6 Alternative gift ideas everyone will love

Dare I say it…but Christmas isn’t too far away. Now that summer is a distant memory, so many of us are already spotting Christmas displays in our favorite stores, seeing hints of the festive season on our social media timelines and even the occasional Christmas film being shown on our favorite TV channels! Even if you’re not interested in Christmas cheer just yet, many of taking pride in having everything planned and sorted by the time the festive season really begins. So, if you’re already worrying about what you’re going to get your nearest and dearest for Christmas – fear not!

While it’s easy to find the right Christmas ecard, read on for 5 alternative gift ideas that everyone will love.

 

The gift of trees

What do you get for the person who has everything? Well, how about a little piece of nature? Giving plants and flowers is quite a common occurrence for something like Mother’s Day and Birthdays, but why not step it up a gear and gift trees from The Tree Center? Adding a tree to someone’s garden will add color and depth to their outside space and if it’s a tree that bears fruit? Even better!

 

Delve deep into your family history

If you’re struggling for a gift for a family member, then why not step back in time and give them the gift of your family history? There are plenty of online resources as well as free information available in local libraries to help you trace your family back from just a few decades to even hundreds of years. Piece together certificates, photographs, dates, and details and you’ve got an incredible portfolio of the past that they’ll just love to show everyone!

 

Make something

 

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what the gift is, it’s just knowing the time and effort that’s gone into it is what makes it really special. If you’re a creative type, or you just want to try your hand at some homemade gifts then check out some online tutorials or head to YouTube for some inspiration. From scented candles to cookies, cakes, and delicious bakes, photo frames, toys, dolls even clothing! You can do it!

 

Custom Bobbleheads

Personalized gifts never fail to touch the hearts of the receiver. Especially when it’s nicely done and fully customized like these bobblehead figures. You can make it look like a loved one and add specific details to it for an affordable price. Visit a manufacturer’s site to learn more on how to order a custom bobblehead.

 

bobblehead

Give the gift of learning

For the younger recipients, why not give the gift of learning. Don’t worry, I don’t mean filling their arms with heavy books. You could give the gift of some music lessons, or lessons in a particular sport that they want to take further. Survival lessons, even fishing or jewelry making classes – whatever the little one is into, you don’t just give them the gift of learning, but the gift of your time by going with them. It’s a win, win.

 

Special Memories

 

Who says that gifts have to be physical things? Why not treat someone to a trip somewhere you’ve both always wanted to go. The National History Museum, tickets to see their favorite comedian, a trip to see a show on Broadway or in the West End, ice skating, or a hike through a National Park? You could even take it one step further and book nights away in a particular city. The possibilities are endless!

 

Buy a Zip Line Kit for their Family!

Certainly uncommon and needing parental approval first, a zip line is a
unique gift for any family. It provides hours of fun and encourages kids
to be outdoors instead of on their smartphones. Zip line kits are safe
with proper monitoring and you’ll always be remembered every time it’s
used

6 Tips for Designing a Practical Home Office

Source Pexels

Working from home might seem like a great idea, but if you don’t have the right space to conduct your business it can end up a complete disaster. The first step is to designate a particular room in your home that you are going to turn into your home office. The space you choose needs to fulfill certain basic criteria, for example, you need to have a sufficient amount of natural light, as to preserve your eyesight as much as possible. Secondly, you should make sure that the number of electrical outlets in the chosen space is going to fit your needs and finally, you need a functioning door, especially if you have small children who don’t yet have an understanding of what your personal space is.

Now if you have the basics covered, let’s start decorating.

Carefully choose the color palette

Before we go any further into discussing your home office design it is important that we go over the basic color scheme. The color that you choose for your walls will be detrimental for the rest of your decor. Going with a soft lavender or yellow tones might create a soothing atmosphere that will help your clients relax. However, if this is not what you are aiming at, you can introduce dark reds and mahogany tones as a display of power. As you can see, the options are limitless, it all depends on how you want to be seen by prospective clients who enter your home office on a daily basis.

Source Pixabay

Make functionality your priority

In your home office, like in any other office organization is key. You need to have everything you need with you reach so that there is no need for you to constantly get up and move around. The more functional your design is the more work you will be able to get done. So think about what are the essential items you need to have by your side at all times, and then based on that create your home office layout. Consider the amount of storage space you’ll need, what tech is essential and whether there are some items you could do without.

