Category Archives: Family

Summer Bucket List for Kids

Summer Bucket list ideas for kids! Great ideas to make memories this summer.

Have you ever considered having a summer bucket list for kids?

School is almost done, it’s getting hotter (we were up to 90 degrees this week), schedules and expectations are changing. Maybe your kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school but you still want to make summer special. There might be a big vacation planned or maybe you are saving money this year and staying home.

One way to keep things fun is to have a Summer Bucket List. Have your kids help come up with fun summer activities and narrow it down to your top 10, 20, 30 or however many you think you have time for over the next few months. Write them down on a chart and tackle some each week checking them off as they are accomplished.

Having a Summer Bucket List for kids will make the summer of a staycation more exciting or help the weeks before and after a big vacation go by quickly. The kids will love having lots of little summer activities to look forward to.

I have a 6 year old, 4 year old, and a 14 month old. The older two would love all these ideas (and even helped brainstorm) and the baby eagerly does whatever her big siblings do.

I have 31 free ideas and then a bonus 21 extra ideas that begin at just a couple dollars. If you keep scrolling to the end of the list, I have a printable list of all 52 ideas and a blank form you can use to make your own bucket list to check off this summer.

Affiliate Links may be used:

Ideas for a Summer Bucket List for Kids:

Free

  • Splash pad
  • Make popsicles
  • Fly a kite
  • Have a water fight
  • Read a chapter book aloud
  • Local beach at the lake
  • Story time at the library
  • Other library kids events
  • Star gazing
  • Park hop to all the good parks in your town
  • At home movie night
  • Camp in the living room
  • Swimming
  • Hike/nature walk
  • Picnic
  • Cookout in the park
  • Game night
  • Scavenger hunt
  • Relay races
  • Chalk mural on the driveway
  • Make a giant sheet fort
  • Free community events (parade, touch a truck, etc)
  • Family walks
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Bike ride
  • Feed the ducks
  • Fishing
  • Service project
  • Write cards/draw pictures and mail
  • Climb a tree (this is my 6 year old’s addition to the list)
  • Home Depot workshop

Almost Free

Paid Activities

  • Buy (and play) a new outdoor game
  • Buy (and play) a new board game
  • Go to a movie
  • Concert or show
  • Zoo
  • Children’s museum
  • Bowling
  • Ice cream shop
  • Go to a baseball game
  • Mini golf
  • Dollar store shopping spree
  • Local museum/historical site
  • Amusement park
  • Water park


Here is a printable list of all of the summer activities for kids!

Here is a blank form you can use to create your own summer bucket list for kids!

What are your favorite things to do during the summer?

Great Free summer bucket list for kids printable Continue reading

Summer Recap

We have entered back to school week in our part of the country. My kids are still under school age and we aren’t doing any formal teaching this year. I decided to get in on the action of heading back anyway by jumping onto the blog after what ended up being a summer break.

This girl loved every minute she spent on her first trip to a beach of any kind since she was a baby! Her brother, not so much. 

It’s seems that once you get out of a routine, it’s really hard to get started again. I see this play out in my life in things like exercise, Bible studies, and blogging of course. Time gets filled up with other things and it takes work to carve it back out again.

When it comes to blogging I figure summer are busy for every and people spend less time reading blogs and browsing Pinterest anyway. Vacations, family, and kids’ activities take up a lot of time. Now the world is heading home and attempting to start up a new routine.

This lake. It’s gorgeous, peaceful (unless there’s a storm, I imagine), and brings up so many happy memories. So much fun to go back!

Our big trip for the summer was to visit my sister and her family in Minnesota. It was amazing and coming back home was brutal. The temperature difference between Minnesota and Oklahoma is pretty drastic and made me wish for a summer home some place much cooler. We spent time at the beach on Lake Superior, hiking to a waterfall in Wisconsin, catching up with both of my parents’ extended families , and of course hanging out at my sister’s house with her adorable kids!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And being in a town with a Chick Fil A meant we could dress up for some free food!

This fall we’ll take a trip to Texas and a weekend trip to Arkansas to spend time with the rest of my family but we are waiting for the weather to cool off a tad. :-) Yes, I am a wimp.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coolest park ever! This one only section. 

