Christmas Fun: Making Plaster Ornaments

Let’s face it, the Christmas season can get busy quickly. Spending high-quality family time together is essential to enjoy the holidays. When you are you looking for fun, family activities to celebrate Christmas, consider making plaster ornaments.

Plaster ornaments are simple to make. You can hang them on your own tree. Or share them with family members as gifts. Kids will love making an ornament for grandma, grandpa, a favorite aunt or uncle.

Materials Needed:

  • Christmas themed molds or pans (The plaster does not harm them, just wash thoroughly after use.)
  • Plaster
  • Throw away containers for mixing plaster. (Remember not to pour remaining plaster down the sink.)
  • Water
  • Paint in various colors
  • Paintbrushes

Instructions:

  1. Place newspapers or other protective materials on your counter.
  2. Mix plaster as directed. Always add the plaster mixture to the water for a smooth and consistent mixture. (Keep in mind, the plaster hardens quickly. You need to have your molds ready to go. You can add a little extra water to provide a bit more time).
  3. Fill the molds completely.
  4. Place hangers into your mold. (Paper clips or pop can tab work great for an instant, inexpensive hanger).
  5. Allow your ornaments to dry completely.
  6. Gently remove the ornaments from the molds. You may need to tap on the mold to loosen the ornament.
  7. Paint the ornaments. (You can also personalize the ornaments with names).

Even younger children can help with the painting process. Just do not forget to add the date on the back. The Christmas ornaments can quickly turn into a lasting treasure.

Sugar Cookies: A Christmas Tradition

Are you looking for another simple way to celebrate the Christmas season? Baking during the holidays is a long-standing tradition. Sugar cookies are a tasty treat to decorate, share, and eat. Helping to reduce the stress of the holiday mad-dash of baking, sugar cookies can be frozen to decorate later.

Dig out your favorite sugar cookie recipe, find a new one on Pinterest, or grab a tube of dough at your local store. Regardless of your method, sugar cookies are a fun way to celebrate the Christmas season.

  1. Bake your cookies from the method of choice.
  2. Allow your batch of sugar cookies to cool.
  3. Frost cookies.
  4. Decorate

Do you want to get the kids involved in making sugar cookies to celebrate the Christmas season? Set out different types of holiday sprinkles, marshmallows, nuts, and other toppings. Then, ask your children to help decorate the cookies. Making up new designs and colors provides added fun. Enjoy the creative process going into each cookie.

Finally, time to eat the cookies! Put a plate of cookies out as part of family night. Share a batch with a neighbor.

You can always add a nice cup of hot chocolate or milk to the celebration. Now, the next challenge, who gets to pick the Christmas movie for family night?

Make Putting Up Your Christmas Tree a Grand Event

Are you getting ready to put up your Christmas tree? Make the tree decorating a family fun event. (Yes, your dog counts as a family member). Spend an afternoon or evening decorating your Christmas tree together.

Ways to Make Putting Up Your Christmas Tree a Grand Event

Due to the ongoing pandemic, most community events will not take place this year. But you can quickly turn Christmas decorating into a grand affair. Check out the following list for ideas to make lasting memories while merely putting up your Christmas tree.

  • Homemade Ornaments: Make homemade ornaments for your tree. For example, salt dough ornaments are simple to create. Before putting up your tree, make a batch of salt dough ornaments. You and your family can easily cut the decorations into specific shapes with cookie cutters. Bake, paint and date your ornaments as directed. Then, on the day of putting up your Christmas tree, you can hang your new ornament creations.
  • Special Ornaments: Purchase a new ornament for each family member. If you are on a tight budget, dollar store ornaments work wonderfully. Date or add different embellishments to your decorations to create a one of a kind appearance.
  • Make Your Garland: String popcorn, create paper chains, or use other materials to create your tree’s garland.
  • Play Christmas Music: Set your radio on the Christmas music channel or create playlists full of your holiday favorites.
  • Listen to an Audio Book: Listening to children’s Christmas stories is always fun. Playing the stories in the background will add extra fun to your Christmas tree event.
  • Watch Christmas Shows: Play old classic Christmas shows while decorating the tree. Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Polar Express, or A Charlie Brown Christmas are all wonderful holiday programs for your whole family to enjoy.
  • Bake Christmas Goodies: Before setting up your tree, bake holiday-themed goodies. Cookies, pretzels, hot cocoa, or other treats help make putting up your Christmas tree a grand event.
  • Countdown Ceremony: Before plugging in your Christmas tree, have a countdown ceremony. Children love the hype of a countdown ceremony.
  • Photo Time: Wear matching holiday pajamas or ugly Christmas sweaters to pose in front of the tree. Creating a new Christmas tree ceremony selfie can be a new tradition for you and your family.

