kids-section

Category : Holidays & Parties

December is coming… are you ready?

For families who do Advent calendars, December 1st should be circled on your calendars, in red permanent marker, because that is the day when the fun begins! Hopefully you already have the Advent calendar itself ready-to-go and all you need to do is shop for little gifts to stuff it, but in reality, we know that you’ll be out shopping for your Advent calendar after the kiddos are tucked into bed on November 30th. Here’s 50 ideas to kick-off your Advent calendar gift shopping… and they are all candy-free!

Looking for more great ideas? Take a peek at these Cool gift ideas for girls

50 Ideas for candy-free Advent calendar gifts

Advent Calendar Gifts

Depending on the size of spaces, pockets or envelopes on your Advent calendar, you may need to get creative to make some of these ideas fit well! And, while these ideas are all candy-free, we’re certainly not opposed to grabbing a bag of holiday candy to fill a few days in your Advent calendar — it will help keep your costs down and your kids certainly won’t object!

1. Temporary tattoos (Tattly, $15 for a set of eight)
2. Gold dollar coins (real ones, not chocolate!)
3. Washi tape (Etsy, $3)
4. Kid-friendly lip balm (Poppy Drops, $4)
5. Bouncy balls (Land of Nod, $2)
6. Earrings or stick-on earrings
7. Toothbrushes (the cool ones with characters that you never let them buy)
8. Matchbook cars
9. Puzzle pieces (divide the pieces of a puzzle up so they get a few each day!)
10. Mini-Lego figurines
11. Hairbands and clips
12. Balloons… un-inflated, of course!
13. Flower seed packets
14. Cool glitter pens
15. Bundles of fresh crayons
16. Gift cards with small amounts of money
17. Bandaids
18. Blow-up beach balls
19. Mini-stuffed animals (Cost Plus, $20 for a set of three)
20. DIY coupons for upcoming holiday activities, like making gingerbread houses or going ice skating
21. Disposable cameras (try the underwater versions for the bathtub!)
22. Mini-Christmas light necklaces
23. Holiday cookie cutters
24. Pieces to a LEGO kit (give them a few pieces each day!)
25. Friendship bracelets
26. Christmas postcards
27. Silly Bands
28. Polished rocks
29. Card games, like Go Fish or Old Maid (Land of Nod, $13 for a set of five)
30. Bath tablets that expand into sponges
31. Jacks (Land of Nod, $5)
32. Mini-squirt guns
33. Rainbow Loom bands in holiday colors
34. Tennis balls
35. Kid-friendly nail polishes (PiggyPaint, $9)
36. Personalized pencils (Lillian Vernon, $12)
37. Clues to find a surprise hidden in the house
38. Funky shoelaces (J.Crew Crewcuts, $4)
39. Games for their Nintendo DS
40. Holiday socks
41. Invisible ink pens
42. Fake mustaches (Amazon, $4)
43. Sprinkles for decorating Christmas cookies
44. Coupons for getting out of a chore/bath/vegetable at dinner (Etsy, $5 for the printable file)
45. Paintbrushes
46. Ornaments for the Christmas tree
47. Hot chocolate packets
48. Goodies from the travel-size bins
49. Yo-yos
50. Cash (hey, a dollar bill rolled up with a ribbon goes a pretty long way with kids!)

What are your favorite Advent calendar gifts?
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Choose your Advent calendar style

December 1st is creeping up quickly and that means it’s time to start prepping your advent calendar! No matter how you use it and no matter what your craft-skill level, there’s an advent calendar for you in this bunch — from the extreme DIYs to kits that you can buy from Etsy to pre-made, ready-to-go Advent calendars. Take a peek at the best advent calendars for 2014!

12 Best Advent calendars

Best Advent Calendars

From the top left, going clockwise:

DIY Advent Calendar with Clothespins from Visual Heart 
Higher on the DIY-difficulty scale, this Advent calendar is a holiday project that you’re likely to already  have the supplies around your home! Visual Heart includes a free printable for those sweet little numbers, too.

Little Polar Bears Printable Advent Calendar from French Melody on Etsy
These cute polar bears caught our eye on Etsy and when we discovered that they’re actually a printable that you easily fold into their shape, adding a few Advent goodies as you go, we fell head-over-paws. ($4 to download the printables)

DIY Advent Calendar with Plastic Animals from A Bubbly Life
This is a semi-DIY Advent calendar that will hit two birds with one stone — you’ll end up with a cute and fun Advent calendar for your kids and you’ll use up all of those little animal toys that are filling up their toy bins!

