Guest Blog: How to Organize a Caroling Party

see more by

how-to-organize-a-neighborhood-caroling-party

How To Organize A Neighborhood Kids Caroling Party

Between the parties, presents, and so many twinkle-lit opportunities to celebrate the season, Orange County kids aren’t lacking for holiday activities. But as much fun as it is to partake in the big events around town, sometimes we all crave something a little simpler and closer to home.

Last year I helped organize an evening of old fashioned, door-to-door caroling for the kids in our neighborhood. It was so much fun – and ridiculously low-stress – that we’re doing it again this year, with a few improvements.

Here are 7 tips for organizing a kids caroling party in your neighborhood:

1. Save the date

December fills up fast, so it helps to touch base with a few neighbors ahead of time to set a date. We chose a Sunday evening mid-month, avoiding the party-heavy Friday and Saturday nights and ensuring a good amount of people would be at home in the evening. After settling on the date we sent around a casual save-the-date email and asked people to pass it along.

2. Spread the word

About a week ahead of time, we distributed fliers in every mailbox on our street. The invitation asked people to RSVP so that we’d know how many kids to expect, and also to help provide cookies, hot chocolate, cups, plates and napkins for the post-caroling gathering (which was held in my garage!). This year we’re adding a note letting neighbors who don’t have children know that we’ll be knocking on their door that evening so they’re more likely to answer and be ready to be serenaded.

3. Prep the singers

We held zero rehearsals for our informal caroling party, but we did want the kids to come across as prepared (and also avoid any rogue “Batman smells” improvisations). We sent lyrics to four classic (and easy-to-remember) carols along with the invitation and had printed copies when we gathered in my driveway. Before we set out, we had the kids practice each song a couple of times and reminded them to use their best manners and nicest singing voices. It helped to have a good number of older kids who could read mixed in with the little ones.

4. Start out on the right foot

The biggest mistake we made last year was not knowing if neighbors were at home when we started knocking on doors! The kids were so excited and ready to sing and we had to try three or four homes before someone opened the door. This year we’ll stack the deck in our favor, finding out in advance which neighbors are planning to answer the door. That way if nobody’s home at the fourth or fifth house, we’ll at least have started out successfully.

caroling-kids

5. Be inclusive

We chose non-religious songs for our repertoire, and our flier encouraged families of all celebrating traditions to join in. While nobody spliced hairs over shouting “Merry Christmas” vs “Happy Holidays” as we paraded down the street, I do think it helped to set an inclusive tone and encourage participation from anyone who wanted to come along.

6. Keep it short

The entire event lasted from about 5:30pm until 7. This wasn’t a marathon trick-or-treating session or giant block party. We gathered in my driveway, practiced a couple of times, and then sang at maybe eight or ten houses total. By this point the little ones were getting tired of “Silent Night” and everybody was cold and hungry. Back in my garage we passed out hot chocolate and cookies (nobody set foot inside, making it the easiest holiday gathering to host ever!) and everybody was gone by 7:00pm.

7. Think festive, not perfect

This isn’t the event to take a perfect photo (too dark anyway) or show off a polished performance (not gonna happen). This is about kids and community, neighbors and music. Aside from letting the kids know we expected them to be respectful and cheerful, we let them interpret the experience in their own way. Some shook bells and tambourines; some dressed in their party dresses, others in PJs and reindeer antlers. Many messed up the words or got stage fright when the doors opened. But everybody returned with flushed cheeks and giant grins, and it didn’t have to be perfect to be a party.

The best part of the evening for us mamas was standing back at the curb and watching neighbors’ faces light up at the sight of 15 children singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It didn’t cost a thing, was just steps away from home, and about as full of holiday magic as any other thing we did that season.


Sarah-Powers

 

Sarah Powers is a writer, editor, and co-host of The Mom Hour podcast. She lives in Orange County with her husband and three young kids. Find more of Sarah’s writing by following her on Twitter and Instagram.