Remember to take lots of pictures while putting up your Christmas tree. Print your photos and create a special scrapbook. 2020 is definitely a year to remember.

 

No, Halloween is Not Canceled

Let’s repeat, Halloween is not canceled. Due to the pandemic, Halloween celebrations are different this year. Many areas are experiencing wide-spread cancellations of community events, including trick-or-treating. But, Halloween, a recognized holiday by millions, is not canceled.

Staying close to home provides the perfect opportunity to engage in other activities for your entire family to enjoy. Instead of celebrating Halloween on one night, spread out the activities during the whole month for extra fun.

Ideas for Halloween Fun

Do you need some inspiration to help celebrate Halloween? Check out the following list.

  • Decorate: Spend time decorating your yard, house, or room. Even small figures or handmade decorations provide a Halloween feel.
  • Halloween Crafts: Check out Pinterest for numerous family-friendly crafts for the whole family to enjoy.
  • Visit a Pumpkin Patch: Before heading out to your local pumpkin patch, check out the times and guidelines.
  • Pumpkin Carving:  Whether you went to a pumpkin patch or local supermarket, spend an afternoon carving your pumpkins.
  • Roast Pumpkin Seeds: Save and roast your pumpkin seeds for a delicious snack.
  • Look at Halloween Decorations: Walk (or drive) around your neighborhood to look at Halloween decorations.
  • Halloween-Themed Dinner: Make a spooky-themed dinner for your family or friends. Mummy hot dogs, ghost pancakes, blood-red juice, or pumpkin pie are just a few examples for a Halloween breakfast or dinner.
  • Movie Night: Host a family movie night with Halloween themed movies. It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is always a traditional favorite.
  • Halloween Books: Read a Halloween story or make up a scary one of your own.
  • Halloween Playlist: Make a playlist of your favorite Halloween songs to play. Dancing and singing along to fun Halloween songs are a great way to enjoy the holiday.
  • Photo Session: Set up a backdrop (a plain old sheet works well). Get dressed up in your Halloween costumes, use props, and take lots of photos.
  • Scavenger Hunt: Hide Halloween candy or small toys. Place the items around your yard or home for a fun scavenger hunt.

Yes, repeat again. Halloween is not canceled; the holiday is just a little different this year. Pick one or numerous activities to enjoy Halloween over the whole month.

Happy 40th Birthday, Harry Potter!

Today, July 31st, 2020, is J. K. Rowling’s character, Harry Potter’s 40th birthday. If you do not know by now, J.K. Rowling’s birthday is also today. So, here is wishing a Happy 40th Birthday to Harry Potter, “the boy who lived” and the author who brought magic alive for millions of fans.

Why celebrate? Well, the real question is, “why not celebrate.” Stay at home orders, social distancing, and other restrictions lead to canceled plans for you, your friends, or your family. Finding little things to celebrate is a great way to make memories during this current health crisis.

Ways to Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday

Are you looking for simple ways to celebrate? Well, binge-watching the Harry Potter series is one of the best ways to celebrate. For extra fun, make popcorn, order pizza, or host a watch party online.

For the love of a fandom

Other ways to celebrate include:

  • Read: The new illustrated editions draw you right into the Wizarding World.
  • Join a Group: Social media hosts numerous groups, including Adult Fans of Harry Potter. Connecting with other Harry Potter fans is a beautiful way to chat about the growing fandom.
  • Subscribe: GeekGear and other monthly subscription boxes brings your love of the Wizarding World right to your doorstep.
  • Listen to a Podcast: Finding a new podcast or listening to an old favorite provides insight into the world of Harry Potter.
  • Do Crafts: Let your creativity shine.
  • Make Food: Pinterest has thousands of recipes relating to the Wizarding World. Maybe you can discover your inner chef.
  • Host a Zoom Session: Invite friends to chat with you about Harry Potter.
  • Write Fan Fiction: Put your pen to paper or start typing to write a story about the Wizarding World, Hogwarts, or the characters in the books.
  • Join a Cause: The Harry Potter Alliance advocates different worthy causes. Learn different ways to transform your love for Harry Potter to real life situations.

