As families gather together for holiday happenings, take advantage of any unseasonably “warm” weather you may be experiencing, and gather your family in your outdoor spaces. Chicago, for example, has experienced temperatures in the 40s over the past few days, unusual for this time of year. What a perfect opportunity to stoke up the fire in your fire pit or fire bowl.
Even on chillier days, there’s something so cozy and inviting about gathering around a roaring fire burning safely in an outdoor fire pit or fire bowl. The crackle of the burning logs, the aroma of the wood, and the early fading sunlight inspire many families to pull out their best stories and tall tales for multi-generational entertainment. Only hot chocolate and marshmallows could improve the experience.
There really is nothing that can adequately compete with a gathering of family and friends in the cozy comfort of your outdoor spaces when those spaces are lit and warmed by a toasty fire. The cherished memories created in these moments when loved ones come together make the best gifts of all.
Attention Parents! Winter break is upon us, and I know the last thing you want to hear from the kids while they are home from school are those two dreaded words that have the magical ability to muster up a hearty helping of frustration and irritation — “I’m bored.” Look around you, you may say to your children. Do you see all of the toys, books, and other various activities that virtually crowd out everything else in the house? How can you possibly be bored? This is the kids’ cue for dramatic eye-rolling.
Not this year! This is the year when every kid in the family can find something fun to do, and here’s the best part…it won’t cost much money and requires very little space, both of which are already at a premium for most families. My favorite new fun family you-have-no-reason-now-to-say-you-are-bored purchase is the Hat Trick 4ft Air Hockey Table. There truly is something for everyone. Personally, I love that my kids don’t come away from this table with a blank, mindless stare so often accompanied by screen-time activities.
Banish boredom! Yes, it can be done. Let them soak in it for a while, and I guarantee they’ll eventually head to the game table for some rip-roaring, boredom-busting good times.
One of the amazing qualities that most children seem to possess is the inability to get cold on frigid, snowy winter days. Maybe they’re having too much fun to notice the cold, but it’s only when fingers and toes are numb that kids think about retreating indoors to huddle around the fireplace with hot cocoa in hand.
When I was a kid, I recall my older sister and her friends creating elaborate snow shelters in the yard and how much fun it was to pretend we were stranded in an arctic hideaway with only our creativity to get us through the “harrowing” experience. As a little kid, though, I wished I could create my own snow shelter, but I lacked the ability, and older siblings aren’t always willing to let little ones take part in the action.
It was only recently that these memories came flooding back to me. My own young child asked if we could build a snow shelter this winter, and I had to stop and think whether or not we could. As I grew to be an older kid, I gradually learned the finer points of snow shelter construction, but the key element in the process is snow. What if we don’t have enough snowfall this year to produce the kind of colossal shelter that exists in my child’s imagination?
When snow is at a minimum, or if time is not available to build a full-scale shelter out of snow, the solution can be found in the cleverly designed inflatable Snow Fort. The snow fort, which is made from heavy-duty PVC, resembles an igloo and provides a cozy hide out on cold winter days. Whether there is snow on the ground or not, kids will always be able to enjoy their own private shelter thanks to the inflatable snow fort. Fun outdoor times don’t have to be limited by the amount of snow on the ground or by the willingness of older siblings to include younger ones in their big-kid adventures.
For many families, the idea of spending the cold winter months at home fighting holiday traffic and shopping center mobs is not the best way to enjoy the season. Escaping the madness can make for happier holidays — no holiday parties, no baking marathons, no throwing money down the drain on gifts for people you hardly know… So, if you are in the “let’s just get away” camp, then why not escape to someplace warm and sandy?
Before you leave town, make your list and check it twice so that once you get to your sunny destination, you can unpack and unwind right away. Here are a few necessities you won’t want to forget:
1. Beach chairs
2. Fair-weather family-friendly outdoor games
3. A portable grill for cooking up money-saving and delicious meals
4. A portable shade canopy to keep you cool on those hot, sunny days on the beach
When you bring along these necessities, plus your sunblock, swim suits, and sunglasses, there’s nothing else you’ll need to have the happiest holiday ever. Bon voyage!
If you or someone you love is conscious about environmental issues, then gift giving times can be less than joyful occasions. Wrapping paper, ribbons, packaging materials, and even the gift itself often demonstrate our wasteful tendencies when it comes to giving gifts. Being more environmentally considerate about what we give as gifts and how we present those gifts can go a long way to show our loved ones that we care about them as well as about the environment.
One unique gift ideathat is itself environmentally friendly and that would also appeal to anyone who loves to spend time relaxing is a recycled rope hammock swing. A hammock swing is a gift idea that is rarely considered, but it’s one that many people would love to receive. Unlike a traditional hammock, a hammock swing allows you to sit up comfortably and enjoy reading a book, having a conversation, or just taking in the surroundings. Hammock swings can be constructed from weather-resistant outdoor fabrics or woven with rope materials, but the most environmentally friendly hammock swing is one whose ropes are made from 100% recycled polyester fibers. These ropes are extremely durable and resistant to harsh weather, but they are also soft to the touch like cotton.
While you may not want to install a hammock swing gift before presenting it to your loved one, you can add value to the gift by installing it yourself once a location is chosen, or you can hire an installer to do the work. No wrapping is necessary for a hammock swing, but tying a reusable decorative fabric bow around the gift before you present it can provide a festive touch.