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If you are reading this, this message must be for you. If you do not celebrate any winter holidays, please read on anyway. I believe that people experience everything for a reason. Because you found this, you must be meant to read this special holiday challenge.
This time of year can be a special time for everyone, not just those who believe in the birth of a higher power. There are many holidays to celebrate in the winter. Even if you celebrate no holidays, you can still get in the joyous mood this season often brings.
The winter holiday season is not about how much you can receive. It's about how much you can give. Everyone knows someone who needs something. The best gift is not always of value in money. However, some might be.
Maybe someone you know is in need of a home. Are you willing to share yours? Perhaps your financial position would even permit you to help them purchase a home or even to pay rent for a few months while they get on their feet.
Maybe you know someone who may not eat this holiday season. Are you willing to open up your home to them and allow them to dine with your family, expecting nothing in return?
Are you willing to give someone a gift that truly means the world to them? Will you do so even if it inconveniences you in some way?
If you have no money to spend, it doesn't mean you have nothing to offer. Offer to clean someone's home, offer a hug, or even a free night of babysitting.
Visit a shelter and volunteer to help serve food to the less fortunate, even if you yourself are one of the unfortunate ones who cannot afford to eat.
The value of a gift is not in the money spent on it, but in the thought put into it. Will the gifts you give mean something more than just dollars spent?
There may be someone in a hospice, hospital bed, or nursing home that would give the world just to have a visitor and a hug on their favorite holiday. Could you be that person?
What if someone you know has nothing to give or offer to you? Will you still do something for them?
Your challenge this holiday season is to give thanks for what you have, even if it isn't much and to give of yourself freely, expecting nothing in return. Will you do it or will you ignore this message?
Also, remember that even though holidays will pass, there's always room for giving every day of the year.
Let us know in the comments below what you plan to do to help someone.
Note: This is an older piece I originally published via Yahoo Contributor Network. However, the message will still apply.
What do you do when you have a list of people to buy holiday gifts for and a budget to stick to? Some websites are now helping you keep track of gifts, as well as any budgets you may have. Here’s how to manage holiday budgets and gifts online using Gift Box Home.
Manage Holiday Gifts and Budgets Online
Gone are the days of going through pages and pages of paper to keep track of your budget. It's the computer age and time to get with the program. Speaking of programs, you won't even need one to manage your holiday gifts and budgets online. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection. One Website to check out is GiftBoxHome.com, which allows you to manage multiple holiday gifts and lists in one place. Simply sign up and start using it right away.
Why Should You Manage Budgets and Gifts Online?
When you choose to manage your holiday gifts and budgets online, you are doing the planet a favor. Every little bit helps. By using the Internet, you are saving paper and wasting fewer trees. Another reason to manage gifts and budgets online is the benefit of having everything neat, organized and all in one place.
Lists and sheets of paper can get lost in the hustle and bustle of holidays. With the information stored online, you know it's a log on and a password away, not wedged under some stack of papers on the desk. Speaking of passwords, at GiftBoxHome.com, your information is password protected and not shared with anyone. Only you can see it, which is a good thing considering that some people like to peek at holiday gift plans.
How to Manage Holiday Gifts and Budgets Online
To manage your holiday gifts and budgets online, simply log on and sign into the website you will be using. GiftBoxHome.com allows for tracking several items. You can manage budgets as well as track your own wish lists and the wish lists of others. This way you won't duplicate or forget a gift. Also included is a way to manage refund dates, upcoming holidays and more. GiftBoxHome.com instructions are easy to use and follow.
Need something super fun and creative to dress up in as a couple? If you don't know where to start, here's our top 5 fun couples costumes.
Halloween can be filled with fun. But it’s important to know your stuff before treating the kids. We asked experienced parents to give us their best Halloween advice to help you out.
