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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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Moments: A Cash Mob for a Beloved Local Businessman

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Moments: A Cash Mob for a Beloved Local Businessman

This is a guest post from Everybody's Invited contributor, Celeste Hamilton Dennis. When she's not creating rad muppet-themed Save the Date videos, she's organizing "cash mobs" for local businesses. We think you'll find this pretty inspiring.

This past June, I organized a cash mob—where people flood a local store and pledge to buy stuff—for a good friend named Avi who owns a stationery store in my hometown of Levittown, New York.

From the minute my husband Craig had the idea, I knew it was something we wanted to do for Avi. His was a good story. Originally from India, Avi had been in Levittown for the past ten years and was an essential part of the community. Generous and charismatic, his position behind the counter often went beyond cashier to good friend—and even, sometimes, to therapist. I knew this firsthand.

But like many small businesses on Long Island and across the U.S., he’d come up on hard times and was likely going to shut the store down. So we saw this as an opportunity to show just how loved and supported he was in Levittown and in the process, hopefully give him some extra cash.

The result was renewed hope for Avi, and this short documentary.

My not-so-secret goal of organizing the cash mob was it would also inspire others to do the same. So if you’re keen on organizing a cash mob for a beloved local store owner you know, here are some things to keep in mind:                  

1. Make sure a cash mob is something they’d be comfortable with.

I didn’t know if Avi would hate or love it, or if there were cultural mores I should be aware of.  The last thing I wanted to do was embarrass him or make him mad. So I made sure to get the go ahead from his wife first before doing anything.

2. Start outreach at least one month out…

The success of this event depended entirely on people showing up. Since it was summer and people have lots of plans, I wanted to make sure people could pencil the date in. The very first thing I did was create a Facebook page where I could post updates and reminders.

3…and be comprehensive.

Via the Facebook page, I invited everyone I’d ever known in Levittown and asked (read: begged) friends and family to share it with their networks. The invite list instantly tripled.

I then reached out to the local paper, The Levittown Tribune, to place a mysterious ad and also contacted someone at the Levittown Historical Society I knew to send an email to various groups and associations around town.  

Avi also helped with getting the word out. Under the guise of me wanting to interview his elderly customers for a book about Levittown, he unwittingly got me their phone numbers. Two weeks prior, I sent them a flyer via snail mail. I also had a friend deliver that same flyer to the houses immediately surrounding the store.

It worked! In total about 100 people showed up.

It worked! In total about 100 people showed up.

4. Don’t be shy about enlisting the help of family and friends.

I found people were more than willing to be a part of such a happy, community-oriented event if you only asked.

I had an editor friend proofread my copy for both Facebook and emails, the good people here at Everybody’s Invited! help me talk through logistics and decorations, a web designer friend create the flyer, video producer friends document the whole story, etc.

5. Add a personal touch.

I wanted to make this extra special. So I had a “Levittown Loves Avi” sign made in the NY font from Etsy, provided food from a well-known and loved deli next store as a thank you for the people who participated, and asked my uncle to bring flowers for Bharati from his florist shop.

We gave Avi this sign afterward as a keepsake.

We gave Avi this sign afterward as a keepsake.

6. Have a plan, but roll with it.

We wrote out a cue-to-cue, a method stolen from the theatre world, that gave a minute by minute run down of the day of and who was doing what.  Of course, it didn’t go exactly as planned. (The bright sun shining down on a table full of deli meat could only end badly for everyone, for example.) But nothing was too difficult and we adjusted as necessary.

7. Think beyond the day.

Encouraged by our video producers, we set up an “Everyone Loves Avi”  Fundly account (also our hashtag for the day) so we could keep the momentum up long after the event ended.

The goal of this was to buy Avi some more time, help offset some of the costs of the event, and spark the idea that this was possible for small businesses anywhere.

Because we know that wherever you may be in the world, there’s a good chance that there’s someone you interact with on a daily basis who goes above and beyond - whether they’re the guy who knows your coffee order the second you walk in the door, or the saleswoman who always gives you an extra big smile when you’re checking out.

Who’s your Avi?                                             

For more detail and my do-differently’s, check out a longer version of this post on Cash Mob for Avi. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions: cellyham@gmail.com.

 

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Mother’s Day Gift Giving Guide

Mother’s Day is coming up quickly! It’s the one day out of the year we set aside for honoring the hard work of moms everywhere. Take a moment to think about the mothers in your life and give them all a mental high five for their patience, kindness, toughness, and kick-ass ability to love unconditionally.

