Celebrate love!

Hello again! Hopefully everyone is filled with love after my lovely love activity! Continuing with the Saint Valentine's Day theme, today's post is about celebrating love. Whilst most people celebrate Valentine's Day by exchanging presents, here at the enchanted tree house, we celebrate by filling up our friends, fur beasts, neighbors and strangers with love!

Here are some fun ideas:

1.) Surprise each and every person that you encounter this week with a loving gesture. No, you don't have to bake five-crazillion heart-shaped cookies. A simple compliment, act of kindness or favor will do just fine!

2.) Love yourself by filling the week with activities that you love. Climb that tree you've been eyeballing. Drink hot cocoa and load it up with marshmallows. Take off work early to do yoga (or just take off work early).  Turn off the television and go write the next bestselling book or paint a masterpiece. Turn up the music and dance dance dance!

3.) Fill yourself with laughter and play games. Here's a fun storytelling game to try: Write silly words and themes onto tiny slips of paper. Then hide the papers inside of candies. (I replaced Hershey's Kisses tags with the papers, but any candies will do). Have everyone playing the game draw several pieces of candy and tell a story using the elements on their papers OR go around in a circle and have each player use their element to add onto one collaborative story.

4.) Put a smile on an unsuspecting person's face! Make special gifts with your talented hands and give them to those who least expect it. Last year, I surprised our postal delivery person and garbage collector with canned treats. This year, I painted teeny tiny Valentines and wrote haikus to hide around town.

5.) Spread the love online! Take time to "like" photos, comments and profiles on Facebook. Leave comments on your favorite blogs. Share blog posts and tweets with your Twitter followers. It feels good to be loved and appreciated, so let other people know you love and appreciate their online presence!

Spreading love and kindness to those around you costs nothing! Just check out this fun video made by the Love Foundation in Austin, TX and get inspired!

Happy Valentine's Day, friends! Xx

Magical activities for your holiday!

Hello again magical friends! Glad to see you back at the enchanted tree house so soon! Here is the second holiday blog post, enjoy! Xx This week a concerned teacher and friend told me she had to return her daughter's Christmas presents because her husband lost his job. She cried, "What can we do on Christmas if there are no presents to unwrap or toys to play with?"

Remember, money and gifts don't make your holiday special, your imagination and inner magic does! I have never had the funds for a Christmas celebration like I experienced whilst growing up, but every holiday since has been just as magical and memorable! Here are a few activities that I use to brighten up  my holidays...

1.)  Gingerbread House Contest. This Christmas we are having an extreme gingerbread house building contest. A simple box of generic graham crackers, colorful and textured inexpensive candies and bright icings are all you need for hours of holiday cheer! (Don't waste money on expensive icings, just make a cheap paste out of sugar, water and food coloring!)

2.) Oral history. Share your traditions or special stories about past magical holidays with your friends, your children or your partner. Remember that children (and adults, too) are sensory-oriented, so add in "treats" and visual aids to turn your story into more of a "show and experience" tale. For example, if your favorite holiday memory is making cookies with your grandmother, then find the recipe and make the same cookies while you share the tale.

3.) Storytelling game. Place 10 holiday treasures or unique items on the table. Have every participant choose an item and then take turns telling stories about these items. Stories can be false or true! Here are some ideas to try: Make up a holiday pourquoi (a story that explains an origin) about that bizarre piece of machinery you found in the garage. Or come up with an incredible fantasy about how the Elf on the Shelf saved the life of a giant polar bear who had fur like a pine tree!!

4.) Treasure hunt. Make small gifts (like coupons, sweet treats, finger puppets and crayons) more special by creating a holiday scavenger hunt. Write age-appropriate clues that include hide-and-seek activities, riddles and challenges. 

Here's an idea to get you started: Tell the players they have to call a relative and sing a holiday song in order to retrieve their next clue. (Be sure to call the relative in advance and give them the child's next clue). To make the challenge more difficult, let your child try to figure out which relative you chose. Hopefully several of your relatives will get a holiday serenade before your child finds the correct person.

Another idea for younger children would be to ask them to find tiny surprises that a little holiday elf or faerie left around your home. The possibilities are endless!

5.) Fill your day with a variety of holiday activities. Take a walk to enjoy the lights and the evergreens. Go sledding or make a village of snow people. Write and illustrate your own holiday storybook. Give your child the power of creating the entertainment. My favorite activity as a child was to put on holiday plays, musicals and puppet shows. (And dare I mention holiday charades around my family? This game will yield hours of laughter. And be warned, you just never know what's going to come out of Grandma Judy's mouth as she guesses!)

It doesn't matter what activity you choose, just make sure you fill your holiday season with BRIGHT COLORS, LOVE, LAUGHTER and MAGIC! And who knows, perhaps you will discover some new holiday traditions! Xx