Peace on Earth Advent Calendar from Land of Nod
For an Advent calendar that is ready-to-go, we love this pick from Land of Nod. It’s a great size to hang on the wall and to stuff with little gifts and at $49, you could even pick one up for each kiddo to avoid Advent calendar morning fights about whose turn it is to get the present. We all know those exist!

DIY Customizable Christmas Advent Calendar Kit from Renee Parker Design on Etsy
For moms who are all about the DIY, but who don’t have a spare minute to collect the supplies, grab this Advent calendar kit. It comes with all of the parts and pieces you’ll need, but you can take it from there to create the Advent calendar of your Pinterest dreams. Just be sure to order this kit ASAP… it ships from Australia! ($35 for the kit, plus shipping)

Advent Calendar Kit with Paper Bags from Renna Deluxe on Etsy
Here’s another easy and fun DIY Advent calendar that you can purchase or let inspire you for December. Be sure to get creative with how you arrange your paper bags — try taping them to your wall in the shape of a Christmas tree or hang them from the mantle with ribbon! ($24 for the kid, plus shipping)

Advent Calendar with Coffee Cups from Fishly News
Well, it’s official. We’re obsessed with this DIY Advent calendar made entirely from disposable coffee cups. While this does take some serious crafting time, the results are seriously awesome and those cups are the perfect size for stashing Advent goodies for multiple kiddos. Plus, pretty sure we can drink that many lattes this week alone… you know, for the sake of the project!

Make Your Own Advent Calendar from Crafts Unleashed
This super-sweet Advent calendar will take some time to put together this year, but you’ll be able to use it for holidays to come!

Home Advent Calendar from The Paper Mama
You would never know that this intricate Advent calendar is simply made from paper bags and printables! Grab some lunch bags from your kitchen, print out these pretty (free!) printables and you’re ready to start. (Psst! Don’t miss her entire 50 DIY Days of Holiday Crafts!)

Advent Calendar Kit from Lemon Drop Shop on Etsy
Sometimes, simple is best… especially during the holidays. Each kid includes the striped bags, baker’s twine and labels for an Advent calendar that won’t take you much time to put together, but will still thrill your kids on December 1st.

Rustic Christmas Advent Calendar Kit from Katarina’s Paperie on Etsy
Another Advent calendar kit that’s a little bit pre-made and a little bit DIY, so you can customize your Advent calendar, but without needing to spend a ton of time shopping for supplies.

DIY Toilet Paper Roll Christmas Calendar from Morning Creativity
We spotting this Advent calendar on Etsy, over and over again, and were thrilled to finally track down a link that took us to the original post! Check out the full instructions… you’ll need them!

What’s your Advent calendar style?
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Kid Birthday Party Tips

Real moms share about easy kid birthday parties

If throwing kid birthday parties makes your head spin, this is for you. We’ve chatted with our favorite moms who make party throwing seem effortless and they’ve shared their tips for easy kid birthday parties.

1. Kristin: “Weather permitting, get them outside. One of the best parties we’ve had was a scavenger hunts in our neighborhood business district.”

2. Melissa: “When throwing a birthday bash where there will be babies and toddlers, I like to have a few baby-friendly foods on hand. A basket full of food pouches or apple sauce, a container of puffy cereal, and a fruit cut into tiny bite-sized pieces are all good options.”

3. Shannon: “Blow up a ton of balloons, throw them out in an open area and crank up the music. The kids will do the rest!”

4. Carilyn: “If you’re having the party at your home, try to include an activity that has a start and a finish. Ideally, one in which guests can take their project home. It can double as their party favor!”

5. Margot: “Use an online invitation website, like Evite. The kids can easily see who was (and wasn’t) invited to the party, to avoid hurt feelings. And, moms can easily coordinate carpools!”

6. Jessica: “My tip for easy kid birthday parties is to make sure you never host one in your home… always rent a space!”

7. Christina: “We make paint chip garlands for decorations! They are free (home improvement stores don’t mind if you take a bunch… I’ve asked!) and you can use whatever colors you want. Use a straight line on the sewing machine and you’re ready!”

8. Melissa: “Keep the party short and sweet. And, don’t be afraid to ask parents to stay and help with their own child.”

9. Rachel: “My favorite parties to throw for young kids are early morning, say 10 a.m., serving donuts and orange juice. Easy peasy!”

