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6 Food Gifts to Celebrate Purim

One of the many tradition when celebrating Purim is the giving of food gifts, known as mishloach manot. Mishloach manot is typically given before the Purim feast is held later in the day. Traditionally, it’s a packaged gift bag or basket filled with cookies, candies, snacks, wine, and fruits. It’s given to strengthen the love and friendship among everyone and to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast.

Purim commemorates when Esther, Queen of Persia, saved the Jewish people from execution. Haman, the Persian king’s advisor wanted to destroy the Jews. The gesture of sending food gifts to others signals a message that the Jewish are not divided, but united.

If you’re looking for Purim party ideas or Purim party entertainment for kids, here are some fun ways to incorporate mishloach manot to it:

  1. Butterfly Bags – At least two ready-to-eat food items are included in the mishloach manot when giving to friends. Have children take part in the party planning by filling up small snack bags with goldfish crackers for one side of the butterfly wing and grapes for the other wing. Divide the two foods with a clothes pin decked with googly eyes and pipe cleaner antennas. See the finished look at Menu Musings of a Modern American Mom.
  2. S’mores Kit – Take graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows to make a perfect combination that can be nicely and neatly packaged as a mishloach manot. See the finished look at Twig & Thistle.
  3. Happy Trails Mug – Fill mugs up with trail mix. It’s an easy and creative mishloach manot idea for anyone looking to make an easy food gift for Purim.
  4. Hot Chocolate in a Jar –  Fill up the mug with a single-serve pack of hot chocolate and throw in some marshmallows for a nice, easy, and warm treat your guests can enjoy at home after all the Purim festivities.
  5. Popcorn Box – Popcorn isn’t just for the movie theaters. With single-serve pop-up popcorn boxes, fill them up with fresh popcorn and candy as your food gift to friends. It can also be enjoyed during any skits played at your Purim party.
  6. Salted Caramel Sauce and Apple – Make your own salted caramel sauce and fill them up in a small jar to give along with an apple to your friends. See how it’s done and the finished look at Recipe Girl. There are also free labels to print out for the jar caps.

These food gift ideas are enjoyable for all, but especially for kids. Show your friends you value their friendship this Purim with these unique food gift ideas.

Purim Costume Ideas for a Fun Time

There are many Jewish holidays, but Purim is one that is especially festive and fun. Parties and carnivals are often held to celebrate Purim. During this occasion, adults and children may dress up in costume as they attend events, as well as to work, school, and synagogues.

Purim is known as the “Festival of Lots.” It commemorates the day Jewish people were saved from Haman, a man who had a plot to kill all Jews. The day before Purim, fasting occurs. It commemorates the three days Esther, the Queen of Persia fasted before approaching the king to stop Haman from destroying the Jews. On Purim, people celebrate with a big meal and fun activities.

Whether you’re hosting a Purim party of your own or attending a Purim event in your local area, here are some costume ideas for a fun time.

  • Purim Characters: Dress in the character of Esther, Haman, Mordecai, or King Ahasuerus. It’ll be a great way to commemorate the people and the story behind the occasion.

  • Purim Food: Not all costumes have to be that of a person or character. Why not try dressing up as some of the food delights enjoyed during Purim? Dress up as a hamantaschen or kreplach!

  • Group Costume: Some of the best costumes are those that work as a team. Celebrate the Jewish tradition of giving mishloach manot, a traditional Purim food package. Families can dress up to parties and events as a mishloach manot by having each member represent a food item found in the package. Pick from dressing up as a wine bottle, grapes, to pastries.

  • Superheroes and Princesses: Purim celebrates the triumph of good over evil and the importance of diversity and tolerance, so let the Halloween costumes come out again whether it’s Superman, Spiderman, Batman, Snow White, Belle, or Mulan. Find a list of other fun costume characters here.

  • Evil Villains: As we commemorate Purim, the evil villain on this occasion is Haman. Costumes of evil villains can provide children the opportunity to explore good and evil in a safe way. Consider dressing up as Haman or other evil villains like the wicked witch, one of the wicked step mothers from any of the Disney fairytale stories, the Joker, or Darth Vader.

Purim is a holiday where you can creatively dress up for fun. Many of the synagogues and carnivals have Purim party ideas in place for a fun time. Many will also include Purim party entertainment for kids, so get out there and enjoy the “Festival of Lots” donned in a fun costume!  

