Fun-Christmas-Activities-Your-Family-Will-Love-Kids home for the holidays? Here are ten family friendly, fun-filled activities that will help you maintain your sanity and have fun with your kids at the same time.

1. Christmas crafts. With just a little pre-planning in the evening, you could have all of the materials ready for crafts that would be fun for your kids to keep them busy for hours. As an added bonus, they can give their crafts to family and friends as Christmas gifts. Try a few of these Christmas craft ideas. Or if you are giving away baked goods for the holidays, let your kids design holiday treat bags using brown paper bags and crayons or markers. Speaking of holiday treats…

 2. Bake. Kids love to help in the kitchen, so December is the perfect time to work on holiday baking. To avoid frustration for both of you, scale your baking projects to match your kids ages and abilities, and don’t forget to let your kids enjoy some of the treats when you’re done!

 3. Talent show. Kids love to showcase their many talents, and there is no better way or time to do this than with a holiday talent show. If you’re trying to get some things done around the house, task your kids with practicing their talents. They can sing Christmas carols, choreograph a holiday dance, act out a scene from their favorite holiday show, or write their own holiday play. The possibilities are endless. If you have time, feel free to get in on the fun!

4. Decorate. Kids love to decorate, adding bits of holiday bling here and there around the house. Keep a special stash of kid-friendly decorations that they can use over Christmas break. If you don’t want them tossing tinsel in every room, limit their decorating canvas to the playroom or their bedrooms.

5. Get outside. Sure the weather outside might be frightful, but with the right winter clothes, your kids can still enjoy an hour (or more) of outdoor play. If there’s snow on the ground, pull out the sleds, snowballers, and snow tubes and let them have at it!

6. Clear clutter. Christmas break is the perfect time to get kids to organize their rooms and clear up their clutter around the house. It’s a great way to get things organized before Christmas. For added motivation, I remind my kids that we don’t want Santa tripping over toys as he’s tip-toeing around the house.

7. Hit the town. During most of the year, the kids are so busy with school, homework and extra-curricular activities that we hardly have time to enjoy the activities going on in our own town. So holiday break is the perfect time to hit local museums, art galleries, and story time at the local library. Call your town office or check their website for a listing of local events and activities in your area.

 8. Read (or write!) a book. Want to instill a lifelong love of reading in your kids? Set aside a little time each day to read together as a family. Holiday break is the perfect time to squeeze in this fun and fundamental activity. Obviously little kids are going to read with you, but older kids can read, or even write their own books. They can read in their rooms or better yet, get the whole family together to read in the living room.

9. Christmas song picture game: Is your family fond of picture games? Head over to this website and print out the game, then let everyone take a shot. First one to finish is declared the Christmas song guru! This is a great game for families to play at the table after dinner and before dessert.

10. Christmas trivia: Does your family know everything there is to know about Christmas? Why not challenge the clan to a Christmas trivia showdown? Pull out some Santa trivia, Christmas tree trivia, or trivia about Christmas traditions from around the world or go for the gold and mix up questions from all three. You can have a dedicated game time where players compete for a prize (extra dessert!) or just ask the questions throughout the day to keep everybody guessing!

Celebrate Christmas with your family. The true essence of Christmas is to celebrate it with your family. It didn’t matter how expensive the food is, how big the Christmas tree you have, how plenty of gifts to share, the true meaning of Christmas is to celebrate it with your family. Give time to your family this Christmas and enjoy it with your loved ones.

Have a Merry Christmas. ;)

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7 Ways to have a stress free holiday

by admin on December 11, 2013

christmas_relaxStress free holiday

Does the thought of your holiday to-dos cause you to break out in a cold sweat? With so much to do and such little time, how can we fit it all in? A little advance planning can save you time, money and energy. The 7 Step Plan below will help you simplify so you can anticipate the holidays with excitement instead of dread.