10. Leora: “Only invite their closest friends to make it more affordable and meaningful. If they all happen to know each other, even better. This way, nobody feels like the third wheel.”

11. Autumn: “Ask a friend to take photos. You will be so busy tending to guests and making sure your kids aren’t handing out gift bags and pouring out bubbles that you won’t get a single snap!”

12. Connie: “Pay for extra teenage helpers!”

13. Angela: “Outsource! A fun day at a gymnastics or crafts studio is the perfect way to let your littles celebrate with something they love… and you can focus on enjoying the day with them.”

14: Lani: “Ditch the party bags filled with little trinkets in exchange for one thing that’s age appropriate and more meaningful. You’ll end up spending the same!”

15. Robin: “Our tip for easy kid birthday parties? Have them during the week, like after school or during the day, if your kids are little.”

16. Allie: “We always open gifts after all of the guest have left. It’s much less stress on the birthday kid, especially if they’re little and don’t understand why they can’t just play with the first gift they open.”

17. Ashley: “Pick a time of day that doesn’t involve a meal. Cake and ice cream are much easier!”

18. Megan: “Don’t spend a ton of time cleaning your house before the party. It’s just going to get dirty again. Quick vacuum, quick bathroom wipe down, put away anything that will break and call it good.”

19. Holly: “Ask parents about kid food allergies when they RSVP, then plan dessert accordingly. It’s much easier than realizing, mid-party, that half of the guests can’t eat the cupcakes you made.”

20. Robyn: “Our best tip for birthday parties is for the parents. Get a keg of the good stuff.”

What’s your best tip for easy kid birthday parties?
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My daughter is currently very much into horses so I knew she would love a horse-themed party for her birthday this year. In all my years of planning birthday parties for my kids I have come to realize that the essentials for planning a party are pretty easy. Here is a list of things you will need for your party:

  • Invitations
  • Party supplies
  • Activity for kids
  • Cake
  • Favors (optional)

Simple, right? So this year I planned her horse birthday party at a horse stable where they teach lessons and have summer camps and are glad to host parties as well.

DSC_0580edit

From Tickled Pink Invitations

If you cannot host your horse-themed party at a horse stables, that is okay too. You can still have fun with other activities such as “Pin the Tail on the Horse” or the coloring pages with horses, along with the super easy craft we did, as seen below.

Fortunately we had a beautiful day for my daughter’s party!

Here are the party supplies she insisted on having since white horses are her favorite!

horse-style

 From Birthday Direct

I have a friend who is a wonderful baker and cake decorator so I asked her to make this cake. I just adore how it turned out!

DSC_0622edit

 

While the children waited their turn to ride, I had them decorate their own cowboy or cowgirl hats. I found these at the dollar store and bought some stick-on gems at the craft store. Everyone also left with their decorated hat as their party favor!

DSC_0592edit

If your little one likes horses they will love this theme for their party. Thankfully it is easy to find horse-themed supplies and you could even order some of these inflatable stick horses and have the kids “ride” around on them in the backyard — how fun would that be?

SSM CollageBirthday

 

Hope you have a great time at your horse party too!

 

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Fall birthday ideas include apples, hay and tons of fun

Apple orchards and cider mills can be lovely, seasonal locations for fall birthday ideas, but there are some drawbacks. Stay away from cider-seeking bees and long lines by recreating the cider mill experience at home. With the right menu, adorable decor, and games for your fall birthday child, your at-home apple orchard will come to life.

fall birthday party ideas

Welcome guests with a themed banner

Paper products can truly tie together your entire theme, and Etsy is one of the best places to find what you need for your fall birthday party. The Party Pack Special includes a birthday banner, door sign and cupcake toppers (Dream Party Paperie, $50). Personalized décor can truly turn your living room — or backyard, if you live in an area of the country where you’re not yet tempting the weather — into your own version of a fall family favorite outing.

