How to Make a Child’s Christmas Magical

track santas sleigh blg ag How to Make a Childs Christmas Magical

The tradition of Santa Claus is passed down generation after generation, and kids of all ages like to celebrate and keep the spirit of Kris Kringle alive. In today’s tech-savvy world, it is a little more challenging than it used to be, but with a little bit of internet wizardry, you can add to the sense of wonder at the heart of the holiday season. Here are a few awe-inspiring websites and apps to help you keep Santa’s story going strong for another year.

Track Santa Across the World

Your child can track Santa’s progress across the globe on Christmas Eve with the help of a few very qualified experts!
Due to a happy accident, the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) introduced the tradition of tracking Santa’s journey back in 1955. A misprinted Sears ad encouraged children to call a “direct line to Santa,” but the incorrect phone number actually redirected to the Colorado Springs Continental Air Defense Command. The good-natured agency rose to the occasion, and all staff were briefed to give Santa’s “current location” to any eager young callers.

Fast forward almost 60 years and the experience is considerably more captivating. Starting December 1, the NORAD Tracks Santa website provides descriptions of the technology used to follow Santa.  As he flies on Christmas Eve, it will be updated hourly with “Santa Cam” videos of his sleigh flying over famous landmarks around the world. The very serious and official nature of NORAD lends credibility to the whole affair for a fun, educational, and very convincing experience.

After a few years of partnering with NORAD, Google Maps branched out on their own in 2012. The Google Santa Tracker is very interactive, with mini games and animations in the style of Google Doodles. The link will be available on the Google home page, but you can also follow along on free apps for Apple and Android. It’s a good companion to NORAD’s offering and a fun way to keep kids engaged in those last long hours before the big day!

FaceTime with Santa

A video call from Santa himself will absolutely amaze your little ones. The Video Calls From Santa app is designed to look like a real Facetime call with the big man himself. You can leave Santa a voicemail, or call a number for “Nice” or “Naughty” — which may come in handy as a pre-Christmas behavior modification tool! This one will probably work best for the under-five set, but knowing Santa’s number is a surefire way to impress the whole family.

Send a Talking Santa Ecard

An ecard from American Greetings lets you send a completely personalized message to kids from Santa. Simply type what you’d like the animated Santa on the card to say in the voice you choose, or you can record a message by phone. There are two different Santa’s to choose from, Santa’s List and Dear Santa. It’s available when you sign up for a free trial of American Greetings’ ecards and is sure to inspire a lot of smiles.

In addition to the Santa talking ecards, AmericanGreetings.com offers a wide variety of Christmas ecards. Make the season sparkle with traditional, funny, cute or religious animated ecards.  You can even personalize a special Christmas song to send to your friends and family.

Provide Evidence After the Fact

This inexpensive and easy-to-use photo editing tool lets you insert a realistic image of Santa visiting your home on Christmas Eve. When the kids wake up on Christmas morning, you can proudly display the proof that you caught Santa in the act. Cue the wide eyes and excited questions!
These are our favorite examples of the many amazing Christmas resources online, so it’s worth a search! It’s heartwarming to know that people all over the world are committed to keeping Christmas magical in new and innovative ways. Children today might be a lot more sophisticated than we were, but technology is helping parents stay one step ahead to provide some of the most treasured Christmas memories of a lifetime.

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A Simple Way to Jazz Up Your Holiday Decor

It should come as no surprise that holidays are a big deal at a greeting card company. From individual associates decorating their cubes to entire departments turning on holiday tunes and decking the halls together, Christmas and the holiday season in general is a festive affair at American Greetings.

One of the most lovely centerpieces to the season is the official holiday trees throughout the building. However, this year something caught our eyes on the largest tree in our Town Square area that we wanted to share with you.

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See those scrolls throughout the tree? They’re simple scrolls of wrapping paper! We thought they gave a festive, on-trend dash of style to the tree. It’s a look you can certainly recreate at home, even if you’re not super crafty. Here’s a close-up:

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They also carried this look over to the wreaths on the doors of our store…

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What do you think? Is this something that might work on your tree?