In the meantime, we are working on getting in a routine of working my my oldest on her reading. She’s made good progress the past couple months and I’m excited for the world of books to be opened up to her. Hopefully, I can find a blogging routine of some sort to get back into that as well. This is a start, right? A blogging schedule would probably help, but you know – baby steps! Maybe that will happen one of these days.

I hope that your summer has gone well and that the transition back to school goes smoothly!

First Game for Toddlers

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Toddlers and games don’t really go together well in our house. My 4 year old daughter loves to play from her stash of games but if 2 year old brother is awake, everything is guaranteed to be destroyed.

Games pieces, puzzles, cards, boards are all colorful novelty items that are calling out their attentions. Games have become for mornings before he’s awake, naptimes, and after he’s gone to bed in our house to save lots of fights and tears.

There is one game that our two year is learning to play. It’s actually the best first game for toddlers. Our oldest got it when she turned two and picked up on it quickly and now our second is learning (or attempting anyway). It’s even on my list of gift ideas for a 2 year old.

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

It’s super simple but that’s what our 2 year old needs. Carefully moving pieces around a board just isn’t going to happen. Plus, it involves throwing a big plush cube (and throwing is is favorite thing to do). There’s no winners – you just take turns tossing the cube and picking up a color card that corresponds with the color on the top of the cube and you all do what it says.

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Not terribly exciting for the adults but it’s fun to see the kids excited. Our 4 1/2 year old still enjoys playing it with her brother even though it’s way too easy for her. Right now on Amazon it’s almost $20 – look for it used or wait for the price to drop because that seems a little too pricey for me. But then again, you know I like to save money.The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

If you are crafty, you could even sew a cube and draw instructions onto different colored papers.

But for those of us with no skills whatsoever, this game works great! Once they are ready to move on to slightly more advanced games, my 4 year old has several other easy ones to recommend that we’ll have to share soon!

The best first game for toddlers! My kids both love this game - no small pieces or game boards to destroy so it's the perfect game for small kids!

Linking up to these fun parties!

Cooking for Preschoolers

Great cooking ideas for preschoolers! These semi-independent ideas will keep your kids busy and you'll have a kid friendly dinner or treat out of it too.

Photo Credit & license

Semi-independent cooking for preschoolers is a great way them to learn new skills and it also has them doing something useful. Kids feel proud and have a sense of accomplishment when they help you.

Kids in the kitchen also serve another purpose. It’s the perfect thing to occupy and keep them busy on those days it’s way too hot (or freezing) to go outside and they’ve already gone through reading, art projects, and building. These cooking ideas/projects for preschoolers are all things that should keep them occupied for a while so don’t rush; let them take their time .

Some of the items on this list of things your preschoolers can make or prepare in the kitchen will require a little more supervision and some are more time intensive but your kids will love them all.

There’s one thing you are going to have to do to make this successful, and it’s not always easy. For whatever your child is working on – leave your expectations at the door! Their foods doesn’t have to (and most likely won’t) look perfect. If they are being safe, sanitary, and having fun – let them be! You want to them to enjoy and want to help in the kitchen. Eventually they’ll be able to cook entire meals but if you make them dread stepping into the kitchen it might not happen.

