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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Frugal: Being a Mom on a Budget

Mom on a Budget

It’s one thing to live on a tight budget when you’re in college. It’s just you and grilled cheese and tomato soup can go a long way.

But now you have a family and that budget has to stretch a whole lot further.

Here are some tips to help you stay on budget without scrimping on quality.

Fun with Your Kids

Not every family activity has to cost a fortune. While it is nice to splurge once in a while, here are some ideas to bring everyone together for some creative fun.

Scavenger Hunt: Everyone loves these and all it takes is a few trinkets hidden here and there to make it a Family Fun Day. Make some prizes to go along with the most booty collected and make sure to include your kids in the hiding and decision making of who wins what.

Outdoor Ornaments: This is a really cool activity for everyone. Pour some water into molds and add leaves and flowers. Throw it into the freezer and just as the water turns to slush, stick a straw into it so you can extract it from the mold. After it freezes solid, take it out of the mold and hang it in your trees and bushes with string.

Laundry DIY

This is a chore not many relish including us. And it seems like prices for things like softener and stain removers increase daily.

Try some of these ideas to see if they work for you.

Blood Stain Remover: Good old hydrogen peroxide. Just keep dabbing it on until the stain disappears.

Get Out the Grease: Remember Prell shampoo in that green bottle? This stuff is the best degreaser on the planet.

Fabric Softener: Skip the pricey Downy and make some yourself. Get some inexpensive fabric softener and mix one part softener with four parts water. Put this solution in a spray bottle and spray your clothes as you put them in the dryer. Even banishes static cling!

Cool Gift Baskets on a Budget

Everyone loves getting gift baskets and you can still make a splash even on a budget.

New Mom: Load things for Mom that she may not think about for herself. Some Chapstick, lotion and some bubble bath will go a long way to soothing frazzled nerves.

Big Teen Birthday: If your teen has just turned 16, put together a gift basket with lots of new car items like a key chain for her keys, an ice scraper if you live in colder climates and even a roll of quarters for the car wash.

Need More Storage?

Plastic containers come in all shapes and sizes and you can get 10 of them at the dollar store for $10. Put them in the cabinet under sinks, in linen closets and even in your sock drawer.

Save empty diaper wipe containers. Wash them out and use them for crayon and marker storage.

Does your dog have tons of toys? Toss them into an unused basket for safe keeping.

Frugal does not always equal cheap. Being a Mom on a budget means you get to be even more creative.

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Sliced Fruit Popsicles

Fruity popsicle sticks

Delicious Treats

Children love eating frozen popsicles on a stick, especially in the summer when temperatures soar. However, this store-bought snack is low in nutrition and high in calories and sugar, making the food a poor choice for growing children. Also known as an ice pop, these treats are typically made of white sugar or corn syrup combined with artificial flavorings and colors that make the snacks attractive to children. Mothers concerned about keeping their family healthy by providing a nutritious snack can serve homemade freezer pops made with fresh, frozen or even canned sliced fruit.

Gather Supplies

Parents making their own ice pops can still provide a delicious cold snack on a hot summer day for their children. Making homemade freezer pops is simple after gathering the necessary supplies and ingredients. There are online and brick-and-mortar stores that sell special trays and containers to make homemade freezer pops that have sticks. The trays and sticks are often made of a durable plastic that is dishwasher safe, making the equipment reusable. Mothers that want to use the traditional old-fashioned sticks can find the items sold in bulk packages. It is also possible to use paper or plastic cups as containers for homemade ice pops. And for the little kids, try a specialty ice cube tray in fun shapes. A small plastic spoon can be used instead of a stick.

Nutritious Produce

Sliced fruit adds color and flavor to the freezer pops, making them fun for children and parents. There is an assortment of fresh fruit available at grocery stores and farmers markets throughout the summer, but parents can also use produce grown at home. Parents can buy strawberries, kiwi fruit and peaches seasonally, leading to the freshest homemade ice pops at the lowest prices. Preparing fruit for the freezer pops is easy enough that children can help with washing the produce. Small fruit such as blueberries do not require slicing to freeze properly, but larger fruit does.

Translucent Bases

Making ice pops with clear or translucent bases allows the beautiful colors of the fruit to show. After putting the sliced fruit into a container, you need to add a base to make the freezer pops. Pouring homemade juices made from apples, lemons or pears mixed with water over the fruit provides a translucent appearance, making it easy to see the colorful sliced fruit. It is also possible to use clear soft drinks for the homemade ice pops. A clear base made of sugar dissolved in boiling water also makes a delicious homemade freezer pop that tastes more like a store-bought popsicle.