Let the children pick their own costume, carry a flashlight, watch for cars and make sure you know where your child is at all times. Don't rush, take your time and let them have fun. There is plenty of time to worry later. - Laurie Childree
Drive around your neighborhood a week to a few days before to scope out any "haunted" houses and plan a route to get there according to little legs. Carry flashlights. And don't have children eat the candy while you walk so you can check for ingredients in case of allergies. - Amanda Kimberley Linstruth-Beckom
Get back to the original history of the day. Then study the Wiccan and other earth based religions take on this day. - Sally Franklin Christie
Pick a small community, where there are a lot of older folks or folks with children. Stay with your children. The end of the walk is fine, but I usually dressed up to and followed them from house to house. NO eating anything until it's checked out by the adult or until they get home. Tell them to say thank you, even if they don't like what they got. Or dress up for a Fall Festival at church or schools and skip Trick or Treating all together. Before Halloween there are usually Apple Orchards that have corn mazes, pumpkins, wagon rides, etc. - Cherley Grogg
Always, always make sure you know your area. Have the kids walk in a group (with you behind if they are older, you don't want them to feel like they are being chaperoned). Discuss before you leave your house of a meeting area if you get separated. No eating candy unless it came from grandmas house. Rule of thumb...no candy gets ate until parents check it, and when you do check it you are allowed to keep 1 of each kind of candy, as payment for your ever so watchful eye!!! Lol... it's really using your common sense...it will keep your children safe. Oh...and really they don't need a crap load, teach them moderation. - Tina Sawyer Roberge
Parents, be consistent... If your parents, like mine, feel that Halloween is a pagan (read negative) celebration where millions of children whip themselves into a candy induced state of ecstasy and you refuse to allow your children to "partake", don't let them then dress up in a ghost costume made out of a homemade sheet and pass out candy at the front door to other God-less children... -because you don't want to answer the door on Oct 31... They didn't believe in sugar either... My sister and I still refer to this day as All Hypocrisy's Day. - Julie Bell
Have kids dress up and set up a stand in your front yard to hand out candy and hot chocolate. Teaches them to be willing to give instead of receive. - Donna Thacker
Hand crafted costumes are just as much fun as store bought and usually a lot more budget friendly. Get your kids involved with choosing and creating them. You're not only making a costume, you're making memories, too. - Aimee Plesa
Remember Halloween is just a holiday and kids should be taught in a fun way that it's not an excuse to eat too much or expect expensive costumes. Making them is much more fun. Teach them to respect other people's property, and to carve pumpkins with pride. Teach them to respect that little animals may be bewildered by it all and to above all be gentle to them and to other folks. - Rachelle Write
When you walk with your kids on Halloween night, leave your cell phone at home. Be present and fully enjoy the experience with your children. - Colleen Larson
Chew very quietly with the shower running. They will never know it was you that ate it all. :-P - T Lynn Morgan
Trick-or-treat safety is not the only thing for parent to think about this Halloween. Choosing safe Halloween costumes for kids is also vital. Sure, that fuzzy bear costume may look sweet on your little one. But is it safe? How can you tell? From one parent to the next, here are some safety tips to keep in mind when choosing your child's next costume.
Check for sharp edges. Before ever putting that costume on your child, check for things that may scrape or scratch. Sharp edges can most commonly be found on masks and other costume accessories. But also check the costume itself for sharp edges and other pieces that jut out.
Test for allergies to latex and other masks. The last thing you want on Halloween is to rush your child to the ER over a reaction. Do an allergy test at least 48 hours prior to your child wearing his Halloween costume. Check each mask label for the manufacturer's instructions on testing for allergies. General instructions will likely include exposing a small area of the skin to the material for a certain amount of time.
Test for makeup and accessory allergies. Face makeup and other Halloween costume accessories may also cause an allergic reaction. You might avoid face makeup and certain accessories, use hypoallergenic face makeup, or do a skin allergy test at least 48 hours in advance.
How well can your child see through masks and around hats? Tiny holes for the eyes are just one no-no when it comes to Halloween masks. Be sure your child can see fully when wearing any hats, masks, and face accessories. If your child cannot see side to side and directly in front of him without rotating his head, that's a bad sign.
Is the costume weather-appropriate? Sure, that fairy princess costume is adorable. But if it's snowing outside, your child better also have some cute warm clothing on top or underneath. On that same token, if your child is wearing a thick bear costume and it's 80 degrees outside, there better be some air filtration and/or fans inside of it.