  • Bread Sticks – Garlic and Cinnamon
  • Homemade Personal Pizzas
    Make up a batch of dough and sauce and have your kids help grate the cheese, cut up vegetables, cook meat and then give them a wad of dough and have them go at creating their own pizza.
  • Homemade Pretzels (It’s okay if they don’t end up in the perfect pretzel shape)
  • Bread (or roll) Dough in Creative Shapes.
    Have the kids assist with putting the ingredients for your favorite yeast bread in the mixer and after its first raise let them have at shaping it into artistic shapes – it could be blobs, hearts, people, rabbits, turtles etc. They’ll love it plus it will take them a while. It’s almost like playdough you can eat.
  • Mini Cinnamon Rolls
    Give your kids a small sections of dough to work with at a time. They will roll out a small rectangle of dough, spread with butter and then sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture. If the rectangle is small enough, they should be able to roll it up themselves. They can then use kitchen scissors or a knife to cut into rolls.
  • Roll Out Sugar Cookies
    I really don’t enjoy decorating these cookies but my 4 year old LOVES to frost and decorate for hours. The most time consuming part (especially if the kids are helping) is rolling and cutting out the dough. To make things a little simpler, you roll out and bake the cookies and then they can do the decorating. (Or just save them a small amount of dough to roll out and you do the rest) When it comes to decorating, we just set out a couple little dishes are icing and put topping options into small bowls of some sort and she has at it.
  • Fruit Salad
    Great practice for those cutting skills. If you pick soft enough fruit they might be able to manage washing and cutting everything and you’d have an easy side dish all ready for supper. (Or turn it into dessert and have your child whip some heavy cream to go on top)
  • Mini Fruit Pizzas
  • Fruit Art
    Wash grapes, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, slice up some bananas and whatever else you want. Mini marshmallows would also be a fun addition. With toothpicks they could make some cool grape sculptures and maybe even they could connect them together like people or animals or give them a plate and they can arrange the fruit into fun scenes.
  • No Bake Peanut Butter Bees
    This recipe uses graham cracker crumbs or use this healthier recipe with honey, peanut butter and powdered milk.
  • Veggie Pizza
    Prebake your pizza crust and after cooled let the kids spread it with softened cream cheese and top with assorted veggies that they helped wash and chop. Season with salt, pepper, herbs etc.
  • Salad Bar
    My kids always fight over tearing, washing, and spinning the lettuce. They can also help prepare and put all the other ingredients into bowls: Veggies, seeds & nuts, cheese, beans, meat, hard boiled eggs, etc.
  • Homemade Biscuits
  • Homemade Muffins
    My daughter enjoys helping make the muffins and loves putting the batter into the muffins tins. We like to do the mini muffins. Sure, the pan needs wiped down before it goes in the oven but it’s good practice.
  • Cupcake Decorating
    Like with the cookies have dishes or frosting, sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, fruit etc to use to decorate.
  • Cookie Dough Balls for the Freezer
    Make a double or triple batch of cookie dough with their help and then they can roll the dough into balls and line on a rimmed baking sheet to go into the freezer. After frozen, they can transfer to a zipped  food storage bag.
  • Angel Food Cake Trifle
    Make an angel food cake and after cool the kids can tear it into bite sized pieces, make whipped cream, slice strawberries and layer it all together in a serving bowl.
  • Parfaits
    Use yogurt, pudding, or whipped cream and layer in glasses or bowls with fruit, granola, chocolate etc.
  • Sandwiches
    Let the kids make mini sandwiches on little pieces of bread (or use cookie cutters on big pieces) and they can assemble little sandwiches for a fun picnic lunch or tea party.
  • Tacos
    Another great and easy meal with lots of prep the kids can be involved in. They can also help make homemade salsa.



Pick a couple projects a week and by the end of the summer your preschooler will be a little expert in the kitchen and you will have filled up many otherwise long, hot afternoons with fun, educational, and useful preschool kitchen projects!

Great cooking ideas for preschoolers! These semi-independent ideas will keep your kids busy and you'll have a kid friendly dinner or treat out of it too.

 

Photo Credit & license

Great cooking ideas for preschoolers! These semi-independent ideas will keep your kids busy and you'll have a kid friendly dinner or treat out of it too.

How to Get Work Done when Kids are with You

I take both of my children to work with me – every day. No, there is no day care on location. Yes, some days I think I’m crazy.

Great advice for work at home or outside the home moms! | When your kids have to come to work with you, how can you get anything done? These are some of the things I've done over the last 4 years of bring my kids to work with me!

I’ve worked as the secretary at our church for over 6 years now. A few years after I started, our daughter was born. Our pastor asked if coming back to work and bring her with me was something I wanted to do, and we decided to try it. That baby is now over 4 year and a 23 month old also joins us. We work Monday through Thursday from 8-3.

Did I ever dream that I’d still be working with both kids coming along with me? Nope! I can remember thinking, “maybe I can keep working until my daughter turns one”. That age turned into two and then three and now she’s four. The extra income my job has provided has blessed us in many ways. We’ve been able to purchase vehicles, our first home, take trips, and are now using it to pay off our home early!

