Category Archives: Activities

How to make New Years Eve Rock for the kids

New Years Eve is well known for the champagne, staying up late, kissing, and glamorous outfits. But what about those who are a bit younger? They definitely want to be able to ring in the new year with just as much fun and pizazz as their parents and older siblings! So here are a few Holiday Party Ideas to make their night just as memorable as your own.

  • Sleep over party! If you just so happen to have young ones of your own and a lack of plans for NYE, why not offer to host a sleep over for the neighborhood kids. Other parents may be appreciative of the night out, or may even offer to help you out! As a result the kids will have a safe and fun place to be for the night. Have the kids get dressed up and provide themed snacks like cupcakes bedecked in glittery sprinkles, cookies decorated like clocks, or dip sugar cones in chocolate and then decorate to look like NYE hats. Hand out noise makers and bubbles to celebrate and plastic glasses of sparkling cider. If you want to avoid the sugar of cider and the possible mess, seltzer or sparkling water adds the bubbly without the extra sugar.
  • Karaoke party! If your kids are a bit older and still want to have their friends over, try busting out the karaoke machine or singing video games. Everyone can take turns belting out their favorite tunes between munching on finger foods and dips. Kick it up a notch and offer prizes for a contest. Set up a rotating panel of judges (so everyone gets to sing and everyone gets to judge) to pass out scores. Just make sure everyone stays nice with their comments! Just Dance! and other dance related games can make a fun addition to a karaoke party. Contestants take turns getting in front of the television and trying to match their own smooth moves to the avatar on the screen.
  • Glam it up! If you have teens living at home who want in on the fun but you want to make sure they stay out of harm and out of trouble, let them invite their friends to the house. The kids can dress to kill for the night. Set up appetizer tables and a “bar” with virgin mixed drinks (just make sure they stay unspiked!). A photobooth can add a fun element as well. Set up a glitzy backdrop with 2014 or “Happy New Year” and leave out props like boas and masks for the guests to use. Either set up a point and shoot digital camera with a remote on a tripod or a webcam on a laptop. Guests can take their own pictures to be posted to a social media site or party website later. Have your kids make a fun playlist of music and offer games like Apples to Apples to keep the laughs coming and everyone actively having a good time.

The most important part of New Year’s Eve is to have a good time and make sure that everyone stays safe, happy, and healthy so they can enjoy the coming year.

Christmas Tradition-Thinking Outside the Gift Box

Some Christmas traditions are passed down through generations.  Others are established intentionally to preserve the part of Christmas that is important to a family.  Sometimes though, traditions rise out of the ashes of human tragedy.

In 1999, a family of six was involved in a tragic car accident.  Three of the four children who were injured in the accident would not have made it had it not been for the heroic actions of the rescue personnel who arrived at the scene.  Several months after that awful day, the children, having finally been released from the hospital, traveled back to the rescue service stations to personally thank the men and women who had so bravely fought for their lives but it just didn’t seem to be enough.

In their hometown, the fire company has a tradition of putting hundreds of lights on the fire trucks and rescue vehicles on Christmas Eve.  Santa Claus climbs aboard the ladder truck and the vehicles travel from one neighborhood to the next blowing their horns with sirens blaring. The firefighters walk alongside handing out candy canes and toys to the children who come out to see them.

The family who was saved by the firefighters decided that one year they would turn the tables on them and instead of receiving candy canes from the fire company would instead give goodies to the fire station for those working on Christmas day to enjoy.  They set to work.  They baked cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and put  them in a gift box along with cookies, caramel corn, candy, hot chocolate, microwave popcorn, hard tack candy and a thank you card explaining how appreciative they were for people who risk their lives to save the lives of others.  (After all, that is what happened the first Christmas when Christ came to earth with the sole mission of selflessly giving his life for the world.) The children stood anxiously along the road awaiting the fire trucks arrival and were delighted when the firefighter received their gift with a surprised, but appreciative smile and a tear in his eye.  From that time on, they asked every year to do it again and it soon became a Christmas tradition.

Even though those children are now young adults, you will still find them standing along the side of the road on Christmas Eve with their box of goodies in hand.  Some of the neighbors who have seen them do this every year have also jumped on board and offer their own gifts and thanks to the firefighters.

For them, Christmas is a time to remember how much they have received through the sacrifice of others.  It’s their Christmas tradition. And I might add, it’s their favorite one.