Pay attention to length. Tripping over a costume might be funny. But it can also be quite painful. Be sure your child's costume is no longer than 6 inches above the ankles to prevent accidents on stairs and while walking or dancing.
Use appropriate accompanying footwear. Tired after a long day at work? You know that feeling your feet get? Help prevent that in your child on Halloween by making sure footwear is appropriate. Try finding shoes that are both comfortable and appropriate to the costume. Slippers and other dress-up shoes can be bought in a larger size to slip over more comfortable footwear.
Be sure costumes are bright, glowing, or have lighted accessories. Traffic can be busy on Halloween with all the activities going on. Make sure your kids are bright enough to be seen from a good distance.
Check faux weaponry for real dangers. True, these are supposed to be fake weapons. But that doesn't mean they aren't still dangerous. Look for sharp edges, removable parts, and other potential hazards to kids before sending them off to have fun on Halloween.
Keeping the Santa Belief Alive: A True Story
Keeping the Santa Claus belief alive in kids can be tricky, especially when they start to get older. Older family members and sometimes friends will try to convince them otherwise. If you'd like to keep the Santa belief alive in your kids, perhaps an experience I had with my kids will help.
Being very open-minded and cherishing many faiths and traditions, we celebrate the magic of Santa with our kids during Christmas. We feel it is something fun and allows kids another opportunity to dream. They know about various religions surrounding Christmas and we share traditions with them from many winter holidays, Santa being one of them.
Reading The Santa Letters
Reading over the letters that the eldest three kids had left out for Santa one year, along with his Christmas Eve snack, I wondered how long they'd continue to believe. "Is Santa real" is a common question among kids their age, and many times even younger.
One portion of the eldest child's letter inquired "Santa, are your reindeer really real? If so, prove it and leave me one of the reindeer's jingle bells." How Santa would pull that off with hardly any time, I was not quite sure.
Moving on further in that letter, reindeer footprints were requested. Only problem is that we lived in a city where snow does not stick, if it snows at all. Where Santa would allow his reindeer to leave a footprint was a mystery to me.
This girl is one smart kid. She even requested stories of how Santa met Mrs Clause and one other Santa fact, along with other hints and undertones of Santa proof. Could Santa pull this one off? It was a longshot, but this is after all, Santa. He's magic. He can do anything.
The next letter was not quite so demanding. However, again the existence of the reindeer was challenged, namely Rudolph. "Is Rudolph really real and is Rudolph's nose really red? Does it really glow?"
The 3rd of the older children simply left Santa a paper and pen with no questions. Santa has been known to write back to the kids, so I assume him leaving only the paper and pen was related.
What Did Santa Do with the Challenge?
The kids and I had left the camera on the table next to Santa's treats and letters as we had been taking Christmas Eve pictures. Little did we know, Santa would be able to utilize that. He took a picture of his reindeer in the grass. There was a slight glare, but you could still see the reindeer.
He apologized about the glare in the picture, explaining about Rudolph's shiny nose being too bright to take a better one. It rarely snows in Houston, but we could tell the reindeer had been in our yard because they did leave tracks in the mud. As for leaving a reindeer bell, Santa had to take a picture of that, too. It would have messed up sky traffic if any of the reindeer were missing their bells. How else would people know they were coming?
That Santa Claus is one smart and resourceful person...
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
by Lyn Lomasi, Staff Writer
Stockings can be bought at many retail stores during Christmas time. However, it is also fun to decorate and personalize your own. The instructions below will help you create a stocking all your own, using felt and Christmas-related items.
Choosing Your Stocking
When deciding upon a stocking to decorate, you want to be sure that the color is not similar to the color of the items you want to add to it. For instance, if you want to put red and white candy canes on your stocking, do not choose a red or white stocking. Instead, green or gold might be a better option. Plain stockings can be found at many retail locations, however, you might have better luck with different color options at a craft store.