Introduce the right furniture

Now that you have decided on what are your basic needs to create a functional home office space it is time to choose the right furniture to meet those needs. Of course, a work desk is a must, it is the centerpiece of your home office and your workstation. However, what if you need to hold a meeting or two, is it going to be enough. In that case, it would be a good idea to own a rectangular flip top table so that you can take it out and easily turn your home office into a real boardroom. Afterward, you can simply store it for next time. Apart from your desk, there are two more essential pieces, first, your chair, a quality office chair is a must as it will provide your back with the right support and at the same time make you look like a real boss. The second is adequate shelving to serve as storage space, you want to display your achievements and present your workload to anyone entering your home office.

Source Pixabay

Make sure you create a space that will motivate you

Just taking a design blueprint straight out of a catalog and applying it to your space might not be the best option. You need to consider the fact that your home office is a direct reflection of you and your character. It is a space where you need to be able to create and work without feeling overcrowded or distracted. So if you like having a beautiful view from your home office, make sure you get one. On the other hand, if you are a great fan of organization and can’t stand working in a messy environment do your best to get the items you need to get this done, from quality stationery and sufficient amount of drawers and cupboards all the way to wall planners.

Get the proper tech

There is no question that this is a must for any home office. You need the tools to perform your tasks seamlessly. From the right computer that can take on any amount of work, you need to get done, to simple office inventory like a scanner or a printer. Yes, yes, you are thinking cords, cords everywhere, but actually, there are some very simple solutions that can help you get those electric cords off the ground and hide them in plain sight. That way your home office will continue to maintain its perfect organization and order.

Source Pixabay

Make it a bit homey

After all, it is a home office, it doesn’t have to be completely void of emotion and character. Add some pictures of your family and friends. You can fill the space with your favorite plants and don’t forget to throw in an art piece or two just to make it that much warmer. After all, it needs to be a true reflection of you and when you come to work every day it is essential that you feel motivated and inspired.

Your home office is now ready, so let the workday commence!

Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development at highstylife.com. Find Claire on Facebook and Twitter

Great Thank You Gifts for Your Family and Friends

Source Pixabay

Are you completely and utterly clueless about what to buy for your family member or friend for a special occasion? If you had a busy week, you probably are. But no matter how busy we are, we can’t let our tight schedule affect our relationships with our friends and family. Luckily for you, we might have a solution. Being that everyone is different, maybe not every gift suggestion that we’re about to present will work in your case. However, you will surely find at least one that will push you in the right direction.

Pierced vase

Nothing says thank you for a beautiful friendship more than a home décor vase. A cleverly designed vase will remind your friend or family member that the relationship between the two of you always shines bright and will continue to do so. Being that it will be a constant reminder of your friendship, it would be ingenious to add a custom marking on it – for example, a personal note or a statement of your choosing that commemorates a particular situation you encountered with them which made you even closer. It’s always good to have one such item adorning your home.

Source Pexels

Magic card

If you have a family member or a friend who is a practical type of person, then you must think thoroughly about what gift to get them, right? You can’t just buy anything for them, especially not something they have no use for. So why not get them a prepaid visa card? This way they’ll have the freedom of getting themselves what they really want instead of depending on you to make the right choice. They might even cherish the friendship you have even more thanks to this gesture. They’ll be able to buy the perfect present for themselves, which you might never think of.

Piggy bank

Do you have a friend who dreams of going to an exotic place but isn’t able to save money for a trip of that sort? Then why not gift them a piggy bank? Make sure that you choose a piggy bank of appropriate size and shape so that it suits the person in question. If you really support them and their aspirations, this will surely help them achieve their goal. While they are collecting money for their exotic trip, they’ll think of you and won’t dare to spend their money on something else. It would be a shame to break an item of such sentimental value just so they can spend that money irrationally.

High-end toolbox

Having a crafty friend who helps you with all your repair and crafting issues is neat. They can help you by building something as simple as a kitchen table, or even by repairing your car or a home appliance. But how do you repay them? It’s simple: get them a high-end toolbox. They’ll appreciate it, even more so knowing that this is kind of a thank you gift to repay them for all the favors they’ve done for you. It is a perfect gift for them, you simply can’t get them a better one.