You Might Also Like

Minted Foil-Pressed Promo

see more by

Disclosure: Affiliate Links are Used in this Post. Thank you! 

minted-foil-pressed-cards-

Did you know you can save a lot of money by placing your holiday card order early?  Even better, wouldn’t it be lovely to get your cards done and ready by December 1?

If you are in the mood to check your holiday card order off the list this month before it gets completely cray-cray, Minted is running a special promo through 11/16/15 where you can get 20% off all Minted foil-pressed products including their holiday cards and custom art. Simply use Minted promo code FOIL at check out.

Make Your Cards Sparkle with Foil 

Minted’s foil-pressed cards are simply swoon worthy.  With different foil choices like gold, rose gold or silver, you can opt for a foil-pressed design that will sparkle as bright as the holidays.

In the search for my own Minted holiday card, I felt compelled to share a few of my favorite foil-pressed designs I came across featured above.

They are, in order, from left to right:

Lots of Dots

Merrily Merrily Merrily

Painted Prism Border

Gold Rush Holiday Ornament Card

Wonders of His Love

Christmas Love

Save 20% on Foil Art Gifts

Minted also carries a unique line of foil art prints you can personalized with a selection of fine art frames, family photos or even upload a piece of your child’s artwork and Minted will make it into a foil-pressed print!

What an amazing gift idea. Here are a few of my favorites….

minted-foil-art-gifts-

Left to right:

Most Wonderful Time

Delicate Frame

California Map Filled

Your Drawing as an Art Print

Holiday Wreath

About Minted 

Minted is a design marketplace of independent designers. Every month Minted has art and design challenges and then the best designs are sold on the site. To learn more and shop, visit www.minted.com!

You Might Also Like

I’m Turning it Purple This Month

see more by

Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month

Before my mom’s pancreatic cancer diagnosis I had not given this disease much thought at all.  The only thing I knew was that it was bad.  I remember seeing Patrick Swayze on a news program during his battle with pancreatic cancer, and I knew he died of this disease.

Now I know more than I ever wished to know about this ugly disease.  I won’t go into the statistics, but I can tell you that in 40 years no significant progress has been made in the realm of pancreatic cancer.  In the year 2015, I think that is unacceptable. Organizations like Pancan.org think that is unacceptable too and are working to raise funds for research, government funding and advocacy, patient support and community awareness. Change is happening, but so much more needs to be done.

Significant funding is the only way advancements can be made to find ways to detect it earlier (majority of cases are diagnosed after it has already spread), more research is needed to find more options to treat it, and funding is needed to raise awareness.

Make a Difference | Wage Hope 

Sometimes it takes knowing someone personally to motivate you to want to do something to help.  I hope after all of these years of blogging, that you feel like you know me, at least a little bit.  My mom is not a statistic.  She is a beautiful, vibrant, 68-year-old wife, mom and grandma that deserves more.  The other people affected by pancreatic cancer deserve more.

How You Can Help:

Doing something is easy and doesn’t take much time.  Here are some things you can do to help me shine the light on pancreatic cancer this November during Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

1. If you are in Orange County, sign up to walk or run a 5K with us on Team Julie on November 14th, 2015 at 10am in Irvine for PurpleStride to raise money for the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.  Bring your family.  It will be a morning of hope and inspiration. Click here then click Join Team top right to join us!!

2. Make a small donation to my -> personal fundraising page. Any amount counts!!

3. Share this post on social media to raise awareness.

4. Write a post on the – >Today Show Facebook page urging them to dedicate #justoneday to pancreatic cancer in honor of Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month.

WPCD15_1.1.2-copy-816x600 5. Wear purple on November 13th, 2015, World Pancreatic Cancer Day and share a photo of your purple power on social media using #WPCD.

6. Like the World Pancreatic Cancer Day on Facebook Join the Thunderclap virtual event on November 13th to spread awareness about the disease. Visit the Facebook page to learn more.

