What’s your favorite cookie?

Hey there, Cookie Cravers!

It’s that time of year again when we get the chill out of the house by heating up the oven and baking cookies! This season, in particular, is meant for baking cookies. In fact, today happens to be National Bake Cookies Day! Put your talent as a baker to use today and make up a fresh batch of your favorite kind of cookie. Break out the mixing bowl, eggs, and whisk! It's National Bake Cookies Day

There’s no better feeling than warming yourself up from the inside out by enjoying a chewy, gooey cookie fresh out of the oven. Whether you go with Gingerbread Men, Sugar Cookie Cutouts, Chocolate-Covered Oreos, Oatmeal Raisin, Snickerdoodles, classic Chocolate Chip Cookies, or some other holiday favorite, your sweet tooth is sure to thank you.

I remember a zillion winters ago when my siblings and I would keep the kitchen nice and toasty with batch after batch of cookie dough baking away inside the roasting oven. We loved frosting and decorating our Gingerbread Men and Sugar Cookie cutouts with frosting, Red Hots, and sprinkles.

Enjoy making cutouts of all sorts of designs today!Cutout Cookies make an excellent cookie choice since they offer the most variety and fun in decorating afterward. You can go with traditional Gingerbread Men, or you can make cookies in all sorts of wintry shapes like snowflakes, snowmen, mittens, boots, stars, and evergreens. Your kids will be sure to enjoy frosting and decorating them just as much as they’ll enjoy eating them!

Baking makes for a great activity to do with your kids. It’s fun, crafty, and it keeps the house warm! Kids may struggle to keep the kitchen clean, but with the proper supervision, baking is a great way for them to spend a day of their winter vacation. With the fast-approaching holidays, it’s nice to have some treats around the house for welcome guests and visiting relatives.

Have fun with your baking this year and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

FROM: Me; TO: You

Hey, Holiday Preppers!

People give gifts for lots of occasions: birthdays, weddings, graduations, housewarming parties…. This time of year, however, gifting is typically taken to a whole other level. We like to have our bundle of presents beautifully wrapped with colorful ribbons and bows and festive tags that designate who shall receive each one.Holiday gifting is especially important, more so than any other occasion.

We’ve been doing things this way for a surprisingly long time too. It’s no shocker to learn that gift-giving is an age-old tradition carried out through endless generations, but what IS surprising is just HOW LONG we’ve been wrapping our gifts for one another. It’s been practiced since the invention of paper, some time around 100 A.D.!

People in England used wallpaper for a while in the 1700s, though it didn’t work well as it tore easily when it was folded. By the early 1900s, gifts were typically wrapped in brown paper or tissue. But soon after, as the Second Industrial Revolution (also known as the Technological Revolution) yielded amazing advancements, the mass production of gift wrap was made possible.

Get your free, downloadable set of gift tags for your present wrapping this year.The finishing touch on the perfectly wrapped present is always the gift tag: the element of the wrapping that reveals who the gift came FROM and who it’s going TO. But don’t bother wasting your money on some store-bought gift tags. You can get them for free right here at Everything Summer Camp.

Yep. That’s right. We’re emailing out free, downloadable gift tags. Subscribe to receive email from Everything Summer Camp and you’ll receive these great gift tags you can print out on your printer at home. Signing up for Everything Summer Camp email has multiple benefits. You can get access to great gift ideas, exclusive deals, free gift tags, and more.

Take our help for the final touch on your wrapping this season and, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Go ahead! Cover it…

Hey, Chocolate Chasers!

If you’re really THAT crazy about chocolate, then there’s a good chance that you already know what tomorrow is: Cover Anything in Chocolate Day. And when I say, ‘anything’, I mean ANYthing! Because chocolate, you see, is a surprisingly versatile food.Orange slices are a delectable choice in things to cover in chocolate.

For those of you who are able to boast a matured palette, you may have already experienced the explosive spiciness of a salsa that bears one surprising ingredient which is the most intensely desired superfood of them all…you got that right, chocolate.

I’ve talked a lot about chocolate on this Blog in the past. I’ve talked about Hot Chocolate Day and the history of Chocolate, I’ve talked about Chocolate Ice Cream Day, Chocolate Cake Day, Chocolate CUPcake Day, S’mores Day, Chocolate Mint Day, and I’m positive that I’ve, at least casually, mentioned Chocolate in other posts. Well, I’m not about to stop now!

If Cover Anything in Chocolate Day is tomorrow, then why am I posting about it today? Why, to give you some time to prepare your chocolate-covered treats, of course. It takes a little time to go through such a process. Here’s how you do it.

Once you make the chocolateGrasshoppers actually don't taste bad at all and I bet that if they're covered in chocolate, you'd LOVE them!, you’re ready to cover your snacks. What you’ll be covering in chocolate is completely up to you. My advice is to not be afraid of the unknown. You can find that, just like the chocolate in salsa, chocolate and many other flavors pair up nicely. Get wild and wacky with the things you choclify today. Some people cover GRASSHOPPERS in chocolate!

