It’s getting to be that season again!
Forget any other time of year; it is safe to say that society can be the least frugal during the holidays. Yet no matter how much love you have towards your family, nobody wants to be in over their eyeballs in credit card debt come the New Year, and yet that’s the place many Americans find themselves in long after St. Nick comes to call. A recent statistic shows that the average citizen spends an upwards of $800 on Christmas presents, and this number only continues to grow from year to year.
Whether you have 1 child or 5, and whether your income is substantial or lacking, everybody likes to save money.
But where do we draw the line? Ever tried doing a total DIY Christmas? Sure, you may save some money, but after the initial cost of supplies and the intense amount of time it takes, one can begin to question if it is even worth it or not.
Let’s talk about re-gifting. This might be okay every once and awhile (mainly if the gift in question was never used) but too much re-gifting is downright tacky – especially when this tactic stoops to levels of taking objects from the basement and trying to pass them off as presents. Let’s face it, we all know someone who does this (or, alright, maybe you’ve done it too!)
Here are some of the most frequently suggested tips from experts on how to shop this holiday season.
#1: Set a budget. It may sound like an obvious statement, but keep reading. The most important thing about setting a budget is sticking to it! First, decide on a number you are comfortable spending. Always try to set it a little higher than you normally would – you may not want to, until the moment comes when you’re inches from a display window and regretting the original number set. Setting an unrealistically low number can cause a splurge later.
One way to deter from overspending is by taking out your entire budget in cash. Cash is tangible, visible. If you plan to primarily shop online (see #2), cash can still be counted. The solution is to record the exact amount of money that was charged (luckily most online shopping sites have a transaction history feature in case you lose track). From there, subtract the amount spent online from the cash.
#2: Shop online when you can. Unfortunately, there are just some things you can’t always find online. What is more, items like clothes are very difficult to distinguish online in terms of determining their true size. More often than not, online shopping is cheaper, however. According to consumer-retail experts, there are certain days of this season that can prove cheaper than others. You can find a lot of kids toys on Amazon for significantly less than the big-names.
November 1st-11th oftentimes holds sales for what is called Early Black Friday. Items are known to be marked down 20%-30%. Check big-name retail store websites over the weekend, BUT wait until Monday to buy – by then, they will have matched their competitors.
December 1st is cyber Monday. This is the day you are more likely to find deals 30%-40% off, especially on specific websites like DealNews.com, UrbanOutfitters.com, OldNavy.Gap.com, and Shop.Nordstrom.com.
#3. Make a list. And check it twice! And prioritize. Sometimes the people closest to us can be tricky to shop for. If you go into a store with the mentality of “I’m only going to spend $30 on this person”, but you have no concept of what to get them, then you aren’t going to spend what you set out to.
If the saying is true, that it is “the thought that counts” – be thoughtful! Pay attention. Try to find something they might need, or lack, even if it is not something you yourself would consider a gift. Oftentimes making a list prior to setting a budget works for some individuals. It provides a much better understanding of what needs to be spent if you are to follow through. If it seems like it will be too much, try to shorten the list or get a less extravagant gift for an extended family member you normally wouldn’t spend that much money on.
This will also help in getting the best possible deal. For example, if you have decided, resolutely, that you are getting your daughter-in-law a Crockpot, then by golly, you are going to find the very best deal on a Crockpot humanly possible.
All in all, we know that Christmas isn’t all about the gifts, but about family. Remember the reason you celebrate and the reason the season is in place. Do not let pressure to get the right gifts overwhelm you. Spending every weekend during the holidays at the mall is no fun. This will set a good example to your children as well – instilling the value of traditions during this season can contribute to some of their fondest, warmest Christmas memories.
* Please note all costumes are from different sources and ideas and their authors were compiled using Pinterest.
Let’s be honest, Halloween costumes can be pricey considering what you get. They are usually made with cheap fabric, purchased in a plastic bag, and never guaranteed to fit perfectly. If you are after something unique and custom, that can get even more expensive! It seems like a lot of trouble to go to for just one day. These costumes are a great way for you and your children to craft together; to create a costume designed to suit them and go easy on your wallet!
