Keeping the Santa Spirit Real

The magic of Christmas is unique, especially for our little ones. So, we understand that you might want to delay the answer when the time comes that they start asking you ‘is Santa real?’ The magical memories of Santa will stay with them forever, so it’s helpful for parents to know what you can do to keep up the belief and excitement for a little longer. Santa is the perfect way to get the kids excited about the holiday season. Here are some of the ways we keep the Santa magic alive in our house:

 

  1. Catch Santa on video

Set up a camera with your kids on Christmas Eve, then, when they’ve gone to bed, film Dad dressed as Santa delivering gifts. In the morning your kids will be amazed to discover they caught photographic evidence of Santa!

  1. Make sure Santa’s handwriting is different than yours
    A common way kids stop believing is by realizing the handwriting on Santa’s gift tags is the same as yours. Switch up the handwriting on the presents and letters from Santa to keep them wondering.

 

  1. Visit Norad’s Santa Tracker

Norad has been tracking Santa’s journey around the globe on Christmas Eve since 1955, and now its immersive website does so with videos, maps, and a behind-the-scenes peek at Santa’s village.

 

  1. Be enthusiastic about Santa

The moment many kids realized Santa wasn’t real was when parents acted bored when they went to meet Santa at the mall. If Santa were such a fantastic person, wouldn’t everyone be excited to see him?

 

  1. Have Santa give your kids a gift they’d never imagine you’d give them

If a gift from Santa turns out to be school clothes, kids might figure out it was mom and dad doing the gifting. A truly unexpected gift, however, could only have come from Santa.

BONUS: Leave half-eaten carrots outside to be found on Christmas morning

Who else but Santa’s trusty reindeers could have eaten them? Clearly, Santa is legit.


Holiday Cheer in Utah County

The holiday cheer has been kicked up a notch. We are ready to welcome the snow, curl up by the fire, and appreciate our loved ones near and far. Year after year, our Utah County community is full of holiday events and activities for the whole family. Whether your holiday spirit needs a little boost or it’s in full-fledged Ruldoph mode, we highly recommend checking out what our local community has to offer. ‘Tis the season!

 

1. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Herdmans are the worst kids in the history of the world–so when they crash Sunday school and demand parts in the Christmas pageant, the whole town panics.

 

When: November 30 – December 15, 2018

Cost: Adult – $14, child (ages 3-11) – $12, senior (ages 65+) – $12

Where: SCERA Center for the Arts

 

For more information and tickets, visit the SCERA website.

2. A Christmas Carol

The Orem Hale Center Theatre’s musical version of A Christmas Carol is a holiday tradition for many families in Utah County.  See it performed by one of the best theatre companies in the state.

 

When: November 24 – December 22

Where: Hale Center Theater Orem

For tickets and showtimes, click here.



2. Spanish Fork Festival of Lights

Spanish Fork’s fantastic drive-through light display has been delighting families for more than 25 years! Find it at Canyon View Park each night from Thanksgiving through the New Year.

 

When: November 22 – January 1

Where: Canyon View Park
Cost: $8 per car; $22 per commercial van or any vehicle towing a trailer ($22 per trailer); $30 per bus.

For more information, visit the website.

 

3. Luminaria

This captivating mile-long walk in Lehi’s Ashton Gardens features programmable luminaries including moving pictures of blooming poinsettias, reindeer, and a 40-foot tree at the top of the hill.

 

When: November 19 – January 5

Where: Thanksgiving Point

 

Learn more at the Luminaria website.


Ways To Give Back To The Community

 

The holiday season is always a mad dash. Out of nowhere, your to-do list is inundated with hosting guests, shopping, and helping kids finish the school semester. With cooking, shopping, parties, and fun, it can be easy to overlook that there are people in our community who are far less fortunate or a little down on their luck this holiday season. Whether it’s donating your services or making a small contribution, we encourage everyone to see if they can chip in to help those needing a little extra love. Here are four great organizations we wholeheartedly support.

 

Best Friends Animal Society

Best Friends Animal Society is the only national animal welfare organization dedicated exclusively to ending the killing of dogs and cats in America’s shelters. For 30 years, Best Friends has been running the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals and building effective programs all across the country that reduce the number of animals entering shelters and increase the number who find homes. Join us. Together, we can Save Them All®.

Learn more about the Best Friends Animal Society and how you can help here.

