Fill your home with the classic scents, sounds and sights of the holiday season. (copyright luckybusiness/stock.Adobe.com)
FUN HOLIDAY IDEAS & TIPS
Tips to set a holiday mood at home
(StatePoint) It’s the most festive time of the year. Be sure to fill your home with the classic scents, sounds and sights of the holiday season in the following ways.
1. Start a holiday cookie tradition. Bring the family together by baking cookies. Not only will it fill the home with a scrumptious aroma, it’s a fun activity that can involve everyone. Let kids get creative and decorate their own batch. In the spirt of giving, make some extras to share with friends and neighbors.
2. Sing carols. Carol from the comfort of home. To experience a sense of community, organize an at-home holiday sing-along. An elegant, compact digital piano such as Casio’s Privia PX-770 is great for this seasonal tradition. Record your performances for posterity using its two-track MIDI recorder.
3. Display greetings. For a festive feel, creatively decorate your home using your holiday cards with greetings from loved ones. String cards together and hang them in the doorway, decorate the fridge or display them on the mantle.
4. Get into the spirit. Frosty pine, sugar cookies, cinnamon and more: Fill your home with the spirit of the holidays using essential oils and candles of classic holiday scents. Or, keep it natural and boil cinnamon sticks with orange and cloves.
5. Enjoy your favorite flicks. From classic dramas to contemporary comedies, the holiday genre is eclectic. Set up a home theater and enjoy your favorite films with some hot chocolate under a cozy blanket. To get an upgraded movie theater-like experience at home, check out the projectors from Casio’s LampFree line-up, which offer reliable, brilliant images. At your next holiday party, consider projecting movies silently while playing holiday music for an extra boost of cheer.
Get your home ready for the holidays
(StatePoint) Whether you’re hosting or just trying to get into the holiday spirit, preparing your home doesn’t have to be daunting or expensive.
Check out these five tips for getting your home in tip-top holiday shape on any budget from the experts at Dollar General:
Deck the dining table
Get your dining table holiday-ready by purchasing staple décor pieces that can be rotated throughout the year. Fill glass vases with seasonal items such as ornaments, holly, faux snow or pine cones. Add extra light and warmth to the table with a flameless LED pillar candle. Place tea lights in small vases filled with cranberries, holly and water for an inexpensive and festive way to decorate the table.
Decorate the tree
If you’re looking for a fun way to get kids involved in holiday decorating, purchase plain ornaments for them to design with paint or pens. Clear ornaments can be filled with glitter or tinsel to create a unique look for your tree. Decorated ornaments also make great and thoughtful gifts.
Embellish your tree by adding red or burlap ribbon from the top of each side and adding a topper. Then, consider coordinating the color scheme of your tree with gifts, using those that were wrapped early as decor throughout your house.
Deck the front door
Make a DIY wreath by gluing bows or pinning ornaments to a foam wreath. Designing your own door decor doesn’t have to be expensive, and it will allow you to add your own personal touch to your home’s entryway. Complete the look with festive outdoor lighting. Affordable options are available at such variety stores as Dollar General.
Design a festive mantle
Decorate your fireplace mantle for the holidays without spending much time or money. Wrap a garland in mini string lights and hang leftover ornaments to continue the theme from your tree. Create handmade bows to place at each end of the mantle using your choice of ribbon. If you don’t have a mantle, you can create a fireplace-like space with a cluster of string lights or LED candles in a nook of your home. Then, remember to hang the stockings!
Create a cleaning game plan
The holidays can be fun, festive and messy. Create a day-by-day cleaning game plan, focusing on one area of your house at a time. This will save you stress and allow you more time to get organized. Be sure you’re stocked up on all your holiday prep cleaning supplies, including sponges, microfiber cloths and wet mop refills.
For holiday savings, you can sign up for Dollar General digital coupons, which offers a $1 off coupon when you sign up. Create an account by visiting dollargeneral.com/coupons or through the DG mobile app.
Remember, getting into the holiday spirit doesn’t have to break the bank. Save time and money decorating your home, so you can spend more stress-free moments with friends and family.
Gift ideas for those with active hobbies
(StatePoint) It’s the gift-giving season and rather than giving generic presents to everyone you love, consider thoughtful items that will make their lives easier and hobbies more fulfilling.
Travel lovers on your holiday shopping list? Frequent fliers will appreciate customized luggage tags that will make spotting bags a cinch. Add comfort to all those red-eye flights with a memory foam neck pillow. Newer models even offer features like pockets for smartphones and built-in earbuds.
Runners or dogwalkers
Not everyone is exploring the neighborhood in the dark, but runners and dogwalkers often are, especially when days are short. Consider brightening their way to make adventures safer with a headlight. For bright light of up to 180 lumens, the Energizer Vision HD headlight is an affordable, practical stocking stuffer. To light the path for both owner and pet on those wintry nights, the headlight features three light modes and pivoting functionality to direct light where one needs it. It’s also weather resistant and drop-tested up to 1 meter to stand up to harsh conditions. For running at sunset or at sunrise, an innovative smart-dimming feature provides users with maximum run-time to brighten hands-free activities at any time of the day.
There are many great gift options for those who love yoga. Consider a personalized yoga mat, which you can design through an online site that lets you upload any image you want to create a meaningful gift. Select a picture of a beloved pet or a rendering of their favorite piece of artwork for a truly unique yoga mat. Or, help them take their practice to the next level with a gift certificate to a studio offering advanced classes, such as hot yoga or aerial yoga.
