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      Things To Do Around Boston

      A Guide to Picking out the Perfect Christmas Tree in the Boston Area

      Whether you want to cut your own tree or purchase a precut tree, BIRE has your covered. The following is list of places to find the perfect holiday decorations and Christmas trees. Cutting your own Christmas at a local farm offers a family activity that can become a tradition spanning decades.

       

      Places to Cut-your-own Christmas Trees

      1.     Smolak Farms

      315 S Bradford St
      North Andover, MA 01845
      Phone: (978) 682-6332

      Website: http://www.smolakfarms.com/trees

      Hours: 8:30AM-4:00PM

       

      Although Smolak Farms is about a 45 minute drive out of Boston, it is definitely worth the trip. They offer a program called Choose N' Cut, where all size trees are priced at $69. Smolak Farms recommends that you come early to cut your own tree, as they tend to sell out each season.  That's a pretty good deal. You can also purchase a Pre-cut tree. They have a large selection of freshly harvested firs to choose from with prices starting at $48 and go up to $140, depending on the size that you are looking for.

       

      2.     Maple Crest Farm

      102 Moulton Street
      West Newbury, MA.
      Phone: (508) 641-5955

      Website: http://www.maplecrestfarm.biz/index.html

      Hours: 9AM-4PM Friday- Sunday: November 27, 28, 29th & Saturday and Sunday: Dec 5-6th & December 12-13th and by appointment

      Maple Crest Farm is a 45 minute drive out of Boston, but with the beautiful coastal scenery, it is well worth the drive. The farm offers a fun family experience complete with complimentary wagon rides, hot chocolate, and marshmallow toasting. They also provide complimentary saws and twine and will bale your tree. Maple Crest prices their trees at $60 apiece and only accepts cash or local check.

      Places to Buy Pre-Cut Christmas Trees

      3.     Boston Christmas Trees

      22 Harvard Ave

      Allston, MA.  

      (Across from Model Hardware and The Draft)

      Phone: (617) 510-0866

      Website: http://bostonchristmastrees.com/

      Hours: 8:00AM - 10:00PM, seven days a week, from Thanksgiving to Christmas.

      Boston Christmas Trees is a great and convenient place to find the perfect Christmas tree, and they have ample free parking, which is a luxury in Boston. This is a one stop shop where you can purchase everything from Wreaths: Plain and Decorated, four sizes and types of Christmas tree stands Garland, Mistletoe, Mantel Pieces & Table Baskets. They offer Balsam Fir and Fraser Fir Trees: From 3? to 12? ranging from$10 to $125.

      4.     Allandale Farm

      259 Allandale Road

      Brookline, MA 02467

      Phone: (617) 524-1531

      Website: http://www.allandalefarm.com/home.html
      Hours: Weekdays 9am-7pm, Weekends 9am-6pm. Closed for the season December 32rd
       

      Allandale Farm has a variety of fresh cut balsam and Fraser fir trees are arriving weekly from Nova Scotia and North Carolina. They also have a great selection of wreaths, garland, winterberry, holiday plants, and evergreen centerpieces.

       

      5.     Beverly Tree Farm

      300 Dodge Street

      Beverly, MA 01915

      Phone: (978) 810-4178

      Website:  www.beverlytreefarm.com/

      Hours: 9AM-3PM November 27th,28th, 29th & December 5th, 6th or While Supplies Last

       

       

      What type of tree do I choose?

      At this point your probably asking yourself, what is the difference between all of these trees and which one should I choose?! Well no need to worry, here are descriptions of the trees types mentioned in the guide above to help you understand what you're searching for.

      Balsam- A very traditional tree, the Balsam has short, flat, dark green needles that won't fall off the branch right after you get it.

      Blue Spruce- A unique coloring, the blue spruce can range from dark green all the way to powdery blue. The stiff branches on the spruce are great for heavier ornaments.

      Canaan Fir- Though a less common variety, the Canaan Fir is very similar to Fraser Fir and Balsam varieties. The medium-strong branches and deep green color make for a traditional Christmas feel.

