Celebrate: Hallmark

This post is a Hallmark sponsored post. I am being paid by Hallmark to write it, but all writing, ideas and opinions are mine. Thankfully, Hallmark and I share the same idea–that little moments are to be celebrated and that good people, good efforts and good intentions deserve a spotlight. See Hallmark Life is a Special Occasion for more details, like them on Facebook, and/or sign up for their e-mail messages HERE.

I am notorious for mixing up music lyrics. To this day, I still mumble through the first line of that “you give love a bad name” Bon Jovi song because I’m not sure if it’s “Shock to the Heart or “Shot through the Heart or something else that starts with Sh- and ends with Heart. I’m not very good with numbers either. I forget birthdays and still use my calculator in the grocery store. So you would think with my history of both botched lyrics and number miscalculations, I’d slaugter the famous Rent song, “Seasons of Love.” But no. I know that there are exactly 525,600 minutes in a year, and I can belt it–on tune–in the shower, in the car, and in the hair color aisle of Target with my friend Andrea when she’s randomly signaled it’s one of those days. You know, grocery-shopping-turned-Broadway-play days (the third Tuesday every month).

It’s an important number to know–even more important than your Social Security number, if you ask me. I might not be a math whiz, but I can certainly tell you that 525,600 minutes translates to: “Time’s Ticking; Enjoy Life.”

Which brings me to the theme of this post: Celebrate.

Ah, my favorite theme. I dig celebration. I yearn for holidays, I lose my breath at the sight of balloons, I hang colored lights on our lanai year round. And while yes, I can’t deny that life calls for serious and mundane and responsibility, shouldn’t that be all the more reason to infuse it with color? I think about this a lot having kids–wondering what their memories will be and how their childhood will be painted years later. They will know love and peace, yes. That’s a given. But amidst all that love, I hope there are interesting stories of celebration. How we lit candles and played music, danced in our pajamas in the moonlight, created handmade cards for birthdays and holidays, used special cups on special days, joined with neighbors for sparklers and bonfires, baked cupcakes with extra sprinkles, and how we recognized that not one of those 525,600 minutes should be wasted.


And whether it’s a birthday or Father’s Day or maybe something fabulous you created on your own–like Opposite Day or Family Movie Night–there’s a part of us that comes alive when we make efforts to create memorable celebrations amid ordinary routines. Our children paint colorful stories in their books of childhood, but really I think we benefit just as much. Who said our own books of childhood can’t still be scripted? (Read the children’s book Mrs. Muddle’s Holidays–Goodness, I am in love).

Ordinary or Extraordinary, there are little things we can do to make celebrations a little more memorable.

My Five Favorite Tips for Creating Celebrations

1. Light up the Night

Candles. Their flicker spells “this is special.” Turn off the lights at dinner and eat with just a scattering of tea lights, and something triggers within–that memory recorder that preserves all the details. What song was playing, how pretty that table cloth looked, how big your daugther smiled when she realized a simple dinner transformed into a memorable family event.

Candles in cupcakes aren’t just for birthdays either. We’ve been known to light candles on pancakes, cookies, doughnuts–you name it. And, for the record, the five syllables of “Ann-i-ver-sa-ry” can be mumbled quickly in place of “Birthday” for a lovely “Happy Anniversary to You” melody.

And my personal favorite? Put a few jars and tea lights in your beach bag and stay past sunset. Nothing says “Celebrate” like a quilt surrounded by a dreamy glow, nestled in the sand under the moon.


2. Use the “Good Dishes.”

Reserve special dishes for festive occassions, and make a nice fuss over events when you pull them out. The top shelf in my kitchen cupboard holds our favorites–kid “wine” glasses, the “Queen for a Day” plate, a piece of china my grandma passed down to me, a birthday mug, etc. Lainey knows when we use any of these dishes, it’s a special event. And stem ware? Oh, she thinks she’s so fancy when she gets to use a real wine glass.

Photobucket3. Dress up.

Clothing is such an easy form of expression and consequently, an easy way to “feel” the extra celebratory tone of a special occassion. I can suddenly turn an ordinary spaghetti dinner into a romantic date just by switching from jeans to a little black dress. Likewise, I’ve watched Lainey’s smile turn from “this is fun” to “Ohhh, this is really special” when she realizes she has something festive to wear, even if it’s pulled from her dress-up trunk. A big hat to a tea party, Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve, socks with blue stars at the Fourth of July parade–all little ways to make a celebration more memorable.


4. “Wow” Factor

So, these aren’t things you do everyday. In fact, I save these for those very special occassions like New Years and family reunions and welcoming babies with friends–ceremonious celebrations. Sky lanterns and sparklers, our weapons of choice. Like candles, but more grand. We’ve made wishes, said thank you’s and shouted Happy Birthdays under the enchanting glow of rising lanterns, and we’ve written our names with a stream of sparks. The underlying message…life is grand.


5. Finally my favorite celebration tip: Become Acquainted with my friend, Spontaneity.

The best way to celebrate? Spice it up. Do it differently. Get excited about something you haven’t been excited about in a long time. Try breakfast for dinner. Sleeping bags in the living room on a Friday night. Throw a few drops of food color to make green eggs and ham. Drag blankets outside and tell your kids it’s “National Read Outside Day” even though you made that up.


