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Tips and Solutions

Featured Tip

Choosing the Right Recreational Kayak For You!

Choosing a kayak is no easy feat. It's a big purchase, and picking the wrong kayak for your needs can put a damper on what should be a great experience. So, how do you know which kayak is right for you? That will depend on a variety of factors and personal choices. Luckily we are here to help! We'll explain a few things to think about when browsing the saturated kayak market that will help you find the perfect kayak and help you fall in love with the sport! Click to read more.

The advantages of blow-molded plastic chairs

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The advantages of blow-molded plastic chairs over padded chairs include cost, comfort, and easy cleaning.

COST--The price tag on a padded folding chair usually higher than a plastic folding chair because manufacturers assume that consumers are willing to pay more for the fluff and foam, and some of them are. But all it takes is a little research on the customer's part to discover that you get more for your money with a Lifetime blow-molded plastic chair. More comfort and more product life. Lifetime chairs are designed for outdoor as well as indoor use, so you get twice as much use out of them as you would padded chairs--which aren't designed for outdoor use.  

COMFORT--In market simulations, Lifetime contoured folding chairs are preferred 2 to 1 over padded chairs. Surprised? Chair padding doesn't do any body much good if it is covering a flat seat. Padding will compress after each use until eventually you will be in direct contact with that hard, flat surface. Besides having wider seats and taller backs than other chairs on the market, Lifetime chairs are ergonomically contoured to your body's natural shape so that it supports you in all the right places. Lifetime chairs will never lose their shape, even with constant use.

CLEANING--Blow-molded plastic chairs require very little maintenance compared to padded chairs. The high-density polyethylene plastic used in Lifetime chairs is scratch resistant, stain resistant, and water proof. No worries about rips, holes, or spills.  Low maintenance is an especially significant advantage if you’re providing seating accommodations for a large organization.

Lifetime Chair

Christmas Holiday Card

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Nothing beats the sweet sentiments you find in a homemade Christmas card. With just a few sheets of cardstock, some embellishments and a special message, you can add warmth to anyone’s Christmas this year.

Checklist

  • Lifetime table
  • Lifetime folding chair
  • Cardstock (various colors)
  • Patterned paper
  • Printed holiday greetings (see Free Download)
  • Printed Calendar
  • Red pen
  • Glue stick
  • Ribbon or string
    1. Cut card out of cardstock, to whatever shape you want, and fold in half.
    2. Cut out patterned paper and mount on card for background.
    3. Print out downloadable card title (below) on cardstock, or type and print your own, cut out and add to card.
    4. Use colorful patterned paper to create a background, or frame your greeting.
    5. Mount calendar on patterned paper and add to card.
    6. Create accent using metal-rimmed tag, ribbon and die cuts. Add to card.
    7. Printable Holiday greetings

Steps

Free Downloads

Merry Christmas Card by Wendy Inman. Supplies: cardstock by Prism; patterned paper by Junkitz and Karen Foster Design; metal-rimmed tag by Making Memories; acrylic snowflake; ribbon by Offray; circle punch by McGill; Century Gothic font.

Crafting

Scrapbooking Parties

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The best part of scrapbooking is sharing the process with family and friends. Use these steps as ideas to help you gather loved ones. Collaborate and get creative with your albums. Start a tradition of making new memories as you preserve old ones!

Checklist

Ideas

  1. Make your hobby fun for the whole family. Sometimes the best activities are ones you can do together. My children love to pull out the die cuts, stickers, and supplies and work with me. We make family vacation albums together so we can all enjoy them. Give your children the OK to be crafty and creative while you get some of your own layouts done too. A banquet table is perfect for you to sit side-by-side on projects.
  2. Get the whole family involved- Instead of putting together the family album all by yourself, ask your spouse and your children for help. Keep the process simple by giving each person a specific assignment or asking each person to share their thoughts. Try making a single layout or a mini album about a fun vacation, a special tradition or a memorable celebration. One night my family got together and made the mini album (pictured above). Each family member took a turn wearing the homemade family crown, and the others had to say why they loved that person. Working on a simple project like this can bring your family closer together.
  3. Celebrate a scrapbooking girls night- Pull out your tables, snacks and beverages and you've got a party! Invite new and experienced scrapbookers alike to the house to crop. You'll be surprised how much you learn about (and from) each other. Exchange supplies or make an album together. Scrapbooking is a social event, so it's a fun way to catch up on each other's lives and spend quality time together. This is also a perfect for bridal or baby showers.
  4. Host a crop or page exchange- There's never enough time to do all the scrapbooking you'd like. If you want to feel caught up, get a lot of layouts done or make pages and exchange them with fellow scrapbookers, host your own crop. "Crop" is the official term for a scrapbooking event where people make page layouts. It's a great way to make new friends or recruit your old friends to this great hobby.
Table with computer and water

Giving Thanks

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It’s almost Thanksgiving. You’ve spent weeks thinking about what to serve for that special Thanksgiving dinner, shopping for those ‘family recipe’ ingredients (along with one more frozen turkey), and worrying about the weather. Take off that last bit of stress and use this elegant and easy party outline to plan your dinner décor. Follow the steps below to set a beautiful and classic Thanksgiving scene using pumpkins and earthy colors. Nothing tells your family you care like a well planned holiday gathering…. except maybe a warm bowl of turkey soup

Checklist

  • Lifetime Banquet tables
  • Lifetime chairs
  • A selection of Heirloom Tomatoes and tomatoes of all shapes and sizes
  • Chocolate or maroon velvet tablecloth
  • Fairytale pumpkins (the gray-ish white ones that have a wonderful shape)
  • Baby white pumpkins (one for each setting)
  • Lots and lots of cream colored candles
  • Cream or Maroon colored napkins
  • 2” wide chocolate velvet or orange ribbon (about 2’ per guest)
  • Thanksgiving Pilgrims Blessing Mix (one for each setting). Cellophane bag, Bugles, candy corn, pretzels, dried fruit and nuts.
  • Prayer of thanks printed on small square of parchment paper. See free download.
  • Square or round cardboard cake bases
  • Lots of fall leaves
  • Spray adhesive

Steps

 

  1. Push together three long tables to make one big square table.
  2. Cover the tables with brown velvet fabric, taping or sewing edges together to form a very large square that will cover to the floor.
  3. Cover folding chairs with a cream-colored fabric and tie in the back with a few pumpkin ribbon.
  4. Set candles, white pumpkins, and filled chargers along the center of the table. Be sure to put the pumpkins in places that create interest, taller pumpkins next to smaller ones, wide pumpkins beside skinny ones, etc.
  5. Make Pilgrim's Blessing Mix Bags & Tags: Fill the cellophane bags with a few Bugles, candy corn, pretzels, dried fruit and nuts. Print the downloadable Pilgrim's Blessing Mix tag and attach to the bag with a ribbon.
  6. Make Placemats: Use a small table as a work surface to make the placemats: One at a time, spray the square or round cardboard cake bases with fixative glue, and cover with Fall leaves. Place silver chargers at the top of each placemat. The earthy placemats and the silver chargers make a beautiful setting for your table.
  7. Cut slits at the top of the white baby pumpkins, and use them as place card holders. The pumpkin place card holders are adorable, and will surely get noticed! You can also attach a pumpkin leaf with the guests’ name.
  8. Set the table with white china or earth tones.
  9. If you have any leaves or pumpkins left, sprinkle them along the table’s center. This will add to the detail surrounding your beautiful cooked turkey centerpiece.
  10. Cook the food! Put a spin on traditional sliced turkey, it’s sure to be a hit. Here’s a new one for your Thanksgiving feast, or a great recipe for after Thanksgiving: Deb’s Best Ever Turkey Soup.

