A unique gift idea…. Family Adventures

Last year my husband and I were at a loss as to what to get our youngest son and his wife.  They are very handy and very busy with two kids, jobs, and home projects.  After watching their busy lives all year we came up with a unique gift idea.  

A family adventure album.  We bought a cute little scrapbook and filled that pages with gift certificates to all sorts of places.  The pages were filled with family fun (and date night) ideas.  Once we decided on the plan for the book, we went shopping… on-line and to the gift card aisle.  Yep, it was a book of pre-purchased family adventures.  Everything from a trip to the zoo, movie tickets,  to ice cream nights (gift certificate for Dairy Queen), beach days (complete with gift certs to subway for lunches). On the trips that would take them a distance to get to, we added in gas cards.  After all the point of this gift was not to add financial strain of accomplishing these adventures, but to make these things easy and obtainable for this kids (and gran kids) to do. This book was filled with all sorts of adventures from bowling to mini-golf to go kart racing.  

To come up with ideas we scoured the internet to check out our local city and find fun interesting places to go.  We also googled”date night” ideas to ensure they could enjoy time together without the kids.  If you are thinking of giving a gift such as this, don’t forget the handmade gift certificates that include babysitting.  It was a fun gift to make and a great way to get to know the city we live in.  

I hope you think of a gift like this (or any variation of it) when you are planning your next celebration.  

A twist on this concept is “Your year in review”.  Make a scrapbook for your loved ones of their past year.  This is a great idea for the little ones in your life.  You can give it to them on each birthday as a memory of what they have accomplished in the past year.  On the last page of the album make a list of that child’s goals for next year.  This makes an amazing keepsake and helps each child accomplish things each year.  Have fun!  Happy gift giving!

Give the gift of time…

What do you get your kids as they get older?  What do you give your spouse as the years pass on?  What about grand kids when there are so many?  Start a tradition in your family of giving the gift of time.  

My mother has done this each year with my sister and I.  Every Christmas we get a handmade gift certificate wrapped up that simply states, Good for one day with mom.  The certificate is valid for one day and is to be used sometimes in the next calendar year.  This is one of the best gifts because it ensures you get one full day without other family members, without other distractions, and you get to really enjoy the time with each other.

What do we do on these “Mom Days”?  Good question.  When we were smaller they could be anything from a nice lunch out, a beach day, or even just a fun day playing board games or cards.  As we have gotten older, we have taken advantage of these days by trying new things, getting out of our comfort zones, or just being young again.  My mom and I have taken a seq-way tour through a different city just an hour or two away.  We have gone zip-lining, gone to a hockey game, even gone to see a psychic.  

The point is, these special days can be shared with anyone who could use a break in life throughout the year.  If you have busy schedules, giving this gift to your spouse could be worth its weight in gold.  Take time out of your calendars this year and remember to enjoy the day or days with loved ones.  You only get one chance at this life and you can’t take the “stuff” with you, so make memories together and experience all this wonderful world has to offer.  

Note:  If you decide to give this gift to a special someone this year, make it a tradition and do it every year.  Make a point to try something new, take a trip on a tankful, or spend the day without the distraction of cell phones or electronics.  

What’s in your Christmas Stocking?

Christmas morning is always the greatest thing ever.  Watching your family gather around the Christmas tree in their adorable holiday PJ’s and seeing the wide eyed kids marvel at all the gifts that appeared under the tree overnight.  Did Santa eat the cookies they left out?  Did they drink the milk?  How did he get here and when?  All the wonderment just minutes before your family rips into the oodles of fun gifts you (and Santa) have carefully wrapped for them this year.  

What about the Christmas stockings?  In our family, we wrap each gift found inside this special stocking.  There is candy, gadgets, pretty hair bows, fun socks and much much more.  In our family, we do stocking stuffers for kids and adults alike.  I wanted to take a second as we are all working diligently on our holiday lists to give you a few fun stocking stuffer ideas for kids of all ages. 

For little girls: Little girls and little boys have different ideas of what a great gift is.  Here is a fun list of ideas for the little girl(s) in your life: Mini-toiletries such as hand lotion, soap, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, body scrub, etc., A small change purse, A gift card to her favorite store, A personalized mug (for tea or hot cocoa), Zipper pulls for her jackets or backpack, Comb and hairbrush set, Hair accessories such as barrettes, ponytail holders, scrunchies, headbands, ribbons, etc., Perfume samples (you can find these at department stores), Small, magnetic travel games.  This list can go on and on, but be sure to not miss the classic (see below)

For Little boys: Along with the basics, the following are fun thing to drop in your little one’s stocking: Action figures and hot wheels, candy (Their favorite or even new fun candies), batteries (most likely they will need them this time of year and it’s always good to add it to their stocking), Pez Dispensers (This is and oldie but a goodie!), bike wheels LED Lights, prank gifts kids can play on each other (Whoopee cusion, fart boxes, disappearing ink pens). Don’t forget the classic items (see list below).