10 Activities for The Countdown to Christmas

It’s the most wonderful time of year and that’s why counting down to Christmas can be especially fun for all. The countdown begins on December 1st and activities can run from outdoor festivities, faith-based events, help at a local charity, to arts and crafts.

Where do you begin? Check out our top 10 activities to help with the countdown to Christmas:

1.     Christmas Tree Lighting: Many local towns and communities have Christmas Tree Lighting ceremonies. Head over to enjoy the sight of the tree lit up for the holidays!

2.     Go Ice Skating: It’s a magical time of year and the fun of skating on ice will bring out everyone’s holiday spirit.

3.     Pay a Visit to Santa: From local businesses to the malls, lines run long year after year for the chance to see Santa. Pay a visit, or better yet, host your own holiday party with friends and family with Santa Claus and his crew visiting. It can be easily done with a Christmas package.

4.     Music/Christmas Show: If you’re in New York City, the Radio City Christmas Spectacular is a great hit for all ages. Local schools may also have their own programmed Christmas show performed by students for the public to attend.

5.     Donate: In the spirit of giving, donate your time and/or money by helping at a local pantry or gathering small gifts to give to a local shelter or children’s hospital. To make this a family event, all members can take part in helping those in need or shopping for small gift items to give.

6.     Christmas Cookies: Bake away to your heart’s desire. Making delicious treats can be fun and perfect to give away as gifts, too! Pillsbury.com offers a “Cookie Countdown” full of great recipes.

7.     Gingerbread House: The sight of a gingerbread house with gumdrops and other candies all around inspires sweet thoughts. Countdown to Christmas decorating one of your own with the family.

8.     Write a Letter to Santa: What will be on your list for this Christmas? Get it out early as Santa wants to know what you want this Christmas and how you’ve been good throughout the year.

9.     Make Paper Snowflakes: Take out the paper and scissors and make paper snowflakes to decorate your windows. Even if it’s not snowing outside, it’ll look like it is.

10.  Christmas Eve Mass: On Christmas Eve, head to a local cathedral and hear angelic voices singing to Christmas.

Christmas is a time of joy, giving, and celebration! Gather together with friends and family and enjoy the activities together to help countdown to Christmas.

Top 10 Christmas Party Treats Kids Will Love

Christmas is a time of year that many children look forward to, and we can easily see why between the parties, presents, and of course, the sweet, decorative treats. From Santa, snowmen, reindeers, candy canes, Christmas trees, to the elves, Christmas party treat ideas are plenty. If you’re hosting a Christmas party this holiday season, consider these top 10 Christmas party treats to delight the kids with.

1.     Santa Hat Cupcakes
Kids love cupcakes, but they’ll love them even more when you deck them out to look like Santa. Find the recipe at Delish.

2.     Candy Cane Twist Cookies
The sight of candy cane often signals Christmas. Delight children with candy cane-shaped cookies by twisting rolls of plain cookie dough. Use food coloring to help make a batch of red dough and brown dough to mix with the plain dough. This treat has been featured in Country Living.

3.     Christmas Tree Brownies
Turn the plain brownie into a Christmas tree, and what’s even better is when you can eat it off a candy cane stick. Find the recipe at One Little Project.

4.     Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups
A cup of hot cocoa with marshmallows is always appealing on a cold winter’s day, so you can bet the kids will also love this creative hot chocolate cookie cup treat. Find the recipe at The Gunny Sack.

5.     Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Reindeer
Make sure the reindeers are out in full force for your Christmas party with these marshmallow chocolate covered reindeers on a stick. Find the recipe at Yellow Bliss Road.

6.     Grinch Kranky Crispy Treat
If your kids love rice crispy treats, they’ll love eating away at the Grinch who stole Christmas. Find the recipe at Delish.

7.     Funfetti Shortbread Bites
They’re festive! They’re bite-size! They’re irresistible! And they make great little gifts you can package. Find the recipe at Cooking Classy.

8.     Christmas Chocolate Dipped Pretzel Rods
For an easy treat to make that’s also festive and fun to snack on at your Christmas holiday party, go with pretzel rods dipped in chocolate with festive holiday color sprinkles throughout. Find the recipe at Kitchen Is my Playground.

Christmas is one of the best holidays for delightful treats for the kids because you have so many themes to work with.