(via Costume Works)
Purchase a soft cotton knit infant cap (found at a second hand store or online) and use a glue-gun to glue brightly colored pom-poms onto it. Try to find a red one-sy that has a turtleneck, so it gives the illusion of connecting the candy to the dispenser. Then, cutting felt into a square and a sharpie, create a $0.25 sign on the shirt and top off with black pants. There are some variations, like perhaps using a blue turtleneck instead of red or cutting out a felt $0.25 instead of drawing it on. It’s so adorable and can be used for infants and toddlers alike.
(via Paging Fun Mums)
You will need:
a large cardboard box for the body, and a smaller one for the head (a standard shoebox would probably be the ideal size)
flexible ducts for the arms and legs (found at any hardware store)
a box cutter
a glue gun
silver spray paint
silver face paint
2 empty 2 liter bottles
used computer parts (you can find these at a local recycling center)
printed off pictures of fuel gages
any other miscellaneous objects that you would like to spray paint silver and stick to the body or helmet of the robot.
Have fun with this! Cut out a large hole at the top of the main cardboard box for the head, two smaller on each side for arms, and the bottom side completely off – this hole will be used to get the child in and out of the costume easily. Spray paint the box silver, assemble it with various buttons – customize it however you like! Then add computer parts, a fuel gage, or buttons. You can also spray paint two (2) liter soda bottles and glue them upside-down to the back to create a jet pack! Measuring your child’s arms, glue-gun two flexible ducts to the arm-holes and adjust them accordingly.
For the helmet, a similar concept applies. Make sure the lid is secured to the shoebox and then cut a hole at the bottom wide enough for it to rest on the top of your child’s head. Add buttons and paint lids to the sides with a glue gun, and then spray paint the whole thing once the glue is dry. For the legs, cut two more flexible ducts according to your child’s leg length and slip them over their pants, which looks best if the pants are black. Cover their feet in tin foil, and viola!
(via Craftaholics Anonymous)
Does your little one love unicorns? This one is fairly simple and yet so cute!
You will need:
A white hoodie (a pullover; no zipper)
Purple, light pink, and hot pink yarn
Purple, light pink, white, and hot pink felt
Packing or construction paper
Gold ribbon (optional)
As you can see, the ears, mane, and horn are on top of the hood. To make the horn, roll a few pieces of construction paper into a horn shape (however long or wide you would like). From there, wrap a piece of white felt around it and secure it with a glue gun. Cut the bottom off so it is flat and can sit neatly on the head. For an added flair, wrap a gold ribbon around the horn and secure it as well. For the ears, cut two ovals with two pointed edges, using white felt to the desired ear size. Do the same with the light pink felt only a half-inch smaller. Glue the pink felt on top of the white felt and then pinch one side and glue them so that the pinched end can be inserted into the head piece (see image). For the felt flowers pictured, look up felt flowers on Pinterest as there are many different tutorials to choose from. Glue the ears on each side underneath the horn. Then along with the mane (described below) secure them to the front edge of the hood. Add the felt flowers as desired after this process.
Mane & Tail:
For the mane, take all three skeins of yarn and wrap them around the palm of your hand about 10 times. Then tie a single string around the middle to secure it tightly, and cut both ends – similar to how a yarn pom-pom is made. Continue making these over and over and tie them together until you reach desired mane length. The tail is made similarly, except the strands are much longer. Wrap these from the inside of your thumb to your elbow several times; however thick you want it to be. Then, similarly to the mane, take a single strand of yarn and tie it around the continuous loop, and then cut the opposite end of the loop so the strands dangle like a horse’s tail.
Lastly, cut a large oval in the light pink felt to cover the torso on the front of the sweatshirt. Glue gun it to the front, but try not to cover the openings of either sides of the front pocket.
(via Costume Works)
This one is a great gender-neutral option for a costume and one that also does not take a copious amount of time. You will need:
A plaid shirt
Patches to sew on if desired
Most of these items, if not all, can be located at a Goodwill or thrift store near you.
