Stay at Home Date Night Ideas With Your Spouse

 

Home Date Night Ideas

Another day has gone by, and without you realizing it date night is here again! You don’t feel like heading out to the movies. Your spouse doesn’t want to have another dinner. Heck, neither of you even wants to go to the bar for a drink. So, what do you do when you want to have a date night at home? Here are a couple of ideas we came up with!

Movie Marathon

Why not have movie nights at home? If you have Netflix, it’s easy to get a couple of movies up and on the big screen to watch in the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to pay for popcorn or even wait in line to use the bathroom! It’s convenient, and best of all you and your spouse can enjoy the movies you want. Even if you don’t use Netflix you can stream videos from other sites and all you have to do is pay a small fee to do it.

Board Game

If you’re not a movie type of person, why not play some board games with your spouse? It’s easy, fun, and can provide something a little different you can do together. The best part is you can choose whatever board game you like to play with your spouse. It’s nice to have some snacks, and relax with a good game. Even if you end up playing several games in one night, you and your spouse are bound to find one you’ll want to play again next date night.

Video Games

Board games not your thing? Go for video games instead! There are plenty of games out there that allow you play with a friend. Pick a game you and your spouse both enjoy and have a night of adventure. Fighting games are usually a good way to start off the night. They allow you pitch your skills against your spouse’s to see who’s the strongest. There are also many games that allow you play in a co-op mode with another person. So if you’re having trouble getting through a level, why not invite your spouse to play with you? Even if you decide to play a normal game, you and your spouse can take turns playing. This makes it easier for the both of you, and is guaranteed to keep you engaged.

Finding what to do for date night can be hard. You want to do something different, but you don’t want to leave the house. There are many activities you can do at home with your spouse. We just came up with a couple that are very easy to do. Find out what you and your spouse both like. Maybe cook a dinner together or make a special dessert both of you can feast on. You can even learn a new skill together! As long as you keep an open mind, you’re sure to find something both of you can enjoy on your special night.

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Setting Realistic New Years Resolutions

New Years Resolutions

Every New Years many of us make goals to complete in this shiny new year. It is a way to try and take control of certain aspects of our lives. However, too often we make goals for ourselves that are too ill thought out or outlandish to succeed. No one likes feeling like they failed. This year, if you are going to make New Year’s resolutions, try some of our tips to make a realistic resolution that you’ll be able to accomplish.

Take Stock of Where You Are

As you are writing your resolutions, take a moment to write down where you are in your life and what your habits are. Before you can change anything, you have to know what you’re changing. After you’ve reviewed your habits, measure them up against what you want to change. If you eat dessert multiple times a day, cutting dessert out of your life in this new year might be too much of a stark change to stick to. Instead, opt for allowing yourself one dessert once or twice a week. Then, look to cutting out desserts entirely next new year.

Only Make One Big Resolution

Decide what you want to change the most, and let that be your only resolution. With too many goals you’re bound to get distracted and overwhelmed and lose track of what we wanted to do in the first place. Instead, choose one, or maybe two if you’re feeling ambitious, and focus on it throughout the year.

Make a Plan

Don’t just write down your resolution and expect that it will happen. Write down your resolution, and then write down the plan of how you’re going to make it happen. Set little goals that make up your over arching resolution. As you meet these mini goals you’ll slowly be accomplishing your resolution. Furthermore, as you write down your mini goals, make sure they are action statements. Instead of, “Loose 5 pounds by the end of February.” Write, “During January, visit the gym 3 nights a week and cook a healthy dinner two nights per week.” Or something to that effect. The point is to make your goals actions you can do instead of ideas that you think about.

Remind Yourself Everyday

Having a goal for an entire year can be difficult, especially because you can forget about it as life wears on with its usual bumps and distractions. Instead of allowing yourself to forget, actively remember to motivate yourself with your resolution daily. Remind yourself of your mini goals and why you made a resolution in the first place. Look to your mini goals for guidance, but don’t be afraid to revise them for the better as you gain wisdom about the resolution.

Don’t Want to Make a Big Change?

No desire to change something huge in your life right now? Make a fun resolution. Resolve to keep a plant alive for a year, organize your front closet, or to get a massage.

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10 Ways to Create Holiday Traditions for Your Family

create holiday traditions

The only way to create holiday traditions is to do special things for the holiday. Talk these events up to your kids and make them special. If you enjoyed the activity, make sure you do it again next year and the year after that. Traditions are simply activities we to together every year that we ultimately remember doing. Here are 10 fun holiday things to do that create holiday traditions for you and your family.