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Top 5 Tips for Surviving Black Friday

11282013 black friday blg ag Top 5 Tips for Surviving Black Friday

Get your credit cards at the ready! Here we go–another round of Black Friday mayhem is about to commence!

There’s just something about the magical phrase “70-percent off” that sends humans into a crazed state of frenzy, so if you’re one of the brave souls heading out (or camping out) into the wee hours today, here are some helpful tips for surviving the shopping day to end all shopping days.

  1. What to wear Leave the stilettos at home– this is no time for high fashion. You gotta’ wear your comfortable, all-day-traction trekkers to stay ahead of the black Friday race (or even–dare we say it?!) crocks with socks!
  2. Sustenance: Munch early and often; the last thing you want is to become hungry, dehydrated, and irritable and lose valuable shopping energy. Keep a water bottle and snacks in your purse, or deck yourself out with one of those hat helmets with straws for hands-free sippin.’
  3. Buddy System: Shop with a friend! A buddy can take your place in line in you have to go to the bathroom, OR you can wear an adult diaper so you can hold your place in line while not having to hold your bladder. No one will know, and who cares—you just scored 80% off; that’s worth secretly peeing in your pants for. (We kid! We kid!)
  4. Know your territory: You might THINK you know the store layout, but on a day as huge as this, big ticket items often get moved to the end of aisles or put up closer to the front, so make sure you keep your eyes moving as you make your mad dash thru the store or you just might miss out on the deal you slept all night in a parking lot for.
  5. Get Appy: The last thing you want is to lug your huge flat screen to the curb and have no idea where you parked your car. Use a GPS car-locator app so you’re not stumbling around a crowded parking lot. Or better yet—have your buddy meet you curbside for easy loading of all your goodies.

Most importantly—keep calm, be kind and carry on shopping!

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Printable Christmas Cards

holiday printables2 Printable Christmas Cards

Christmas is almost here, but there’s still plenty of time to spread holiday cheer with fun and unique printable Christmas cards. These cards are a great addition to any Christmas present and everyone will love how personal and creative they are. Here are our top 3 reasons to give printable Christmas cards a try this year…

  • They can be a great romantic addition to any Christmas present. You spend so much time choosing the perfect gift for your significant other; why not give them a card that explains just how much you love them – in your own words! Print a romantic holiday card with your very own personalized message inside and you’re sure to stay on the nice list this year.
  • Kids can create instant presents for their parents, grandparents, and friends with customizable printable coupons! These adorable coupons are perfect for free favors, chores, dinner or any other fun and playful ideas they can come up with. All you have to do is customize and print!
  • Everyone loves the word FREE, and now printable Christmas cards are free for 7 days when you join Americangreetings.com. With nothing to lose, give these fun-to-create cards a try today!

Have any other fun reasons to personalize and print Christmas cards this year?  Let us know!

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Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style…

12182012 tree Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...

Sometimes you don’t have to look farther than your own backyard to enjoy the wonders of the season. The Christmas tree displayed this year at American Greetings came from our own property. The spruce was blown over during Hurricane Sandy, and was brought inside and lovingly decorated by a talented group of AG folks and interns from Kent State University.

As for the gifts under the tree, just like icing on a cake, the wrapping is that final touch to a perfect gift. And it truly is another way to show just how much love and thought has gone into the gift. Here are some tips to jazz up that paper and wrap up your holiday gift giving in style:

 

Gift Wrap Ideas:

12182012 main image Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...Many people like to color theme their gifts.  Select a few different coordinating papers and mix and match the ribbons to tie it all together for a bold statement.

Get creative with your accents. Who said a bow just has to be a bow? You can include coordinating plastic or glass ornaments, pine cones, or even glittered snowflakes that you find at your local craft or dollar store to add something unexpected to the gift.

12182012 gifts1 Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...There are so many ribbons out there to choose from—why stick to just one? Sometimes a beautifully-textured or fabric bow can turn ordinary paper into something extraordinary and classic.

Coordinate your greeting card with your gift wrap–and leave it outside the envelope to serve a dual purpose as the gift tag!

christmas gift tags Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...