The hat may be the trickiest part; and because it is more complex and step-by-step, we have linked a separate tutorial here. Patches can be cut into squares from scraps, or unwanted plaid shirts and sewed on as desired. The raffia should be coming out of the pant legs and the tops of the overalls to give the illusion of the scarecrow being stuffed with hay. This can be created by simply cutting the raffia into 6-inch strips and sewing them to the inside hem of the pockets and pant legs of the overalls. Once your overalls are decorated as desired, take some brown lipstick, lip-liner or eyebrow pencil and draw in a cute little nose!
(via Andrea’s Notebook)
Royal Blue Tulle Spool
Teal Tulle Spool
Lime Green Tulle Spool
Brown Tulle Spool
Brown, green, blue and navy felt. Or buy an assorted pack of felt.
3/4″ non-roll elastic for the waistband
Ribbon of any color coordinating with tutu. 1/2″ is best.
The eyes of the peacock feathers are probably the most complex part of this costume, but after this it is fairly simple. First use the felt you have in various colors and cut them to match this idea: One large brown oval, one lime green and teal chestnut-shaped piece (one being slightly smaller than the other), and a Pac-Man shaped navy piece.
Using light brown thread, sew lines protruding outward from the center. Sew only the green piece to the brown piece to do this. Then proceed to stack the others from biggest to smallest on top of each other with fabric glue. Create 4-6 more or as many as desired. Attach each peacock “eye” to the ribbons cut to different lengths. (This will provide variety and depth to the tutu.)
Before you attach them to the elastic, create the tutu next. Take your colorful strips of tulle and cut them into thick, long strips. Fold in half, and loop them around one side of the elastic (to go around the waist) and pull through – similar to a reef knot. You may do this, all around the elastic, or you may seclude it to the back to give that added peacock flared-out look. Andrea’s notebook used her darker tulle (the browns and dark blues and greens) on the outside edge of each side of the tutu, and reserved the brighter colors for the middle – probably to emphasize the feathers. When all the desired tulle has been attached to the elastic, then attach the felt peacock feathers by simply tying the ends of the ribbons to the elastic.
The tutu looks best with a royal blue shirt and black leggings. It’s so darling!
Let’s be honest, back-to-school shopping may easily be the best part about going back to school! But with multiple kiddos to buy for, it can get very expensive. There’s a statistic that states an average American family can spend over $600 during this season! If you have children in college who need textbooks and dorm accessories, that could easily double. Here are some creative and cost-effective ways to make that end of summer shopping just as enjoyable.
Utilize What You Already Have
You may not realize it, but there’s a chance you already have school supplies in the house! An in-home office is a great place for kids to find old binders and folders that are never going to get used again and re-decorate or repurpose them. It can make a way to teach children how to make something their own and can even free up much-needed space in the office as well.
Trends are Fluid
If last year’s pencil box is just as functional as it was when it was first purchased, do not opt for a stylish brand new one that they are bound to get sick of in another 3 months. It’s a vicious cycle not worth getting caught up in. If it works, keep what you have. Kids can be very competitive in nature and change their minds quickly – seeing their friends have something trendier than them, trying to keep up, will just be throwing cash down the drain.
The good news is that trends tend to recycle. An example of this would be a metal lunch box. A very old design that was not really seen during the childhood of most Millennials; these have made a strong comeback in the last five years or so as a popular collector’s item.
End of Summer Sales
Before you rush to the advertised back-to-school clothing section – usually long-sleeved and autumnal in style – check out the summer clearance section first. These are going to be the cheapest because of the closing season. Kids typically wear t-shirts well into fall and even early winter, depending how they layer their clothes. The difference in style is not going to be that drastic and can be accommodated for colder temperatures. For example, if a girls’ brightly colored summer dress is on clearance, find a neutral pair of leggings that can match. Throughout the year, solid-colored layering pieces can be anybody’s best friend.
Stick to the List
Your child may want to buy extra supplies, but if they are not on the list chances are an opportunity to use them in school may never present itself. Tip: a lot of notebooks, pencils, erasers, crayons, etc, can be located at the local grocery store for much cheaper than well-known department stores. When it comes to simple school supplies, try to find as many as you can the next time you go grocery shopping. It could potentially save not just money, but time as well! If the local grocery store does not have everything you need, also check out your local dollar store. Not only do they have a wider selection, but a lot of them have fun and colorful themes.