Tips

  • Have fun at the Pumpkin Patch! Take the kids along to pick out wonderfully shaped white pumpkins. If you make it into a challenging game, they will have a great time scouting out pumpkins with interesting shapes.
  • A great source for cream colored candles of all sizes is Candles The Williamsburg Candle Co. (1-800-367-9722 www.wsac.com.) They burn longer and they don’t drip.
  • Use extra tables as a buffet to serve your Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Match the décor on the dinner with the table décor, using Fairytale pumpkins, fall leaves, pumpkin colored roses or mums.

Recipe: Deb’s Best Ever Turkey Soup

  • Turkey Carcass
  • Water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tsp. Marjoram
  • 1 T. fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 T. chopped fresh sage
  • 3 T. butter
  • 3 T. flour
  • ½ cup uncooked rice
  • 2/3 cup diced celery
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 T. chopped fresh parsley
  • Turkey meat, diced
  • Turkey dressing
  • Turkey gravy
  • 3 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
  1. Place the turkey carcass in a large soup kettle and cover with water. Stir in the bay leaves, salt, pepper, marjoram, thyme and sage. Bring the water to a boil and simmer for 3-4 hours, adding more water to keep the turkey bones covered.
  2. Strain the stock and reserve.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a kettle, stir in the flour until smooth. Add the turkey stock (you should have 3-4 quarts.) Add the rice, celery, onion and parsley. Simmer for 20 minutes.
  4. Add any leftover turkey meat, dressing and gravy.
  5. In a skillet melt the remaining butter and sauté the mushrooms until brown. Add to the soup and let the whole thing simmer for another hour or so.

Pumpkin Cake

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree or cooked mashed pumpkin
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (below)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  1.  
    1. Combine sugar, vegetable oil, and eggs in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add dry ingredients and beat until well blended. Stir in pumpkin puree.
    2. Pour batter into two greased and floured 9-inch round layer cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes (or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean). Turn out onto racks to cool. Frost pumpkin cake with Cream Cheese Frosting. If desired, sprinkle with pecans.
      • 1/4 cup butter
      • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, room temperature
      • 1 pound confectioner's sugar
      • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting

  • Combine ingredients in mixing bowl. Beat until creamy. Makes enough to frost a 2-layer cake.

Free Downloads

 

Thanksgiving

Elegant Holiday Buffet

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Now that you’ve decorated the tree, it’s time to decorate the table! Whether you’re planning a Christmas feast for two or twenty, this party plan is a sure ticket to dining in elegance. Invite your guests to a holiday dinner that welcomes the spirit of Christmas with class, style, and grace. Most of the materials can be purchased at a building supply or home improvement store and your local department store. The glass architectural blocks form the shape of a Christmas tree and have a wonderful effect—your guests will think you’ve gone to the work of sculpting a tree out of ice! Along with the tall candles, the ice blocks give the table dramatic height, and a sophisticated look. 

Checklist

  • Lifetime banquet table
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • A red silk tablecloth and white linen napkins
  • 21 glass architectural blocks
  • Earthquake or museum wax
  • 11 glass votives and glass balls
  • A wreath and small weight
  • Artificial snow
  • Tall red or white candles and candlesticks of various heights
  • White Christmas lights
  • ”Christmas tree” napkin rings: Paper towel rolls (1 or 2), a variety of small green beads, and rubber cement or hot glue gun
  • Red Christmas ball ornaments
  • Glass bowls (fish bowls work nicely)
  • Small white flowers, preferably with flexible stems or vines
  • Clear or red berry wreaths (one per glass bowl)

Steps

  1. Place red silk tablecloth and white linen napkins on your banquet table.
  2. Make the “Ice Block Christmas Tree” – At the back edge of the buffet, line up 6 glass blocks, end to end, placing earthquake or museum wax in between each block. Next, center 5 glass blocks on top of the first 6, affixing with wax. For the next layer use four blocks, then three, then two, and finally one block. You now have a Christmas tree shape made out of glass blocks with five small ledges on either side. Remember to affix each layer and each block with wax.
  3. Place a small glass votive candle holder on each ledge and top with a red glass Christmas ball. Surround each with a sprig of holly. Place a final glass ball on the top of the Christmas tree. You will need a total of 11 glass votives and glass balls.
  4. To hang a wreath in the center, tie a wreath with heavy weight fishing line and thread it in between the top two glass blocks. Tie a weight onto the end and let it hang. This will hold the wreath in place.
  5. Surround the glass Christmas tree with artificial snow, more glass balls and red candles.
  6. If you want the glass tree to sparkle from behind, tape a string of white tiny Christmas lights to the backside of the tree and plug in.
  7. Make “Christmas Tree” napkin rings: Glue the ribbon onto the cut towel rolls. Allow to dry, and then glue beads and sequins onto the ribbon in a ½ inch circle, layering it to cluster and form a Christmas tree shape. You may have to do this in stages, allowing the glue to dry before adding another layer. The idea is to make a 3-dimensional “tree,” with a chunky, clustered look. The more layers you make, the more chunky the tree will look. Allow to dry overnight. Glue a sequin “star” to the top of each Christmas tree.
  8. Set the glass bowls on top of the clear berry wreaths, and bend the white flowers so that they fill the glass.

Tips

  • Glass Blocks can be found at any home improvement or building supply store.
  • Make a dessert table using a 5 foot round Lifetime table, covered with red silk, velvet, or felt fabric. Arrange the desserts on additional stacked glass blocks, adding height and interest to the table. Surround with candles and artificial snow.

Recipe: Christmas Gift From the Kitchen

  • Potted Cheese
  • 6 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 T. sherry
  • 1/2 tsp curry powder
  • sea salt to taste
  • 18 oz. jar of mango chutney, finely chopped
  • chopped chives
  1. Beat together the cream cheese, cheddar, sherry, curry powder, and salt until well blended
  2. Stir in the chutney
  3. Pack into three or four 6oz. Ramekins or custard cups and sprinkle with chives. Cover with plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate or freeze. Will keep for three weeks.

Free Downloads

Elegant Buffet

Make A Tiny Tribute book

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Get caught up on your scrapbooking by simplifying the process. Rather than trying to create full-size scrapbook pages, try making a mini album. I was able to give all the details of my youngest son's first three months of life in the mini album featured here, and it only took about two hours to make. To make your own 4" x 6" mini album, follow the simple steps below.

Checklist

  • Lifetime table
  • Lifetime chair
  • Small photo album for 4" x 6" photos
  • 4"x 6" photos
  • 4"x 6" cardstock
  • Journaling pen
  • Desired embellishments: Ribbons, stickers, brads, etc.
  • Small metal frame

Steps

  1. Choose a project: Mini albums are a great way to store several photos that have a common theme. Consider focusing on a specific holiday, vacation or person.
  2. Select your photos: Decide how many pictures you will include in your mini album. Then look through your photos for those that best represent your subject. Slide one 4"x 6" picture into each photo sleeve.
  3. Write about each photo: Print or hand write your journaling about each photo on a 4"x 6" piece of cardstock. Describe the event and your feelings about it. You may also want to include a brief caption explaining who is in the photo and when it was taken.
  4. Add simple embellishments: Use ribbon, brads, stickers or other small embellishments to add the finishing touches to your journaling pages. Slip your journaling pages into the photo sleeves across from the pictures they describe.
  5. Decorate the cover and make a title page: For the cover, use a metal frame around a photo and tie it with ribbon. Create a simple title page on a 4" x 6" piece of cardstock and slip it into the first sleeve.
  6. Voila! You've completed an entire album in just a few hours. This album is cute enough to display in your family room and show off to family and friends.

Baby Album by Angie Randall. Supplies: 4" x 6" album by Kolo; cardstock; premade embellishments by Jolee's Botique; frame by Pebbles, Inc.; Garamond computer font; ribbon.

