Decorate Your Home For Kwanzaa

Decorate your home in the traditional colors of the holiday — green, red and black — using streamers, balloons and African prints. Display African art objects, textiles and maps on tables and walls. Most importantly, set aside a special place for your Kwanzaa set.

A Kwanzaa set, which includes the traditional symbols of Kwanzaa, should be the centerpiece of your Kwanzaa celebration. Place these items on a low table or on the floor, in a central location of your party area. Place colorful floor pillows around the table for guests to sit on.

How to display your Kwanzaa set:

  1. Cover a table with an African cloth that is green, red and black.
  2. Place a large mat (called a mkeka) on the cloth. The other items will then be placed on, or around, the mat.
  3. Put the Kwanzaa candleholder (kinara) on the cloth, and add the seven candles (mishumaa saba): one black, three red and three green. The black candle goes in the center, the green candles to the right of it and the red candles to its left.
  4. Crops (mazao), usually represented by various colorful fruits and vegetables, are then placed on the table, along with ears of corn. The corn symbolizes children; there should be an ear of corn on the table for each child in the family. If there are no children in your home, place two ears on the table to represent the importance of children to the community.
  5. The next item you display is your unity cup (kikombe cha umoja).
  6. Lastly, round out your display with traditional Kwanzaa gifts (zawadi): books, African art objects and handmade items.
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Crowd Pleasing Thanksgiving Party Ideas!

Before you plan for a party, give your home a makeover, especially where the party is going to be held.

Clean out the dining table, add new table covers, change the cutlery, dishes. You can also change the window drapes, doormats, get the music in a more accessible fashion, clear up space if you plan to have a dance floor, plan out for sitting and standing spaces. You can also have the lawn readied, for people might use it for smoking. Avoid smoking indoors.

Definitely add some décor on the outside of the main door to bring in the mood. A simple bunch of cornucopias or pine cones, bound with red silk ribbon would do wonders.

If you are having kids on the party, give special attention for their comfort. Have a separate table for them, with kids’ décor. Plan before hand on attending and accommodating them. If you can get someone dedicated to look after their chores, it would be great. More important, they should be left primarily on their own as long as they are safe, so that they can enjoy the party in their way.

If you are preparing vegetarian dishes, uncommon dishes or exotic dishes, then be sure to label them, with their name and primary ingredients. Now a days, many food are banned for some, especially for ailments like gout or high blood pressure. A simple labeling with a card will help relieve your guests from unpleasant surprises.

Organize games for your guests. If nothing, then at least have a card game with interesting prizes.

Plan for the leftovers. Get small foils bowls beforehand, so that you can pack the leftovers and give it to your guests when they leave, so that food is not wasted.

Now check out some of the most interesting themes of Thanksgiving parties:

 

  • Arrange an eventful party along with all your neighborhood friends. The party can start with snacks at one house. Arrangement of a quick dish at the next house would be perfect. Move your legs with the dancing tunes at the house. Mark the end of the party at your own house with lip-smacking desserts.
  • Ask everyone to assemble in the backwards party. Plan properly to write invitations in mirrored writing. Wear clothes to match the mood. Eating dessert is a must.
  • Include your pet in the party as well. Offer it a bone or anything it likes.
  • If you don’t have pet, then give treat to your favorite stuffed animal or doll. Ask their friends and their owners as chaperones.
  • It’s not a bad idea to hold a leap year party once every four years. Make arrangements and plan well for the party during the other three years.
  • The theme of your party can be a hat. Inform all your friends to raid their families’ closets and attics or poke through local rummage sales for wild headgear.
  • Organize a crazy Hat party for all your near and dear ones. Make interesting hats and for that, collect cheap, white painter’s Hats. Accumulate fabric paints, colored glues, sequins and other exciting crafts.
  • Arrange a party and call it a “collection party”. Inform all your friends who have the same hobby to assemble at your home. Trade whatever you collect.
  • Organize a cleanup party. Lend a helping hand to all your friends in cleaning up dirty and messy rooms. Three or Four jobs have to be assigned to each one and notice who is quick enough to beat the clock. Savor the taste of a pizza at lunch at the last house.
  • A mystery guest party would be entertaining for all. Ask everyone to enter into the party with someone who is unknown to others. Everyone is encouraged to bring adults, sisters, brothers, neighbors, relatives or even pets.
  • Make a day out of a swap party. Ask your guests to come with something which can be swapped with any other member present in the party. Swap a piece of cloth, a game, a book, a tape or anything else.
  • Organize an exclusive food party with mouthwatering dishes. Every guest has to bring one of his/her favorite dishes to set it out on a buffet table for all the guests to share.
  • Decor:
    Take 5 to 10 pieces of long strings to be hooked up above the walls across the room. Cut colored paper, preferably in different shades of green and yellow, in leafy shapes. Glue them in a row at equal distance along each string. Hook the leafy strings high enough on the walls so that none of them touches the head of even the tallest of your guests.