Source Pixabay

DIY illusion mirror

Is your best friend a home décor geek? Are they constantly thinking of new ways to enhance their home interior without investing too much money in it? Then now is the time to shine and create a unique gift for your friend. You can handcraft an illusion mirror or a never-ending mirror with ease. All you need is a good tutorial and the right set of tools. You won’t even need much in terms of required materials. All you’ll need is an LED tape, a perfectly-sized mirror, a piece of glass, some car window tint film and the will to connect the pieces together. If crafted well, the tinted film will act as a two-way mirror, creating an LED light-illuminated path into the unknown.

31 Days of March Crafts for Kids

The month of March is a busy one that offers plenty of craft potential. Moms, daycare providers, scout leaders, and others who want to plan enjoyable activities for kids can choose from the coming of spring to Dr. Seuss Week to St. Patrick’s Day to religious holidays such as Easter and Passover as the theme for 31 days of crafts. Fortunately, bloggers have documented loads of fun ideas for kids of all ages. We have attempted to pull out some of the most interesting craft choices.

When you click through too many of the crafts on our list, you will be directed to additional related crafts.

Celebrating The Key Themes Of The Month

Children’s author Dr. Seuss was born on March 2, so his birthday is the reason for a week-long Read Across America celebration. Crafts inspired by some of his most popular stories are a good way to bring his catchy rhymes and intriguing tales to life.

  1. The Shape of Me Dr. Seuss Mural
  2. Suess Hats
  3. One Fish Two Fish Dr. Seuss Craft Origami Fish
  4. Lorax Toilet Paper Roll Craft For Kids
  5. The Cat in the Hat Clothespin Craft!
  6. Horton Flower Pots

 

Spring arrives on March 21, but the whole month signals the start of spring crafts rather than winter themed ones,

  1. Bumblebee Toilet Paper Roll Craft
  2. Rainbow Pour Painting
  3. Butterfly Coffee Filter and Egg Carton Craft
  4. Bluebird of Happiness
  5. Spring Tulip Bouquet
  6. Spring Handprint Card

 

St. Patrick’s Day on March 17 is a favorite day that many people like to celebrate with parades, parties, and crafts.

dog

  1. Shamrock Puppy
  2. Pot of Gold Craft
  3. Shamrock Mask
  4. Rainbow Shamrock Garland
  5. Button Rainbow
  6. Leprechaun Hats

 

While the dates for Easter and Passover change each year, in 2018 Passover starts on the evening of March 30, while Easter lands on April 1. Each holiday has a deep religious meaning that can be imparted to kids through crafts. Children of all faiths can learn about other cultures, while Jewish and Christian children can learn more about their own faith.

rabbit

 

Easter crafts are often an extension of spring-inspired projects.

  1. Egg Suncatchers
  2. Tissue Box Bunny
  3. Make Your Own Easter Egg Magnets
  4. Magic Color Scratch Easter Cross
  5. Lamb Easter Egg
  6. Bunny Party hats
  7. Popsicle Chicks

 

Passover crafts center around the riches tradition of Judaism.

  1. Felt Seder Plate
  2. Simple Origami Jumping Frogs
  3. Lego Seder Plate
  4. Moses Parting the Sea
  5. Elijahs Goblet
  6. Passover plagues finger puppet craft

Bonus crafts

  1. Labeling your children’s school items
This will increase the chances of any lost items being found. According to a recent study children loose more than one thousand items during their scholastic years. Name labels also encourage
your kids to learn how to read.

Conclusion

By splitting the month of March and the themes, you can give equal time to all there is to celebrate in this month. If your school closes for spring vacation sometime this month, many of the crafts on the list are excellent for moms to use at home to keep the kids occupied.

31 Days of January Crafts for Kids

Once Christmas and Hanukkah have passed, kids in many parts of the country are plunged into a cold, snowy January. When it’s too cold to play outside, boredom sets in and moms need a variety of projects for preschoolers and early elementary school kids to do. There are only so many videos to watch, plus it is good to do projects that encourage creativity, develop skills in coloring, cutting, painting, pasting, and more.

