Fall Capsule Wardrobe

How to Create a Fall Capsule Wardrobe - & Lessons Learned from my first capsule experience :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I created a capsule wardrobe this past summer and haven’t looked back.  I learned a lot about myself; about what I thought was important and how my actions were a more accurate representation of what was actually important to me.  There was a lull in my excitement around week 11, but other than that, I drank the kool-aid, jumped on the band wagon and declared myself a capsule wardrobe-er for life.

Then came September, and I just couldn’t make myself do it.  Originally, I had intended for my fall capsule to be for the months of September, October & November.  When September came, it seemed daunting to try to find a wardrobe that worked for temperatures in September in Minnesota and November in Minnesota.  And, this year, September was unseasonably warm.

So, I just kept putting it off.  I’d pulled out my fall and winter clothes and shoved some of them in drawers with my other summer clothes.  As September went on, I found myself wanting to have the capsule there for me, but not wanting to put the work into making the decisions to create it.

By the end of the month, my desire for the outcome outweighed my indecision.  I thought through some of the reasons that I was procrastinating this and remembered why I liked this lifestyle choice and what I had learned the first time.

Lesson Learned #1: Give yourself an adjustment period between seasonal capsules.

I needed a few weeks to have my fall and winter clothes out of storage and in my drawers to choose from while getting dressed to figure out if I wanted to include them or not.  And, frankly, the weather was bi-polar for the month of September, so I needed to wear shorts and a t-shirt on Wednesday and jeans and a hoodie on Thursday.  Narrowing myself to one season of clothes during that month wouldn’t be helpful or the best use of what I have.

Lesson Learned #2: Just because you don’t include it in this season’s capsule doesn’t mean you will never wear it.

When I dug all of my cold-weather gear out of storage, I wanted to include it all.  Over 90% of what I had landed in my ‘LOVE’ pile.  I loved the way I looked and felt in almost all of my clothes, so it felt wasteful to not wear them.  But there were a lot of clothing items that I dug out.

As I’ve mentioned before, there is no hard and fast rule for how many items are included in a capsule wardrobe, but I was looking at upwards of 60 items, and that seemed like it defeated the purpose of the minimalism that I was trying to achieve by creating a capsule wardrobe.    As I was trying to decide what to weed out, I had a lightbulb moment when I remembered that I wasn’t choosing clothes to wear until next June; I was choosing clothes for the next 2-3 months.

I don’t have the same need for wool sweaters in October as I do in February.  There will still be chilly days in October when a fall sweater will be necessary, but there will also be days when cotton t’s and even 3/4 length sweaters are appropriate as well.  My frozen tundra apparel got packed back in the off-season storage and will come out in December or January and be exchanged with the lighter weight sweaters.

Lesson Learned #3: There might not be a wide variety between two seasons of capsule wardrobes.

This is largely dependent on the climate in which you live, and the temperature differences for which you need to account.  My fall and winter capsule wardrobes will look very similar.  I’d guess that over half of the items in my fall wardrobe will be included and winter, and even more so, my spring capsule may very well be a carbon copy of my fall wardrobe because fall and spring temperatures in Minnesota are so similar.

And that’s okay.

When I realized that this was bothering me, I had to remind myself of why I became a capsule-er in the first place; to be intentional about only buying clothing that I love to wear and not accumulating more than I need.

Lesson Learned #4:  Be realistic about what you wear.

I struggled trying to decide what pieces to weed out of my fall capsule because I genuinely loved everything I had.  Then, about two weeks into September, I realized that I was wearing 20% of my wardrobe 80% of the time.

I loved everything hanging in my closet, but a lot of what was in my closet wasn’t realistic for what my day-to-day looked like.  This wasn’t a lesson that was new to me.  I learned it my first go-round, but I had to re-remember it this time.

If I’m honest with myself, I think it’s because I miss the lifestyle that warrants that style of wardrobe and I want to wear some of those pieces more.

I have a few silk blouses that I love.  They look great, and I feel great when I wear them.  But I’m not wearing them on Monday when it’s my day home with the kids and there’s a high likelihood paints and markers will be used.  My lifestyle dictated that I have more cotton long-sleeve t’s and sweatshirts than blouses, but it was hard to admit that.   I didn’t get rid of those items entirely, but I included less of them so that I could include more casual items.