Don’t Just Buy, Sell!
If your child does not have younger siblings or cousins of the same gender to give their outgrown clothes to, sell them online for cheap. The little extra work it takes is a win-win: you get the items out of the house to make more room and you make a few bucks. Gently used clothing, especially name-brand, can be in high demand when other parents like yourselves are trying to find cheaper clothes online.
If you aren’t that internet-savvy, garage sales can be used to sell unwanted items and also buy used clothing. End of summer is the perfect time to hold a garage sale and to go shopping in them. If you have lots of children in your neighborhood, you might be surprised on how much you can find and sell!
Go back to school in style and save money. Regardless of house size and ages of kids, end of summer shopping can be a breeze!
Is running through the sprinklers just not cutting it? Summer opens up a whole new avenue of fun activities for children. But if your little ones are aching to see more outside their backyard, here are some awesome family fun activities happening in the area.
Upcoming events in Spokane, WA:
August 1st | Tennis Summer Camp
1208 E Mission Ave
Spokane, WA 99202
Kids 6-17 years old are invited to have fun, be active, and learn to play tennis. USTA-trained instructors use age-appropriate equipment and games to get kids moving, having fun, and learning tennis. Summer Camps provide a rotation of activities focused on tennis, movement, and off-court games. Additional activities include frisbee, multi-sports, reading, and more. All equipment is provided and sneakers are required
In this engaging exhibition, birds, horses, sheep, cows, bears, and more serve as the subjects of works of art from the 17th century through the late 20th century. Perennially popular as an artistic theme, animals have been depicted in works of art since pre-historic times. This exhibition examines etchings, engravings, lithographs, sculpture, oils and watercolors that depict the tremendous variety of the animal kingdom.
Kids of all ages love going to Sky High to jump around, practice tumbling, or diving into a giant foam pit. It’s great for parties or on a rainy day!
Upcoming Events in and near Coeur d’ Alene:
August 5th | Art on the Green
Through August 7th – All day
Downtown Coeur d’ Alene & North Idaho College Campus
A marketplace, performance space and a gathering place for friends and families, this yearly event is the highlight of the summer in Coeur d’Alene. Art on the Green is held at the old Fort Sherman Grounds on the North Idaho College Campus, just a short walk from Downtown and City Park. Shuttle bus service to the west side of the NIC campus from downtown is also available during the festival. No dogs are allowed at Art on the Green.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
10000 Schweitzer Mountain Rd
Sandpoint, ID 83864
You can run or walk on this super fun and family friendly course.
$49/adults, $42/seniors, $27/child – GET TICKETS NOW
The Kroc Center
1765 W. Golf Course Road
Coeur d’Alene, ID 83815
208-660-2958 (CdA Summer Theater)
In a magical kingdom beneath the sea, the beautiful young mermaid Ariel longs to leave her ocean home to live in the world above. Based on the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by Academy Award winner Alan Menken, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs. Ariel, the daughter of King Triton, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends to restore order in the ocean’s depths. This dangerous mission leads to a showdown between good and evil, which only love can remedy.
Indoor water park, bowling, arcade, race go-karts, and even stay the night!
27843 North Highway 95, Athol, ID 83801
Over 60 rides and attractions, with 6 awesome roller coasters, 2 wave pools, loopy water slides, an amazing magic show, and endless fun!
School is almost out! That means that kids will be spending a lot more time eating at home or out on vacation with family. A lot of times this season can get us off our regular schedules and sometimes even our crucial daily habits! It can also bring about more opportunities to indulge in tasty summertime favorites that can cool us off, but contain a LOT of sugar- ice cream, slushies, popsicles, etc!
Luckily, there are ways to satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without taking a chance of cavities and without the “sugar crash” later. The best way to eat sweets AND take care of your teeth and body is to eat fruit!