Celebrate July 31st; small occasions can quickly turn into lasting memories for you and your family.  For millions of fans, the day is just the beginning of Harry Potter’s magical tale.

10 Days of Harry Potter: Chocolate Frog Craft

On the Hogwarts Express in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the readers first learn about Chocolate Frogs. Our beloved characters Ron Weasley and Harry Potter, are sharing treats off from the trolley.

“Oh, of course, you wouldn’t know — Chocolate Frogs have cards inside of them, you know, to collect — famous witches and wizards. I’ve got about five hundred, but I haven’t got Agrippa or Ptolemy” (Rowling, 1998).

Well, you cannot make your frog jump. But you can create Chocolate Frogs out of plaster to paint. Use the plaster Chocolate frogs on different projects, including Christmas tree ornaments or wreaths. Or simply have you Chocolate Frog sitting on your desk.

How to Make Plaster Chocolate Frogs

Materials Needed:

  • Chocolate frog molds (Silicone or plastic, both molds provide excellent results when working with plaster.)
    Plastic Frog Mold

    Silicone Frog Mold
  • Plaster
  • Throw away containers for mixing plaster. (Remember not to pour remaining plaster down the sink.)
  • Water
  • Paint in various colors
  • Paintbrushes

Instructions:

  1. Place newspapers or other protective materials on your counter.
  2. Mix plaster as directed. Always add the plaster mixture to the water for a smooth and consistent mixture. (Keep in mind, the plaster hardens quickly. You need to have your molds ready to go. You can add a little extra water to provide a bit more time).
  3. Fill the molds completely.
  4. Place hangers into your mold if you want to use them as ornaments or decorative pieces on wreaths. (Paper clips or pop can tab work great for an instant, inexpensive hangers).
  5. Allow your ornaments to dry.
  6. Gently remove the frogs from the molds. You may need to tap on the mold to loosen the frog.
  7. Paint the frog.

Now you are ready to display your very own Chocolate Frog.

 

Reference

Rowling, J. K., author. (1998). Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books,

Christmas in July: Pretzel Treats

Are you celebrating Christmas in July? Are you watching your favorite Christmas show? Do you need a quick and easy snack with a Christmas theme? Pretzel treats are a fun way to celebrate Christmas in July.

Materials Needed:

  • Dipping chocolate
  • Pretzels of any style
  • Sprinkles or other types of toppings (You can use anything to decorate the pretzels. Other toppings include nuts, miniature marshmallows, chocolate chips, etc.)

Instructions:

  1. Melt dipping chocolate as directed. You can melt the chocolate in the microwave or use a double boiler pan.
  2. Melt chocolate to desired consistency.
  3. Dip pretzels in chocolate.
  4. Add sprinkles. For extra fun, allow your children to help decorate with the sprinkles. Creating their own snacks is a great way to get everyone involved.
  5. Allow the chocolate to harden.

10 Days of Harry Potter

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the main character, Harry Potter, was born on July 31, 1980. As of this year, 2020, Harry Potter turns 40 years old. Since most people are staying close to home, celebrating 10 Days of Harry Potter is a fun way to pass the time.

Ways to Celebrate Harry Potter’s Birthday

Thousands of people around the globe are part of the Wizarding World fandom. Are you wondering how to celebrate the incredible Wizarding World? Check out the following ideas below:

  • Read the Books: Whether you are reading the series for the first time or the 15th, find a secluded area and immerse yourself into the Wizarding World.
  • Listen to the Audiobooks: If you are a multi-tasker, listen to the audiobooks of the Harry Potter series. The narrators do a fantastic job of making the characters come alive.
  • Watch the Movies: From watching the movies over a week to binge-watching the whole series, enjoy watching the film from the beginning. Watching the Harry Potter series is a great family night activity.
  • Play Games: Board games, video games, or made-up games can provide entertainment while celebrating Harry Potter’s birthday.
  • Do Crafts: On a rainy afternoon, do crafts inspired Harry Potter themed crafts. From drawing to sculpting, making Wizarding World crafts is a wonderful way to celebrate the “boy who lived.” (Rowling, 1998).
  • Food: As Remus Lupin’s character states, “Eat, you’ll feel better.” (Rowling, 2010). Of course, Lupin was offering chocolate after a dementor attack. But still, the idea is the same. Yorkshire Pudding, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Bean, Pumpkin Pasties,  and the entire Hogwarts feast are an easy inspiration for trying themed Wizarding World recipes.
  • Host a Birthday Party: With social distancing, celebrating with friends or family may be difficult. But you can still host a birthday party for Harry Potter with your immediate family. Even if your baking skills are not the best, bake a cake, like Hagrid’s. “Anyway – Harry,” said the giant, turning his back on the Dursleys, “a very happy birthday to yeh. Got summat fer yeh here – I mighta sat on it at some point, but it’ll taste all right.”(Rowling, 1998).
  • Photo Session: Whether you have an entire cosplay outfit or your favorite Harry Potter t-shirt, set up a photo session. Use wands and other props. Recreate scenes. Take a lot of photos, print them, and make a scrapbook.