 

The Younique Foundation

The Younique Foundation inspires hope in women who were abused as children or adolescents by hosting them at a retreat, where they are uplifted by each other and learn skills that can help them find individual healing. They educate parents and empower them to protect their children from abuse while leading a public dialogue to bring the epidemic of abuse to light.

Find out what you can do to help here.

 

Youthlinc

The mission of Youthlinc is to create lifetime humanitarians. Our core programs (Local & International Service Year, Utah Local Service Directory, Young Humanitarian Award, Real Life: Teen Refugee Mentoring, and Global Community Leadership) are based in principles from educational and service learning research: student leadership, hands-on sustained service which creates an emotional bond, mentoring, project-based and cooperative learning.

Find out more about the programs and opportunities here.

 

Tabitha’s Way Local Food Pantry South County

Did you know that over 78,000 people in Utah County live at or below the Federal Poverty Line? 1 in 5 children in Utah County is food insecure. Tabitha’s Way aims to alleviate food insecurity in Utah County and provides food and supplies to an average of 5,000 individuals monthly. To help, you can donate money, host a food drive or volunteer.

Learn more about how Tabitha’s way is helping fight hunger and how you can help.

 


Tips for safe Trick-Or-Treating

For many kids in Utah County, Halloween is just as exciting as Christmas! Children love getting elaborately decked out as their favorite superheroes, creatures or any spooky creation of choice. However, for any parent or guardian, trick-or-treating can be a little nerve-wracking to think about. You want your kids and their friends to stay safe while showing off their ghastly apparel and storming the neighborhood in the dark.

We’ve gathered top tips for you, to make sure everyone stays safe and has a blast this Halloween:

  1. Go during appropriate trick-or-treating hours

Don’t wait to go until it is pitch-black outside. The best time to go is just before dusk. It is still light enough outside that you are able to keep track of your children and see other you are passing/encountering with on the street (and you get first picking of the candy).

  1. Visibility is key

It is always better if you can incorporate lighter colors or reflective tape into your costumes so that they are easier to see in the dark. Another great option is to have them wear glow necklaces and carry glow sticks and/or flashlights.

  1. Never go alone

No one should be out there alone. Kids that are elementary age or younger should be with a parent or guardian at all times, but those who are middle school-aged and want to explore unaccompanied by parents should stay in groups at all time. Make sure everyone knows all important phone numbers and addresses and set the curfew times and route beforehand.

  1. Walking Tips

Be sure that everyone understands simple traffic rules, such as stopping and looking both ways before crossing the street, and staying in a crosswalk if one is available. If you have to cross at a light, make sure you have the proper “walk” signal before you proceed. Double check to make sure dresses or capes don’t drag on the ground. And finally, make sure that everyone is wearing comfy shoes and to double knot any tennis shoes.

  1. Stay on track

Trick-or-treating can span several blocks for multiple hours, so make sure you and your entourage of trick-or-treaters know the route you have planned. Stay in a well-lit neighborhood you’re familiar with. It might be tempting to take a shortcut through an alley or cut through someone’s yard, but that can sometimes pose a danger.

  1. Inspect candy first

Enforce an “inspection rule” before kids dig into their treats. All candy should be wrapped in its original wrapper and should not be tampered with. While it’s at the parent’s’ discretion whether or not to let kids eat homemade treats, make sure those are also wrapped and protected.

  1. Say no!

Even if it’s late and offered, make sure your kids know not to accept rides from anyone they don’t know. Do not accept any kind of candy or bribery and kindly thank them and move on. If you or your kid feels unsafe or uneasy at any time, don’t be afraid to report it or contact your local police.


Preparing your house for cooler weather

The days are getting shorter, and the nights are getting cooler. With summer fading, now’s the time to ready your home for fall and winter’s cooler temps and unpredictable weather conditions. Take care of these 6 tasks to get your home clean, warm and ready for the cool days to come.

1. Clear out the gutters.

Remove leaves and other debris from your drainpipe and gutters to prevent clogging. In areas with cold winters, outdoor faucets should be drained in the fall.

2. Clean the fireplace and chimney.
You can clear out ash and charred wood from the fireplace yourself, but leave the chimney cleaning to a professional. Have the chimney cleaner check the damper to ensure it can be tightly closed to prevent drafts.

3. Check the heating system.
Do a survey of your home’s heating vents to make sure they’re not blocked or covered by furniture, carpeting, or curtains. Dust vents and clean all filters. Make an appointment for an annual heating system check-up.