Top 10 Christmas Song Playlist

There are so many holiday Christmas songs to select from that narrowing it down to a playlist can be challenging. When you have a Christmas party with both adults and children, it’s important to find the right balance. Try to mix in some old-school holiday classics with the songs of today (or modern takes to the classics). We’ve done the work for you and here are our top 10 Christmas songs picks that you can play at your next Christmas holiday gathering.

1.     Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree (1960) – Sung by Brenda Lee
A great song to play as your guests arrive to the Christmas party. The words set the tone for a fun time!

2.     Christmas Time is Here (1965) – By Vince Guaraldi Trio
For a calmer and gentler take suitable for playing while friends and family are mingling and catching up, this classic is the perfect selection.

3.     All I Want for Christmas Is You (1994) – Sung by Mariah Carey
The song not only get you into the holiday mood, but it puts the holiday into perspective. It’s not about the presents, but simply being around the people you love and care about.

4.     Holy Night (1994) – Sung by Mariah Carey
Yes, Mariah Carey makes our list twice. She’s simply a pro when it comes to Christmas music, and this one plays to the religious experience around Christmas.

5.     Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow (1998) – Sung by Martina McBride
Whether it’s snowy or not outside this holiday season, this song will put the mood in place for a white Christmas.

6.     Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays (1998) – Sung by NSYNC
Send out holiday greeting messages to guests through the music you play. Following on its title, you’ll be wishing your guests “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy Holidays!”

7.     The Christmas Song (2003) – Sung by Trace Adkins
For a touch of country to a Christmas song classic, this makes a great pick!

8.     Santa Baby (2007) – Sung by Taylor Swift
Take a classic holiday song originally recorded by Eartha Kitt and give it to Taylor Swift, and you get a nice mix that works for the older and younger generation. We love that the lyrics also speaks to what many children are wishing for, that Santa “hurry down the chimney, tonight!”

9.     Do You Hear What I Hear (2007) – Sung by Carrie Underwood
Christmas is a magical time of year and this song speaks to the special occasion.

10.  You Make It Feel Like Christmas (2017) – Sung by Gwen Stefani and Blake Shelton
There’s no better present for Christmas than being with the ones you love, and this song speaks to that.

Music helps generate a mood and energy for the party. This Christmas, make sure these selections top your playlist.

Best Games for the Eight Days of Chanukah

Chanukah is a joyful holiday with rituals like menorah lighting each night of the eight-day celebration. There’s also fried food as well as fun and games. Some of the best games are played when you have a large gathering of friends and family over for your Chanukah party. With eight days of celebration, here are some of the best games you and your guests can play besides the traditional game of Dreidel.

Latke Stacker
Latke (potato pancakes) is a traditional fried food cooked for Chanukah. See who can stack them the highest and then enjoy them together after the game.

Hide the Chocolate Gelt
Gelt is chocolate coins typically given to children during the celebration of Chanukah. In this game, gelt is hidden throughout your home. Children have a mission to find as many of the chocolate treats as they can. It’s a different take on the Easter egg hunt.

Pin the Shamash
If you’ve played “Pin the Tail on the Donkey,” you’ll have no problem with this game. The goal is to pin the shamash to the menorah. Take a large paper to draw out a menorah or use felt to create the menorah, then hang it up to the wall or an easel for the pinning-fun to begin.

Dreidel Spinoff
Anyone who can spin a dreidel can take part in this game. The mission is for each participant to spin the dreidel and it’s timed to a stop watch. The one with the longest dreidel spinning time wins the “pot.”

Gelt Checkers
If you enjoy a game of Checkers, then you’ll like “Gelt Checkers.” Instead of having red and black colored tokens, the checker board is topped with silver and gold gelt to represent the different players.

Menorah Ring Toss
The lighting of the menorah is a key element to celebrating Chanukah. Bring the festivities of the occasion to life with a game of ring toss using the menorah. Players are given rings to see who can land the most around each arm of the menorah. To spice it up, anyone who can get a ring on the shamash is awarded extra points.

Your Chanukah party will come alive even more with these wonderful games incorporating some of the elements and traditions of the occasion.

Hanukkah Easy DIY Craft Ideas

Fun holiday crafts are a great way to spend time with friends and family and to get into the holiday spirit, especially for kids. This Hanukkah, decorate your home with some easy DIY craft ideas. And if you’re hosting a Hanukkah party, there are many craft ideas that will work well for the party, too! With so many fun traditions to Hanukkah, here are some easy Hanukkah-themed craft ideas.

