Away from Home 101 Care Pack from All About Gifts & Baskets
Surprise Your Study-Bug
Finals week can be stressful; your student has papers due, tests to take, sleep to miss. It's hectic, but it can also be fun. A lot of colleges in the country have finals week specials, like pizza night or make-your-own-sundae night.
You can help take a little bit of the stress out of exams - but not so much that they aren't on their toes - by creating great college care packages for your college student. While college students like to think they're all grown-up, independent beings, I can guarantee that every single one would be thrilled with a little treat from home.
Image by MC Quinn on Flickr
The Basic Essentials
Some get creative and put together a snack gift basket like this ice cream sundae basket you see here. You can't go wrong with comfort foods, right?
What else can you put into your package to create a piece of home for your college student? Keep on reading to find out!
Send Fresh Fruit
Yes, really, fruit. Nutrition is more important now than ever, especially as many college students live on cafeteria food, Ramen, and vending machine snacks. You can either pack and ship your own fruit or get a service like AAGiftsandBaskets.com to deliver fresh conventional or organic fruits.
A basket typically costs less than a traditional, pre-made care package. If you want to assemble your own fruit gift baskets but don't want to risk sending bruised fruit, try dried fruit instead. These satisfy sweet cravings while boosting energy.
Sample Care Package - For Boys!
Snack Item Ideas
Want to include snack items that they will enjoy? Some suggestions for that might include:
- Natural peanut butter and a box of graham crackers. It's healthy, but filling at the same time.
- Beef jerky. This gives protein on the go!
- Vitamin C drops. If you're sending this package in the winter, it's a good idea to load it with things like EmergenC, oranges, lip balm, and maybe a can or two of chicken noodle soup.
- Instant popcorn. Buy a bag of popcorn kernels, which is probably one of the cheapest snacks you can find, and send a stack of brown lunch bags. Write instructions, which say, "Put Â¼ cup of kernels into a paper bag. Fold the top over a few times. Pop it in the microwave for 1-½ to 2 minutes. You can also add a packet of seasonings, like parmesan cheese or honey-crunch wheat germ for homemade gourmet popcorn. Much, much, much healthier than typical pre-made microwave popcorn, this snack still satisfies crunchy cravings.
Fun Filler Items
To give a couple things that aren't edible is always a nice notion. Some fun filler items include:
- Gift card to a local restaurant; Subway is a good choice because there are franchises all over the place. Your student can get a fast meal and get back to the books.
- iTunes card. Many people can concentrate more effectively when listening to music; others just need to relax. In either case, a music download gift card is the perfect idea.
- Something to do with their hands and relax their minds. This could be a can of silly putty or play-dough. Something they can mindlessly do to work off some nervous energy. College students are still kids in a lot of ways, and things like this work well. What about a mini-slinky, bubbles, coloring books and crayons, or window crayons. Everyone loves window crayons.
- A travel mug with tea-bag style coffee packets.
- Energizing shampoo or body wash.
- A note or card. Even if you just say, "Good luck!" it will be much appreciated.
Sending Boxes Abroad - Love his humor!
Why Care Packages?
College students are never too old or too big to be thrilled with a care package from home, especially when it's stressful finals week.
Surprise your student with a great basket filled with an assortment of goodies. Unlike their tests, there is no wrong answer when it comes to these packages!
Use their hobbies, what they enjoy, and what they're maybe missing from home. You're bound to light up their day!
Going Green is the Movement of This Generation
Many people are becoming more aware of the benefits of recycling, reducing and reusing these days. With so much waste piling up, we have the opportunity to reduce our carbon footprint and pass along the wisdom to our children.
When eco-conscious living involves a new baby in the family, there are things you can do to improve baby's surroundings and to help them grow up in a green environment. Here are some tips to get you started.
Keep your baby safe from toxins
Of course you'll want baby's room to be free of chemicals and toxins. There are ways you can ensure a healthier place for the baby to rest their head. Choose paint that is non-toxic and eco-friendly. There are many brands on the market today that offer this option. You can even buy paint now that helps eliminate odors in the room.