Snowmen And More

snow

Even kids in warm states are fascinated with snowmen, so many crafts focus on different ways to make them, However, there are many other choices in case you are saturated with crafts centering are around frosty little people. Martin Luther Day is in January too, so we have included several crafts that promote awareness of his focus on having personal dreams and a vision for a peaceful society. The Friends Around the World craft uses paper dolls that you can use for many other projects.

Most of the projects on the list can be accomplished in an hour after nap or school. The results can be probably displayed on the refrigerator, in your child’s room, and other places throughout the home, and as the projects pile up, some can make their way to grandma’s or auntie’s house. When the project results in a making game, such as Snowman Bowling, your child will have ongoing fun from the project.

The supplies for the project might be things you already have on hand, but by perusing the various crafts, you can start building a list of what to stock up on the next time you are at your favorite craft store or order online (see an example shop here).

A Month’s Worth Of Crafts 

We have listed 31 projects, one for each day of the month, and provided a link so you can obtain the directions. Some projects are better for older kids, but we have listed a variety of choices. For more projects, Pinterest is a gold mine. There are also plenty of individual blogs that you can find by simply Googling “winter crafts.” You can even find them by age.

  1. Salt Paint for Toddlers: An Icy Winter Scene
  2. Toilet Tube Bird Feeder
  3. Marshmallow Igloos
  4. Sparkle Snow Playdough
  5. Cardinal Craft
  6. Footprint Penguin
  7. Toilet Tube Penguins
  8. Waterless Snow Globes
  9. Bubble Wrap Winter Trees
  10. Mitten Craft
  11. Glittery Glue Snowflakes
  12. Borax Snowflakes

13.   Pipe Cleaner/Fuzzy Stick Snowflake Stamping

  1. Handprint Snowflakes
  2. Snowman Bowling
  3. Sparkle Snow
  4. Sock Snowman
  5. Snowman Shape Matching
  6. Snowman Milk Jugs
  7. Doughnut Snowmen
  8. Egg Snowmen
  9. Snowmen Pretzels
  10. Fruit Snowmen
  11. Snowman Family Button Craft
  12. Sparkly Snowdough Men
  13. 5 Little Snowmen Finger Puppets
  14. Popsicle Stick Snowman Magnet Craft
  15. Peace Doves for MLK Day
  16. Friends Around the World Circle
  17. What’s Your Dream Craft
  18. Martin Luther King Handprint Poem
  19. Make A Commemorative MLK Stamp
  20. How to make a stumpery

What other projects have you found to do with your kids in January? Please share in the comments below.

Easy Dr. Seuss Hats

March 2 is the birthday of famed author Dr. Seuss and many elementary schools celebrate it as part of Read Across America week. How better to celebrate it than by making a hat like the one the Cat in the Hat

If you have young children or beginning readers, you know that Dr. Seuss books are a popular favorite. The books present clever stories that are enjoyable for adults to read to kids, intriguing for kids to listen to, and full of opportunities to develop skills in young readers. Babies and toddlers benefit from hearing the stories, which promotes brain development, speech skills, and bonding between parents and children. Some stories are available in durable board books.

What Kids Learn From Dr. Seuss

The books help new readers master phonics by helping children connect letters and sounds that make words and sentences. Because Dr. Seuss boundaries include repetitive sounds, a new reader comes away with the new skill after reading favorites like Cat in the or Hop on Pop. Even kids who do not like to read enjoy the entertaining rhymes of Dr. Seuss.

Beyond the kitschy rhymes, Dr. Seuss stories offer life lessons about responsibility, friendship, creativity, gratitude, and a whole lot more. It is no wonder that schools not only celebrate his birth and achievements every year but encourage kids to dress up for Dr. Seuss week.

book

The most popular costume for this week is the famous red and white hat worn by the Cat in the while there are many variations on this project, depending on the age of the child, but paper plates and construction paper can do the job. They are perfect for kids to wear while reading Dr. Seuss books in school and at home.

