions that have a beginning and an end, the relationships are ongoing beyond the closing of a sale.
I wanted to take this time to say thank you for allowing me to be your trusted advisor when it comes to your housing. It means a lot to be a part of something so special and important in people’s lives. Also, just a reminder to please use me as a resource if you need any help maintaining your home. I have a list of reputable contractors and service providers that can help you care for your home should you have something break or want to make an improvement.
We’ve never navigated an environment like this before and I am committed to helping you stay informed. I’m happy to report that we are still seeing positive real estate activity happening during the Stay Home/Stay Healthy orders. My next newsletter, in two weeks will re-cap the latest statistics and will start to tell the more complete story of COVID-19 and real estate. We headed into this health crisis on the shoulders of a very strong first quarter in real estate and still have many positive economic influences in the PNW. I am certain there will be pent up demand on the other side of this historical time and I am hopeful many jobs will return. Stay tuned for this upcoming report and please reach out if you’d like to discuss now. In the meantime, I wish you and yours good health, a warm heart, and a happy home. Be well!
I hope this newsletter finds you and yours feeling well and making the best of the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order. It has been my goal as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic to help keep my clients informed on how this is affecting real estate. I have received many inquiries asking about how the real estate market in our area is faring during this time. Fortunately, I have access to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist on a weekly basis. Matthew’s one of the most respected economists in the nation, specifically in relation to housing. Last week, I had the opportunity to sit in on a Zoom meeting with him and my colleagues to learn more about COVID-19 and the Western Washington real estate market, and I found his outlook reassuring. Below is the latest edition of a weekly video series that he is recording each Monday to help keep everyone informed and connected to meaningful data. Matthew Gardner and Steve Harney, another economist on the East Coast, are who I am looking to for answers in contrast to just turning on the news or reading the latest headlines. Please click on the image below to listen to Matthew. If you have any questions or want to discuss how this might affect your real estate position specifically, please reach out! It has always been my goal to help keep my clients informed and empower strong decisions, now more than ever.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have surely been felt economically. A common question that I have been asked is, “Is this 2008 all over again?” The answer is “No!” As Matthew touched on above, this is a health crisis, not a housing crisis. Yes, we are headed toward a recession, but not one that is based in housing like The Great Recession of 2008. That recession was primarily based on predatory lending practices that put people into homes they could not afford with little to no down payments and horribly vetted credit. In fact, of the last five recessions, three did not see price depreciation in housing.
Take a look at the graph to the right, which shows the homeowner households in King County with more than 50% equity in their home. In Q4 of 2019, 43% of homeowners in King County were in a very healthy equity position, owing less than 50% of what their home was worth. I have been tracking sales weekly since March 1st, and prices remain strong. We have a very limited amount of inventory, rates remain low, and buyer demand is being fueled by these positive components. Our economy was formidable prior to this, indicating solid bedrock for recovery once we weather this storm that needs to be waited out. The Greater Seattle Area is particularly fortunate as many of our large businesses are centered in information technology and Amazon, which have both stayed active during this time.
Another aspect that is different from the 2008 Great Recession is that some banks and mortgage investors (servicers) are working with homeowners to provide mortgage relief. With the shutdown of so many businesses and services, job losses have been abundant. If you or someone you know would benefit from setting up a mortgage forbearance program or loan modification in order to alleviate the pressure of monthly payments right now, click on this link and have them contact their mortgage servicer today. The available programs that are offered will vary from one loan servicer to another, and are primarily available for loans that are owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac (click on the appropriate link to help research who owns your loan). Make sure you consider the details and payback terms for your long-term financial health. The ability to protect this asset while waiting this out will protect one’s equity. This is a milestone opportunity and will ensure a strong housing market moving forward.
On Saturday, March 28th, Governor Inslee adjusted the Stay Home, Stay Healthy order in relation to how real estate services can be provided. The point of this was to get the 17,000 pending transactions in our state headed towards a successful close. This also opened up the option for real estate to transact in order to help homeowners who need to sell to become unstuck, and buyers who need housing to be placed. The adjustments were focused on creating safe housing and addressing economic needs. This is not business as usual and now more than ever, entering into a real estate purchase or sale takes a well-thought-out strategy. Public health and safety have become a part of that strategic plan and are of the highest priority to consider along with housing and financial needs. In fact, waiting it out will be the best choice for some. If you or someone you know needs some guidance or is in a position to buy or sell during the Stay Home, Stay Healthy orders, please reach out. Also, see below the restrictions that are in place to help ensure all of our safety.
