Thanksgiving Activities the Whole Family Can Enjoy

Family Throwing Autumn Leaves In The Air

Are you looking for some fun family activities that you can enjoy on Thanksgiving? Sometimes it’s hard to find something for all ages, so we wanted to give you some ideas for ways you can make Thanksgiving and the long weekend fun for the whole family.

Make Thanksgiving Crafts.

No matter what your guests’ ages, everyone has fun making crafts. Set up a craft table with different items they can use – pine cones, construction paper, crayons, glitter, beads, holiday ornaments, scissors, glue and whatever your creative mind can thinks of. Guests can make holiday cards, wreaths, ornaments and more. And for a great Thanksgiving dinner treat, let everyone create their own Thanksgiving place mats or let the kids create them for themselves and adult family members.

Make a Game Out of Thanksgiving.

You can tweak just about any favorite game to give it a Thanksgiving twist. Here are just a few.

  • Pin the Tail on the Turkey. Make several construction paper turkey tail pieces and create a construction paper turkey body. Tape the turkey body to a wall. Give all players a construction paper tail. Blindfold the players, spin them, and let them have a chance to pin the tail on the turkey. Whoever gets the tail closest to the right spot, wins.
  • Turkey Words: Give all of your adults and children who can spell a piece of paper and pen. Set a timer for three minutes and have everyone make as many words as they can out of the word turkey. Whoever has the most words in three minutes when the timer goes off wins the game. If you have adults, older kids and young kids competing, you can have prizes for different age groups.
  • Turkey Talk: Tell a “story in the round” by making a circle and starting with the first person who makes up the first line of a Thanksgiving story. An example might be, “Jerry didn’t want to go to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving this year.” The next person adds a sentence to give the story another twist. The third person does the same. Go around the circle until the story ends and see what kind of turkey tale you come up with.

Take a Break Outside.

If the weather is nice, get outside. Take a walk around the neighborhood, go on a local hike or even start a game of football — the traditional Thanksgiving sport. Is there really a better way to burn calories after a big dinner or before you sit down to eat? Everyone can use a little movement on this holiday.

Make Memories. Share Memories.

After dinner is the perfect time to make some new memories by sharing some old ones. Pick a theme such as “the greatest day ever,” “my favorite memory,” or the funniest thing that ever happened to me.” Then share the stories with your family and friends. It’s a great way to relax and keep the evening going while sharing memories. Want to relive this? Make sure someone videotapes the stories on their camera or phone. You can share this after the evening for a fun memory you’ll always treasure.

Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends to get together and share quality time. We hope some of these activities can help your family keep the day special and make it memorable.

What Can You Do with a Pumpkin Besides Carve It?

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Have you ever wondered what you can do with your pumpkin besides carve it, paint it or leave it on your porch until after Thanksgiving? Here are some fun uses for pumpkins that don’t require a lot of money or effort but do provide some unique fall decorations, healthy snacking choices and even beauty and wellness options.

Create clever fall decorations.

Carve the perfect fall vase. Cut off the top of your pumpkin, carve out the center and then place a container filled with water inside. You can choose a short pumpkin, tall pumpkin or something in between, based on the size of your glass container. Add your favorite bouquet. Or float fall candles.

Make pumpkin fries. Use a potato peeler to remove the pumpkin’s skin, then cut the squash into fry-like strips. Coat them with the spice of your choice, arrange on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and then bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes. Serve with a spicy aioli or another dipping sauce.

Create a fall candle holder. Take a small or miniature pumpkin and remove the stem. You can snap it off or cut it off, but make sure that the top is smooth or evenly indented. Place a votive candle where the stem used to be. You can leave the display as is, or add a glass hurricane shade over it. Try grouping several together or spreading them across the center of your table to create the illusion of a glowing runner.

Let your pumpkin pack a punch by doubling as a punch bowl. Get a short, round/fat pumpkin. Cut off the top and remove the pumpkin pulp from the inside. Place a short glass bowl into the pumpkin and pour in your favorite punch. Add a ladle and you’re good to go with this fall party table decoration.

Make a pumpkin drink dispenser. This item may be used during Halloween, or for other fall-themed events, such as Thanksgiving. This project may be of interest to those who enjoy arts and crafts, entertaining, or even those who want to undertake a fun project with other family members. Click here for easy instructions for this family craft.

Get spicy and creative with the seeds.

Stay classic and bake the seeds. Bake the seeds with your favorite spices at 350 F until they are toasted, about 20-30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes. Make sure you rinse the seeds and let them dry before bake them. Or use them in granola. Add the seeds to oats, dried cranberries or other favorite snacks for a great granola blend.

Spice up your guacamole. Use pumpkin seeds to liven up your favorite guacamole. Bake the seeds with chili powder and mix them into your
traditional snack for a little healthy fall fun.

Add pumpkin to your health and beauty regime.