What You Need:

  • Red and White construction paper
  • Paper plates
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Stapler

How To Do It

  1. First, prepare to make the hats by cutting large sheets of red construction paper lengthwise into two-inch strips. Older kids can do the cutting themselves. You can also make white strips on a red construction paper background.
  2. Cut out the middle circle of a paper plate.
  3. Show kids how to spread the red strips parallel to each other on a large sheet of white construction paper. The result should be a red and white stripe effect. Once strips are in the right position, glue them to the white paper.
  4. After the glue is dry, roll the hats into a cylinder and fit it inside the circle. Staple the cylinder in several places.
  5. Cut 2 inch slits around the bottom of your paper cylinder and then bold and under the rim of the paper plate. Staple the ends to the plate. Fold them under the rim of the paper plate and staple them to secure each hate.
  6. If the kids will be wearing the hats for a while, punch holes in each side of the plate and thread with yarn to make ties.

This project is manageable even by preschoolers, but with more adult help children can make more advanced versions, for example, here’s a version with pop up cats. You can also make the hat from felt.

How does your school celebrate Dr. Seuss week? Let us know in the comments below

20 Exciting Relay Races for Kids

Throughout the year, relay races are a fun way for kids to run off extra energy. They are particularly popular in the summers at picnics, back yard barbeques, and camps, but relay races always hold kids’ interest. While many races are best played outside, there are variations that are fun inside. A plain race makes for healthy impromptu exercise, while others require more preparation that add another layer of fun.

kids

Preparing For Relays

Here are some things to keep in mind when organizing and preparing for a relay race:

1. Decide on the best location for the race, whether it is inside or out. Races that involve water or lots of space are better outside activities.
2. Remove unnecessary obstacles from the race course, while selecting a safe area to hold the race.
3. If necessary, demonstrate how the race is to be played. Young children in particular need visuals.
4. You designated turning point, which you can mark with a pole or some other landmark you have set up.
5. Make sure to have plenty of water on hand for players to drink on hot days.

Many races require coordination, teamwork, and ability to follow instructions in addition to speed, which makes them a good way to impart these skills to young children. Here are some examples of popular relays that appeal to kids from pre-school on up. Some include an element of silliness that adds to the fun. For all of the races given below, the team that successfully completes the task versus the way.

20 Fun Relay Races For Kids

1. Sack Race – Kids get in a potato sack (or a large pillow case for younger kids) and hop to a designated turning point and back. When they reach the starting line, the runner gets out of the sack and hands it to the next person in line. The winning team is the one whose team members complete the task first.

2. Over Under, Over Under – Before the running starts, kids on each team pass a bean bag or small ball under their legs and then over their head to the next person in line until the beanbag gets to the end. The last person runs to the front of the line and the process of passing over and under continues until the person who started first is once again at the front of the line.

3. Shoe Hunt – Before the game starts, members of each team remove a shoe and put it in a large pile. One at a time, a member from each team runs to the pile to find their own shoe. The first team to have every member find their shoe is the winner. This type of race is particularly fun for a large group.

4. Preparing For A Race. Preparing – The goal of this race is to have each member of each team carry an egg on a spoon from the starting line to a turning point and then return back, so that they can pass the egg and spoon to the next person in line. The winning team has all members complete the task. If someone drops the egg, they need to return to the starting line and try again. The game can be used with hard-boiled eggs or plastic eggs or even golf balls or pennies; older children can even be required to carry the loaded spoon in their mouth.

5. Balloon Pop – Each child races to a chair with an inflated balloon. Once they get there, they put their balloon on the chair and pop it. (For young children, the noise might be frightening; popped balloons can present a choking hazard.)

6. Water Balloon Toss – On each team, the children pair off and are given a water balloon. They toss the balloon back and forth; for each successful pass, they take a step back so that they are further and further away. They continue this process until only one remains with an un-popped balloon.

7. Super Soak – The kids and each team line up between an empty bucket and one filled with water. The person at the head of the line soaks the sponge in water and passes it over their head to each person in line until it is in the hands of the person before the empty bucket. That person squeezes the sponge and runs to the front of the line start the process again. After a time limit of about five minutes or so, the winning team is the one that has the most water in their bucket.

