How to Plan a Neighborhood Block Party This Summer

How to Plan a Neighborhood Block Party This Summer

When I was growing up, we’d pack into my mom’s car and venture from our home in the countryside exactly one hour north to my auntie’s house in the suburbs. We’d arrive at her cul-de-sac in the warmth of a late summer afternoon, kids outdoors playing basketball or hockey and the sounds of laughter floating out from backyard swimming pools. More often than not, the sweet smell of barbecued burgers and hot dogs was also permeating the…

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The Best Eid al-Fitr Gifts for Traditional Ramadan Gift Giving

The Best Eid al-Fitr Gifts for Traditional Ramadan Gift Giving

The sacred and solemn holiday of Ramadan is a time of prayer, of reflection, and of charity. It is a time of peace, where one prays for the world—and for themselves. It’s not for focusing on small worldly and bodily needs, such as food, but for seeking out your inner quietness for answers to spiritual matters. That makes it a time of fasting, when food cannot be eaten between dawn and dusk. To mark the end of that…

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What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

What to Put in a Beach-Themed Gift Basket or Bag for Her

This beach season, you’re probably looking to add something more to your bag than suntan lotion and the newest teen vampire novel—although you totally want both of those too. You want to rock the sun and sand in style, comfort, with a little decadence, and a lot of goodies. You want, nay need, great beach gear. And so do your girlfriends! This year, why not send a beach-themed gift bag to your sister, girlfriend, wife, or best…

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The Best Gifts for Your Husband’s Birthday to Show Him Love

The Best Gifts for Your Husband’s Birthday to Show Him Love

Like an over-eager child, I anticipate the celebration of any and all birthdays. I owe this to my mother who, on each birthday, would decorate the house with the same Happy Birthday sign, balloon-print napkins and plates, a bundle of helium balloons by the fireplace, and a rectangular homemade cake with sprinkles. It was nothing extravagant, but it was a tradition. A tradition that celebrated us individually, and as a family. Today, as I begin my own…

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DIY Summer Wedding Favors Guests Can Take Home

DIY Summer Wedding Favors Guests Can Take Home

From outdoor receptions under the sun to an ice cream cart for guests and bouquets filled with peonies and lavender, summer weddings fill the air with a refreshing warmth and relaxation. As I daydream about my own wedding, I’ve started to love the idea of DIY summer wedding favors for guests to take home—a tiny tidbit to remind them of the day and to thank them for coming. From foodie favors, like mason jar jams and herbal…

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Fun Non-Alcoholic 21st Birthday Gift Ideas That Take the Cake

Fun Non-Alcoholic 21st Birthday Gift Ideas That Take the Cake

Take one look at the birthday card section of your local grocery store and it’ll soon become apparent that there are only a handful of ages considered to be truly significant in your life—you know, years when your birthday card has your actual age on it. 10, when you reach double digits; Sweet 16; legal adulthood at 18; and then, 21. After that, it seems to become about the decades, year 30, 40, 50, 60, and so…

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Ochugen and Oseibo Gift Ideas: Japanese Customs and the Tradition of Giving

Ochugen and Oseibo Gift Ideas: Japanese Customs and the Tradition of Giving

What do you say when you give someone a gift? No, not “here,” or “look, I got you a gift,” but what is your gift saying? What are the wordless messages you are passing along when someone opens that special thing you gave them? There are a million possibilities but at the core, at the purest level, you are saying: I value you. In Japan, gift-giving is less about the gift itself as the meaning behind it,…

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DIY Thoughtful Gifts for Your Best Friend to Celebrate Friendship

DIY Thoughtful Gifts for Your Best Friend to Celebrate Friendship

My apartment looks calm and neat at first glance, but I’ve got a deep, dark secret that’s just waiting to burst free. Lurking deep beneath a table in the dining room, hidden behind a curtain, there’s a monster waiting to be let out: my sprawling collection of crafting supplies I’m a firm believer in giving homemade gifts and that means I have supplies on hand for just about everything—paint, fabric, clay; you name it, I’ve probably got…

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Celebrating National Sugar Cookie Day With Recipes That Kids Can Make