    To make tent like shapes you can use your stools, vinyl chairs, coat stands, lamp stands. Then place large spread sheets and bed covers to cover each up in a tent like shape. Tape the four loose ends of the sheet with the floor to give the inclines of the sheet a taut look.
    You can also hang masks of native Indians and masked heads of deer, turkeys, fowls along the walls of the room.

    Place, if you like, potted plants, preferably the bushy variety, in the corners of the party room or hall and also along the corridor. Lay tablecloth with nature motifs or with prints of Turkeys and geared heads of native Indians. Place a customized Thanksgiving note below the placemats on each of the tables.

  • Party Games:

    Ask your guests to say what they are thankful for. For a twist ask each one to add to their reasons what their predecessor’s) said. You will be amazed to find how difficult it is to remember all of them at the end of one turn. The more the participants the more difficult it is to continue.

    You can make it more interesting by asking the participants to scribble down the stuff on a pad. Serve each a pencil and a pad. It will be funny to note how words get changed.

    Ask the children to go for a turkey hunt. Make one the hunter and get the child out of the room where a turkey, usually made up of paper, is kept hidden. For a better twist keep the hunter to be behind a closed door room. And ask the others each carrying a turkey to hide their turkeys at different parts of the house. Wait for a few minutes and when everyone’s ready ask the hunter to start searching.

    The paper turkey can be replaced by the kids themselves. Improvise the old hide-N-seek game to a ‘Turkey hunt’ by supplying a turkey mask to each of the children and asking each one to put it on their faces and hide themselves away in different places around the house.

    Go As you Like: Ask the guests to join a go-as-you-like contest. In it each of the participants are required to take the guise of any character from the 1st thanksgiving feast by the Pilgrims and the Indian invitees. While some will sport the guise of a native Indian some will pose themselves as the Pilgrims. This will help recreate the ambience of the first feast.

  • Other Activities:

    If you have some more spare time before the dinner. Try this one out. Suggest that everyone write notes to family members and friends who couldn’t be with you on this night telling them why you’re grateful that they’re a part of your life and that you’re thinking of them. Have extra stationery, pens, and stamps so guests can join in. And if the writer allows, it can be read out.

  • Dance Swap :

    It’s best if you prepare ahead of time, asking the guests to bring CDs, tapes, or records of dance music of their choice. Allot each one a music from a special type so that there’s not much duplication. Break out the Charleston, the Stroll, the Electric Slide, or the Macarena. Ask a member of each generation teaches the rest of the family a dance from his or her youth.

 

 

Traveling For Thanksgiving? 10 Great Ideas For You And Your Loved Ones

Make sure you’re flexible when considering the possible vacation options. 

1. Australia/New Zealand

We told you to be flexible.

No, it isn’t exactly close to anywhere in the U.S. and there isn’t really a “cheap” flight there, but as the U.S. bundles up for winter, you’ll be in the Southern Hemisphere in late spring to early summer. Granted, this depends on where you go. Northern Australia near Cairns is in the monsoon belt; it has exactly two seasons and is hot and rainy from October to March.

However, if you want to visit the wineries of Adelaide, the museums and waterfront restaurants of Brisbane, the artistic and bohemian enclaves of Melbourne or the big city lights of Sydney, this is a great time of year to go. It can be a bit more brisk in Auckland or Queenstown, but did you think a place that stood in for Middle Earth in the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings movies was going to be a tropical paradise?