Stay up a little later, go for a moon walk, buy water balloons, make a scavenger hunt in your back yard. And next time it storms, turn your garage into a storm theater. Eat popcorn. Rate the thunder. Smile.


There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How will you celebrate?

I know you all have unique ways you celebrate little moments with your families. Summer’s almost here. Do you have any favorite traditions? Any made-up holidays or special things you do to transform ordinary events in your home to memorable occasions? Hallmark and I would love to hear your stories. In your comment, please share the special ways you celebrate to help make your year–all 525,600 minutes of it–a special occasion.

To see other Hallmark posts on this blog, click HERE.


Leave a Comment
  1. and, you do a GREAT job of this! We try to as well. I LOVE it! For summer kick off, we invited my little guy’s friends over for a backyard “olympics and Ice Cream Social”…all things water, shaving cream slip n’ slide!! let the good times roll!

  2. My son and I have special lunch date trips to Ikea every week. We love them and they are special to us. Yea it’s just cafeteria food, but to us it’s fun and exciting. every trip is different. we wonder down different paths and look at different stuff. I hope he remembers them even though he is only 2.5 :)

  3. A special tradition my family does is my grandma’s 7-layer jello. She made it for all of her kids’ lives, as well as her grandkids’ and great-grandkids’. Now that she’s gone, we make it for every holiday and it feels like a piece of her is left with us.

  4. For the past several years, our good friend Dan has gone with our family to my parents’ house on the 4th of July to shoot off tons of fireworks. One year he was deployed during that time of year, and it was a huge bummer. This year he headed to Afghanistan in May, so we decided that since he wouldn’t be able to attend our 4th of July celebration, we would just have it early! We bought a bunch of fireworks from a nearby fireworks warehouse (we have several of those here in Missouri), had a cookout and had a great time!

  5. Celebrating the Queen’s Diamond jubilee this weekend in the UK. I’ve got bunting,flags, cupcake cases with red London buses and Big Ben to fill, fine bone china tea party followed by sack races and street partying. Oh and added bonus 2 days break from work to spend with my twin boys and hubby.

  6. I’m glad you wrote out how many minutes. Just this week I was making up numbers to that song!! Something special we do for Father’s day is play croquet. My dad used to play with his grandpa who he was really close with. When we were teenagers my dad made a rule that we couldn’t leave to hang out with friends until we beat him! Good times, good memories.

  7. since the start of reading your blog, just about a year ago, you have inspired me to celebrate at all costs. i’m sure you hear this all the time, if not daily. but you really have inspired me to turn the everyday ordinary into extraordinary! i can’t wait until the mr and i have kids of our own one day so i can inform them of “national read outside day”


  8. and P.S.

    to my knowledge, it’s “shot through the heart” :)

  9. You know? We aren’t use to celebrating besides the obvious birthday Holliday celebrations. You inspire my family to do so. So this evening after we will watch the sunset with the boys at the beach ( and that beach is in Israel folks) guess what surprise will wait in my bag? My boys are going to get so excited! Thank you kelle!

  10. When my daughter was 11 she wanted the “girls” to do something special on Super Bowl Sunday while the “boys” were watching football. She and I went to a special ice cream place for the biggest dessert she wanted. Then we went to the used book store to gorge on books. She is now 30 years old, a rabid football fan, happily married with 2 children, yet we have never missed a year of our girls day out for ice cream and books. We have discussed school problems, college plans, wedding plans, and baby plans, all while eating all the ice cream we can. Mainly we just have fun together, doing the same wonderful thing year after year. I am one lucky mama.

  11. I’m definitely a sparklers and candles sort of girl. And I always have a stash of bubbles somewhere. Blowing bubbles never gets old. They make the most serious adult run around like a 5 year old, trying to pop them. (didn’t you post about multi-coloured bubbles once?!)

    Cut flowers too. I have a frothy vase of cow parsley and elderflowers in my room at the moment and the smell is gorgeous.

    So looking forward to our jubilee celebrations next week. Our village spent something like £5000 on bunting alone! And there will be Victoria sponges, and elderflower cordial and Union Jack flags. Can’t wait.

  12. Kelle, I just wanted to let you know, from a Mum across the other side of the world in Australia, you are changing lives, including mine, in ways you may never know. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Kate xx

  13. I love the image of belting out Seasons of Love in random places :)

    We’re working on our patio right now, to make it more celebration worthy! Just hosted our first one Monday night!

  14. I so love how you remind me to enjoy the small things in life… A very big hug to you. My son and I, 2.5yr, go to the farmers market every Saturday, even if I don’t need anything. We just eat pancakes and sit at watche the turkeys/ducks/geese. He knows that this is our time. Sometimes my husband tags along but he too knows that it’s my time with my son.

  15. Oh, how I love your celebration heart, mind, and soul. We are the same way. That is the way I was raised, starting with wishing each other a simple “Happy 1st day of June!” It was a contest to see who could say it first.
    And, now that I have my own littles, we celebrate the big and the small things all the time, so much so that it was become a running joke with our friends. It is so important to me to make memories and live life to the fullest. I do not want to ever look back at their childhood and wonder if I made it special enough, celebratory enough, fun enough, memorable enough. When we look for it…or sometimes even when we don’t…every day holds a reason to celebrate.