I’ve spent many an hour working with the kids with me. Some days go perfectly and others have a lot of not so pleasant moments in them but we’ve found some things that help our weeks go by a little more smoothly. If you work from your home, these tips will help you as well!

What are some of the suggestions? Here’s how to get work done when kids are with you:

1. Naps

When they are of napping age, plan for naps to happen while you are at work instead of at home. During the months when my children took two or more naps a day, I made it so they’d take one in the morning and one after lunch both while we were at work. When they went to one nap, it happened right after lunch at work. My oldest doesn’t take any naps, but little brother still takes an afternoon one. Those hours are blissful.

2. Spouse’s Schedule

I go to work at 8 and my husband doesn’t have to be at his job until 10. I go to work alone and he brings the two kids at 9:45 right before he heads to work. If he has to go in earlier, the kids simply come to me sooner. Even if your husband heads to work just 30 minutes or an hour later than you, take advantage of that time.

3. Desk Space is for Working

My kids are welcome to be around my desk (and are a majority of the day) but when your child is old enough to understand, make it clear that your office is for working. Rambunctious playing and loud noises have to be done elsewhere. For my daughter that is down the hallway away from the offices or in the nursery (great perk of a church job)!

4. Clear Expectations and Rules

Even though my daughter has been coming to work with me all four years of her life, I still have to communicate expectations and rules for the day.

  • This is working time
  • If you want to be loud, go across the hall or in the hallway
  • When people are trying to work, leave them alone
  • Obey the first time

5. Snacks

Utilize food to your advantage. Especially on those days where the kids are overly tired. My daughter brings a piece of fruit (and sometimes her entire breakfast) with her in the morning. Eating it will take up the first portion of time each day. After lunch we also bring a small snack. Often, she will be given it part way through the afternoon as an incentive for good behavior. (We now don’t do afternoon snack at church – it happens shortly after we get home for the afternoon and that works just as well or better.)

6. Activities

Each day let your child select one or two items to bring that they are able to do alone or with minimal supervision sitting on the floor beside your desk. (Affiliate links used) Puzzles, opposite games, activity books (my 4 year old is obsessed with workbooks of all kinds), coloring supplies, blocks (or something to build).

7. Movies

We have recently eliminated most all screen time in our home, but our daughter is allowed to pick out a movie or show to bring to work. This will occupy them for a decent amount of time, especially if you give them their snack and a blanket at the same time and they can have a little movie party.

8. Limit Battles but Don’t be a Pushover

While you are getting paid isn’t the time to have a multiple hour conflict with your child. At the same time you don’t want to allow them to get by with disobeying, not respecting boundaries, and being loud when you are on the phone. If you do, future work days will be torture. When my daughter disobeys, is loud, or is disruptive to one of the pastors, I remind her of the rules and give a consequence if it happens again. She has to leave the office and go to the room across the hall if she’s going to be rude. End of discussion. She might lose her snack or have to go to her room when we get home. All of those consequences involve minimal time from me, but she’ll remember the next day that I mean what I say.

I’ll be honest, some days go great and others not so well but it has worked surprising well over the years. Adding a second child has helped in there now being a playmate but also increased the amount of destruction and tears that can happen.

It’s good though and I’m thankful for the opportunity to earn money and have my children with me. These tips on how to get work done when kids are with you have really helped our days!

How do you get desk work done with kids around?

"Great

Linking up to these fun parties!

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts

These are some great unique mother's day gift ideas that will also get used! I'd love every one of these. Great ideas to save for Christmas and birthdays too.

Mother’s Day. What if you don’t want to do the flowers or box of chocolate business? You want something a little more fun and thoughtful. Even if you know your mom well, it’s sometimes nice to have a little extra help brainstorming ideas.

Here’s a list of 10 unique Mother’s Day gifts to help you in your shopping. Hey, they’d be great options for Christmas or birthday too (maybe you’ll even want to add them to your own list).

Fair Trade Earrings

I’m loving these funky paper bead earrings from Mercy House. Not only can you get your mom a fun pair of earrings you are also supporting moms in Kenya.