      Douglas Fir- A full-bodied pyramid shape, the Douglas Fir lasts a long time when cut and has anywhere from blue to dark green needles. These needles, when crushed, emit some of the best Christmas tree scents of any variety.

      Fraser Fir- With a deliciously pine-y scent and bicolor needles (green on top and silvery white on the bottom), this tree is the epitome of holiday spirit. The space between branches is also great for ornament placing.

      Tips on Selecting your Pre-Cut Tree:

      ·       Measure your space

      o   Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot. Measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling. Don't overbuy. Measure the width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80% taper. So a tree that's 10' tall will be 8' wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically may be entirely too big horizontally.

      • Do a branch/needle test for freshness
        • Run a branch through your enclosed hand - the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches - they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.

       

      • Look for other indicators of dryness or deterioration
      Indicators might include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability, and wrinkled bark. A good rule-of-thumb is, when in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one. If none of the trees on the lot look fresh, go to another lot.

      Warm Activities To Chase Away Winter Woes

      Finally - the sun is out and temperatures are slowly tapering off; signs that spring really is just around the corner. So, before the spring and summer buying and selling season hits, you have time to enjoy what's left of the "hibernation" months. Don't just sit inside your home and wait for flowers to bloom and temperatures to drop. Instead, why not have some decent good old fun outside your home and banish those winter woes? Here are some of our picks for you to do in and around the city for the remainder of the month, just until Spring is officially here:

      555 Gallery Inaugural Exhibit March 6-16, Innovation DistrictIf you're into contemporary fine art and photography, then this will be worth your while. Nestled in one of Southie's upcoming pockets, this gallery promises to showcase provocative pieces from established and emerging artists. Located in a 2,000 SF renovated 1950s manufacturing plant, 555 Gallery is on the edge of South Boston's old industrial and new residential neighborhoods and blocks away from the Seaport and Innovation Districts. Call (857) 496-7234 or visit www.555gallery.com for more details

      Boston Ballet's 'Cinderella' March 13-23, The Boston Opera House With choreography by Sir Frederick Ashton, and music from Sergei Prokofiev, the Boston Ballet will premiere "Cinderella," in a three-act ballet. The classic fairytale weaves magic and enchantment into a story about a young girl who wants nothing more than to spend an evening at the ball. http://www.bostonballet.org/cinderella

      St. Patrick's Day Celebrations March 15-17, Citywide St. Patrick's Day is upon us. So whether you're looking for a music fix or a parade run, you have a couple of option to get your Irish on. For audiophiles out there, the Dropkick Murphys will be performing at the House of Blues on March 13-16 - perhaps these guys will be as close to real Irish rock you'll get in the city. And for those longing for a more serene evening out, the Sanders Theatre will host "A St. Patrick's Day Celtic Sojourn" on March 15-16, featuring authentically Irish performers, with Keith Murphy as musical director. As always, South Boston will again be hosting the St. Patrick's Day parade on March 16th starting at 1PM. Expect this one to be huge this year, as organizers co-celebrate the Irish day with the election and installation as mayor of one of its own, Marty Walsh.

      Dine Out Boston (formerly Restaurant Week) March 16-21 and 23-28 Formally known as Restaurant Week, Dine Out Boston has been rebranded to offer versatile pricing and a larger variety of menu options from participating restaurants in the Greater Boston area. Dinner will be available for $28, $33, or $38, and lunch for $15, $20, or $25. Each restaurant will choose one of the price points, and then design a menu to highlight their cuisine. Each restaurant has been carefully screened so that you can get the most satisfying gastronomic experience, all without the high price tag. www.bostonusa.com/visit/dineoutboston/restaurants-search

      Spring Beer Festival March 23 from 12-10PM, Boston Cyclorama Are you a self-confessed beer bum? A concoction connoisseur, perhaps? Well, if you are, come celebrate the start of spring by grabbing your beer passport and taking a trip around the world to sample blends from different breweries at the Spring Beer Fest. Plus, all guests will be entered to win prizes just for attending. Tickets are limited and early birds get $10 off the regular ticket price of $29 until tomorrow, March 7. www.bostoneventguide.com/spring-beer-fest