  16. One of my fave Hallmark posts you’ve written so far Kelle :)
    Now that I’m a Mother & my 2 littlies are growing at an out-of-control rate, I’m more aware of moments….and celebrations! I’ve always been one to celebrate ANYTHING, for any reason…coz it’s fun…big things like Birthdays & weddings & babies being born….to little things like the last day of the school year or the first day of a season. But now that I’m in charge of shaping 2 lives, I want to do more….achieve more…celebrate more. I want to embed that love for life into my kids.
    And traditions?! Very important to me – The Easter Bunny brings my kids pyjamas every year, my husband takes our daughter out to a ‘special’ daddy/daughter dinner once a year and treats her like a princess for the evening, we go to build-a-bear on our kid’s birthdays each year, we make drawings as gifts for visitors, we send handwritten cards in the mail to our kid’s great grandparents just to say Hi every 2nd month…are just some simple traditions we do.
    You are an INSPIRING lady Mrs Hampton!!!!!! And I thank you for that!

  17. Great ideas girl. I especially like the moon walk one. We need to do that. The moon is calling and we are to busy loungin’ by the boobtube. Can’t believe I just called it that. My parents used to say that.

  18. So nice to look back all those memories,
    especially good ole memories!
    Photos are always beautiful, Kelle!


  19. Just have to say that has to be one of my favourite pictures of Lainey, the one with the glass on the beach.
    Candles, amen sister, fresh cut flowers. Two years ago I started a tradition of writing Rob little love notes to go in our advent calendar (hanging felt one with pockets) he loves it. I guess I’m a bit silly about Christmas. But you encourage me to think of celebrating things all year. I have to say I have vivid fond memories of an indoor picnic with a lunch box, in the lounge room (must have been before I went to school). I hope one day to celebrate life and how precious it is with a little.

  20. Love this post! Weare heading to Puerto Rico and I plan to find jars as soon as I am there and we WILL be having a sunset on the beach night.

    My kids are very big on the family movie night and living room camp outs. Donuts for breakfast with a candle on birthdays when it is just us five. Love surprise our kids by keeping the daddy home from work and having fun run around the city days…..Fun happy times.

  21. My blog is called “Use the Good Dishes!”, so needless to say, I’m with you on this one!

    I’ve spent years trying (and mostly succeeding) to celebrate each day in some way, however small.

    And yes, I use the good dishes. and clothes. and candles. and flowers…..

  22. New pjs on Christmas Eve, kiddie wine on New Years Eve, pancakes from scratch (sometimes with mini chocolate chips), camping trips, lots of snuggles and kisses…that’s how we mark those 525,600 minutes. Thanks for helping me learn to cherish them even more these last few years!

  23. Presh.
    I love seeing little faces light up when you turn
    normal, everyday events into special ones. I’m constantly
    wondering what will stick out in their little minds as big
    childhood moments as well.
    Thanks for all the tips!

    Rebekah B. Pennsylvania

  24. Presh.
    I love seeing little faces light up when you turn
    normal, everyday events into special ones. I’m constantly
    wondering what will stick out in their little minds as big
    childhood moments as well.
    Thanks for all the tips!

    Rebekah B. Pennsylvania

  25. We’re about to move to the Oregon coast, where I’ve been visiting and dreaming of living for over a decade. I anticipate many great new traditions, one of the first of which will be watching fireworks over the water on the 4th of July!

  26. Thank you so much for this beautiful post – I am going to be looking for ways to celebrate everyday!

  27. love yer blog!
    our family loves to do many things to celebrate the every day – wine glasses at dinner and candles are some we do regularly. we also do crepes de lundi (crepes every monday night for the summer), breakfast for dinner, kid pick dinner (the kids choose what’s for dinner once a week and help prepare it), gummy worms for quiet reading time (to help them be book worms) :) these are just a few of the many things we do to enjoy life to the fullest.
    i love your outlook on life and i really enjoyed your book. life is to be enjoyed every day.
    being grateful and recognizing the many blessings in our lives no matter how small is so important – especially as we set the example for our 4 kids.

  28. great post…my girls love picnic lunches on the front lawn… makes an ordinary day extra special

  29. We do all of the above on your list- especially setting pretty tables and lighting candles, using special dishes, etc. Spontaniety is the most powerful with my girls though, dinner as a picnic, dressing up to go out for tea at a tea room, breakfast for dinner, or an unexpected trip to the chip wagon (french fry stand in the “States” ?)
    I love the idea of a campout in the basement. They do it with their friends but they would prob LOVE it if Daddy and I joined them one night! Hmmm.. I see a plan for Friday night…

  30. We have family ADVENTURES! And yes it must be in all caps, because that is exactly how we do it, my husband and I and now our daughter get in the car and start driving. Then when my husband says “Where do you want to go?” I say I don’t care it’s an ADVENTURE!” extra emphasis and a good fist in the air on adventure. My husband says “Adventure!” with the same empahsis and off we go, to roads that seem to be placed in a tunnel of trees, the city lake, or longer ones to fancy cheese shops, or nice parks in neighborhoods far away.