Image by Kevin Shorter of Flickr
Choose an eco-friendly crib made of natural wood and enviro-safe finishes. Most cribs are made of pressed fiberboard and are not finished with natural stains or varnishes. Make sure you ask before you buy. Choose flooring that makes sense for when baby starts to crawl. There are plenty of choices from eco-friendly carpets to cork and other natural materials. Choose wisely now and you won't have to worry when baby starts playing on the floor. All natural cotton sheets and bedding are smart ways to go.
They're not your grandparent's cloth diapers...
Landfills are overflowing with the garbage we all produce. If you want to cut down on your household's contribution to the pile, be prepared to use cotton cloth diapers. They are a little more work, but well worth the effort. Instead of tossing piles of plastic and toxins from disposable diapers into the trash, you'll feel good knowing that you will be reusing instead of repurchasing. Today's cloth diapers come in unbleached cotton, so baby will have natural fibers next to his/her skin.
Photo courtesy of Simplyla on Flickr
Option two? How about organic clothing for a baby? There are plenty of choices out there for organic baby gifts. Organic cotton is great for sensitive skin or people with skin allergies. It also is made to last up to 100 or more washes before it starts to break down, versus conventional cotton which is made to last about 10-20 washes.
A safe alternative
Start spreading the word early that you're planning an all natural nursery for baby. Friends and family will know that you've got organic on your mind when it comes to furnishings and toys. Enlist the help of a close friend or relative to also get the word out about sources of natural and organic baby blankets.
Many companies sell toys that are reminiscent of yesteryear in their use of all natural fibers and materials. Opt for toys that do not contain plastics or paints. If you stick to companies that produce only green and environmentally friendly toys and furnishings, you'll have one less thing to worry about. The selection these days is enormous and the toys are fun for all ages.
Simple and natural. What could be better?
Stock up on non-toxic, chemical free cleaning products to use in baby's room and any areas baby will frequent. There are many companies producing all natural cleaning products (such as Simple Green, Method, Seventh Generation and so many more.) So there is a bounty to choose from.
Image courtesy of Go_Greener_Oz on Flickr
Why spray chemicals when there are better and more-natural alternatives? Plus, there's no reason to stop with just the baby room, your whole home could benefit from a good green clean.
Cleaning Your Home - Tips for green housecleaning
Easy to clean and easily green
Older generations may have been on to something when they used glass baby bottles. If you're concerned about toxins in plastic baby bottles, use only glass. You'll feel safer and they clean up very easily. And with today's version of glass, you don't have to worry about breakage. They can stand up to a drop or two without shattering. Organic foods are perfect for the growing tummies.
Yummy without the sore tummy
Once baby starts eating foods, you can easily make your own. Purchase an inexpensive food mill or processor and you can grind up organic vegetables and meats. Store them in glass jars in the fridge or freeze them in ice cube trays. When it's time to feed baby, defrost a few of the cubed foods and you're ready to go. This is particularly helpful when there's a bumper crop of carrots or berries. You can store your bounty in the freezer for the winter.
"Organic" vs. "Natural" Food - What's the difference?
Repurposed Clothes and Equipment
Ain't too proud to beg
There's no shame in asking for hand-me-downs. Let others with children know that you're perfectly happy borrowing or accepting their gently used clothes, strollers and highchairs.
Most moms are happy to hand off items that their children will no longer be using. You can not only save money, but you'll be reusing items that otherwise would have gone to waste.
Shop consignment and second-hand stores for clothes and equipment too. Since babies grow so fast, you'll be thankful you didn't spend a bundle on outfits they'll wear just once or twice. And when you're done, you can continue the cycle and donate them to someone else who could use a break.
Image courtesy of Eastlaketimes on Flickr
Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday of many people. It involves so much more than a day for giving thanks. It's also a day to reunite with family members you haven't seen in a while and to relive favorite family traditions and stories.
Perhaps you're a newlywed and you and your new husband are looking for ideas on how to start your own family traditions. Here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Flickr photo credit: brad_holt
Invite a Neighbor
Lots of families make it a Thanksgiving tradition to invite a friend or neighbor who they know will be alone. This can turn into a lively and interesting gathering as every year there are different faces at the table. It's also a nice way to share a nice home-cooked meal with those who might not have had one otherwise!
Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
Families all over love to volunteer for charity at the Thanksgiving season. They make it a practice to serve the Thanksgiving meal at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Or they hand out turkeys and meals to the needy in their community.
Volunteering your time and energy are wonderful inexpensive holiday gifts. Even if you can't afford to go donate a bunch of food to a shelter, or prepare a meal for homeless people, you can still serve them!
Using your time to serve others who don't have anything is a great way to give back on this special day in which we remember what we are grateful for. Don't you think?
Flickr photo credit: Tmuna Fish
Pie Baking Contest
Do the aunts in your family have secret recipes for pumpkin and apple pie or another gourmet dessert? Why not have a bake-off? The oldest or youngest people in the family can be the judges. Have everyone bring their own handmade pie to the Thanksgiving dinner and hold the contest at dessert time.
Make sure to leave who-made-what-pie anonymous. That's part of the fun!
Carving the Turkey
For many, the tradition of the eldest in the family carving the Thanksgiving bird is a cherished one. Often a special or even personalized knife and fork set that's been handed down over the generations does the honors.
And when it's time for the next generation to learn how to carve, that's a special tradition all its own. Grandfathers, uncles, and dads all love to get involved in keeping this one tradition alive.
In my family, the women cook the meal and the men clean up the kitchen and do the dishes afterwards. This is just one more way to pass on a tradition for years to come!
Flickr photo credit: Rhett Sutphin
You Bring the Sides
In some families, whoever is hosting the Thanksgiving dinner will make the turkey and the tradition is for the guests to bring the side dishes.
This not only ensures a lovely array of different family recipes, but it also saves precious oven space for the bird as folks cook their dishes at home.
The Kiddie Table
The children's table has become a family tradition tested by time. It's no longer a demerit to be placed at the children's table if you're the only single guy or girl. That's where all the fun happens. Place small kids gifts like toys and crayons at the kids' table and cover it with butcher paper so they can draw.
The Thanksgiving Tree
Since the day is all about thanksgiving for our many blessings, one popular tradition is to create a Thanksgiving Tree. This can be composed of a construction paper trunk hung on a wall or fridge and individual leaves made of paper for guests to write on.
Each guest writes what they are most thankful for and sticks it on the tree. Another variation is to bring in live tree branches and make a centerpiece out of them. Guests add their leaves before the meal and everyone can read them during dinner.
For the multitudes of vegetarians that come to the table, hosts are starting a new tradition of offering a Tofu-rkey. This faux turkey is actually crafted in the shape of a turkey and made entirely out of tofu. It's a nice tradition that shows you care about the non-meat-eaters at the table.
Image by mandiees on Flickr
The Big Game
For families around the globe, there's no tradition quite like watching football on Thanksgiving Day. After everyone has stuffed themselves with a fine meal, everyone retires in front of the TV with their personalized coffee cups to watch the game.
Usually, factions will split off from those who finish the dishes and put away leftovers to kids who go outside to folks who just want to unbutton their top button and take a snooze.
Dressing the Dog
Probably the most adorable tradition of late is the occurrence of well-dressed dogs at the festivities. Those with a sense of humor have made a tradition out of making or buying a costume for Fido to arrive at the table in. One year it might be full pilgrim garb, the next she might show up as a Native American. What could be more festive?
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Thanksgiving Craft Resources & More
Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite days of the year - right after Christmas and my birthday! Besides the delicious food and extra desserts, I loved making turkeys out of paper plates and pilgrim hats out of black construction paper when I was young. Now that I have children of my own I have a lot of fun finding craft projects for them to make as we're waiting for the turkey to cook. I'm not sure who has more fun with the projects - my kids, myself or my mom! We often find crafts from past years hanging around her house as we arrive to celebrate Thanksgiving.
This year while the men watch football and the women visit over coffee, give the kids a craft project. In this post, I've provided links to some of my favorite kids craft resources. There are so many great choices for Thanksgiving including pilgrim, turkey and tabletop crafts. I hope your kids enjoy them as much as mine did!
Photo Credit: Flickr's Joel8x
Thanksgiving Craft Books From Amazon
- Family Shopping Bag
Find printable cards (as shown in the photo), games, picture frames and place cards for Thanksgiving.