The uncertainty of COVID-19 and all of its repercussions may leave you feeling helpless or anxious. Sometimes it might feel like the only thing we can do is stay home and wait. The good news is that there are some practical ways we can all help.
1. Give blood, if you can. Blood banks nationwide are in a state of crisis, with severe shortages due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations. Even if your area has ordered residents to stay at home, going out to give blood is allowed as a volunteer activity to help meet essential needs. Go to Bloodworks Northwest or The American Red Cross to schedule an appointment.
*Blood banks are operating by appointment only to meet social distancing orders. Important note: Coronavirus has not been shown to be transmitted through blood transfusion.
2. Give to your local food bank. Cash or food donations are imperative right now, with so many of our neighbors out of work and facing economic uncertainty. You can do an online search for the closest food bank to you, or check out one of these local pantries.
Concern for Neighbors (Mountlake Terrace)
Lynnwood Food Bank
Edmonds Food Bank
Mukilteo Food Bank
Volunteers of America (Everett)
Snohomish Food Bank
Canyon Hills Food Bank (Bothell)
3.Donate to health care workers. Now more than ever before, we need to support our front-line healthcare workers, who are so bravely fighting COVID-19 and taking care of our sick loved ones. Most hospitals have a donation page, outlining what they are currently in need of. Not only are they desperate for personal protection equipment such as gloves and masks, but many facilities are also accepting food (snacks for health care workers), notes of encouragement, or monetary donations. Do a quick search for the hospital nearest you to see what they are lacking and how you can help. Here are a few to get you started.
4. Support local businesses. It is often said that small businesses are the backbone of America. Well, now is the time for us to rally and support the bedrock of our communities. Many restaurants are still open for take-out or delivery (have you tried Uber Eats, or Grubhub? These are great options, as you are not only supporting the corner pizza place, but the delivery driver as well), and many local shops are still selling online or offering curb-side pickup.
Some cities are rallying around their restaurants and shops by putting together a one-stop resource for who is open and what services are still available. I have linked a couple of local city’s lists below, including a very cool interactive map for the city of Seattle. For information on your city, try searching Facebook or looking up the city’s Chamber of Commerce website.
Bothell / Kenmore
Take the challenge: the next time you think about ordering something on Amazon, stop and take a minute see if a local small business can fill that need for you instead.
Most recently, we have experienced an uptick in market activity. In fact, King County saw a 35% increase in pending sales from December to January, and Snohomish County 38%. The seasonal uptick from the holidays to the New Year is normal, but it was quite sizable. This is reinforced by a 6% increase in pending activity this January over last January in King County, and a 10% increase in Snohomish County. This increase is being driven by multiple factors, such as our thriving economy and growing job market, generational shifts and historically low interest rates.
Currently, rates are as low as 3.5% for a 30-year fixed conventional mortgage – 1 point down from the fourth quarter of 2019. Moreover, the interest rate is down 1.75 points from 2 years ago. These levels are unprecedented! The current rates are as low as they have been in 3 years. This is meaningful because the rule of thumb is that for every one-point decrease in interest rate, a buyer gains ten percent in purchase power. For example, if a buyer is shopping for a $500,000 home and the rate decreases by a point during their search, the buyer could increase their purchase price to $550,000 and keep the same monthly payment.
Why is this important to pay attention to? Affordability! The Greater Seattle area is not an inexpensive place to own a home; we have seen strong appreciation over the last 7 years due to the growth of the job market and overall economy. The interest rate lasts the entire life of the loan and can have a huge impact on the monthly cash flow of a household. This cost savings is also coupled with a balancing out of home-price appreciation. Complete year-over-year, prices are flat in King County and up around 3% in Snohomish County. Note that from 2018 to 2019 we saw an 8% increase in prices in both King and Snohomish Counties. Price appreciation is adjusting to more normal levels and is predicted to increase 5-7% in 2020 over 2019.