  31. Oh Kelle, you speak to my heart! As a long time reader of your blog (& this being my first official comment) I appreciate all of your posts, but this post especially!!! Not only did you reference singing in grocery aisles, an extreme love of balloons and my favorite Broadway musical, but you hit the nail on the head for how I try to live my life!! I do not have children yet, but I already think about how I am going to help them develop their imaginations and teach them to celebrate life properly every day. I am a firm believer in ‘special cups’, ‘cupcake plates’ and many other fun celebratory pieces that I use in daily life to celebrate life in that very moment. I love your ideas and appreciate your celebratory spirit!!

  32. I just love the cute little font you have been using on your last two posts. Mind sharing the name of it? :)

  33. Since starting to read your blog I’ve been aching to put more tradition and celebrate any ocassion or event….its a work in progress but I’m getting there!

    Saw this on pintrest and thought you might like it.

    Thanks for all your inspiration!

  34. I love the photos of your beach babies. We have a 1 year old son and are moving to Jacksonville in January. We are having fun creating special memories and our own little family traditons. I bought your book about 2 weeks ago and read it in 3 nights after the little one was in bed. I would love for you to sign my book and meet you someday. You are such a inspiration for me to be a wonderful mommy. I can’t wait to move and take our little boy to the beach. Will you write a 2nd book? – Jessica.

  35. Everyday celebrations should just be how we live. Grateful for every moment. You definately inspire so many people with your blog. Thanks.

  36. loved this post! you are inspiring! you’ve got my wheels turning on how i can randomly make tomorrow…or the next day a little bit more special. thanks!

  37. Love it! Love it all!

  38. My 4 year old came up with ‘I love you day’. We pick one family member to celebrate, bake something yummy, decorate (she’s in charge of this), poke some candles in our creation and sing “Happy I Love You Day to you…”. My daughter will make a card and wrap a gift – something we already own that she thinks they will like. She gets such a thrill out of expressing her love to her family.

  39. I just love everything you think of doing … and you do! How you enjoy life!!! This is grand!!! You fill up my heart with happiness. Sometimes is so hard to live away from my family, who lives in Brasil, and celebrate things without them around. But I have my 2 kids and husband who need to celebrate every day our joy. Thank you Kelle for inspire me with your blog and your Instagram photos. Thank you.

  40. I love the idea of celebrating random moments. I have been following your blog for over 2 years now. I have a 2 year old little girl who is only a few days older then Nella.
    My hubby and I have gotten good at snatching little moments. We will randomly start to slow dance to a favorite song when it comes on and we are listening to Pandora or the radio, or take the time to stop at the rest area that is 30 minutes away to walk the trail or just pack a picnic lunch to celebrate. He tries to suprise me with breakfast in bed, and to this day he has only managed once, and that was this Mother’s day. Especially now that our family has grown from a family of 3 to a family of 5 on New Years day. We still try to make random days special.

  41. We have an extraordinary days jar that we draw something from every day to make it special.
    Park visits are not just for sitting and watching my kid from a distance. I may get strange looks from the other park moms, but I am up on that playground cruising down slides with him and playing something imaginary. This week we were peter pan and wendy on captain hooks ship. Life is grand.

  42. My friends and I make summer Thursdays our tradition. There are lots of little free things that go on in the city on Thursdays so every summer, we all switch our day off to then and just spend the day together. It’s a nice way for all of us to spend time together despite being crazy busy.

  43. Celebration is one of my favorite words. Because along with it comes all of my favorite things- friends family and lots of fun. You did a beautiful job reminding me that celebration doesn’t have to be a planned event :)

    I am going to celebrate my graduation this weekend. First with a ceremony and reception, and then a party. I am going to go all out. And have fun doing it!

  44. I love the little celebrations/traditions perhaps the most! We have a ton of things during the holidays, but I love things like making an air matress bed on the floor and watching movies on their birthdays or our tea party the last week of summer where we get dressed up and eat a lunch of whatever they want outside.

    As for the songs… When my husband and I were first dating we were in the car and I was singing “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as “Someday Darling Someday”!

  45. It is shot through the heart, sorry I love all things 80’s. I loved this post. Love the suggestion about the candles on the beach. Enjoying life and slowing down and making the most of every minute.

  46. Thank you for such wonderful ideas and inspiration! I can’t wait to think up an exciting little surprise for my kids to turn an ordinary day into a celebration! :)

  47. Fun! So many ways we celebrate- we have a beach kit packed in the car, complete with bubbles and kites for those moments when it just hits us and we gotta to the beach.
    Summertime kicks off with water fights. My sisters and I revel in sneak water balloon attacks on our children that break into all out water wars between parents and kids, a tradition our parents started with us.
    This year hubby and I signed a contract on our bottle of wine for our anniversary, repledging our promise to JUMP in life, because as long as we jump together, we will always be okay.

    Great post- thanks Kelle.

  48. we live in KY and although I tend to make a big deal out of every event, we go bigger than anyone over our beloved KY wildcats. Blue and White face paint, wildcat gear head to toe, blue and white food, cookouts with friends and family; you name it, we do it! GO CATS!!

  49. We have a special meal that we make for birthdays. I always let the birthday person choose but it always comes back to the meal we have dubbed “birthday pasta”. It isn’t the most healthy meal but it is delicious! I often wonder how my children will look back on their childhood:) Thanks for the suggestions!