Holiday Gathering Activities

It’s wonderful to have family staying over during the holidays. However, after the traditional meal is devoured you might wish you had a list titled holiday gathering activities. Memories are made when you are active together, laughing and having fun, and when all are included from little cousin Jimmy to great grandma Betty. Here are a few suggestions for activities that will get the fun rolling and make for treasured family memories.

Watch Home Videos

Ask each branch of the family to bring some of their favorite home videos to share. Simply pop up a big bowl of popcorn, throw pillows on the floor for the little ones, and have a family movie festival.

Do Something Outside

It can be as simple as a walk in a park, or you can plan an ice-skating party complete with hot chocolate and mulled wine. If there is snow, maybe have a snow man making contest and get everyone involved.

Win it in a Minute

These games are based on the hit TV show, Minute to Win it. It is easy to do a web search and find just the right games for your family to play. Most of the materials are things found around the house or can be found at a dollar store. Find five or six games to play and take turns pitting age groups against each other.

Talent Show

Your family is filled with talented folk and those that just like to show off. With a little planning ahead (so they know to actually bring their clarinet), you can organize a family talent show that may just become a yearly event. Set up an area as a stage and advise your family that it’s just for fun and is to be a safe place for family to express their interests and talent.

It doesn’t take much for a family to have fun together. Sometimes they just need a little leadership, encouragement and a push in the right direction. That’s where you come in.

Nine Wonderful Children’s Wintry Party Themes

The winter months are quickly approaching and a children’s birthday party that lands during those months is challenging to plan. But if you use some creativity, each season offers lots of potentially fun activities or themes which will make any party special. Yes, wintertime is just full of great children’s wintry party themes!

A Winter Carnival

Make up games that children would play at a fair or carnival but use a winter theme. You could set up stations for different games. For instance, establish a booth with tin cans lined up on the edge of a table and have the children try to knock them down by propelling a snowball at the cans. You could let the children have sledding races or create stations for snowball bowling. Hand out prizes to the winners that are fitting of a carnival like a stuffed animal and, since it’s a carnival, make sure to serve fun carnival food like pretzels, cotton candy, popcorn and hot chocolate.

A Snowman Competition

This could end up being one of the best activities! Split the kids into even teams and place the teams at different locations in your yard. This might be a good activity for the front yard—providing you have the space—and you can get a jump on decorating for Christmas at the same time! Old accessories and clothing should be collected ahead of time to supply the kids with something to clothe their snowman. After all, there’s nothing worse than a naked snowman! Also, don’t forget about supplying them with carrots, raisins or berries and sticks for noses, eyes, mouths and arms—what’s a snowman without a face? You and other parents should stand by as judges and, when everyone is finished with their snowman, pick the best one and present the winning team with some kind of an award. Snowballs, a snowman pizza and a snowman ice cream cake make tasty treats to serve inside to hungry children after all the excitement.

Snow Castle Party

Who says you need sand and sunshine to make a castle? That white stuff in your back—or front—yard can turn out to be an asset. Throw a snow castle constructing party! At this party, kids should come all bundled up and ready to spend lots of time outside using plastic toy shovels, beach pails and different kinds of carving tools to make a castle out of snow. You can have the children work together to make one big castle or make it into a competition between two teams—either way, the kids are sure to have a blast! When the fun outdoors is finished, bring the kids indoors to warm up with some delicious chili or soup and hot chocolate; but don’t forget those marshmallows! Snow white frosting and flaked coconut will make a great wintery topping for just about any dessert.

Winter Olympics

Arrange competitions and games for kids to enjoy that are built on ideas from the winter Olympic events. Put together events of snowshoe racing, snowball throwing contests and snow mound jumping, just to name a few. Be sure to have a different award for first, second and third place winners for each event. Decorations should be set to the theme of the winter Olympics—draw the Olympic rings in the snow in your back yard and use food coloring to show off the Olympic ring colors. You can also hang up paper torches inside your house and the birthday cake should be red, white and blue.

Winter Pool Party

Why should a few inches of snow stop the children from enjoying one of summer’s best activities? Indoor pools render the chance for kids to swim, splash and celebrate in a regulated climate while the weather outdoors may be frigid. You may be able to rent a pool in a community center, hotel or fitness center and decorations can be left to the imagination. You could just have tropical-colored decorations to symbolize summer. But wouldn’t it be fun to have the best of both seasons? Purchase inflatable palm trees and decorate them with paper snowflakes. How about snowflake-printed towels lain over lawn chairs? The cake could be a large swimming pool with polar bear figurines on top.