      16th Boston Underground Film Festival March 26-30, Brattle Theatre (Harvard Square) Whether you're into mainstream mega blockbuster movies, or into deep indie flicks, you've got to check this one out. Running on it's 16th year, the festival strives to promote independent and experimental filmmaking. This year's festival will feature works include the thrillers "All Cheerleaders Die" and "Blue Ruin", the live-action and animation fusion film "The Congress," and more. Movie mavens will agree that a lot of good movies have come out of this once-little film fest, including choice picks of Matt Damon and Ben Affleck for their film production collaboration, Project Greenlight. www.bostonunderground.org

      Boston's Favorite Christmas Homes

      By now, as the holiday rush winds down and Christmas draws closer, you probably are in need of some de-stressing. What better way to get away from all of the season's stresses and still have some quality time with your family or friends than to take a look around the city for some wonderfully decorated holiday homes. Perhaps take some queues on how to dress up yours next year, when you make that move to purchase your own.

      For some reason, Christmas lights always brightens up one's day. They're at the very heart of the season, bringing brightness into the longest, coldest, darkest nights of the year. Some are inspired by the Christian faith, some are purely decorative. But whether you're moved by "Peace on Earth" or a holly jolly Christmas, below are nine must-see electric yuletide displays from Dorchester to Saugus' incredible Lynn Fells Parkway that will warm your cold New England heart and melt it away... and if you see a property you like along your drive, remember to keep us in mind - it might just be up for sale and the perfect gift for yourself next Christmas!

      16 & 22 Lynn Fells Parkway, Saugus

      The Amsden and the Guarino families, who share a driveway, are behind this show-stopping display--one of the many light extravaganzas along Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus. This dual display includes a penguin popping out of an igloo, a manger scene, pink flamingos and a life-sized Santa riding in a sleigh pulled by a little red-nosed Rudolph.

       

      26 Norton Street, Readville

      The couple who owns this Ginger-bread like home have been decorating it for over 40 years. The lights, if you get out of your car, come along with festive music to cheer you along as you marvel at the over 2,000 lights that are decked out on its halls. Adams Street, Fields Corner Hoa Nguyen and his father, Trong Nguyen, light up Boston's Fields Corner neighborhood with an animated spectacle of electric snow, hovering angels, blinking Christmas trees and what seem to be LED fireworks.

      Otis Street, Somerville

      John Ragno, the owner, has been doing the decorating on his house for almost 30 years now. He decorates three houses he owns in the neighborhood as well, two side by side, and one across the street. The joke is that he started off with a manger outside, a small manger on the porch. And it grew to what it is now - a massive Christmas medley of decorations.

      Bainbridge Street, just west of Rockwell Street, Malden

      Over the past decade, Maryann Spinney and her daughter and son-in-law Evelyn and Mark Anzalone have lit up houses down the lane from each other on Malden's Bainbridge Street. Several neighbors have also gotten into the act, so that it's become a whole glowing holiday neighborhood.

      The Charles River Esplanade Hatch Shell & Longfellow Bridge

      You might be wondering who's boat that is along the Charles that has a Santa riding in it. Well, the answer is it's Community Boating Inc.'s holiday hello to everyone passing over the Charles bridge. It's a pretty nifty sight to see especially when you're crossing over to Cambridge.

      ¿Qué es en realidad el día de Acción de Gracias?

      Probablemente durante estos últimos días alguien le ha preguntado si saldrá de vacaciones por acción de gracias o que planes tiene para esta fecha. Mañana se celebra uno de los días favoritos de Estados Unidos, el Día de Acción de Gracias. Si todavía no conocen muy bien las costumbres americanas se imaginarán a una familia alrededor de una mesa comiendo pavo y celebrando este último jueves del mes de noviembre por todo lo alto. Sin embargo, pero la pregunta es: ¿De donde procede esta tradición?