  50. We are far away from our families & make time to celebrate all little silly things as a nuclear family at home. Tonight we celebrate the first two (puny)tomatoes from our container garden.

  51. your family sure knows how to celebrate! wish i was a part of these!

  52. How I love this post! Life is good – celebrate!

    Every Sunday night during summer is family cook out night. We all get together and grill and enjoy a meal together — no easy feat with 4 kids going every which way! We love it and so do they. They bring friends, neighbors are welcome and a party ensues.

  53. Now I have Rent in my head–fun! I was such a Rent-head in the day (:

    We love celebrating and in fact, Leeor reminded me on Mother’s Day that he celebrates my role as mama to our kids every day, not just one day per year.

    And we left our ubiquitous Happy Birthday sign up in a doorway for over a month (Leeor’s bday was in April and Lilit just turned 2!) because it was festive and also funny when guests came over and were confused about whose birthday it was . . .

    Yes to candles, too!

  54. My hubby and I love to buy vending machine tattoos when we’ve been out and about running errands. It’s cheap, it’s fun, and it makes a day of grown up chores much more fun and special!

  55. We adopted both of our babies from our state’s Foster Care System and by far my favorite made up holiday is GOTCHA DAY! It’s the day that they were dropped off on our doorstep and we became a family. We celebrate it bigger then birthday parties and the kids know that is the day we were ALL born into this new family dynamic.

    It’s the best.

  56. Random dance parties in fancy dresses, Oscar Parties, Swinging at midnight, Pancakes on Saturday with my best friend

  57. Best. Post. Ever. Wait, you’ve already won that award before.

    Anyway, you have the best ideas…and I know you’ve shared them with us before, I’ve been reading since Nella was born, but spelling them out like this is so helpful.

    I thought I was spontaneous before, but you’re spontaneous and FUN, which beats anything, hands down.

    I need to get my FUN factor back somehow. How many of these ideas can I do in one day? Just kidding.

    I’ve got some time before they get home from school…off I go!

    Thanks, Susan

  58. I look for any excuse to buy a “birthday cake”…preferably a white cake with buttercream icing. I often buy one, take it home, and make something crazy up, like celebrating rain (especially in a dry spell), celebrating Fridays (or any random day), celebrating family, or since my family and I all having raging mad sunburns right now, we will probably be celebrating the end of the skin-on-fire this weekend with cake and ice cream. Like I said, any excuse. Today, we celebrate because it’s Wednesday. Tomorrow, just because we are awesome :) Friday, do it all over again.

  59. Our family celebrates half-Christmas. On June 25th each year, we eat special Christmas food, listen to Christmas music, bake Christmas cookies, and enjoy small gifts. For awhile my kids thought it was a national holiday and would ask their friends what they got for half-Christmas. Now they understand it’s just a quirky, fun holiday invented by their Christmas-loving mother who thinks 12 months is entirely too long to have to wait!

  60. Loved this post :)

    We have a funny St. Patty’s Day tradition… we set lephrecan (Yes I cannot spell lephrecan, and my macbook has no idea what I’m trying to spell, lol) traps and pretend the lephrecans turned everything green (the milk, the pancake mix, the eggs, etc.)… in the morning under the trap is a piece of clothing that “ripped off”…. of course in the size of my son so he can wear it on St. Patty’s Day :)

    My parents started the tradition and I’ve just kept it going. We also go to the St. Patty Parade in Columbus every year after a big green breakfast.

  61. I loved this post and some of the photos made me feel like i lived in them, honestly!!

  62. One of my very favorite celebrations growing up was having blt’s and sun tea on the first warm day of the year.

    My husband doesn’t really like bacon (which is absurd in my opinion) but he gags down a blt every spring. thankyouverymuch.
    It’s tradition!

  63. You are the best!I’m reading your book in these days and I smile and cry for your words.thank you.today I have dedicated a post in my blog to you and your story.
    thanks again Kelle

  64. We have a couple “made up” holidays — my husband and kids decided the Saturday before Halloween is “Monkey Day,” which has nothing to do with monkeys, and everybody gets a present. I also do a “back to school” cake each year, with the no. of candles for whatever grade the kids are in. I have a question about those lanterns. I want to have a ceremony of sorts in my backyard to mark the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. I got those lanterns in IParty, but I got a little scared by the instruction to “notify the nearest Air Traffic Control tower” or some such craziness in the directions. Do you do that?

  65. In the car whenever it’s remotely possible we throw up our hands and pretend we are on a roller coaster. Entrance ramp from Golden Gate Parkway to I-75 is our all time favorite. We’ve been known to drive out of our way just for it!

  66. I love, love, love this. We try our very best to make the most of the non-holidays found in the days surroundings those marked with stars on the calendar and infuse the mundane with whimsy and fun, but my most favorite of all is one that began by accident – The Annual Tree Toss. After the Christmas lights and decor have been put away and the dust has settled on the new year, it is time to get the once lovely but now parched and hazardous Christmas tree out of the house. We set up our tree in the dining room and a few years ago, as a way of tracking less needles through the living room and kitchen, my husband hoisted open one of the dining room windows and with the help of the littles, tossed the tree right out the window and into the back yard. “The Toss” (oh yes, it deserves a capital T) now signals the end of the holiday season and brings a whole lot of fun to something that used to give me the blues (because really, is there a sadder sight than driving around the neighborhood and seeing all those crusty old trees with leftover scraps of tinsel just laying out in the street waiting to be picked up in early January?) I didn’t realize the impact it had until my daughter asked me for a picture of this year’s Toss for a school project. Turns out they were writing stories about their most favorite family traditions… thanks for the constant inspiration to up the fun quotient in life!

