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Art of Fun Communication

There is no doubt that we live in an age of rapidly growing technology. It’s grabbing hold of us all – especially young people. Even though our ability to communicate may be provided by more expedient means there is something disappearing; the art of letter writing with personalized stationery.

Letter writing may seem ancient, but in fact, it is a rather intimate way to exchange more than information. The speed of delivery earned it the name “snail mail,” but what if there is a way to make letter writing like a game or a gift?

Make it Personal

Making a letter personal starts with what you write on. Using plain loose-leaf paper means you lose a chance for expressing the real you. Try sitting down with your child and letting them pick personalized stationery they find pretty or exciting. Every child enjoys feeling special. Why can’t writing be the same way?

If your child is too young to write, do not be discouraged. They can still pick out their favorite writing tools. In fact, the time they spend helping you write a letter to someone they love will be a special time for you to build your relationship with them as well as teach them the variety of ways to express themselves.

Letters are Gifts

With the cost of stamps now it is not hard to imagine a letter being like a gift, which is all the more reason to send them. The receiver will know you and your child took the time to get the stamp and go to the post office for them. Add a layer of fun by letting your child pick out the stamp as well.

Letting your child pick the recipient can be fun. If they find themselves unsure of whom to write, help stimulate ideas by suggesting family and friends. Take them on a walk around the house to look at their favorite pictures. Let them point out someone they may want to write.

In Closing

When it comes time to close out your letter make sure to suggest your child ask for a letter in return. Knowing there is something coming in the mail will give your child something to look forward to when they run to the mail every day. It will also be nice for you to open the mailbox and find something other than a bill. A nice final touch to any letter is the chance to seal it with a personal mark. Attaching a label with your home address is always nice. Also, consider letting your child place a sticker to close the letter similar to the idea of an old wax seal.

Writing can be the new art of fun communication. Don’t miss out on the chance to teach your child to reach out to family and peers. Grandma and Grandpa will definitely thank you!

Gorgeous Green Glamping Activities to Play With Guests

Glamping is camping for glamorous types. It’s one of those activities to play with guests that lets you all enjoy the great outdoors without shivering in a leaky tent. Get ready to glamp out.

Choose your venue: There are plenty of upscale campsites all over the United States and around the world with a wide range of prices. Some have basic pre-pitched tents. Other have facilities so luxurious they’re more like rooms with a view. While rugged camping purists may scoff, most places make an effort to be eco friendly with solar panels and the like. Of course, you can also create a DIY experience in your own backyard.

Decide what to bring: Some venues will provide everything from the champagne flutes to the cashmere throws. Others may suggest that you bring your own towels and bed sheets. Whether you travel far or stay at home, a few amenities will enhance the experience. Loll around on deck chairs or fake fur rugs. Decorate with lanterns and tea lights. Hand out boot slippers to get comfortable in. Dine elegantly with silverware, cake stands and tea sets. Party with a cocktail shaker and martini glasses.

Coordinate the glamping activities: The priciest destinations may include butler service, but don’t expect Wi-Fi. Depending on your guests, you may lean towards sophisticated or outdoorsy fun. Throw a tea party or play bridge. Take a nature walk or watch birds. Enjoy traditional camping fun like roasting marshmallows and telling stories. Make up your own lyrics to make camp songs sound classier. How about a round of Row, Row, Row Your Yacht or Home on the Range Rover? Above all, take advantage of being offline and have a good old conversation face to face. And enjoy some alone time reading a book or catching up with far away friends with some stationery note writing.

Glamping is like Downton Abbey style meets National Geographic Channel adventure. Invite your friends over to share the fun.

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!

Fall Celebrations

Curling up with a good book is a strong temptation in the fall, when the weather turns crisp or autumn rains begin, especially during October’s National Book Month holiday. Celebrate the possibilities open through a love of reading when you choose a book theme for birthdays and other parties. From classics to contemporary, stories come alive with a little creative planning, and it doesn’t have to involve spending a lot of money to incorporate holiday party ideas. Provide book-related party favors to keep the enchantment going long past the last guest’s departure.
Invitations, Decorations and Favors for a Book Theme
Set the stage for a book-themed party with invitations made from library checkout cards and book pockets. Type or write the party details on the card, slip it into a pocket and put them into an envelope. Or, to take the theme to another level, glue the sides of a book dust jacket together, add the card and pocket to the inside and address the “envelope” on a bookplate sticker adhered to the outside of the jacket. Stitch two pages of a book together and glue on a ribbon handle to make goody bags that you fill with bookmarks, playtime eyeglasses and maybe a copy of a paperback book, as well. Make garlands from book covers or pages to decorate the party room or place framed book pages around the table and on other surfaces.
Food for a Book Theme
Take some ideas from the books themselves when selecting foods. For example, display Dr. Seuss’s “One Fish, Two Fish,” and serve goldfish crackers or fish-design cupcakes or cookies. Add a storybook-shaped cake to the menu, along with food-dyed “Green Eggs and Ham.” Chocolate chip cookies fit with “When You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” and many other books present ideas for food and drinks that pertain to those stories. Gummy worms and apples also make great book-related treats.
Classics and Book Themes
Well-loved classics offer a variety of possibilities for your party. Hold a silly tea party with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme by labeling foods with “eat me” or “drink me” tags, use mismatched tableware and make cakes, cookies and other confections in unusual sizes. Or throw some pillows around on the floor and enact “One Thousand and One Nights” by encouraging guests to share stories. For adults, recreate “The Great Gatsby” with 1920s clothing and great jazz music. Use cookbooks related to the story to share the four-course afternoon tea from “Anne of Green Gables,” serving sandwiches, raspberry cordial and other treats.
Historical Fiction and Book Themes
Invite guests to the “Little House in the Big Woods” or “Little House on the Prairie” for a celebration of historical fiction. Encourage guests to dress for the occasion in pioneer-style clothing, and add some of the foods in the books to your menu. Combine history and gardening with a “Secret Garden” party that includes glittered keys to open the garden’s gate for bird-, flower- and butterfly-shaped cookies and treats. Let guests “chaaaarge it” with make-believe key cards when you turn “Eloise at the Plaza” into an entertaining theme, with guests playing dress-up and munching on Eggs Eloise omelets, Teeny Weenies, and Skipperdee sandwiches, named in honor of Eloise’s pets.
Fantasy, Science Fiction and Book Themes
“Charlotte’s Web” combines fantasy with classic literature. Serve up a pig-shaped cake, along with popcorn and farm-fresh produce, before letting guests decorate their own pumpkin with markers and stickers. Send guests on a Percy Jackson-themed treasure hunt, complete with clues that refer to mythology and to events in the book.
Animal Fiction and Book Themes
Animal books like “Brown Bear, Brown Bear” and “Curious George” give you lots of ways to bring the books to life at your party, while “Horton Hears a Who” gives you the perfect excuse to serve cake pops as the featured refreshments. Let guests make their own masks, crowns and wands before dancing the wild rumpus dance from “Where the Wild Things Are.”                          Contact us for more holiday party themes and tips.books-girly-al