Scrub away with your pumpkin with a pumpkin exfoliant. For a full body treatment, you can use purée pumpkin and brown sugar (oatmeal is another great exfoliant). Put the exfoliant on a damp loofah or cloth and scrub onto skin in circular motions. This helps to drain toxins from the body. Finish with a nice warm shower.

Add shine to your hair. Restore shine and moisture to dry and damaged strands with a homemade pumpkin hair mask. Combine one cup of pumpkin (you can purée chunks in a food processor or use the canned version), a half cup of plain yogurt and two tablespoons of honey into a bowl. Mix well, and then apply to hair from root to tip. Cover head with a plastic shower cap and sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Wash treatment out and
follow up with a thorough cleansing using a shampoo and conditioner.

We’ve answered some questions about pumpkins. We’d be glad to answer questions about home mortgages, too.

Inside on a Rainy or Snowy Day – Keep Yourself and Your Kids Entertained

Playing in robot

When it’s cold and raining or snowing outside on weekends and during school breaks, the days can drag on. What can you do to keep the kids entertained but not spending the day in front of the television? Try some of these fun activities for a rainy day inside. Keep what you need on hand and you’ll always be prepared for anything. 

Have an indoor treasure hunt. This is a great game for all ages, because you can decide how challenging it is. Hide a small present for each child. It can be a toy or an IOU for a fun day at the movies or skate park. Then, create a set of clues for each participant and hide the clues in order, so the first clue leads them to the second clue, the second clue leads to the third, etc., until they find their treasure.

Create an inside campsite. Drape some sheets over the furniture around one of your rooms to make a tent. Your tent can be as big you want and your sheets will allow. Add some pillows and blankets inside your tent and you have a place to tell ghost stories, play games and, if you’re lucky, take a nap. It may even be fun to have a picnic inside the tent.

Create a story book. All the kids can create their own story books or they can create one together. All you need is some paper, some crayons, a few pens and lots of imagination. Let them write their stories on the pages and draw pictures to go with them. At the end of the day, everyone gets to read their books out loud.

Bake some chocolate chip cookies. Everyone has fun during and after this activity, as the reward is a cookie. Want to sneak a vegetable in? Add some chopped garbanzo beans and add them to the cookie dough before baking to sneak in something good.

Make a splash! If it’s a warm rainy day and it’s just raining, not thundering or lightning, it’s the perfect time to put on the rain boots and rain jackets and grab an umbrella. Go outside for some fun letting off steam and splashing in puddles. Because no one wants to be inside all day if they don’t have to be!

Make a movie. It’s rare today that our phones and digital cameras don’t come complete with their own video recorder. Have some fun. Write a script, learn your parts and try out your acting skills while you make your own movie. Pop some corn and watch your movie on the computer.

Make a family dinner. Is it getting later in the day and it’s still raining? Get everyone involved in dinner preparation. Let the kids make salads or help you stir a sauce. And encourage someone else to set the table.

Put together a Rainy Day / Snow Day Box that you keep on hand. Inside include arts and crafts supplies, like papers, crayons, glue, glitter, beads and other things that kids can use to create fun art; coloring books or other activity books; books to read; puzzles and games; a deck of cards. You can pull this out in a pinch on a rainy day or any time your kids say, “I’m bored.”

With these tips in your box of tricks, there’s no reason your or your kids should be inside AND bored when the weather outside keeps you in. 

Protect Your Family and Yourself from the Dangers of Carbon Monoxide

cat and dog by the fireplace

Autumn is almost here and that means it’s time to check your fireplaces to make sure they are safe for this winter. One of the biggest dangers of in-home fireplaces is the risk of carbon monoxide leaks. Be sure to have a professional check your fireplace for safety and learn more here about the dangers of carbon monoxide.

Carbon monoxide (CO) is the number one cause of poisoning deaths in the United States. However, protecting yourself and your family from its dangers is easy, if you take a few precautions and follow some simple safety rules.

The following information about carbon monoxide comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

About Carbon Monoxide

You cannot see or smell carbon monoxide.

At high levels, carbon monoxide can be deadly.

CO is produced whenever a fuel such as gas, oil, kerosene, wood or charcoal is burned. If the appliance producing the CO is maintained, it is generally harmless. However, if appliances are not maintained or not used correctly, the gas is hazardous.

Symptoms of Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

At moderate levels: severe headaches, dizziness, mental confusion, nausea or faintness.

At low levels: shortness of breath, mild nausea, mild headaches. These low level symptoms may have long-term effects on your health.

If You Think You May Have CO Poisoning

Get to fresh air immediately.

Go to an emergency room and tell the physician you suspect CO poisoning.

Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Have your fuel-burning appliances, including oil and gas furnaces, gas water heaters, gas ranges and ovens, gas dryers, gas or kerosene space heaters, and wood stoves, inspected by a trained professional at the beginning of every heating season.

Make sure flues and chimneys are connected, in good condition and not blocked.

