Beat Winter Break Boredom With These Family-Friendly Activities

Christmas break is upon us and that means the kids are home and the house is busy.  Don’t be alarmed if after the excitement of presents, visiting, and Christmas cookies wears off, the “boredom” phase of vacation sets in.  This year, you can be prepared with a few “suggestions” to keep the kids (and even some of the adults) happily occupied.  Here are a few of our favorites.

Snowball fight!

Build a snow fort (or two) along with an arsenal of snowballs,  and challenge the family to an old fashioned snow-ball fight!

1.  Build a Snow Fort.  On second thought, build two snow forts.  That way you can join the kids in making an arsenal of snowballs, and the whole family can have a good old fashioned snowball fight.

2.  Plan Family Game Night.  Family game night is a staple at our house.  We pick a few games, order pizza, and let the family rivalry begin!

3.  Do Some Night-Time Sledding.  This is a fun diversion and an extra-special night for the younger children who are usually in the house after dark.  Grab some lights (headlamps work best), your favorite sled, and hit the sled hill.  The younger kids find this exciting and quite thrilling.  Finish your special night with a good cup of hot chocolate, and you’ll be a shoo-in to win the “Parent of the Year” Award.

If all else fails, you can do what I do.  I usually suggest a few chores, and within minutes, the boredom magically disappears!


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A Christmas Memory 100 Years in the Making

"Christmas Truce 1914" by Robson Harold B - This is photograph Q 50719 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons -

“Christmas Truce 1914″ by Robson Harold B – This is photograph Q 50719 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums..

The Christmas season often bring memories and reflections on Christmases past.  One of our favorite Christmas stories is the infamous Christmas Truce between British and German soldiers during World War I. If you haven’t shared this beautiful and miraculous story with your children, take a moment and do so on this 100 year anniversary of that event.

On the days leading up to Christmas Eve, 1914, German troops posted along the western front began decorating the area around their trenches.  On Christmas Eve, they put candles in the trees and in the trenches and began to sing Christmas carols.  Because they were ensconced in their trenches within shouting distance of the British line, the British soldiers could see and hear the festivities occurring.  Before long, the British responded with carols of their own, and soon both sides were shouting Christmas greetings to each other.

Within a short period of time, some brave soldiers laid down their arms and crossed the No-Man’s Land between the two trenches to personally greet the soldiers they were supposed to be shooting at on the other side.  This led to the exchanging of small gifts between the men.  They shared food, games, mementos, tobacco, chocolate, buttons, and even hats.  More importantly they shared pictures of their families and stories of their home lives.  One British soldier had received a new soccer ball from home and an impromptu soccer game broke out between the two sides.

Henry Williamson, a nineteen-year-old private in the London Rifle Brigade wrote to his mother, “Dear Mother, I am writing from the trenches. It is 11 o’clock in the morning. Beside me is a coke fire, opposite me a ‘dug-out’ (wet) with straw in it. The ground is sloppy in the actual trench, but frozen elsewhere. In my mouth is a pipe presented by the Princess Mary.  In the pipe is tobacco. Of course, you say. But wait. In the pipe is German tobacco. Haha, you say, from a prisoner or found in a captured trench. Oh dear, no! From a German soldier. Yes a live German soldier from his own trench. Yesterday the British & Germans met & shook hands in the Ground between the trenches, & exchanged souvenirs, & shook hands. Yes, all day Xmas day, & as I write. Marvellous, isn’t it?”

This wonderful truce may have only lasted through Christmas Day, 1914, but it has managed to inspire people the world over for a century.  Share it with your family to keep the memory alive and to remind them of the joy and blessings the Christmas season brings.

Merry Christmas from JM Cremps!

The above photo is Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

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Christmas Party Scavenger Hunt

Christmas season means parties, get-togethers, family and friends. If you are hosting a Christmas party with kids in attendance, here’s a great way to keep them occupied – at least for a little while!  Download your printable Christmas Party Scavenger Hunt here.

Candy Cane

Have fun at your next Christmas party and keep the kids entertained at the same time.

____  Candy Cane

____  Santa Hat

____  Gumdrop

____  Snowman

____  Flower

____  Christmas Ornament

____  Hot Chocolate Mix Packet

____  Marshmallow

____  Cranberry

____  Pine Needle

____  Tinsel

____  Gingerbread Man

____  Bell

____  Sleigh

____  Popcorn

____  Wrapped Package

____  Stocking

____  Christmas Cookie

____  Christmas Plate

____  Star

____  Christmas Carol 
(cd, sheet music, ipod song)

____  Scarf

____  Partridge in a Pear Tree 
(double points for this one!)

____  Reindeer

____  Christmas-Themed Book

____  Christmas Card

If you can’t find any of these items, look in a book for a picture – that will work too!

