Simple Ways to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

It’s here! Today marks the first official day of winter in the northern hemisphere. Knowing as the longest night of the year, the Winter Solstice marks the return of the light. Slowly the days will grow longer and the night shorter.

How to Celebrate the Winter Solstice

People around the globe celebrate the Winter Solstice in many ways. If you are looking for simple ways to celebrate the start of the winter season with your family, consider the following ideas.

Go for a Nature Walk

Even if the sun is starting to set, go outdoors. Tonight, after sunset, look just above the horizon to view Jupiter and Saturn’s rare alignment. The lining up of the two planets will create a rare appearance of light, also known as the Christmas star. Here are a few tips for your nature walk after dark. 

  • Dress appropriately. Remember to wear layers to keep warm.
  • Carry your cell phone, but put the device on vibrate.
  • Use a flashlight if needed.
  • Remember to walk in a known location for safety. Walking on a familiar path is essential if the sun is setting.

Go to the Library

On your walk or car ride, go to your local library to check out books about the Winter Solstice. Some quick title suggestion includes:

Your local library, online shopping center, or bookstore has numerous books related to the Winter Solstice.

Eat 

Combine your Winter Solstice celebration with your dinner. Host a special family night meal.

  • A hearty Winter Solstice Soup to help you stay warm.
  • Swedish Saffron Buns or create bread in the shape of the sun to welcome back the light-filled days.
  • Mulled Wine, Hot Tea, or Eggnog
  • Winter Salad
  • Brussel Sprouts
  • Butternut Squash
  • Bake a cake in the shape of a Yule Log
  • Use nature and winter-themed items to decorate a cake.

Feed the Birds 

Long winter nights mean less available food for birds. Add extra seeds to your bird feeder. Or decorate a tree with edible food for the birds to enjoy.

Make Nature Crafts

Use items from your nature walk for crafting. Pine cones, small twigs, or acorns are perfect materials for wreaths and other nature-inspired crafts.

The Winter Solstice is a once a year event. Even if you just decide to curl up under a comforter with a good book, take a moment out of your busy work, school, or holiday schedule to celebrate the longest night.

 

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.

 

Simple Halloween Ghost Cookies

Halloween (or any holiday) is an excellent time to start new traditions. Whether you are staying close to home due to the pandemic or avoiding the cold weather, making simple Halloween ghost cookies is a great way to celebrate. Anyways, who doesn’t like warm, gooey marshmallow cookies?

Grocery List

  • Cookie dough or the ingredients to your favorite cookie recipe.
  • Marshmallow shaped ghosts
  • Halloween sprinkles (optional)

Instructions

  • Preheat oven.
  • Bake cookies as directed.
  • Remove at the proper time.
  • Place the ghost marshmallows and sprinkles on to the warm cookies. The marshmallow begins to melt from the heat.
  • Serve warm.
  • Enjoy the extra sweet, gooey goodness of simple Halloween ghost cookies.

These simple but tasty Halloween ghost cookies are a perfect snack for family movie night.

Halloween Crafts: Pumpkin Suncatcher

Halloween is not canceled. The holiday is just a little different this year. For those staying close to home, finding other family-friendly activities is a great way to celebrate. With adult supervision, create pumpkin suncatchers to display outdoors or hang in your windows.

List of Materials

  • Pony Beads
  • Cake Pie (The round cake pans from dollar store ones work well. You do not have to worry about ruining your favorite cake pan.)
  • Nut (Use a nut to hang your suncatcher. Drilling a hole in your suncatcher is another option. But you always run the risk of cracking your finished project.)

Instructions

  • Place your pony beads in your desired design into the cake pan. Arranging your beads is the longest part. If you are having trouble placing your beads, use a toothpick to gently move them into position.
  • When you are ready, preheat your oven to 400˚F. Keep in mind, pony beads are plastic. As the beads melt, they give off a strong odor. Opening a window for proper ventilation is highly recommended.
  • Melt your beads for about 35 minutes.
  • When your beads are completely melted, remove from the oven.
  • Allow cooling.
  • Gently tap your pumpkin suncatcher out of the pan. Be careful; the bottom of the pan may still be warm to the touch.
  • Display proudly.

Halloween Crafts: Pumpkin Magnets

Are you staying close to home for Halloween? How about doing some Halloween-themed crafts. Pumpkin magnets are an open-ended craft project. There is no right or wrong way to do the pumpkin magnets. The possibilities are endless.

List of Materials

  • Wooden Circles

    Purchased these at Wal-Mart.
  • Glue
  • Orange, Green, and Black Paint (or any other colors you want to use)
  • Paint Brushes
  • Googly Eyes
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Pom Poms
  • Glitter
  • Magnets

    Purchased these from Amazon. Please note: “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Instructions for Pumpkin Magnets

  1. Cover work area with newspaper.
  2. Paint circles your desired color.
  3. Allow your circle to completely dry.
  4. Add embellishments or paint your pumpkin’s face.
  5. Allow your pumpkin to completely dry.
  6.  Flip your pumpkin over to glue on the magnet.
  7. Allow your pumpkin to completely dry again.
  8. Display your final pumpkin craft.

National Collecting Rocks Day

Did you today, September 16th, is National Collecting Rocks Day? Are you wondering how to celebrate? Well, simply go outdoors and collect rocks. Rock collecting is an easy pastime to start with your family. Children love to collect. Who knows, go on outings to collect rocks may lead to a lifetime love of geology.