The best time of year to eat fruit? Summer! Warmer weather makes seasonal fruit (pineapple, watermelon, mango, etc) more readily available and ripe to consumers, allowing you and your family to expand your options.
***Please take note that the saying “too much of a good thing” still applies here! While fruits are most likely the least harmful sweet treat they can still be overdone!
A classic favorite, with endless variations. Set aside fruit you want to use for smoothies and store them in the freezer. For whole fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc, make sure you peel the skin and chop them up before freezing! As for berries, make sure they have been cleared of stems and leaves.
First, choose fruits that are complimentary. Strawberries and blueberries go well with almost anything, as do bananas. Try to avoid mixing all citrus fruits (too acidic), or all tart fruits (too sour).
Next, pick your base. The juice inside the fruit is not enough, otherwise your smoothie will be too thick! For a creamy flavor, use coconut, almond, or regular milk. For an added citrus flavor, use orange juice. Add water for the purest taste. If it is still too tart, add a tablespoon of honey to your mix.
Finally, make sure that the base you have picked fills up the blender enough to just barely cover the top of the fruit before blending. This will ensure the smoothie will not be too thick or watery. Blend and enjoy!
A new trend – fun and very pretty! Boil sticky or sushi rice (1 cup rice to 1 ¼ cups water). Then, mix 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, and add ¼ cup sugar (this is the only added sugar in the recipe, and you may use less if desired).
On a sushi mat, spread out the rice flat into a square, covering the mat. Cut desired fruit into thin, lengthy strips. Roll tightly, chop into pieces, and viola!
If a sushi mat is not something you have at have at home, you can try a variation of Fruishi that looks like sashimi. Roll balls of sticky or sushi rice into ovals, and thinly slice fruit to lay on top. It looks so fancy and the kids will love the taste.
3. Fruit Kabobs
Easy, simple, and relatively self-explanatory. Use berries and chop fruit into bite-sized pieces and stick onto a wooden or plastic kabob. This can be fun for kids because they can create patterns of fruit and add however much they want of each fruit onto the skewer.
For more visual appeal check out this caterpillar grape kabob. They’re cute, and its something kids can create as well!
Using red and/or green grapes, spear each grape on its short side. For eyes, use miniature chocolate chips and attach with very small amounts of vanilla frosting. For easy placement, simply dip the flat edge of the chocolate chip into the frosting before sticking it to the end grape.
You will need: a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks (optional), 2 kiwis, 1 cup of chopped watermelon, 1 cup of chopped mango, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1 cup raspberries.
In small food processor, use the “puree” setting for each portion of fruit. Be sure to rinse between uses.
Next, take only 1 cup of pureed fruit and fill the bottoms of a popsicle mold in equal portions. Freeze overnight or until solid. Then, repeat using different fruits. For the second layer, remember to add a wooden popsicle stick (some molds come with reusable ones too so this step may not be necessary.)
Keep adding layers and freezing until full. Once the last layer is added and solid, remove from the freezer and dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for an easier release of the popsicle. Remove and enjoy!
St Patrick’s Day is here and marks the beginning of our long-awaited Spring season! Whether you’re Irish or not, many of us like to celebrate by wearing something green for the sake of not getting pinched, and looking for rainbows and a pot of gold. St Patrick’s Day history isn’t common knowledge, however, so here is a little bit about the holiday before we get into some fun ways to celebrate with your kid’s and family!
In America, St Patrick’s Day started with the Irish soldiers who served in the British Army; a celebration of Irish Patriotism. The first Parade was held in New York in 1762 and continued to grow with the immigration of the Irish during the Great Potato Famine. Previously in history, this day was celebrated as a pause from the season of Lent with a religious feast in Ireland honoring St. Patrick and his Christian evangelizing of the Irish Country. Today, celebrations are decidedly less religious and continue to showcase the strength and pride of the Irish heritage.
Four leaf clovers, the symbol of luck and fortune! Capture your little one’s growing hand prints and create some luck of your own. You will need:
- a canvas paint board
- a brush
- some pretty green hand paint, that’s all you will need!
This colorful craft is nice to hang in an open window or even on your porch. Who say’s there isn’t gold at the end of this rainbow?