Ice Skating

Bring the children to a safe skating lake or pond for the party or rent an ice rink for a few hours. If you choose to rent an ice rink, you’ll need to rent one four to six weeks in advance; be sure to ask about package deals and if you can bring in food from home. You’ll want to have parents nearby that are good skaters so that they can help the kids that don’t know how to ice skate. Play some fun, upbeat music and let the children free-skate. Integrate a few games such as a skating version of red light/green light. The birthday child stands in front of the rest of the children but a little bit of distance away with his or her back toward them. When the child says, “green light” the rest of the kids will start to skate ahead; when the child says, “red light” and turns around, all the children have to be stopped. If the birthday child catches anyone moving forward then that person has to go back to the starting line. The first child to tag the birthday child wins the game and then takes their turn in that spot. For decorations you could hang up icicles, paper ice skates and snowflakes around the rink. If you got a package deal, hot dogs or pizza usually is included. The cake could be in the form of an icy pond with figure skaters adorning the top or in the shape of an ice skate.

Snowflake Ball

Although snow may get old for adults as the season wears on, for children the magic never fades. For this type of party, rent a banquet hall and decorate it with icicle lights and snowflakes dangling over their heads while they’re on the dance floor. Use synthetic snow and sparkles to create a wintery invitation in the entryway. For the table, purchase shimmering white and blue place settings on a snowflake tablecloth. An artificial snow making machine and ice sculptures would be an enhancement to the magical feel of the party. You can’t forget the entertainment! Make sure to have some party games that are suitable for the snowflake party such as Snowflake Trivia. Get several adults to write winter or Christmas trivia questions on paper cut-out snowflakes—one question per snowflake. Then each child pulls a snowflake out of a bowl and tries to answer the question; the child who answers the most questions wins. Or you could hire someone to give basic ballroom dance lessons. For the menu, snowflake cookies, white hot chocolate, a tray of veggie and cheese pieces that are cut into snowflakes and a snowflake cake would be a hit.

Snow Sculpting

Snow sculpting is a lot of fun and what child wouldn’t love to do this? Hand out to each child a portion of snow to use. Make up ahead of time a box full of “props” that the kids can pick from to adorn their sculpture with. Items could include: masks, boas, beads, sunglasses, flowers, leaves and rocks. Pick a time limit—say, an hour—and let the children develop their best sculpture during that time frame. Take a vote to confirm a winner in several different categories like “best executed”, “most creative” and “best over-all”. For the cake, you could have one specially made that looks like an ice sculpture!

Penguin Party

Just about all children love animals and who doesn’t love penguins? They’re so cute and would make a great party theme! Decorating can be very simple: white and black streamers and balloons hung on the walls and ceiling of the party room and you could buy a penguin-printed tablecloth with black place settings and white napkins. If you want an extra touch, place some plush penguins of different sizes around the room. Entertaining the kids will be just as easy as decorating. You can show them a movie like “Happy Feet” or “Mr. Popper’s Penguins”, give them a penguin craft to make and play some standard games in which the children will have to imitate the penguin like penguin waddle relay races. The kids will absolutely love your penguin cupcakes cake!

Whether you’re trying to get rid of those winter blues or planning a birthday party, one of these winter party themes are sure to be a hit. You’ll want to check out our great website for everything you’ll need for your party!

Children’s Museum in the Upstate: Greenville, SC

 

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This past Saturday, both my husband and eldest daughter were out of town. So, Grace, Corban and I were eating breakfast and trying to figure out what adventure we too, could take!  I opened up a local children’s magazine to see if I spotted anything in there for us to do and found that it was Museum Day Live which includes free admission to participating museums through the Smithsonian. We have a fantastic children’s museum nearby that Grace and Corban are always asking to go to, but we only go once or twice a year because it is so expensive. So, I called our museum and sure enough… it was free! It was a beautiful autumn day outside but I couldn’t beat “free” and my kids were thrilled!

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We got dressed and jumped in the car right away!  The Children’s Museum of the Upstate is located in the heart of downtown Greenville and filled with a variety of super creative exhibits. As soon as you walk in, there is a colorful two-story climbing structure, which is Grace’s favorite feature, I think. On the main floor, circling the structure are race cars, space ships, a kid-sized grocery store with a checkout counter and bank, and a hospital! The top floor has robots, construction, recycling, and a little farmhouse. The bottom floor has a water exhibit, music, tv production, and art rooms. We’ve been there a number of times and it never gets old! They keep a big space on the top floor for new exhibits that they change out every few months. The one that is running now is called Grossology (all things gross)… so we skipped that one. Yuck! Corban isn’t old enough to care, thank goodness! He loved the construction exhibit. He really wanted to wear the yellow construction hat even though it kept falling in his face. His very favorite was the race cars! He worked so hard changing the big tires out! We had a super time having our own adventure and still had the afternoon to enjoy the weather!