For the ladies in your life: Whether she is a wife, mom or grown daughter there are always classic favorites for ‘her’ stocking.  
coffee gift cards from her favorite coffee bar, toiletries (peek in her cabinet to see what brands she likes), her favorite chocolates, candy or snack, portable power for her cell phone, room spray or perfume, cozy socks.  And don’t forget the traditional items that are classics and should be in every stocking.  (see that list below)  

For the men in your life: Once the man in your life ages out of the novelty toys of his youth, it can be hard to know how to fill his stocking with things that are both neat and useful. Here is a quick list of ideas to get you started: Cologne, pocket knife, portable charger, tactical flashlight, money clip, cigars, mini bottles of liquor, funny socks and underwear.  Of course don’t forget the traditional items that are classics…  (see that list below)  

“The Classics” – This is a list of those traditional stocking stuffers that are fun every year.  They make the stocking complete.  Now that you have your list for each indivual stocking in your family, don’t forget these classics….Sweet treats of all kinds, Games and toys (Silly puddy, slinkies, yo-yo’s, bouncy balls and bubbles), the bath basics (a new toothbrush and toothpaste, bathtub soaps and bath toys), a Christmas orange (you read that right!), money (gift cards work to for things like ice cream, etc.).  These things are the basics you almost always find in your stocking.  They can be changed slightly to be age appropriate but they are always useful and fun things to get each year. 

In addition to the above (and they are suggestions, not a comprehensive list to check off).  I highly suggest having one item in each stocking that is a family tradition.  For me personally, I have a tradition each years with my daughter’s stocking.  She is ALWAYS losing her lighters and each year for Christmas she finds lighters (lots of them) individually wrapped in her stocking.  It’s a silly thing, but she can always count on her stocking having these in it to make her giggle Christmas morning (and to use all year).  

Now that you have your list, ever wonder where the tradition of Christmas stockings and stocking stuffers began?  After reading a lot on the subject, I want to share with you what https://people.howstuffworks.com/ has to say on the topic.  

Hanging stockings over the chimney is an integral part of Christmas, and these oversized stockings are reserved for smaller gifts like candy and action figures. But why do we hang stockings anyway, and how did the tradition start?

Although most countries have their own variations on Santa, the oldest reference to St. Nicholas goes as far back as the third century. The ancient town of Myra, located in what is now modern Turkey, is home to a shrine dedicated to Bishop Nicholas. Over several centuries, tales spread detailing the benevolence and generosity of Bishop Nicholas, and this is where the idea of St. Nick as gift-giver began [source: BSU].

One of the stories, it turns out, involves Nicholas passing by the homes of maidens too poor to afford a dowry– money that a bride gives to her groom for their wedding. The bishop would throw gold coins down the chimneys of these maidens, where they would fall into stockings, which were hung over the fire to dry.

Dutch children take part in another tradition — one that may have directly influenced the North American practice of hanging stockings. The children leave wooden shoes out by the fireplace, which are filled with hay for Sinterklaas’s horse (the Dutch version of Santa Claus not only has a different name, but a different mode of transportation). Santa replaces the hay with gifts, and it’s thought that Americans adapted this tradition sometime in the early 19th century [source: BSU].

I wish you all (young and old) a very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season!

Have a happy day, 

Mrs. Go To Girl

Fall is here, time to set the mood

Fall is here and we all get busy around the holidays with work, kids school activities, family activities and it can sometime be hard to get into the holiday spirit or maybe we are in a pinch for a quick last minute fall gift for a party or just a thank you.  Potpourri is always a great go-to for me and also a great way to get your own home into the holiday spirit.  Here are a few recipes for your home.  Check out my Facebook page and Instagram for some great DIY Potpourri projects and gift ideas.

It’s important to remember, there is no right or wrong combination of store bought (or home grown) fruits and spices for the fall to make your personal potpourri.  Some staples are Cinnamon, cloves, star anise, oranges and apples.  Oranges and lemons are great as well.  Here you will find two separate recipes for potpourri.

For an active potpourri (one that you will cook on your stove and need to either continuously add water too or only use for a portion of time) use the following recipe:

In a medium stove top pot, add three cups of water and turn on medium heat. Add two cinnamon sticks, half of an orange, half of a lemon, and 1 tablespoon cloves.  Once the mixture reaches a good temperature, turn to low and let this mixture sit on your stove uncovered.  The potpourri will steep for some time sending a lovely scent throughout your home.  Be sure to check the pot from time to time as the water will evaporate and you will either need to add more or remove the pot from the heat when you are thru with you potpourri for the day.

For a dry potpourri, (one that can be set out in a decorative bowl) use the following recipe:

With cinnamon, cloves, star anise, orange and apples as your ingredients you will want to start by slicing the apples and oranges thin.  Spread them onto a cookie sheet in a single layer and bake them at 250 degrees to dry them out.  Remove from the oven and let cool, add the remaining spices and allow them to marinate together in a decorative jar or bowl.  NOTE: This particular version makes for a great gift and it is always nice to add in the recipe on a nicely printed card so others can do the same.

Enjoy your holiday season and as always remember to Have a Happy Day!

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