I spend 20% of my days in an office, so approximately 20% of my wardrobe is office-wear.

Lesson Learned #5: Start with shoes, bottoms & layering pieces and go from there:

I found this to be the easiest way to get the ball rolling.  I chose shoes, bottoms and layering pieces and those totaled 25 items.  I had 45 items in my summer capsule and I decided that I could have a few more items in my fall capsule wardrobe (the need for layers in the fall justified this decision for me), but didn’t want to exceed 50 items total.  So, with 25 shoes, bottoms and layering pieces, that meant I could choose 20-25 tops.  That sounded like a lot to me.  Turns out that it was really hard to stay within those parameters.

Again, I didn’t include accessories in my capsule.  This was a non-issue in the summer because I don’t really have summer accessories, but I did consider it for the fall because I own and frequently wear scarves.  I decided not to include scarves because, frankly, there was no way I could include all of the tops and scarves I wanted and still call it a capsule wardrobe.

Maybe that’s cheating, I don’t know.  If you don’t hear from me for a couple weeks, check to make sure that the capsule police haven’t come to arrest me.

Now, after a month of pondering and days of decisions, here is the final product.

My Fall Capsule wardrobe.  A total of 48 pieces.

11 pairs of shoes (23%), 9 bottoms (19%), 5 layering pieces (10%) and 23 tops (48%).

Fall Capsule Wardrobe: Mix t's and 3/4 length shirts with button downs and vests and include lots of layering pieces :: maximizingdaysblog.com

To see photos of daily outfits created from this capsule, follow me on Instagram.

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

How To Plan a Kid’s Birthday Party – Part 2

We hosted our son and daughter’s birthday party last weekend and it was a blast.  As is the case with any event you choose to host, there is some planning and work involved, but if you do those things well, you can reap the benefits of that work and enjoy the event alongside your children and your guests.

Read about the importance of starting with a goal, theme, guest list, menu & decor here.

And, if you haven’t already, print off this Birthday Party Planning Printables Bundle to keep track of all of those fund details.

Birthday Party Planning Necessities: Theme, Guest List, Food, Decorations, Activities, Favors, Shopping List & Set Up Printable :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Then, move on to the next steps…….

5 – Activities
We have always printed on the party invitations “Please, no gifts”, but our uber-generous family and friends disregarded that instruction.  This year, when we talked to the people we invited, we said, “Please don’t bring gifts.”  And they didn’t.  Which was exactly what we wanted.  However, not having a designated time where the guests watch the birthday boy or girl unwrap presents meant having one less thing to entertain our guests.  And it never occurred to me until after the party was over.

We didn’t even sing ‘Happy Birthday’. *gasp*

Our goal was to enjoy a morning with friends and family eating yummy food and playing, so that was the framework under which we chose our activities.

I’m not saying that you shouldn’t sing ‘Happy Birthday’ or unwrap gifts.  But because we weren’t doing those things, we had to think about how people would spend their time once they were done with their doughnuts.

Lawn games are a big deal in our family.  We love them and play them frequently.  And because we do it, our kids love to “play” too.  So we decided to have Bean Bag Toss, Ladder Golf & Lawn Yahtzee.  All of these games were owned by us or our family members, so we didn’t have to purchase anything.

Lawn games are always a great birthday party activity - something for all ages! :: maximizingdaysblog.com

This was the first year that we had an activity for the kids.  There were lots of fun ideas for this on Pinterest, but I chose pumpkin painting because it was simple, fun, and required supplies that we already had (except for the pumpkins).

Pumpkin Painting Party - Pumpkin cut outs, paints, crayons, aprons & wipes :: maximizingdaysblog.com

My original plan  was to buy mini pumpkins and give each kid one to paint with sponge brushes.  But when I was shopping for a few party supplies at Hobby Lobby, I came across some wood & paper cut-out pumpkins and decided that was exponentially easier and cheaper.  So we went that route.  And it worked out great.

I’ve wanted to do a Photo Booth of sorts at each of my kids’ parties, but never spent the money or time to create that.  I found these photos on Pinterest and decided that I could do something like this with stuff that I already had.