1.     Countdown to Christmas

Advent calendars keep the anticipation alive for Christmas Day. Buy one or make your own with candy tacked to a calendar, eat one piece a day.

2.     Send Christmas Cards

Have your kids help you send Christmas cards. If they know how, have them sign their name to every card. If they aren’t, let them leave a thumb print or an X. Proudly display the cards you receive in turn.

3.     Get and Trim a Christmas Tree

Choosing and decorating a fresh Christmas tree as a family is an event many people look forward to. It brings a wonderful smell and beautiful ambiance into every home.

4.     Drink Hot Chocolate under the Glow of Your Tree

When you have finished decorating your tree make some hot chocolate and turn off all the lights in the house but your tree. Sip hot chocolate while admiring the view and singing to Christmas Carols.

5.     Bake Cookies with your Kids

Baking cookies is both fun and delicious. Give away cookies as gifts to your teachers and neighbors, or eat for dessert on Christmas day as a special treat.

6.     Do an Ornament Creating Craft

Craft a new ornament every year together. When your kids are all grown up, give them their ornaments as mementos with which to trim their trees.

7.     Incorporate a Cultural Tradition

Every family has some sort of cultural heritage. Draw from yours to celebrate your roots and to enhance the specialness of the season.

8.     Watch a Christmas Movie

Get into the holiday spirit with a Christmas movie. Watch the same ones every year and/or mix it up with new movies to enjoy. Sing along with the songs. Snack on candy canes or Christmas cookies as you watch.

9.     Go to Christmas Shopping

Take each of your kids out in turn to buy for their siblings, your spouse, their grandparents, and other family. Their gifts don’t have to be extravagant; you could go to the dollar store. Foster their love of giving gifts. Encourage them to think of others would like when choosing gifts, or just let them choose whatever their little hearts desire (much to your entertainment.)

10.   Donate Toys

Make it a tradition to give back every holiday season. Gather and give gifts to the less fortunate.

The traditions we make and keep are a big part of what makes the holiday season so special. Try some new traditions and keep the old to have the best Christmas ever!

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Easy Christmas Craft Ideas

Easy Christmas Craft Ideas

As Christmas draws near and the weather gets colder and colder, having indoor activities to do with your family becomes more and more appealing. However, not all of us are pro DIY-ers. Not to worry! Here are some easy Christmas Craft Ideas that you can do with your kids.

These crafts are excellent to do in the days leading up to Christmas and/or on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Bring the supplies to craft with your kids plus your nieces and nephews wherever you are going to celebrate the holidays and you will have provided a constructive place for the little ones to funnel their energy. In addition, you’ll have provided a memento of the holiday celebration for each child to take home.

Fingerprint Christmas Lights

This is a bit of a messy of craft, but it is so much fun and looks so cute! All you’ll need are primary colored finger paints plus maybe orange and green paint.  Have your kids dip their fingers into the paint and onto the paper in any sort of way. When they are done, depending on their ages, have them bring the paintings to you. Use sharpie “connect the dots” to create the Christmas light chord in a doodle-y and Charlie Brown style Christmas light strand sort of way. Connect the painted lights to the Sharpie-ed on chord with a filled in rectangle shape. And voila! You have an art project to display on your fridge! Little tip, set up the paints and paper on a table with a plastic table cloth on it.

Santa Beard Half Mask

These are so fun and simple! Plus, you get to take pictures of your kids with little Santa’s Beards. Depending on the ages of your children, you may need to begin the craft by cutting out a printed Santa beard template and taping or gluing a popsicle stick to the back of the beard. Then, have your child glue cotton balls all over the beard. They cannot go wrong. After they are dry, have a cute little Santa’s Beard photo shoot!

Felt Christmas Tree Pins

Cut out a 3-4 inch triangle from green felt to be your tree. Cut out a rectangle from the brown felt to be the tree trunk and glue it to the base of the tree. Glue pom poms, sequins, glitter, or whatever else your heart desires to the tree as ornaments. Wait for the glue to completely dry. Once dry, the trees can be safety pinned to your shirt.

Alternatively, you can glue the tree to popsicle stick supports along the edges and down the center of the tree. When the framework is dry, glue the whole thing to the side of a clothing pin so that kids can take the pin on and off a little bit more safely on their own. This craft does involve waiting for something to dry which can be very difficult for little ones. However, the finished product is very-cute.

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Winter Family Staycation Ideas

Winter Family Staycation Ideas

Winter is the perfect time to escape to a warm, sunny beach to soak up the rays and play in the waves.

But for many of us, the reality is that we just can’t afford to get away for a beach vacation at Christmastime.  Here are some ideas you can do to have a great family Staycation.