Choosing Decorative Materials
There are many ways to decorate a stocking. Some might prefer to only use the felt and make their entire scene from that. Others may prefer to use ornaments, a small stuffed Rudolph (or other Christmas-themed toys), or even pine cones and sprigs of holly leaf or cinnamon sticks. There is no limit to what you use. This is your stocking. Decide upon the scene you wish to create and the items you'd like to use. Remember from above that you need to be sure your items are not the same color as your stocking.
Creating Your Shapes and Name
You should have felt in the colors you need to create whatever shapes you will use to create your scene. For instance, if you wanted to make a Christmas tree and a candy cane and have your name in gold lettering, you would need red, white, gold, and green felt pieces.
To create your shapes, you can either draw your own shapes on the felt with a marking pencil or use cookie cutters and trace around the edges. For the name, trace each letter you'll need from the stencil onto the felt color of choice. Once all your shapes and letters are traced, cut them all out and lay them onto your stocking as you'll want them to be when finished. You will want to have some old newspaper underneath the stocking to catch any glue drips. When you are doing this, your glue gun can be heating up with a glue stick inserted if you will use a glue gun.
Applying Shapes, Name, and Other Items
Now that all of your felt items are laid out onto your stocking, it is time to also lay any other items onto the stocking, such as ornaments and other decorations you may have chosen. Next, you'll glue each item into place, using either fabric glue or the glue gun. If you are using the glue gun, your stocking will dry and be ready for use fairly quickly. However, if you are using fabric glue, your stocking should dry for 24 hours before use.
To prevent your stocking from sticking together, insert an egg carton or piece of cardboard inside it while using glue and while drying.
Using too much glue can cause it to leak through your stocking to the other side, which could cause it to stick to your insert or to the other side of itself.
Generally, when putting a name on the stocking, it will go across the top, but for a different twist, you can run the name diagonally up or down the front of the stocking.
Dollar Tree is a great place to find unique ornaments and craft items to decorate your stocking with. They also sell all the other supplies needed for this project.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
The shops and lamp posts along the city streets are adorned with wreaths, bows, menorahs, and garlands. The hustle and bustle of the city has picked up its pace, due to gift, food and decoration shopping. You and your children may be among those shoppers. The holidays are drawing near. With all this excitement over presents, feasts, and decorations, have you taken the time to tell your kids the real meaning of winter holidays?
Determine Your Family's Personal Meaning
First off, you must determine what the holidays mean to your family. The exact meaning will vary from family to family. However, underlying meanings of the holidays can be similar. Many people believe that family is a big part of the true meaning of the holidays. Some also believe giving to others holds a deep meaning during the holidays. Special time spent with those you are closest to can be another meaning behind the holidays. And for others, the holidays can hold a religious meaning.
Seize The Moment
There are always opportune moments to seize for holiday conversations with your child. While gift shopping with your child, you can mention that while some people may be buying gifts, it is not as important to receive as it is to give. Explain about how great it feels to give to others. One way to reinforce that idea is to have your child do something special for someone else. It could be walking the dog of an immobile neighbor or carrying in someone's groceries from the car. It may even be as simple as creating a drawing or craft that is uniquely special to the one it is given to.
Another moment to explain the meaning of the holidays could come during grocery shopping to feed visiting relatives. Explain how important family is and what role they may play in holiday festivities, as well as how important it is for families to gather together and celebrate. Spending time together, for some families, only occurs during holidays. For those families it can be extra special.
Putting the Meaning Into Action
There are other ways to get the point across to your child. Try a few history lessons on holidays from History.com. While discussing various holidays celebrated in December, try discussing with the child common elements, including giving, spending time with family and thinking of others. You may also wish to have the child color some family-themed coloring pages from Edupics.com.
Perhaps you are on Travelzoo.com researching the best prices for your family member to visit you. A nice gesture that could provide a great example for your child would be for you to pay some or all of your family member's traveling expenses to come visit you. Donating to those who are in need can also be a wonderful example of teaching the true meaning of the holidays to children.
GuideStar.org has an easily accessible list of non-profit organizations that you may want to consider choosing from. If your family holds a spiritual or religious meaning behind the holidays, be sure to take time out to explain this to your child as well.