      Esta fiesta se comenzó a celebrar con los primeros sucesos de la colonización inglesa durante el año 1620. Un grupo de conquistadores cristianos, conocido como los peregrinos,  viajó a America y desembarcaron en el mes de noviembre, casualmente aquí, en la costa de Massachussetts. Los colonos se propusieron como objetivo formar una colonia llamada la Colonia de Plymouth. Sin embargo, el terrible inviernos les pilló por sorpresa y estuvieron expuestos a unas temperaturas extremadamente bajas, ocasionando la muerte a más de la mitad de los peregrinos. Aquellos que lograron sobrevivir fue gracias a la ayuda y alimentos que los nativos de la zona, los indios Wampanoag, les proporcionaron.

      Asimismo, en el año 1621, después de que los peregrinos que lograron sobrevivir recogieran la cosecha que recolectaron durante el invierno, organizaron una gran cena e invitaron a los Wampanoag a que la disfrutaran con ellos. Desde entonces el gobernador de la colonia proclamó "un día de dar gracias al Señor para que podamos de una manera regocijarnos después de haber recogido el fruto de nuestro trabajo".

      La tradición como tal, sería establecida en el año 1789 con el presidente George Washington, festejando está celebración el último jueves del mes de noviembre. Fue él quien estableció el día oficial de la fiesta de Acción de Gracias. Años más tarde Abraham Lincoln sería el que declarase este día como fiesta nacional en Estados Unidos.

       

      Respecto con el menú, no se sabe muy bien de donde procede la costumbre del pavo. De hecho se cree que los indígenas llamaban "pavo" a todo tipo de animales. Es por ello, que con el paso del tiempo al final  el pavo se ha convertido en la comida clave del día de acción de gracias.

      ¿Quién dijo fiesta?

      Dicen que las noches inolvidables son aquellas donde los buenos amigos están presentes. Es por ello que una noche que empieza bien son las que comienzan con una cenita donde podréis charlar con vuestros colegas antes de ir a bailar.

      En Newbury Street existen una amplia variedad de restaurantes que ofrecen una cocina completamente diferente dependiendo de los gustos de cada individuo. Podréis encontrar desde las típicas hamburguesas americanas, hasta con meticulosas delicatesen como son los productos que ofrece Snappy Shusi, un restaurante japonés

      situado en el número 108 de la calle Newbury. Si preferís la comida de otro continente os podrías declinar por un italiano, Papa Razzi, situado en el numero 159 de Newbury Street, es una buena opción para conocer la cocina europea ydegustar sus sabores más placenteros.

      Una vez que hayáis terminado de cenar podéis ir a tomar una copa a diferentes lugares que os dejarán muy buen sabor de boca. Algunos de estos sitios son: Strega Waterfron, además de ofrecer otros servicios como el de sala de baile, cuenta con unos cocktails estupendos dirigidos a aquellas personas que les guste experimentar sabores explosivos. Por otro lado, Haru es un lugar que se especializa tan sólo en el servicio de cocktelería e incluye una amplia lista con bebidas de este tipo; está situado justo debajo de Prudential Center. Cuchi Cuchi también se encuentra entre los lugares más demandados, este lujoso y glamuroso establecimiento trabaja duro para ofrecer sus mejores servicios y, por supuesto, bebidas.

      También están aquellas personas que prefieren algo más tranquilo y "precopear" en sus propios domicilios. En este caso la ciudad de Boston ofrece un exclusivo servicio llamado Party Bus. El "Autobús Fiesta" es utilizado para transportar a sus clientes desde sus domicilios u otros lugares de interés a la puerta de cualquier discoteca, pues como ya sabéis... ¡Si bebéis alcohol, no podéis conducir!  Además, el Party Bus es una diversión asegurada ya que es una discoteca dentro del propio autobús donde se puede bailar, beber y pasárselo bien mientras este os traslada allá donde vayáis.