Benefits

Before we dive into the ideas themselves, here’s a reminder of why a Staycation is a great idea:

  • Saving money – You know how much it costs to buy airline tickets, a rental car, staying in a hotel and eating out. And that doesn’t even touch the activities.
  • Soaking up local color – The reality is that none of us ever really take advantage of the attractions in our own hometowns. A winter Staycation gives you that opportunity
  • Rest – Rather than fight the crowds at the airport, keeping the kids entertained and navigating an unfamiliar place, you can stay home and do something fun with your family
  • Keep it local – This helps your town because your dollars are being spent locally rather than globally

How to Treat It

One of the most important things you can do with a family Staycation is make sure that it is not time for chores or errands.  It’s really tempting to catch up on all of the little projects you haven’t had an opportunity to get to, but that’s not the point.

If you can, stay away from chores around the house, working at home or catching up on TV shows that you have missed.

If you would normally clean the house before you and your family went away on vacation, then certainly do that before your Staycation so you don’t feel obligated to be doing housework when you should be resting and playing.

Some Things to Do

Here are some ideas for fun family Staycation activities:

  • Ice skating – This is something our kids love to do in the wintertime but we rarely do it as a family. Make this one of your family activities during the Christmas vacation
  • Visit local museums – Have the kids get involved in deciding which museum they would like to see. They often go on field trips and are bored to death.  However, a local science museum might be a great idea for an activity for your family
  • Get tickets to a local sporting event
  • Try a new indoor sport like bowling or rock climbing
  • Plan a winter hike – If you live in a snowy area of the country, find a state park that has open and groomed trails and go for hike. If you need snowshoes, you may be able to read them inexpensively
  • Throw a spontaneous winter party – Make sure your friends (especially the ones with kids) come over to your house for an impromptu party. This doesn’t have to be planned in advance, it can just be what it is: Getting together with friends for laughter, fellowship and good food

A winter Staycation does not have to be catching up on chores, errands and housework.  Make it fun for your whole family.

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How to Make Christmas Cards on a Budget

Making Christmas Cards

Christmas cards are wonderful to receive at the holidays but can be really pricey if you’re trying to do Christmas on a budget.

So what can you do?

Pick up some card stock or even heavy construction paper and get the kids involved to make one-of-a-kind Christmas cards to send to friends and family.

Snowflake Card

Using black construction paper, take a snowflake stamp and some silver or gold ink for an elegant Christmas card.  Even easier, pick up some already purchased small snowflakes and glue them on the front of a black card.

Remember when signing the card to use a Sharpie with either gold or silver ink.  Have the kids get involved with choosing the kind and number of snowflakes for the front of the card.

Christmas Present Card

Choose a light colored stock or construction paper as the card itself.  If your kids are old enough, have them help you cut out small squares in different colored pieces of construction paper.  Glue the squares on the front of the card and add a bow to the top.

Then put your family holiday letter inside and send it off.

Photo Card

Take some light colored construction paper, cut out family photos and glue them to the front.

Button Cards

These cards can be done with construction paper and thread for another elegant handmade Christmas card.  You can use any color construction paper you want and find interesting buttons to sew on the front in the shape of a Christmas tree.

Your kids can help you with this by choosing the buttons to use and you can even shape the buttons in the form of a wreath and tie it with a bow.

Fresh Wreaths

This is a great idea that helps you use up some end of the season herbs in your garden.  You’ll want to use herbs like rosemary, sage or thyme because they are sturdier than basil or mint.  These can be shaped into mini wreaths and attached to the front of a card with some string.

Using Rubber Stamps

Rubber stamps and ink are another way to create fun Christmas cards on a budget.  This is also the perfect activity for younger kids who are just starting to be interested in creating handmade gifts.

Find some fun Christmas themed rubber stamps at a local arts store or even a store like Wal-Mart that has a crafts section.  Pick up some different colored ink pads and start designing your cards.

Fabric Strips

This card is more for an older child or teenager to help with because a sewing machine is the best way to do this.  Take some attractive material and cut it into strips.  From top to bottom, the top strip will be the shortest and the bottom strip will be the longest and what you’re doing is creating a Christmas tree.

You will sew the strips onto the front of the card with a sewing machine so that they stay in place.

Try some of the ideas above for cards that will be remembered for a lifetime.

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Family Cleanup Day: How to Make It Fun

Family Cleanup Day

As we get closer to the holidays and the prospect of having company or family over to celebrate, the idea of a family cleanup day becomes more and more attractive.

Here are some ideas to help organize your day so everybody participates and the work gets done that much faster.

