Share this email:

December Newsletter

'Tis The Season for Giving
 
The lyrics to a popular holiday song boasts "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". And it is. But for some people, it can be a time when they wish they could provide more for their families but they just don't have the resources to do so. There are also those who are ill or hurt and just need to know that someone cares. It's always important to count our blessings and remember those less fortunate than us and even more so during this time of year. That's why we have 'adopted' a local family for the holidays!  We enjoy getting their wish lists and shopping for each member of the family so that when they wake up on Christmas morning, there will be lots of presents for each and every one of them under the tree. But more importantly, they know that someone does care.

We also enjoy helping our favorite local charity, The Let it Be Foundation. They provide support and services to families with life-threatening illnesses. We have one of their "Angel Trees" and we choose an angel ornament with the name and age of one of their children and buy them stocking stuffers that they give out at their holiday party. We also volunteer our time and help The Let it Be Foundation wrap presents for the busy holiday shoppers here at the Shoppes at Chino Hills. All proceeds benefit this deserving organization.

Here's hoping that each of you have a beautiful holiday season filled with giving and receiving many blessings!

Recent Trends Boost Costs for Drivers

Does it seem like driving has become more expensive in recent years? It likely has. Since 2014, the U.S. has seen more new cars on the road, and those cars are driving more miles than in years past. The severity of traffic-related accidents has grown worse, and insurance claims for bodily injury have become more expensive. Together, these factors are increasing the cost of driving for just about every car owner.

More new cars: New car sales hit a new record in 2015, just under 17.5 million vehicles sold! That’s good for the economy. And, the safety, technology and convenience features that get better every year are good for drivers. Still, new cars can be more expensive to repair or replace, and all that technology doesn’t come cheap. So, the cost of accident repairs is also increasing.

More miles driven: Encouraged by greater employment and lower gas prices, those new cars, along with the older ones, are driving more miles. Whether commuters driving in to work each day, or families taking a road trip, U.S. drivers drove 3.1 million miles in 2015, according to the Federal Highway Administration. That’s another record, and it’s also highest number of miles driven since Americans logged 3 trillion miles in 2007, just before the recession. Of course, the more miles driven, the greater the potential for accidents and the need for repairs.

Distracted driving: Although using a mobile phone while driving is restricted, if not prohibited, in many states, cell phones and texting continue to be a serious cause of accidents. Cell phones have brought greater awareness to the larger category termed “distracted driving,” activities that take the driver’s attention away from the road. Distracted driving means using a cell phone or texting while operating a car, but can also refer to eating while driving, operating your car’s navigation system and conversing with passengers.  The AAA Foundation points to federal estimates that distracted driving contributes to 16 percent of the nation’s fatal crashes, about 5,000 deaths annually.

All of these rising costs and dangers impact another area of driving, too – auto insurance costs. You might see it reflected in your own premium bill, and be tempted to reduce your costs by reducing your insurance coverage. But, at a time when the risk of costly accidents is rising, it may not be wise to save money by lowering your protection against financial loss.
 
As an independent insurance agency, Apollo Insurance Services is dedicated to helping you reduce your insurance costs without sacrificing the protection that gives you peace of mind. We know where to find discounts that can benefit you. That could mean a better rate for cars with safety equipment such as anti-lock brakes (ABS) or anti-theft devices, or discounts for families who put less mileage on their vehicles or insure more than one car on the same policy. Apollo can help you save money without sacrificing your security. Call us at 800.426.1088. Please share us with your friends and family.  They’ll get peace of mind and if they purchase a policy through us, you'll be rewarded with a $20 gift card. Click here to refer a friend today.

December is here which means it's time to get baking!  Baking cookies is a fun activity for the whole family and cookies make great gifts!  You can bring them to holiday parties as a hostess gift, take some to share with your co-workers, deliver some to your neighbors or start a cookie exchange with friends. Here's a special cookie recipe to be sure to make your holidays more delicious!

Red Velvet Shortbread Cookies

 

Serves: Makes approximately 18-20 1½ inch diameter cookies.

Ingredients

·         1¼ cups flour

·         ⅓ cup granulated sugar

·         2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

·         ¼ teaspoon salt

·         ½ cup cold butter, cut up

·         1 tablespoon red food coloring

·         3 ounces white chocolate, chopped

·         1½ tsp shortening

·         white sugar crystals 

Instructions


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

1.    In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender {or your hands!}, cut in butter and food coloring until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Form into a ball and knead until smooth.

2.    On a lightly floured surface, roll or pat the dough out to approximately a ½ inch thickness. Use a floured round cookie cutter to cut out the dough.

3.    Place the cookies 1 inch apart on on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes until the centers are set. Cool.

4.    In a saucepan, melt the white chocolate and shortening over low heat, stirring constantly. Roll the edges of the cookies in the melted chocolate and then sprinkle with the sugar flakes. Let stand until set.

5.    Cookies may be frozen in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

Christmas party themes you haven’t tried yet

You already know the drill during the holiday party circuit: ugly Christmas sweater parties and Secret Santa gift exchanges. But have you ever thought to channel your holiday cheer into more creative outlets (e.g. finessing your pet into a tiny sweater or foisting holiday spirit onto your sad apartment by crafting dozens of decorative baubles with friends)? Allow us to enlighten you with 5 "how have we never thought of this" party options to try this season.

Let's Get Crafty
At the beginning of December, gather your friends together to channel your inner domestic goddesses with a party that revolves around—you guessed it—crafting.  Learn how to construct wreaths together, bedazzle some ornaments, cut and print homemade holiday cards, or even set up an elaborate gifting table (paper, ribbons, and labels galore) to wrap together—all while snacking and sipping on holiday treats and cocktails.

Reverse Christmas in July
Christmas in July is a time-honored mid-summer party favorite. In the summer's hottest month, people pretend it's Christmas—complete with a tree, gift exchange, and hearty meal. Well, turn the tables on this tradition with a beach-themed romp instead!  Beach balls, mojitos, everyone's favorite Christmas with the Beach Boys album, and ample sunscreen are a must.

Holiday Movie Marathon
Because you will be searching for holiday movies on Netflix anyways, why not have a holiday film fest? Just keep it to less than five films to avoid merry movie fatigue. It is sure to get you in the holiday spirit, especially if you watch "It's a Wonderful Life" for the 30th time and can now recite all the lines.

Pet Holiday Party
Because cats and dogs like nothing more than to be dressed up, why not throw a party for them and their adorable outfits? Imagine: a gathering with multiple puppies dressed in Santa hats. If that's not Christmas joy, we don't know what is.

Gingerbread House Decorating Competition
Why not take a charming childhood tradition and turn it into a competition? Have all of the supplies for traditional gingerbread house building ready, but also choose a judge and a few different categories (such as "Most Creative," "Best Construction," "Best Candy Curating," etc.).

Whatever you decide to do during your holiday parties, we wish you all the best for the season and a jolly good time!