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25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

Christmas Eve is upon us here in the metro area and, if you’re anything like me, you’re probably frantically getting in those last minute errands that you’ve been putting off forgotten about, baking holiday treats, and cleaning the house in anticipation of loved ones later this evening (or in my case, first thing tomorrow morning). It’s okay, we can all be superheroes from time to time, right?! Don’t stress out, it’s all going to be fine…right? RIGHT? Thankfully, our very own iFamilyKC Mom Squad team member Leah shares her 25 tips for managing holiday stress with us right here on the blog. Take a look…

25 Ways to manage holiday stress

25 Tips For Managing Holiday Stress

If you are anything like me you are guilty of trying to do a thousand things at once. I find myself being  pulled between trying to locate the “perfect gift”, attempting to stay on budget, pull money out of thin air, working more hours to afford “the perfect gift”, ordering things online, and trying to create time to wrap gifts all while trying to balance my daily tasks. Needless to say this momma is wore out.

The holidays tend to add so much stress and chaos to our already over packed lives. Yet, their intention is to the opposite. This year I am determined to approach things differently. I don’t want my son to judge holidays based around how well I may or may not handle stress. We all know that kids see everything even when we think otherwise. I want to make sure he sees me handle things with grace. After all I cannot expect him to if I don’t.

It really is my goal to learn how to master stress so it does not master me. I know that I will not be able to completely avoid stress. However, that doesn’t mean that I cannot try to handle it better when it arrives. I have found some pretty simple ways to help make your holidays a little less hectic. I hope that you can find one or two them useful.

#1 Take an Epson Salt bath – for an added stress relief add essential  oils

#2 Create a daily gratitude journal- use this to remind yourself what you are grateful for in yourself and others

#3 Go outside for a walk or run- being around the sunlight can improve your mood

#4 Instead of stressing out over dinner give yourself permission to order out

#5 Turn on some good music

#6 Have a glass of wine

#7 Have a cup of tea- there are so many teas out there to help you relax

#8 Give your partner a massage then have them return the favor ( or just book an appointment at a salon)

#9 Go get your hair done… I always feel better after a good hair cut

#10 Set a budget and stick with it

#11 Schedule a lunch date with a friend  and share a good laugh

#12 Turn off your phone so you can get stuff done without being distracted

#13 Try to give out “group gifts” when you have to buy for a family. This will help you stay on budget. You can buy them a movie, popcorn, snacks, etc. Plus this encourages them to do something as a family.

#14 Pace yourself- you do not have to do everything in one day. I find it useful to break my to do list down to a daily list instead. This also helps me feel less overwhelmed.

#15 Take a break and go do something fun as family

#16 Go see some Christmas lights and get yourself back into the Christmas spirit

#17 Light some candles around the house

#18 Meditate – this is an amazing stress reliever

#19 Go to the gym

#20 Call a friend or a family member that puts you in a good mood

#21 Get some sleep

#22 Don’t be afraid to ask for help

#23 Don’t sweat the small stuff

#24 Remind yourself that if something does not get done there is always tomorrow

#25 Listen to yourself- only you know your limits

To follow Leah further please go to her page at  www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul

From iFamily to yours,


leah_ifamilykc_momsquad25 tips for managing holiday stress


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

Now that we’re into the final week before Christmas shows it’s face, how about getting your friends and family together for a little holiday gingerbread house party? Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Becky, has some great tips for throwing an easy and fun gingerbread house party this weekend. Take a look!

How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party 


Last weekend I hosted a Gingerbread House party.


Picture it: 20+ kids. 20+ gingerbread houses arriving in parts and pieces. An unsupervised room full of every kind of candy you can imagine. Bags and jars of icing everywhere you look. A 3-year-old dumping an entire jar of white glittery sugar on his house. (Where was that kid’s mother?! Oh yeah, that was MY kid.)


This was by far the BEST WORST idea I’ve had yet. It was crazy, the kids will be on a sugar high for the rest of the week, our Elf on the Shelf was traumatized, but it was FUN. Not only that, but it was probably the easiest party I’ve ever thrown in my life. I was literally walking around my house a good 15 minutes before the party started to see if there was anything else I needed to do. THAT NEVER HAPPENS.