- Paper plates
- Black and yellow construction/craft paper
- Paint colors of your choice
- glue stick
- Paint brush
Another variation of this if you would like to forgo the paint. You will need:
- Construction paper pack of various colors
- Glitter glue (optional)
Play dough is something you can use anytime and it’s especially fun for the rather rainy Spring days when outdoor play is limited. You will need:
- 1 cup of flour
- ¼ cup salt
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 1 cup of water
- 1 ½ – 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Food coloring of choice
- Large, gold glitter flakes
- Pot, wooden spoon, and a stove
Stir together dry ingredients, then add the wet ingredients including the coloring. Stir continuously until the mixture has formed one large clump. Dump out onto your counter and knead with your hands. Let cool and let the kids play! Sprinkle gold flecks onto the dough before you knead or let the kids have fun with the glitter! Create rainbows by making different color dough and use a shamrock cookie cutter to make it festive. This makes about 1 ½ cups of play dough and will last up to 6 months stored properly in a ziplock bag with little air as possible inside the bag.
If you’re already crafting with construction paper for the Pot-O-Gold craft mentioned above, why not join in on this one too? Anyways, everyone needs a little leprechaun on St. Partick’s Day as well as a pot of gold with a rainbow! You will need:
- Construction paper
- Glue stick
- Googly eyes (optional)
Cut your construction paper in pieces like those shown here. Glue away! You can even hide these around the house and let your little ones hunt for a leprechaun!
Green Shamrock Smoothie
What’s not to love about green on St. Patrick’s Day? Even your kids will like this one, and it’s full of nutrients and greens your kids may otherwise bulk at eating. What you will need:
- 2 frozen bananas
- 1 green apple, peeled and core removed
- 2 cups water or milk, nut milk, or use ½ amount of 100% apple juice
- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
- 2 handfuls spinach (about 1-2 cups)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Honey to sweeten (optional)
You don’t have to be a magical artist to make some cute and nice crafts with your kids, so have fun and make something together. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
A Valentine’s Day Gift
Fathers and daughters have a special connection, no doubt. From the time she is an infant, dad is one of the most influential people she will ever have in her life. If you have a daughter, this Valentine’s Day will be a special day for her too; a special day with dad.
Make this Valentine’s Day a memorable one with your daughter by presenting her with a special invitation. This March 7th, the Liberty Lake Kiwanis Club is partnering with Spokane Valley Parks and Recreation to host the 10th annual 2015 Father/Daughter Dance! The theme this year is centered around “Alice’s Evening in Wonderland” and it will be an area-wide semi-formal event. Semi-formal attire is recommended, but not required for entrance.
This dance will take place in CenterPlace at Mirabeau Point in Spokane Valley, from 7-9pm. Tickets are $45 per couple and $20 for each additional daughter. The ticket price includes a long-stem rose, favors, and refreshments! If your daughter doesn’t have dad to take her; uncles, brothers, and role models are very welcome to attend. Photo packages are available by Dorian Studio and music by Complete Music DJ Services. You may purchase $1 raffle tickets at the event.
To register or ask further questions, you can call the number below, or register online. We ask that you please call us to register at 509-688-0300 if you are bringing more than 2 daughters. We look forward to seeing you and dancing the night away!
Unplug the iPods and turn off the iPads, because it’s Christmas and this means it’s to spend quality time with family and friends and create memories that will last a lifetime. Below we have outlines some fun games for the whole family that do not involve the use of technology.
Christmas Stocking Guessing Game
Fill a stocking with a collection of small items and pass the stocking around in a circle, letting each person guess what is inside. They may shake the stocking, smell it, or simply feel the shape of what is inside. Fill the stocking with simple party favors that the children can keep (if they guess correctly), such as crayons, Christmas candy, oranges, a pack of cards, and other things that members of your family would like.
The ABC’s of Christmas
Give each person a piece of paper or 3×5 card with a few letters of the alphabet on it. Split the letters according to how many members participating, each person could get more than a few. They can come up with a holiday- related word for each letter. You may want to set the children up to work in teams depending on their age. The first team to complete their list wins a prize. Some of the words they come up with may seem like a bit of a stretch, but it can be fun!