      Y como no, una de las mejores opciones para acabar bien la noche es ir a una discoteca para pasarlo en grande y bailar hasta que los pies no den más de si. Boston cuenta con numerosos clubs para elegir, todos y cada uno de ellos están diseñados de una manera diferente y proporcionan una fiesta asegurada gracias a su buena música, su buen ambiente y el buen rato que os harán pasar. Aquí están algunas de las discotecas más reconocidas por los jóvenes: Royale 279 situado en Tremont Street, Cure Lounge en 246 Tremont St., Bijou Nightclub & Lounge que está en el 51 de Stuart St., Venu 100 en Warrenton St., y The Estate 1 en boylston place.

       

       

       

       

      Best City for Backyard BBQ and Millennials

      Memorial Day, and in some states, July of 4th weekend marks the unofficial beginning of summer, and the start of grilling season. Across the nation people will dust off their grill and invite their neighbors over for a good old-fashioned backyard barbecue. While many cities are known for their barbecue restaurants, chances are this weekend most people will be grilling at home; so which cities can lay claim to having the best backyard gatherings?

      Out of 22 major metropolitan areas nationwide, Boston came in third to be the most BBQ-friendly city that plays host to grillers out there. The analysis was done by looking at the percentage of single family homes for sale with large yards (defined as lot sizes between .25 and four acres), decks, and built-in barbecues - all the features needed to host the ideal summer celebration. Philadelphia came out on top, with the perfect combination of all three.

      HAPPIEST CITY FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS

      Alongside this distinction, Boston was also recently named by Forbes Magazine as one of the happiest cities where young professionals would want to reside. Backed by 45,000 employees who have less than 10 years of work experience, the survey concluded that Boston ranks 10th in a list of 25 Metropolitan areas where the youth enjoy working and living in. There were ten factors considered for this work happiness index, including working relationships, compensation, growth opportunities, company culture, company reputation, and daily tasks. Additionally, parameters for the city were weighed by looking at walkability, lifestyle, and community culture. The top two spots belongs to California addresses - namely San Jose, and San Francisco, where not coincidentally - majority of the younger generation in the country currently resides.

      TOP METROPOLIS FOR NEW GRADUATES

      To top it all off, Beantown also is on top of the list of twenty five urban metro areas where new college graduates comfortably fit in and set up shop. Taking into consideration employment, cost of living, wages, and the number of rental listings available, the study also highlights Boston's youth scene to be one of the most vibrant in the country, only second to New York City. Job prospects also make Boston attractive to young individuals who are recently out of college, as the number of start-up firms, as well as established companies, continue to increase putting them in an excellent position to jumpstart their professional careers.

      President's Homes in New England

      In celebration of today's President's Day holiday, we're taking you on a tour of six Presidential homes found in the New England states. And even though Massachusetts is only the third country to have produced the most number of US Presidents, their homes found here are the quaint and quintessential American foursquare that we're so used to seeing in movies and biographies.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineFirst up, did you know that aside from the town being named after them, the homes of John Quincy Adams and John Adams are only steps away from each other? The second and sixth US Presidents, respectively, lived in what is now aptly known as Qunicy, Massachusetts. Both of their homes now are part of the 11-structure park dedicated to the memory of the family. One of the features of the latter son's home is a library called 'Stone Library', that features four generations of Adams family writings as well as 14,000 leather-bounded manuscripts of novels, poetry, and the like. And like most New England homes, the Adams property has a sprawling garden that includes in it a little chapel where the Presidential family held service.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe Fourteenth President of the Union, Franklin Pierce was born in Hillsborough, New Hampshire. Now called the Franklin Pierce Homestead, this federal-style home is a great example of post-Colonial architecture and classicism. Bare stenciled walls and French furniture influences most of the furnishings in this home. Pierce, being an avid fan of owning real estate, also had a small mansion built outside his town in Concord, NH. Called the FP Manse, the property is sublimely different that the President's original home in Hillsborough, featuring traces of Greek Revival architecture.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineThe fifth son of a poor Irish preacher, Chester A. Arthur is a native of Fairfield, Vermont. Just like his family's modest lifestyle, their home was of a modest built and featured the most basic of necessities, and served the family purposefully. What was once the site of a humble cottage (hard to believe it was the site where a US President was raised),  is now home to a plaque, reminding passersby of its original place in history. Perhaps aside from the textbook history reminder, the plaque also serves as an inspiration to the town, reminding everyone that no matter where you come from and how humble you seem, great things can come about from everywhere.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineJust past the borders of Brookline and Boston is a small square named after one of America's greatest statesmen, President Calvin Coolidge. The thirtieth president, he was known to be a practical and thrifty man with great integrity. He was born in Plymouth Notch, New Hampshire and would later retire to the same site. His family had very deep roots in New England, with ancestors having been the original settlers in Watertown, Mass. His family's home, being very colonial and New England, is reminiscent of houses along the coastal parts of the Northeast.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineBorn, raised, and residing in Texas, only a handful of people know that the families of Presidents George W. Bush and George Bush Sr. enjoy summers in their retreat home in Kennebunkport, Maine. Enclosed within the confines of its own compound, the Presidential Summer Home known as 'Walkers Point' is visible to tourist plying the murky waters of the town. Built as a cabin, the retreat home features stone slabs and wooden finishings, mixing together that New England charm and Southern spirit.