Essential Oil Diffuser and Essential Oils

There are countless diffusers out there. Check out this post for some reviews.

I love Plant Therapy oils. They have become my go to. Great quality, great customer service, and great prices. You can order from their site or Amazon.

Himalayan Salt Lamp

This has been on my wish list for a while and we were just given one last week. We have it set up in the bedroom. The light is fairly bright, so it might be something you only want to use during the day. It releases negative ions and is supposed to purify the air. Not only that, it looks cool.

Tea

I’m not a coffee drinker, but I do enjoy a good mug of tea. Branch out and try a few new kinds. Some of the brands I always browse through are: Yogi (has my current favorite Egyptian Licorice Tea), Traditional Medicinals, Tazo, Stash, Twinings. One of them will have something that would be perfect for you mom.

Books

Splurge for a hard cover edition of the mom in your life’s favorite book. If classics are her thing, maybe Pride and Prejudice. Check out the other classics in this Clothbound Classics set. These Puffin in Bloom books of some of the childhood classics are adorable too!

Lip Balms

Lip balms are one of those things that everyone uses. Lips get dry, kids dig in purses and slobber all over your tube, and they get lost. Of course I’m partial to mine and you can even get a set of 3 for a great price. (Check out the rest of the store for more ideas.)

Herb Garden

Assuming the mom you are shopping for enjoys cooking, go to your local home and garden store and pick out some pots and plant an assortment of herbs. It would be a fun gift that keeps on giving. You can’t beat fresh herbs.

Something Fun for the Kitchen

I’m loving some of these dip bowls from Target. Aren’t the bicycle ones too cute?

Cotton towels also seem to dry dishes the best and these ones from MightyNest are adorable. Might as well make dishes a little more fun.

 Specialty Foods

Buy an assortment of those foods you know she loves but seldom splurges on. It might be something like fabulous bread and cheese, gourmet chocolate bars, an assortments of nuts or her favorite cheesecake. I think we all have these things that we feel guilty spending on.

Wall Art

Obviously you have to know the mom and their taste but there are so many creative people out there. I’m always finding things I love or know the perfect person for.

Hey Emily Thomas has some awesome prints that are affordable or you can splurge on a mixed media canvas. She does great work and I get excited when I see her share one of her new pieces.

Sariko Designs has cute signs on reclaimed wood that I love. We have one of her name signs hanging up in our living room.

One last place I always check for wall art is Dayspring. They have some neat wall art and canvases. Don’t forget to look at the clearance section – I’ve found some good stuff there before.

I love these ideas. They are fun, kind-of practical, and different than the standard flowers. Write a heartfelt card to go with your gift and you are all set.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Enjoy Parenting Little Kids When You are Exhausted

Parenting is never exhausting and I’m never ready to go to bed at 6pm.

Cue the laughter. We all know taking care of kids, managing a house, and the rest of life isn’t easy. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. “The days are long but the years are short”. Countless times we’ve heard and read those words. Moms and grandmas that have been there before encourage us not to let the days pass by and to cherish the moments with our littles.

We hear how they miss those moments when their children were little. It’s true. We know it. The days seem long yet our children grow so quickly.

We want to savor and enjoy the time we have with them. It doesn’t change the fact, though, that It’s hard. It’s exhausting.

When month after month you are waking up multiple times through the night with a crying baby or toddler. Then there is a clingy, drooling child wanting you throughout the day. A toddler is pushing her limits, testing you to see what she can get by with. Then there are the normal tasks of diaper changing, bottom wiping, laundry washing, nursing, making meals and (minimal) cleaning.

Life is overwhelming. It’s hard to appreciate what you have when you are exhausted and have a to-do list a mile long.

I want to share with you 12 suggestions for helping us to enjoy life when the days are long.

Affiliate links used.

1. Early Bedtime

Having my children go to bed early has been a sanity saver, especially since the toddler stopped taking naps shortly after she was two. I know I just need to get to 7:30 and then I will have some time to tackle one of the projects that need to be done and enjoy a little quiet. Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short. 2. Hot Shower or Bath

At the end of one of those chaotic and exhausting days, there is nothing like relaxing in the shower. It helps relieve stress and clear my brain. If you take a bath, add an Oatmeal Lavender Bath Tea Bag  for added moisture and relaxation!