  67. one of our favorite things to do over the holidays is a light ride (riding around looking at Christmas lights) but it has to be done right. You have to let the kids think they are going to sleep, wait 20 minutes or so then you run into their room and yell “light-ride” and you hurry them to the car where their popcorn and hot chocolate waits in their car seats and you ride around taking in all the neat displays of xmas lights!

  68. Love this post, you speak my celebration language!

  69. Funny! im in the song seasons of love in my school play:)

  70. I really think we were separated at birth after this post. I mean, every single thing. 525,600 minutes, how do you measure measure a year? And I have always thought it was “shout through the heart”. Until tonight. Now I just am confused as usual with lyrics. And the celebration. Green eggs and ham. Candles. Special touches to ordinary days and meals. Love it all.

    I finally felt like my boys were catching on when the day after mothers day, they declared we would start having “brothers day”. My 5 year old even strummed up a nice tune on his guitar for brothers day. I love it. I love celebration and life is worth celebrating in many different ways all the time.


  71. I really think we were separated at birth after this post. I mean, every single thing. 525,600 minutes, how do you measure measure a year? And I have always thought it was “shout through the heart”. Until tonight. Now I just am confused as usual with lyrics. And the celebration. Green eggs and ham. Candles. Special touches to ordinary days and meals. Love it all.

    I finally felt like my boys were catching on when the day after mothers day, they declared we would start having “brothers day”. My 5 year old even strummed up a nice tune on his guitar for brothers day. I love it. I love celebration and life is worth celebrating in many different ways all the time.


  72. TEACUPS. Those are my secret weapons, but I think they mainly work on girls. I have a random collection of real china teacups and saucers I have collected over the years and anytime my 8 year old daughter and I need some girl time we brew blueberry herbal tea and bake up cookies and “sit a spell”. Sipping our tea and talking.

  73. I had to laugh out loud when I read the “green eggs and ham” idea! When my kids were little – maybe first and second grade – I dyed the milk in their lunch thermoses (remember those?) green for St. Patrick’s Day as a surprise for them. FAIL! My oldest son said it was the “worst stuff he ever had in his lunch” and he asked it he could dump it out before he ate his lunch and my younger son came home crying and saying he was “afraid of that milk!” I swear he has not had a glass of milk since and he’s 20! Oh well….I tried! Some ideas work and others ~ not so much! :)

  74. Sponsoring some of your posts is perhaps the greatest thing Hallmark has ever done. Loved this!

  75. I hear you on not saving the good china for special occasions. I have a mug that costs over $100 and I love it and make sure I use it all the time.

    If i wrapped it up and hid it, it would stay safe but I’d never get to enjoy it. By using it, sure there’s a risk i’ll break it and wont get to enjoy it anymore but at least I get some enjoyment out of it.

  76. We have Family Board Game Night every single week. Even the 3 year old knows to bust out Sorry or Clue Junior on Fridays.

    Every July we throw a big Christmas In July party. Keeps my holiday freak flag flyin high!

    When the boys are a little bored or even when I’m a little bored, we camp in the living room. We have a small popup tent, lightup the s’more maker, tell scary ghost stories with flashlights and then sleep together in the tent. The boys know it special..I can see it in their eyes.

    We have often declared it “Adventure Day.” We just pick a direction on the map and GO. We live in Orlando and have ended up in Miami, Naples, Anna Maria Island, St. Augustine, Vero Beach, Sarasota, etc. The possibilities are endless. We quickly pack road trip bag with essentials (sunscreen, books, small toys, snacks, a blanket, and a map). So what if we are still driving home at midnight? The boys LOVE it and I know they will always remember it.

  77. seasoned napkins, like for each holiday and season of the year. i also let my daughter sprinkle her pancakes and french toast with candy sprinkles whenever we have it brunch on the weekends. many more, but i love your tips! helps me to keep thinking about this and changing things up. (and to scout garage sales and goodwill for special dishes, i truly do not have any. just our normal dinner ware.)

  78. We are doing a different kind of celebrating this summer.

    Turns out my crazy Thriller moves were too much for them….and me. I made it through the entire routine (almost) and ruptured my achilles. It’s usually a sports injury, so I kinda feel like a stud :)

    I’ll be in a cast & on crutches for the ENTIRE summer….maybe a walking cast by the end of August. So, in order to keep my sanity and not drown in self pity, I’ve started a list called THE CHRONICLES OF A TEMPORARY CRIPLE…..stating a new blessing, a new joy each day because of this injury. Here are a few since last Friday when it happened:

    *blessing #2: So thankful I already sleep well on my back.
    *blessing #5: Thankful I’m being forced to humble myself….my friend changed my sheets & scrubbed my toilet.
    *blessing #6: Celebrating laughter. The handicap carts in grocery stores produced gut rolling laughter from my boys as I impersonated a racecar driver; head thrown back like the speed was causing whiplash! I promise you, it already has gone down as one of our funniest memories as a family :)
    *blessing #7: I’m going to have ROCKIN’ tri-ceps….with all this scooting up the stairs backwards on my bum!

