Special Occasions Tips

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What can I use for a goody bag?

birthday party tip -goody bags

As a giveaway for birtday parties, use disposable cameras. You can find them on sale and put them in a bag with candy if you wish. This is a big hit with all age children and both sexes. It is also a good activity if you'd like them to use a few photos before the party ends.

   
How can I celebrate my child´s birthday?

birthday tip - balloon fairy

Try this special birthday idea - on the eve of your child's birthday, after they are asleep, buy mylar balloons and place them in their bedroom. When they wake to this wonderful surprise, you can either take credit, or tell them the "balloon fairy" made a visit. Do not do this with babies or very young children as balloons can present a choking hazard.

   
How can I get ready for the holidays?

holiday tip - shopping for gifts

Good advice for busy moms -start shopping early for holiday gifts. Keep them in a special closet with a section for each person on your holiday list. It will help save headaches later.
As a bonus, you will most likely save money, too!!

   
What can I do with extra Halloween candy?

sharing candy

If your child gets too much candy on Halloween, ask them to make a bag to give away. Your local food bank will be happy to take it. Some hospitals will also be glad to give it to children who were not able to trick-or-treat that year. You'll teach your child a wonderful lesson and get all that extra candy out of your house!!

   
How do I wrap large gifts?

All wrapped up ?

Wrapping extra large gifts is not always necessary. Sometimes just a big bow or trailing ribbons are all you need. If you feel obligated to cover them up, buy a roll of paper table cover (approximately 60"x100'). Similar table covers in colored plastic also come in single table sizes (5'x8'), and are available at most dollar stores. Leftover wallpaper is also an option. Works well for all special occasion gifts, including Christmas and birthdays.

   
How do I manage to do Christmas shopping with kids?

Christmas shopping with Children

Know what gift(s) you are shopping for before you leave the house. Review with the kids before you enter a store, exactly what you are getting and for whom. No side trips, no fuss, no gawking, no candy. It is extremely simple to keep the children on track if you can distract them by enlisting their help in finding the section or item needed.

   
Can you prevent birthday candles from dripping all over birthday cake?

Dripping Candles?

Refrigerate candles for several hours before lighting; it will cause fewer drips.

   
Any cheap gift ideas for Dad on Father´s Day?

Father's Day

Make Fathers day affordable for every member of the family: make up coupons redeemable only by Dad!

   
How can I tell what is safe to eat at Halloween?

Safe Snacks

Children shouldn't snack while they're trick-or-treating. Parents should check treats at home. Watch for signs of tampering, such as small pinholes in wrappers and torn or loose packages. Parents of young children should get rid of choking hazards such as gum, peanuts, hard candies or small toys.

   
How can I help my child be safe at Halloween?

All dressed up

Children who will be trick-or-treating after dusk should have reflective tape on their costumes and carry flashlights.

   
Should I let my kids stay up ´til midnight?

Out for the Count(down)

Midnight is a very late hour for children to stay awake for. Even if you enforce a nap in the afternoon before (and after) you will still have to put up with cranky and unreasonable children the next day. Compromise by letting them fall asleep on the couch, but be sure to wake them in time for the big Countdown.

   
What can I do with extra Halloween candy?

sharing candy

If your child gets too much candy on Halloween, ask them to make a bag to give away. Your local food bank will be happy to take it. Some hospitals will also be glad to give it to children who were not able to trick-or-treat that year. You'll teach your child a wonderful lesson and get all that extra candy out of your house!!

   
What is a good costume for my two year old?

Lose the Masks

Because they can obstruct a child's vision, masks are not recommended. If a child wears makeup, parents should look for non-toxic, hypo-allergenic kits.

   
What time is a good deadline for a sleepover?

Bedtime Extensions

Let them stay up a little bit past their regular bedtime. Plan to start an age appropriate movie right after completion of their normal bedtime rituals. If possible, set up a TV/VCR in the same room where the children will sleep. If they happen to fall asleep prematurely, just leave them alone.

   
How do I pick the best gifts?

Ask Santa

Writing letters to Santa is great practice! The 1st graders get an opportunity to show off their phonetics, 2nd grade children practice punctuation, and 3rd graders are ready to help the pre-schoolers. All of your children are helping you, Mom, to narrow down the toy-of-choice field that will change your shopping from exploration to a mission. Be available to help label the envelopes c/o The North Pole, Canada, H0H0H0!

   
Why do I give out loot bags at children´s birthdays?

Loot Bags

The idea of a returned favor in the form of candy is the current basis of the loot bag. What could be more age appropriate than a thank you in a fun and delicious package? There are no language barriers. There are no written words to print. There is no favoritism shown. Parents can even prepare them ahead of time. There are no limits to imaginative contents. Or how much you spend on them. This includes how you package and decorate each.