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Tips for Hunting Christmas Trees With Kids

It’s Christmas Tree Decorating season.  For many families this is a much anticipated tradition.  Whether you use an artificial tree or a real one doesn’t really matter.  What matters is that the decorating tradition is unique to your family.  At JM Cremps, we are all about family traditions.  One of our favorite traditions is to set up the Christmas tree, gather the kids, and read Jan Brett’s Home for Christmas.

Make Your own family tradition

Make your own family tradition during the hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. (photo courtesy of

If your family doesn’t have an established tradition, make this your year to start one.  Finding a live Christmas tree can be a wonderful way to establish your own family tradition.   Nick Myatt, author of the Growing Hunters blog, gives some helpful tips to make sure your hunt for the perfect tree turns into a memorable and enjoyable family experience.

Christmas Carols Required

Make the drive half the fun of your trip.  Christmas is the one time of the year where it is socially acceptable to sing as a family in the car.  Think National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Play Christmas carols obnoxiously loud and sign along.  Be corny; have fun.

Take Your Time

Don’t rush things.  Make sure you have plenty of time to enjoy yourselves and spend time as a family.  Allow time for distractions and side adventures – going to the woods for a tree doesn’t have to be all about finding a tree.

Road Hunting Encouraged

Save your little guy’s legs and slowly drive along forest roads looking for good trees or spots to get out and explore.  Stop often and take mini tree-finding expeditions.  Speaking from experience; don’t wonder very far from the truck – otherwise Dad will have to carry that perfect tree that Mom found a long way! You don’t want Dad to turn into the Grinch.

Make A Day or Weekend Out of It

Make this tradition more than just a trip into the woods to cut a tree.  Getting the tree should be the focal point of the day, but after you find a tree, spend time sledding, build a bonfire and roast marshmallows, or have a snowball fight.  Better yet – make it a full weekend and rent a cozy cabin in the woods.

Get The Kids Involved

Make sure your kids are part of the process, not just along for the ride.  Let them help hunt for the tree, choose where to stop, and which tree to bring home.  Letting them help select the tree can take some creative parenting at times – especially when they get their hearts set on the scraggliest, most Charlie Brown of all trees in the forest.

This article was reposted from the Growing Hunters Blog. Read more tips and the complete article, Hunting Christmas Trees with Kids, by clicking here.

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Teach Your Kids to Be Thankful Every Day of the Year

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving!  It’s our once-a-year reminder that we have a lot to be thankful for.  If you are like me, it’s also my once-a-year reminder that I need to be more thankful the REST of the year.  As a mother, I’ve tried to instill a culture of thankfulness into my children.  Fortunately, it’s an easy thing to do.  Here are a few simple ideas:

Teach Your Kids To Be Thankful All Year Long

Teach your kids to be thankful every day of the year!

1.  Help your children to notice all that they have to be thankful for by pointing out the wonders and goodness around them.  For example, a trip to the park can include the comment, “Aren’t we lucky to have such a great park near our house? I’m so glad it is here!”

2.  Thank your children when they do something good or kind, better yet, do so on a regular basis.

3.  Teach your children about the freedoms they have and enjoy.  That way they will learn to value the freedoms they have and will learn to be a good citizen.

4.  Freely and openly thank others in front of your children.  Saying thank you to a caring friend in front of your child is a very valuable lesson.

5.  Turn unexpected or negative events into an exercise in gratitude.  For example, a rainy day that caused a trip to the beach to be canceled can be turned into an exercise in gratitude.  “You know, this rainy day is the perfect way for us to bake your favorite cookies.  If it weren’t for the rain – there’d be no cookies!”

6.  Every now and then, ask your children what they are most thankful for.  You’ll be amazed at what they say!

Growing Grateful Kids

Growing Grateful Kids is a great asset for any family to have!

For more helpful advice on how to raise thankful kids, check out the book, Growing Grateful Kids by Susie Larson.  Susie has a wonderful perspective on how to raise your children to be thankful and content without all of the latest and greatest material possessions.   Another great parenting resource is the book Being a Great Mom, Raising Great Kids by Sharon Jaynes.  Another good read is Raising Real Men, Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys by Hal & Melanie Young.