- DLTK Holidays
Offers a wide range of printable items including bookmarks, games, jigsaw puzzles, books, recipe cards, and much more.
- Printables 4 Kids
Print coloring pages, word search and word scramble puzzles for the kids.
- Thanksgiving Print Activities
Lists resources for mazes, word puzzles, coloring pages and more.
- ABC Teach
Find Thanksgiving word puzzles, books, postcards and more.
General Thanksgiving Crafts
- Free Kids Crafts
Free Kids Crafts Find 4 pages of creative Thanksgiving crafts for kids like acorn napkin holders (shown in the photo), cereal turkeys, pilgrim hats, thankfulness wreaths and so much more!
- Apples 4 The Teacher
Find lots of craft projects for Thanksgiving including foam welcome signs, trees of thanks, turkey coasters, and more.
- Better Homes & Gardens
Offers a wide array of craft projects for kids including place mats, turkey crafts and flower pot place cards (shown in the photo), and decorations for Thanksgiving.
- Dot Com Women
Find Thanksgiving decorations, gifts, and tabletop items that the kids can make for Thanksgiving.
- Celebrating Thanksgiving
Fun craft ideas for kids including corn napkin rings, pilgrim serving spoons, and a thankful tree.
Stained Glass Window Designs
Creative art for all ages that lets the sun shine through!
Although not necessarily a Thanksgiving-related project, one of my favorite crafts as a kid was stained glass hangings created from tissue paper. Back when I was a kid we didn't think to use clear contact paper, so we used wax paper and Elmer's glue. Our projects weren't always as pretty as some of the designs I found recently, but it got the job done!
Here's what we used to create our stained glass artwork:
- A Roll of Wax Paper (cut into roughly 10" lengths)
- Colored Construction Paper
- small pieces of tissue paper
- glue/glue stick
1) After figuring out what design we wanted to make (star, flower, heart, etc), we would cut strips of colored construction paper and glue it on the wax paper to form a border. The older kids would also cut pieces for our younger cousins and glue the border on for them.
2) Using small scraps, we would glue many different colored pieces of tissue paper inside the border of the design. Tissue paper could overlap, making an entirely new color.
3) The finished artwork was then displayed on grandma's windows - and it was a good thing she had a large house because all of her windows were usually covered by the time we finished! Before we left, our moms would take the designs down and bring them home as a keepsake.
With the invention of clear (or even frosted) contact paper, this project would be much easier. Simply adhere the border and colored tissue paper to the sticky side, then cover the completed design with another piece to make the project last for years!
Decorative Thanksgiving Banner
Thanksgiving Tabletop Decorations
- Martha Stewart Thanksgiving Table Crafts
Instructions for 8 different table decoration crafts including pilgrim boats, feather napkin rings, tissue turkeys and more.
- Artists Helping Children
The widest selection of tabletop decor crafts that I found they have just about anything you could want to decorate the table.
Thanksgiving Place Cards & Greeting Cards
- Artists Helping Children
Card and place card crafts for kids.
- Craft Elf
Instructions to create adorable pilgrim hat and Indian headdress place cards.
- Turkey Place Cards
Get the instructions for these gobblers.
- LakeShore Learning
Find instructions for creating the pine cone turkey place card holders shown in the photo.
Thanksgiving Napkin Rings
Thanksgiving Turkey Crafts
- DLTK Turkey Crafts
Find turkey themed crafts for kids ages 2, 4+
- About.com Turkeys
Offers a few fun turkey crafts for kids.
- Artists Helping Children
I LOVE this site because they have great photos of the turkey crafts and they have a huge selection of ideas. One of my favorite Thanksgiving craft sites!
Thanksgiving Pilgrim Crafts
- DLTK Pilgrims
Instructions for plate crafts and doorknob hangers.
- Artists Helping Children
Links to tons of different pilgrim craft ideas. Find the instructions for creating the pilgrim and Indian cardboard tube craft shown in the photo.
- Family Crafts
Find instructions for about 15 different crafts including Pilgrim bonnets and hats.
- Apples 4 The Teacher
A paper Pilgrim hat craft project for kids.