 

Easy Kid’s Party Ideas

Group Of Happy Kids Roasting Marshmallows On Campfire

Planning a spectacular birthday party is on every mom's agenda, but sometimes a busy mom needs some help to fit party planning into her schedule. If you need easy party ideas for your kids, look no further. This article will discuss several easy ideas for three different age groups.

3-5 Years Old: Movie Magic

To plan the perfect birthday extravaganza for 3-5 year old kids, use their favorite children's movie as an easy theme. Choosing from movies such as Cinderella, The Lion King or Cars will immerse kids in their favorite story and will surround them with favorite characters. This theme can be incorporated into decorations, the cake theme and party favors. Since many 3-5 year olds are very visual, make sure that they can see their favorite characters at every turn!

6-8 Years Old: Mad Scientist Theme

When children are between 6-8 years old, you can create a fun birthday party that also incorporates some learning. With a science themed party, you could plan several fun science experiments for kids to participate in (such as making slime). This would not only add to the excitement of the party, but would provide kids with instant party favors as well!

9-12 Years Old: Backyard Campout

Finally, for children ages 9-12, a backyard campout is the perfect solution for a summer extravaganza. Borrow tents from neighbors or relatives and set them around a fire pit. Have guests plan on a sleepover and bring their own sleeping bags. Party activities could include telling ghost stories, making s'mores or roasting hot dogs for dinner. When it is time to turn in for the night, kids can sleep under the stars in the safety of your backyard. Just make sure to have an indoor option available in case of rain!

Planning a great party does not have to take a lot of time or money. As a busy mom, you can plan an entertaining event with limited time and on a budget. Depending on the age of your kids, a movie theme, science theme, or backyard campout might be the perfect party solution. Whatever you decide, your kids will love you for the effort you put into their special day.

 

Starting a Garden

Two Little Boys And Father Planting In Garden

Planting a garden can teach your kids a lot about life. Planting and caring for a garden can teach kids independence and responsibility, it can boost their self-esteem, and it can promote environmental awareness. With all of these advantages to gardening, why not start a little garden of your own? Even if you are limited in space, there are plenty of options for you and your kids to get growing.

Flowers

Flowers are always a big hit in a garden for children because they are typically very easy to grow and they bloom fairly quickly. Kids will want to see results, so quick bloomers like Zinnias are an excellent choice. Sunflowers are also very popular among kids, and the seeds can eventually be eaten. Flowers can also be planted anywhere, from a tiny flowerpot inside the house to an outside garden in the ground. You may also get a bouquet or two.

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are always a hit with kids. Children love growing things they can eat, and tomatoes can be eaten right off the vine. Most kids like any variety of tomato, but cherry tomatoes are always a favorite. Another advantage of growing tomatoes is that they can be grown either in the ground or they can be planted to hang upside down from a porch or balcony. There are a lot of different choices when it comes to growing tomatoes.

Carrots

Because kids like to see the fruit (or vegetables) of their labor so quickly, carrots are another great choice in the garden. They can either be planted in the ground or in flowerpots, and they will grow to whatever size they can. Since most children love baby carrots, these are a great choice for a kiddie garden, and they do not take up too much space either.

Pumpkins

Pumpkins are fun for children to grow, especially when they will be ready by Halloween. Kids love to carve pumpkins that they have grown themselves. Although most pumpkins can grow fairly big given the space, there are smaller varieties such as the Jack Be Little. These pumpkins grow smaller, but they are a great choice if you are short on space.

Planting a garden is a fun and educational activity for kids of all ages. They will learn so much from taking care of plants that you will wonder why you waited so long to introduce them to gardening in the first place.

 

Make Candy with the Kids

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Homemade candy is a fun way to spend a rainy or snowy day inside with the kids. These treats also make a great holiday gift; although, you might not want to share!

Chocolate Pretzels

Combine one package chocolate chips (or 12 ounces of chocolate of your desired flavor) and 1 tablespoon of shortening in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the mixture in short increments until the chocolate has melted.

If using pretzel rods, dip the rod just before dipping your fingers. Use a pair of tongs to dip folded pretzels. Gently shake the pretzel to let excess chocolate drip off. Lay the pretzels on a cookie sheet covered in wax paper or parchment paper.

Pretzels are easy to add your signature touch. Sprinkle cookie sprinkles, crushed candies or chopped nuts onto the pretzels to add texture and flavor. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. After waiting, you can drizzle a small amount of contrasting chocolate over the pretzels to finish them off.