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November is National Aviation History Month

Children the world over seem captivated by flight.  Whether it is hot air balloons, paper airplanes, rockets, jumbo jets, or space craft, the concept of flight has sparked the imagination.  In honor of National Aviation History Month, here are some interesting flight facts you may not have known!

1783 First Hot Air Balloon Flight in France.

797 First parachute jump.  André-Jacques Garnerin dropped from about 6,500 ft over Monceau Park in Paris in a 23-foot-diameter parachute made of white canvas with a basket attached

This is the first known aerial photo ever taken. It was taken over Boston, Massachusetts.

This is the first known aerial photo ever taken. It was taken over Boston, Massachusetts.

1860 First Aerial Photographs.  Samuel Archer King and William Black made took two photos of Boston.

1903 First successful airplane flight.  Orville and Wright successfully flew a homemade airplane 120 feet in 12 seconds.  Later in the day, Wilbur Wright stayed in up for 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.

1910 First licensed female pilot.  Baroness Raymonde de la Roche of France, who learned to fly in 1909, received ticket No. 36 on March 8, making her the first licensed female pilot.

1919 First transatlantic flight.  Lt. Comander Albert C. Read reached Lisbon, Portugal after hops from Trepassy Bay, Newfoundland, to Horta, Azores to Ponta Delgada.

1924 First Around-the-World Flight. Four Douglas Cruiser biplanes of the U.S. Army Air Corps took off from Seattle under command of Maj. Frederick Martin (April 6). 175 days later, two of the planes (Lt. Lowell Smith’s and Lt. Erik Nelson’s) landed in Seattle after a circuitous route—one source saying 26,345 mi, another saying 27,553 mi.

1932 First woman’s transatlantic solo. Amelia Earhart, flying a Pratt & Whitney Wasp-powered Lockheed Vega, flew alone from Harbor Grace, Newfoundland, to Ireland in approximately 15 hours.

1937 First successful helicopter flight.  Hanna Reitsch, a German pilot, flew Dr. Heinrich Focke’s FW-61 in a free, fully controlled flight.

 1944 First production stage rocket-engine fighter plane. The German Messerschmitt Me 163B Komet (test flown 1941) became operational in June 1944. Some 350 of these delta-wing fighters were built before WWII in Europe ended.

1949 First round-the-world nonstop flight.  Capt. James Gallagher and USAF crew of 13 flew a Boeing B-50A Superfortress around the world nonstop from Ft. Worth, returning to same point covering 23,452 miles in 94 hours and 1 minute.  There were four aerial refuelings en route.

1958 First domestic airline jet passenger service. National Airlines began service between New York and Miami.

1978 First successful transatlantic ballon flight. Ben Abruzzo, Larry Newman, and Maxie Anderson, completed the crossing in their helium-filled balloon, known as the Double Eagle II.

1986 First nonstop flight around the world without refueling. From Edwards AFB, Calif., Dick Rutan and Jeana Yeager flew their Voyager around the world (24,986.727 miles), returning to Edwards AFB in 216 hours, 3 minutes, 44 seconds.

2002 First solo nonstop round-the-world balloon flight. Steve Fossett flew from Northam, West Australia, to Lake Yamma Yamma, Queensland, Australia, landing after 14 days, 19 hrs. He broke three balloon records along the way: fastest time around the world, longest distance flown solo, and longest time flown solo.

To learn more fascinating facts on flight, check out the book: Eyewitness:  Flight.

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Build Your Own Survival Kit With This Basic Survival Kit Checklist

Building your own basic survival kit is easy and fun to do.  It is the perfect addition to your pack when you’re camping, fishing, hiking or hunting.  By making your kit ahead of time, you can take it with you whenever your adventure leads you into the wilderness.

The Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit

The Bear Grylls Basic Survival Kit has all the essentials that a good survival kit should have.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind.  A survival kit such as this one is only useful if you know how to use the items in it.  So be sure to practice proper use of the items with your family before you head out.  Also, JM Cremp’s carries some excellent survival books that give instruction and tips for survival situations.  Two of our favorites are The Ultimate Survival Manual and Essential Survival Skills.

Put Your Pack Together Today! (Click here to download your Basic Survival Kit Checklist)

Remember:  This is a basic starter list, so you can add or take away whatever you need to customize your pack for your situation.  JM Cremps carries the Gerber Bear Grylls Survivial Kit.  This survival kit is small and compact and  will fit in a large jacket pocket.  You can use it as is or build upon it to include more options for your situation.

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