Create a holiday planner. Organize your to-dos and lists in a binder and use it yearly as a handy reference. Get a 3-ring binder in a holiday color and fill it with clear sheet protectors. Store schedules, holiday to-dos, gift ideas, and favorite holiday recipes. Keep a page for inventory of what’s inside your storage boxes. As the contents of the binder grow, use labeled dividers to organize the various categories.

Simplify Your Holiday Cards. Instead of traditional cards, consider sending an annual family newsletter copied onto seasonal paper, using computer generated address labels and return address labels from a charity or sent by email. If you prefer cards, get them pre-printed. Consider sending them after the New Year or for Valentine’s Day instead.

Shop Smart. Create a budget and track it as you shop. Shop early and from a list to avoid impulse buying (and allow for delivery time when shopping online). Record your gift ideas throughout the year. Keep receipts organized in an envelope in case of returns.

Wrapping Made Quick and Easy. It’s less stressful to wrap as you go along. Set up a gift wrapping centre in an out-of-the-way place in your home. You’ll need a table or counter and a bin with all your supplies. Label gifts until you’ve had a chance to wrap and tag them. If you don’t have the time or talent for wrapping gifts or simply don’t enjoy it, most malls provide the service for a nominal cost, often with the money going to charity. Another idea is to purchase decorative gift boxes from the dollar store, which you can reuse when giving to family members.

Cook and Bake Ahead. With all the extra errands you’ll have to run, it’s helpful to have some meals made ahead and frozen. Label the containers with the contents and the date because it’s often hard to determine what’s inside once the items are frozen. Declutter your freezer to accommodate extras. Bake in batches. If you don’t like to bake, find a friend who bakes and do it together or take short cuts like using packaged mixes or ordering from a bakery.

Simplify your holiday décor. Do your outdoor decorating early, while the weather is still good. You don’t have to decorate every room of the house. Nor do you have to use every decoration you have. Donate what you no longer use. Start using more festive items that don’t have to be packed away after the holidays: fresh wreath, candles, fruit in bowls, and fresh flowers. Take pictures to remind you where everything goes.

Practice selective socializing. Have you ever attended a social engagement out of obligation, only to regret it later? Or have you said ‘yes’ to every party request and then felt overextended and too tired to enjoy yourself? Avoid holiday overload by accepting invitations to only the events you truly want to attend and allow some downtime in between.

With all these simple steps you can enjoy the holiday seasons with your family and friends in a stress free way.

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Christmas Traditions in the Philippines

by admin on December 6, 2013

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Christmas in the Philippines, one of two predominantly Catholic countries in Asia (the other one being East Timor), is one of the biggest holidays in the archipelago. The country has earned the distinction of celebrating the world’s longest Christmas season, with Christmas carols heard as early as September and lasting until Epiphany, the feast of the Black Nazarene on January 9 or the Feast of the Santo Niño de Cebú on the third Sunday of January. The official observance is from 16 December with the beginning of the Simbang Gabi to Epiphany.

Hi, I’m Joseph Salvador Baring Jr. (Jb Salvador) from Philippines a guest blogger from At Home With Heather.com. This is how we Filipino’s celebrate our Christmas. :)

Activities

The various ethnic groups in the Philippines each observe different Christmas traditions, and the following are generally common.

christmas-in-philippinesChristmas parties

In urban areas like Metro Manila, many offices organise Christmas parties. These are usually held during the second week of December, or right before schools and universities go on holiday. Common activities include Monito/Monita (Secret Santa), musical or theatrical performances and parlor games. Food is provided either through potluck, or via a pool of contributions to buy food. Some have fireworks displays.

171211_simbang gabi02_kjrosalesSimbang Gabi/Misa de Gallo

Simbang Gabi (Filipino: Night Mass; Spanish: Misa de Gallo, “Rooster’s Mass”) is a novena of dawn Masses from 16 December to Christmas Eve. The Simbang Gabi is practised mainly by Catholic and Aglipayans, with some Evangelical Christian and independent Protestant churches having adopted the practise of having pre-Christmas dawn services. Attending the Masses is meant to show devotion to God and heightened anticipation for Christ’s birth, and folk belief holds that God grants the special wish of a devotee that hears all nine Masses.