Tribute Book

Who Loves Ya Baby?

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Valentine's Day is just around the corner and love is in the air! If you've risked frostbite decorating a loved one's car, burnt your fingers baking heart-shaped cookies, and spent hours stringing up paper hearts with cute little sayings, try something new this year. Celebrate it with a party for all of your special valentines! Follow these steps for the perfect Valentine's celebration for family, friends, church group, or community organization.

Checklist

  • Lifetime round tables
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • red and pink felt cut into hearts (see downloads for templates)
  • pink or white plates
  • miniature red, pink, and white roses
  • little silver cups
  • napkins
  • long stems of ivy small, handwritten love notes
  • thin satin ribbon (red, pink, or white)

Steps

  1. Decorate the top of a round table with BIG red and pink felt hearts placed on top of a white or pink cloth that goes to the floor.
  2. Use pink plates (or white plates with a pink heart cut out of felt at the top of the plate.
  3. Place miniature red, pink, and white roses in little silver cups.
  4. Tie napkins with long stems of ivy secured with a "love note" written on beautiful paper and tied with a thin satin ribbon.
  5. Put folding chairs around the table.
  6. Wrap the chairs in pink tulle or a lightweight pink fabric and tie the back with a length of ivy and a tiny bouquet of roses.
  7. Prepare delicious Lobster Shooters to make the evening extra special.

Tips

  • Add embellishments and involve the kids! Put out bowls of decorations such as sequins, jewels, rhinestones, pearls, ribbons, lace, etc. along with some glue. Make a heart template before you begin to cut hearts to insure uniformity in size. Pre-cut the felt into big hearts in sizes 6 inch, 7 inch, and 10 inches across (see downloads). Supervise the kids while they glue the decorations onto the hearts. You will need about 12 hearts to cover a Round Lifetime Table top.
  • You can purchase felt at any fabric store and most department stores.
  • You can purchase pink plates at any department or party supply store.
  • Everyone looks better in candlelight. Sprinkle the table with votive candles, being sure to put one at each place setting.
  • For an extra romantic "Dinner aux Deux," place your table in front of the fireplace, put on some soft music, and enjoy the evening.

Lobster Shooters

  • 1 lb. Lobster, cleaned
  • 1/2 cup grapefruit juice
  • olive oil
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 English cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 sweet onion (Vidalia or Maui) diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • zest of 1/2 lemon

Dressing

  • 4 T. seasoned rice wine vinegar
  • 6 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. Sweet mustard
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  1. Split the lobster and clean it. Marinate in grapefruit juice for 1/2 hour. Drain and brush with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Grill the lobster over hot coals until just done, brushing with grapefruit juice. Do not overcook!
  3. Remove the meat from the shell and cut the meat into small chunks. Place in a small juice or shot glass.
  4. Combine the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cilantro, and zest. Mix well.
  5. Whisk together the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, ginger, and mustard. Pour over vegetables and mix well. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the lobster and serve with a sprinkling of cilantro.Serves 8 as an appetizer.

Eye-Catching Craft Show Displays

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‘Tis the season to pull out your craft materials and start hauling your goods to local craft shows and bazaars. If you’re displaying at your local indoor church bazaar for just a few hours, set up might be a little less elaborate than an all-weekend, outdoor city craft show. However, either way, we’ve pulled together some tips and hints to help your booth sizzle with success!

Checklist

  • Lifetime display tables
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • Craft Show Caddy
  • Cash box
  • Change
  • Receipt book
  • Calculator
  • Several pens
  • Order forms
  • Clipboard
  • Lined paper pads for writing orders, names, phone numbers
  • Tax certificate (if applicable)
  • Tax tables
  • Business cards
  • Catalogs
  • Large sign with name and/or logo, with hanging wire or easel
  • Safety pins (for anything)
  • Large white sheet/material for sun protection pinned to tent back wall or sidewall (if needed)
  • Racks, shelves, mannequins, boxes, etc. used to hold/display your crafts for sale
  • Display signs with item categories and prices
  • Extra price tags
  • Extra material and tools used to make your products
  • Bags for items sold
  • A basic toolbox including a stapler, scissors, duct tape, and a utility knife.
  • Paper towels
  • Moist wipes
  • Tissues
  • Small broom/dust pan
  • Garbage bags
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balm (if outdoors)
  • Cash for lunch if you can buy it at the show, otherwise pack a lunch
  • Flashlight
  • 3”x5” index cards for emergency sign replacement
  • Small first aid kit with bandages, aspirin etc.
  • Place last list item here.

Small, Indoor Bazaars

  • Often times, space is limited. A Lifetime 6-Foot Fold-in-Half Table will provide ample display space for small crafts and will use minimal space in your vehicle.
  • Depending on the size of your crafts and if there is adequate space, try adding extra dimension to your display by stair-stepping Lifetime Adjustable Height Tables. Use a Lifetime 6-Foot Adjustable table at its highest level, then place a Lifetime 4-Foot Adjustable table in front of it set at the middle level.
  • Take a Lifetime Personal Table along to set beside you to keep your cash box and paperwork within arm’s reach, but away from the customers.
  • Remember to take a Lifetime chair to use for seating when you need a rest at your display.

Large Outdoor Craft Shows with Individual Tent Space

  • Place six Lifetime 6-Foot Tables in a square - two tables on the sides and one table on each end. You will stand in the middle and your customers will walk around the outside. Place a Lifetime Personal Table in the middle with you to hold your cashbox and paperwork.
  • Use six Lifetime 5-Foot Tables and place them in a U-Shape - two tables on each side. This allows room for your customers to easily browse under the protection of the tent.
  • Use six Lifetime 5-Foot tables and align them in three separate rows (two tables per row) so customers can walk “up and down the aisles”. Place a Lifetime 4-foot table at the back of the tent as a “checkout” counter.
  • Remember to take a Lifetime chair to use for seating when you need a rest at your display.

Large Outdoor Craft Shows with Individual Tent Space

  • Looks Matter! Think of creating your craft show display as if it was your own mini-store. Your display should be attractive, neat, organized, and creative to get your customer’s attention and interest.
  • Themes and props. Themed displays are a great way to tie your entire display together. If your craft involves sewing, set up an old sewing machine. If you make a seasonal craft, use seasonal props and colors.
  • Colors. Keep in mind the mood the color of your table cover can create and how it will make your craft pop. Blue, green and white tend to be comforting colors. White and black tablecloths are best for showcasing shiny jewelry. If you have a seasonal craft, use those prominent colors (such as red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, pastels for Easter) to set the tone and remind people of the upcoming holiday.
  • Eye level. Display your crafts at different elevations to make your display more interesting. Get creative and look for fun items around the house! Covered boxes, wooden crates, shelves, flowerpots, etc. can be used to place your crafts at different levels. Keep in mind, items at eye level will be seen first.
  • Explain your craft. Don’t always assume everyone will know how to use your craft. Try to display your craft in use. If it’s a holiday ornament, set up a miniature tree to display your ornaments. If you make baby booties, put them in a cradle. Be creative, and don’t forget to wear your craft if you make something wearable like jewelry or clothes!
  • Different perspective. After you set up your display, always remember to take a step back and look at the display from your customers’ point of view. What will they see as the focus of your display? Is there anything they won’t be able to see and might miss?
  • Price tags. No matter how many signs you may have stating the price of your items, people will still ignore them. To save yourself being asked over and over, or possible missed sales because people don’t want to ask, be sure to have price tags on each individual item. For quick and easy price tags, customize and download our free “Handmade by” price tags!
  • Make your craft. If time (and your craft) permits, actually work on a craft at the show. This will draw attention as people watch how you actually make your goods.

