Friday, April 30, 2010

May Day

Like most holidays, the origin usually begins with some pagan ritual worshiping a goddess of sort...well May Day is no different.  But over centuries, it has become less about celebrating the fertility and flower goddesses, to just celebrating spring and traditions.

Traditionally, towns would compete with each other to see who could provide the largest Maypole.  They would bring it to the center of town, tie ribbons and flowers to it, and children would dance around the pole interweaving the ribbons to the end.

May Day is also about celebrating flowers are a must!  Flower garlands around a girl's head is traditional attire.

May Day baskets are so much fun to do with children and they are a great way to brighten up your neighbor's day.
These baskets are small and usually filled with flowers or treats and left at someone's doorstep. The basket giver would ring the bell and run away. The person receiving the basket would try to catch the fleeing giver. If they caught the person, a kiss was to be exchanged.
This basket below is very quick to make and beautiful.  

I love that his one is in a mason jar and full of gummies, windmills, butterflies and roses!

Just gorgeous!

Food!  Well, food on this holiday is very similar to Easter, but more simple.  Any food that provokes Spring in people's mind would be completely appropriate.  But the food that is the biggest show stopper at a May Day Event is the May Day Cake!

So if you are planning on a May Day celebration or a fun night with your family, there are 4 basic things to provide: a May Pole with ribbons, flower headdresses, May Day baskets to take to your neighbors, and a delicious May Day cake!  Even one of those things repeated each year on May Day would provide for great memories for you and your family!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day Playdate

Happy 40th Anniversary of Earth Day!  Now, before you go thinking that I'm super Eco-friendly, I'm not...well, not extreme that is.  Yes, we recycle and try to turn off electricity and reduce water use, but I do not drive a hybrid, I do not grow my own organic foods, I don't compost and I LOVE paper plates and disposable diapers! :)  With that said, I still enjoy celebrating this holiday and doing the best that I can to bring awareness to my kids about how precious our Earth is.
One of the first things I did was cut up all my paper grocery bags and use as table covers.  I also cut the bottom of the bags into circles and made my Earth Day banner out of that.  I also used scrapbooking paper, ribbon and tacks that I already had.

So with this holiday, I did try to use most of my own stuff (not buying new things) and reusing/re-purposing things.  I used baskets, bamboo placemats, faux grass and earth balls (I did buy those) and made a quick centerpiece.

Outdoors, I did the same...used grocery bags as the tablecover, bamboo placemat, faux grass, a hurricane, river rocks I had and moss I had from Easter, then I just threw in some $1 butterfly catchers and stuck on some butterfly stickers to give the effect.  I even already owned the green paper lanterns that I hung from the umbrella.

So the food, well, we didn't score high on the healthy food this time.  How many kids will eat a plate full of vegetables?  So we had some chicken nuggets, carrots, watermelon, quiche, potato and macaroni salad, muffins, ect.  I also failed miserably on the plastic ware...I just couldn't see going out and buying reusable plates, cups, utensils...then I would be using more "green" and would be using more water to wash them that's my justification for using disposable plasticware :)

You know how I love my signature I had "Liquid Sunshine" which was just Crystal Light lemonade and orange slices.  Then I had "World Water" which was just that...plain old water.

Probably my favorite thing I planned for this party was the dirt cake.  Usually I put it in a big pot and throw in some fake flowers and a trowel, but this year I wanted to do something different.  So I put them in individual disposable cups, decorated each spoon to look like a flower and added the traditional gummy worm.  It was delicious by the way!

The first activity was coloring.  I printed coloring pages with the map of the world and used them as placemats and each kid got to color these while we waited for everyone to arrive.

Then my girlfriend Lisa Langford brought terra cotta pots for each child and also brought terra cotta painting pens for the kids to use to decorate their pots!  So cute!

We then filled the pots with potting soil and planted a flowering bulb.  We will watch it grow over the summer!

Next it was time for our Nature Walk.  Each kid brought a bucket, some brought magnifying glasses and some butterfly catchers.

I am very fortunate to live in a community where we have paved walking trails and a pond.  So we decided to go around the pond.

We looked through our magnifying glasses to find insects.  We hiked through some woods to collect flowers, bugs, leaves, sticks, ect.

Lastly, we sat on the deck and I read a couple Earth Day books to the kids.  It's hard to compete with nature and keep their attention, but we tried!

So overall it was a great party!  Getting outside and doing the walk was fantastic!  What kid doesn't like playing with dirt...and what kid doesn't like to eat dirt cake?  Yum, Yum!  Happy Earth Day

Monday, April 5, 2010

Earth Day Party Ideas

It's the 40th anniversary of Earth day this year!  Not to be confused with Arbor Day, which is the last Friday of April every year...Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment.  So obviously, when planning a party, you want to be as Eco-friendly as possible.  This is difficult to do with kids and food because immediately you want to use paper plates!  So that one's up to you, but you could purchase recyclable paper plates.

Ok, decorations!  Ideally it would great to have the party permitting.  Your color theme could be either blue and green or green and brown...whether you're going in the direction of an Earth theme or a Go Green theme.

Set up a picnic table or blankets on the ground for seating.  Throw some pillows down and voila...a fun kids friendly environment.  

If you have to go indoors, then this party is a great inspiration with paper lanterns, brown paper gift bags and fruit crates.

This party decor is a little more adult like, but still very inspiring!  Love the rocks and butterflies!

Centerpieces are easy...some palettes of grass, some plants, flowers, garden tools, ect.

I especially like these potted plants with windmill flowers stuck in them.

I love these little topiaries as place settings...I'm a sucker for topiaries!

I also love these large banana leaves as place mats!  How cute?

So as far as decorating, here is a list of some things you can gather to make a great tablescape: grass, potted plants, river rocks, moss, a globe of the Earth, paper maps as place mats, beeswax candles, garden tools, flowers, ect.

So there are a few ideas for activities for the kids.  The most obvious one is to plant some flowers or trees.  Also, you can go on a nature walk and collect different types of nature species and come back and glue them on a collage.  Make sure you take a bucket and a magnifying glass! You could grab some reusable bags and go clean up the neighborhood.  Teaching your kids about recycling is also a great activity for this day!  You could also visit a zoo and talk about the animal that inhabit the Earth.  You could visit a farm.  And then end the evening star gazing and talking about the Earth's place in the solar system.

If you are looking for a quick lesson plan for your kids, the government's Environmental Protection Agency has this great free and printable workbook!  Kids can color and learn at the same time!

Food!  Most people probably try to go organic on this day or eat foods of the Earth...fruits and veggies.  Those are good choices...anything that does not involved using electricity and cooking is more environmentally friendly.  Try making sandwiches, a fruit and veggie tray and drink some fruit juice.  You can also make homemade fruit juice Popsicles.  Since the Earth is made up of mostly water, ice water is always a good choice for this holiday!  For dessert...Dirt Cake...a combination of chocolate pudding and whipped cream with crushed Oreos layered in a sanitized pot with artificial flowers and sometimes gummy worms!

But check out these cookies!  How cute are they?

And another cute one...Earth rice crispie treats!

Whatever you do on this holiday, have fun with it and give the Earth a little love!  Hug a tree! :)