Celebrating National Sugar Cookie Day With Recipes That Kids Can Make

Comedian Gary Gulman said it best when he said, “Every cookie is a sugar cookie. A cookie without sugar is a cracker.” Sugar cookies have a reputation for being a bit basic in the baking world but, for me, they conjure up all sorts of delicious food memories from my childhood. There were the long days spent at my grandma’s house, when my mom would send me over with a box of sprinkles and all the makings for…

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Fun Things for an Only Child to Do Outside This Summer

Fun Things for an Only Child to Do Outside This Summer

I’ll be the first to admit that when I was a kid, my favorite part of summer vacation was holing up in the den, shades drawn, so I could watch cartoons all day while eating popsicles. But I don’t really remember anything about my time spent indoors—other than how awesome the popsicles always were. No, my favorite summer memories are the ones from my time outdoors in the sun. I can still smell the sweetness of the dried…

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The Best Fourth of July Party Theme Ideas for Food, Fun, and Decor

The Best Fourth of July Party Theme Ideas for Food, Fun, and Decor

Fourth of July gatherings have always had a special place in my heart—the smells of the barbecues and sunscreen; the sights of folks in their red, white and blue attire; and the sounds of the crashing beach waves or the splashes of the swimming pool all add up to my favorite summer memories. Growing up, we’d alternate between wildly festive block parties at my aunt’s house and holidays spent at a little green cottage on the beach…

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The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

The Best Traditional Kwanzaa Gifts to Make and Give

Kwanzaa has always been one of the world’s most exciting holidays, especially in North America. It is a burst of light and color, of sun and laughter, emerging brightly into the coldest and darkest days of the year. It’s a celebration of heritage, but it isn’t one stuck in the past. It creates a vibrant tapestry of the past, present, and future, looking toward the next day while honoring the last. Kwanzaa is a unique holiday in that…

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Canadian-Themed Party Food and Game Ideas to Celebrate Canada Day in the USA

Canadian-Themed Party Food and Game Ideas to Celebrate Canada Day in the USA

On July 1st 1867, the nation of Canada was officially born with the enactment of the Constitution Act. Today, the country celebrates July 1st with all things red, white, and Canadian. And 2017, the holiday mark[ed] Canada’s big 1-5-0 birthday party. Celebrating the holidays of other nations, from Israel to India is a fun way to explore pieces of history from an array of cultures that abound around us—like our red and white neighbors up north. Let’s help our friends celebrate with Canadian-themed party food and game…

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What Do You Get a High School Graduate: Trendy, Inexpensive Graduation Gift Ideas

What Do You Get a High School Graduate: Trendy, Inexpensive Graduation Gift Ideas

The first time I felt like I had really and truly become a part of my husband’s family was when my mother-in-law gifted us with a family heirloom—a beautiful quilt painstakingly sewn by her mother. I teared up, thinking of the hours of work that went into creating the quilt; it was like a connection between me, a novice quilter, and my husband’s grandmother, who I never got the chance to meet. I immediately ran to our…

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Unique Diwali Gift Ideas: Celebrate India’s Festival of Lights Around the World

Unique Diwali Gift Ideas: Celebrate India’s Festival of Lights Around the World

The word Diwali, with its upward-lilting last syllable, already carries within it a lightness and a note of grace. That’s fitting, too: A translation of the word reads “rows of lighted lamps,” a beautiful and warm image invoking peace, warmth, and openness. Diwali, also known as the Festival of Lights in India and around the world, is one of the high points on the Hindu calendar, a day when light triumphed over darkness. And it’s that selfsame…

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DIY Father’s Day Gifts from Daughter: Easy Last Minute Homemade Gift Basket Ideas

DIY Father’s Day Gifts from Daughter: Easy Last Minute Homemade Gift Basket Ideas

  “My father gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person — he believed in me.” – Jim Valvano When I think of my father, there are poignant and particular things that come to mind: There’s the beep of the coffee maker when it’s finished brewing, and his hands pouring the hot coffee into his favorite sunshine yellow mugs from Hawaii; the countless warm San Diego evenings spent on the front patio where he barbecues…

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End of Year Teacher Survival Kit: An Online Teacher Appreciation Gift Exchange

