Go to camp(dot)com/elephant
I am so excited to have found a virtual white elephant exchange site! Having been racking my brain for a few months now on how to do something fun besides staring at each other over our internet and opening gifts, this is a great way to have a set time to engage and have a few laughs with the family. I have not done this...yet. It is not the holidays. Though, I wanted to share sooner than later in case you are stumped too.
Go to camp(dot)com/elephant
Pajama Parties are not just for sleep-overs! This activity offers a unique get-together with basic planning, suitable for all ages. No, I'm not talking about a sleep-over, I'm talking about a daytime or weekend morning pajama get-together.
Keep it as simple as you like and serve breakfast food that everyone will enjoy. Waffle or pancake-making bars become an activity as opposed to having food laid out. Have bowls of yummy add-ins like Resees pieces, M & M's, fresh fruit, nuts, peanut butter, different jellies, flavored syrups, and of course whipped cream. If you are thinking about making waffles, they now have a spray can waffle batter so everyone can make their own with a counter flip waffle iron.
Spin these many ways based on age ranges or guests invited. For kids, this can be an afternoon party where your kids invite their friends and watch cartoons in front of the TV, or they can decorate pillow covers to take home. Purchase puff paints or fabric painting kits to place on the kitchen table, but make sure to cover it well. Teens will like this idea for an early evening party where they can tell ghost stories, play board games, and, if you have the ability, make S'mores. An adult-only get-together can include a breakfast bar with some mimosas and socializing. For family reunions, include games like Pictionary with a large drawing pad on an easel so everyone in the room can see.
A fun game for guest of all ages that requires little prior planning is the wink and murder game where each player pulls a slip of paper from a stocking cap and some papers are blank, and one paper identifies the player as the killer. Throughout the party, the "killer" winks at his/her victims, and they have to fake their death a few minutes later and far away from the actual killer. Guest can guess who they think the killer is before they are wink-killed. If they guess wrong, they have to fake their death. (The player has to whisper the question "are you the killer?" into the person they suspect's ear for a yes or no reply. If it is yes, they are the winner, and if it is no, they must fake their death).
When we played this for our family reunion, my father-in-law turned out to be the killer, and absolutely no one suspected him as he had a bit of difficulty getting around and is pretty quiet, so he just waited for his victims to come to say hello. One of my nieces even decided to up her game on her faked death by painting herself with horror makeup and fake blood. This game has been around for a while and has many different rules and names. I am not sure where it originated, but it is a brilliant activity.
Looking for Pajama ideas? We bought ours at Jumpin jammerz because they had camouflage footed ones for the guys. Of course, you can find cute pajamas anywhere.
With the end of Summer quickly approaching I thought it might be a good time to bring back one of our old recommendations for spring cleaning.
One of the hardest things to do is to get kids to give up their old toys. Not because they actually use them, but because, often times, they have great memories associated with them and they are sure they will want to play with them again.
An easy way to get them to clean out their closets and toy chests is to have a goodbye party for them. Ask your kids to round up all of their old toys that they have not played with in a while and have a full day of play with those special toys. Give them carte blanc play with them in the living room or outside for a few hours, maybe even have a goodbye cake as a treat and then, after the goodbye play is all done, have buckets of soap and water for them to clean the toys to go to their new owner.
Having volunteered in a charity thrift store, I have seen bags of broken and dirty toys come in and making them look fresh was very time consumming and ends up taking away from the time we could have spent getting the toys to the proper new owners. By donating clean (and minorly repaired) toys that have been gently cleaned by loving pre-owners, the recipients will get a toy that is already in great condition. This also helps the kids see how valuable the gift they are giving away is an
Have you ever been to a Roller Derby? If you haven't seen one, you are missing out on a fun and unique activity. Roller Derby started in the 1940's and is played by two teams, each with five members. Although it is predominantly female athletes in the Derby, there are some men's teams as well.
Roller Derby may be theatrical with unique names, (Derby girls are called by their pseudonym or skater name) and costume style uniforms, but these Derby gals (or guys) engage in a full contact sport. Don't discount the amount of work these players put into the practice and the games as well as their athleticism just because their names are a bit "interesting".
The price of tickets vary, but most are reasonably priced depending on the bout and the area. The best part about Derby athletes is that they usually are very responsive to the crowd and love their fans, so sometimes you can get a few autographs!
Making a time capsule for your family can be a great bonding activity and also help set goals. For this activity, you will need some magazines and your choice of canister in which you wish to store items for your "future" self. You can make it a simple container by using a large manila envelope or be creative by decorating a used paper towel roll in which you can place your papers.
Start by setting out the magazines in the middle of the table with tape, glue, a blank white paper, and pens. Then have the whole family cut out things they would like to own such as the type of house or car. Consider what occupation the person might like to have, (no, you don't have to be young to dream of a future career, I still am trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up) and also put in places you would like to live or visit someday as well as a future pet.
On the outside of your container, place the day you made the capsule along with a day for it to be opened in the future.