In essence, the methods used to explain the true meaning behind the holidays can vary. The methods you choose to implement don't matter as much as spending time together and sharing the meaning.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Order and Purchase Gift Boxes Online
Gift wrapping can either be a fun activity or a frustration. I know there have been plenty of times I've tried to wrap some gift that just was not working with wrapping paper. Either the shape was just all wrong and a pain to figure how to wrap or the gift was too sharp. In each case, the gift would poke right through the paper or just look odd once wrapped. I needed some Christmas gift boxes. Christmas gift boxes can quickly turn the most difficult gift to wrap into a breeze. They come in all different shapes and sizes and are fairly inexpensive. Even gifts that are easy to wrap can look even nicer with the use of Christmas gift boxes.
Bayley's Boxes, Inc.
At Bayley's Boxes, Inc, you'll find a large variety of gift boxes that are suitable for wrapping Christmas gifts. Traditional square and trinket boxes are available as are many other interesting shapes. The crayon box is a good one when giving children coloring books and crayons for Christmas. It can also fit other things that shape like soap bars. There also are boxes shaped like stars, pyramids, hearts, and even those shaped like a purse. Bayley's Boxes, Inc is a great place to find Christmas gift boxes. The prices are very low here as well. For instance, you can get a large square box for as low as 99 cents.
The Container Store
You may know The Container Store for its huge selection of supplies for storage and organization. But, did you know that The Container Store also sells gift boxes? Well, what you did you expect? They are, after all, the container store. Gift boxes are containers, right? From traditional white gift boxes to photo boxes and even wine bottle cylinders and more, The Container Store has some great selections at an affordable price. The smallest ones start at just 49 cents each. The Florentine Gift Box that comes with a special ribbon is perfect for a special Christmas gift.
That's a Wrap
Need Christmas gift boxes that are a little more unique? Try That's a Wrap. From boxes made from natural jute to purse-shaped ones, you'll find all sorts of interesting gift boxes to use for Christmas wrapping. The gloss nested boxes are perfect for hats or other circle-shaped gifts. The prices are very affordable, some even under a dollar.
*I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Your One-Stop Resource for Shopping With Kids
Not all parents have the option of leaving their children at home when Christmas shopping. If you are stuck bringing the kids along, here is your ultimate guide to shopping, keeping the kids happy, and still keeping your sanity (yes, even amidst all the "deal-fighting" folks).
In order to remain happy, kids need to be clean, well-fed, with empty bladders, and well-rested. They also need to be entertained. In addition, along with holiday shopping, there may come some negativity from other shoppers. As a parent, you must also do your best to avoid their negativity or at least retain your own composure for the sake of your children. Below, you will learn how to deal with all of those issues, as well as how to sneak in gifts that are for recipients who are with you (a must for many parents).
Children like to touch many things and this can become a problem when you're in a public place where many other people have touched the same things. This can spread germs. Always bring a small package (or zippered sandwich bag) of hand sanitizing wipes with you. These should be used to not only wipe the children's hands of germs, but also to swipe shopping carts or fast food tables and seats.
For food messes, keep some baby wipes on hand as well. I recommend Huggies Shea Butter wipes, as these are nice and thick and it only takes one quick swipe with these in most instances. Plus, they don't dry out the skin, as they contain the Shea butter for extra softness. These wipes also come in handy for spills and for wiping food off of clothing.
Using Public Restrooms
Many parents are leery of letting the children use public restrooms, as they are often messy. Plus, there is the underlying thought of how many strangers use the same toilet. To save the toilet issue, parents can bring along a folding plastic toilet seat cover and swipe it with the sanitizing wipes after each use. It folds up small enough to easily fit inside a purse or diaper bag. If you're extra nervous about public restrooms, you can even pack your own tissue. Kleenex comes in small purse-sized packages and can work when on the go. Always be sure the children wash their hands. If the sinks are less than sanitary, use the sanitizing wipes instead.