   
What beverages can I serve to kids on New Year´s?

Cheers!

When toasting in the New Year with minors and other abstainers in attendance, a round of sparkling "white" is still definitely in order. This could be sparkling white grape juice, sparkling lemonade, a half and half mixture of ginger ale and apple juice, or plain old club soda for maximum fizz. Serve each child in an 'adult' glass, even if this means stocking up on plastic champagne goblets. Cheers!

   
What kind of things can I put in loot bags?

Loot bags

Take some time to think about the uninvited siblings that will be waiting at the door when the party-goer returns home with a loot bag. Toys with small parts may not be the best to include if a crawling brother/sister is witing at home. The potential for choking is too big a risk to take.

   
How can I make my child´s birthday fun?

fun activity - scavenger hunt

Try this great idea - leave gifts in hidden spots all over your house. At each spot have a gift with a small note or poem giving hints where to find the next gift. Kids will love the hunt as much as the gifts!! A great way to celebrate birthdays, Valentine's Day, or any holiday!!!

   
What is a good activity for a sleep over party?

sleepover activity - fun idea

A great sleepover tip - whether it is a sleep over party or just one friend, decorate t-shirts or pillowcases with fabric markers. If you use t-shirts, they can be worn as pajamas for the sleep over. This makes a nice goody bag as well.

   
When should I send flowers?

Birthday surprise

Send your mother flowers on YOUR birthday. Enclose a card that says, "Thanks, Mom."

   
What age group expects loot bags at birthday parties?

Loot Bags

There is a bright side to the entire loot bag issue. You really do not need to worry about gathering supplies to send home with the guests for a one or two year old's party. Hopefully, by age nine or ten, you can retire the whole experience.

   
How do I pick the best gifts?

Gift ideas

The hardest part of gift giving, especially at Christmas, is finding the perfect gift for all the people on your list. You can give your brain a break by posting a list of names in a highly visible spot and let family members, friends, and relatives add their own ideas or wishes to it.

   
What´s a cute way to put candles on a birthday cake?

Keeping Candles in Place

Use Lifesavers candies to hold candles in place on your next birthday cake! Kids love 'em!

   
What is a useful theme for a bridal shower?

Bridal Shower Theme

Here's a great idea for a bridal shower! Ask each guest to bring a favorite recipe and a utensil used to make it. For example, a meatloaf recipe and a loaf pan. The hostess could give the bride-to-be a recipe box to go with all the new recipes.

   
What is a good baby shower gift?

Baby Shower Gift

Your best friend, sister or neighbor is having her fourth (or fifth or...) baby. She really doesn't need any more baby paraphernalia. Why not contact the entire family, community, and friends and go together and purchase a freezer? Fill it with a few homemade goodies, and you will have cemented your relationship forever.

   
How can I find a babysitter for New Year´s?

Book 'em, Mom-o

If you plan on hosting or attending a New Years Eve party this year, pick up the phone and call a baby-sitter NOW (that would be the beginning of November). The older the baby-sitter, the more likely it is that they themselves will want to make plans and possibly cancel out at a late date. If you suspect this may be a distinct possibility, choose from the younger, responsible sitters, first, and rest a little easier. If you do not have back-up, start asking friends and neighbors for their recommendations and give them a chance to earn their spot on your "on-call" list.

   
Should children help plan their own birthday parties?

Party Planning

Involve your children in birthday party planning and preparation. Surprises are fun, but the kids like to get involved in planning, and this is a time when the kids are motivated to be especially helpful.

   
What can I give a child age 4-6 for a gift?

Inspired gifts

Sleeping bags make a great gift for a child age 4 - 6. This need not be the deluxe model. Include an invitation for a sleepover! Grandparents - add a pair of pj's to the parcel.

   
What is a good baby shower gift?

Baby Shower: Gifts that really Count

Good advice for moms, from moms - explore the cost and availability of a nanny/housekeeper/cleaning lady for some time after the baby is born. The little extra help goes a long way towards making the introduction of your baby to yourself and other family members that much easier. This option could potentially be extended by timely Valentines day gifts, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, Mother's day, etc. Any excuse will do.

   
Are loot bags for kids invited or those who responded?

Loot Bags

Do not be quick to forego making up a loot bag for any child whose parents have failed to respond to your RSVP request. If you have not had time to follow up to confirm numbers, inevitably the delinquent respondees tend to show up anyway. Why punish a potential guest for their parents' mistake in etiquette?

   
How can I seat everyone invited to a large party?

Seating

For large, informal parties never set out enough chairs. You want people to mingle and visit. If there are enough chairs for everyone to sit down, they will. And you will no longer have a party atmosphere -- it'll be more like a dentist's waiting room.