Want to know my secrets on how to throw a stress-free gingerbread house party?


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party

Get off Pinterest and follow these rules:


Don’t make the Gingerbread houses yourself. For a hot minute this was going to be my plan before I did the math on how painful that would be.

Do have every child bring their own gingerbread house kit with them to the party.


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


Don’t shop for all the candy yourself.

Do make it a candy potluck. I had every parent bring one bag of candy per kid.


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


Don’t leave the candy selection up to chance. Assortment is key!

Do create a digital sign-up. A sample from our list: M&Ms, mini M&Ms, peppermints, gum drops, Skittles, Starbursts, Hershey Kisses, mini marshmallows, Twizzlers, Lifesavers, bubble gum, Hot Tamales, Mike & Ike’s, pretzels, red hots and jelly beans


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


Don’t just invite the kids. (Good GOD, no.)

Do invite the entire family. The more adults on deck to help construct and assist with decorating, the smoother things will go. It also provides the parents a chance to tag team between their kids’ gingerbread houses and a beer.


Do set up lots of tables (including shorter ones to accommodate the little ones) for ample work spaces.

Don’t set up chairs. They take up a lot of space and you can fit more kids around a table without them.


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


Don’t try to construct your own children’s gingerbread houses once the party starts because you’ll be busy welcoming guests.

Do construct your kids’ houses ahead of time, buy the pre-assembled one from Costco, or cheat like I did with these plastic reusable houses.


Don’t offer drinks in cups. Can you image the number of spills and flooded houses?

Do provide plenty of juice boxes with straws.


Don’t serve food that requires you to be prepping in the kitchen or paying attention to oven timers during the party.

Do serve chili (that’s been simmering since early afternoon), hot dogs (that cook themselves—thank you hot dog roller!) and order some pizza for the kids.


How to host a Unique & Fun Gingerbread House Party


Don’t go crazy with the pizza. I’m a big fan of over ordering, but trust me.

Do consider that all the kids will be stuffed with candy by the time they go for a slice.


Don’t worry about the sprinkles, the icing, the hundreds of pieces of candy on your floor.

Do remember it’s just sugar and it all cleans up quite easily. (Exception: NEVER host this party if you only have carpeted rooms.)



I just knew when I was sending out invitations for this party it was either going to be a one-time event or a tradition my family would share with our friends for years to come. Oh yes, this party is definitely a keeper.


Pro Tips


  • Sprees and Starbursts won “Designers’ Choice” at our party.
  • This party is the perfect use for your kids’ leftover Halloween candy.
  • Sugar ice cream cones make great trees for the gingerbread houses.
  • Putting tablecloths on all the tables makes clean up so much easier.
  • There’s no need to unwrap any of the individually wrapped candy. Trust me, no kid needs help in this area.
  • Plan the party close to your trash day. You’ll have a ton of boxes to recycle.
  • Smaller tubs of icing with plastic knives work way better than the more expensive squeezable tubes of icing.
  • Beware of the houses sold at Trader Joe’s which have powered sugar you have to mix to make the icing. (What is this, the year 1800? Ain’t nobody got time for that.)
  • Invite your dear mom so she can help your kids during the party while you concentrate on hosting (or drinking wine, whatever).



Becky Ervin is a creative director, mother of three and she blogs at PartyBoxKC.com/blog.


From iFamily to Yours,



Check Out this List of Holiday Movies by Age Group!

Howdy, Kansas City! Can you believe it? We’re down to the last two weeks before the holidays come rolling around again, and I know one my family’s favorite traditions is watching holiday movies. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Erin, gives us a great list, categorized by age group, of some great films to keep you cozy on these cold, winter nights. Enjoy!

Check Out this List of Holiday Movies by Age Group!