Tiger Fudge

Melt one cup of peanut butter and 8 ounces of white chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave in short increments, stirring frequently, until smooth. Repeat the process with 1/3 cup peanut butter and 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.

Line a 8x8 pan with wax paper or parchment paper and spray with cooking spray. Place alternating spoonfuls of each chocolate mixture into the pan. Cut through the mixture with a knife or spatula to create swirls of color. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Homemade Reese's Cups

This recipe requires a little patience, so it's better for the older kids.

Break apart a Hershey's bar and place two squares into each silicone baking cup. Place the cups into the microwave and melt until the chocolate is melts to the bottom of the cups. Carefully remove the cups with oven mitts and place on a baking sheet. Place a spoonful of the peanut butter of your choice into the center of the chocolate and freeze.

Place two to three small squares of chocolate per peanut butter cup into a microwave-safe bowl and melt. Spoon the chocolate over the frozen peanut butter cup until the peanut butter is completed covered. Try to flatten the chocolate as you do. The cups should fill the baking cup 1/3 or 1/2. Return the cups to the refrigerator for 2 hours to solidify.

Remove the candy from the baking cups and wrap with cellophane and a tie with a ribbon to give as a gift!

 

Let it Snow!!

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Snow days can be great fun for your family. With a little creativity and a few minutes of planning, your family can enjoy a cozy indoor day while winter rages outside. Here are a few ideas to help you jump start some fun, inexpensive family activities.

Paper Crafts

This is an easy activity, and with such a large selection of crafts to choose from there is sure to be something for every age group. Old magazines, printer paper, construction paper, tissue and tracing paper can all be put to good use, and often just the act of gathering the supplies in one place will give your family some great craft ideas. Most paper crafts require glue, but even if you don't have any in stock you can easily make a paste of white flour and water that will usually be sufficient for most activities. Collages and winter themed shoebox dioramas are easily created without guidance, and printable paper crafts as well as origami instructions abound on the internet. Some paper crafts to consider include:

Origami
Collage
Paper Dolls
Papier Mache
Snowflakes
Printable/Foldable Robots
Paper Puppets

Story + Puppets

This is a simplified version of a puppet show, utilizing your child's favorite story book characters. First, have or help your child create simple paper or felt puppets of at least one character in the book. Then, as you read the book aloud, your child can act out the character with the handmade puppets.

Movie Day

This can be great fun, especially if you go all out to create either a cozy indoor theater or sleepover setting. For a theater, place seating fairly close together in rows, set up a snack bar with popcorn and other treats and healthy snacks, and draw or print out a list of movies, showtimes, and “tickets” to each showing. Don't forget to close the drapes and dim the lights, and remember turn off all your other electronics! For a sleepover theme, bring out the pajamas, pillows, blankets, and stuffed animals, and turn your family or living room into a movie night sleepover complete with hot cocoa.

Camp In

Can't go outside? Then bring the fun indoors! Set up a tent and campsite in your house, complete with air mattresses, cooler and table. If you have battery-operated lighting, great! Otherwise, set up a lantern on a small table near the tent and call it a lantern. When day turns to night, make some s'mores for the whole family and sit in a cozy circle with flashlights while telling spooky stories.

 

Planning a Potluck

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Many of us have experienced a tightening of our financial belts in recent years. We'd like to have a lavish holiday gathering, but we just can't afford it. Others may have young children and don't have the time or energy to cope with entertaining a big crowd. How can you solve this problem? The answer is:  have a potluck dinner.

Plan now how many guests you can accommodate and whether you want to invite family, friends or both. Do you want to have this potluck dinner on the actual holiday or around the holidays? Are you are going to send written invitations, e-mail invitations or call your family and friends?

If your party is on the actual holiday you may want to cook a turkey or ham, and have everyone else bring side dishes and dessert. You could assign them (or ask their preference) a category of salad, side dish or dessert to ensure the meal will be well balanced. If any of your guests have special dietary needs, they will probably want to bring their own choice. Don't forget to have some kid friendly food available. If your party is not on the actual holiday, you could plan a theme for the meal, focusing on Italian food, Mexican food or other ethnic cuisine, and simply let everyone bring their favorite dish.

Your table decorations can be inexpensive if you use natural materials and fabrics in fall colors. Consider using a runner of russet, yellow, or brown burlap down the center of your table. Burlap can be cut and fringed, and doesn't need hemming. For a center piece, fill your prettiest bowl or a wicker cornucopia with fresh fruit to show the bounty of the harvest. Oranges, grapefruit and apples will provide fall colors. Entwine a few springs of ivy or other greens among the fruit for contrast. Some brightly colored leaves from the yard could also be added to you table décor. Pick up holiday paper napkins and possibly holiday paper plates from the grocery store, and your table is done.