Bob for apples without the germs

Bobbing for apples is a quintessential Halloween party game, but many parents will give pause to a game that involves a bunch of young children diving open-mouthed into a bucket of water to try to clamp the same apple selection between their teeth. Change the game, just a little, and have all the fun without all the cross-contamination. Add magnets to plastic display apples, add them to a cute tin beverage container, and use the poles from a magnetic fishing game to let kids take turns pulling the apples from the bucket. Mark each apple with different numbers to correspond to prize bags.
fall birthday ideas

Go beyond cider and donuts

Even an at-home cider mill should be well-stocked with cider and cider donuts. If possible, purchase the donuts the morning of the party, so the soft, cake-like donuts are as fresh as possible. Popping them in the microwave for a few seconds before serving will offer your guests the authentic feel of fresh cider donuts. For an alternative dessert, try our fabulous Creamy Caramel Apple Pie Parfaits.
fall birthday ideas

Create a photo backdrop

One of the really lovely things about a trip to an orchard are the fantastic photo opportunities. Create a photo backdrop at your at-home orchard, and offer to snap shots of all of your guests. Let parents know they’re welcome to use the backdrop for their own photos as well. Depending on your budget and annual photo needs, there are two ways you can arrange a photo backdrop: purchase a professional one or create your own.

fall photo backdrop

The Hay Stack Halloween Professional Photo Backdrop is a vinyl backdrop printed with baby-safe Latex ink (Etsy, $57). The backdrop can be used indoors or outdoors, so it’s a practical option if you plan on having annual fall parties and want to photograph your kids — and your friends’ kids — with the same backdrop each year.

If you’re not planning to reuse the backdrop for later parties, creating your own simply takes a little bit of planning. Find a solid wall on which to stage your photos, whether it’s a neutral painted wall or the wooden wall of a shed. Purchase a few bales of hay at a landscaping store, opening one and creating a floor of scattered hay while stacking the others. Purchase a few pumpkins and one additional fall accessory. The professional backdrop includes a rope, but other fun fall ideas are a bushel of apples, pot of mums or a favorite stuffed animal. While there will be imperfections with the homemade backdrop, you can get a wider variety of photos by letting kids climb on the hay and interacting with the rest of the display.

For more fall photo ideas, check out our 12 Fall photo props for baby.

Do you prefer to have your birthday parties at home or at another location?

 

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It’s that time of year again… time to delight your littlest ghosts and goblins with all things Halloween! And what better way to do that than to invite their friends over for a Halloween cupcake decorating party?

With a bit of prep, you can set up this fun, festive playdate that your kids won’t soon forget.

Halloween party

Supplies:

  • Cupcakes (Homemade or store-bought. We’re pretty sure that your kids won’t care either way.)
  • Dark chocolate frosting
  • Orange frosting
  • Sprinkles (We love the multipacks from Wilton. Because kids love options!)
  • Giant-size Hershey Bar (to be broken into squares and used as tombstones
  • A variety of candy Halloween decorations. Look for skeletons, ghosts, pumpkins, etc.
  • Candy corn
  • Marshmallow ghosts (We used Jet Puffed “Ghost Mallows.”)
  • Cupcake travel boxes (one per child)
  • Paper plates
  • Napkins
  • Creative kids

Aside from shopping for supplies and baking the cupcakes (if you go that route), this party is super easy to pull together.

Halloween cupcake decorating party

For our party, I chose to frost the cupcakes before the kids arrived so they could get straight to the good stuff.

Halloween cupcake decorating party

Hershey chocolate

Jet Puffed Ghost Mallows

Set up the plates and frosted cupcakes at one end of your cupcake decorating space and invite the kids to take a cupcake and work their way down the line, decorating as they go.

(If you can get the kids to decorate their cupcakes ON the paper plates as they go along, you’re more likely to contain some of those rogue, messy sprinkles.)

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcake decorating party

See what I mean about those sprinkles? Imagine the mess without a plate!

DSC_5946

Halloween cupcakes

Place the cupcake decorating boxes at the other end of the table, so that when the kids make their way to the end, the box is waiting for them. They can deposit their cupcake in their box and go back to the beginning and continue decorating until they’ve filled their to-go boxes!

cupcake box

And it wouldn’t be a party if they couldn’t taste their creations, so keep the napkins handy at the end of the table so they can get right down to the cupcake eating!

Halloween cupcakes

Halloween cupcakes

 

And once the kids have had one of their cupcakes? Watch out for those chocolately hugs of gratitude!