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Calling Cards for Kids

cc619_cardWhen it comes to kids calling cards, there are so many fun possibilities. Children like to announce what’s going on in their world, and calling cards are a unique way for them to get the word out.

Ages 5 – 12

Young children have lots going on in their lives. Here are some ways they can make use of cards.

  • Sports games – Calling cards are available for all sports. Your child can have cards with their name on them. They can write upcoming game dates on the cards and pass them out to friends and family.
  • Party reminders – Do you remember being a child and worrying that no one would come to your party? A reminder in the form of a calling card will help ensure that no one forgets the important date!
  • Upcoming school plays or award ceremonies – Your child’s personalized “save-the-date” calling card will help remind everyone about upcoming special events in the child’s life.
  • Personalized gift cards – You can save a bundle by using personalized calling cards on birthday and other holiday gifts. Your child can add a personal message to the card if they like.

Ages 13 – 15

Children in their early teen years are all about socializing. They will find dozens of uses for their personalized calling cards. We probably don’t have to give you, or them, ideas. Surprise them with the gift of calling cards and let them have fun.

Teens can write messages to friends on their calling cards. Shy children can use them to help break the ice when meeting new friends. You may even find your teen handing you one with an important reminder written on it.

Ages 16 and Up

Oh, the many uses of calling cards for older teens! Think about the possibilities:

  • Calling cards are a great way to hand out their email address.
  • Your teen can use them to give friends their new cell phone number.
  • Calling cards can be used to arrange social meetings amongst friends – “meet me at (fill in the blank)” for example.
  • This age group may want to use calling cards as unique invitations to a party.

Parents

Calling cards with your kid’s name on them aren’t just for kids. Parents can use them too.

You can carry cards with your children’s names. When you meet other parents at the park, school, or another activity you can add your name and number to the card and hand it to them.

If your child has allergies or special needs, both you and the child may want to carry some cards listing the specifics. These can be handed out to teachers, schools, day care, or babysitters.

Check out our website for more ideas and information on how to order calling cards for kids.

Anniversary Celebration at the Grove Park Inn

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Joey and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this week! 20 years is a long time, but it went by fast! It’s hard to believe it’s been that long, because we still feel like kids.

Our mothers have been dear friends since middle school. So, Joey and I have known each other a long time! I’ve had a huge crush on him since I was 5 years old that I’ve never been able to shake. 🙂 We lived in different towns during much of our childhood so we didn’t know each other. As kids, we were opposites… I was a “total dork” and he was “super cool” so that wouldn’t have worked out so well, anyway. We both grew up and changed quite a bit during our high school years though!

Joe (far left) and Amy (far right)

He attended my older sister’s wedding as a family friend and we immediately connected that night and within a few months we quickly fell in love. I was only 19 years old and Joey was almost 20 years old when we got married but when we knew God wanted us to be together as husband and wife, we didn’t want to waste any time dating, so we decided to get married right away!

We were in college at the time, so we just continued life and graduated together. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three fantastic kiddos, a few moves, and a few career changes. Through it all, Jesus has strengthened us with lots of tough times and lots of great times. I wouldn’t have wanted any other man to live life with!

To celebrate, this week we stole away one night to The Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. It was just perfect! The weather was gorgeous, the food was delicious and the company was unmatched! We are so thankful to Jesus for giving us His patience, faithfulness and love so we could give it to each other for the last 20 years!

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Friday Amy Update: Emily Get’s her Driver’s License… Finally

photo 2 - Copy (2)Emily is driving!! So if back-to-school week wasn’t hectic enough, we obtained Emily’s Driver’s License as well! It has been QUITE an ordeal, I must say. The state of South Carolina has a lot of rules when it comes to new drivers.

First, she had to get her Learners Permit by taking a written test at the Department of Motor Vehicles which she did in the spring. Then, she had to take a Driver Education Class through a local company. They were excellent, but strict! She took a long 1-day class and then went out with an instructor for multiple hours on multiple days.

We spent the summer driving around town trying to get in our 40 hours of required drive time, ten of which had to be at night. We waited to drive at night until after we had done the majority of the 30 daytime hours. In the summer, it doesn’t get dark until 8:30-9 o’clock! So, we spent a few weeks lugging ourselves out the door at that hour when we’d rather just stay home in our pjs.photo 1

Emily really did not like practicing. School and sports come easy to her but this was a tough one! This experience really stretched her and her sweet personality. She had to learn how to make quick decisions and to be a confident driver. She had to learn to take criticism which is never fun for any of us, but she got through it!