The downside is that you’re going to need a tourist visa to get into Australia. The upside? You’re getting an extra 41 cents on the dollar thanks to a particularly friendly exchange rate.

2. Hawaii

Welcome to off-peak Hawaii, when the kids are back in school, the rains move in and the surfers end their summer jobs to take to the winter’s best waves.

However, just about everyone gets the genius idea to spend Christmas here, so it gets kind of slammed from mid-December through early January. This is why airlines including Alaska, United and Virgin America all get a bit less expensive around Thanksgiving and early December. If you’re willing to forego bustling Oahu for the Big Island and Kona, you’ll get some of the best deals of the year while getting most of the tourist attractions to yourself.

3. Toronto

Yes, it’s Toronto in late fall. Yes, it’s a little cold. Yes, folks may still be a little salty because the Blue Jays lost.

It doesn’t matter. Thanks to an exchange rate that’s been incredibly strong for much of the year, you’re getting about 30% more buying power out of every dollar you spend there. You’ll still get all the food, culture and nightlife at a bargain rate, but you’ll also get a deeper discount when The Delta Toronto—the city’s newest and tallest hotel—extends you its Special Events rate that knocks about 25% off the best available rate for visitors attending sports, music or cultural events. For every Maple Leafs fan who’s complained in recent years that their underperforming team should be paying them to watch its games, a hotel guest gets that wish granted just for buying a Leafs ticket.

Even better, there are free downtown walking tours offered by the Royal Ontario Museum and free musical performances (through May) at the Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre in the fabulous Four Seasons Centre. Also, for folks who’ve dreaded the trip from YYZ into the city, the new Union Pearson Express train now zips you right in in less than half an hour.

4. National Parks

It’s the 100th anniversary of the National Parks system, and, if you missed the crowds this summer, consider yourself somewhat fortunate.

The bad news is that Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, The Everglades and Rocky Mountain National Park all raised entrance fees this year, largely because Congress can’t see its way to actually funding one of the country’s best ideas. The good news is that all fourth graders and their families get into the park for free under the A Kid In Every Park program.

There are also huge discounts at National Park hotels, including a a winter bed and breakfast package (available November 29 through December 20) at Utah’s Zion Lodge that hacks 70% off peak summer rates, and includes a hot breakfast for two.

5. The Bahamas

You wouldn’t think the islands would be such a hard sell around this time of year, but the Bahamas want U.S. tourist dollars so badly that they’re willing to put up with tourists’ kids just to get it.

New nonstop service on Bahamasair from cities including Baltimore, Newark, and Cincinnati are making the islands and their mild climate a lot more accessible to frozen folks on the East Coast and Great Lakes. However, the Bahamas and their businesses want those frigid folks to bring the whole family along. The Kids Stay Free deal at the Atlantis Coral Tower keeps an open mind by covering accommodations for two children up to age 11. Meanwhile, other deals on boating, fishing, diving, and other family activities are available on the Bahamas tourism board’s website.

 

6. Brunswick Islands, N.C.

TripAdvisor Vacation Homes ranks North Carolina No. 5 among its most popular Thanksgiving destination states and notes that Asheville, Boone and Bryson City are particularly in demand. Meanwhile, trekking down to South Carolina won’t help, as the No. 7 destination isn’t getting much relief in Myrtle Beach or Hilton Head.

However, to the south of the favored Outer Banks and to the north of boisterous Myrtle Beach sites the Brunswick Islands, an underloved — but not undiscovered — stretch of the North Carolina coast. Holden Beach, Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle Beach, Oak Island and Bald Head Island have 45 miles stretch of of beach among them and are as warm as the water well into fall.

That said, the people tend to disappear with the degrees of temperature, so spots like the oceanfront Winds Beach Club and Resort in Ocean Isle Beach have to start offering deals. Two-night stays start at $299, with a bottle of champagne, dinner for two, a tour and tasting at a local winery (including chauffeured sedan), breakfast and free use of bicycles. Meanwhile it also offers a three-night golf package for play at three nearby courses as low as $259 (down from pre-Labor Day rates of $366) from November 16 through January 1.