Christmas is just around the corner! My kids and I have been watching Christmas movies for the last week or so and we are definitely in the Christmas spirit now! I can’t possibly think of a better way to spend winter break with my kids than with a big bowl of popcorn, Christmas cookies and a holiday movie. There are so many fantastic movies old and new to check out! Here are a list of our favorites broken down by age group, but use your discretion as your child might be ready for any or all of these!


Ages 2 and up

Charlie Brown Christmas

Shrek the Halls

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Frosty the Snowman

The Snowman

Merry Madagascar

The Muppet Christmas Carol

Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas


Ages 5 and up

A Christmas Carol

The Nightmare Before Christmas

How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Prep and Landing

The Polar Express

Santa Buddies


Ages 7 and up

Home Alone

One Magic Christmas

The Santa Clause

Miracle of 34th Street



Ages 10 and up

It’s a Wonderful Life

White Christmas

Christmas with the Kranks

Christmas Story


Ages 14 and up

National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation


Bad Santa

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas

Four Christmases


From iFamily to Yours,



60 Ways to Add Kindness to Your Holiday Season

Happy Wednesday, Kansas City! The holidays shed light on a lot of things — traditions, emotions, reflections of the previous year. It also reminds us how important kindness is. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Leah, has a huge (and great!) list of simple acts of kindness to implement this holiday season (and all year round). Check it out!

60 Ways to Add Kindness to Your Holiday Season


60 Ways to Add Kindness to Your Holiday Season


Life can be scary… life can be mean… and most of all life can be messy. Why not ease the frustration of what life brings by giving back to others? Remember the time when life used to seem a little slower and sweeter? It seemed like people used to literally stop and smell the roses.

Nowadays, we are in a constant rush. We are always running an errand, taking the kids to activities, attending a family functions, etc.

We seriously do the work of a few people in one day. No wonder why we sometimes to simply forget to say, “Hello” as we pass by a stranger. We simply just get stuck in our constant and ever growing to-do lists.

The sad reality is we need those acts of kindness more than ever. We need to bring back the smiles, manners, and greetings like the good old days. But let me break it down for you, talking about it doesn’t change it.

You know what does? Doing something about it. So, get out there and brighten someone’s day. Take a few minutes and educate your children on the importance of human interaction and connection. We are our children’s greatest teachers. Here are some ideas to get you started.


60 Random Acts of Kindness


  1. Offer to rake or mow a neighbor’s lawn (Or better yet just do it)
  2. Over tip a waitress
  3. Let a manager know when you receive good service
  4. Write your child’s teacher a thank you note
  5. Have your child write their teacher a thank you note
  6. Encourage your child compliment the cafeteria staff at school or have them draw them a picture
  7. Deliver one of your best friends flowers
  8. Mail your parents a hand written thank you card
  9. Write your partner a love letter
  10. Write sweet compliments your children on your bathroom mirror ( with a dry erase marker)
  11. Make your neighbors some cookies or a cake
  12. Leave a bottle water and an encouraging note in your mailbox to your mail carrier
  13. Send your pastor an email and let them know how much you appreciate them
  14. Bring your child’s daycare teachers doughnuts
  15. Send your children’s grandparents your kids artwork in the mail
  16. Mail your family members pictures of you and your kids
  17. Offer to walk your neighbor’s dog
  18. Offer to babysit so a friend can have a date night with their partner
  19. Let someone go in front of you in line at the store
  20. Donate a new or gently used coat for kids (and adults) in need
  21. Leave a happy note in a library book for someone to find later
  22. Write and send a letter to someone in the military thanking them for their service
  23. Write notes of encouragement and leave them on a car window shield in a parking lot
  24. Write encouraging notes in side walk chalk on local side walks
  25. Invite some friends over to dinner
  26. Tell your kid 15 things you love about them
  27. Call your grandparents
  28. Go on Facebook and comment on 20 photos… spread the love
  29. Give your partner a massage
  30. Sign up to ring the bell for the Salvation
  31. Find opportunities to give compliments. It costs nothing, takes no time, and could make someone’s entire day. Don’t just think it. Say it. Who doesn’t love hearing something positive about their self
  32. On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, or any holiday remember any friends who have lost a parent the previous year, and check in with them.  Those will be tough days. Trust me that means the world to get those phone calls or texts.
  33. Put a surprise note or sketch in with your spouse’s or kid’s lunch. My son still has these from over three years ago.
  34. Think of the amazing people in your life. Take an hour to write those people a letter telling them why they’re awesome. Snail mail rocks!
  35. Adopt a family for Christmas
  36. Get the whole family involved in community service.
  37. Find creative ways to support our troops and Vets
  38. ALWAYS say “Thank you” when you see someone in an uniform
  39. Bring your local police station or fire station dinner.
  40. Buy an extra cup of coffee in the morning and give to a co-worker.
  41. Plan a scavenger hunt for your kids.
  42. Donate your blood at a blood drive
  43. Tell someone you’ve fought with that you’re sorry and that you forgive them.
  44. Leave extra time in a parking meter.
  45. Encourage someone who is working hard at the gym
  46. Cook a meal for your partner.
  47. Attend your friends’ kids’ recitals and games.
  48. Offer to pick up your friend’s children after school.
  49. Shower the pediatric wing of a hospital with $1 coloring books and $2 boxes of new crayons.
  50. Give a loved one your undivided attention
  51. Attend an event without your phone
  52. Give your child a two minute hug
  53. Write yourself an “I am proud of you” letter
  54. Buy yourself a journal and use it
  55. Call your best friend
  56. Plan a family vacation
  57. Go visit an out of town relative
  58. Make a funny family video
  59. Support a friends business and buy something from them
  60. Give back locally and shop locally