      President's Day, Coolidge Corner, John F. Kennedy Home, Hyannis Port, George W. Bush, Greater Boston, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, MaineLast but not least, the most popular of the US Presidents residing in New England, John Fitzgerald Kennedy whose life, family, and legacy remain in the Commonwealth. The Kennedy compound, located in Hyannisport, Mass. is primarily accessible via boat and private land transfers, affording the fabled family privacy and detachment form the rest of the world. The main mansion where John's parents, Rose and Joseph raised them, is a sprawling four-floor family home, completed with fourteen bedrooms and twelve baths - all designed in colonial New England fashion. And although the Kennedys are best remembered for their home in Hyannis, only few know that JFK was born in a three-story home in Brookline, where his parents first lived as a married couple.

       

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      Comments

      1. will bloombergh on

        President Taft had a summer home in Beverly, Mass.
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          See The World at The Seaport

          If you're like any other Bostonian, you're probably used to the winter months being cold, harsh, and dead. And with an impending snowstorm on the horizon, it's easier to accept that weekends will probably be spent indoors, in the comfort of your home. And even though it's easier and most definitely cozier to lounge in the warmth of your living space, it will be something that's easy to get over once spring and summer set in in a couple of months when the sun's out, and when you should be too. Luckily, the Boston Globe is offering Bostonians the chance to see (and plan!) for when that day comes.

          The Boston Globe Travel Show this weekend at the Seaport World Trade Center promises to give Bostonians a reprieve from Friday's significant snowstorm. With over  300 exhibitors showcasing your dream vacations - complete with dressed up booths, activities, and shows - this snowstorm weekend will surely won't be your typical one.One of this year's activity highlights is the Northeast Beer Craft Pavilion, featuring beer brews from 20 of the region's best breweries! And if your palette isn't a tuned to beer, then try one of the culinary stations that feature exotic foods of the globe, prepared by none other than the city's top chefs. Got kids? Drag them with with you, as sea critters from SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment Zoo cheer you on as you navigate your way around the show.

          For those seeking some advice on where to take their vacation this year, worry not - travel experts and authors from Frommers and the highly-acclaimed book 1,000 Places To See Before You Die will be giving talks and advice on how to customize your vacation to your liking. And to top it all off, the Globe is hosting a raffle draw for attendees, with a vacation package for two to Capetown up for grabs!

          So see, even if the snow is piling up outside, there's no reason to hideaway and  sulk until it's gone - Boston has lots to offer outdoors. And if all else fails, there's always the sled to take you down that bunny hill.

          Boston Globe Travel Show Seaport World Trade Center www.bostonglobetravelshow.com February 9, 12PM to 8PM February 10, 9AM-4PM

          Sprucing Up For Super Bowl Sunday

          If you're one of the hundreds of millions of people who follow the Super Bowl, then this article is for you. Even if our beloved Patriots didn't make it to this year's big game, it doesn't mean that you won't be glued to the boob tube come Sunday night as the Baltimore Ravens battle it out with the San Francisco 49ers. Here are some neat ideas on how you can spruce up your space for Sunday's Super Bowl game event:

          Who's Going?