Here are some weird and extraordinarily intriguing ideas:
•    Cheddar Cheese
•    Saltines
•    LicoriceI've never had it, but I know I like chocolate and I know I like bacon...so
•    Grapes
•    Dried Apple
•    Gummy Worms
•    Popcorn
•    Banana Chips
•    Orange Slices
•    (And the one I find most interesting) Bacon

You never know until you try it, folks. So melt some tasty chocolate and wrap it around some of your favorite snacks for a world you’ve yet to discover! And, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Be sure to place your orders in advance

Hey, Holiday Shoppers!

So much effort goes into gift-giving this time of year; when the time finally comes for your loved ones to open their gifts from you, you want that moment to be perfect. Unfortunately, when you order online, this moment’s perfection depends on more than just the role that you play, but the role played by the company from which you ordered as well.

We, here at Everything Summer Camp, understand the importance of gift-giving and want The holiday map clears up all confusion of when you need to order. to help make sure that your gifting goes just the way you want it to this year. We know there’s nothing more irritating than making sure that you’ve placed your online order well-enough in advance and not receiving it until after it’s too late!

Make sure that this doesn’t happen to you. Order from Everything Summer Camp!

To ensure that there is no confusion, I’d like to guide your attention to the handy-dandy holiday map that we refer to this time of year. Thanks to this little, color-coded map, there won’t be any confusion about how early you need to place your order at Everything Summer Camp to receive your items by the time you need them.

While delivery times will certainly vary based on where you live in the country, we like the old adage, ‘Better Safe Than Sorry’. That’s why I’m giving you the magic numbers of 1:00pm CST on December 17. That’s the date that everybody in the contiguous United States can use for guaranteed delivery by December 24.

December 17 may be early for some of you. Everything Summer Camp is based in northwestern Wisconsin, so if you live in Wisconsin, most parts of Minnesota, or other neighboring areas, you can get away with placing your order as late as 1:00pm CST on December 21.

Happy holidays, Everyone. Thanks for reading!
- John

Seek out deals with our seasonal sale

Hey, Holiday Shoppers!

Gift-giving is extremely prevalent this time of year. No matter which holiday you celebrate, this is the season to be joyful, jolly, and generous. A tradition that dates back several thousand years ago, giving gifts is in our history. Of course, it’s a great treat to receive a gift from a friend or family member, but the actual GIVING of a gift can be just as rewarding.Snow is on the ground and lights are hung, it's time for holiday sales!

Believe it or not, some people find the feeling of giving a gift even MORE satisfying than the feeling of receiving one! With trending store sales and smart shoppers, the task has been made even more enjoyable. Hunting for deals and comparison shopping has applied not just creativity, but also strategy, to the gifting process.

Store sales can offer ridiculously low prices this time of year. And speaking of ridiculous sales, there’s a lot that’s for sale on the Everything Summer Camp Web site for our Holiday Sale. As you browse our site, you’ll find camping gear and other camp supplies on sale, somewhere between 10% to 20% off!

Since we saw so much success with our popular ‘The More You Spend, The More You Save’ deal throughout our Black Friday Sales week, we’re bringing this deal back for our Holiday Sale. If you purchase over $100, you’ll receive a $10 Gift Certificate, shipped along with your order. If you purchase over $200, you’ll get a Gift Certificate for $20. $300 will get you $30, $400 will get you $40, and so on.

Check out great deals on Everything Summer Camp’s camp chair, the Everywhere Camp Chair,The Everywhere Camp Chair is just one of the many great deals going  on for our holiday sale our top-of-the-line water bottles, and our quality raingear. You’ll also want to browse our entire Funzone category. Not only is this category full of stocking stuffers, it’s ALL on sale!

An endless list of summer camp supplies and camping gear make for great Christmas gifts. Our Holiday Sale lasts until December 16. Don’t let this holiday season pass you by without taking advantage of our awesome deals! As always, thanks for reading.

- John

Send your season’s greetings in a card!

Hey, Holidayers!

Last week, I talked a lot about all of the different holidays that people celebrate throughout the month of December. There’s a bunch! Today is yet another one (a holiday of a much smaller scale, but still, a holiday nonetheless): National Christmas Card Day. This is the day for getting your cards in the mail so they reach their destination on time.

The name of this day may make a point to specify ‘CHRISTMAS’ cards, but really, ySend your season's greetings in the form of a greeting cardou can send any card for any holiday that you want. Anyway, what I want to talk about today isn’t which holiday your greeting card refers to; what I want to talk about is the importance of sending a physical card in the first place and why it’s different than sending an E-card or some social media exchange.

As I had mentioned on this Sunday’s Blog post for Letter Writing Day, “In a world where communication is dominated by phone conversations, electronic messages, and social media posts, receiving an actual, handwritten letter sent through the United States Postal Service means more than ever!”

I think a similar sentiment can be applied to holiday greeting cards. When people receive a real, tangible item in the mail, it means so much more to them than some flashy, digital animation that dances and scrolls across the screen.