As we head into the spring market, the time of year we see the most inventory become available, the interest rates will have a positive influence on both buyers and sellers. Naturally, buyers will enjoy the cost savings, but sellers will enjoy a larger buyer pool looking at their homes due to the opportunities the lower rates are creating. Further, would-be sellers who are also buyers that secured a rate as low as 3.75% via a purchase or refinance in 2015-2017, will consider giving up that lower rate for the right move-up house now that rates would be a lateral move or possibly even lower.
This recent decrease in rate is making the move-up market come alive. Baby Boomers and Gen X’er’s are equity rich and able to make moves to their next upgraded home or fulfill their retirement dreams. What is great about this, is that it opens up inventory for the first-time buyer and helps complete the market cycle. First-time buyers are abundant right now as the Millennial generation is gaining in age and making big life transitions such as getting married, starting families, and buying real estate.
Will these rates last forever? Simply put, no! Right now is a historical low, and depending on economic factors rates could inch up. According to Matthew Gardner, Windermere’s Chief Economist, rates should hover around 4% throughout 2020. While still staying well below the long-term average of 7.99%, increases are increases, and securing today’s rate could be hugely beneficial from a cost-saving perspective. Just like the 1980’s when folks were securing mortgages at 18%, the people that lock down on a rate from today will be telling these stories to their grandchildren. Note the long-term average – it is reasonable to think that rates closer to that must be in our future at some point.
So what does this mean for you? If you have considered making a move, or even your first purchase, today’s rates are a huge plus in helping make that transition more affordable. If you are a seller, bear in mind that today’s interest rate market is creating strong buyer demand, providing a healthy buyer pool for your home. As a homeowner who has no intention to make a move, now might be the time to consider a refinance. What is so exciting about these refinances, is that it is not only possible to reduce your monthly payment, but also your term, depending on which rate you would be coming down from. There are some pretty exciting money saving opportunities for people to take advantage of right now.
If you would like additional information on how today’s interest rates pertain to your housing goals, please contact me. I would be happy to educate you on homes that are available, do a market analysis on your current home, and/or put you in touch with a reputable mortgage professional to help you crunch numbers. Real estate success is rooted in being accurately informed, and it is my goal to help empower you to make sound decisions for your lifestyle and investment.
Celebrate Earth Day with us! We are partnering with Confidential Data Disposal for our 9th year; providing you with a safe, eco-friendly way to reduce your paper trail and help prevent identity theft.
Saturday, April 18th, 10AM to 2PM
4211 Alderwood Mall Blvd, Lynnwood
Bring your sensitive documents to be professionally destroyed on-site. Limit 20 file boxes per visitor.
We will also be collecting non-perishable food and cash donations to benefit Concern for Neighbors food bank. Donations are not required, but are appreciated.
Hope to see you there!
**This is a Paper-Only event. No x-rays, electronics, recyclables, or any other materials.
It’s a great time to begin preparing your home for spring. Here are a few general home maintenance tips to consider this time of year.
- Clean the kitchen exhaust hood & filter.
- Replace the furnace filter. It may be especially filthy after the winter months.
- Inspect the roof for water damage. It’s also a good idea to check any fences, carports and sheds. TIP: check the south end of your roof first; it is the first to show wear.
- Test the batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Clear the gutters of any buildup to allow for proper functioning.
- Start the grass revival cycle by aerating, thatching and fertilizing.
- Be sure no inside or outside vents are blocked by fallen debris.
- Clean the windows and screens. Repair any holes in screens or replace them if needed.
- Inspect and repair siding and peeling paint. Fix or replace damaged siding. Strip peeling paint and replace it with a new coat.
- Check the basement for water damage. Pay attention to musty smells, water stain and damp surfaces.
- Invest in a carbon monoxide detector – every home should have at least one.
Because big parties with crowds, expensive cocktails, and massive fireworks shows aren’t the only way to ring in the new year.
The holiday season is in full swing, and the year (and the decade!) is almost over. If a big party is not your scene, you’re not alone. Some of the most fun and meaningful moments in life are a little more intimate, and shared with people we love. Below, I’ve rounded up a few ideas for ringing in the new year that are a little off the beaten path.