Ah, yes, the children do need to eat, don't they? It seems logical to bring along snacks and beverages for the children, but sometimes in the rush of getting ready, parents don't think of this. I like to pack Juicy Juice boxes or bottles of water for the beverage. My homemade trail mix also makes an excellent shopping snack, as it's lightweight, but filling. Oh yes, and each kid must have their own separate zippered sandwich bag with exactly equal amounts of snack or there is sure to be some sort of disagreement otherwise.
If your child cannot have nuts, substitute any nut product with other things, such as dried fruit or crackers. If you don't have a baby stroller to keep these things under or don't want to carry a diaper bag or knapsack with you, you may want to consider leaving these in the car until the time is right. However, I should mention that it's always easier if they are on hand because as any parent knows, the whining or hunger urges can come at any point, and just your luck, they would come at the moment you decided not to bring your snacks.
Kids can become bored so easily when shopping. In order to keep boredom to a minimum, parents can do things to keep the children busy, like playing simple games or talking about interesting things. The kids can even help with the shopping. Some of my grocery shopping tips also work when gift shopping for Christmas. Gift shopping is also a good time to talk about school, friends, and family events that may be coming up. The key to kids not growing bored is to keep them busy talking or doing something.
Many stores that carry gifts also carry Christmas ornaments, or at least have some sort of Christmas display. Take time out to enjoy the beautiful items for sale or the store displays. Your children will appreciate this. Yes, you can be the annoying person who pushes the button on the singing reindeer for the millionth time. I'm sure the store associates would rather hear that than crying children. Believe me, I know. I've worked retail. Those sound effects items are annoying, but parents who let their children cry endlessly are even worse.
Just have fun and do not rush. Even window shop the toy aisle with the children. If Santa's there, go see Santa. Rushing causes stress. Trust me, you will get much more accomplished when you take your time, choose wisely, and have fun.
This is the inevitable doom of parents who are shopping. The kids will get tired. So if you've still got shopping to get done, what do you do? I suggest bringing along a blanket for a toddler. Line the bottom of a shopping cart with it. One person can push the sleeping toddler and another can push the cart of gifts. An even better option for babies or toddlers is a stroller that lies down easily. I prefer double strollers, as they also provide extra room for shopping.
If your older children are tired, try taking a break. If you're in a mall, there are probably benches to rest on for a bit. This can also be a good opportunity to replenish with snacks and a drink, to stop somewhere and eat, or to have a picnic lunch in a nearby park. If your children are too tired to even use these ideas, it's time to go home for a nap and come back later or another day. The children's needs are more important than your Christmas list.
Some children do not like large crowds of people. Try distracting a child like this with interesting items in the store or with conversation or imaginary play. For older children, try keeping them talking about something that interests them or letting them help pick out gifts for the younger ones. The key is to keep the child so busy and distracted that the crowd goes unnoticed.
Sometimes people are stressed and aren't very friendly. Some will even push, shove, yell, or get otherwise physical over an item that they want to buy for Christmas. If this happens and your children are with you, immediately remove yourself from the situation. The item is not worth letting children bear witness to that negativity.
If they are just pushy and no item is in dispute, still remove yourself and your children from the situation. Later explain to your children that it wasn't very nice and maybe that person is having a bad day. If you believe in God, you may also want to encourage your children to pray for the person and forgive the person. This can be an excellent situation for teaching humility, generosity, and forgiveness.
Sneaking in Gifts
Now this is the trickiest part of shopping with children. I think perhaps the best way to be sneaky about it is to pretend the gifts are for someone else. Now, if you've done this for Christmas gifts before and your kids are older, they might catch on, so you'll have to make sure the someone else also asked for the same gifts as your children. Another way to sneak in gifts is to quickly grab them and hide them under other gifts when the children aren't looking.
If you have teenagers, they can go to another part of the store while you purchase and pay for their gifts. Ask the cashiers to provide a dark bag or double or triple the bags to disguise the items. Some stores even have cardboard boxes and if you purchase a roll of tape, you can seal the boxes.
If you are wanting to purchase breakable items, try carrying a shopping bag or small shopping basket with handles for those items. You may even want to place some soft items in with those for cushioning. Keep these items away from the children as much as possible. When you go down a breakable aisle, keep the toddlers near the center of the aisle (preferable in a cart or stroller). It helps if your children know rules about touching things before you even enter the store.