Choose appliances that vent to the outside when possible. Ensure they are installed correctly and maintained.

Read and follow all instructions that accompany fuel-burning devices. If you cannot avoid using an unvented gas or kerosene space heater, carefully follow the cautions that come with the device. Use proper fuel and keep doors to the rest of the house open and crack windows to ensure ventilation.

DO NOT idle your car in the garage, even if the garage door is open. Fumes can build up quickly in the garage and home.

DO NOT use a gas oven to heat your home, even for a short time.

DO NOT ever use a charcoal grill indoors, even in the fireplace.

Purchasing Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Before purchasing a CO detector it is important to note that they are not a replacement for proper use and maintenance of your fuel-burning appliances. According to the EPA, they are still being developed and not considered as reliable as smoke detectors. Do not let your CO detector lull you into a false sense of security and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for its placement, use and maintenance. Do some research before buying a CO detector. Read more at Protect Yourself and Your Family with a CO Detector.

Learn more about carbon monoxide poisoning and keeping your family and yourself safe.

Make More Room in Your Kitchen

Family Life in the Kitchen

There are some ways to make even the smallest kitchen seem bigger and gain some awesome storage space you weren’t expecting. Try these tips as you start thinking about ways to make the kitchen you have the dream kitchen you want.

Before doing anything else….PURGE!

Grab a garbage bag and start throwing things away.
Clean out your pantry, cabinets, freezer and refrigerator. Anything outdated including cereals, spices, canned goods and more can go. Old sponges, storage containers with no lids, expired meats, freezer burned soups and vegetables, and old leftovers all can be discarded. You’ll feel good about starting from scratch, and you will know what you have and what you need when you go to the store.

When you do go to the store, only buy what you need. If you’re a bulk shopper, store extra items in the garage or basement, but keep them out of the kitchen.

Hide your chairs. If you have an island or counter seating in your kitchen, buy a couple of low stools that you can push underneath and out of the way.

Put small appliances away. Toasters, mixers and other kitchen appliances are tools, not decorations. Put them in one of the larger cabinets until they are used again for meal prep.

Buy some cabinet shelving and dividers. You can purchase some inexpensive cabinet shelving for stackable pots and pans, serving dishes, vases and pitchers. It’s an easy fix to get some quick storage space back.

Get a smaller table. If you have a small dining nook, then you need a small table. You may even find one with folding parts so you can make it larger and smaller as needed.

Attach a sanitation rack to cabinet below the sink. These are inexpensive and easy to affix to the wall of the cabinet. Put your dish soap, sponges, and other frequently used cleaning products in it. They are easy to get to and off the sink.

Hang your plants. Get your houseplants off the counter by hanging them up or putting them on upper shelves.

Do you want some more ideas about how to free up your kitchen space? Read Tips to Maximize Kitchen Storage Space.

Get Your House Ready for Back to School

 

Learning to calculate, high five success

It may seem like summer is still in full swing, but back-to-school is just around the corner. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your home ready – makes sure your students are set for success when the bell rings. Here are some tips to start getting your home ready now.

Create a designated place for homework.
Whether it’s cleaning off the desk in your child’s bedroom or setting up a study station at the kitchen table, a clean and designated workspace is key to helping kids focus. Make it a no cellphone zone to help kids focus on schoolwork. Keep items like pencils, pens, highlighters, sticky notes, calculators and extra paper handy. And let all of your kids work together in one place if they want. When homework doesn’t feel like an isolated tasks, it may be easier to get them ready to study.

Purge and then organize closets.
Make space in your children’s closets for them to plan and prepare their clothes for each week. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit or are too “used” to wear anymore. Are there other things in their closet you can get rid of? Old games, puzzles, book bags that are “so uncool”? Make space by donating these things to charity and make space in your morning for getting out the door. If you’re really organized, encourage your kids to gather their outfits for every school day during the week. What a treat to not hear, “I have nothing to wear.”

Organize the kitchen.
Organize all of your lunchtime essentials like lunch boxes, sandwich bags, napkins, plastic containers and any non-perishable food items in one place for easy grab-and-go mornings. Prepare baggies of items like chips, nuts, carrots and celery for the week. By preparing ahead of time, you’ll save money on last-minute lunches that have to be purchased and a lot of time in the morning.

Make leaving easier.
Find a place where your kids can store their backpacks, coats, boots and other morning essentials the night before and make sure they put these items there every night. If they can just grab their backpack off a hook and walk out the door, you’re saving time waving from the door as they catch the bus, rather than driving them in morning traffic.

Change your routine now.
If heading back to school is a headache because you have to get back into the routine, start now! Give yourself and your family a break by going to bed a little earlier and getting up a little earlier each day. When the big day comes, no one will notice that they are starting their mornings at 6:00 instead of 10:00.

Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to chaos.  With a little planning your house and your family can be school-ready in no time.