Tips

  • Put all your checklist items into a Craft Show Caddy. If you plan to sell your crafts at shows frequently, save yourself some time and put together a Craft Show Caddy. Purchase a large plastic container with lid and fill it all of your non-inventory craft show essentials. Also purchase several smaller plastic containers to easily organize similar items – one for a cash box (preferably a non-clear box so people can’t see how much money is in it), one to use as a tool box, and one for miscellaneous small items.
  • Designate a place in your garage or basement to keep the Craft Show Caddy, along with the tables, chairs, tents, dolly, etc. so that everything is in one spot and easy for you to quickly load. After each show, be sure to restock any items you may need to make sure you’re always ready to go. Print the caddy checklist above, and tape it to the inside of the lid. That way, if you run out of something, you can easily double-check what’s missing!
  • After you set up your display at each show, take a photo of your display so you can easily remember how it was arranged to quickly replicate it again next time! It’s also a great way to evaluate what you like, don’t like, and need to improve.
  • Sell yourself! Have a professional sign saying who you are, where you are from and what you make! Create a shirt with your logo for extra marketing. In addition, have a stack of business cards and catalogs prominently displayed so people can share your information with interested friends.
  • Acknowledge browsers. Allow your customers to browse at their own leisure and don’t hound them. However, if you see a customer showing particular interest in a certain item, approach her in a helpful tone with “I’ll be happy to answer any questions you may have about my items.”
  • Make it obvious. Customers don’t like to ask if they don’t have to. Have plenty of signs stating the prices of your items and make sure everything is individually priced.
  • Credit Cards. If you accept credit cards, post signs saying so. This may help boost your sales as many people don’t expect crafters to accept plastic!

Unbe-LEAF-able!

. . . . . .

Take advantage of nature’s free craft supply and spark your child’s creativity with some simple leafy projects!

Fall is here and colorful autumn leaves are abundant. But falling leaves create more than just a chore, take advantage of nature’s free craft supply and spark your child’s creativity with some simple leafy projects! After you’ve finished raking the leaves in your yard, give your child a bucket or box to collect moist leaves of different shapes, colors, and sizes. If you don’t have many trees in your own backyard, take a stroll through the neighborhood or your local park.

While enjoying quality time with your child outdoors, take the opportunity to make your walk educational. Collecting fall leaves with younger children is a wonderful occasion to teach colors and counting. With older children, try teaching the proper tree names (use our list of useful links below).

Checklist

  • Lifetime 4-foot adjustable folding table OR Lifetime card table
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • Leaf Painting: Moist leaves (not dry crunchy leaves), cardboard or cardstock, glue, tempera paints in yellow, red, orange, and brown, paper plate, small paint roller or paint brush, and construction paper.
  • Leaf Placemat or Bookmark: Moist leaves, white poster board, glue, Markers, clear contact paper, and scissors (plain, pinking shears or fancy-edged)
  • Leaf Rubbings: Moist leaves, 2 pieces of white paper, and Crayons.
  • Leaf Wreaths: Moist leaves, pinecones, cardboard or paper plate, glue, and some string or yarn.
  • Leaf Trees: Moist leaves (not dry crunchy leaves), large piece of paper, pencil, crayons, and glue.

Steps

  1. Once you’ve collected the leaves, it’s time to let your child branch out and explore their creativity. Before you begin, make sure your child has a comfortable working place where you won’t mind if things get a little messy! Setting up a separate craft table for your child also will allow your child to complete the project at her own pace without having to clean up supplies for mealtime etc.
  2. Now that the workspace is set, pick a craft below, grab some supplies, and let the fun begin…you won’t “be-leave” what your kids can make!

Crafts 

  1. Leaf Painting Glue moist leaves in different shapes and varieties onto a sheet of cardboard or heavy cardstock paper. Let dry completely. Pour a small amount of paint onto a paper plate. Dip a small paint roller into the paint and then roll it over the leaves or use a paintbrush and paint the leaves different colors. Once the leaves are painted and while the paint is still wet, lay a piece of construction paper over the painted leaves and rub it to get a good print. Lift the paper to see the print and let your masterpiece dry.
  2. Leaf Placemat or Bookmark Cut a piece of poster board the size you want to make either your placemat or bookmark. Glue your leaves onto the poster board. Use markers to add extra decorations such as borders or personalize it with your name. Cut two pieces of Con-Tact paper twice the size of your placemat or bookmark. Peel off the back of one piece of contact paper and place your poster board in the middle of it. Peel off the back of the second piece of Con-Tact and carefully place it on top of your poster board trying not to leave any bubbles. Use scissors to trim away excess Con-Tact, leaving a slight Con-Tact border all the way around (pinking shears or fancy-edged scissors make fun shapes for your border).This is a great gift for kids to make for friends and relatives!
  3. Leaf Rubbings Place leaves (vein side up) on a piece of paper. Place another piece of white paper on top of the leaves. Peel the paper wrapper off of your crayon, and using the long side, gently rub the crayon over the leaves and watch the shapes magically appear!
  4. Leaf Wreaths Cut a piece of cardboard into a circle and then cut the middle out to make a wreath shape. Or, use a paper plate and cut a circle out of the middle. Glue leaves and pinecones all over the cardboard or paper plate so it is completely covered. Tie a piece of yarn around the wreath to hang it from your door!
  5. Leaf Trees Place your child’s hand and forearm on the piece of paper and trace it all the way to the elbow (the arm will be a tree trunk and the fingers will be tree branches). Color the tree trunk and branches. Glue leaves onto the “branches” and don’t forget to add some falling to the ground!

Tips

  • Tree identification links: Curious to know what type of leaf you found? Check out some of these handy guides and interactive sites to help you easily identify your leaf! www.arborday.org, www.uwsp.edu, www.mastgeneralstore.com, www.msu.edu.
  • If only one child is making the craft, a Lifetime 4-Foot Adjustable Height Table is the perfect-sized craft table to hold all of the supplies and still have room to work. You can raise and lower the table to best fit your child’s level so she can sit comfortably, and the stain-resistant plastic top makes it easy for you to wash off any paint, markers, or glue that may miss the paper!
  • If more than one child will be working on the craft, set up a card table and place all of the supplies in the middle of the table so the children can easily share supplies while still having plenty of space to create their own masterpiece!
  • For crafts that involve painting, you might want to place some newspaper on the floor under the table and chairs to protect your floors from accidental splatters.

Eco-Friendly Dinner Party

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If you’ve been inspired to make some life-changes, it’s time to let your friends know you’re going green! Spread the word by inviting friends and neighbors to an earth-appreciating dinner party. Share organic recipes, your favorite eco-friendly products, and show your friends simple changes you’re making to save some green and save our environment. Not sure what to do to go green? See our Earth Day article for some ideas. Nothing’s more refreshing than enjoying nature, and showing your friends that preserving it is easy! Follow the steps below to create green, vibrant dinner party, with reusable dinner décor. Use plants as centerpieces; either from your home or as gifts for your guests.

Checklist

  • Lifetime folding banquet table(s)
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • Various plants- lucky bamboo, orchids or other potted plants
  • White dinnerware
  • White napkins
  • White or brown tablecloth
  • Mini accent stones and river rocks (optional)
  • Squares of slate or tile, one per guest (optional)
  • Some great dishes using organic products, such as the following recipe for Grilled Portabello Mushrooms with Pesto Linguine

Steps 

  1. Pick a setting. Try to choose a place with lots of natural light, the patio, backyard, or even your living room. This reduces the amount of energy used at the party.
  2. Send out invites. If you can, send out email invitations. Digital invitations eliminate the need for paper, making your party truly green.
  3. You’ll want to set the table with crisp, clean, and all white materials. Begin by covering the table with a white cloth. Set out white cloth napkins. If you’d prefer an earthy look, try a brown or beige, earth-toned cloth, with green napkins. Either fold the napkins, or tie each with twine or long grass. Using reusable napkins and table cloths reduce the amount of waste from your party.
  4. Down the center of the table arrange small pots of plants. Orchids or lucky bamboo look beautiful and make great houseplants for your guests to take home.
  5. Set out clean, reusable white dishes and glass goblets. Use small white dishes for any dipping sauce or appetizers.
  6. If your party is outside and in the evening, set out beeswax candles. They create a wonderful, romantic glow, and are made with eco-friendly wax.