3. Chocolate

A little secret indulgence to look forward to. Sometimes a piece of dark chocolate makes everything look better. Or make a batch of fudge and put it in the freezer!

4. Prayer

Tell God what you are going through. Ask Him to help you. Take praying without ceasing to heart. When you are stressing or don’t know if you can follow through with your child another time, whisper a prayer to Him.

5. Do Something Out of the Ordinary

Sometimes breaking up the routine does wonders for attitudes and helps you enjoy the small moments with you children.

On long days where there seems to be continual drama, I’ve been known to put the kids in the tub for an afternoon bath. They love baths so this always makes them happy. The water is cold long before they want to get out. I can also spend some time reading while I sit and watch them so it’s a win win.

Maybe turning your lunch into a picnic on the living room floor or taking an impromptu trip to the park will enable you to leave your to-do list behind for an hour and enjoy making a memory with your children.

6. Take a Walk

This is a great one for when the weather is nice. Even if it’s less than desirable, you can bundle everyone up and keep it short. Exercise and being outside typically helps the moods in my family. It’s a great way to blow steam, burn energy, and get rid of some stress. If your kids are stroller age, you will get a good workout in. If they are older, let them walk or bike down the sidewalk and burn off some of their energy.

7. Keep Movies and TV Time Special

Don’t make movies and television a normal part of your routine. Keep them special. Then when the kids are being especially clingy, under the weather, or you have a project that really needs to be done you can put in a movie and they will be excited.

8.  A Cup of Tea (or Coffee)

Coffee is not my thing, but I love a good cup of hot tea. Yogi Egyptian Licorice is one of my favorites and it’s fun to buy a box of a new one to try every once in a while. I brew myself a cup to sip on during the day. Sure it might need reheated a time or two, but there is just something relaxing about a hot drink.

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

9. Let Things Go – Lower Your Expectations

Don’t think you can (or even have to) do it all. Realize a perfectly tidy house isn’t realistic. Know your child will misbehave on occasions. Don’t compare yourself to others.

10. 5 Minute Pick-Up

Stuff and clutter cause more stress in my life. I know I won’t eliminate it, but I can decrease it. A 5 minute pick-up has made a huge difference in our home. I feel so much better after we are done.

11. Simplify

Don’t try and be fancy and creative. (Unless it’s something that makes you excited.) Your kids won’t know the difference. Don’t put pressure on yourself for big birthday parties, gourmet meals, and extra curricular activities you feel pressured to do. Simplify and just do what is right for your family at this time.

12. Rest in Him

We will be exhausted. But through the longest of days we can remember the promise in Matthew 11:28-30

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

What ways have you found to help you enjoy the everyday moments with your children when the days are long? If your children are grown, what advice do you have for those of us in the midst of it?

Being a parent is great, but man can it ever be exhausting. You want to enjoy these years but it's hard. These are some ways to enjoy this time when the days are long but the years are short.

Linking up to these fun parties!

Taking the Emphasis off of Gifts at Christmas

Christmas. A tree with presents piled underneath and stockings hung by the fireplace. Growing up, we’d always wake up early and try to whisper quietly for as long as we could stand it. Our morning would start with emptying stockings and amazing homemade cinnamon rolls. We’d then sit around the living room floor and go into the presents! So many great memories.

Is it Christmas without piles of presents under the tree? These are 8 great ideas to help your family take the emphasis off of gifts. Need to read this for this year!

We know you can buy presents on a budget, but what if you simply don’t want to have your focus on gifts this year? What if you want to take the emphasis off of gifts? What can you do to help your children know that Christmas is more than just presents?

I have come up with 8 ways of taking the emphasis off of gifts at Christmas.

Choose what works for you and take baby steps. If you uproot everyone of your traditions at once, your day might be spent with a lot of tears. Young children won’t understand your verbalization of why you are doing things differently.

Gift Less

This is a great first baby step. Instead of doing no presents, simply have fewer and then incorporate a few other ideas into your day. Christmas doesn’t have to be this big elaborate deal. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars and have stacks of presents for each child. Be selective about what you buy. Your children don’t have to have everything on their wishlist. They might even appreciate what they do receive more than when their attention is divided between so many new things.