Washi Tape Hanukah Cards
Wish your friends and family a Happy Hanukkah with a DIY Hanukkah card. There are so many ways you can get creative with washi tape, from making a menorah, the Star of David, to the dreidel. The card can easily turn colorful with the use of different washi tape designs. Review the DIY steps from Creative Jewish Mom.

Paper Plate Menorah Using Clothespins
Some of the easiest crafts are done with paper plates and this one is no different. Kids and adults can have fun painting clothespins to stand as the candles on the paper plate menorah. This can make for a great decorative item in the kids’ corner during the holiday. Review the DIY steps from Simple Play Ideas.

Tissue Paper Suncatcher
From the Star of David to the dreidel, make suncatchers using craft sticks and blue tissue paper. Review the DIY steps from Craft Project Ideas.

Menorah Out of Craft Sticks
Craft sticks are the best, and you’ll see why once you complete this menorah craft using colored craft sticks. It’s easy enough to do together with young children or independently for school-aged children. All it takes is some glue and help cutting out the flames for the candles. Review the final product from Creative Jewish Mom.

Sand Art Menorah and Candles
Looking for a more modern look to the menorah this Hanukkah, try sand art menorah. Taking small glass jars and one larger glass jar, fill them up in colored sand. Add in a silver straw topped with a yellow ribbon to each jar and you’ll have a colorful and modern-looking menorah to display. Review the DIY steps from Parents (#3).

Acorn Spinners
Children all around celebrating Hanukkah are spinning the dreidel. This holiday, get playful spinning acorns made to look like dreidels. Take acorn shells and shape a small piece of modeling clay into an elongated ball to stuff into the shell. Then, place a match stick in the center of the modeling clay. Allow for it to dry before letting the spinning action begin. This craft was featured on Parents (#11).

Prep your celebration for Hanukkah with these creative, fun, and easy DIY craft ideas!

5 Tips to Hiring a Real Santa Claus

The holidays are here and what are most people, especially children, looking forward to? The sight of Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus, and his crew of elves! Santa Claus knows how to bring out everyone’s holiday spirit with his bright red outfit and joyous laughter. Hiring a professional Santa Claus for your business or holiday party will add to the festivities during this wondrous time of year.

Whether you are looking for a Santa Claus to stand and sing at your storefront to draw crowds of customers, a Santa who will listen to children’s request of what they want for Christmas, or a Santa to bring out the festivities of the season at a holiday party, there are things you should know about hiring one.

Follow these tips to hiring a Santa Claus this holiday season:

1.     Book Early
Just like the rush of holiday shopping for top gifts, there’s a rush to booking the best Santa Claus. So, if you haven’t started, start now! Book a Santa Claus or look for a Christmas party package with professional performers ready to go here.

2.     Find Real Talent
A professional Santa Claus doesn’t just look the part, he will act the part with festive singing and captivating story-telling, too! Most importantly, the Santa Claus you hire should truly believe they are Santa Claus and stay in character.

3.     Look For What’s Natural
A Santa Claus that looks the part will have as many natural features of the jolly fellow as possible, like a belly, long beard, and contagious laugh.

4.     Love of Christmas and Children
The role of a professional Santa Claus is not a job for all, but one who can exhibit a love for all things Christmas and express joy around children will make what’s a magical time of the year, a magical experience for all.

5.     Savvy with Responding to Christmas Gift Requests
No one wants to disappoint children during this joyous holiday, and a professional Santa Claus will know how to dance around requests from children so that each child feels they’ve had a personable conversation with Santa that doesn’t leave them with a false promise of what may be waiting for them under the tree for being good.

This holiday season, keep the traditions alive with the hire of a Santa Claus that knows how to bring out everyone’s holiday spirit!

Tips For Planning a Witch Themed Halloween Party

If you’re as big of a fan of “Hocus Pocus” as we are, then you’ll definitely want to have a witch-themed Halloween party at some point in your life. And since the Sanderson sisters are no longer around to guide us, we’ll give you some help.

Here are some go-to-tips for planning the witchiest Halloween party in town!