   
Do I owe a loot bag to a child that missed the party?

Loot Bags

If a child is ill and cannot attend the party but forwards a gift, then he/she deserves the same thanks as the others. Plan on delivering the intended loot bag at a later date when that child is feeling better.

   
What can I give as a (cheap) gift for relatives?

Gifts from the Heart

Send a favorite copy of a recent family picture to all those hard to buy for relatives. Forget the frame unless it is in your budget.

   
Is it safe for a 7 year old to carve a pumpkin?

Pumpkin time

Small children should never carve pumpkins. Children can draw a face with markers, then parents can do the cutting. Under parents' supervision, children ages 5 to 10 can carve with pumpkin cutters equipped with safety bars.

   
What use is there for all those Christmas cards I get?

Recycle those Christmas Cards

Save all the Christmas cards you receive and reuse them as gift labels next year. Depending on how the original sender signed his note, you can make at least six labels from any one card.

   
How can I entertain early party arrivals?

Who Needs a Tablecloth?

Instead of a tablecloth at your child's next birthday party, use paper, and place baskets of crayons on the table as centerpieces. Invite the party guests to decorate the tablecloth.

   
How can I make giving birthday gifts easier?

personalized gift labels

Buy preprinted gift labels with your child(ren)'s names. Anytime they have a birthday party, just stick one of the labels on the gift. No more running around at the last minute for a card. It is also much less expensive than buying individual cards. You can buy them at "customexpression.com". They work great for gifts for all special occastions. Pick a picture your child loves, have the label printed with "a gift for" and leave space to fill in the name. On the bottom put your own personalized message.

   
Does having kids mean I have to give up New Year´s Traditions?

Should we or shouldn't we?

Just because you have added children into the family dynamic does not necessarily mean you have to delete special occasions from both your vocabulary and your calendars. If you and your life mate celebrated New Years with a flourish B.C. (before children), then by all means continue the tradition. By the time the kids have matured to a worldly age of 8 years, you may then consider modifying your habits to include them in the festivities.

   
How do I deal with unbelievers of Santa?

The spirit of Giving

A wonderful topic of conversation is the spirit of giving. Quotes and phrases like "The best things in life are free", "It is better to give than to receive", and "Give from the heart", may need common sense examples from you, Mom. To best demonstrate, start thinking of tasks or favors that you or your children can do to help someone.

   
How can I entertain early party arrivals?

Keep 'Em Busy

Have an ongoing activity, such as a theme-related craft project, that kids can start working on as soon as they arrive at the party. Kids will be kept busy, and won't be bored waiting for the later-arriving guests to show up.

   
Should you combine Christmas with December birthday events?

Birthday Too Close to Christmas?

Don't you feel sorry for the kids whose birthdays fall close to Christmas? I had a friend whose son's birthday fell in the week before Christmas. They made it their family tradition to not put up the Christmas tree or any other Christmas decorations until AFTER his birthday, so that his day was just as special and focused upon as it would have been in August. What a great way to make a kid feel special!

   
What is a reasonable number of children to invite to a birthday party?

Party Guests

A good rule of thumb to use when deciding how many children to invite to a birthday party is one child for every year of age. Five 5-year-olds are much more manageable than five 2-year-olds.

   
When do kids stop believing in Santa?

Is there really a Santa?

I will not lie if asked a very direct question. By about grade 3 (7 - 8 years old) friends and relatives are bound to start the seeds of doubt to play in your child's mind. The first few questions will be tentative, like "There's no Santa, is there?" but unanswered or avoided ones will just add to their suspicions. Take them aside and explain the spirit of giving and believing and how Santa helps reinforce these lessons. Next year, you'll probably have to do it all over again, especially if you fear the traditions are in jeopardy for the younger siblings.

   
How can I keep track of which (identical)cup belongs to who?

Look-a-like Cups and Such

having a party with lots of kids? Label juice boxes with the owner's name using masking tape and marker.

   
When is the best time to hold a baby shower?

Baby showers

Always check with the mother-to-be when planning a baby shower. Some women feel very strongly about not having one before the baby is born. This hesitation does not mean that they are ungrateful for the thought, just that they'd rather wait until they know everything is ok with the baby before celebrating.

   
What do I pack in loot bags?

Loot bags

When planning and packing loot bags, candies that can be divided equally would certainly ease some sibling pressure when your party guest arrives home. But if the kids are anything like mine, it does not take too many parties to learn - eat before you get in the door!

   
When do I feed kids on Hallowe´en night?

Fill 'em up!

Serve kids a healthy dinner (with foods they like) before trick-or-treating, so they won't fill up on candy.

   
How do I store sleeping bags?