Thank you so much for reading this post and for listening to me talk about a cause that is deeply personal to me.

Change is on the way, but people need to start talking about it.  And, as a reminder, always listen to your body. If you have a new symptom or something going on that just doesn’t “feel right” – go to your doctor.  Wishing you all health and happiness.

You Might Also Like

What Will Your Kid’s Friends Remember About You?

see more by

Mtvmoon

My mom was diagnosed in August with pancreatic cancer.  You can read about it here and here.

In times like this, having a support system and people rallying around you is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. In the spirit of having another place for people to share their support, my sister and I started a Facebook page for my mom to share inspiration and updates.

Yesterday one of my sister’s childhood friends wrote a comment to my mom that hit me. It said,

“Praying for you Julie. I have the fondest memories of you letting us watch MTV at your house.”

I love this memory of my mom. First, because it brought back my own memories of MTV when it first came out. I will never forget the rocket ship and intrigue surrounding that channel – a revolution in the making.

I am sure many parents in the 80’s were concerned about what they were exposing their kids to. Was MTV in the 80s what Elvis’ hip moves were to the previous generation?

I wonder if my mom letting her watch MTV at our house was magical because she wasn’t allowed to or if the memories were just connected to being at our home during that time in life.

It doesn’t really matter, but what struck me is the fact that our role as moms will be connected to other kids’ memories down the road.  Isn’t that powerful?

What will I be known for many years down the road?  What will my children’ friends remember about coming to our house? I don’t have a clear answer to that – but it sure made me think about it.

Does answer come to your mind? How will your kid’s friends remember you when they are all grown up?

I would love to hear your comments!

You Might Also Like

jeans | and | a | T

see more by

 

Do you think a personal stylist is a luxury or reserved for those with huge budgets? Think again! 

Affordable Orange County personal stylist, Jen, of  jeans | and | a | T makes personal styling accessible to moms like us who want to feel cute and confident in our every day lives – without breaking the bank. In fact, Jen can take you shopping right in your own closet and put together outfits you didn’t even know you had!

Jen believes style should be available to all budgets, sizes and needs. “I really want women (whether a full time working mama or a stay at home mom), to feel confident in what they wear every day.”

Whether you need to rock an outfit for the carpool, office or date night, she’ll help you put together outfits to put a little extra spring in your step and sparkle in your eye.

Susanne and I recently got to experience a personal styling session with Jen to do a closet detox and styling session. Here is how it all went down…

jeansandat

Susanne’s Closet Detox + Styling Session

My friend Jen has effortless style. She always looks so put together, mixes pattern and color in the most unexpected ways, is ahead of the trends, and rocks a little bit of edge in a classy way.  She is a style maven.

In her own words:

“Fashion is my vacation. It can enable anyone to express themselves in many different ways and that’s what I love most about it. Each year my style evolves and fine tunes. Here I am, 40 (!) and fashion continues to inspire me. I love it. All of it. And I want to share my love for fashion with those around me! And the name…who doesn’t love a great pair of jeans and a T? It has been and always will be a vision of effortless class and simple style.”

I love clothes.  Like, I love them a lot.  I’ve accumulated quite a bit of stuff over the years and I’m not the best at weeding out, so I had a pretty full closet.  Being that I just had my 3rd and final babe and I’m transitioning back to my normal self again I was ready to purge.

I chose The Fashion Fix package which included:

– > Style survey which was completed before first consultation

– > Full closet detox, a review of each item (clothing + accessories) in closet, to be divided into three categories: keepers, tailor-bound, or charity bound

– > Styling of 4-6 outfits within your current wardrobe

– > Disposal of all unwanted items (transportation to local charity)

– > Unlimited access to stylist via text for two months regarding fashion advice, style ideas or just simply what to wear on a Friday night!