8. Snowman/Mummy Relay – The goal of this game is to wrap another member of the team with toilet paper to create a mummy or snowman. To start out, each member of the team gets a roll of toilet paper. They are timed, and the winner of each round is the person who has used the most of his roll of toilet paper to cover their teammate.

9. Dizzy Bat Relay – Though this race is called dizzy bat relay, the person who gets dizzy is the team member who is up! Each team member runs to pick up a bat. After placing it on end, they place their forehead on top of the bat and spin themselves around the bat 10 times. Then, a bit disoriented from the spinning, they will race back to the starting line to take the next person in line.

10. Quick Change Relay – A member of each team runs to a pile of clothes and puts them all on. He races back to the starting point and removes all the clothes so that the next person can put them on. This child runs to the turning point removes the clothes, races back to the starting point, and tags the next person. The process continues until each person on the team has dressed and undressed. The first team to have everyone complete the process wins.

11. Waiter Run – Like a waiter in a restaurant, each team member for this game carries a plate with a ping-pong ball atop it above their head. They must carry it to a designated spot, turn around, and carry the plate back to the starting point for the next person is awaiting it. If they drop the ball, they must stop and put it back on the plate, while taking no steps.

12. Penny Relay – A variation on the egg relay, the penny relay uses a penny on a spoon that contestants must carry from the starting line, to a turning point and back again before passing spoon onto the next contestant. If they drop the penny, they must stop and put it back on the spoon before continuing.

13. Chicken Egg Drop – The object of the race is to carry a tennis or beach ball to a box located a distance from the starting point. What makes a game tricky is that runners must carry the ball between their knees and then waddle to the turning point where the box is located to drop their egg. They then run back to the starting line to the next person who places a ball between their legs and repeats the process. This game can be played using one ball per team, if the child removes the “egg” and brings it back to the next person.

14. Vaseline Nose Race -Each player has a dab of Vaseline put down their nose. The first person also has a cotton ball placed there which is passed from person to person until the end of the line. No hands are allowed in this silly game as the cotton ball is passed nose to nose. The winning team is the one that successfully passes the cotton ball to the end of the line. (If the cotton ball falls off or gets too messy, the race coordinators can replace it.)

15. Newspaper Press – Team members are paired up and charged to run to the finish line with a single newspaper page between them. By carefully running in tandem, runners can make their goal. If the pair drops their newspaper page, they must go back to the starting line, and begin again. There are no hands allowed until it is time to handle the newspaper page to the next pair of runners. The winning team has all their pairs successfully complete the race.

16. Three Legged Race – After dividing the teams into pairs of players who are about the same height, have them stand side-by-side so that you can tie their adjacent legs together with a scarf or piece of cloth. Each pair of players runs to a designated point and back again so that they can tag the next pair. If a pair falls down while they are running, the last keep their legs tied together as they get up. The team that has all their pairs complete the race is the winner.

17. Statue of Liberty Relay – Lineup two teams and give the first person in line a plunger that they have to fill with water from a pool or bucket and run it to a designated turning point without losing the water. The returning runner hands the plunger off to the next person who refills it before beginning the run.

18. Chicken Stir Fry – This game requires a hula hoop, two rhythm sticks, and numerous rubber chickens or animals for each team. Players start by standing in front of their hula hoop that has the two sticks in it. The first player picks up the stairs and runs to the pile of animals. He or she picks up the animal with the stairs and runs back to drop it inside the hula hoop. The game continues until time is called. The winning team is the one with the most animals in the hoop.

19. Wheelbarrow Relay – Divide two teams into pairs where one will be the wheelbarrow and the other the farmer. The wheelbarrow must get down on their hands while the farmer holds their feet in the air and walk to the turning point on their hands. At the turning point, the pair reverses role so that the wheelbarrow becomes the farmer and vice versa. The first team that gets every pair to complete the process wins the game.

20. Hoop It Up – Teams of players stand in a circle with their hands joined. One person has a hula on their right arm. When the relay starts, the player steps for the group so that it rests on the opposite arm and then slides it to the right arm of the person to the left. The object of the game is to have passed the around the circle without dropping. First team to complete the process wins the game.

After you have looked at these popular relays, you may think of some that you enjoy organizing your student. Please comment below on what the kids that you work with enjoy. Have you have found any that work well with students with disabilities?