Pumpkin party photo spot :: maximizingdaysblog.com

My booth doesn’t look nearly as good.  And it shouldn’t.  Those were put together by professional party planners.  Who get paid to create those.  But it served the purpose.  It was a cute spot for guests to take photos – of their family and with the birthday boy & girl.

Create a spot for guests to take photos :: maximizingdaysblog.com

But if I wouldn’t have set some flowers in front of a leftover hay bale, I wouldn’t have this money shot.  Which will end up in each of their wedding slide shows.  If that’s still a thing in 20 years.

Pumpkin party photo booth :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Birthday Party Activities Planning Printable

Party Planning Tip:  Designate someone – a family member or close friend – to take pictures during the party.  My sister-in-law is awesome about this.  I don’t even have to remember to ask anymore.  The only reason any of the photos from this day exist is because she picked up the camera throughout the morning and just starting clicking away.

6 – Favors
This was my first foray into favors.  I refused to do favors at my wedding because I thought they were a waste of time and money.  But I found a few cute and cheap ideas on Pinterest that made me realize that I could put together goodie bags that our guests would be able to enjoy as a token of appreciation for coming to spend time with our kids.

I got the idea to color jack-o-lantern faces on orange fruit cups (from Pinterest) and decided to put two or three other snacks in there that weren’t pure sugar.  I’ve talked before about my love for all things GoGo squeeZ, so that was an obvious choice.  Good old fruit snacks – in orange packaging, of course – rounded out the treat part of the favors.  I went with mini play-dohs and glow stick bracelets.  I figured every kid has play-doh, so they could add to their stash.   The bracelets were a nod to my daughter because she loves all things jewelry and anything that lights up.  I was the least excited about that piece, but I reminded myself that this is HER party and that while I see them as junk, they bring a smile to kids’ faces, so I got over myself and put them in my cart.

Favor bags filled with applesauce, fruit snacks, fruit cups, play-doh and glow bracelets :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Favors are another area where spending can easily get away from you.  Start by making a budget.  Decide how much you will spend per kid or overall, and work within those constraints.  Make a list of the contents, packaging and where you will purchase each item.

Birthday Party Favors Planning Printable

Party Planning Tip:  If your kids are old enough, have them assemble these and talk about how they show gratitude to the people who are coming.

Oh, and if you decide to include glow sticks, be careful not to crack the sticks when you’re tying the bags.  Hypothetically.

7 – Purchase
Create a master shopping list organized by store.  Using your other lists, write down each item that you need at each store.  This will help minimize unnecessary trips and wasted time.

Birthday Party Shopping Printable

Party Planning Tip: Grab an empty bin and dub it the ‘Party Bin’.  As you collect and purchase items for the party, toss them this bin so that they’re all in one, central location.  A week or two before the party, grab a few more empty bins and boxes and designate each one for an area or activity (i.e. Food Table, Craft Area, Favors, etc.).  Sort all of the items from your ‘Party Bin’ into these separate, smaller bins to make set up easier by taking each bin to it’s location during set up, and then you will have everything you need for that area with you.

Collect party items in a bin as you acquire them. The week before, sort items by where they will be during the party :: maximizingdaysblog.com

8 – Set Up
Do as much as you can ahead of time.  It is key to helping you enjoy the event while it’s happening.  But, there are things that you can’t do until right before the party begins.

Instead of a birthday cake, we had a donut tower, which I obviously couldn’t create until I had the donuts.  I got the idea from Pinterest and the picture had this cute cake topper.  I cut out the flags for the cake topper and got the other pieces needed for it and put all of them on the cake stand that the tower would be on.  This cut the assembly time for the tower in half the morning of the party.  Do this as much as you can.

Make a donut tower for a morning party instead of having a cake :: maximizingdaysblog.com

As you’re making all of your other lists, write down the tasks that you will need to do as well.  Write down any times that are pertinent (i.e. pick-up times or cooking times).  This will be your golden ticket on party day.

Birthday Party Set Up Printable

Party Planning Tip: ENJOY YOURSELF

Once the party starts, do whatever you have to do to enjoy yourself.  You’ve done the work ahead of time to get you to this point so that you can enjoy the fruits of your labor.  And watch your kids enjoy those fruits too.  If you have a second, think back to your goal.  And enjoy yourself.