7. Sofia, Bulgaria

If U.S. travelers haven’t gotten over their Cold War aversion to Eastern Europe by now, this should help change their minds.

This Balkan capital city sits atop broad, yellow-brick avenues in the historic center to the partially exposed, 1,800-year-old Roman city that lies beneath. There is a free daily walking tour led by students. Dozens of parks dot the city. Most importantly, however, a three-star hotel such as the Hotel Arte, goes for about $60 a night, mid-week, with rates actually dropping on the weekends. A two-course meal for two with wine will set you back $50. Taxis are cheap, museum admissions are low and there’s hiking and skiing on the 7,500-foot Vitosha Mountain all within striking distance.

While round-trip airfares from Boston and New York hovered around $800 in October, fares from San Francisco and Chicago in November dipped into the $700 range. They hit roughly double that in the summer. The high temperature is about 60 degrees in Sofia right now, making it ideal for strolls through the city during the day and mulled wine by the fire at night. Bulgaria doesn’t have quite the same romantic ring to it as its Western European counterparts, but don’t misjudge what you’ve never seen.

8. Along the Eurail

You may not think 91 cents for every dollar sounds like much, but in terms of the euro it’s miraculous. That means a meal that would have cost you $104 on the continent in 2008 now costs $71.50. That hasn’t helped airfare as much as you’d imagine, but it comes in handy for getting around otherwise.

For example, Eurail is lopping 20% of the price of its passes for the fall. A first-class Eurail Select Pass for travel in Croatia/Slovenia, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia costs about $222 for five days of travel in a two-month period. The same pass for Austria, Bulgaria, Greece and Italy costs about $445, and is also good for travel within a two-month span.

We can state from experience that Eurail typically doesn’t exist to make a tourist’s life easier, so getting any kind of discount from them — on top of the dollar’s newfound buying power — can only help your cause on the continent, especially if you’re willing to stay to the East.

9. Vancouver

We’ve already mentioned the benefits of that Canadian exchange rate, but enjoying it in British Columbia, where the temperatures still linger in the low 60s for much of fall, certainly has its benefits.

Sure, you can pop in on the Canucks early in the season while they still offer the city some sliver of hope, or you can visit the breweries, distilleries, restaurants, museums, theaters, Stanley Park and other elements of Vancouver that make it worth giving a second thought to spending hours inside an arena. And the local hotels sure want to help you out as much as possible. The Opus Vancouver will is cutting weekend rates 20% fall and will include in breakfast, a welcome drink, loaner bikes and car service to downtown.

10. Las Vegas

Ask any cabbie at McCarran Airport, and he’ll tell you the same: This is Vegas’s low season.

With the pirates stripped off of Treasure Island, the tiger shows and arcade out of the Mirage and the reinvention of Vegas as Orlando with slot machines now almost 20 years in the rearview mirror, this just isn’t a holiday destination. For folks without families or with families they’d rather avoid, however, this is a great time to be in town with hotel rooms in the mid- to low-double digits during that span.

What about airfare, you ask? Depending on where you’re flying from, airfare and hotel packages can run you Harrington Hall start at a none-too-dear $91 a night. Airfare may set you back a ways, but Aer Lingus’s air and hotel packages start at just $599 for a six-night stay.

Hosting Thanksgiving? Try These 5 Ideas!

7 Amazing Decoration Ideas To Spruce Up Your Thanksgiving

1. Bundle up your porch in warm fall colors

It’s time to deck out your porch in harvest-time gourds, scarecrows and fall leaves. A vibrant fall wreath and a leafy garland draped around the door create a cozy welcome for friends and family. Check out more cute and cozy fall porch ideas.

2. These scarecrow sweethearts ♥ greeting friends!

Bring some warmth to your porch with a couple harvest characters. This scarecrow guy and gal will smile at passersby and add some friendly faces to your entry. Create the perfect autumn hangout for this charming couple with a mix of fall leaves, plump pumpkins and cinnamon-scented pinecones.