  1. Spooky Decorations! The first thing your guests will notice when they arrive to your party will be the ambiance, so get creative and pull out all the stops when it comes to decorating your space! Every horror movie fan knows all witches center their homes around their most prized possession — the cauldron! Make sure to feature a big “cauldron” (any makeshift one, even a large soup pot will do!) front and center for all eyes to see. Fill the cauldron with any number of things — sweet treats, warm cider, or a hearty stew are all great options. Consider making some spider centerpieces to spread around the scene — simply put some cotton balls, a plastic spider, and light inside a glass jar to create the icky illusion. Disperse brooms around the house for flying — you never know when a guest might need to take off!
  2. Treats! It simply isn’t a party if there aren’t some yummy snacks, and your witch-themed extravaganza should be no exception. Trying to come up with unique ideas? Let us help you! Create a “witch’s finger” by dunking some pretzel rods into green icing and letting them cool. Then attach your favorite red candy (either Red Hots or Twizzler nibs are a great option) to the end of the rod to give the appearance of a fingernail! If you’d rather turn half of your dipper pretzels into witch’s brooms, simply attach a cookie to the bottom and you’re all set. A “cup of dirt” is always a yummy dessert option for a witch-themed party and you can put your favorite custards, cakes, and gummies (worms really help sell the theme) all in one jar! Top them off with a mini witch hat and your guests will be over the moon.
  3. Costumes! Nothing sells a party like hosts who have gone all out with their costume choices. If you’re going to throw a witch-themed party, you’ve got to dress the part! All black head-to-toe garb is essential, and it must be topped off by a big pointy witch hat. If you want to take it a step further, consider getting a fake nose (or even a prosthetic one for the truly dedicated) to attach to your face. Witches aren’t exactly known for their beauty, so go the extra mile and put a big ugly mole on your face to complete the look. Carry around a broom and practice reciting some spells — your guests will love it!
  4. Music! Music is essential to getting any party started and a witch-themed Halloween extravaganza calls for a lot of holiday tunes. Some must-haves include “I Put A Spell On You” (any version works, but Bette Midler’s is of course our go-to!), “Black Magic Woman”, and “Love Potion Number 9” are some of our favorites, but make a playlist that you know you and your guests will love!
  5. Movies! Even though you’ve got music playing, it’s still a great touch to have movies playing on your television screens for people to see. Some classics include “Hocus Pocus”, “The Witches”, “The Craft” and “The Witches of Eastwick”, just to name a few. Make sure you keep the volume off, though — you don’t want the sound to jumble with your music playlist! That would just be terrifying.

Other than that, have fun! The most important part is that you and your guests have a great time celebrating this haunted holiday. Happy Halloween!

Best Characters to Book for Your Halloween Party

Spooky characters are the perfect way to liven up a Halloween party, but kid-friendly ghouls and villains can be hard to find.  Don’t worry, because we have some great character suggestions for giving your guests a safe, familiar experience with just a touch of spookiness and mystery.  Take Draculaura from “Monster High”, a studious, optimistic vegan who consumes fruits and vegetables instead of blood.  Casper, officially known as “The Friendly Ghost” is another terrific choice.  Unlike the typical creepy, expressionless ghost, Casper has a sweet, angelic face and a pleasant personality to boot.  If your child is more into cartoon characters, Scooby Doo is the ideal choice for Halloween.  Although Scooby isn’t technically a Halloween character, the cartoons usually involve Scooby and the gang running away from monsters through abandoned buildings and haunted houses.  

As for booking one of these characters, we recommend contacting a professional company that specializes in kid’s parties.  These companies hire professional actors who have extensive experience working with children.  They pay special attention to details, like making sure that the costumes are child-appropriate.  In addition, they offer various packages for one or more characters, who will engage the children in fun activities like face painting and balloon twisting.  Along with fun activities, a Halloween party just wouldn’t be complete without tricks.  How about booking a magician, especially one with a fuzzy, live rabbit?  A magic show will help kids unwind after a series of energetic activities.  It also gives you a chance to clean up and do things like put out goody bags, or maybe just enjoy some appetizers in peace.

As you can see, there are numerous kid-friendly Halloween characters to choose from, but you will need to book them well in advance.  Most party companies require 3 to 4 weeks notice, especially for popular characters like Scooby Doo.  You may also want to ask about add-ons like cotton candy machines and bouncy castles depending on the amount of space you have.  We hope you found these tips helpful in your search for the perfect Halloween entertainment.  While booking a character does take some planning, a great party act is the best way to create a truly memorable Halloween party!

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