For this game, you will need either a styrofoam ball or a ball of white yarn and some spoons. Try carrying the object of choice on the spoon across the room without dropping it. This is a great game for large families as it is more fun when there are teams.
Pass the Parcel
The first thing that needs to be done is to wrap, wrap, wrap (and wrap again and again) a small gift. There is no reason to spend a lot of money, use newspaper, brown bags, or even leftover wrapping paper. Similar to musical chairs, music will indicate when a player needs to pass the parcel to the next player. When the song ends, the player holding the parcel will unwrap only one layer of paper and the game will continue “in reverse” until the last wrapping is removed. The last player with wrapping wins!
Christmas Scavenger Hunt
This is an easy game that is fun for all ages. The host, whether mom or dad, needs to decide on the items that are to be found and take a picture of each item so that the hunters will know what they are looking for and set them loose! The first one to bring all of the items on the list wins! Use the whole house or just one room, the choice is yours!
Christmas comes with much tradition and history, so let’s test your knowledge with a little holiday trivia. The questions can range from general to specific questions relating to Christmas movies, Baby Jesus and even trivia about Christmas Trees, traditions, and history. Make a dedicated time where everyone is relaxed, settled with a cup of chocolate and ready to play some trivia.
The important thing to remember is to do something fun and memorable as a family!
Family traditions are basically rituals done each year that are passed down generation-to-generation. They help form a sense of family unity and create happy memories. You may already have Christmas traditions in place for your family, but there is no rule that says you can’t add on and create more! When we are part of a family tradition, we are part of something special. For example:
Visit a Tree Farm
There are pros and cons to having a real tree in the house, but visiting a tree farm is a fun outing for the whole family, like the pumpkin patch in October. Even if you decide against purchasing a real tree for Christmas, you can still enjoy other great activities as a family such as sleigh rides and warming up over a cup of hot apple cider.
Decorate the Tree Together
Whatever type of tree you decide on, it will be the main attraction in your home for a few weeks and everyone should have a chance to fluff the branches, hang an ornament and toss some tinsel. For the little ones in your family, set aside a space on the lower branches for them to hang non-breakable tree ornaments.
Personalize an Ornament
Personalized ornaments are easy to do and the will last year after year. Remember to put dates and names on each one. As the box of ornaments is opened each year, they will trigger memories of the year before. You can create many types of ornaments; using pine cones, popcorn, candy canes, and craft supplies, your family will not only save some money and spend time together, but have fun memories to look back on.
Bake Cookies with the Kids
Cookie making with my grandmother is a fond memory for me and a tradition that I now pass onto my own children. Young children can do age appropriate tasks like pouring ingredients into a bowl and using a cookie cutters to make fun cookie shapes. Older children can measure both dry and wet ingredients, roll dough and crack eggs. Decorating is something that everyone can do and it is fun to see how each cookie is designed. Sharing your cookies with friends and neighbors is also a wonderful way to give and teach your children about the true joy of the season.
Make a Gingerbread house
Along with baking your cookies, why not make a gingerbread house? These fun crafts usually come in kits you can get at some grocery stores and craft stores as well. Gingerbread homes are fun to personalize and kids can have a tasty treat while they are at it, since everything that goes into it is edible. Some communities and stores even hold competitions that you can enter your gingerbread home into and win a prize!
Bundling up and going around town singing Christmas carols is a fun family tradition and appreciated by the whole neighborhood, especially those who are elderly. Don’t worry if you can’t carry a tune, the point is to just have fun!
Christmas Morning Pajamas
Christmas morning is an exciting time for many families, so before going to bed on Christmas Eve allow everyone to open one present and make that gift a pair of brand new PJs! Not only does it ease the excitement, but everyone will sleep in a nice new outfit and the pictures in the morning will be great!
New Year’s fondue
No need to limit family traditions to Christmas, you can ring in the New Year with a fondue! It is fun to make and a memorable tradition that the whole family will look forward to as the New Year approaches.