    And thankful for prayer, because today is the surgery and I have a busy little girl to take care of! So I’m also celebrating the fact that my boys are good helpers and that it happened on the last day of school.

    Celebrate good times, come on!

  79. We are very serious about forts. Blanket forts are particular specialties of ours. We co-sleep with our little one, so every night is full-blown snuggles in the first place…. and blanket forts make it that much more special. We’ve found three different spots in our tiny home for these marvelous constructions and I intend to find at least five more.

    How to build a blanket fort: 1) Pile every blanket you own onto one small space. Make sure you have some room to hide out underneath, like a built-up cave entrance kind of thing… and also a way to breathe under there. 2) When possible use other objects nearby to drape blankets off of, like chairs or sturdy decorations. Think large tent. 3) Watch movies, or read together, or just talk and laugh… then sleep sweetly.

  80. We make sure to celebrate any time one of our girls has to endure something really unpleasant… like vaccinations or fasting blood draws. We let them pick, and the usual celebration of choice is happy hour dinner at their favorite sushi restaurant. They love “happy hour” because it means they get to eat dinner earlier than usual, and it’s always a celebration when we visit this place because it isn’t something we do all the time.

  81. Oh my gosh. The picture of Lainey with juice in a plastic wine cup is so sweet it brought tears to my eyes. She looks so grown up! I sent the picture to my sister and said “lets take (8 month old) Olivia to the beach right now and put a plastic wine glass in her hand!” Such a sweet sweet picture.

  82. Awesome. Rockin’ out both my husband’s and son’s b-days this weekend so some nice suggestions to help make them special–thanks :)

  83. Amazing post! I’m ready to celebrate!

  84. Kelle–yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend who passed away after a courageous 9yr battle with Ovarian cancer. She left behind 2 young sons, an adoring husband and countless friends. She lived by this message of enjoying every single second and celebration.
    Thanks again for the right post at the right time.

  85. Umm.. those pillows are simply fab. As is the quilt. :)

  86. Kelle,
    I found your post, Celebrate: Hallmark, through Gretchen Rubin’s interview with you. I’m so glad I checked it out. Your take on celebrations is simply inspiring and thought provoking. It truly is the little things in life and how we use them that can make life so special. Congrats on your beautiful family and on your book, Bloom: Finding Beauty in the Unexpected.

    I plan to post a link to your post on my Birthday Wall blog in connection with my e-book, The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child, a how-to on creating a colorful, visual collage to celebrate your child’s birthday, which is a tradition I have created and kept with my two daughters for the past nine years. I’m always looking for inspiring celebratory stories and party tips, and yours truly touched my heart.

    I wish you the best with your book and with your family. Enjoy the little things!

    Be refreshed,
    Dawn Herring
    Author of The Birthday Wall: Create a Collage to Celebrate Your Child
    Host of #JournalChat Live and Links Edition on Twitter

  87. I really love this post. I wonder all the time what “memories” my son will have years down the road. I have so many fond ones and I want to make sure he has some too. Holidays/celebrations are special, i’m already planning 4th of July, my most favorite holiday of the year!!!

  88. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmFOg7SpFas&feature=youtube_gdata_player

    After I watched this I knew immediately I needed to share it here. Please help this go viral. Another story of a family touched by Down Syndrome…not once but twice blessed. Twins! Sadly, they are both also fighting leukemia. They are just a few months younger than Nella.

  89. Capchessguy is my teenage sons account. Oops.

  90. On somewhat of a side note, have you tried MoodAgent yet in Spotify? I’m just starting to use it and it made me think of you. I know that music is important to you (and based on your Happiness feature today, helps you boost a hard day). This app is so cool! Check it out, I hope you love it like I do.

  91. One of our favorite summer time traditions is to get in our jammies and roast marshmallows and make s’mores while watching the fireflies dance in our backyard. The kids love that they are getting to stay up late!

  92. We are set to celebrate our first anual kids day june 21st. my 2 oldest decided we needed a day for kids like we have one for mothers and fathers. So kids day it is, I’m quite excited about coming up with awesome stuff to do this day!

  93. Just finished ‘Bloom’ and then read your post. Sort of fitting as the last chapter was about celebrating. Thank you so much for sharing your life with all of us.

    Also, thanks for the bit about not feeling sorry for the grocery bagger…we have lovely Adam with ‘designer genes’ and I have always made an effort to check out in his line. He brightens our day with a cherry hello and wonderful smile and always pays special attention to my girls.

  94. I had giant sparklers in between dinner and dancing at our wedding- the photos are amazing! Since real fireworks are illegal in Canada except on statutory holidays sparklers are pretty special outside of the usual holidays 😉

  95. I try to do special things for our family as life allows and as our teens head towards adulthood – because I too want them to “remember when we….” and smile.

    One of my laugh very hard/whoops it backfired moments when my kids were small was when I wanted to make dinner a fun event and made Green Eggs & Ham for them. Well my daughter (who absolutely loves eggs) just sat and cried and asked how could I have wrecked the eggs?!!? Her little brother thought they were a hoot and wanted to have them again next week! We still talk about it over 10 years later!

