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Our latest project: Forging New Family Traditions

Today we launched our newest guide, The Non-Traditionalist's Guide to Forging New Family Traditions. The Guide is 100% free and is chock full of funny, poignant, and delightful stories of crazy family traditions told to us by you—members of the Everybody's Invited community.

We hope you'll get as much of a kick out of the stories in the Guide as we do. They proved to us that family traditions don't need to be boring, staid, or even particularly dignified. They just have to bring people together, provide something to look forward to, and create vivid memories.

Please check out the Guide and share it with someone you think will love it.


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A Week in the Twitter Lives of Marlene, Marty, Jr, and Griff from Back to the Future Part II

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A Week in the Twitter Lives of Marlene, Marty, Jr, and Griff from Back to the Future Part II

Readers of this blog know that Tara and Hannah are a bit obsessed with the Back to the Future trilogy. We'd been looking forward to October 21, 2015 (the day Marty and Doc travel to at the beginning of the second film) for most of our lives. As the date approached, we knew we wanted to celebrate in a creative way that allowed us to showcase our love for the film's characters, clever plot points, and surprisingly accurate portrayal of 2015. Of course, we also wanted to gently mock the things the filmmakers got wrong (for example, "bojo" has not yet become a common term among young people—though we're determined to help make it so!)

We decided to tweet a week in the lives of three of the film's minor characters—Marlene and Marty, Jr., the teenaged children of Marty and Jennifer; and Griff, the bionically-enhanced grandson of the film's villain, Biff.

We had so much fun imagining how these characters would blend in to the real 2015, and how they might interact with real people. We imagined Marlene might be a Nick Jonas fan, invented an off-canon-but-somehow-believable romantic plotline for Marty, Jr, and considered how Griff might engage with the political issues of the day. We also had a blast interacting with other BTTF fans—in character, of course!

We put together a Storify showing highlights from the week. We hope you enjoy it!

 

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Happiness Hack: Give Away Money

I loved this article about a couple who lived on 6.25% of their combined income, so that they could give $100,000 to charity in 2013. The article provides some insight into why this couple ended up happier as a result, citing several studies linking generosity and altruism to improved happiness and well-being.

Of course, this doesn’t make sense if you’re barely making enough money to get by. But for those of us who are lucky enough to have disposable income each month, giving a percentage to others is a surefire way to feel good. I’ve found that the more I give, the better I feel.

What about you?

 

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Theme Party Inspiration: Back to the Future II

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Theme Party Inspiration: Back to the Future II

After nearly three decades of waiting, the day has nearly arrived. October 21, 2015 is the day that Marty and Doc travel to at the beginning of Back to the Future II. Since we are dorky fangirls, Tara and I have been eagerly anticipating this day since our childhoods.

If you're also into power laces and hoverboards, you might want to throw a Back to the Future II-themed party. Here's what to do:

Invitations

Here's a cute idea for an invitation:

Newspapers play a pretty big role in the film, so you might want to adapt one of the images from the film and create your own newspaper-style invitation.

Attire

You could go as Marty's girlfriend, Jennifer Parker: 

Or as Marty McFly, Jr. with this replica hat from Amazon (Tara says, "It's surprisingly high-quality"):

Or as Marty, Sr. pretending to be Marty, Jr. Just slap these hoverboard decals onto some foam core or perhaps a skateboard:

You could always go simple with a Cafe 80s t-shirt:

If you've gone back in time with a Sports Almanac in your pocket, perhaps you can afford the Limited Edition Marty McFly shoes from Nike. The first pair sold for $37,500:

What to Eat and Drink

You could make a cake. We've seen several "Jailbird Joey" cakes, but since this is all about the second film, you might be more inspired by this amazing wedding cake:

Otherwise, you can probably serve pizza and fruit, the only other foods shown in the film.  And sorry, Coca Cola fans, you're going to be drinking Pepsi Perfect all night long:

Activities

Clearly you're going to be making this paper DeLorean:

And making watching a screening of the film, while wearing cool 3D glasses:

And maybe playing a couple games of Wild Gunman:

Whatever you do, just remember no one should know too much about their own future, and never EVER call someone a chicken. It can only end badly.

For more inspiration, check out Tara's Pinterest board.

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The Ten Ideas Habit

Exactly 56 days ago I started a new practice of writing down ten ideas each day. The ideas range from new projects to recipe ideas to silly little one-liner jokes. Sometimes I have a theme like “Ten healthy things I can do this week” or “Ten ways I can surprise people in my life (in a good way).” Other times, it’s just a list of ten, disconnected ideas.

It’s not easy. Some days, I really struggle to come up with ten things. And I’ve not always finished the list on time (though, as of this writing, I am fully caught up). Also, most of the ideas are bad. Or, at least, they’re not something I’m likely to follow through on. But of the 560 ideas I’ve documented so far, I’ve completed about 15 of them, including writing an angel food cake-themed parody version of Beyoncé’s "Halo," creating printable badges for the Picnic Society, and creating a S’more the Planet bookmarklet to make web pages look more marshmallow-y.

In addition, there are about two dozen other ideas that I’ve starred and intend to follow up on.

I’m quite sure that I wouldn’t have thought of these ideas if I hadn’t started this daily ritual. It really is like exercising a muscle—you get better at it with practice. Giving myself this challenge has forced me to push myself, to make connections between seemingly disparate things, and to pay more attention to my surroundings. Throughout the day, I’m looking for inspiration. It keeps me awake.

Here’s what my practice looks like:

  • I write them by hand in a yellow legal pad, with the date at the top of each list. At the bottom of each list, I include the cumulative total number of ideas (for example, at the bottom of today’s list, I wrote “560.”) I like writing by hand because I find it inspires creative thinking.

  • Because I don’t always have my legal pad with me, I do sometimes jot an idea down on my phone. I later transfer this to the pad.

  • If no ideas are coming to me, I’ll sometimes read something for inspiration. It doesn’t take much. One interesting article can sometimes inspire all ten ideas for the day. But I do find that my best lists happen when I force myself to just think for as long as it takes with no distractions. I let my mind wander to problems I have, or problems I’ve noticed others have, or things that make me laugh. All of those seem to inspire interesting ideas.

  • I go back and read previous days’ lists every so often. I’ll put a star next to ideas that still seem good, even after a few days. And I put checkmarks next to ideas that I actually implemented. I am not precious about ideas. I’ll write down ideas that I know are bad, as long as they amuse me or seem at least original.

  • I’ve noticed a few broad categories have emerged, though most of the ideas don’t fit into any category. The categories I’ve noticed are things like, “Daily habit ideas,” “Jokes,” “Apps and other digital things to make,” “Art,” and  “Halloween costume ideas.” I’ve now started to use these labels in the margins, so I can find them more easily.

Since I started this practice, I’ve discovered James Altucher’s “Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine,” in which he describes a similar habit. His practice seems to be directed towards business and career development (though his lists appear to cover wide ground, like mine). I can see how this would be a natural benefit to cultivating this habit. But for me, the major benefit is simply coming up with things to do and make. I guess that’s what I want I want for my life—to do and make things. 

Do you have a similar practice? How does it work for you?

image by Flickr user Julian Santacruz

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