End of Year Teacher Survival Kit: An Online Teacher Appreciation Gift Exchange

Believe it or not, another busy, hectic school year will soon be coming to a close. Students are already buzzing with plans for bidding farewell to the classroom in exchange for the carefree days of summer. And for teachers, the official countdown to their yearly vacation from the whiteboard has begun. I may be going out on a limb here, but I think they’re just as excited as the kids! Knowing firsthand how demanding the end of a school year…

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Hot Summer Kickoff Party Theme Ideas: Planning Outdoor Activities for Sunny Days

Hot Summer Kickoff Party Theme Ideas: Planning Outdoor Activities for Sunny Days

There are few things I love more than a classic Americana summer party. Food on the grill, cold drinks in the cooler, music sifting through the hot air reminding you of the past—and of the current endless present. Kids running around, firecrackers going off, lawn games that are fun and weirdly competitive. Burgers and ribs, grilled veggies, salads passed around laughter-filled tables. A long and sultry day that sunsets into a firefly dusk and a dance-filled night.  It’s the bottomless…

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Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

Feliz Dia de la Reyes: Three Kings Day Gift Ideas for a Royal Celebration

The story of Christmas doesn’t begin or end on the 25th. There’s an entire holiday season full of parties and gifts that leads up to Christmas Day. And, for many around the world, a hugely important Yule-inspired holiday is celebrated after the new year: Three Kings Day (or The Feast of the Magi), known in many Latino cultures as Dias de la Reyes. It’s a day that is as venerated and fun-filled as Christmas morning. Dias de la Reyes, which…

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Pet Lovers Gift Basket Ideas for Dog and Owner to Dig Into Bonding and Adventure

Pet Lovers Gift Basket Ideas for Dog and Owner to Dig Into Bonding and Adventure

Growing up, we had a good-natured yellow labrador named Woody who happily traipsed through the trees and rolling hills of the neighborhood with us as if it was all his backyard. Being the youngest in my family, I had a habit of often pretending that Woody was my little brother or sister when my siblings weren’t around. I’d dress him up in tiaras when I wanted to play princess fairytales, capes when I was more in the mood for superheroes,…

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Tech Gifts for Teenage Guys: The Benefits of Social Media on Interpersonal Relationships

Tech Gifts for Teenage Guys: The Benefits of Social Media on Interpersonal Relationships

When I was about 10, technology began to infiltrate my childhood when we got our first computer. We’d already been venturing to my grandma’s, who had a slow giant of a desktop stationed in her dining room, whenever my sister needed to write her high school papers or when my brother and I wanted to create books on story software. But having our own home computer at our fingertips, along with all of the forms of technology that would follow…

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Teaching Generosity to Kids: The Giving Tree Party Ideas for a Fun Lesson on Kindness

Teaching Generosity to Kids: The Giving Tree Party Ideas for a Fun Lesson on Kindness

“Once there was a tree, and she loved a little boy.” ― Shel Silverstein, The Giving Tree Over 50 years ago, The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein took root in the world. It’s a small, green library classic that has since been gifted at birthday parties, baby showers, and graduation celebrations countless times. Though the exact meaning has been debated, most of us can agree that the overarching lesson is an important: Teaching generosity and kindness to kids. When I…

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Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

Creative Hostess Gift Ideas: Easy DIYs Offering Gratitude at Summer Dinner Parties

“I have only to break into the tightness of a strawberry, and I see summer—its dust and lowering skies.” – Toni Morrison As the sensations of summer loom on the horizon—the blooming of roses, strawberries making their way to the stands at the farmers’ market, spring sweaters staying put in the closet and being replaced by sundresses—I begin to daydream of summer dinner parties. As with each new season, my favorite part of summer tends to revolve around gatherings, time…

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A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community, and Life’s Joys

A Freilichen Purim! Gift Basket Ideas to Celebrate Spring, Community, and Life’s Joys

Late winter and early spring are, for everyone, imbued with a sense of rebirth and excitement. It’s a time to escape the long winter—and look forward to the light. For the Jewish people, though, it means something more. It is the time for Purim, to celebrate when they were saved from annihilation at the hands of the Persians. It’s more than a party for the rebirth of spring ; it is celebrating the miracle of existence.  And what a celebration it is! Purim is described as a…

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