Then all you have to do is make sure the house is clean and you are looking your best when you open the door to your guests. Since they are bringing most of the food, you can relax and enjoy being with your family or friends at this wonderful holiday time.

 

Last Minute Halloween!

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Quick & Easy Costume Ideas for Your KidsEvery mom knows that time is of the essence when making life happy and healthy for your child, and that is ever true around holidays and special seasonal times. If you are a mom who is struggling to come up with ideas late in the season, and is short on time and money this Halloween, then read this quick guide of tips for making Halloween party outfits that are easy and often use materials you have around your house or that you can buy on a dime!

The Mummy:  Grab a roll of toilet paper and get to wrapping up your sweet little one like a mummy! This outfit works well with strips of old white T-shirts or sheets, as well. Be creative, and make sure to wrap the toilet paper or cloth strips lightly. You can leave your child's face free and simply wrap a few strips around his or her forehead. (Make sure they go to the bathroom first!)

The Gardener:  If you have a pair of overalls, a plaid shirt, a sun hat and a watering can, then you have an instant gardener outfit! To add to the novelty of this outfit, you also could fill a basket with flowers or vegetables. When your child collects candy, he or she can trade your neighbor for it with a flower or fruit. Add a small garden tool sticking out of a pocket.

The Olympiad:  Celebrate the Olympics by outfitting your child in running shorts and a T-shirt. If it's warm outside, try goggles and a swimsuit, and if it's cold, try a track suit (or even add stripes down the side of some old sweats). Make your own Olympic gold medal with a piece of yarn and construction paper.

The Pumpkin:  Who doesn't love a cute pumpkin? Outfit your child in an orange T-shirt or sweatshirt and orange sweatpants. Use a black permanent marker to draw eyes and a mouth on the T-shirt or sweatshirt. Make sure to put cardboard in between the shirt or sweatshirt layers to prevent the marker from bleeding through the layers. Plop a green knit hat or headband on top for the finishing touch.

The Ghost:  Who hasn't been a ghost as a child?  It's the easiest costume of all. Find an old sheet at your local thrift shop, cut out some eye holes and a small mouth, if desired. Embellish with a marker (using cardboard behind the face).So what if you are a little late to the game this season? There's still time to outfit your child in some terrific duds for the ultimate candy season! Moms who want easy, quick and affordable Halloween costume ideas need look no further. You will be ready for the neighborhood party in no time by dressing up your child in one of these cute costumes!

October To-Do List

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October is one of the most festive months of the year for plenty of Halloween activities that come with the new season. From pumpkin carving to apple picking, there is plenty to plan for moms looking to keep their family busy in the fall.

Carve Pumpkins

Take a trip to the pumpkin patch if you have a local one; the kids will love it. Then allow kids to get a bit creative with pumpkin carvings, or print out stencils that can be used for decorative designs or silhouettes on each pumpkin. You can then place a candle in each individual pumpkin on the porch for a fun way to celebrate the season as a family.

Bake Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an affordable and healthy snack to make during October and are easy to bake with a touch of salt or cinnamon on a few cookie sheets. Roasted pumpkin seeds contain zinc and vitamin E for a treat that kids can enjoy both baking and eating for a nice break from candy.

Make Costumes

For those who want to trick-or-treat in an original creation, it's important to make handmade costumes that are unique in design and will make for a memorable look in the neighborhood. Ask each family member what type of Halloween costume they would like, and make a list of the materials you'll need and props you'll be using to complete the look.

Apple Picking

Fall is harvest time and the season to enjoy the fruits of the year's labor. Have fun apple picking on a local farm for fresh fruit that can be fun for kids to gather. Once getting home, make delicious recipes that include fresh apple cider or even warm apple pie for fall favorites.

Decorate

Make an activity out of furnishing the home with Halloween and fall decor with a bit of planning for how the house can be transformed. Include spooky cobwebs, decorative spiders, and even natural fall leaves for table decor, which may be found right in the front yard. Festive string lights can also be used, as well as melted candles for a great flickering effect.

Throw a Halloween Party

Celebrate the season by planning a Halloween party for both friends and neighbors to attend for a night that can be family-friendly and include spooky music, plenty of candy, and even bobbing for apples. Incorporate traditional games and a list of activities that will make for a haunted night to remember. Include a costume contest that everyone can participate in for both kids and adults, along with prizes for the winners. You can even team up with another family or two to split the work of preparing and paying for the party.