How do you show kindness during the holidays (and throughout the year). Give us your ideas in the comments!


You can follow Leah @ www.facebook.com/solaceforthesoul


From iFamily to Yours,












60 Acts of Kindness for Families this Holiday Season // iFamilyKC Blog

3 Great Ideas for Teacher Gifts this Holiday Season

Good Morning, Kansas City! I know December can be a hectic time of checking off to-do lists and scrambling to find gifts for all of those important people in our life. As you look for presents, don’t forget to appreciate some of the most important people — teachers. And luckily, our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, has some great ideas for gifts for these amazing people. Take a look…

3 Great Ideas for Teacher Gifts this Holiday Season

3 Great Ideas for Teacher Gifts this Holiday Season


I am going to start this article off with somewhat of a controversial comment. I believe with everything in my being that the hardest working person this holiday season is not Santa Claus or the lovely itty bitty 17 year old smacking her gum and judging me at Target for buying the pint of Chubby Hubby ice cream. In fact, the hardest working person is my four year olds’ preschool teacher.

Besides everything that she does with school she also finds time to attend every one of her kids’ recitals, sports events, birthday parties, and comes in with a smile on her face every day. This only makes me think of how great our teachers are, and how dedicated they are to their jobs of making our little geniuses into the people we know they are going to be. It’s because of this reason I feel they need to be rewarded throughout the year but especially around the holidays. Hopefully the below list will give you some inspiration for your own child’s teacher. And if you have younger kids or even if you homeschool; reward yourself this year, because you all are the most important people in the world!


#1 Pinterest is Your Best Friend

I have said this before: Pinterest is your friend-your best friend that knows what type of things you like and even sends you little reminders of all the people following you and how popular your pin was on DIY gifts in jars! Let that friend help you give inspiration for what to gift our teachers, and then put your own spin on it. Personalize with a picture of your child (what else are you going to do with those wallets from the school picture packet). The internet has tons of great little printables, in which most are free or at the very least you can rebuild in PowerPoint and print out on your own. If you look up DIY teacher gifts there are great ideas for painting wood shapes and adding the teacher’s name. They could work for desk decorations or even as hall passes, which for some reason are always needed when one gets left in the bathroom!