Family Gift

Stuff a stocking with little goodies for each family member but forgo individual presents and instead buy something everyone’s been wanting or go someplace fun!

Purchase some new movies, video games, board games, a swing set, trampoline or something that the entire family can do together instead of tearing through piles of presents. Spend the rest of the day creating memories and enjoy the one big gift.

Experience Gift

Go to the movie theater, rent a hotel room and use the indoor pool. If you live where it’s warm, take a trip to the beach or park. There are a lot of options if you think out of the box. Trampoline Park, museum that’s always been a little too pricey to make your budget cut, ice skating. This will, of course, depend on the age of your kids and interests in your family.

Add in special snacks and treats you wouldn’t normally have and make Christmas about the memories instead of the rush of opening presents that’s over in minutes.

If the experience you select isn’t open on Christmas day, spend the day relaxing, cookie decorating, movie watching, or serving and go on your adventure in the next week or two.

Go Serve

The family gift and experience gift both downplay gifts but you can take it a step further. Look around your area and find a service project your family can be involved in on Christmas day. Maybe help serve a Christmas meal.

I can guarantee your family will bond and you’ll remember this Christmas forever. Growing up we spent several Christmases delivering Christmas meals that a local church put together to those that are home-bound.

Go Minister

Contact your local nursing and assisted living homes. Spend a little time on Christmas talking with the residents that are spending the day without family. Listen to their stores, sing  carols with them, let them enjoy being around your kids.

Donate

You can either skip gifts all together and maybe have your family pick out items from the World Vision Gift catalog to enrich the lives of others around the world or give the difference of what you normally spend to an organization you select together.

Open Your Home

Keep your ears open around your work, church, areas of activity etc for those that have no place to go for the holidays. Invite them into your home, let them spend time with your family, enjoy a meal together, bring out the games and have a great time.

Christmas doesn’t have to be a day that revolves around gifts for your kids to cherish. Select some ways to take the emphasis off of gifts this year, you won’t regret it. Focus on family, memories, serving, and others this year and it will be a Christmas you’ll remember!

Have you tried taking the emphasis off of gifts at Christmas in your home?

Is it Christmas without piles of presents under the tree? These are 8 great ideas to help your family take the emphasis off of gifts. Need to read this for this year!

If you are looking for more Christmas posts, check out these:

11 Tips for Christmas Presents on a Budget
Gift Ideas for a Teenage Girl
Gift Ideas for a Two Year Old
Homemade Gift Baskets (Food and Drink Themed)
Losing the Christmas Chaos
Look Upward
When Christmas Becomes a Joy Killer

Or if recipes are more your thing, I have a fantastic fudge recipe you need to try!

Linking up to these fun parties!

 

The Secret to Financial Success

The Secret to Financial Success! Sitting down and doing this as a couple and actually following through as made a world of difference. You'll want to start today!

I’m excited to be a part of the New American Dream Blog Tour along with hundreds of other bloggers! To learn more and join us, Click Here!

The secret to financial success?

Have a budget and stick to it! Sure, more money might be nice, but if you don’t know how to budget you’ll never have enough! (I speak from experience. When we’ve had a budget on paper, but not follow through we wasted money and spent more.) 

Why Budget?

Sometimes it can feel like a drag being limited by the cash in your envelope system when you really want to eat out instead of cook or buy the new piece of furniture for your house. It’s important to remember the big picture when you feel those thoughts of remorse and woe is me. You don’t have to say no forever to buying something for your house. Just wait until you have the money for it. You can go out for dinner sometimes, but when the money is gone, it’s gone!

Keep in mind the bigger picture – remember why you are doing what you do.

Budgeting reduces stress! It gives you a freedom you wouldn’t already have. Telling our money where to go and being able to put money aside in savings has been such a blessing over the 8 years of our marriage.Without budgeting and being careful with our money, we wouldn’t have an emergency fund built up. When life happens, as we know it will, we’d be sunk.

As I think back, our marriage started off with immediately paying off my husband’s school loans and car. After that we started saving for purchases and building the savings account for those unanticipated costs.