All wrapped up

If your child's sleeping bag doesn't have ties or elastic to help keep it in a roll, use a green garbage bag (until you find time to add the loops yourself).

   
What age is appropriate for a sleepover party?

Is everybody ready?

You've invited some of your child's friends over for a sleep over party. I hope that they are either seasoned veterans of sleeping in a place other than their own beds or are at least 4 - 5 years old. To have to phone and ask their parents to come get them is miserable all-around. Make sure before the parents leave that any security blankets, toys or books are with the child.

   
How can I make holiday time less hectic?

Christmas cards

If possible, get the envelopes to your Christmas cards months early. For example, address the envelopes over the summer when you have more time to spare. When the busy holiday month approaches, all you will have to do is insert the card. If you are having them printed, some printers give big discounts if you order early.

   
What do I need to do to get my property ready for trick-or-treaters?

Halloween Safety

To keep their home safe for visiting trick-or-treaters, parents should remove anything a child could trip over, such as garden hoses, toys, bikes and lawn decorations. Parents should check outdoor lights and replace burned-out bulbs. Wet leaves should be swept from sidewalks and steps.

   
How do I wrap over size parcels?

Gift Wrap

Hardware stores sell plastic sheeting by the roll. Use this instead of basket wrap for those over-sized gift baskets you have made.

   
Are there ways to find a babysitter for New Years?

Trading Places

Once you have lived in a neighborhood for a few months, you quickly realize you are not the only family with kids that wish to celebrate New Years. Talk to other mothers and see what arrangements they have made or are planning to make for the evening. Perhaps a sleepover trade may be in order. You take on their children for New Years, and they reciprocate by taking them for that other December extravaganza: the office Christmas Party. If your kids have a friend (or two or...) over, they do tend to occupy themselves better than when left on their own. Or, promise to trade off next year (and hope you are still living in the same place).

   
What costumes are safest for kids to wear?

All Dressed Up

Costumes should be flame-retardant and fit properly. Avoid oversized shoes, high heels and long skirts or pants that could cause a child to fall.

   
What is a reasonable cost to budget to create each loot bag?

Loot Bags

If you create loot bags for each party guest under your budget, you should congratulate yourself for being so creative. Beyond tailoring the bags to girl/boy contents, everything else should be created equal (i.e. the same kind and number of treats), especially for the younger guests (age 3 - 4). A mixture of trinkets and candy seems the most popular choice today. Tie a balloon to the handle, et voilà, a gift to go.

   
Any free gift ideas for Mother´s Day?

Mother's Day

Make Mother"s day affordable for every member of the family: make up coupons or I.O.U.s redeemable only by mom!

   
How long should you keep Halloween candy in the house?

3 strikes you're OUT!

Set a number of days candy can remain in the house before it gets thrown out.

   
What can I give out at Halloween instead of candy?

Trick or Treats?

Offer trick-or-treaters something other than candy. Give them colorful pencils, stickers, large erasers, or decorative shoelaces.

   
How many children should I invite for a sleepover party?

2 by 2's for sleepover tips

Follow this advice to figure out how many sleep over friends are best? One per child. If you have three children, invite one friend for each. If you are planning a party for one particular child (birthday, for example) see if you can arrange a competing sibling to visit elsewhere for the night. This not only frees up a bed, but lessens the rivalry and disappointment ("it's not fair!!") chants. Keep to even numbers in case teams are chosen for any activity.

   
How do I manage to do Christmas shopping with kids?

(W)Rap sessions

Keep wrapping supplies like rolls of wrapping paper, labels, scissors and tape on hand in the trunk of your car. You never know when opportunity may strike and you have a free half hour, without kids, to pop into a friend`s for a quick cuppa and wrap (rap) session. Have a plan as to where you may hide these same gifts before you get home. Never leave the gifts in the car as they are highly in demand for quick theft.

   
Any ideas for sleepovers?

sleepover tip - get them to sleep!!

When possible, have kid sleepovers on Friday nights rather than Saturday nights. Children are typically more tired on Friday and will fall asleep earlier and easier. Also, they have the rest of the weekend to rest up if they need to.

   
What time is a good deadline for a sleepover?

Daylight (sanity) Savings Time

If your sleepover guests tend to get a second wind around 10:00 pm, and have stayed up 'til well past midnight on prior occasions, pretend it's daylight savings and set the clocks ahead an hour in the room where the kids will be playing and/or sleeping.

   
Where can I hide gifts so that the surprise is not lost at Christmas?

How to win at playing 'Hide the Gift'

Hiding gifts from curious children is never foolproof. A great strategy is to solicit cooperation from a neighbor, preferably one without snooping children of their own, who plan on being home on Christmas Eve.

   
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Guru Spotlight
Christina Chan