Tips

  • Use your Lifetime Table as a work surface to make Lucite placemats and napkin rings, then clean off and cover with a cloth to set your table for your dinner party!
  • If you are having a large party, use several Lifetime round tables or 3 banquet tables shaped into a H or U-shape. Great for conversation.

Recipe: Grilled Portabello Mushrooms with Pesto Linguine

Recipe by Deborah Fabricant. Serves 6

  • 6 medium Portobello mushrooms, stems removed and cleaned with a damp cloth
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/3 lb. of linguine pasta
  • ¼ cup fresh pesto
  • ½ cup toasted pinenuts
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  1. Brush the mushrooms with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill until just cooked through and set aside.
  2. Break linguine into 3-4 inch lengths and cook according to package directions.
  3. Drain pasta and mix with fresh pesto and pinenuts. Adjust the seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if needed.
  4. Spoon linguine mixture into mushroom caps, top with fresh parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for about 10 minutes or until heated through.

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Summertime Impromptu

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Welcome the warm weather with a party as whimsical as the spirit of summer! Celebrate a birthday, anniversary, new pool, or just have a light-hearted neighborhood get together. This party works best outdoors and at night, when you display strings of glowing white Christmas lights and create a magical atmosphere. Deb’s recipe for Grilled Nectarines completes the scene with a delicious, sweet aroma. So gather your friends and relax in true “que sara sara” summer style— whatever will be will be!

Checklist

  • Two 6-8’ Lifetime Banquet Tables
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • Two double bed sheets
  • Fabric paint
  • Hurricane glasses
  • Various sea shells, and some sea moss
  • Candles
  • Crayons
  • White china
  • Fish netting
  • Sand dollars
  • Natural looking twine or raffia
  • Sand colored napkins
  • Pearled Nautilus shells
  • Placemats- adhesive Spray, medium grade sand and large cardboard cake rounds
  • Shell topiary- a variety of shells, sea moss, strands of inexpensive pearls (from a bead shop), a Styrofoam cone and a glue gun

Steps 

  1. Purchase (or visit your linen closet) two flat double bed sheets. Lay them out on a work surface to paint.
  2. Paint the sheeting with either brights, pastels or metallic colors. Use your imagination... flowers, leaves, fish, shells or abstract, making sure you are consistent with color as to match it all together later on. (For this table, I would paint fish and shells).
  3. Once the paint is dry and the tables are covered with your new “artwork”, place big glass hurricanes at intervals along the length of the table. Fill with sand and a variety of shells, some sea moss and a fat candle in the middle.
  4. Use pearled Nautilus shells as either additional candle holders or as planters for flowers or tiny plants. Take out the wick from small votive candles, and melt them with a crayon that matches the inside of the shell (pink or orange). Pour into shell and replace wick. Voila! You have beautiful “shell candles” to use both now and later.
  5. Once the paint is dry and the tables are covered with your new “artwork”, place big glass hurricanes at intervals along the length of the table. Fill with sand and a variety of shells, some sea moss and a fat candle in the middle.Placemats- Make the placemats with adhesive Spray, medium grade sand and large cardboard cake rounds. Cover a work table with newspaper. Lay the cardboard cake rounds flat and coat them with Adhesive Spray. Generously pour the sand over the cardboard and let stand for about 5 minutes. Shake off excess sand. Should any spots be missed, simply repeat the process.
  6. Shell topiary- Make a Shell topiary by gluing shells together onto the cylinder Styrofoam shape (you may want to make several for a big party). Lay newspaper over the surface of a table to create a workspace. Start at the bottom of the cone, and begin gluing shells onto the cone with hot glue. Continue gluing, making sure you vary the size, shapes and colors of the shells as you go along. When the cone is completely covered then begin to fill in small spaces with tiny bits of sea moss. Lastly, drape the cone with pearls and place on top of a sand placemat. Decorate around the bottom edge with sea moss and candles.
  7. Finish the table off with white china, sand colored napkins with Florida Round Sand Dollars tied to them with twine (making napkin rings), and fish netting. Make Grilled Nectarines with Blue Cheese and Lavender Honey, the perfect summer night treat.

Tips

  • Use a Lifetime folding table when you make the shell topiary and placemats. All Lifetime tables are so easy to clean, and glue always rubs off their polyethylene tops!
  • Fresh out of sea shells? Order them online at www.seashellcity.com or www.shellhorizons.com
  • To form one long, romantic repast table, place the two tables end to end. For a magical outdoor look, try stringing up white paper Chinese lanterns or Christmas lights. Place them in trees, under patio ceilings, etc. Also string loads of little white lights in trees, on fences, around windows, etc. for beautiful lighting and that fairytale outdoor look.

Recipe: Grilled Nectarines With Blue Cheese and Lavender Honey

Serves 8

  • ½ cup Lavender honey, warmed
  • ½ tsp. Vanilla
  • 4 ripe nectarines, cut in half and pitted
  • ½ to ¾ cups Blue Papillon Cheese
  • ¼ cup toasted sliced almonds, plus 2 T. for garnish
  1. Mix together the honey and vanilla
  2. Brush the honey-vanilla mixture over the cut surfaces of the nectarines.
  3. Grill the nectarines, cut side down, until the edges begin to caramelize. Remove from the grill
  4. Mix together the blue cheese and the toasted almonds.
  5. Stuff the cavities of the nectarines with the blue cheese mixture and place on a sheet pan, cut side facing up.
  6. Bake at 375 for 5 minutes or until the nectarines are heated through and the cheese begins to melt. Drizzle with additional honey, sprinkle with additional almonds and serve warm.

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Deb Fabricant's Top 12 Party Tips

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Think you know everything about party etiquette? Think again. Manners and party etiquette are Deb Fabricant’s expertise. Check out twelve of her best tips that will make you a wonderful guest, and an even better host.