How to Plan a Kid's Birthday Party - Without Going Bankrupt or Losing Your Mind :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

How to Plan a Kid's Birthday Party - Without Going Bankrupt or Losing Your Mind :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

And, if you must, sing ‘Happy Birthday’.

 

 

How to Plan a Kid's Birthday Party - Without Going Bankrupt or Losing Your Mind :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

How To Plan a Kid’s Birthday Party – Part 1

I love to entertain.  Gathering people together around food and fun to celebrate something makes me all warm inside.  Last weekend, that something was my kids’ birthdays.

On the kid birthday party-planning spectrum, I like to think that I land somewhere in the middle.  I’m a sucker for a fun theme and color palette and a good-looking food table, but I refuse to spend a lot of money on the event or stress myself out getting it ready.  I used to be an event coordinator at a year-round Christian Camp & Retreat Center, so I have some experience with putting together events.  That being said, I am not creative.  I don’t come up with cute ideas all on my own. That’s what Pinterest is for.  Pinterest is my best friend when it comes to planning my kids’ party.  But it can also be a pain in my side.

I’ve found that it’s helpful to think of Pinterest as a springboard, and not a standard.  Pinterest is a great tool to get your creative juices flowing and see lots of options.  It is not good for measuring yourself against realistic expectations.  Remember that.

If you don’t have a prior career as an event planner, or you’re not a nerd like me, starting to plan a party can seem like a daunting task.  Break it down in to smaller pieces and it will be, at least, manageable, and, at most, enjoyable.  It is possible to host an event on a budget and with minimal stress.

Use this Birthday Party Planning Printable Bundle to get you started.

Birthday Party Planning Necessities: Theme, Guest List, Food, Decorations, Activities, Favors, Shopping List & Set Up Printable :: maximizingdaysblog.com

1 – Start with a Goal.
Really?  For a kid birthday party, you need a goal?!

Yup.

It may seem silly, but I believe strongly in the value of “If you don’t know where you’re going, how do you get there?”

Why are you having the party?  What do you want to get out of it?  Answering these questions before you do anything else takes minimal time, and it gives you something to come back to when you’re going overboard, stressing out, or spending too much money.

P.S.  If you’re goal is to plan the most beautiful party on Pinterest or to get the most likes on Facebook, I’d suggest that you seriously consider if your child’s birthday is the best vehicle for achieving that purpose.

The goal for our kids’ party is that it be a time for our kids to be celebrated.  We want them to be surrounded by people who love them and reminded of how fortunate they are to have this tribe in their lives.  It is also our goal to have fun.  ALL of us.  We want our kids to enjoy themselves, but we also want to have fun ourselves and we want our guests (kids and adults) to enjoy their time as well.

Their party is not about an opportunity to get stuff.

My mom did a great job when I was a kid making my birthday special.  I loved my birthday.  But I didn’t love it because I got toys.  We didn’t have very much money and my mom couldn’t afford much, so the toys were secondary.  I don’t remember a lot of specifics of birthdays or parties.  But I remember looking forward to my birthday and loving my parties.  Because I felt loved and special.  That’s what has stuck with me all these years later.  And I want my kids to have that too.

Party Planning Tip: If coming up with a goal for a kid party seems lofty, just think about what you want your kids to say about this event in ten or twenty years.  That’s your goal.

 2 – Choose a Theme, Date & Guest List
Now you get to the fun part.  Our kids’ birthdays are six weeks apart and after having two identical parties six weeks apart last year, I decided to do one party for both of them this year.  My daughter turned 4 on September 2nd and my son will be 2 on October 19th.  That meant finding a gender-neutral theme for a two and four year-old and finding a date between their two birthdays.  We scheduled the party at the end of September, and went with a pumpkin/fall theme.  The guest list included family, godparents, close friends and a few of my daughter’s friends from pre-school.

Theme Worksheet Printable

Guest List Printable

Once you have a date and a theme, and you know how many people for which you are planning, you can go one of two ways.  If you’re independently creative, start brainstorming ideas relating to your theme.  If you’re like me, type “pumpkin birthday party” into the search bar on Pinterest and get excited at the possibilities.