#2 You Can’t Go Wrong With Gift Cards

I think we can all agree that gift cards are always wanted. I used to think that gift cards were impersonal. But now that I am older and can’t make a gift list to save my life they are really a lifesaver! So I think we can also agree that if we want gift cards, our fantastic teachers will as well. I think one to a nice restaurant or movie would be a great start and something they could enjoy over the break. Most teachers don’t get a whole lot of time to themselves and usually have 30+ little ones hanging all over them so manicures and pedicures are wasted money; but if you get them a gift card for maybe a gel polish that will last through a tornado let alone a fruitcake fueled kid it would help! I hate to even write this because it is just a travesty; many of our teachers have to buy their own decorations and learning tools for their classrooms. Every teacher friend that I spoke to jumped at this opportunity to get gift cards to Lakeshore Learning, Wal-Mart, Target or even Amazon so they can purchase things for the New Year.


#3 Add a Little Flair to a “Normal” Gift

As this article comes to a close, I realize that I, along with all of you, also have teachers to buy for as well! We actually have five when it comes to all the lead teachers and aides that we need to buy for so we usually resort to the old standby of a Bath and Body Works candle which was on Black Friday special and a candy bar. So this year I am going to take note from what I did for neighbor gifts from last year and gift Red Box gift cards. These were very well received and it would be great for teachers too! You can indicate how much you want the “cards” for (they are actually just codes that you provide the recipient) I then attached the sheet of paper to some hot chocolate and popcorn packets and a movie night was born!

Along this same line, there are tons of other memberships that can be gifted as well. Did you know that you can gift an Amazon Prime membership? What would be better than a year of free 2-day shipping on almost anything, free music and movies right to your device. A membership is right around a $100 so this may be something to talk to your fellow classroom moms and go in on this with several families.(Or you may have some really bad behavior that you need to remedy with a really great gift—I don’t judge!) You can also buy a gift card to Netflix; again free movies and shows what could go wrong? And if they already have a Netflix membership it can just be applied to their regular monthly bill!

Hopefully these ideas help a little bit. I know the feeling, you want to buy the perfect gift for everyone but you may not know where to start, especially with the people that you really don’t know on a personal basis outside of the classroom setting. Like I mentioned gift cards for school supplies is always appreciated and top of list of almost every teacher I spoke to. When that fails there is an absolutely darling printable that I laugh at every time I read it, it says “Our child might be the reason you drink so enjoy this bottle on us!” You never know, wine might be just the ticket that gets you that special place in his/her heart for conferences next year!


From iFamily to Yours,










3 Great Ideas for Teacher Gifts this Holiday Season

4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season

Happy Saturday, Kansas City! We here at iFamilyKC are pet lovers (Hence, iPetsKC), and our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, wrote a great blog for iPKC recently with some great tips to keep our pets safe this holiday season. Take a look!

 4 Ways to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season

4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season


The Holidays are here and though they can be a time of merriment and love, it can also be a dangerous time of year for your pets. Here are some tips to keep your furry loved ones safe this year.



Food is a huge part of the holidays. Between baking gifts, hosting parties and receiving edible gifts from others- this a yummy time of year. And all these treats can be as tempting for your pets as it is for us. Be sure you keep any harmful foods out of reach. Below is a list of foods poisonous to dogs and cats. Signs that your pet may have eaten something they shouldn’t have include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drinking, depression, lethargy, coordination issues, or tremors. If your pet is acting funny and you think they’ve ingested something dangerous, Blue Pearl is a 24/7 emergency vet hospital with several locations around Kansas City.


Foods not suitable for pets: Alcohol, avocado, chocolate (baking and dark chocolate are the most dangerous), caffeine, citrus, coconut, grapes and raisins, macadamia nuts, dairy, nuts, onions, garlics and chives, raw meat, raw bones or raw eggs, salt, xylitol and yeast dough.



Researching holiday decorations and pet safety is like a terrifying downward spiral into Murphy’s land where beautiful, sparkly and festive ornamentation became menacing monsters skulking in plain sight waiting to attack your beloved fur babies when your back is turned. I will try to give a thorough overview without you feeling like a construction paper tree taped to the wall is your only option.