3. Gourd-geous autumn accents

Fill a rustic metal bucket or other container with straw, pinecones and faux pumpkins. Deposit potted fall perennials in a pumpkin basket made from durable bamboo. A picture of fall perfection!

4. Make rustic porch decor

Make an easy and adorable porch decoration with a bucket of branches and a cute harvest yard sign. This smiling scarecrow knows the way to the pumpkin patch and the apple orchard – a perfect porch guest!

5. Chase away the chill with a cozy pumpkin pile

Try a mix of glitter pumpkins and pinecones for a scene of rich harvest hues. Add height with a pedestal or a bowl and strew with fall leaves, like this garland of festive foliage. The faux pumpkins look fresh and bountiful all season long and can be used year after year.

6. DIY cozy pinecone decorations

Attach pinecones to ribbons and hang them from the mantel for an earthy and easy autumn touch. Stick a Happy Harvest sign and a garland of leaves above your creation to complete the fall scene.

7. Make a gobbledy-good display

Trot this honeycomb turkey out to decorate your harvest mantel. Surround him with decorations like glittery pumpkins and fall leaves for a visual feast your guests will gobble up.

7 DIY Cheap Halloween Costume Ideas

Bag of Jelly Beans

This bag of jelly beans costume must be the sweetest one of the bunch!

What you need to do: Get a clear trash bag, cut holes for your arms and legs to fit through. Print the nutritional facts on the back of the costume, just like what you see on the backs of candy bags. Fill up the bag with colored balloons for the jellybeans, and tie up the trash bag near your neck with a ribbon.

Ghost

This is one of the easiest costumes to make because all you need is an old bed sheet.

What you need to do: Get a white sheet, and cut out two holes for your eyes. Be creative and cut holes in your sheet to be a “holy” ghost, or dress the sheet up with some makeup. Put blush on your ghostly cheeks, and smear lipstick where your mouth should be.

Rosie the Riveter

Make a statement by dressing up as one of America’s cultural icons who is also a symbol for feminism.

What you need to do: Get a long-sleeved denim or blue top, and roll the sleeves past the elbow. Pair it with jeans. Then put your hair up, and tie a red bandana around your head. Finally, pouf up your bangs and apply 1940s makeup.

Fortune-Teller

Impress people with some gypsy magic and have fun walking around telling fortunes of your friends.

What you need to do: Get a head scarf, sparkly top, long skirt, and a shawl to drape over your shoulders. Wear lots of gold and flashy jewelry. Create a couple of fun fortunes for your friends and family and walk around with a serene, mysterious smile on your face.

Big Kid

Many of us are kids at heart so let your inner child shine with this big kid Halloween costume!

What you need to do: Get your jammies out and tie your hair up in high pigtails. Wear very little natural makeup, and carry around a teddy bear. Wear bunny or furry slippers if you have them.

Mime

The mime costume is for you if you want to give your voice a break for the night and want to express yourself through your actions.

What you need to do: Get some cheap white face paint, and paint your face with it. Wear black clothes or a striped white and black top if you have one. White gloves will complete the outfit, but they aren’t necessary.

Vampire

These days vampires come in all shapes and sizes, and they are such iconic pop culture figures that there are plenty of TV and movie vampire characters for you to mimic.

What you need to do: Get a pair of fake vampire fangs, and wear foundation that is shades lighter than normal. Be creative and aim to look like vampires from popular TV shows and movies like True Blood. Dribble some fake blood or red food coloring on the side of your mouth. If you’re a vampire that has been turned recently, use dark eyeliner to draw in two holes on your neck.

Halloween Coloring For Kids!

Kids love Halloween printables. They’re great to use in the classroom or simply at home to get the kids in the mood for Halloween.

Some of these free Halloween printables for kids will help them learn, others will encourage them to use their imaginations, while other Halloween printables are really just so they can have fun.

This list of Halloween printables will keep the kids busy for weeks coloring, carving, and crafting. All you need to do is print off what you want and then hand it over. Free and easy.

1. Free Halloween Coloring Pages

 

2. Halloween Printable Cards

3. Printable Halloween Bingo Cards

4. Free Halloween Word Searches

5. Halloween Math Worksheets

6. Printable Halloween Finger Puppets