Morning observance of Simbang Gabi begins as early as 03:00 PST(Philippine Standard Time), while in some parishes, anticipated Masses begin the previous evening at 20:00 PST. After hearing Mass, Catholic families buy traditional Filipino holiday fare for breakfast outside the church and eat it either within the church precincts or at home. Vendors offer many native delicacies, including bibingka (rice flour and egg-based cake, cooked using coal burners above and under); putò bumbóng (a purple, sticky rice delicacy steamed in bamboo tubes, buttered then sprinkled with brown sugar and shredded dried coconut meat). Drinks include coffee, salabát (a ginger tisane) and tsokoláte (thick, Spanish-style hot chocolate). Some Aglipayan churches invite the congregation to partake of the “paínit” (literally, “heater”), a post-Mass snack of mostly rice pastries served with coffee or cocoa at the house of the Mass sponsor.

Christmas in PhilippinesChristmas Eve

For Filipinos, Christmas Eve (“Disperas ng Pasko”) on 24 December is celebrated with the Midnight Mass, and the traditional Noche Buena feast. Family members dine together at around midnight on traditional yuletide fare, which includes: queso de bola (Spanish: “ball of cheese”, which is edam cheese) sealed with red wax; tsokoláte, pasta, fruit salad, pandesal, relleno and hamón (Christmas ham). Some families would also open presents at this time.

xmas8 (Small)Christmas Day

Christmas Day in The Philippines is primarily a family affair. The Misa de Aguinaldo is celebrated on December 25 and is usually attended by the whole family. It is the main means of celebrating Jesus Christ’s birth for Catholics.

The Misa de Aguinaldo is often celebrated between 10 pm and midnight, a schedule preferred by many Filipinos who stay up late on Christmas Eve for the night-long celebration of the Noche Buena.

Preferably in the morning, Filipinos typically visit members of the extended family, especially to pay respects to their elders. This custom of giving respect has been an age-old tradition in the Philippines called “Pagmamáno”, which is done by bringing the elder’s hand to one’s forehead, while saying the phrase Máno Pô (lit. “Hand, please”). The elder then blesses the person who has given their respect, and in return gives “Aguinaldo”, or money in the form of crisp, fresh-from-the-bank bills is given after the Pagmamano, mostly to younger children. Godparents are especially socially obligated to give presents or Aguinaldo to their godchildren.

A Christmas Lunch usually follows after the “Pagmamano”. The menu is heavily dependent upon the finances of the family, with richer families preparing grand feasts, while poorer families choose to cook simple yet special dishes. Some families choose to open presents on this day after the lunch.

When nighttime falls, members of the family usually return home or linger to drink, or playing parlor games and Disco Party. Some may opt to have another feast for dinner. Some families spend the entire day at home to rest after the previous days’ festivities.

carolers-youngCaroling

In the Philippines, children in small groups go from house to house singing Christmas carols, which they called pangangaroling. Makeshift instruments include tambourines made with tansans (aluminum bottle caps) strung on a piece of wire. With the traditional chant of “Namamasko po!”, these carolers wait expectantly for the homeowners to reward them with coins. Afterward, the carolers thank the generous homeowners by singing “Thank you, thank you, ang babait ninyo (you are so kind), thank you!”

An example of a traditional Filipino carol is a part of series known as “Maligayang Pasko”, which was commonly called as “Sa maybahay ang aming bati”.

Where would you find the most Christmas spirit in the world? It’s hard to say for certain, but if a global competition were to be held, the Philippines would have an excellent shot at winning. ;)

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Christmas shopping Season has begun

by admin on December 4, 2013

Holiday-ShoppingWith Christmas fast approaching, many Americans are scrambling to finish their last minute Christmas shopping, decorate their homes and prepare for the large feast on Christmas Day. However, not everyone around the world celebrates one of the most beloved Christian holidays the same. There are many different traditions celebrated all around the world and many cultures believe in different things. From varying traditions that are celebrated around the world to how much is acceptable to spend on gifts, much of this is dictated by the cultural norms.