Trees, tinsel, giftwrap, poinsettias, mistletoe, holly, and salt dough ornaments. These are the big hazards. Christmas trees- Try to keep your pets out of them. If you have a live tree, be sure to vacuum up any needles that fall so that no one eats them. Keep light cords tucked away. Tinsel- If you still use tinsel, keep it high. It is bad if ingested. This goes for that tinsel like string popular for giftwrap too. From personal experience I can tell you, if your cat swallows some, DO NOT pull it out! It can cut and damage their throats and intestines. Cut it close to their mouth if they haven’t had much and again, call Blue Pearl. Poinsettias, mistletoe and holly are all poisonous to animals so be sure to put them where your pets cannot get to them. Finally, salt is very bad for dogs. Be sure to keep those handmade salt dough ornaments way high on the tree, or elsewhere because they can be fatal if ingested.



Whether you are hosting guests or you are the guest, you may want to consider boarding your pets. It is a busy time of year, and with people coming and going from your house, it can be easy for a pet to get out. Or, if your dog gets anxious with lots of people around or with a lot of noise, like mine does, sometimes it is easier on them to stay the night at a doggy hotel. If you will not be able to get home to them, due to drinking (please don’t drive) consider boarding, or asking a neighbor to check in.



As the temperature goes down, it gets dangerous for pets to spend too much time outside. Make sure you don’t leave your dog or their only source of water outdoors. If you don’t have a heated bowl it can freeze. Leaving your pets, even in the garage is not a good option. Please make a plan for your pets when figuring out your holiday activities.


Pets are a special part of the family and with a little planning they can have a happy and safe holiday season with you and the rest of your family. We at iPetsKC wish you and your pets a very happy holiday!







4 Tips to Keep Your Pets Safe this Holiday Season // iFamilyKC




Check Out This Easy & Inexpensive Winter Art Activity

Happy Friday, Kansas City! Winter and December are some of the best times for crafting. And although Pinterest makes crafting seem insanely intricate, our Mom Squad Ambassador, Darcy, has an easy (and inexpensive!) winter art activity that absolutely anyone can do. Check it out!

Check Out This Easy & Inexpensive Winter Art Activity // iFamilyKC

Check Out This Easy & Inexpensive Winter Art Activity


I don’t know about you, but one of the big challenges I face every holiday is keeping the kids busy and entertained while the adults cook and clean. A few years ago I picked up some placemats for the kids to color as we did the cooking. Within minutes, all the kids (and several adults) were happily coloring for close to an hour. It was a great help and now I try to come up with a fun art activity for the family. It can be difficult because there is a huge age range and skill variant. Also, since we often travel, I don’t want to have to bring too many supplies. This Thanksgiving we gathered around for a winter themed painting and it totally fit the bill. It was cheap, easy and kept everyone entertained.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Canvas
  • Masking or painter’s tape
  • White paint
  • Blue paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Paper plates
  • Permanent markers (optional) 



  1. Cut tape and apply it to the canvas creating snowflake designs (some of us looked up ideas online, some just winged it).
  2. Once you’re happy with your placement, run a finger over the edges trying to give the tape as good of a seal as possible.
  3. Squirt some white and blue paint onto a paper plate. Mix the colors as much as you want while painting over your entire canvas.
  4. After the paint dries, peel off the tape.
  5. If you’d like, you can outline your snowflakes with marker.



I picked up some canvases that were on clearance, they were about $1 a piece. I then dug out some painter’s tape. Unfortunately, we only had the very wide tape, so I spent some time cutting it into thinner strips. I went ahead and made a simple snowflake design for my 2 year old niece, but everyone else made their own. We had an age range of 4-59. It was interesting to see what everyone came up with when making their designs. This was a fun and easy craft. People could put as much time and effort into it as they wanted.

The toughest part was waiting for the paint to dry before peeling the tape. It was kind of nice though because it gave us some down time to do other things and pick up our mess. The kids all peeled off the tape easily. There was some bleeding, which some of us minded and some of us didn’t. If you want crisper lines, you can outline with marker. We used a black sharpie, but I think a silver marker would have looked nice too. If you are looking for a fun art project, I hope you’ll give this one a try and I hope you and your family have as much fun as we did!