The Calendar

A family cleanup day will not be viable unless everyone has no obligations on that day.  And this is where it’s time for mom to put her foot down: no excuses.  While it would be nice to have a gold edged invitation to family cleanup day, let them know that missing it is not optional.

Music

Sometimes having a rocking beat going on in the background makes any chore easier.  It will also give you an opportunity to dance with your family and make cleanup day a little more fun.

To be fair, put the names of your family in a hat to figure out whose music goes first, second and so on.  You could even have an award for best and worst music played during a family cleanup day.

Be Prepared

One of the worst things that can happen is if you have to stop the momentum of cleanup day to run to the store to get some supplies.  To avoid this, make sure that you’ve made a list of all the supplies you think you will need and get them ahead of time.

If there’s a chore that requires a particular item and you don’t have it on hand, skip that job and do it a different day instead of having the entire day grind to halt.

Rewards

You can turn this into a mini scavenger hunt and have an award for the number of tokens found during family cleanup day.  You can use anything for tokens even chocolates wrapped in gold foil.  Those who do the cleaning and find the chocolates can certainly eat them but tell them to hang onto the foil packet as proof.

Munchies and Drinks

This is when it’s smart to have on hand a big bowl of Doritos and Chex mix or whatever favorite snack your family enjoys.  Ditto on the drinks.  If you’re like us, we usually limit the number of sugary drinks our kids are able to have during the day.  But this would be a great time to go ahead and let them have a soda or some sweet tea to keep them motivated.

Keep the Ages of Kids in Mind

When creating your list of cleanup duties, keep the ages of your children in mind as you make the assignments.  Obviously, the smaller the kid, the smaller the chore.

To go along with this idea, you might want to divide the family into teams and make it a competition.  This will allow older children to help younger children and adults to help all the kids.

Pictures

Take pictures of cleanup day to share with friends and family and remind everyone how much fun they had.

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Crafty Christmas Present Ideas

Crafty Christmas Present Ideas

Some of the most fun we have at the holidays is when family gets together to think up and make Christmas presents.

And while we could do things like cookie gift baskets or coupons for chores and errands, here are some other awesome gift ideas to make at home. Many of these ideas are courtesy of our friends at witandwhistle.com.

Terrarium Kit

Using ordinary canning jars from the grocery store, place a one-inch layer of pebbles in the bottom. These can be ones you pick up on a walk or you can invest in some at the local home store.

Print a pretty label that says “terrarium kit” and either print out or handwrite some basic instructions on a three by five card that will go into the jar.  Pick up some activated charcoal at the local pet store and add a couple of tablespoons to a small zip lock bag and place in the jar.

Here’s a sample of some instructions:

  • Line the terrarium bottom with stones
  • Sprinkle charcoal on top
  • Add a few inches of potting soil
  • Add some small plants to the soil as well as any desired decorations
  • Place the terrarium in indirect bright light and be careful to water only when the soil is dry

When you’re done assembling the terrarium, place the lid on the jar and wrap the lid with a ribbon and add a holiday card.

Picture Coasters

This is a great present for grandparents or any family member to enjoy pictures from your last vacation or holiday time together.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4 inch round, flat cork pieces
  • Glue
  • Card stock paper
  • Printouts of your photos
  • Foam or felt mounting dots

Here’s how to put them together.  Using the cork pieces as a template, trace a circle onto the card stock and the picture to make sure the size of materials match. Spread a thin layer of glue onto the cork then place the card stock on top.  Place another thin layer of glue on the back of your picture and then put that on top of the card stock.  Turn the coaster upside down and stick for mounting dots on the back to project wood furniture.  Voila!

Peppermint Brownie Mix

This idea and recipe comes from our friends at iheartnaptime.net.  If you have some extra canning jars from the store after you finish your homemade terrarium, this is a great way to fill them.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • Another cup of sugar
  • 1 cup Andes peppermint crunch baking chips (or chopped up Andes pieces)
  • 1 ¼ cup of flour (add this carefully because some of this layer will sink into the mints that you have already placed in the jar)
  • A pinch of salt

Instructions

Layer ingredients in a Mason jar, tie with a ribbon and then print the following instruction tag for the lid of the jar:

Mix contents of jar with 1 cup melted butter (two sticks), for eggs and 2 teaspoons of vanilla.  Bake in a 9X13 pan at 350°for about 25 minutes and enjoy.

You can also print out a peppermint brownies label to put on the jar itself.

They’re you have it.  Some crafty Christmas ideas for DIY presents.

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Black Friday Shopping Strategies

Black Friday Shopping

Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving, has become a shopping tradition rather than just a once in a while thing.