Over the past 8 years we’ve been thankful for a job with great health insurance. But still, without our savings my 9 day stay in the hospital with severe double pneumonia could have sunk us anyway. When our second car had officially fallen apart, we wouldn’t have been able to purchase a new (to us) vehicle. We had enough for a large down payment on our home and when the foundation needed piers, we were able to have them put in.

Being able to encounter most of what life throws at you without being stressed and worried about where the money is going to come from to pay for yet another thing is so worth it!

Start Today!

The Secret to Financial Success! Sitting down and doing this as a couple and actually following through as made a world of difference. You'll want to start today!

Even if you have debt and feel overwhelmed, today is the perfect time to start taking baby steps! You don’t have to stay burdened by money forever. Sit down and go over your expenses and your income. See where you can save, what you can eliminate entirely to free up even $10, $100, or $1,000 a month. Use that money to build an emergency fund and pay off the debts. It can be done!

Your stress will go down and your happiness will increase as you start living the New American Dream!

Does the idea of budgeting give you a sense of freedom or does it make you feel tied down? I’d love to know how budgeting has been a blessing to you over the years.

Mark and Lauren Greutman are the faces behind The New American Dream. They found themselves living the old dream. One that involved fancy cars, custom homes, and a pile of debt. They exchanged that overrated, stressed out dream for their new American dream of enjoying life together while living within their means. They’ll teach you how to jumpstart your new American dream. Visit them here.

The Secret to Financial Success! Sitting down and doing this as a couple and actually following through as made a world of difference. You'll want to start today!
Linking up to these fun parties!

 

Being Kind Counts

Being kind matters and the little acts that we do throughout our day really do make a difference. There is a campaign going on right now called Being Kind Counts, encouraging us all to be kind and spread the message.

Being Kind Counts! You can be kind and make a difference - even on a budget of $0.

It can be easy to become overwhelmed thinking that acts of kindness need to be big and glorious or cost money to mean anything. Sure, those things do make a difference and are a great way to show kindness but they aren’t the only way. Sometimes the small and heartfelt things can mean just as much to someone. Being kind doesn’t have to cost money! It can be done on a budget of any size.

There might be times when your act of kindness isn’t even noticed. That’s okay too. We don’t serve and give to be noticed and acknowledged.

An example of a small way to show kindness is doing something you shouldn’t have to do.

I’m speaking from experience here. Last week I had two such situations arise. There was a shower at our church Sunday afternoon. Two staff member spouses hosted the shower. That means things should be cleaned up well, right? Well, I walked into work (church) Monday morning and dirty dishes were piled on the counter, the sinks needed rinsed out of cake debris, and the counters cleared off. I ignored it. I ignored it all the way up until Thursday when I was fewer than 2 hours away from being done with work for the week. This campaign crossed my mind and I decided to be kind and bless the hostess of the shower (even though they’d never know it) and also bless the lady who would walk into church early Sunday morning to make breakfast for everyone. #beingkindcounts

The second time was similar, only it occurred in our home. My husband takes food for lunch everyday and typically brings home the containers everyday or two. The rule kind-of is, if you stock pile dirty containers for a week or more, I’m not going to be the one to clean them. They get gross and stinky so he washes them when he lets them pile up. Well, one night Shaun came home with a Wal-Mart sack full of containers and set it beside the sink and said he’d wash them. They sat there several hours, maybe even overnight. All I know is they didn’t didn’t even move out of the sack, instead they were taking up valuable counter space. I was cleaning up the rest of the kitchen and putting away dishes and was about to go and request that Shaun wash them but I didn’t. Once again I remembered this campaign and sucked it up and decided to wash them instead. #beingkindcounts

This week as you are going about your normal life, I challenge you to look for little (and big) ways that you can bless those around you and show kindness even if it will never be noticed. After you do your deeds, pass the challenge on to two other people and keep the momentum going! You can go to Being Kind Counts and submit your good deed and read about the others.

Being Kind Counts! You can be kind and make a difference - even on a budget of $0.

What good deeds have you done recently? Any in mind that you are going to do this week?

Linking up to these fun parties!