Deb's Tips

  1. RSVP-ing for a Party: At any dinner or party, your host or hostess has gone to a great deal of time, expense and planning, be it large or intimate. It is your duty to RSVP. There are no excuses for not telling them if you will attend or not…NO excuses, puleeze! Just pick up the phone or send a quick email. (And, don’t wait until the last minute, it is rude.)
  2. What to Bring to a Party- If you bring flowers to the host or hostess, please, please, please bring them in a suitable container or vase. There are few things more perplexing than trying to serve hors d’oeuvres, introduce guests, take coats and check on food, and to have a guest with a bunch of flowers looking for a vase!! Besides, most hostesses already have flowers in the house for the party. Why not bring a good wine, candles or something edible. Or, if they have a pooch or kitty, bring something for Fido or Fifi!!
  3. When to Arrive: According to Charlotte Ford’s 21st Century Etiquette, the 15-minute-late standard is acceptable for a dinner party; in fact, your host will probably expect it. Unless you are asked to show up early to help, respect the host and arrive within 20 minutes of the party’s designated start time. Being an hour late is just not acceptable, disrupts the cadence of the already begun party and is embarrassing…to YOU.
  4. How to Start a Conversation: In this day and age, asking “What do you do” is akin to asking “What can you do for me?” Forget about it! It is unimaginative! It is hard to come up with a brilliant replacement, however, but you might try something like “How do you know the host?” or “What part of town do you live in”? or “What is your favorite sports team/restaurant?” These will usually segue into a more meaningful conversation that will ultimately reveal what a person does!
  5. Where to Sit: Even for small dinner parties, I prefer to make place cards. The reason for this is to make my guests feel relaxed and taken care of. Should you go to a party where you must fend for yourself, scope out the guests early on to decide who is interesting enough to spend an evening with. And, avoid sitting with your spouse or significant other…you see them all the time…so get out there and mingle!! To be clingy is boring.
  6. Forgetting Names, or Rather, Remembering Them!:- It is perfectly understandable to forget someone’s name when you have only met them once. Should this happen, simply say, “Please tell me your name again.” If by chance you have met this person before and blank on the name, then solicit the help of a friend to start a conversation to introduce the two. The person whose name you forgot will offer up his name. If someone is struggling with YOUR name, be generous and re-introduce yourself by saying, “I’m Deb, and we met through Lynn the other day at the Nelson’s.”
  7. Making a Toast: The clinking of glasses is a synergizing force at a gathering. If there is a guest of honor, let the host make the toast, and then you may chime in. Someone should, however, before the end of the evening, toast the host. And, remember…when you clink glasses, look the person IN THE EYE as you toast!
  8. Cleaning Your Plate: There are times when you are caught at a dinner party and absolutely do not like the food being served. What to do? Simply take a bite or two of everything that is served, eat what you do like and leave the rest of it alone. Do not make your feelings known, however, for that would embarrass you and your hosts.
  9. How To Be Entertaining at a Gathering: You have been invited to a party for a reason. It is your obligation to be “present” at the party, to join in on conversation and listen to others. Your host will be pleased that you were a good guest. At a loss for words? The day of the party read the paper, listen to the news, remember good books and movies you have recently enjoyed, remember sports information, think about what you have enjoyed recently, be it a museum, restaurant or outing, and be prepared to talk about it. Also, remember to be a good listener by asking questions of your dinner partner. One way I remember to ask questions is to imagine I’m a news interviewer like Larry King and pretend I’m interviewing my dinner partner!!
  10. Taking Leave: The general rule is to linger at a gathering for at least an hour after dinner in order to avoid the eat-and-run syndrome. Making a graceful exit is sometimes difficult because if you are the first to leave, you don’t want to cause a stampede, so exit as quickly and gracefully as possible. If the party is very large, there is no need to say good-bye to everyone, but it is proper to seek out the hosts and thank them for a wonderful evening.
  11. Cleaning Up. The kitchen is the friendliest room in the house, so it is polite to ask if your help is desired when it comes time to clean up. It is also perfectly polite for the host to decline your help. I, for one, like to pamper my guests, so I decline any help, unless it is a family dinner and then I do expect a little help. For more formal dinner parties, I try and get someone who will clean the kitchen if the budget allows. (Even a teenager who wants to earn extra money is a great way to get that kitchen cleaned up!) That said, it is always nice to offer... hosts appreciate your willingness.
  12. Thanking The Host: It is customary to call or write a brief note thanking the host or hostess for a party. I prefer to write a note, since it shows that you took the time to sit down and make a special effort. However, in today’s electronic age, it is acceptable to send an email as a way of thanks. In any case, THANK YOUR HOST!! (Again, they went to a lot of time, expense and trouble on your behalf…a simple thank you is not asking too much.)

Too Many Tomatoes

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Tomatoes come in a variety of interesting shapes, sizes, and colors. So rather than simply eat them, why not make a fun and edible centerpiece? This dinner plan is the perfect splash of color for warm summer months when tomatoes are season, and great for outdoor dining. Invite your friends and family, and add to your party with this lavish but surprisingly simple décor!

Checklist

  • Lifetime folding banquet table(s)
  • Lifetime Folding Chairs
  • A selection of Heirloom Tomatoes and tomatoes of all shapes and sizes
  • White or Hunter Green tablecloth
  • Low, narrow, flat baskets
  • Clear glass votive candles
  • Large, Tuscan-style candlesticks
  • Wood chargers
  • Golden yellow plates or white dinnerware
  • Celadon green napkins
  • Amber glassware
  • Rustic paper placemats: Several sheets of handmade red “fiber paper”

Steps

  1. Lay a white or hunter green tablecloth over your table
  2. Put newspaper in the bottom of the low, narrow, flat baskets, and pile high with tomatoes and Basil leaves (covering the paper completely)
  3. Set the clear glass votive candles interspersed along the length of the table and juxtapose with larger Tuscan-style candlesticks
  4. Place off-white, white, or golden yellow plates on wood chargers
  5. Set celadon green napkins on the plates, topped with small cherry tomatoes and sprig of Basil leaves
  6. Set out amber glassware
  7. Make rustic paper placemats: Fold the fiber paper to measure about 17” x 15”. Moisten the folds and press down firmly to create a neat edge. Now pull the paper apart at the edge, creating a dappled edge. This will be your placemat.
  8. Make Deb’s Favorite Summer Tomato Salad, to top off the evening!

Tips

  • For more placemat interest, you can glue additional pockets of paper alongside the left edge of the placemat and tuck a napkin or silverware into the pocket.
  • Create a U-shaped table using 3 Lifetime folding tables. Larger Tomato Centerpiece on the middle table—smaller ones on the sides, using a wide variety and color of Heirloom Tomatoes.
  • What to do with the leftover Heirloom Tomatoes? Try making a great pasta sauce, a Tomato Marmalade for Christmas gifts or sun-dried tomatoes to use in soups or sauces later.

Recipe: Deb’s Favorite Summer Tomato Salad

  • Thick slices of ripe Heirloom Tomatoes (one per guest)
  • Sliced Burrata Cheese (a cow’s milk Mozzarella cheese from Puglia is rich and creamy. Found in any fine cheese shop or online.)
  • Slices of avocado
  • ¼ inch thick slices of peeled navel oranges
  • Pitted Nicoise olives (or Kalamata olives)
  • Fresh torn basil leaves
  • A drizzle of Truffle oil
  1. Arrange tomatoes on a large platter and top with a slice of Burrata, a slice of orange, and 2-3 slices of avocado.
  2. Scatter the olives and basil over all, and drizzle with Truffle oil.

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Make A Father's Day Card

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Does the day before Father's Day usually drive you to a frantic phone call to your mom? Try making something special this year right at home. Why fight the crowds of last-minute shoppers and go for the usual store bought gift, when you could make something memorable and special, right at home? Thank your dad for all his love, service and sacrifice with a unique, homemade card. And if you've already bought something, you can turn any ordinary gift into something extraordinary by acompanying it with a home-made card. All you need is some cardstock, patterned paper, embellishments, and a photo!

Checklist

  • Lifetime table
  • Liftime chairs
  • Greeting card or folded cardstock
  • Patterned paper
  • Small photo
  • Rub-on letters or letter stickers
  • Paint
  • Your children’s (helping?) hands
  • Washable paint
  • Embellishments like stickers or patterned paper
  • Journaling pen
    1. Cover outside of card with patterned paper.
    2. Mount photo on cardstock and add to layout.
    3. Create title using rub-ons and a letter sticker mounted on a metal-rimmed tag.
    4. Add children's handprints and photos to inside of card. Use the washable paint to avoid stains--you know what will happen if you don't! For a special personal touch, let the kids write messages beside their handprints.
    5. Embellish with patterned paper, epoxy stickers, computer and hand-written journaling.

Daddy Card by Valerie Salmon Supplies: cardstock; patterned paper by Chatterbox; epoxy stickers by Creative Imaginations; letter sticker by Doodlebug Design; rub-ons; metal-rimmed tag; computer fonts.

Make Your Own Kite

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After the long, cold winter, the warm weather welcomes us outdoors with sunshine and gentle breezes—perfect weather for kite flying! Kite flying is a relaxing way to fill a couple of quiet hours in the park, at the beach, or in an open meadow. Learning the technique of kite flying is a satisfying experience. But if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you will find a special satisfaction in actually making your own kite!