Check Out This Easy & Inexpensive Winter Art Activity


From iFamily to Yours,



Building Holiday Traditions: A Holiday Candy Party

Good Morning, Kansas City! We here at iFamilyKC hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. As we all prepare for the upcoming festivities that December brings, a lot of us probably have fun family traditions that we take part in. Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, shares one of her favorite holiday memories: A Holiday Candy party! Take a look…

Building Holiday Traditions: A Holiday Candy Party



Building Holiday Traditions: A Holiday Candy Party



My favorite holiday memory has to be of my families’ annual Christmas “Candy” party. To me it was truly what the holiday should and were all about. To start at the beginning we have to travel back in time over three decades to the very first party. Imagine a cold December night, where we used the front porch as a fridge because we needed extra space. The house was a little smaller but there were people packed in from the tree in front to the back of the kitchen. I can’t remember too many specifics (I was only a month old and spent most of the night being rocked to sleep!) but laughter and holiday spirit was everywhere. Every year after this the same core group of people would come together to make their candy. After the first few years everyone started to rely on the faithful candy that was easy, as the years rolled on the candy “screw-ups” (and this is the cleaned up version) became more common.

From my perspective, I just got to play with all my “brothers and sisters” run through the house stopping only to sneak a piece of warm candy. See these people who came into my house every year, shared in our Christmas spirit and gave us the gift of true friendship were so much more than friends. They are my second family, my substitute parents.

I am much older now and plan on attending my 35th annual candy party. My families’ house may be a little older too, and now my kids run through the house and sneak treats. My family; their hair may have turned a little grayer and the bodies are fighting battles that only they can see and they hide pain by putting on a smile. The best part is we are all together—every year without fail. They are my family and the only people that I can think of sharing Christmas with—and I would even say that without the candy!


From iFamily to Yours,





Watch the Holidays Come Alive at Union Station

Happy Saturday, Kansas City! Are you looking for some festive fun while you’re out and about getting ready for Thanksgiving? Union Station is your place to be. They’re hosting a day of festivities leading up to their lighting celebration at 6:30pm. While you’re at it, why not check out their newest exhibit, Pompeii, as well? Nothing says the holidays like Union Station!


Watch the Holidays Come Alive at Union Station


Join us Saturday, November 19th for the magic of Kansas City’s grandest holiday tradition. Holidays come alive at Union Station with a spectacular day of fun activities and performances for the whole family.

Write a letter to Santa, get your face painted, create something cool in the Holiday Maker Village and so much more! All beginning at 10a.m.

Let It Snow will play in the Planetarium and Pompeii: The Exhibition will be celebrating its grand opening!

Explore your internationally award-winning Science City and catch a movie on the region’s biggest movie screen- Extreme Screen

Then at 6:30pm, daylight will give way to the most magical holiday kickoff imaginable with Kansas City’s largest indoor lighting ceremony and a breathtaking new holiday performance by Quixotic.  Free for everyone!

Don’t miss this once-a-year celebration of holiday sights, sounds and family sensations this Saturday, November 19th! Plan to have fun all day long at Kansas City’s home for the holidays, Union station. 

For complete details, visit Union Station

How Men and Women Survive the Holidays – Together

Happy Sunday, Kansas City! Can you all even believe it? It’s time to start planning for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It sure sneaks up on you, doesn’t it? Our Mom Squad Ambassador, Sarah, is kicking off the holiday season here at iFKC with a fun little observance, if you will, of how men and women handle the holidays differently. Take a look…

How Men and Women Survive the Holidays - Together

How Men & Women Survive the Holidays—Together



It is November, can you believe it!? I guess we can officially say that the start to the Holidays is here. I can almost taste the pumpkin pie, see the turkey on the table, feel the pine needles on the tree and smell the cinnamon in my Home for the Holidays candle. But why is it that I can do this and my husband can’t? Well, it’s not that he can’t but to him the holidays mean something completely different. This is all due to the wiring in our brains where we can look at one thing but remember and explain it in two entirely different ways. I read a book, actually two books and an article on the subject; I was so excited to explain the things going on around me I just have to share it! While reading three things by no means makes me an expert– please take this for what it is worth. So here we go—the chemical explanation of the male and female brains and how we will survive the holidays with our significant others!