Give the gift of light to your favorite outdoor adventurer with an Energizer Vision HD performance metal light with digital focus. The one-press digital focus easily transitions from a full spotlight to a full flood light to help with fireside cooking or setting up the campsite. For hiking and climbing, the aluminum alloy exterior makes it a durable choice. Its impressive run-time, paired with powerful light output and a natural daylight color, make this flashlight a must-have gadget for those whose adventures include any kind of outdoor excursion. More information can be found at energizer.com/lighting.
Gifts for kids exploring math, science, art
(StatePoint) When shopping for children this holiday season, remember that the best gifts will pull double-duty and be not only fun, but educational too.
“Children should be encouraged to endlessly explore their creativity and be provided outlets to continuously discover through creative play,” says Hiu Lee, senior VP of Horizon Group USA, a leader in the creative DIY marketplace.
Science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM) concepts are especially important for young minds. While these are among the most challenging school subjects, at home, these topics can be brought to life through play.
Consider these gift ideas that allow children to put real-world science theories to the test while learning fun facts along the way.
A kid’s activity kit gives little scientists an opportunity to start creating. With the Project MC2 Lip Balm Lab, kids can create single- or multi-layer lip balms. This kit includes all of the ingredients required, plus kids can decorate the finished product with science-themed stickers.
Transform your kitchen into a scientific laboratory with the 40 fun and interactive experiments and simple chemical reactions found in the Discovery Extreme Chemistry Set. From creating temperature reactions to testing your taste buds, these hands-on experiments are great for parents and kids to do together. Create liquid ice, work through color-changing litmus experiments, create creepy, crawly, slimy worms and more to show children just how connected to chemistry the world around them is.
Science that glows
Illuminate your child’s knowledge by combining simple chemistry with glowing power. With the Think Box Glowing Science Lab, kids can explore the basics of chemical compounds and reactions, while creating their own glow-in-the-dark toys and science experiments. The kit includes a ball mold, glow-in-the-dark power ball crystals, zinc sulfate, baking soda, citric acid, guar gum, sodium tetra borate, resealable bags, glow-in-the-dark paint, a mixing stick and a fun poster with instructions.
Bath time bubbles
Mix together compounds, add color and shimmer, and create a molded bath bomb in the shape of your choice with YOUniverse Galactic Bath Bombs. Once you have made your creations, pop them into the bath tub and watch as they fizz and bubble.
Last minute gift Ideas
(StatePoint) Holiday shopping can be a source of stress for anyone, but particularly for procrastinators. Need some last-minute gift ideas? Think about readily accessible, yet thoughtful items that don’t require a lengthy shipping process. Let these five ideas help solve your eleventh-hour gift-giving woes.
1. DIY-It. DIY gifts can be heartfelt, and many items can be made in a pinch. Bake a tray of Christmas cookies and tie them up with a bow; make seasonally scented homemade candles; or knit a scarf. The possibilities for crafty folks are endless.
2. Get Accessorized. Don’t get stumped. Consider a classic fashion accessory, such as a Casio Vintage Watch, which can be found in many national retailers, in a range of affordable prices. Functional and fashionable, these water-resistant timepieces that feature both an alarm and stopwatch will complement an array of style preferences.
3. Head to the box office. Quickly check the schedule of your gift recipient’s favorite band, team or theater company for tickets to an experience, such as a musical, concert or game. This thoughtful gift can be purchased and received in an instant, thanks to e-ticketing.
4. Pamper them. The holidays are stressful. Help your loved ones unwind during a busy time of year. Consider a gift certificate for a spa or beauty treatment somewhere local to your recipient. The gift can be enjoyed exactly when it’s needed most.
5. Let them pick. When you’re really in a pinch and you’ve waited until the last minute, don’t stress. A gift card can be a great way to show you thought of someone, without having to spend too much time or energy in search of the perfect item.
Gift ideas for babies and toddlers
(StatePoint) When planning your holiday gifts for babies and toddlers, why not consider toys and experiences that will encourage them to meet their developmental milestones in the coming years?
“Playtime is not only fun, it’s the ideal opportunity for children to pick up new information and skills, from numbers, language and vocabulary to hand-eye coordination,” says Dr. Clement Chau, director of learning at VTech, a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children.
With a focus on making the most of playtime, consider the following gift ideas.
• Encourage movement and motor skills with the Pop-a-Balls Push & Pop Bulldozer by VTech. Great for ages 12-36 months, this toy features colorful balls that pop up through the smoke stack, into the scoop bucket and back again. Load the balls into the bulldozer, start pushing the handle and watch the bulldozer come to life with popping balls and fun sounds. Kids can also sit and play with the bulldozer by pressing the four colorful number buttons to learn colors, numbers, construction objects and listen to music.
• You can also opt for experiential gifts. Seek out great experiences for babies and young children. From swimming lessons that help a baby get accustomed to the water and feel safe, to classes that expose children to singing and music, in many cases, it’s never too early to introduce babies to these skills. Look for local classes offering gift certificates for families that parents can use when they and their baby are ready to get started.
• Help young ones learn about animals with VTech’s GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train, which lets them mix and match the 15 included gears, all while strengthening their fine motor skills and problem-solving techniques. Children 1-5 years old can learn about animals when they place the Smart Gear animals on the pegs and press the buttons on the train to explore more.
• Encourage story time at home by starting a young one’s little library. Remember, books for babies should be easy to hold, include bright bold colors and illustrations, and introduce children to animals, shapes, letters and more.
• Foster creativity with the Zoo Jamz Stompin’ Fun Drums by VTech, which let little rockers tap out beats and create their own sounds. Children will practice counting and develop coordination as they follow along with the melodies and sing-along songs.
This holiday season, remember that the most thoughtful gifts are those that will help children learn and grow over time.