Kites come in all shapes and sizes—some of them truly magnificent feats of engineering! But if you’re a first time do-it-yourself kite maker, you’ll probably want to start with a simple design. This is an enlarged model of the "20 minute kite for kids" from the Big Wind Kite Factory in Hawaii. http://www.molokai.com/kites/20kidskites.html

Checklist

  • Craft Table
  • Lifetime folding chairs
  • 1 sheet of brightly colored paper 25.5 inches  wide x 30 inches long
  • 1 25 inch wooden dowel for horizontal support
  • 1 30 inch wooden dowel for additional vertical support if necessary
  • 1 roll 1/2 inch wide tape
  • 1 roll of string, 6 - 10ft. long
  • 1 inch x 3 inch piece of cardboard or an empty bathroom tissue roll on which to wind the string.
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch (optional)

Steps

  1. Fold paper in half to 25.5 x 15
  2. Mark point 1/2 inch from the fold at the top
  3. Mark another point 3 inches from the fold at the bottom
  4. Draw a diagonal line between these points
  5. Fold paper back along this dotted line and tape down the new fold line
  6. Then tape down 25 inch wooden dowel between top corner points
  7. Tape down 30 inch wooden dowel on the vertical fold for additional structural support
  8. Attach 10 feet of ribbon to the bottom of the kite with tape
  9. Flip kite over and bend the flap back and forth until it stands straight up
  10. Tape a small piece of tape 1/3 of the way down from the top of that flap and punch a hole through it.
  11. Tie one end of the string through the hole and wind the rest of the string onto the cardboard or toilet paper roll

Safety Tips

  • Never fly your kite around power lines, telephone lines, overhead electrical wires.
  • In order to avoid attracting electricity, do not use metal parts in the construction of your kite.
  • Do not use fishing line or wire for your kite string.It will cut your hands.
  • Do not fly your kite close to streets where it could distract drivers.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Since you will have your eye on the sky, don’t fly near ditches, steep hills, or obstacles that you may trip over.
  • Avoid flying too close to trees and other kite flyers.

Instructions Diagram

Planning the Ultimate Family Reunion

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Editor-in-chief of Reunions Magazine, Edith Wagner brings you tried and true tips for planning your next reunion. Although some family reunions can involve hundreds of people and take years to coordinate, it’s never too late to plan a gathering of loved ones and relatives. Such occasions are great times to bond with the family, and below are some tips and techniques to help minimize the work and help you enjoy the event as much as everyone else.

Getting Started!

  1. Two 8ft. Lifetime Tables – Put them end to end to form one long banquet table.
  2. Lifetime folding chairs – enough for each guest
  3. Setting parameters – This is your job as host. The first thing you should do is decide:
    • How many family members will likely attend?
    • What type of space is necessary to accommodate that number of people?
    • How much money am I personally willing to invest, and how much, if any, will need to be contributed by others?
  4. Set the date – Poll a sampling of key family members (grandparents, siblings, cousins and other people whose presence is essential) that you have easy access to via email or telephone. Ask if they are interested in a reunion, and if they have any major conflicts coming up. This will help determine if it is feasible, and if interest is high enough to move forward.
    • Once you have a general idea of a date, make sure it doesn't fall too closely to any other major events like weddings, baptisms, graduations, etc.
    • Once a date is selected, stick to it.
  5. Finalize a location – A reunion at home has a very personal and relaxed atmosphere, but not everyone has the space needed for such an undertaking. Every town across America has parks, recreation centers, hotels and resorts, etc. that are perfect meeting places for such events. Just remember that if the event isn't at someone's home, organization and proper planning will be even more important.
  6. Create a budget – When money is spent as needs arise, costs can shoot through the roof. Devise a budget first, and follow it as closely as possible. Also, be upfront with family members about appropriate contributions. Spearheading such an event is a large contribution in itself, and this should be reflected in the level of assistance from others.
  7. Delegate – If you try to plan everything yourself, you’ll produce undue stress. Early on, find family members who are willing and able to provide assistance. Talk to them about what they would enjoy being in charge of, and let them control that aspect of planning. Examples of different responsibilities to delegate are:
    • Site selection
    • Invitations
    • Food
    • Decorations
    • Activities
    • Music & Entertainment
    • Tables & Seating
    • Keepsakes and party favors
  8. Communicate – Once all of the work has someone to oversee it, set up weekly meeting times, and stay in contact (in person or by telephone) to ensure everything is getting done in a quality and timely manner. Be sure to follow up after meetings.

Planning and Logistics

  1. Create a theme – One of the most important things to remember is that a family reunion celebrates who you are, and where you come from. Invest time brainstorming a theme that works for the family. The theme can shine through in many different aspects of the reunion.
    • Invitations – Pick symbols and a color scheme appropriate to your theme, and use them in the invitations and decorations.
    • Food – Serve foods traditional for your family and heritage. Grandparents can be a great resource for this!
    • Games and activities – Do things that your family enjoys, but also try to incorporate something specific, like bocce ball for an Italian-American family, or Jai Alai for a family of Latin heritage.
    • Keepsakes - When creating party favors or other creative items, remember your theme and colors.
    • Music – No party is complete without it, so use it as a way to bring your theme to life.
    • Clothing – Encourage everyone to dress along the lines of the theme. If you do this, you are only one step away from having a costume contest for a fun activity!
  2. Create a Layout – Outdoor spaces are large, so take advantage of it, but plan ahead where everything will go. Lifetime® tables and chairs can be set up in different areas of the party. They are lightweight and easy to move around, making it easy to toy with several different set-up options. Once the layout is finalized, label each table with what will go on it. This way, as guests arrive with their contributions, they will know where to put them. A few areas to think about are a registration area, space for sitting and eating, food and drink service and a keepsake table for displaying articles of family history or photos.
  3. Prepare for the Weather – No matter how much hard work you put into planning, bad weather can foil an event. Have tents on hand, or plan your event adjacent an available indoor area or pavilion so that plans can proceed despite the weather. It may not be possible to tent the entire event, but a few strategically placed covered areas can keep the party flowing. If possible, plan a rain date.
  4. Create a Comfortable Space – If you can’t have the reunion at someone’s home, put time into thinking about what needs this adds. As you go through a day in your home, ask yourself, “What am I doing that wouldn’t be possible outside in a park?”
    • Restrooms: Renting temporary toilet facilities to ensure that everyone can be comfortable throughout the day. Too many guests can cause a strain on septic systems.
    • Shade: The same tents you have on hand for rain can be used to create shady areas if the weather reaches the opposite extreme. Provide sunscreen and bug spray, as your guests will likely forget.
    • Water: There may not be an adequate water source at your event-site, so have plenty of bottles on hand. Factor in how long the reunion will be, and how many bottles each person might consume over that time period.
    • Electricity/Gas: This might be necessary for cooking.
    • Clothing: You never know when someone will catch a chill or overheat, and not have extra clothes on hand. Purchase a few inexpensive sweatshirts, t-shirts and hats to have around, or choose these as party favors.
  5. Utilize Your Family's Talents – This will help everyone feel involved and can save money. Ask the good cooks to provide favorite family recipes, engage teenage participants by asking them to take photos, shoot video or baby-sit. However, keep in mind that everyone, including you, should have time to enjoy the festivities, so distribute assignments evenly.
  6. Plan for Food – Food is often the centerpiece of a family event, but it can also be the downfall if not planned appropriately.
    • Decide if you want to serve one or more full meals or simply provide snacks.
    • Think about how much you would personally want to eat at the reunion. Allow for a little extra, just in case, and multiply this amount by how many will attend.
    • Reach out to local food distributors for quotes to help you find the best deals.
    • Use steam tables and coolers to keep foods at safe temperatures.
    • Always keep food in the shade.
    • Screen attachments on tents can be great for keeping away the bugs.
    • Tag a few family members to help be in charge of maintaining the food, helping little ones get their plates ready, etc.
  7. Create a Schedule – While it is important to relax and not be inflexible during a fun party, if certain time guidelines aren’t set, activities that took a lot of resources to plan might get overlooked. Print a schedule for the day, and run through it with guests as they arrive.
  8. Keep Safety in Mind – Always have first-aid supplies and cell phones on hand. It’s also not a bad idea to call the local police department, and let them know that you are hosting an event with lots of people. This way, if something should go wrong, they’ll be aware, and will know right where to come.
  9. Create a Keepsake – Even after the reunion is over, the fun and memory making can continue by making something collectively as a family.
    • Quilts make great keepsakes. Provide every participant with a square of fabric and set up an area to decorate them on-site. After the reunion, ask a family member who is good at sewing to assemble the pieces. This simple process is a great way to create a new family heirloom that will be cherished.
    • Sign-in books not only keep a record of who attended, but participants can write a short note next to their name to create a simple keepsake.
    • Collages of photos from the day can be compiled and emailed to all participants.
    • Recipes that are featured at the event can be combined into a family cookbook.