  96. This comment has absolutely nothing to do with this post. I just wanted to say, I just finished reading Bloom, and my heart is so full. Thank you so much for sharing.

  97. I just found your blog this morning and I spent the morning crying over your beautiful story and calling all my sisters and mother to tell them that they needed to read it immediately. Your birth experience with Nella was so parallel to my own mom’s experience when my sweet sister Jayclyn was born with Downs Syndrome. Your emotions were exactly how she described the experience as well. Seeing all of Nella’s pictures brought back all of the wonderful memories of when my sister was that age (she is now 21 and doing so well:) I was Lainey’s age when my sister was born and we shared a room for a long time growing up. We still consider her the biggest blessing our family ever received. I LOVE your blog, pictures, and your beautiful perspective…so excited to read your book!

  98. Summer is my all time favorite season. So we celebrate by:
    twinkle lights outside.
    night time swims.
    bbq almost every night.
    eat outside every night.
    BEACH. Every chance we get.
    The smell of sunscreen turns me into jelly.
    snuggling in the morning instead of getting ready for school.
    good books.
    Holy moly. I can’t wait!!!

  99. Just got a great (!!) idea from “Love is all you need” extraordinary day jar. We are so going to include this in our life! I will now go out and find a great new jar to decorate just for this purpose.

    Thanks for sharing!

    … and as always, loved your post Kelle.


  100. Loving the robot chalkboard sticker. I have boys and they would love this! kids wall decals

  101. Everything what you do looks always so amazing, I really love what you do with your friends, family and kids.
    I really have to do this kind of things.

  102. Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies and “Green Punch” at Christmas time. Always reminds us of my Mamaw. That and ANY time I have chicken & dumplins :)

  103. Read your blog last night and this morning I sprung out of bed before my husband and prepared a little breakfast in bed with warm cinnamon croissants and strawberry-blueberry fruit salad. On a Friday. Before work. For no reason at all except to wake him up with a big smile and say “I love you”!

  104. Hi Kelle!! After seeing so many blog posts about your book I downloaded it on Nook last night and started reading just now on my lunch break. What a beautiful, sweet story!! I am in love with your book! Oh, AND, I am in love with your photography!! Amazing! :) Makes me really, really want to figure out how the heck to use my Nikon and the photo editing software that I have :)
    Happy Friday!

  105. we celebrate half-birthdays – with half a cake, half hot dogs and half filled cups of sodas – fun

  106. Cute kids. But Lainey looks like a junior lush, Dude, with the wine glass, Dude, even though the Dudette is rockin’ it.

  107. About a month-and-a-half before my second son is born, I’ve just started a tradition with my first son I’ve thought about for a long time. And now that he’s two months shy of three years old, he’s at a perfect age to start mama-and-me-dates, celebrations of fun and love I hope to continue for many years to come. Right now it’s simply the occasional trip to the library, McDonald’s playland or Hersheypark, but he gets excited for and appreciates our special time together – just the two of us – without Daddy or anyone else.

  108. I loved reading this and everybody elses special things!!

    Tomorrow will be our last day in Iceland before heading back to Australia and on a whim we deceided to hold a joined birthday tomorrow!! We have made a cake, baught gifts, gotten the candles ready. Oh by the way..its really nobody’s birthday..but my girl turned two in january and my nieces girl turns 3 in july so a joint suprice birthday with hot dogs at 8am it is!!!!!

  109. We celebrate Mobility Awareness Day every January 19, the anniversary of the day five years ago when I broke my knee. In the weeks following, I learned that my house doesn’t have to be perfect, and the kids don’t have to cook or do laundry the way I do them … their sweet attitudes as they did my work were such a healing gift!

    Soooo, every year we celebrate by eating chicken legs (because that’s what my leg looked like after 8 immobile weeks!) and jello (because that’s what it felt like in physical therapy). We laugh and remember, and usually go sledding or hiking, thankful that we can use our healthy legs.

  110. Kid wine glasses: my oldest used to call them “shape glass” and it was always a preferred way of drinking milk or juice. Thanks for the memory of that!

  111. Love to share a moment i had the other day with my kids, my youngest Noa didn’t want to eat her pasta, saying it was to hard and not ready….I asked both kids, well do you know how to check if a pasta is ready, they looked at me…”well,I said, you throw it up, if it sticks to the ceiling it is ready, if not, it is not.” can we try mom, my son asked, yep, we tried, it was so much fun, pasta flying in the air, it did stick, and they ate their lunch :-) we had some cleaning to do after, but it was worth the fun and laughter on their cute faces :-)
    Love you blog, Natalie

  112. I first found you on instagram thru a series of clicks. I fell on love with Nella! I have been reading your blog now for months and you inspire me! My husband and I have 5 children, 5 wildly creative, energetic inspirational kids! This post tugged at my heart, not just because Seasons of love
    Holds special place in my heart (our wedding song) but because for the last week or so, as I have been filling bookbags and buying back to school supplies I have realized that our summer has slipped by us in the blink of an eye and we don’t have one memory dripped in glitter, or sparkling with laughter! I am on a mission now, to stop letting my last few weeks of summer slip by and start enjoying every moment of it starting with a beach night Monday with the kids and husband! Thank you for reminding me of the precious moments that you can never relive!

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