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Scary stories channel Halloween spirits

Halloween books are such a deliciously scary way to get ready for the spookiest night of the year. We’ve found the best Halloween titles for your little ghosts and your teenage goblins — and moms might even borrow the young adult selections for themselves!
Halloween books

Halloween books are only one way to enjoy the holiday

Libraries are a great resource for seasonal books if you aren’t sure you want to cram your overflowing bookshelves with titles you’ll only read a few times each year. After you get home, snack on these adorable Chomping Monsters for a special Halloween treat.

scary stories

Halloween stories for little ears

Kids can’t help but love The Little Old Lady Who Was Not Afraid of Anything by Linda Williams (Barnes & Noble, $7). Get your reading voice ready for this one — there are loads of fun sound effects to include.

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies (Barnes & Noble, $7) is the perfect book to find on the shelves of your own library. These little bats are fantastic ambassadors for libraries, and your children will be begging you to teach them how to make wall shadows after your first reading.

On a Scary Scary Night (Can You See What I See? Series) by Walter Wick (Barnes & Noble, $12) is a wonderful book for kids who love searching for details. The picture puzzle book contains oodles of Halloween pictures hidden within its pages.

Halloween books

Early readers will love these creepy tales

Trixie the Halloween Fairy by Daisy Meadows (Barnes & Noble, $7) is a Halloween story that won’t keep sensitive children awake at night. Mixed-up costumes and missing candy are some of the mishaps that need to be righted by Rachel, Kirsty, and their newest fairy friend in this triple tale in the Rainbow Magic series.

Early readers can be exposed to vampires without the gore in Bunnicula: A Rabbit-Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe (Barnes & Noble, $7). A bunny with fangs and a slew of white vegetables are at the heart of this mystery being investigated by Harold and Chester, the dog and cat of the Monroe household.

Neil Gaiman brings his signature blend of fantasy and reality to Coraline (Barnes & Noble, $7). When a young girl finds an alternate version of her home behind a locked door, she needs to outsmart the button-eyed version of her family in order to return to her side of the wall.

Can’t get enough books for your young readers? Check out 10 more children’s books recommendations.

young adult halloween books

Read these scary young adult books in the daylight

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (Barnes & Noble, $15) tells the tale of a young Victor Frankenstein, determined to create the Elixir of Life to save the life of his best friend — and twin brother. Written as a sequel to the Mary Shelley classic, it’s a fantastic introduction to the iconic Frankenstein.

Kami Garcia is the bestselling co-author of the Beautiful Creatures series, and she’s got a solo hit with Unbreakable (Legion Series #1) (Barnes & Noble, $8). The first book in the series introduces readers to Kennedy Waters, who must take her deceased mother’s place in an ancient, demon-killing society. Unbreakable is a creepy, compelling introduction to a series you won’t want to stop reading.

Even the most innocent looking doll won’t seem so safe after reading Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender (Barnes & Noble, $9). Sisters Alexis and Kasey begin to notice strange things happening in their home. Kasey’s newfound anger worries Alexis, but maybe not as much as the small detail of her sister’s eyes changing from blue to green.

Do you have a favorite scary book?
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It’s Halloween! But, your kids’ school doesn’t allow costumes. Bummer. Grab some pieces from these Halloween-inspired outfits for kids that will spunk up their Halloween school day.

Halloween outfits for girls for costume-free schools

It’s easy to pull pieces from your daughter’s existing wardrobe and mix them with a Halloween-centric statement tee or a fun, school-approved accessory to create an outfit that will work for costume-free schools. Match-up any of these easy-to-find pieces with her favorite black fluffy skirt, or even just a pair of jeans, and you’re sure to avoid any tears over her not being able to wear her beloved costume to school on Halloween.

Halloween Styles for Girls

 

Top row:
Halloween Glitter Graphic Tee, GAP, $17
Girls Halloween Print Leggings, Old Navy, $10
Girls Hello Kitty Graphic Halloween Tee, Old Navy, $17
Orange Dot 5-Pack Hair Ties, Emi Jay, $13

Bottom row:
Bones Halloween Knee-High Socks, LittleMissMatched, $13
Girls Footed Striped Tights, Target, $4
Girls Casual Halloween Dress, Target, $13

Halloween outfits for boys for costume-free schools

There are some super-cool Halloween tees out there for boys and we’ve picked some of our favorites, many of which glow in the dark! Don’t forget that even though we’ve put these down for the dudes, a few of them will likely appeal to your girls, too. Add his favorite pair of jeans or shorts and you’re ready for his costume-free school on Halloween!