          It always nice to have a few friends over, Super Bowl or not. The first thing you'd want to determine if you're throwing a game day party is your guest list. Seriously. There's no need to be all formal about it, rather going through who you're inviting, who's coming and who's not going to show up will give you an idea of how crowded it will get in your living room. This also makes it possible to plan your food and beverage needs, because the worst thing that could happen is that your party goes dry, and that's it for you and your buddies!

          The Atmosphere

          Setting the ambiance doesn't necessarily mean transforming your living room into something else it isn't. Having the right "small" accessories makes a big difference. For instance, put up some of those collegiate team flags and banners you have in storage, they might be of old teams past, but they're still sure to enliven the sports mood in your living room.  Another simple thing you can do is to go and grab some Super Bowl themed paper plates, and cups from your local grocer - just get them the same time you grab grub for snacking, saves you a lot of time.

          Lastly, what Super Bowl Super crib is complete without a football? Keep one lying around, and it's sure to be used at one point in the evening. Have past NFL magazines? Bring them out, it'll be good to browse during those downtimes.

          Putting the "Bowl" in Super Bowl

          Now that you've got your place all set-up, the next thing you need to do - and probably most important thing next to the game itself - is to figure out the food. Your place might be all decked out, but if your snacks and dishes aren't, then forget it. There isn't anything scarier than a hungry mob of supercharged football fans. A tried and true trick is to focus all your efforts towards the snacks.

          If you have time to spare, try making an original nacho recipe from scratch. Those without the free time can simply mix sour cream, salsa, and grated cheese together for a great dip. Other great snacks include cheese poppers, honey-roasted peanuts or anything that fits into a bowl and can be eaten by hand. But, if all else fails, there's always take out and delivery. Though, if you are indeed planning to order make sure that you have a) ordered enough, and b) order ahead of time, giving an hour lead time. Whichever you do decide to do, remember that a buffet setup is the best way to go - camaraderie and culinary all in one table.

          Odds, Ends, and Betting

          One sure-fire way to entertain is by organizing betting pools. Ideally, these games are done in a way that even the guests who don't know a thing about football can join in. For instance, you can bet on who will score the next touchdown, what the score at the end of each quarter will be or even who'll win the coin toss. Make charts or grids so that the wagers are clear and keep the pot low so that no one blows their wallet.

          Depending on the people and the atmosphere you intend to create, keep the following details in mind. If it's a real manly, poker-night type of shindig, pass cigars around. Make sure there are enough chairs for everyone to sit on. Provide a side room for those who came for the food and atmosphere, and not the actual game.

          Organizing and hosting a Super Bowl party doesn't have to be time-consuming or stressful. Do it right, and you'll be able to watch the whole game, enjoy some great food and relax with your friends. Just remember; if you do it too well, people will be lining up outside your door for Super Bowls to come.

          BUT if you find that hosting is just not your gig, then head on over to these nearby sports bars that offer crowd pleasing specials come this Sunday's big event:

          Champions Copley Back Bay, (617)927-5304 

          Watch the game on the bar's 12-by-24-foot viewing screen or on one of the 40 other TVs throughout the Boston branch on the second floor of the Boston Marriott Copley Place (left). At the Cambridge location, there will be 50-cent wings all night and a free buffet during halftime, in addition to specialty menu of rival dishes.

          Clery's South End, (617)262-9874

          Enjoy all your football favorites at Clery's, including 5-foot subs, wings, and drinks. There will also be a wing-eating contest featuring the first five people to sign up. The winner will receive a football prize pack and their name on the wing trophy. Purchase tickets in advance at Clery's or at

          The Atlantic Beer Garden Seaport District, (617)357-8000

          Atlantic Beer Garden will be airing the game on 23 HD TVs and two projection screens. They will be hosting a corn hole tournament at half time with the chance to win Jameson prizes including tabletop corn hole games.