Why Collect Rocks?

Collecting rocks is a hands-on learning experience. Unplug from your devices and spend an afternoon outdoors. Turn rock collecting into an adventure for your family. Rock collecting has many benefits, including:

  • Building vocabulary
  • Increasing fine motor skills by searching and picking up rocks
  • Expands imagination
  • Builds large motor skills by walking to find the rocks.
  • Promotes family togetherness
  • Provides a foundation for further learning

Plus, collecting rocks is fun.

Ideas for Your Rock Collection

How many rocks did you find? Are you wondering what to do with your collected rocks? Check out the following ideas.

  • Identify: Rocks fall into three main categories, sedimentary, metamorphic, and igneous. Identifying rocks is a great learning experience.
  • Display: Using old egg cartons or other throw-away plastic containers, display your rocks. Egg cartons are wonderful to separate and label your latest rock finds. Or invest in a larger container to continuously fill to show your rocks.
  • Paint: Paint and hide larger rocks around your community.
  • Crafts: Smaller rocks or stones are great for crafting. Arrange your rocks into animal shapes or other patterns. Glue the rocks to a board to display on the wall.
  • Make Jewelry: With the right type of crafting material, you can turn rocks into necklaces and bracelets.
  • Polish: Invest in a rock tumbler to polish and shine your finds.

Fall is an excellent time to go rock collecting with your family. But be warned, once started collecting rocks is addicting. You may want to check pockets before doing the wash. Finding a hand full of rocks in each pocket is an expected outcome for starting rock collecting.

Family Fun Month: Go for a Bike Ride

Are you still looking for summer activities to celebrate Family Fun Month? How about going for a bike ride? Going for a long bike ride with your family is a great way to get outdoors while maintaining social distancing.

Before you go, do a safety check. Carefully inspect all aspects of your family’s bikes, helmets, baskets, bike seats for young children, and all other features. A well-maintained bicycle is vital for your family’s safety.

Benefits of Bike Riding With Your Family

Riding bikes is an excellent form of physical exercise for you and your family. When you ride a bike, you burn calories, gain strength and balance. Along with improving your overall fitness, bike riding has other benefits for you and your family.

  • Quality Time: Bicycling is an excellent family activity for quality time. When you do activities as a family, you create a long-lasting bond.
  • Learning Experience: Bike riding as a family is a learning experience. As parents or guardians, you have the opportunity to teach your children the proper rules of cycling. Children learn proper hand signals, biking etiquette, proper helmet use, and other safety rules.
  • Unplug: Going for a bike ride gets everyone away from technological devices. Unplugging for an afternoon or day reduces stress and anxiety. Social media is a great tool. But often, all the information can be overwhelming. Being outdoors is essential to your health.
  • Socialization: Bike riding is a social activity. Encouraging conversation builds vocabulary and social skills. Children have the opportunity to bond with other young bike riders.
  • Eco-Friendly: Bike riding is good for the environment. As responsible caregivers, you have the opportunity to teach your children eco-friendly activities.
  • Creates Memories:  Engaging in family activities create lasting memories. Depending on the age of your children, stopping often may be needed. Resting in between cycling is a great way to view the world around you.

When was the last time you and your family went for a bike ride? The time is right to dust off the bikes and hit the road.

 

 

Family Fun Month: Camping

Celebrate Family Fun Month by getting outdoors and going camping. View the stars while sitting around a cozy campfire. Even with the current health crisis, you and your family can enjoy camping.

Tips for Camping During the Current Health Crisis

With planning and social distancing, camping is a low-risk activity for you and your family. Plus many campsite allow pets, you can bring your favorite four-legged companion along to enjoy the fun.

Plan Your Trip

Before heading out, check your state or local park guidelines for camping during a pandemic. If you are heading to a campground, register ahead of time to secure your camping space. When picking your area, try to get a campsite further away from others.

Over Pack

Generally, road trips mean a lot of stops, fast food, and more. But due to the pandemic, purchase as much as possible before going to the campground. Minimize the number of stops to and from the camping area.

Along with food, drinks, a tent, and other necessary camping equipment, consider the following.

  • Hand Sanitizer: Pack ample amounts of hand sanitizer and wipes. If you are not near the public restrooms or outdoor facet areas to wash your hands, hand sanitizer is an excellent alternative.
  • Masks: Even though you are outdoors, specific areas inside the campground may require a mask. Be respectful. Follow the guidelines.
  • First Aid Kit: Bring your own fully stocked first aid kit to handle minor cuts and scraps. Do not forget to pack extra band-aids, anti-itch medication, and other supplies. A well-packed first aid kit allows you to treat your minor ailments right at your campsite.
  • Trash Container: Create a designated area for your trash. Put all your trash into a bag or other container. Empty your trash in the proper area. Never leave your trash behind.

Have Fun

Now the packing and the basics are out of the way—time to have fun. Yes, you will still need to practice social distancing with others outside your family. But enjoy your time together.

  • Swim
  • Go paddleboarding or kayaking
  • Walk the designated trails
  • Make S’mores
  • Tell stories around the campfire
  • Stargaze
  • Photograph nature

Or simply relax and enjoy the great outdoors while sitting around a campfire.