Notice that I didn’t say “feel obligated to do everything you see” or “feel inferior because of the way others have done similar parties”.  The moment either of those feeling creep up on you, walk away.  And go back to your goal.

As I browse through ideas on Pinterest, I ask myself these two questions:
1) Can I do this cheap?
2) Will this take me a lot of time?

If the first answer is yes and the second is no, then I Pin it and move on to the next great idea.

There are lots of cute ideas that get passed over.  And, again, go back to your goal.

Party Planning Tip: Make your Pinterest board private so that your friends don’t see your ideas until party day.

3 – Pick Food
Some themes lend themselves easily to a pre-determined menu, others do not.  Time of day will also factor greatly in this decision.  Our party was in the morning, so we had breakfast foods and doughnuts.  Because our family loves any excuse to have doughnuts.

Choose food that does double duty as decor :: maximizingdaysblog.com

We also had some other “theme” foods, like rice krispies treats labeled as hay bales.

How to Plan a Kid's Birthday Party - Without Going Bankrupt or Losing Your Mind :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Pinterst, again, is a great resource for this.  But as you’re looking at the food, ask yourself the same two questions.  Also, ask yourself if it’s food that people will actually eat.  Because, if not, then you’re just wasting.

Choose party food that are time of day and age appropriate - and throw in some candy for good measure :: maximizingdaysblog.com

One thing I like to do is to find creative, theme-oriented ways to serve the food.  I found this picture on Pinterest, and loved the idea.

Super cute pumpkin party idea

I knew we’d serve fruit in some way, and this would look super cute on the table.  For a few reasons, I decided not to stick the skewers in a pumpkin, but put some candy corn in the bottom of mason jars and put the skewers in there.  Fruit in a bowl or fruit on skewers in decorated containers tastes the same, but little details like that can be really fun.

Put fruit on skewers for an added party touch :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Again, remember to check yourself as you go through this process for when you’re having fun and when it becomes stressful.  No kid’s birthday party should be a reason for you to worry, stress or lose sleep.  If it’s not worth it to you to skewer fruit, put it in a bowl and call it good.

Party Planning Tip:  When considering what food to serve, in addition to time of day, also consider ages of guests and have something for each demographic.

I knew that we’d have a few little kids there, so I wanted to make sure to have something for them too.  The good folks at GoGo squeeZ sent me their new seasonal applesauce blend, Apple Pumpkin Spice.  Those paired with Go-Gurts were the perfect option for littles.

Party food for little ones :: maximizingdaysblog.com

GoGo SqueeZ Apple Pumpkin Spice pouches - a great snack for a pumpkin birthday party :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Birthday Party Food Planning Printable

Once you decide on a menu, write out all of the ingredients needed for each menu item, along with where to purchase ingredients and a serving piece for each item.  If you will be serving food in more than one location, also write at which location each item will be served.

4 – Decor
This is where I start to feel inferior.  Decorations is so not my jam.  I like pretty things and I like coordinating everything, but the separation between seeing what I like and knowing how to create that on my own is massive.

And I’m lazy.

I have zero desire to spend a lot of time on menial tasks; partially because I know myself and I know that taking the time to do those things will cause me to be stressed.  But there should be some cuteness.  It’s a kid birthday party for pete’s sake.  So, I find that balance.  At my daughter’s first birthday party, my sister-in-law made a photo collage of my daughter’s first year in the shape of a 1.  A dear friend who is blessed with the gift of artistic-ness created the cutest chalkboard with all of her first year milestones.  We’ve continued doing that each year, so those are always my starting points.

Make a photo collage of pictures from the year in the shape of the year they are turning :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Make a photo collage of pictures from the year in the shape of the year they are turning :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Photo collages in the shape of the year kids are turning :: maximizingdaysblog.com

My sister-in-law still makes the photo collages, but she jokes that I’m going to have to find someone else to do it before my daughter turns 8 because she refuses to do that one.

*By the looks of this picture, we’re celebrating someone’s 42nd birthday.  In hindsight, I should have separated the numbers a little bit more.  Live and learn.