Shopping for Christmas gifts can be tricky with children, but it can also be fun. You just have to relax, take a deep breath, and expect it to be fun. If you expect it to be hard and put in no effort for it to be fun, then it will indeed be hard. However, if you go into it, looking for fun, that's what you'll get.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
A diverse group of women from all over the US were recently asked about their craziest holiday traditions. From singing Irish ballads, to banging pots and pans, and even decorating the spooky Christmas tree, these families are very creative in their celebrations. What are your family's craziest holiday traditions? How close (or far) from these traditions are yours?
Spooky Christmas Tree, Anyone?
"Our craziest holiday tradition is that we carve pumpkins at Christmas and decorate our Christmas tree with spooky things. We are huge Nightmare Before Christmas fans and do all of our Christmas decor in a Nightmare Before Christmas theme. Instead of a Christmas party we have a Nightmare Before Christmas party and have our guests come in costume." - Danielle in San Dimas, Calif.
"One year while getting ready to decorate the tree, Mom suggested I dig out the Christmas albums to set the tone. I couldn't find them anywhere, yet I did find an album of old Irish ballads. Instead of 'White Christmas', Mom and I belted out 'McNamara's Band' and 'When Irish Eyes Are Smiling'. Mom passed on last year, and it's still my favorite memory of time spent with her." - Maureen in Chillicothe, Ohio
Songs for Gifts
"In my house, it is a standing tradition that from the oldest to youngest each must sing a song (holiday or not) before they can open their gift. Let's just say, I don't come from a family of singers and I own plenty of ear plugs!" - Nikol in San Diego, Calif.
"I don't know if it is completely crazy, but each holiday, my siblings and I will have a group conference call. Each one of us will connect one other siblings so we can keep one line open. We then stay on the phone for hours talking about anything and everything. During the hours, we will be cooking and all other activities, but we never disconnect our call unless for an emergency or when we all agree to hand up. We have been doing this for well over 15 years." - Malina in Pensacola, Fla.
"Growing up in a musical family, during the holidays we would go caroling with our instruments. I liked the indoor gigs the best but the outdoor caroling was the craziest. In minus thirty degree weather, our once tuned instruments shrieked and squeaked, but we managed to warm hearts anyway." - Kay in Windsor Locks, Conn.
Pot and Pan Concerta
"Growing up in Roseville and Fraser in the East suburbs outside Detroit, on New Year's Eve, we were allowed to bring out all the kitchen pots and pans at midnight and bang them with big metal spoons and lids as loud and long as we could! We would also listen outside for people firing their shotguns, which is sort of an illegal tradition down that way. Years later, I was babysitting cousins on their first New Year's Eve night and had them do the same thing! They just loved it. At first I think they thought it was silly, but they really got into making a ton of noise in the middle of the night. Years later, I was surprised when one of them told me how vividly they remembered!" - Kim (Pare') in St Ignace, Mich.
Welcome Baby Sun God
"We turn off all the lights in the house, except the TV, so we can see. We do a short Yule ceremony lighting three candles. After a moment of silence we run around the house turning on every single light yelling, 'Welcome baby Sun God!'" - Karen in Fla.
Breakfast at Sheetz
"Every year on Christmas morning we eat breakfast at Sheetz. Started 13 years ago and just stuck. This year will be the first with no Sheetz breakfast." - Summer in Oak Island, N.C.
New Year's Eve Dance
"On New Year's Eve, we have to dance through every room in the house. Crazy, but fun! It ensures good luck and happiness throughout the coming year, of course." - Ali in Greensboro, N.C.
"Our craziest and newest holiday tradition is celebrating Winter Vale with World of Warcraft in-game gifts. We aren't obsessive about WoW; we don't even play every day. But some of these gifts take time and effort to collect and cost zero in real money." - Alex in Hogansville, Ga.
*I originally published this via Yahoo Contributor Network
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they conquer the world, living the RV life and making Crafts For A Purpose with their awesomely crazy family while recounting The Nova Skye Story, along with Kymani’s Travels. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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