Photo by: Martha Stewart [recycled Christmas card crafts]

Recycle last year’s greeting cards and turn them into gift tags. We cite one of our favorite experts for this tip and she suggests gluing card designs to store-bought tags or cutting out the design and punching a hole for the ribbon.

christmas monogrammed gift tags Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...

Photo by: Martha Stewart [recycled Christmas card crafts]

Creating monogrammed gift tags from last year’s greeting cards is a great way to get the kids involved. Trace an initial on the back of the card and let the kids cut out the letter and punch a hole for the ribbon or tape to the gift.

homemade gift wrap Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...

Photo by: Lovely Indeed for The Sweetest Occasion

Use a brown paper bag to wrap the gift and use a marker to write words or a special message, or even paint a design. Try making bows out of the bag too!

newspaper christmas gift wrap Wrapping Up the Holiday in Style...

Photo by: Country Living [creative gift wrap ideas]

Some people like to use the comic section, and that’s great, but you can really spruce up newspaper giftwrap by using international papers and then finish with a coordinating bow. Save this idea for the world traveler on your list!

If that special person puts a song in your heart, why not wrap their gift in music? Sheet music to be exact! You can easily download it and print it out to wrap around your gift—and don’t forget the bow!

There really are so many creative ways to put the finishing touch on the perfect gift.  Do you have any ideas you would like to share? We’d love to hear from you.

Happy wrapping this week!

Source Credits:

http://www.marthastewart.com/276934/recycled-christmas-card-crafts#242820
http://www.marthastewart.com/276934/recycled-christmas-card-crafts#272401
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/19/diy-gift-wrap_n_1159209.html
http://www.marthastewart.com/274678/gift-wrapping-ideas/@center/307035/santas-workshop#198813

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Christmas Traditions

12172012 christmas image1 Christmas Traditions

It’s Christmas—time for trimmed trees, lights, mistletoe, Santa, and of course, greeting cards. Have you ever wondered how these traditions started? Well, a quick trip around the world can answer that!

Trimming the Tree: In Germany, fir trees were associated with Christmas nearly 500 years ago, with fruit, flowers and candies used as decorations. Prince Albert brought the tree to England when he married Queen Victoria, and the tradition came to America with the Pennsylvania Germans. Along the way, new types of Christmas ornaments were added, from homemade ornaments to little presents and trinkets.

Christmas Lights: It’s said that Martin Luther, a famous German monk, was inspired by the heavenly stars to add candles to a fir tree. A large Christmas candle, symbolizing Christ as the Light of the World, still burns throughout Christmas night, especially in Europe.

Mistletoe: First used by the Norse as a symbol of peace– warriors would meet under it to reconcile. Other cultures saw it as a sign of fertility, and as a blend of both beliefs, today couples kiss under it.

Santa Claus: Most stories link the jolly fellow with St. Nicholas of Myra, (Turkey), who generously gave money and gifts to those in need. St. Nicholas became the patron saint of Russia, but it’s Father Frost who visits the children there. In other countries, such as Spain and Mexico, the Three Kings are also givers of gifts.

Greeting Cards: It’s back to England for the first commercial greeting card, created by Sir Henry Cole in 1843 because he was just too busy to write individual messages for his friends! He probably would have loved the time-saving benefit of personalized paper cards and ecards today, especially in sharing his still popular wish:

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You!

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Your Favorite Christmas Songs…

12122012 christmas playlist3 Your Favorite Christmas Songs...

Whether you’re out walking in a winter wonderland or enjoying a night at home decorating the tree, it’s easy to add some extra Christmas cheer with a holiday song.  While everyone has their own personal favorites, here are ten of the best Christmas classics to add to your playlist:

  1. “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)” by Mel Tormé & Robert Wells.  Nat “King” Cole’s 1946 version is still the most popular.
  2.  “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” by Fred Coots & Haven Gillespie. Written in 1934, this classic ties for oldest  song on the list.
  3.  “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin. The film Meet Me in St. Louis popularized this holiday favorite.
  4. “Winter Wonderland” by Felix Bernard & Richard B. Smith. Ties with #2, making 1934 a great year for music!
  5. “White Christmas” by Irving Berlin. This dreamy song has been a favorite all around the world, with over 500 versions in 12 different languages.
  6. “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne.  Dean Martin’s rendition has remained the most popular version of this wishful tune.
  7. “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” by Johnny Marks. Rudolph’s antics originally began as a story written for Montgomery Ward department store.
  8. “Jingle Bell Rock” by Joseph Carleton Beal & James Ross Boothe. With its super-cheerful rhythm, this  favorite is also one of the most played on radio stations.
  9.  “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” by Walter Kent, Kim Gannon & Buck Ram.  Bing Crosby popularized this song during World War II.
  10.  “Little Drummer Boy” by Katherine K. Davis, Henry V. Onorati & Harry Simeone. A family favorite since 1958.

Sure to be a crowd-pleaser, check out the new “Peace on Earth” ecard from American Greetings.  It features a beautiful instrumental rendition of #3 on our list – your friends and family will love it! So what are you waiting for?  Get your merry music on and enjoy the magic of the season!

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Holiday Prep Tips

11302012holiday tips Holiday Prep Tips

There is no shortage of exciting things going on as the holiday season gets into full swing.  From shopping and baking to planning for fun get-togethers, you have one exciting, yet full, calendar.  But with a little pre-planning, you can get ahead this holiday season.

 Try these tips to help you on your way:

  • Shopping lists:  Get a start on your shopping list by jotting down notes as you hear friends and family mention things that might make for a great gift.  Find that one thing they’ve been looking for forever or give them something you know they need just by being a little more observant.
  • Get a jump on your holiday card list:  Purchase your holiday cards early in order to get the best selection and to avoid holiday shipping delays.
  • Make a list and check it twice:  With your holiday cards in-hand, all you need to do is give your address book a quick update before signing, addressing, and popping them in the mail (or bundle them and wait until December 10th, if you want to send a little closer to the holidays.)
  • Smile for the camera:  The holiday season is the perfect time to take a family photo, and there’s no better way to share warm wishes than with those beautiful smiles.  Be sure to check out the wide selection of photo cardsonline.
  • Bake and freeze:  Lots of holiday cookie recipes can be made in advance and frozen so that you always have a tray of treats to take to a get-together.  Consider starting a cookie exchange with a group of friends to get the most variety out of your bulk-baking.
  • Master calendar:  Now’s a great time to create your master calendar for the holiday season.  Don’t forget to include all holiday parties (marking which ones you’ll need gifts for), gift shopping lists, and a plan for set up, cleaning, and cooking for all your get-togethers.
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Shopping the Sales

11232012 shopping2 Shopping the Sales

Now that Turkey Day is done, it’s time to focus on another reason to be thankful:  sales!  Today is Black Friday, the day of deals. The term was allegedly used in the early 1960s by the Philadelphia police to describe the day’s traffic chaos.  In the 1980s, the meaning changed to a day for retailers to get their sales “in the black,” or profitable.

Remember, this is a battle for bargains, so to ensure success (and survival!), make a plan.  Start with a list and know where you’re going.  Don’t leave home without your rewards cards, coupons, and bonus offers.  Big box stores offer great deals, but so do smaller retailers.  Smart shoppers aren’t afraid to divide and conquer.  Enlist the help of family and friends, and make a fun day of it.  Stay nourished and hydrated, too—the day can be loonggg!  Finally, try not to shop till you drop, or at least, wait until you get home to conk out.

If you’re not an adrenaline junkie and hate the crowds, you also have Cyber Monday. This day was given its name in 2005 by shop.org, and offers the awesome ability to shop in your PJs!  Plan ahead and sign up for your fave store’s newsletter and “Like” them on Facebook to get great coupon codes.  To maximize the deals and minimize the cost, be sure to factor in shipping—free is best!  Verify you’ll have your items in time for the holidays, and double check the return policy.  On Cyber Monday, the options are as wide as the web itself –you can easily order anything online, even personalized holiday cards.  Now that’s a great way to save time this season!

 Happy Savings Days to you!

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