Use party decor to show how kids have grown :: maximizingdaysblog.com

I found a bunch of cute milestone prints that I could purchase on Etsy, but I didn’t want to spend that kind of money and there were parts of each one that I wanted to change.  So I put on my creativity shoes and designed their milestone images using a computer design program.  Then I had them printed at Staples.

One reason that I love a cute food table is that it can double for decorations.  When your table looks good, you can do less decorating, and I am all about that.  Make the food multi-task.

Use the space above the food table to display decor :: maximizingdaysblog.com

When deciding on decor, I err on the side of using what we have.  This is one area where you can so easily get out of control in the spending category.

Because we were doing a pumpkin theme, the color scheme for the event was set to be orange and green.  Naturally, I wanted to get orange and green tableware because cuuuuuute.  However, we had plenty of navy and yellow tableware that I stocked up on when Target was clearancing them out years ago, so the color scheme became yellow, navy, orange and green.  And I didn’t have to buy plates, napkins, silverware, tablecloths or banners.  Score!

The party was in our backyard and the best way to get there was to walk through our garage, so we needed something to direct people that way.  I made a sign on the kids’ easel and stuck in the driveway.  I moved the mums from my front door to next to the easel, and now it’s cute.  Easy peasy.

Use what you have around the house for party decor :: maximizingdaysblog.com

Birthday Party Decorations Planning Printable

After finalizing decor pieces, think through what needs to be purchased and what tasks need to be done to make those decorations come to fruition.  Write in stores for all need-to-be-purchased items and locations for each decoration.  If you think through these details ahead of time, you will thank yourself when you’re shopping and even more so on the day of  when you are setting up.

Party Planning Tip: The fewer decisions you have to make the day of the party directly correlates to your ability to enjoy the event.  If you are stressed and feeling overwhelmed getting everything ready, it can be hard to turn that off and unwind, which can make enjoying this shindig hard.

There you have it.  A goal, theme, guest list, food & decorations.  This is going to be a great party!  Next week, I’ll lay out tips for planning party activities, favor, shopping and set up.

 

How to Plan a Kid's Birthday Party - Without Going Bankrupt or Losing Your Mind :: maximizingdaysblog.com

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Summer Family Bucket List

Family Bucket Lists became a thing in our home two years ago as a way to be intentional about creating memories with our family.  You can read about it here (but, please, overlook the terrible quality of the photos – I hadn’t yet discovered photo editing).

I learned the valuable lesson to not become overwhelmed by making sure the list got done and thinking of the list as a resource of things to do when we have open days.  It’s a good thing that I learned that lesson because  there were a LOT of items on the Christenson Family Summer 2017 Bucket List that did not get done.

Ideas for this summer’s list started in May.  I had great intentions of making the list all cute and wall-hanging worthy.  But I’m not artsy.  And doing that meant being artsy and, more importantly, carving out the time it would take to make it perfect.  I didn’t use that word.  Perfect.  But that’s what I wanted.  That’s what I was envisioning.  And that’s why the list wasn’t done until the middle of July.  It took me that long to finally admit that I was placing a level of importance on something that I didn’t need to.

The point of making a Family Bucket List is to be intentional about the fun things we want to do together. That’s it.  Not to look perfect doing it.  So I bit the bullet and pulled out two pieces of poster board.  I drew imperfect (and crooked) block letters.  Then I put them on the table and asked the kids to help me color the boards. I then wrote our bucket list items on post-its and the kids and read each one and decided which board each post-it went on.  It took the whole morning.  And it was a blast.  And the kids loved the board.  When they looked at it, they saw something they created and were part of.  When I looked at it, I saw the joy the comes in celebrating all that I have and letting go of what is unattainable.  And crooked, imperfect block letters.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

We went through the summer and as we crossed items off the list, I took the corresponding post-it, wrote the date it was completed on the back and moved it to the “Nailed It” board.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

As summer came to a close, it became very apparent that there would be post-it’s left on the “Let’s Do This!” board when summer was over.  And that’s okay.  A few of them can be done in the fall, so they will get moved to next season’s Bucket List.  The others get thrown away.

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

At the end of summer, I took the dated post-its off of the “Nailed It!” board and put them in our photos/keepsakes box as a reference for when I make our family album for the year.  I don’t have photos of all of the events, but having the dates on the post-its will help my old brain remember when we did each activity.