The Day of the Event

  1. Set Up – Ask a few family members to arrive early to help set-up. You won’t want everyone standing around as preparations are underway, but a few extra hands (and the muscles of nephews and grandsons) will be welcomed! Have a brief meeting with your helpers when they arrive. This way, there will be no confusion and things will be able to come together quickly.
  2. Make Use of the Last Hours Before Guests Arrive – Timing is extremely important the morning of the event, especially when it comes to food. Here are some helpful guidelines:
  3. Four hours from guest arrival
    • Helpers should arrive
    • Set up of tables, tents, etc.
    • Set up all activities
    • Begin decorating
  4. Two hours from guest arrival
    • Refrigerate drinks
    • Purchase ice
    • Make last runs to the grocery store, etc.
  5. 30 minutes before guests arrive
    • Make sure all sign in materials are in place
    • Turn on steam tables for food if serving hot dishes
    • If cooking out, turn on the grill
    • Transfer drinks and other food into coolers
    • Put out eating utensils, plates, and napkins
  6. Include Family Who Could Not Attend – Have a cell phone dedicated to this purpose and give the number to family members who were unable to attend. This will give them the chance to call in and get passed around to say hello to everyone. Be sure to give those that might call in a good idea of what times would be most convenient.
  7. Plan the Next Family Gathering – Having everyone in one place at one time is a rare occasion, so take advantage, and set a tentative date for the next family gathering. Once you see how easy it is to pull this off, you may want to have another sooner than you think!
  8. Clean Up – Whether the event is at home or in another location, have sufficient supplies on hand to clear trash and other clutter. Before the event starts, find a few younger helpers who are willing to be in charge of collecting trash and bagging everything up. You can even offer them each a few dollars for their help.
  9. Encourage Post-Event Contact – Reunions are great ways to rekindle lost relationships. Create a phone or email chain while everyone is together. This will be great for spreading family news, and to pass along reunion follow-up. After the event, digitize photos, and use the email chain to pass them along to everyone. The next time big family news comes about; it will be easy to get the word out to everyone. This information can even be put together creatively to make a post-event gift to send to all participants.

After Everyone's Gone Home!

  • Thank Key Players – Give yourself a few days for everything to settle after the event, but as the planner, it is a good idea to send a special thank you note to everyone who helped make the event a success.
  • Stay in Touch – If you follow these tips, you’ll have an improved capability to stay in touch with your family after the event. Do your part to keep family bonds strong.

Mother's Day Tray

. . . . . .

This Mother's Day give your mom a special breakfast tray that she can display or use again and again. For the woman who has served you breakfast for years, this is a great way to return the favor while giving her something she'll always cherish! All you need are a few simple supplies, a wooden tray, little helping hands, and Lifetime Table to assemble everything with minimal cleanup.

Checklist

  • Lifetime table
  • Lifetime chairs
  • Wooden tray
  • Patterned paper (in her favorite colors or colors that match the home decor)
  • Solid colored cardstock
  • Journaling pen (acid-free)
  • Thick thread and ribbon
  • A sharp pencil 
  • A photo of your children 
  • Scrapbook letter stickers
  • 5-6 Buttons
  • Hot glue gun
  • Decoupage or regular white glue
  • Paint matching the patterned paper (optional)

Steps

  1. If desired, paint the wooden tray and allow to dry.
  2. Have children write what they love about mom on patterned paper.
  3. Cut cardstock into several pieces. One to fit the length or width of the base of the tray, and some pieces that are just 1/4" bigger than your photo on each side.
  4. Smear the white glue or Decoupage on the back of your piece of cardstock, and adhere it to the inside of the tray against the left wall.
  5. Do the same to the back of your piece of patterned paper, and place it centered between your cardstock and the right wall.
  6. As you allow both pieces of paper to dry on the tray, use the needle and thick thread or ribbon to stitch around the cardstock that is just slightly larger than your photo. You can use a sharp pencil to poke holes along the edges beforehand.
  7. Use white glue to mount the photo to the piece of stitched cardstock (that is 1/4" larger than the photo) so that it forms a frame. Adhere some thread or ribbon across the bottom and use hot glue to add a button or two.
  8. Use the hot glue to adhere the ribbon along the length of your cardstock, near the center of the tray. Glue on the remaining buttons and washers to the ribbon. 
  9. Adhere embellished photo to tray.
  10. Place sticker or title letters to the cardstock. Create a saying that means something to her, or something pertaining to what the children have written, like "Mom, we love you because..." ... and you're done!

Tips

  • To preserve the tray design and images, spray a coat of clear matte fixative over the inside of the tray. To create a water-proof coat, pour in a layer of high-gloss coating. Spread evenly by tipping the tray from side to side, and use a blow-dryer set to low to blow air over surface to eliminate bubbles.

Breakfast Tray by Jennifer Luke. Supplies: wooden breakfast tray; paint by DecoArt; patterned paper by K&Company; letter stickers by Heidi Grade Designs; waxy flax; washer; ribbon.

Organizing for Summer Family Fun

. . . . . .

Fun, laughter, and good times are often born spontaneously, but if you want to get the most fun out of a family outing, it's a good idea to do a little organizing beforehand. Some pre-planning can avoid the inconveniences that can put a damper on those good times.

If you launch into elaborate preparations that cause delays when everyone else wants to just jump into the car and go, the whole excursion can get off to a frustrating start. Here are some suggestions that will help cut down on preparations and frustrations when it comes to "spontaneous" fun. Once you've packed a grab-n-go backpack, and packed a few essentials in the trunk of your car, all you'll have to worry about the next time you hear "Let's go!" is making sure everyone has visited the bathroom before heading out the door.

Things to Keep in the Trunk of Your Car

In the trunk, off your mind. Having these things pre-packed means you'll have less to remember (or forget!) when it's time to head out the door.

Things to Keep in a Grab-n-Go Backpack by the Door

Keep a backpack stocked and ready to go at a moment's notice. Keeping it in a handy visible location near the door will prevent you from forgetting it in the excitement of departure. Here are a few items that can make the difference between fun and fiasco.

  • Sunblock lotion
  • Non-refrigerated snacks
  • Bottled water
  • Pre-moistened towlettes
  • First aid kit

Now you're prepared with the basic supplies you need to have a safe outing no matter where you go. Just remember, the essential key to enjoying leisure time with your friends and family is your state of mind. So relax and go with the flow. While the preparations should be well planned, the fun should be spontaneous!

Video Solutions

Helpful and important tips

Putting together a shed or basketball hoop and have a question? We have solutions to help you along the way.

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