Holiday Shopping: Don’t Lose Your Sh*t, People!

Playing with the birdbath

TGSG Note: Hi readers — at least I hope I still have readers after my very long blogging break! I am actually re-posting this from last year, because let’s face it, the push to over-spend and overdo hasn’t gone away this holiday season. Remember to take time to actually enjoy the holidays and this time you have to make memories. Don’t rush. Give back. Laugh a lot. Love more. xoxo – Bethe

Childhood is pretty simple. No really, it is. But we adults over-complicate it and fill it up with noise and lots and lots of stuff. We are the adults — all roads lead back to us.

Door busters. Black Friday. Cyber Monday. Buying shit Stuff You Don’t Need Tuesday…MAKE. IT. STOP.

Simply put, the Holidays have become RIDICULOUS. There, I’ve said it. People, it needed to be said. And it needs to be repeated. RIDICULOUS.

And who has made it ridiculous? Hint: It’s not the kids.

Parents spending excessive amounts of money on mostly things children do not need, won’t enjoy for very long, and only want because some marketer told them they wanted it. Buying presents out of guilt. Trying to outdo last year, or the neighbors, or the sister-in-law. Whatever.

Odds are, this will ring at least a little bit true to you, unless you are a Super Zen Holiday Master, and if so, I am totally tipping my hat to you right now (chapeau!).

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can take a stand in our own lives and families and reclaim sanity. I’ve seen the idea of Four Presents floating around the last few years and I really like the concept.

Each child gets 4 presents: 

1.    Something they want

2.    Something they need

3.    Something to wear

4.    Something to read

Balanced and sane, with plenty of room for fun and whimsy. It also challenges you to focus on quality versus quantity, and forces you to really consider each child in a meaningful way. I like the idea of adding a 5th item — a coupon for one child-selected outing or activity. Kids will delight in picking an activity and helping plan the when and the where!

Will there be some push back? Most likely, but you can get through it and it will be worth it. (And after all, you are the adult – just sayin‘.) Plus, the planet will thank you. ALL THAT PLASTIC and excessive packaging for goods that are mostly made in China. Who needs it? More isn’t always better, often it is just more.

If you have children that are used to getting lots and lots of presents, talk to them about the real meaning of the holiday and how your family is going to shift the focus to spending more time together doing fun things, like ice skating, hiking, or game nights around the tree (or menorah or kinara). For very young children, they won’t know the difference and you will be setting a healthy expectation of the holiday.

As for toys, keep a few things in mind:

  • A toy should be 90% child and 10% toy, meaning if the toy does all the work and supplies all the creativity, who is having the fun? We want the kids to get great things out of a toy versus have the toy go through the motions set-up by manufacturers.
  • Keep movement in mind. Will this promote active play or sedentary play? Today’s children are spending 7.5 hours a day in front of screens, do you really want to add to that?

Two more tips…

Hope this post helps and inspires. If you have already over-purchased, set some things aside for birthday presents, give them to Toys for Tots, or return them and add that money to the Family Fun Budget (or save it!).

Deep breath — you can do it. And remember other people will give presents too. Plus the old adage really is true, what children truly remember is the gift of time spent with you.

Happy Sane Holidays! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

PS: Don’t forget to save the cardboard boxes — best toys EVER!

Project Wild Thing Trailer — Taking #Playoutdoors to Scale

More red poppies


I’ve been at this game of connecting children (and their adults!) to nature for a long time. One of the things that I have always said was missing in our efforts is a true marketing and media campaign.

Sound daft? It’s not. Let’s face it — marketing works for a reason.

I am so excited to see the film, Project Wild Thing! Watch the trailer below, and I’m sure you will be as well.

Cheers to David and all of those involved in the film. Be sure to check out the webiste.

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

PSA: Can’t Miss Summer Fun



Here they come — those incredible summer days and nights we dream of most of the year are upon us and will pass us by quicker than I care to think about.

So consider this a little Public Service Announcement from your friendly neighborhood Grass Stain Guru


Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. No excuses. And seriously, the air conditioning will be waiting for you…and will feel even better when you go outside and get your play on!

  1. Catch fireflies
  2. Run through the sprinkler or have a wet sponge fight
  3. Roast the perfect marshmallow or challenge yourself to come up with a gourmet s’more recipe
  4. Head to a nearby fishing hole.  Take a child who has never had the opportunity and watch their eyes light up.
  5. Try geocaching
  6. Have a watermelon seed spitting contest
  7. Camp. Backyard, tree house or nearby county or state park — it doesn’t matter as long as you sleep outside
  8. Eat a popsicle under a shade tree and play The Cloud Game
  9. Find a nearby trail and hike when the sun is not too high — early in the morning or at dusk
  10. _________________ (Use your imagination and share in the comments section! What’s your #10?) :-)

Oh, and why not spice up your summer with a tasty adult popsicle or three?! Check out my friend Jerry James Stone’s recipe for Mango Fruit and Tequila Popsicles with Serrano. Noms! Don’t worry, he has lots of great non-boozey recipes, too. :-)

When September comes and the kids head back to school and the summer light starts to fade, you will have such fond memories of time spent in the pursuit of play — and making the most of this gorgeous planet that we call home.

Trust me — this fact will make you happy. The end.

Don’t miss out. Mother Nature has something great waiting for you…

See ya outside! ~ The Grass Stain Guru

PS: And because I am a former camp counselor, I can’t help but play this clip from my beloved, Meatballs. And yes, as a matter of fact I am ready for the summer! Are you ?!

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