We have since created our Christenson Family Fall 2017 Bucket List and it’s a blank slate.  It’s also the nearing the end of September and there isn’t a single post-it that has moved from the “Let’s Do This!” board to the “Nailed It!” board.  But that’s okay……

Fall Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

Summer Family Bucket List - maximizingdaysblog.com

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Experiences Over Stuff

Valuing Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

My daughter turned 4 on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend.  We had plans to be in the Twin Cities for the weekend for our annual pilgrimage to the Great Minnesota Get Together – the Minnesota State Fair.  As my husband and I were talking about the trip, I suggested that we stay the night in the cities on Friday and go to the Minnesota Zoo on Saturday to celebrate E’s birthday.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

We had been to the Minnesota Zoo one other time – a little over two years before when she was almost two and I was 17 1/2 months pregnant (not really, it just felt like it).  We enjoyed our time, but didn’t have a huge desire to go back.  For the last three years, we have purchased a family pass to a much smaller zoo (Chahinkapa Zoo) about 20 miles away.  During the summer months, the kids and I go once a week and they love it.  It is your quintessential small-town zoo.  It is small and not especially pretty.  However, they have an amazing amount of awesome animals for a zoo their size.  Our favorite are the tigers, monkeys, orangutan, snow leopards, grizzly bears, bison, camels & cougars.  Being accustomed to Chahinkapa made us compare the Minnesota Zoo as we walked through and we were left feeling like it was so spread out and E got bored because there was so much time between each exhibit.

Although I remember not being especially impressed with the Minnesota Zoo, I thought it would be fun to go back and try it again.  Because of our annual zoo membership, we were able to get our admission tickets for half price, which made it affordable.

When Josh and I talked about spending E’s birthday at the zoo, we decided that that would be her birthday gift.

We’ve talked about getting to a place with our kids where gift giving is more focused on experiences than stuff, but when they were really little, that was hard.  It’s still not a concept that our four year-old completely comprehends, but she’s old enough to understand that she already has a lot of toys and it is a gift for our family to be able to do fun things.

When we told her that we were going to the cities for the weekend, we explained that we would spend her special day at the zoo and told her all of the fun things there are to do there (in addition to regular zoo animals, they have an aquarium, two big parks, a petting zoo and a splash pad) and that the focus of her day would be doing fun things together, learning and enjoying time with our family.  She probably didn’t hear anything after splash pad, but we ere on the side of creating a habit of explaining why we do what we do.

We weren’t in the zoo more than ten minutes when I looked at my husband and said “I love this experiences over stuff thing.”  Our kids had the BEST day.  Everything that I remembered from two years ago went out the window.  The time between animals was spent talking about what they just saw, thinking about what it would be like to be that animal, singing songs and running.  (I apologize to all other families who had to share the zoo with us that day.  I’m sure we were loud and obnoxious to watch).

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

I don’t know if E will remember this day.  One of her nicknames is “Steel Trap” because she remembers stuff that astonishes us on a daily basis, so we’ve got that going for us.  But I know that she won’t miss the toys that we would have bought her instead of (or in addition to) this day.  She received a few (awesome!) presents from family and we are not at a loss of activities for the kids to do around the house.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

She was celebrated for a whole day.  Our family is better because she’s in it and because of these days.  These shared experiences weave together with all of the other memories to create a family culture where we not only love each other, but really like being with each other.  That’s (relatively) easy when our kids are four and two.  But I know enough to know that that gets harder as they get older.  So, my hope is that by creating these traditions now, we lay a foundation where we don’t place too high of a value on getting new or more stuff, but rather on learning and exploring and experiencing things together.

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Experiences Over Stuff - maximizingdaysblog.com

Sidenote: The above picture is a great example of getting over yourself.  A very kind stranger offered to take it for us, and I didn’t want to be the person who looked at it and said “That is the worst angle on me.  I look terrible.  Could you please take time out of your day with your family to indulge my vanity?”  So, instead, I said ‘Thank You’ and cringed on the inside – I hope.  When I look at this picture, I have to remind myself to see my beautiful family on my daughter’s 4th birthday, not an angle that makes me look approximately 40 pounds heavier than I am – I hope.

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave