A Recipe for Creating Family Holiday Traditions – Prepare Now!

Ice Sculpture Contest in Boston

Ice Sculpture Contest in Boston

The second ingredient in our recipe for how to create and enjoy more Family Holiday Traditions is to Prepare Now! If there are any tasks that need to be completed to schedule or prepare for the tradition, do them now while it’s not so busy. Send out invitations, buy tickets, call Grandma to get that cookie recipe, check on Holiday Tea Times, or investigate volunteer opportunities with your favorite local charity. If you take care of all of the details now, you won’t be scrambling and making more stress for yourself in December.

So, if you are planning a Holiday party – buy the invitations, invite people now to get on their busy calendars early, plan the menu (you can check out MemorableEntertaining.com for some great Holiday entertaining tips and menus), even do some of the baking now and freeze it for later. If you want to go to the theater for a Holiday event like the Christmas Carol or Nutcracker Ballet, call now and get the tickets.

If you want to check out what Holiday activities are available in your town, like ice sculpture contest or gingerbreadhouse displays, check your local paper, museum sites, or parent-friendly activity sites like www.gocitykids.com or if you are in the Chicago area, check our favorite site www.kidwinks.com.

If you have a tradition of sending out a family newsletter with your Holiday cards – don’t do what I do and wait until the last minute so I end up sending New Year’s cards – get it written and printed now. If your kids are old enough, have them each write their own section of the newsletter to make it a little easier for you.

I spoke at a Newcomer’s Club meeting last night for a terrific group of Mom’s about Creating Family Holiday Traditions and one of the Moms shared that her family goes to see “It’s a Wonderful Life” every year at a local movie theater, for a charity event the theater holds every year. If you are interested in something like that, call your local theaters to see if they are doing any special screenings of some of your favorite holiday movies.

Bottomline, do yourself a favor and get all of the details taken care of now so when the Holiday Season hits in earnest, you’ll be ready to just enjoy and smile. Check back for the next ingredient in our guide on how to create and enjoy more Family Holiday Traditions.

Read all of our posts on the ingredients of our Recipe for Creating Family Holiday Traditions.
Part One – Book It!
Part Two – Prepare Now!
Part Three – Spice It Up!
Part Four – Make it a Party!
10 Ideas for Family Holiday Traditions

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Tags: Family Celebrations · Family Fun Ideas · Holiday Fun · Holiday Traditions

A Recipe for Creating Family Holiday Traditions

The Holidays are a great opportunity to have fun with your family. However, the season is short and there is a lot to do – gift buying, baking, wrapping, Holiday parties, decorating, and writing and addressing cards, to name a few. Agh! Don’t let the stress of the Holiday Season overwhelm you where you forget to have fun. After all, the Holidays are all about family.

You may already have a few traditions in place. There are so many activities around the Holidays like plays, concerts, and parties to keep your family in the fun. But it’s also nice to just relax, stay in, maybe light a fire, admire your decorations, and have fun in your home. This week we will share some guidelines on how to create some new Family Holiday Traditions. Next week we’ll share some creative ideas to stimulate you to try some new activities this year.

The first ingredient is Book It! Spontaneity is great, but it’s passive. You can’t leave fun to chance. If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t get done. So, sit down with your family one night at dinner and ask what types of activities they would like to do this Holiday Season. Each person can pick one activity. Or, if your kids are young, Mom and Dad can do the planning. Then pick a date for each and write them down in the master family calendar. Now it is booked so everyone can look forward to their activity. Anticipation makes it great.

Stay tuned for the next ingredient!

Read all of our posts on the ingredients of our Recipe for Creating Family Holiday Traditions.
Part Two – Prepare Now!
Part Three – Spice It Up!
Part Four – Make it a Party!
10 Ideas for Family Holiday Traditions

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Tags: Family Celebrations · Family Fun Ideas · Holiday Traditions

Teach Your Kids the Importance of Giving Back

We recently found a great site Mom it Forward where they believe that Moms can make a difference and change the world for the better. They have kicked off a pretty cool contest this summer called the Summer of Service (SOS) Challenge. Each week they will post tips on how to make a meaningful difference. Do one of their suggested tips, tell them, and you could win some great prizes. Check out the Challenge here and show your kids how you walk the talk and give back. Even if you don’t participate in the Challenge, we think this is an awesome way to pick up some tips on how to get your kids and your family thinking about giving.

Mom It Forward Summer of Service Challenge

My husband and I talk to the kids about giving back but we always need to do more. We do some things as a family like every year we buy a Christmas gift for a needy child from our YMCA Giving Tree. We also donate money to the World Wildlife Fund every Christmas so the kids can get a cool, endangered stuffed animal. We donate our used toys and clothes to charity. By doing these things consistently, they have become a giving tradition in our family. The kids actually ask about when they are coming up.

Our kids also love one of our Church fundraisers for a local Women’s Shelter. They hand out plastic baby bottles and ask people to fill them with all loose change around the house. Our kids love searching the house for coins to put in the bottle.