4. Store air conditioners.
If you have removable window air conditioners, be sure to unplug them before taking them down. Dust and clean before covering or storing.

5. Turn off outdoor plumbing
Drain outdoor faucets and sprinkler systems, and cover them to protect them from the freezing weather to come.

6. Get your ice melt and snow blower ready
By the time winter arrives, it’s often too late to find snow gear. Stock up on such things in autumn when they’re plentiful and lower-priced. Even if you think you’ve got enough left from last year, or that your snow blower or shovel are in good shape, take a few moments to check. You don’t want to get caught out in the cold finding out you’re wrong.

Don’t Delay
As with most home maintenance tasks, preparing your home for fall isn’t tricky, just time-consuming. Putting it off causes problems that can wind up costing you an enormous amount of money, though, so set aside time on the next couple of weekends to get these jobs done


Adorable Family Halloween Costumes Ideas

Dressing your kids in adorable Halloween costumes is one of the best parts of Halloween (obviously, besides the candy). There are plenty of creative ways to show your Halloween spirit. We have put together some awesome family costumes for you to try:

 

 Where’s Waldo?

Got stripes? Check out these adorable costumes that you could pull off last minute.

Instructions, Say Yes

Waldo: Blue jeans, red and white striped t-shirt, boots, travel items, cane, red beanie with a white pom pom, glasses

Mrs. Waldo: Red and white striped t-shirt, navy pencil skirt, red beanie with a white pom pom, bandana, red and white layered socks, brown shoes, thrifted bag, glasses

Baby Waldo: Red and white striped onesie, blue tights, red and white stripped beanie with red pom pom, glasses

 

Winnie the Pooh Family

Turn your favorite cartoon into the cutest prize winning family Halloween costume

Instructions: Brit.co

Winnie the Pooh: get a yellowish gold dress and red crop top accompanied by some gold bear ears.

Christopher Robin: yellow polo, Pair with navy shorts, tall white socks and brown loafers

Piglet: pink leotard and tutu, pink fabric paint to add stripes to the leotard and pink felt to create ears, glued onto a headband

Grease Costumes

If you love adorable Halloween costumes and old movies this one is definitely for you.

Instructions: Brit.co

Sandy: Black high-waisted shiny pants, black and gold high-waisted belt, black off-the-shoulder crop top, short blonde wig, red lipstick, red converse.

Danny: little black leather jacket, black and white foam paper, white undershirt, black hair spray, fashion tape, matching red converse.


Celebrating Fall in Utah County

The leaves are falling and the weather is getting cooler – which means it is time for fun fall festivities. Get out with your friends and family this fall and enjoy what Utah has to offer. We have found some amazing events going on that everyone can enjoy!

Cornbelly’s at Thanksgiving Point

$12.95 – $30.85
Location: Lehi, Utah
https://www.cornbellys.com/

This has been a fall family tradition since 1996, and has always been a favorite. There are so many activities for all ages – huge trampoline, bounce house, wagon rides, large slides, pig races, corn mazes, haunted house and more! Also, Thanksgiving Point members get a 25% discount anytime.

Evans Family Farm

$2 – $13
Location: Lehi, Utah
https://www.facebook.com/EvansFamilyFarmLehi/

Support a local farm turned into a fall festival. There will be numerous fun activities for all ages including big slides, a small corn maze, beanbag toss, bounce pit, a pumpkin patch, farm animals and lots more. You can also enjoy the food trucks that are often parked outside.

 

Pumpkin Train Heber Valley Railroad

$0 – $15
Location: Heber, Utah
https://www.hebervalleyrr.org/specialevents/pumpkinfestival/

The train will take you on a 40-minute ride with karaoke, dancing, and costume characters along the way. Enjoy a trip through the family-friendly haunted car and earn yourself a Halloween sticker. You will also get a cookie and pick out your very own pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.

 

OktoberFest at Snowbird

Parking $10
Location: Salt Lake County, Utah
https://www.snowbird.com/oktoberfest/

Family-friendly festival with activities, food, and of course brews! This festival includes a biergarten offering over 50 varieties of beer. Save a few dollars by reusing your previously-purchased 1-liter Snowbird Oktoberfest beer stein or mug. Or buy a new mug and start a new collection!


Back To School Party Ideas

The kids are back in school, which is kind of an adjustment after spending the last three-ish months being leisurely and spending time with friends. How can you make the transition easier? Throw a back-to-school bash! With these awesome tips that we’ve put together for you, you can help make your child’s school year a hit!