Christmas is the biggest commercial holiday and undoubtedly the best time of the season for retail businesses.

More and more sales are happening online, but that doesn’t mean we are spending any less money. The U.S. is expected to spend the second most in the world on Christmas gifts this year, behind only Luxembourg, according to The Economist.

I’ve already seen more sales than previous years of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays. In fact, most people actually began their holiday shopping even before Thanksgiving.

Stores are banding together with Black Friday deals. They’re also offering a new incentive: customers could win any item in any store by snapping a picture of it and uploading it.

It’s all meant to draw shoppers away from the big box stores across town.

A lot of people find shopping downtown is a lot more relaxed affair than standing in line. It also shows how tight-knit the downtown business community is.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the holiday shopping season is now upon us. With just a few weeks until Christmas day, so many people are out desperately trying to find the perfect gift for their loved ones.  Between the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to the last minute sales just before Christmas, the American commercialization of Christmas plays a very big part in how much the average American pays for all of his or her holiday expenses. Between gifts, holiday parties and decorations, Christmas in America seems to be getting more and more extravagant. Here is a look at the average cost of an American Christmas and a glance at why the cost of the holidays is steadily rising.

Americans Spending More on Gifts in 2013

shutterstock_92428906According to a study performed by the American Research Group, Inc., Americans will be spending more money on gifts in 2012 than they did last year. In 2011, the average American spent $646 on holiday gifts. In 2013, it is expected that the average American will be spending $854 in gifts for friends and loved ones. It should come as no surprise that the average cost of gifts is so high. With advertisements for big sales everywhere, there is a greater chance for impulse buys and overspending. Additionally, rising from a period of economic turmoil, many Americans may be more willing to spend this year after years of scrimping.

American Parents Spend $271 on Christmas Gifts per Child

article-2513702-19A6C92C00000578-978_634x606Costs can rise for families, especially for parents with underage children. According to an article released by MSN in December 2013, American parents planned to spend an average of $271 per child in Christmas gifts. One in 10 parents said the plan was to spend over $500 per child. While this is just an average, American families can definitely spend an astronomical amount of money on Christmas gifts.

Larger families with several children may have to work even harder to avoid the holiday spending hangover. While this excess would be better placed elsewhere, such as parents creating strong financial futures for their families, these warnings often fall on deaf ears. Christmas spending has taken a dramatic increase in recent years and shows no signs of slowing down.

Americans have been spending more on holiday gifts every year since the 2008 recession. Only time will tell if the predictions are correct. If 2013 keeps in line with past holiday spending, 2013 will be a very big year indeed in the United States for holiday spending.

The Bottom Line

Christmas traditions around the world have been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and continue to change as time passes. Different customs are celebrated around the world, all emphasizing time with loved ones as a priority. How much each person spends on Christmas gifts can differ based on the culture they were brought up in and the traditions they need to uphold. Billions of people gather worldwide to celebrate the festive occasion.

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How to stay positive at work

November 21, 2013

Long days at the office can be a drag and sometimes it can be hard to keep your spirits up. Staying positive, motivated and happy throughout your working day can be achieved however, and it might be easier than you’d think! I’ll give you tips on how to get positive at work. Breakfast Before heading […]

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Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas Part 2

November 19, 2013

Christmas is probably the biggest holiday celebrated by millions and millions of people around the world.  People save their hard earned money all year long for Christmas gifts.  Some people also max out their credit cards in buying Christmas gifts for their friends, kids and family members.  Finding the perfect gifts can be time consuming […]

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Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas Part 1

November 16, 2013

There’s no better gift from a kid than a homemade one. Here are some super-easy, crafty gift ideas that are perfect for teachers, family, and friends!   Button Jewelry String buttons and felt and paper flowers onto yarn and chenille stems to make adorable necklaces and rings. What you’ll need: Narrow chenille stems, mini hole […]

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