So, who doesn't like free? There are a lot of websites that are filled with free online stuff. Obviously, there is always a catch, such as you having to sign up for their programs, but they have some pretty cool "free" things that they offer. Some have different coupons every month and some are just lists of places to check out. If you like to receive freebies, check out some of these sites.
Be aware that, of course, some of the sites sell your info! If you are OK with spam or have a spam email address, then that might work best. Not all are like that, but I always check the reviews before I sign up for anything. I suggest you do the same. All of the below are .com
Totallyfreestuff Website: I like this one because you can actually vote on whether the free time is worthwhile.
Allure magazine has a free sample page: This magazine offers the chance to win free beauty products with a sign up.
Freeflys: A website for free stuff mailed to you.
If you have kids, there is a good chance that you have several plastic or glass peanut butter or jelly jars that you can save after you have used them up. Don't throw them away, they make excellent impromptu rock gardens. I always recommend plastic for safety, if you can, but with adult supervision carrying around a glass jar to collect with is fine.
To make your "garden", simply clean out the jars and then take a walk around your nearby park or even your backyard. The kids can place soil, sand, and cute rocks they find to make the bottom of their jar surface. At many of the dollar stores you can find small fake plants, decorations, and even some plastic animals to use to decorate their garden. Place the lid back on and you have a cute little decoration for their room. Pour it out and remake them when ever you need a quick activity.
These can also be themed for holidays to serve as decorations for the table. Place holiday colors and decorations inside instead of nature themed terrariums.
Disclaimer- Not a sushi person. Let me rephrase that: not a raw-fish kind of sushi eater. I can eat the version for wimps--the fried and fully-cooked versions.
With that being said, I'm game for trying new things and for a fun girl's night out. So, I ventured off to a Sushi Smackdown with four other ladies. What is Sushi Smackdown? It's more of an event than a dinner, but you get plenty to eat. The concept is pretty fantastic. Gino, a friendly guy, sets up 17-course sushi tastings at local sushi bars around different cities. Right now, they are in Arizona, California, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Georgia.
How it worked:
The event location I attended was at Sushi 101 in Tempe, Arizona. We got there fifteen minutes before "showtime" and were seated promptly. The event started on time. That was impressive! First course was served right at the 7 p.m mark. We were given pre-printed paper with the names of the sushi we would be trying, with stars next to each item, and blank space to write any comments. Our job was to rate the sushi, which was served one piece at a time. 17 pieces of sushi. They threw in a few sake bomber games to liven the crowd while Gino and his very attentive assistant, Nicole, perused the crowd asking what we liked and did not like.
While some might ask "why would a sushi place let an outside group sell tickets to eat their food," assuming they are probably losing money. Though I am sure the venue did well in selling the drinks, from a business stand point, it's a smart move. They get a well-run event that introduces people to their sushi bars, and they get real feedback on what dishes are working and not working. Research in action. The smackdown group helps them over the course of five nights or so to bring all their stars up to perfect fives. Every night they drop the one stars and add on something else until they have a rockstar menu. Besides, I would return to this restaurant now and know exactly what I wanted to order by way of sampling their best, and worst.
I am planning on attending the final showdown event in November that pits the top two chefs against each other for the win. I will let you know how it goes.
So, if your looking for something different to do with your group, I would recommend this as a "in a day activity".
They sell tickets online for different events and locations. Check them out at:
If you do not live in one of the few of the places that have great public transportation (Like the New York Subway, or the California Bart), taking public transportation on a date night may not occur to you. It may seem odd to think about a date being romantic when scrunched between people you do not know, but it can add to the humor of your date. As long as the transportation in your area is safe at night, taking a public bus to a bar or amusement area can become part of your date with a bit of people-watching as well as not having to worry about driving after a few cocktails. Depending on how far away the bus stop is from your house, you can make the stroll to the bus stop with a game of 20 questions.
Make sure that you check the bus schedule and that it will be running when you are planning to leave your destination. I understand that the distance to your closest bus stop may not make this activity possible for some, but you never know what fun activities might be on your bus route if it is in your walking distance.
Working together as a family or even as a couple can be a great bonding experience and can also give the opportunity to help out a charity in need. The difficulty, sometimes, of volunteering with a busy schedule is that it is hard to be somewhere at a specific day or time weekly and can make us hold back so we don't over commit. Well, the good news is that there are several organizations that are actually online and you can sign up for days that you have available as well as give yourself the chance to help out at a lot of well-deserved charities. How it works on many of these sites is you sign up and take a brief, but informative, orientation. Some have small fees just to help cover the website expense and are, of course, a donation. Then, you browse what charities are looking for help on days you have available. In some cases, you can provide them with special skills you have in the event there is a need in that area. I have done an event where I read to homeless children, served in a food kitchen, boxed food and medical supplies, played a sporting game with at risk teens, and provided park clean up. The list and need is endless. You can take turns, as a family, picking out causes that are close to your heart.
http://www.volunteermatch.org/ all over projects
www.onlinevolunteering.org helping online projects.
www.makeadifference.org is in the Greater Phoenix area.
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