Longtime readers of this blog know that we believe gifts ought to be Interactive, Fun, and potentially Thematic. Mostly, they ought to be from the heart. We believe in making things by hand, creating memorable experiences, offering up items that are as useful as they are beautiful, and using gifts to tell a personal story. We distinctly do not believe in filling people’s homes with things they will neither use nor appreciate aesthetically.

If that seems like a tall order, never fear! We’ve put together a Mother’s Day Gift Guide to help you give props to your favorite mamas.

Art! Moms are people, and people love art. We don’t know what kind of art your mom likes, but perhaps she’d be into one of these.

For cake-loving moms.

For cake-loving moms.

For vintage-loving moms

For vintage-loving moms

For artsy moms

For artsy moms

For penguin-loving moms

For penguin-loving moms

Or consider this personalized art idea—a visual representation of your heartfelt spoken message. It’s cute, meaningful, and one-of-a-kind.

Your voice, visualized.

Your voice, visualized.

Track down a hard-to-find copy of a book she read to you as a child. Get ready for the waterworks as she unwraps this bit of nostalgia.

Did anyone else read this one as a child?

Did anyone else read this one as a child?

Culinary-minded moms will appreciate a great cookbook. Not sure which one to purchase? Amazon has helpfully created a map of the best cookbooks for different regional cuisines in the U.S.

This one from the Pacific Northwest section seems appropriate.

This one from the Pacific Northwest section seems appropriate.

For play-loving moms, consider adding to the family game closet. A new tabletop game is an investment in future fun. 

A new family favorite

A new family favorite

Help a mom learn something new. What fits best with her particular interests and available time? A three-hour cooking class? A “How to Program” book? A wine tasting? An art appreciation tour at her favorite museum? Perhaps software to learn a foreign language? Help her explore her passions and develop new skills!

Tell her you love her in any language

Tell her you love her in any language

To help a great mom get a bit of perspective, how about a hot air balloon ride? It’ll create a lasting memory and is guaranteed to amp up her sense of adventure.

This awesome photo was taken by one of my favorite moms, my friend Maddie

This awesome photo was taken by one of my favorite moms, my friend Maddie

No fail gift idea: homemade cookies. It’s easy, fun, delicious, and we swear, you can taste the love.

How about these oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen?

How about these oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen?


How about these oatmeal, chocolate chip, pecan cookies from Smitten Kitchen?

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Moments: Moving to a new home

This past weekend my sister, brother-in-law, and six-year-old niece moved into a new home. I’d figured that my niece might be anxious about moving—even though it wasn’t a long distance move, she would have to change schools, make new friends, and leave the only home she’d ever known! Sure enough, while I was watching her the night before the big move (to give my sister and bro-in-law some much needed last-minute kid-free packing time), she teared up and confessed that she wanted to live in her “real home” and not the new “sleepover home.”

Fortunately, my sister and I had been scheming for a couple of weeks, and had a plan of attack. Operation: New House Scavenger Hunt was in full effect!

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We came up with a new house-themed scavenger hunt that we hoped would accomplish a few things:

  • immediately give her a positive, fun association as soon as she arrived at her new home
  • get her focused on the things about the new house she was excited about
  • give her an opportunity to put some of her newly acquired reading and writing skills to use

And, honestly, we were hoping to distract her from her fears and anxieties for awhile.

It worked even better than I’d imagined! Here’s how the scavenger hunt went down:

  1. We chose six places in the new house to focus on: her bedroom, the kitchen, the bathroom, the livingroom, the front porch, and the backyard
  2. To get to each new place, she had to first solve a puzzle of some kind—hangman, a wordsearch, or using a special decoder wheel to decode a word or phrase
  3. Once she cracked the clue, she had to complete a “time capsule task”—trace her handprint and write her “signature,” cut a piece of string as tall as she is, fill out a worksheet listing the things she was looking forward to in her new house and neighborhood, take a picture with her family on the porch, etc.
  4. She also got a small “prize” in each room—something for her to be excited about. She gets to look forward to making butterfly-shaped cookies in the kitchen, using her butterfly nightlight in her bedroom, playing in her new backyard sprinkler, and more!
  5. The final task was to bury the time capsule in the backyard, with the promise that they’ll dig it up next summer. The time capsule fits in nicely with some of the themes she and her family have been focusing on these past few weeks—namely, change is difficult, but it can also be exciting.

The scavenger hunt worked like a charm! She was completely engaged for over an hour, reading, writing, and racing around her new house. She was definitely focused on the good/exciting things, rather than the scary/uncomfortable things (it helped that her parents had painted one wall of her bedroom purple!).

Do you have a kid in your life who’s going through a transition? New school? New home? Perhaps a well-designed scavenger hunt can help ease the transition. Let us know in the comments!

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