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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Party Planning Tips for Children’s Birthday Parties

A child’s birthday party may seem easy to plan, but anyone who has done it knows it is no easy task! Party planning takes a vast amount of time, planning, and energy. With all of the decisions to be made, sometimes it can be hard to know just where to begin! Here are some must-know party planning tips that will make throwing your child’s birthday celebration much easier!

Theme: When planning a party, the best way to start is to first decide on a theme. What is something your child really loves or has an interest in? Whether it be cats or dogs, tea parties or sports, dinosaurs or cars, the perfect theme is right at your fingertips!

Invitations: Once you have picked your theme, the next step is to find and send out invitations. Invites are a great way to set the tone of the party, so try finding ones with graphics that go along with the theme of your celebration. This will not only delight your child, but will also get your guests excited too. Check out our selection of invitations that are perfect for all of your party needs!

Decorations: Atmosphere is key when it comes to a fabulous party, so get creative! If you’re DIY handy, this is a great way to incorporate your theme into your décor. Not so crafty? No problem! Head straight to the party supply store and knock out all of your decorating needs in one stop!

Budget: Spending a fortune on a party is easy to do, so be sure to make a budget. Remember, kids just want to play and have fun, so make it simple. Games, crafts, and kid-friendly snacks are the ultimate combo for an excellent party. And don’t worry about loading guests up with goody bags. Stickers and trinkets are nice, but most parents find it unnecessary. Talk about a money-saver!

For after-party extras, be sure to check out our large selection of stationary for those must-send thank you notes!

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.

Encouraging writing skills: Boys edition

It’s a common misconception that boys are better at math and girls are better at writing and language arts. This popular belief, according to developmental psychologists actually has no basis in reality, but is more of a reflection of the beliefs and teaching of society.

These days, teachers and parents of girls are often encouraged to allow their girls the same math and science play opportunities boys have, because there’s no genetic predisposition to disliking bugs or engineering.

But what can parents of boys do to ensure that they are encouraging writing skills for their son in language arts and communication?

One increasingly popular category of children’s literature has emerged for “reluctant readers” and it’s often called “The gross-out book.”  By appealing to a boy’s enthusiasm for passing gas and other bodily functions, these books appeal to a child’s sense of the taboo.  Luckily, most boys have other interests that parents can appeal to, in case they’re more interested in helping their sons develop a social awareness that extends beyond the idea that “Everybody Poops.”

Homeschoolers and other educators remind us that children’s interests can often be used as a gateway for other learning. Put another way, it isn’t necessary to “make learning fun” because learning is already fun. For boys who enjoy playing video games, there are gamer magazines and websites with plenty of cheats and playing advice to help turn a reluctant reader into an eager reader.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that “Hop on Pop” is far less interesting to an 8 yr old boy than “Six tricks for Minecraft world domination.” The lesson here is for parents to find written materials that support the child’s interests instead of boring him to tears.

Another tool for helping boys harness their literary skills is a nice set of boys stationery.  Parents can use stationary as a learning tool by packing notes in lunch boxes and leaving notes throughout the house.  Making a habit of leaving scavenger-hunt-like clues can be fun for kids to decode especially when there’s a prize at the end.  Parents who are in the habit of leaving notes are illustrating the practical aspects of written communication and giving their son reasons to write.  Finding pleasure in written communication can be the difference between “I don’t want to do my writing homework” and “Hey Mom, did I spell Disneyland correctly?”

Some educational reform advocates are concerned that kids are being taught the mechanics of reading and writing at the expense of their enthusiasm. When a child is interested in something and excited about it, it’s difficult to keep them from learning more. One of the best things a parent can do to help their children succeed in reading and writing is to model the importance of communication and provide the child with the tools to use it in his or her life.

Check out our selection of boys stationery to help your little guy embrace his passion for the written word.