- Dinner Party
Invite your favorite people to share a meal. Plan an elaborate menu, and go all-out fancy. It’s the end of a decade, after all. Not much of a cook? Plan a potluck instead. Challenge everyone to make something they wouldn’t normally cook. Or assign teams and host a cook-off competition. There are lots of possibilities, but the end result of spending the evening with those you love, reflecting on the past and planning for the future is always a win.
- Game Night
Gather the gang for drinks, snacks, and some good-natured smack talk. Game nights provide an easy way to laugh, play, and get out of your comfort zone, together. To avoid a game night fail, make sure you think about these three questions: 1) How many people can comfortably fit in your space 2) How many people can play the games you want to play 3) What kind of group do you want to have?
There are tons of great games you can play together, but here are some ideas, broken down by category. May the best player win!
- Wine Tasting
Invite a local wine expert and a few friends to a special NYE tasting. Or, choose a type of wine and a price-point, and have everyone bring a bottle. Whether you are supplying the wine, or leaving it up to your guests, you’ll need to make sure you have enough wine glasses and a couple of good corkscrews, as well as plenty of food to soak it all up. Here are some great tips and ideas for hosting a great tasting.
If wine isn’t your thing, you could host a tasting event with beer, chocolate, or a different food item you love!
- Pajama Party
If you’d rather have a low-key, casual evening at home, throw a pajama party! Cocktails, appetizers, and jammies were definitely meant to be together! You could make it a girls night in, a sleepover, a movie marathon, a family affair… so many possibilities! To make the evening feel extra special, have a signature cocktail for the evening. Perhaps something with champagne? Plan lots of snacks, gather all the throw blankets and pillows you can find, and get cozy.
Out & About
- Overnight Hotel Stay
Take a mini vacay! It could be a fun getaway for the family, a renewing solo adventure, or the ultimate date night. During the day you can do some shopping, go see a movie, take advantage of the hotel pool, or relax in the spa. Ring in the new year with a meal in the hotel restaurant, or order room service for a special treat.
- Attend a Religious service
Also called a Watchnight Service or Mass, the late-night New Year’s Eve religious service is a wonderful opportunity for self-reflection, renewal and preparing for the year ahead.
Spend the day volunteering your time for a worthwhile cause that is important to you. Perhaps there is a homeless shelter in your city who is looking for help serving dinner. Or a nursing home nearby, full of people who could use a friendly visitor. Make it a family day, or ask a few friends to join you. Spending time serving others can be one of the most rewarding ways to close out the year.
For a casual, fun-filled evening with friends, ring in the new year with singing, drinks, laughter, and fun. If you like the idea of karaoke, but you’re too shy to sing in front of strangers, rent a private karaoke room so only you and your closest friends can laugh at each other.
No matter how you decide to close out the year, choosing to spend your time with people you love will ensure that you have a holiday worth remembering.
Kick off the holiday season with a community tree lighting celebration. Thanksgiving falls late on the calendar this year, so the Christmas festivities will be right on it’s heels. Some of these celebrations start as early as the day after Thanksgiving!
The bigger celebrations feature Santa’s arrival, and most of the communities will have fun activities designed to put you and your family in the holiday spirit. live music, refreshments, crafts, and other fun activities. Santa will make an appearance at most of these as well.
Nov. 29 – Bellevue at Bellevue Place
Nov. 29 – Seattle at Westlake Center
Nov. 30 – Seattle at Pike Place Market
Nov. 30 – Tacoma at the Broadway Center
Nov. 30 – Edmonds at Centennial Plaza
Dec. 1 – Bothell on Main Street
Dec. 1 – Olympia at Sylvester Park
Dec. 6 – Mercer Island at Mercerdale Park
Dec. 6 – Mountlake Terrace at Evergreen Playfield
Dec. 6 – Renton at Coulon Park
Dec. 6 – Sammamish at City Hall
Dec. 6 – University Place (south of Tacoma)
Dec. 7 – Kenmore at City Hall
Dec. 7 – Kent at Kent Town Square Plaza
Dec 7 – Lynnwood at City Hall
Dec. 7 – Mill Creek on Main Street
Dec 7 – Mukilteo at Rosehill Community Center
Dec. 7 – West Seattle at West Seattle Junction
Dec 7 – Woodinville at DeYoung Park & Wilmot Gateway Park