To begin, I promised my iFamily that I would leave the stereotypes out of this article. That doesn’t mean I am not saying them out loud, while I type, and no reason why you all shouldn’t be nodding your head and saying them to yourselves as well!

Let’s begin at the beginning then. Men and Women were different from the start; men were more the hunters, women more the gatherers. This continues to a point (enter Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus) although dated and filled with stereotypes, there really is a very good explanation to this division of labor, and why most women and men fall into these groups: CHEMISTRY!

Bringing this back to the holidays, let’s look at the first weeks of November. This is when planning for the big meal starts to happen, who will be invited this year and where they will sit. How many place settings do we need and who should bring what? Women’s brains have significantly more white matter, the interconnectedness of everything, so we handle these first few weeks at a rapid pace while multitasking on our everyday activities. The male brain has more gray matter than women’s brains. Gray matter, or the information processors of the brain, is why men will look at these activities and file them away for closer to the event, they are going to take each task and focus intently on it.

So now let’s have a little role play to illustrate these facts above. Feel free to ask your significant other to play the other part!

Scene: It is the day before Thanksgiving; the turkey is bought and defrosting, everything seems to be in its place and planned down to the last place setting. But wait! There is a last minute problem!

Woman: Panic! The table and chair arrangement is not going to work! It will put my sister and husband’s brother right next to each other and last year they fought about politics the whole meal! Stop! Couple things to point out here when we go back to our old friend, chemistry; first of all; stress, but we will get to that later. Most of all, I want to point out the memory from last year; key to women. The wiring in their brains have more connections with memories and feelings. They remember they didn’t like how they felt when sister and brother-in-law fought and a little file was put into one of those connections to keep them away from each other whenever possible. Okay continue.

Woman: Man, would you mind rearranging the table so that these two aren’t sitting together?

Man: Why

Woman: Because last year they sat by each other and fought the entire time about politics—this year could be worse! Don’t you remember? (See above, what we know about men’s brains is that he may not remember, or if he does it probably won’t be from an emotional standpoint).

Man: Sure, I will take care of it. Still sitting in his chair

Woman: DO IT NOW!!! I have so much to do and you are just sitting there!

Okay, so our little scenario above, I KNOW has happened in every household at one point in time. But once again I refer back to chemistry. It very well could be that the man is not just sitting there, but actually planning and plotting how to move the table or position the chairs just right. Because of that gray matter that men have it tends to lead to tunnel vision. At this moment he is engulfed in something, but in a few minutes he will get to the solving of this problem. Women, because of that white matter we would tend to go ahead and start on the place settings to just get it done. When woman above asked him to do the task, she needed to also say that she would like that done before she could do something else, indicating that she would like it done quickly. Both ways come out to the same result but only one way helps to keep the stress level down come T-Day.

Getting to stress, it will happen around the holidays, but the way that men and women will respond is going to be very different. And for that matter the way that we need to respond to our significant others when they are stressed is different as well. Our brains produce many neuro-chemicals including serotonin, testosterone, estrogen, and oxytocin. Women’s brains tend to handle stress by emotion and like to be around other people for support. This is because of how we process the estrogen and oxytocin; a bonding and relationship chemical. Men’s brains will likely handle stress by going to the gym, getting up and taking a walk or in some cases raising their voice. Male brains process less oxytocin and more testosterone which makes them more impulsive or aggressive. So how do we handle it? When you see yourself or your partner getting stressed, offer to take over a few things while they go for a walk or take a warm bath, or sometimes just offering up a hug is all it will take to diffuse the situation.

I know that everyone doesn’t need another thing to think about this year and making sure that you aren’t arguing with your spouse is probably near the bottom. But if we take a step back and think that maybe it is the wiring in our brains which make us act and say the things we do; it will cause a little less friction. Also, when you are watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation this year, make a game of how many times you can point out a “man-brain” or “woman-brain” action—there are plenty!


From iFamily to Yours,