Tag Archives: holiday

Valentine’s Day Activities

Valentine’s Day (February 14) is a time of love, friendship, giving, and caring. Americans use Valentine’s Day as an opportunity to tell friends and family how much they care.  Children usually exchange cards at school.

Are you looking for Valentine’s day activity and craft ideas?

Look no further…  Au Pair in America has a Pinterest pinboard devoted to Valentine’s Day:

APIA Valentine’s Day Pinboard

Photo: Clever Cupcakes (Flickr)

Safety Tips for Holiday Shopping

It is easy to get distracted at this time of year and when you are distracted you are at a greater risk for holiday crime.  Here are some tips that are always a good idea, but especially important to remember at this time of year.

holiday shopping

  • Always pay attention to your surroundings.  Avoid distractions like using your cell phone or listening to music when you are coming and going from stores.
  • Avoid carrying large amounts of cash.  Take just the amount you need or use debit or credit cards.
  • Keep your money in a front pocket.  Pay close attention to your wallet when you are in crowded places like buses, metro, and elevators.
  • Be careful not to lay your purse or bags down on the floor or out of your sight at the mall.
  • Save your most expensive purchases for the end of your shopping when you will be going straight to the car.
  • Whenever possible, shop during daylight hours and if you must shop after dark, go with a friend.
  • If you are not driving yourself to go shopping, use the Metro Trip Planner before going out, to minimize time waiting at the bus stop or metro station.  Never accept a ride from a stranger.
  • Be aware of strangers approaching you for any reason. Criminals will use different methods to distract you and steal your belongings.
  • Look around the parking area when you are leaving.
  • Do not approach your car alone if there are suspicious people in the area.  You can go back into the store and ask security to walk out with you or wait for a family or other group of people to walk out at the same time as you.
  • Trust your instincts, if something seems suspicious or unsafe, you are probably right.  Following the saying, “Better Safe Than Sorry.”

Celebrating the 4th of July in DC (2019)

The 4th of July celebrates the date American colonists declared independence from Great Britain in 1776. Also called Independence Day, the 4th of July is commemorated throughout the USA with fireworks, parades, concerts, family gatherings, and cookouts.

As the nation’s capital, Washington, DC, is the perfect place to celebrate this truly American holiday. Here are just a few of the many celebrations in DC:
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Spring 2019 in Washington, DC

William Neuheisel

March 20th is the first official day of Spring, and the city is alive with so much to do. Take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures to get outside and explore the city with your host kids. From cherry blossoms on the Potomac to Easter egg hunts at Hillwood or even Madame Tussauds, there truly is something for children of all ages. 

Activities from Some of Our Favorite DC Blogs

Kidfriendly DC

Red Tricycle DC

Capital City Au Pairs (That’s right- don’t forget that this blog has plenty of ideas too!)

About Travel DC

Presidents Day 2019

Photo: Bill & Vicki T (Flickr)

Presidents Day is a Federal holiday created to commemorate the births of former Presidents George Washington (Feb. 22) and Abraham Lincoln (Feb. 12). 

In 2019, Presidents Day is celebrated on February 18th. Throughout America, Presidents Day is observed by big sales in the stores and no mail delivery. School is probably closed on February 18th in honor of Presidents Day, too.

Presidents Day Fun Facts and Questions for Host Kids

Celebrate Presidents Day in DC

2018/2019 Winter Vacation: Tips for Success

Photo: m01229 (Flickr)

During the last week of December and first week of January, many host kids will have between ten days to two weeks off from school for winter vacation. The thought of having the kids home for multiple days during the winter can send even the most seasoned childcare giver into a panic. Cold weather, shorter days, extra sugar, later bedtimes, and visiting relatives can be a challenge, but with some pre-planning, you can provide your host kids with a vacation to remember.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

Tip #2: Dress the Part

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Winter has finally arrived in DC. It’s important to dress for cold weather and to make sure that your host children are dressed warmly too. If this is your first experience with really cold weather, ask your host parents for advice on staying warm. For more info, read this blog post from October: It’s Cold Out There! A 2018 Guide to DC Winter Weather.

Tip #3: Plan a Cozy Day Indoors

  • Staying home for the day? APIA’s Pinterest boards have loads of winter fun and holiday crafts and activities.
  • Help the kids organize their toys and rooms with these suggestions. With mom and dad’s permission, perhaps your host kids can donate some of the toys they have outgrown. This will create more room for the new toys from Santa.
  • Looking for a fun baking activity? Gingerbread is a delicious way to celebrate the season!

Tip #4: Make a Date

Playdates can be a great way for kids to socialize and work on the important skills necessary for being a good friend. Talk with your host family about planning a playdate over winter vacation. With their permission, you can use our cluster list to find an au pair who lives near you and has host kids who are compatible ages with your host kids. If hosting doesn’t work, you can also make plans to meet up at the library for a free story hour or crafting session.

Winter Fun for DC Kids (2018-2019)

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Brr! In need of some ideas to keep the kids entertained this winter? Here’s a roundup of several great local blogs full of suggestions for spending the day exploring DC both before and after the holidays.

Indoorsy DC

KidFriendly DC

Our Kids

  • Don’t miss this comprehensive list of the DC area’s local seasonal activities.
  • Wondering if it’s worth taking the kids to one of the many local happenings? Read the reviews before you go!