Having fun is the best way to celebrate the wonderful fictional character, Harry Potter’s birthday.

 

References:

Rowling, J. K. (1998). Harry Potter and the sorcerer’s stone. New York: Arthur A. Levine Books

Rowling, J. K. (2010). Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban. London: Bloomsbury

Ways to Celebrate the 4th of July at Home

Are you staying home for the 4th of July? You are not alone. Finances, the weather, social distancing, or health concerns are keeping many people at home this year for Independence Day. Staying at home doesn’t necessarily mean a boring holiday. With little preparation, you can make this 4th of July memorable for your family.

Ideas to Celebrate Independence Day at Home

Enjoy being at home with your family on Independence Day. Create new family traditions or expand on older ones.

Food and Treats

One of the best parts of any holiday is food. The 4th of July is an excellent time to get outdoors.

  • Host a BBQ: Whether you host a BBQ for just your family or a few friends, grilling out on the 4th of July is a tradition. In addition to grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, beans, and chips are perfect for hosting a BBQ.
  • Picnic: If you want to stay close to home but get outdoors, go on a picnic. Local and state parks are open. Being outdoors is a wonderful way to get fresh air and enjoy the sun.
  • Sundae Bar: Buy a couple different flavors of ice cream and all the fixings. Red, white, and blue sprinkles are a perfect holiday topping. Whipped topping, chocolate chips, flavored toppings, and nuts are other welcomed favorites for ice. Allow your children to create their own masterpieces.
  • Piñata: Buy a piñata as part of your holiday celebration. Your children will enjoy the candy and prizes.

Games

Keeping children busy on the 4th of July helps produce lasting memories. If the weather permits, play games outdoors. Do you need some ideas? Go old school.

  • 3-Legged Race
  • Burlap Bag Race
  • Water Balloon Toss
  • Scavenger Hunt
  • Crafts
  • Slip and Slide
  • Playing in the Sprinkler

Crafts

Are you looking for a low-key 4th of July celebration or a place for children to relax in the shade? Setting up a craft table is simple. Just remember to stick to the red, white, and blue theme.

  • Tie-Dye T-Shirts: Purchase red and blue dye to add color to white t-shirts. Provide rubber bands to make different markings on the shirts. A tie-dye t-shirt is a perfect take-home gift or memorable experience.
  • Make Necklaces: Red, white, and blue pony beads are inexpensive. Provide trays of beads to all your children, and guests make necklaces or bracelets.
  • Make Crowns: Posterboard, glitter, red, white, and blue construction paper are great for making crowns.

Bonfire

Host a bonfire. Roast marshmallows for S’mores and enjoy an evening under the stars.

Fireworks

With many fireworks canceled, you may want to set a few off for your family to enjoy. Sparklers are always a fun tradition for the entire family to enjoy. If you are setting off larger fireworks, be courteous, and let your neighbors know your plans.

The 4th of July is a time to celebrate freedom. But there is no right or wrong way to celebrate Independence Day. Ordering pizza and watching fireworks on television can be a fun-filled night for your family.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I know this year’s celebrations are probably not going as planned. But I wanted to take the time to wish my followers a Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Being in Michigan, all of the bars and dine-in restaurants are closed. Both a popular choice for celebrating the holiday. But I am a firm believer in making the best out of the situation.

  • Celebrate at home.
  • Make a special meal or dessert.
  • Download a St. Patrick’s Day-themed movie.
  • Listen to Irish music.- Celtic Thunder is my favorite.
  • Do St. Patrick Day crafts.

The celebration may not be the same. But I am confident, the day will be memorable.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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