To get you ready for the best Black Friday shopping experience ever, here are some tips to help you not only survive but thrive.

Pay Attention

In many states, Black Friday actually starts the night of Thanksgiving.  And it isn’t always doors open at midnight.  For instance, Wal-Mart will offer some of their best deals at 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM on Thursday night and 8 AM Friday morning and OfficeMax is showing off their best values at 8:00 PM, 11:00 PM and 5:00 AM.

What’s the point?  You need to read the ads in carefully to get the best deals at the right time.

Something you can do in advance to prepare for Black Friday is to look at the ads at a web site called bfads.net.  This website will give you a list of sales items at all the stores by category.  Also check the newspaper on Thanksgiving Day because you may find additional sales.

Do Your Research

If you’re planning to buy electronics this season, make sure you take a look at the products and compare value.  You want to use web sites like Consumer Reports and PCMag.com to take a look at professional evaluations of the products you plan to buy.

Then, take a look at consumer reviews on sites like Amazon, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.  Finally, type in the name of the product on Google or Bing and follow it with the words scam or review or rip off and see if anybody has anything negative to say.

Line-up the Deals

Here’s where the Internet is also very valuable.  You may think a price on Black Friday is a great deal but the Internet can show you pricing at online stores as well as historical pricing over the last year on the same product.  Use the price checker at ConsumerWorld.org as well as PriceHistories.com.

Be a Triple Play Expert

This is where your research will help you save the most money and time.  Find products and great prices first, then look for a percentage/dollars off coupon and, finally, look for products with an additional cash back rebate.

The Early Bird Gets the Best Deal

Some stores offer their best deals in the early hours of Thanksgiving Day like Kmart opening at 6:00 AM.  Others, like Toys R Us and Wal-Mart, open at the traditional dinner hour of 6:00 PM.

There are also pre-Black Friday sales to look for.  These tend to occur on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as well as cyber Monday the following week.

Returns

Make sure you don’t get stung with a restocking fee if you decide that you need to make a return.  There are some stores that will deny a refund to people who abuse the return system.

The Right Credit Card Makes All the Difference

Most gold or platinum credit cards will already give you an extra year of warranty coverage just because you have the card.  This will save you money because you won’t be tempted to buy an extended service contract.  Check into this before you head out for Black Friday.

Load up on those deals and shop like a ninja with a great Black Friday strategy.

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Fun Ideas for Family Night

Family Night

Do you sometimes feel that you do the same activities each time for family night?  We know exactly how you feel.

We’ve put together a quick list of some great ideas that you can use for your next family night.

Vacation Jar

This is something everybody can participate in, not only to create it but also to fund it.  Take a large Mason jar and decorate it with pictures of the place you intend to go on your next vacation.  You can do this by downloading them from the Internet, printing them and taping them to the jar.

Every time you have spare change … kids and parents alike … make sure you throw that change in.  You’ll be surprised at how much money ends up in that jar and you can dedicate that to an activity you normally wouldn’t do because of expense.

Star Gazing

This activity is great any time unless it’s really cloudy.  If you live in the city, see if you can go into the suburbs and find a park or a grassy area where you and your family can have a dinner picnic and then stay until the stars come out.  Put out a blanket, lay down and gaze.

Doing this in winter is sometimes the best time because the stars are more prominent.  And, let’s face it, there aren’t as many bugs if you live in a cold climate.  Once you finish, head home and look up the stories behind the stars you saw.

Family Baking

This occurs most around the holidays, of course, but you can have a family baking night anytime.  Take turns picking favorite recipes out of a cookbook and, after you’re done, make a plan to deliver them to either a local homeless shelter or nursing home for a treat people will enjoy.  It’s also a great lesson for your kids in giving back.

Scavenger Hunt

Put together a scavenger hunt as a family.  Decide on the pieces to be found and have everyone write out the clues to find the next piece of treasure.

Then scatter and hide the pieces along with the clues to the next object.  Everyone should hide their own clues so no one sees what the other clues are.

Decide on the prize for the person who finds the most.

Photo Album

Get everyone together a round kitchen table and start a new photo album for the current year.  If a physical photo album isn’t something you want to do, you can easily do one online from digital pictures and then decide who will get them for Christmas presents.

Your Own Board Game

Everybody loves board games but it’s even more fun when your family makes one up and plays together.  This is a great opportunity for creativity and have everyone participate in making up the rules.

Bowling

This is fun for the whole family and it’s a great activity especially if the weather is not ideal for outside activities.

You are only limited by your imagination in coming up with fun activities for your next family night.

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