Red Tricycle

And last, but not least…

Capital City Au Pairs

Fun with Gingerbread

Gingerbread boys and girls and a history of gingerbread cookies. Source: The Decorated Cookie

Gingerbread boys and girls and a history of gingerbread cookies. Source: The Decorated Cookie

Gingerbread is an important part of many cultures’ holiday celebrations. Gingerbread men, gingerbread houses, and even gingerbread-flavored coffee are just a few of the yummy treats available this time of year. DC-based cookie guru Meaghan Mountford details the history of gingerbread cookies on her fabulous website, The Decorated Cookie.

Gingerbread Books

The story of the Gingerbread Boy has been retold in many versions.  Head to your local library and check out a few of these fun books:

  • Gingerbread Baby by Jan Brett.
  • The Cajun Gingerbread Boy illustrated by Berthe Amoss
  • The Gingerbread Boy by Richard Egielski
  • The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone
  • The Gingerbread Man: An Old English Folktale illustrated by John A. Rowe
  • The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Karen Schmidt
  • The Gingerbread Man illustrated by Pam Adams
  • The Gingerbread Man by Eric Kimmel
  • The Gingerbread Man retold by Jim Aylesworth

Make Your Own Gingerbread Cookies

A gingerbread man gift card holder adds a bit of homemade love to standard gift cards. Source: The Decorated Cookie

A gingerbread man gift card holder adds a bit of homemade love to standard gift cards. Source: The Decorated Cookie

Excited to make some of your very own gingerbread? Below is a recipe for gingerbread cookies. (Don’t forget to use American measurements and temperature settings!)

Preheat oven to 350F

In a large bowl, sift together:

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg

In a smaller bowl beat together:

  • ¾ cups brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 egg
  • 2/3 cup of molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Stir the dry ingredients into the creamed mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.  Roll out on a lightly floured surface and cut out cookies.  Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes.  Place on a rack to cool.  Decorate.

Gingerbread Fun Without the Baking

If you aren’t a baker, head to almost any store (Target, 5 & Below, Safeway, Giant, Harris Teeter are just a few) to buy a kit to make a gingerbread house, It will include everything you need ~ just add your imagination!

Even More Gingerbread Ideas

Quicker and easier to make than gingerbread cookies, try gingerbread man marshmallows for Christmas. Source: The Decorated Cookie

Quicker and easier to make than gingerbread cookies, try gingerbread man marshmallows for Christmas. Source: The Decorated Cookie

Or if you’re ready to take your gingerbread to the next level, The Decorated Cookie has loads of fun ideas. If you decide to try any of these projects out, be sure to post pictures on our cluster group page on Facebook.

 

Christmas 2018

We have host families from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths; some of our host families celebrate Christmas, some celebrate Hanukkah, some celebrate Kwanzaa, and some celebrate more than one holiday or none at all. If you’re an au pair living with a host family who celebrates Christmas and you do not, I encourage you to take part and experience it with them. This can be a great opportunity for learning and culture sharing. I also encourage host families to ask their au pairs to share their holiday traditions and customs. 

 

History

Christmas is both a sacred religious holiday and a worldwide cultural and commercial phenomenon. For two millennia, people around the world have been observing it with traditions and practices that are both religious and secular in nature. Christians celebrate Christmas Day as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a spiritual leader whose teachings form the basis of their religion.

Image: Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

Image: Alan Cleaver (Flickr)

In the United States, popular customs include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, attending church, sharing meals with family and friends and, of course, waiting for Santa Claus to arrive. December 25–Christmas Day–has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870. (Source: History.com)

Christmas Traditions in the US

Infographic: History.com

Infographic: History.com

In the US, Americans celebrate Christmas with traditions that have been introduced from different cultures as well as some uniquely American celebrations.

  • The period of time in the US from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day is called “the holidays.”
  • Decorated Christmas trees begin lighting up windows in homes, and shops and outdoor plazas shortly after Thanksgiving.
  • Christmas tree ornaments can be found in almost every store, but many families have boxes of treasured ornaments made by children out of paper and other crafts which are lovingly hung year after year.
  • Christmas lights decorate trees indoors as well as the front lawns and porches of houses. Many parks have special holiday light displays.
  • Children write letters to Santa Claus requesting gifts. Shopping malls, parties, churches, and some schools host events where children can have their photo taken with Santa Claus and ask him for gifts in-person.
  • Christians remember the birth of Christ with nativity scenes displayed on church lawns, Christmas pageants performed by children in churches and some schools, and delicate, often handcrafted manger scenes set out among the Christmas decor at home.
  • On December 24, Christmas Eve, many families have special traditions and often attend Christmas Eve church services. Children hang Christmas stockings, leave cookies and milk for Santa Claus, and try their best to fall asleep so Santa can deliver their presents.
  • On December 25, Christmas Day, children wake up early to see the gifts Santa Claus left them. Families exchange gifts, which have been wrapped and placed under the Christmas tree.
  • Americans mail Christmas and holiday cards (often with photos of the family) throughout the holiday season. In 2010, Americans mailed 1.5 billion holiday cards.
  • Source: Moo.com

    Source: Moo.com

    Many Americans view the same beloved Christmas movies year after year. Some classic favorites include, “A Charlie Brown Christmas,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Christmas Story,” “Home Alone,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,” “Elf” and “A Miracle on 34th Street.”


The 2018 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree (Forest Service photo by Cecilio Ricardo)

Celebrating Christmas in Washington, DC

A very Merry Christmas to all!