We finally finished all that and thought we’d have her license in hand within a day or two, but we hit so many road blocks that it took weeks! She just needed a road test, but things kept coming up!  The instructor had to reschedule, the DMV was booked or closed, and another time we didn’t have the right paperwork! Ahhh! We finally got the test done (that was super intense for my girl) and she passed! We finally got to back to the DMV and get her license!

Whew! I’m a little nervous about letting her out on the road, but I know the more she drives the better she’ll get! And the less I’ll have to drive her all over creation! 😉

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Gluten Free and Dairy Free Children’s Party Ideas for Snacks

Kids these days seem to have way more allergies than ever before. If your child has food restrictions, you probably already know what to serve and how to adapt meals to get rid of the offensive ingredients. But what if you’re just having a birthday party and want everyone to feel welcome?  Here are some childrens party ideas for foods that everyone can enjoy without worrying about going home sick.

Gluten Free Birthday Party Foods

The birthday cake; it’s a rare treat for a kid with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten insensitivity.  Conservative estimates say that only 1% of the US population has full-blown celiac disease, but an even higher percentage has a non-celiac gluten intolerance, which can be part of Crohn’s disease or a stand-alone condition.  Basically, these kids can’t have anything with wheat flour in it and even white flour is made with wheat.

Ditching the cake is one idea, but most grocery stores now have a gluten-free section with birthday cake and frosting mixes just like the regular baking section.  Unfortunately, if you’re stirring with a wooden spoon that’s been used for regular recipes, the gluten can cross-contaminate the gluten free cake and cause a reaction in the most sensitive kids.

If you’re serving a child with very severe allergies, make sure their parents are aware that the cake wasn’t prepared in a gluten free kitchen. Some kids’ reactions are so bad that their parents would prefer to not take ANY chances.  Consider enlisting the help of the parents of extra-sensitive kids, to ensure that the cake is safe enough for them to eat. Some communities have gluten free bakeries that can whip up a cake with frosting and themed decorations just like any other bakery.

Birthday Party foods for Gluten Free and Dairy Free guests.

Here are a few snack ideas that are generally gluten free and dairy free.

  • Fruit kabobs
  • Corn tortilla chips and salsa or guacamole
  • A veggie tray (Hummus is a nice nondairy dip)
  • Nuts (that’s an entirely different allergy)
  • All-fruit popsicles
  • Fresh berries
  • Popcorn (avoid butter and caramel for dairy free kids)
  • Trail mix (be sure they’re labeled gluten free, oats sometimes carry gluten)
  • Olives and pickles

Feeding a bunch of kids was probably a lot easier 25 years ago and catering to the dietary needs of other people’s kids can be a drag. Imagine having dietary restrictions and always having to decline goodies and treats at parties? Serving up safe snacks for children is the ultimate act of hospitality. Being able to eat whatever you want is one of the joys of childhood and when you serve safe party snacks, everyone will have more fun.

Baby Shower Ideas: How to Encourage Thankfulness

Baby showers, as sweet as they can be, may come with a little bit of stress. As a host, you’ll probably feel pressure to ensure everyone feels welcome, well-fed/watered and comfortable. The mommy-to-be will most likely feel slightly self-conscious as all eyes in the room watch her open a plethora of gifts. Will she like everything? Will she say “thank you” enough? Will she need to use the restroom 800 times during the shower?

Here are a few pointers to make your job as a host a little easier:

Choose an easy, breezy theme

There’s no need to go all out with a shower highly customized to match a specific children’s book or the popular animal of the season (everyone remember the owl?). Keep decorations simple with a few vibrant accents, fresh flowers and balloons—all in colors the guest of honor will love, of course.

Make RSVPing a no-brainer

If you want to get an accurate head count, make it as easy as possible for guests to RSVP. It may not seem very personal, but you’d be surprised how many people would love to simply text a response to your mobile number or send a quick email. Think about including those as options on your invites.

Help Mommy-to-be:

Make saying “thank you” less of a chore for the guest of honor. Pre-order a set of thank you cards and put all of the envelopes out on an entry table that your guests will pass as they arrive. Have each guest write her own name and mailing address on an envelope and toss it in a decorative box or bowl. Ta-da! That’s all of the “thank you” cards addressed for Mommy-to-be.

We have a beautiful selection of thank you stationery—find a style to fit your shower colors.