Thanksgiving recipes are cherished classics in every kitchen, whether it be an old family recipe or the back of a pre-packaged box, we all enjoy this hearty holiday meal. Having these recipes on hand before the big feast is important, after all, good cooking is mostly preparation! If you are looking for some interesting twists on Thanksgiving classics, or simply need a fun recipe for those little mouths at the table these recipes are for you, and they are kid-friendly too!
Thanksgiving morning usually comes early for those of you preparing the Turkey. From the moment you wake up, you begin your preparations and sometimes, you just don’t have time (and oven or stove space) to grab some breakfast! Cereal is quick and easy, but it can get boring and doesn’t provide the nutrition you need to get through your cooking marathon.
Freezer egg bakes
Try out some of these delicious breakfast ideas for your busy morning. These freezer-bite recipes involve some preparation the night before, which will free your time for the most important preparations the morning of Thanksgiving. They are convenient, easy, and healthy for you and your family! Follow this link for three easy, cheesy ideas:
“Gobble” some Pancakes
Who couldn’t enjoy pancakes for breakfast? If this classic breakfast is a staple for the weekends home with your kids, then here is a fun twist!
When you’re busy cooking such a yummy meal, it can be tough to keep your fingers out of it which is why we are providing some great recipes and ideas for snacks to munch on, pre-dinner. Of course, you want to save room for all that turkey and stuffing, but sometimes you just need something to hold you over until then.
Caramel/dulce de leche dip
If you have an extra can of sweetened condensed milk, a staple in Thanksgiving dessert recipes, than you can make one yummy caramel dip, or dulce de leche, if you prefer! If you have never tried this before, you must try it now. See the link for the recipe on this mouth-watering dip.
You can do this a couple days before, or the night before, just give it a few hours (very little work, we promise) its well worth it! Be sure the dip is very cool before opening. Take a few of your kid’s favorite apples (try Honeycrisps), slice them up on a tray, and you have a wonderful apple dip! While you are at it, drizzle over some popcorn for a sweet and salty treat, or spoon it over some yogurt.
For an easy-to-grab snack, try this trail mix! It’s easy to make and easy to take with you around the kitchen (if need be). Mayflower Munch
Cheese/fruit/meat “turkey” platter
Another easy snack would be a party-type tray. Though simple, they can be quite versatile and customizable to any occasion. All you need for this one is some pepperoni and different cheeses of your choice! You could also use fruit and vegetables of your choice. This is a very simple and quick snack when you need to focus on the meal preparation.
This next option is not only creative and festive, but its also easy entirely edible. You could make your own variations with this one and customize it to your child’s favorite finger snacks. Or, if you are one for ice cream year-round, try some fun holiday flavors such as pumpkin or eggnog ice cream with a spoon of the homemade caramel listed above! Check out the “Mini Cornucopias” using waffle ice cream cones at this link:
Thanksgiving is one of the biggest meals you will probably cook through the year and though it’s all so tasteful, sometimes it can get a bit messy for kids, especially stuffing and gravy. Here are some recipes to put a little user-friendly twist on the ordinary recipes.
Whether you’re cooking your stuffing in the turkey, a crock pot, or the stove, this handy tip can prove useful for all the little mouths at the table. All you need is a cupcake pan and you can turn the stuffing into a “muffin” that can be easily held by toddlers and small children. Check out this link for the how to, as well as a simple stuffing recipe from scratch!
Mashed potato puffs
Finger food really is the best for kids, especially when it comes to large feasts and a table full of kids. Whether you need to make it quick with instant potatoes, or you already have a pot of mashed potatoes for those who may not be fond of yams, this is a great variation for messy little eaters and babes learning how to feed themselves. Here it is:
Honey glazed carrots
This sweet dish is full of great nutrients for your little one who may prefer to pass up the yams. Use baby carrots or chop full-size carrots for an easy-to-eat dish. See this link for a delightful recipe:
Thanksgiving is a day of appreciation and spending time with our loved ones, and we want to keep it that way with some quick, easy, and convenient meals and snacks with items you may already have on hand. As you prepare for this year’s festivities, remember to be present in all things and thankful for all things, especially those we love… and great food!