Some of the activities that we are involved in offer some great opportunities to give back to the community. With our son’s Cub Scouts troop we have packed care packages for our troops with Operation Yellow Ribbon. Both of our kids take piano lessons and every year their teacher has the kids perform a Halloween concert at a local nursing home. The residents love to see the kids in their costumes playing music. We have helped to clean up the local forest preserve with my daughter’s Adventure Guides group.

If you have a hard time thinking of ways to give back, definitely look to see what your Church or kids groups have planned for the summer. Definitely check out the Mom It Forward challenge. What we love about the Mom It Forward suggestions is that they remind us that we should all be practicing more random acts of kindness at home. It’s important to help strangers, but it is also important and really easy to help those we love.

What do you and your family do to give back to the community. Please share your ideas with us since we are always looking for more.

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Tags: Contests · Cool Finds · Holiday Traditions · Ideas for family projects

Last Day of School Celebrations

The last day of school is a major unofficial holiday for my kids – it ranks right up there with Christmas and their birthdays. And who can blame them? Even though we Moms don’t get our summers off, we can still appreciate all the excitement the season has to offer. So take a cue from the little guys and get pumped up!

Turning the last day of school into a celebration is a great way to score major “cool” points with your kids and have some fun together while the thrill of summer is still fresh. Here’s a few suggestions on how to pull it off:

*Make the day special from the get-go. Surprise your kids with an out-of-the-ordinary breakfast that doesn’t come from a box. Chocolate chip pancakes never fail to make the day look a little brighter. Add an ice cold smoothie made with fresh summer fruits, and you’ll send ‘em off to school smiling.

*If you can, take a half day off of work or work from home that day. You and your kids will appreciate it!

*When school lets out, tell the kids to get their walking shoes, rollerblades, or bikes ready and take a trip to the ice cream shop for celebratory sundaes.

*If it’s really nice outside, head to the pool or beach for the first “official” day of summer. Make it an extra-special occasion with some fun new beach towels, like the totally cute Yikes Twins hooded towels (I especially love the black masked Batman towel!). Kids Black Hooded Mask Towel

*Nothing says summer like a picnic, so grab some chips and sandwiches from the neighborhood deli and head to the playground, forest preserve, or zoo for some serious outdoor fun.

*Rainy day? Don’t let it dampen your spirits. Check out the new Night at the Museum or Up movies and tell the kids to invite a friend or two (because summer is all about hanging out with your pals, ya know). Or rent some family flicks to watch at home, and let the kids make their own Boboli pizza in between showings.

Whatever you decide to do, have fun! Does your family have any traditions for celebrating the last day of school or the first day of summer? Share them with us, we’d love to hear about them!

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Tags: Family Celebrations · Holiday Traditions

Plan a Family Adventure to Your Local Farmers Market

It’s Spring in the Midwest and that means the Farmers Markets are open. Browsing the Farmers Market stalls on a lazy Saturday morning is one of my absolute favorite summer traditions. There is something about locally grown produce that just seems to make everything taste better – fresher, more colorful, healthier. Whether I’m looking for fresh tomatoes and basil to create a caprese salad or fresh fruit for my homemade peach cobbler, I’m sure to find the best quality ingredients at a Farmers Market. But often the best finds are the items you weren’t specifically looking for. An unusual chili, for example, might inspire me to try out a new taco recipe. Or I might come across some yummy looking artisan cheeses that would be perfect for that Mom’s Night Off party I’ve been meaning to organize. (Note to self: Get those invitations out!)

Another reason why I love Farmers Markets is that they’re a fun, relaxing way to spend some quality time with my kids. We have a great Farmers Market in our town that is kid and pet friendly. Each stall has water put out for dogs and many provide samples for the kids. They even provide music! On Saturday mornings, our family has a fun routine where we first walk to the local coffee shop, because to quote Ralph’s World – “M-O-M-M-Y Needs C-O-F-F-E-E.” Then we walk the dog to the Farmers Market where we get fresh ingredients to try out a new recipe we’ve found. We’re together, outside in the sunshine, discovering new foods, promoting local farmers, and exercising. That’s almost an overload of family goodness, but we deal.

The trip becomes an adventure since each week there is usually something new to see. A new artisan bread, homemade pasta sauce, herbs, fresh flowers, produce, and we even have a guy who sells Buffalo Steaks. My kids look forward to this adventure so much (especially my son who loves the Pickle Guy.) So, to get my kids even more involved in our fresh food shopping, we got them each their own Farmers Market Set by Playful Chef.
Playful Chef Farmers Market Set
It was designed by a Mom to encourage children of all ages to become more involved in their food decisions, and it includes everything you need to buy, clean, prepare, and eat your Farmers Market produce with your family. The included booklet shows kids where our food comes from on a beautifully illustrated map of North America. It even shows kids how to clean fresh produce.
Farmers Market Booklet Cover
Farmers Market Map

What the kids like the most though, is that they get their own reusable shopping bag to carry home the items that they pick out. That way my son can keep his pickle juice in his bag and not mine. Somehow they eat their vegetables a little more enthusiastically when they picked them out themselves.

Have an adventure this weekend and take your kids to the local Farmers Market. Come back and tell us what they liked the best. Happy Shopping!

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Tags: Adventures · Cooking with the Kids · Holiday Traditions

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