  1. Ask each parent to donate one school-related item and host a supply drive! Not all families can afford to stock their kids up on the essentials, and what better way to give back to the community than throwing a party with a cause?
  2. Host a backyard campout. Pitch tents, makes smores, play soccer, play a movie on the projector, go all in! Kids bond at sleepovers more than just about any other kind of get-together, and you’re guaranteed to set them up for a very social school year!
  3. Serve caramel apples, apple pie, make a cake that’s shaped like ruler– basically, make lots of school-themed food. Adding little touches like serving their food in brown paper bags or on trays makes the theme even more fun!
  4. Send little school supplies like rulers, crayons, notepads, etc. home as party favors. It’s an inexpensive way to help your child’s friends succeed in the school year, too!
  5. For college students try this theme: Athletes and Mathletes. Throw on your favorite jersey (or pair of suspenders) and award a prize to the best costume of the night. It’s a great way to bond with your roommates or socialize with the entire dorm!

 

Going back to school might mean the end of summer vacation, but it doesn’t have to end the fun! Making time for your kids to bond with their peers will make them excited for Monday morning when they get to see their friends and expand their academic horizons at the same time. Are there any tips you have for throwing the best BTS Party? We’d love to hear them!


School is Back in Session!

Summer vacation is over, and I’m sure your little ones aren’t too happy about it. While the new school year brings new sets of homework, and less time playing outside or hanging out with friends, it also brings a lot of opportunities for growth, both academically and emotionally, which should be what you focus on highlighting. Here are a few of our favorite tips on tackling their next academic step!

  1. If you can, visit the school one week before, to help them learn the layout of the building.
  2. Get your kid’s class schedule ahead of time and walk through it with them. You can decrease a lot of uncertainty and help them get familiar with all of the new components they’re facing.
  3. Practice opening their lockers, especially if it’s a combination lock. Furthermore, help them to decorate it. It’s a great way to spend time together and get your child excited for their upcoming classes.
  4. Meet the teacher, especially if your child is just starting at the school. Make sure the teacher knows that your child is new to the school or the neighborhood. Writing a letter to the teacher with basic tips and easy requests is a big help. For instance, let the teacher know that you just moved there or that your child has never been to a school this size.
  5. Make a special purchase. Whether that be the more expensive backpack, taking them shopping for new clothes, or even just splurging on some cool notebooks, allowing your kids to create their identity for the year will ease their anxieties about fitting in.

Talking about the positives of the upcoming year and staying involved will get your child more excited about their education, which will make them more likely to succeed. Not every gesture that you make needs to be grand, just letting your child know that you’re there will be enough for them to tackle their grades!

 


Utah County Date Night Ideas

Whether you’ve been together for on week, one month, or ten years, keeping that spark in a relationship is so important. Life gets in the way, and between work, school, kids, etc., it can be hard to find the time or the funds to indulge in a romantic outing. Luckily, we found some awesome ways to bond with your partner in Utah County:

  1. Wheeler Historic Farm

http://things2doinutah.com/wheeler-farm/

$0-$2

Wheeler Farm is a 75-acre, fully-functioning farm. It’s free to walk the grounds, but the activities will cost you a small fee. Take a wagon ride for $2 per adult, tour the farmhouse for $4, or you can even milk a cow for just $2. My favorite date idea while visiting here? Pack a picnic and a blanket, eat at sunset and do a little stargazing. Total cost? About $15 if you include the price of the food and the gas money. The quality time spent together? Priceless.

  1. See a free concert

http://things2doinutah.com/free-concerts-in-utah-summer-2014/

$0

Utah is full of free music festivals and concerts that would be awesome to take your loved one to. Even if you don’t know the music, who doesn’t love to go dancing and let loose in a new place?

  1. Visit a museum

http://www.museumstuff.com/states/UT.php

Prices vary

Are you an art fiend? Maybe a history buff? This list is jam-packed with different museums across the state that would provide great quality time for you and your significant other. Museum dates offer a chance for you to watch your partner’s eyes light up with wonder as they learn more about their own interests, and they give you a chance to take part in something they enjoy. You can’t put a price on connection!

There are many things to do in Utah, whether you’re balling on a budget or have a little extra cash to splurge with. If you’re wondering what else there is to do, take a look at this list: http://things2doinutah.com/date-night-ideas/ and let us know what your favorites are!