          Game On! Fenway, (617)351-7001

          According to its website, Game On prides itself on providing fans with "a better view than a 50-yard line seat" with their 90 HD TVs. They will be offering special menu discounts on items such as buckets of wings and two cheese pizzas for $15. The Fenway bar will also be giving away three pairs of Red Sox monster seat tickets at halftime.

          This Weekend's Winter Picks

          Boston Home Show, Cuisine En Locale, Nordic Nights, Ceter for Arts At The Armory, Gatsby Gala, Climb America, Brigham And Women's, Boston International Real Estate

          If you're bored and bummed out that the past couple days have been frigid and frozen, you are not alone. And if you have been preparing to shut yourself in for the rest of this season, you're on the wrong track, even if you're on a strict back-to-being-fit . Grab your coat and get out. Here are a couple of things to check out this weekend that's sure to give you some rest and respite.

           

          Boston Home Show, Cuisine En Locale, Nordic Nights, Ceter for Arts At The Armory, Gatsby Gala, Climb America, Brigham And Women's, Boston International Real Estate

           

          NORDIC NIGHT BLAST

          In the heart of winter, Cuisine en Locale presents 'Once in Valhalla', an event combining locavorism and lore in a four-hour food fest featuring eats, music, and theatrics. The Viking-themed event features all-you-can-eat-meat and wintry fruits and roots in a 10-course Nordic feast.

          Friday night, Jan. 25, 7 p.m Center for Arts at the Armory 191 Highland Ave., Somerville.  www.cuisineenlocale.com

          Boston Home Show, Cuisine En Locale, Nordic Nights, Ceter for Arts At The Armory, Gatsby Gala, Climb America, Brigham And Women's, Boston International Real EstateA GATSBY GALA

          All you Gatsby fans are in luck--Jumpstart's Young Professional Board will celebrate its 20th anniversary with a roaring-'20s-inspired party. The party will include live music, a DJ, and an open bar. Don't forget to wear your '20s-themed attire, as well. Tickets can be bought online or at the door. Unfortunately, attendance by Mr. Gatsby played by one Leonardo DiCaprio is not guaranteed.

          Saturday, Jan. 26, 8pm onwards Space With A Soul 281 Summer St. (617) 744.9336

          Boston Home Show, Cuisine En Locale, Nordic Nights, Ceter for Arts At The Armory, Gatsby Gala, Climb America, Brigham And Women's, Boston International Real EstateCLIMB AMERICA!

          It's time to get up and be active. ClimbAmerica! focuses on raising awareness of the dangers of heart disease, researching the disease, and offering free programs to motivate people to be active. Although there isn't really any time left to train, if you think you are up to the challenge of climbing the stairs of 100 Summer St. or Prudential Tower, then this event is for you. In order to participate, climbers must be over the age of 11, and climbers between 11 and 17 must get permission from a parent. You can register online or at the event.

          Saturday, Jan. 26, 9 a.m. 100 Summer St., Sunday, Jan. 27, 9 a.m. Prudential Tower, 800 Boylston St., 855-932-5462, giving.brighamandwomens.org

          Boston Home Show, Cuisine En Locale, Nordic Nights, Ceter for Arts At The Armory, Gatsby Gala, Climb America, Brigham And Women's, Boston International Real EstateHOME SWEET HOME

          And if none of these events tickle your fancy for the sole reason that you want to just lounge at home, then this event is for you! Since winter is the perfect time to focus on your digs, and make that living room more loungey, a home and decor show should freshen up your dwelling space just in time for Spring. Get tips, attend lectures, shop, and watch demonstrations by the pros at the Boston Home Show. And don't miss out on bargains that await you over at the Boston Design Center's Red Tag Sale (1 Design Center Pl., Boston), not a far distance away from the home show.

          Saturday to Sunday, Jan. 26-27, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. (Jan. 27 until 5 p.m.). $10 Black Falcon Pier, 1 Black Falcon Ave., Boston.  800-533-0229, www.thebostonhomeshow.com

          And if all else fails, and snow is really what you're in to, then head over to Boston.com's interactive maps to find that perfect spot where you can be a kid again (or go with your own!) and go snow sledding in one of Greater Boston's bunny hills, free of charge.