Halloween Styles for Boys

Top row:
Helloween Glow-in-the-Dark 3/4-Sleeve Raglan Tee, Hello Apparel, $24 (Available in adult sizes, too!
Printed Hooded Jacket, H&M, $25

Middle row:
Glow-in-the-Dark Halloween Skeleton Graphic Tee, The Children’s Place, $10
Disney Mickey Mouse Halloween Tee, Old Navy, $13

Bottom row:
Mini Skull Bib, nununu, $28
Boys’ Long-Sleeve Glow-in-the-Dark Bats Tee, J.Crew Crewcuts, $33
Boys’ 2-Pack Skeleton Socks, Target, $5

Does your kids’ school allow costumes on Halloween?
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My husband likes to buy my children Halloween costumes from the store; it is somewhat of a tradition for him and the kids to go pick them out together. However, we usually have more than one Halloween event and my kids can be finicky. Honestly, I do not want them wearing their “nice” Halloween costume to every event anyway, like the local “trunk or treat” or school haunted house.

So, instead of buying more than one costly costume, I look to our closets and toy chests for things that can be worn as a costume as well.

Here are five examples of alternative ideas for costumes for our favorite candy-filled holiday:

Sports Player

My boys played soccer and are now in karate. I could easy send one of my kids as a soccer player or “ninja”. Do you have a pee wee football player or little league kid? Well then send them as Peyton Manning or Derek Jeter! It would also be cute to send your daughter as a famous quarterback. I think big shoulder pads and black under the girls’ eyes is cute and unexpected!

Halloween Costume

Princess

My daughter has a dress-up basket in her closet with several different princess dresses, tiaras and shoes. I would venture to guess than many people with little girls have a few hanging around as well. A few of ours have come from second-hand stores or garage sales or been passed down from friends. This is about the easiest one to put together around my house!

Halloween Costume

Mummy

Do you have an old white sheet you can cut up into strips and some white or grey clothes to go underneath? Add a pair of white socks to cover theirs shoes and you are good to go!

Ghost

White sheets come in very handy… Drape a twin-size sheet over your child’s head and cut around the bottom to make it the right length for their height. Next, cut a couple of holes for the eyes and another one for the nose and you are good to go! So easy!

Ghost Halloween Costume

Dancer

Reuse previous dance costumes or borrow one from a friend. It is fun to do their hair up and put on make-up for this idea as well.  And, it also works for little tots too. See?

Halloween Costume

 

What easy costume could you come up with at your house?

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Camping with kids

Camping with kids doesn’t have to involve renting an extra vehicle to haul your gear. Do a camping test run in your backyard to see if your kids are ready for a weekend away. Pitch a tent, create a backyard scavenger hunt and invite a few friends to camp out without leaving your neighborhood.

camping with kids

The benefits of camping at home

A camping test run will help you and your kids feel more comfortable planning a weekend or week-long camping trip. There’s nothing worse than loading up cars and unpacking tents and then realizing there’s no way your kids are ready to spend a weekend outside with the sound of crickets, wind and the unruly college campers at the campsite across from yours. At home, you have control over the amount of time you spend “camping.” Kids can use their own bathroom, and any real fears of sleeping outside can be addressed by returning to a bedroom inside the house.

Backyard camping supplies
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag/air mattress
  • Water bottles
  • Small cooler with snacks
  • S’mores maker — unless you have a backyard fire pit (Plow & Hearth, $25)
  • Scavenger hunt (Etsy, $7)
  • Play doh
  • Fun sprinkler
  • Bathing suits
  • Sunscreen
  • Change of clothes & pajamas

camping with kids

Don’t stress about the campout

The more fun you can make the camping dry run, the more fun camping with kids can actually be when you do it for real. Try to emphasize that the campout is like a sleepover outside. If you have close family friends or cousins who might want to try camping, too, invite them to share your backyard! Let kids help with their packing, and remember not to overdo it — really, everything you need is only a few feet from your tent.

Focus on the fun

Kids can hold tent stakes or “direct” tent building, but if their attention span wanes, try a little distraction so they don’t wander back inside. Play doh is the perfect camping toy — it’s the one time you don’t have to worry about getting it stuck on your floors! Set up the sprinkler for a while, and guide them in a scavenger hunt around the backyard — create your own or turn to the printable experts at Etsy. At the end of the evening, huddle around a fire pit or set up a s’mores maker for sweet treats and campfire stories — and hopefully start planning a weekend camping trip!

Do you go camping with kids?
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