– > List of 5 new items needed to round out newly edited wardrobe.  Suggested items provided via Pinterest, Polyvore, etc. to help achieve style ambition!

With Jen’s help I gave away 2 full trash bags, not including the maternity items I had already pulled!  It feels so good to have my closet streamlined.  It was so wonderful to have someone give me an honest opinion as to what worked on me, what doesn’t, what’s dated and what had seen better days.

susandjen

Jen took a few items I love in my closet that just weren’t working and told me how I could tailor them to bring them back to life.  Taking account my height and shape she suggested turning a maxi skirt into a “midi” and a knee length skirt I’m going to have made into a mini.  I’ve held onto these two skirts without a single wear for years because I love the prints- can’t wait to have them back in the mix!

She created outfits out of my clothes I would have NEVER thought to put together that work.

Pulling items I would have considered purging and she made me love them again.  This skirt I actually bought for a neon theme party and she loved it so much she styled an outfit around it!

susoutfit1

Having a stylist on speed dial is also REALLY helpful… I was in a crunch with an outfit the other day and texted Jen for advice, I needed a sweater option.  The dress was a navy and cream stripe and I was wearing a bold turquoise and yellow necklace.  She pointed me in the right direction telling me jewel tones were my friend when I thought I would have had to go with a muted neutral.

Jen took notes as we were moving through my closet and she’s going to send me items she thinks would be good additions to my closet to fill the holes in my wardrobe.  I am very excited for this part of the process!

Here are a few more of the looks she styled for me that day…

susoutfit2

If you have a life event coming up like a high school reunion, major birthday, important work event, baby shower, etc. I highly recommend having Jen come out and style you pretty!

My Closet Detox + Styling Session 

What I loved most about Jen was her honesty. 

There were so many pieces cluttering my closet I never wear because I don’t feel good in them. We went item by item and I could tell just by her face if it was a “please let this go” or “we can work with this!” piece.  Of the ones I didn’t feel good in, she confirmed I made the right choice when I admitted it was time to say good-bye.

And some things surprised me!

Like this Gap dress that is over  5 years old.  I haven’t been wearing it because I know how long I have had it. But what was old can be made NEW again.  Look at the belt she put with it! Never in a million years would I have thought of putting that belt on that dress. But it works!

jen1

I also loved being able to ask her HOW to style certain pieces.  I am obsessed with Golden Tote (affiliate link) and many of my pieces are G.T. ones I wear all the time. However, every now and then I get pieces I like but just don’t know how to wear.

Case in point, this long sleeveless sweater.  Not a problem for Jen, she showed me exactly how to wear it! I love this outfit, one of my new favorites I never knew I had in my closet!

jen2

As we were going through my accessories, Jen eyed one particular scarf and got a little twinkle in her eye. “I love this.” she said.

I was assuming she would put it on me like I had been wearing it – as a scarf around my neck – but no! To my amazement she made it into a wrap skirt, belted it and paired with a cropped denim jacket into a look I just love!

jen3

Affordable Orange County Personal Stylist

There are many personal stylists out there so I wanted I asked Jen from her perspective what makes jeans | and | a | T unique.

“I work with most any price point and I’m honest. So many people look at styling as a luxury service – and while I do have certain requirements as far as budget is concerned, I think it’s a lot less then most people expect. Second, I’m honest. I tell it like it is. If I don’t like something in your closet (whether brand new-or 4 years old-$20 or $400 – I’ll tell ya.) That’s what I’m  here for! Clients appreciate that and love the streamlined closet they walk into days after I visit. I’m also always available…in a pinch on a Friday night? – shoot me a photo and I’ll lead you in the right direction! Availability, accessibility and honesty – that’s what makes me tick.”

To learn more and following Jen on Social Media visit:

www.jeansandat.com

@jeans_and_a_t on Instagram.

www.facebook.com/jeans.and.a.T.OC

You Might Also Like
Show Mobile Version