Most people have spots in their homes where they keep greeting cards that they’ve Warm the spirits of those dear to you with a nice greeting card.received in the mail—this time of year especially. They keep them on the mantel, on a mail counter in the kitchen, on a desk in the home office. Holiday greeting cards aren’t just received, read over, and pitched. They’re put on display where they deliver holiday joy, not just for the moment of arrival and a quick read, but joy that lasts the season!

From Everything Summer Camp, Happy Holidays to one and all!

- John

Why don’t you WRITE me?

Dear Writers,

Today is Letter Writing Day! In a world where communication is dominated by phone conversations, electronic messages, and social media posts, receiving an actual, handwritten letter sent through the United States Postal Service means more than ever! Nowadays, the key into people’s hearts…would seem to be through their mThe depopularization of mailing letters only makes them that much cooler.ailbox.

Whether you write to a pen-pal, an old friend, a nice relative, or some jolly, ol’ elf in the North Pole, there’s no better day than today to put your pen to paper, stamp that envelope, and reach out to someone through your own written words.

It’s fun, exchanging little slices of our lives this way. Unlike social media sites and text messages, a letter gives you an amount of space that allows you more freedom in your writing since you don’t have to choose your words as wisely as you would in, say, a text message or a Tweet. Writing a letter gives you the space to open up and really share your thoughts with someone.

It’s extremely easy. Here’s what you’ll need:It's great practice for kids to write letters to family and friends.
•    Loose leaf paper or whatever paper you have around (preferably not napkins)
•    Pen or pencil—your choice, but keep in mind that pen will not fade, nor will it erase
•    Envelopes
•    Stamps
•    The address of the person you’re mailing

Families tend to stick together this time of year, but, Parents, should your kids be away visiting relatives—PERFECT! Write to them! Just the same as spending time away from home is good practice for every camper’s summer camp stay, writing letters is good practice as well since that will certainly be your main (and likely only) form of communication during their camp stays to come.Put your pen to paper, stamp that envelope, and get your letter in the mail today!

Go ahead, folks. Write those people who mean the most to you and tell them how important they are to you. It’s much easier to say in written words what you may never say out loud. So write those words down today and, as always, thanks for reading.

Sincerely,
John

What holiday do you celebrate?

Hey, Holidayers!

We’ve spent the last three days looking at the three most popular December holidays that are celebrated in the United States. I told you about the distinct histories of Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. For my closing installment of this series on December holidays in the United States, I’d like to talk about the many other holidays observed this month.
Ramadan is often celebrated in December, though this year it landed in June and July
Muslims celebrate Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth and holiest month of the Islamic calendar. This is when the prophet Muhammad heard the first verses of the Qur’an from Allah. Muslims observe Ramadan by fasting from dawn to sunset. The fasting is intended to instill strength, patience, and goodwill throughout this holy month. Ramadan will often times fall in December, however, since it is based on the Islamic calendar, the dates can vary. It was celebrated in JUNE and JULY this year!

Our Lady of Guadalupe is widely celebrated in Mexico and recognized here in the United States as well.The Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a Mexican holiday dating back to the morning of December 9, 1531, when a ghostly girl on top of the Tepeyac Hill instructed one Juan Diego to build a church there in her honor. As a miraculous sign to prove her identity as the Virgin Mary, the apparition had Juan Diego pick Castillian Roses (a foreign flower to Mexico that inexplicably bloomed on the hilltop in mid-December). The lady rolled the flowers in a fabric. On December 12, when Juan Diego, showed the roses to the Bishop, the image of the Lady of Guadalupe was there on the fabric!

The Japanese celebrate New Year’s on the same date as us, but they don’t call it New Year’s. Instead, they call it Shōgatsu. And before Shōgatsu, they celebrate Ōmisoka (better known to English-speakers as New Year’s Eve). Shōgatsu is the mosThe Japanese celebrate the New Year with this traditional bowl of Toshikoshi noodles.t important day of the year for the Japanese which makes Ōmisoka the second-most important. They observe it by eating a bowl of long noodles called Toshikoshi, which translates to “crossing over from one year to the next.” The Japanese will also traditionally make a midnight visit to local temples or shrines to be there when the new year arrives.

There are other holidays in December that you might celebrate. If I missed your holiday, I’m sorry. There are so many of them! Whether you celebrate one of the three I mentioned on today’s post, the one’s I discussed previously this week, or one that I missed like St. Lucia’s Day, St. Nicholas Day, Three King’s Day, or Boxing Day, the important thing is that they all seem to share a theme of togetherness and warmth throughout the darkest and coldest time of year. Happy holidays, Everyone, and thanks for reading!

- John

Answer your Kwanzaa questions

Hey, Holidayers!

Or should I say Habari Gani? We’re taking a look at December holidays this week. A couple days ago we discussed the history of Hanukkah and yesterday I revealed the reasons behind some of people’s oldest and most popular Christmas traditions.

Today:  Celebrate your African heritage with your family during KwanzaaFirst of all, Habari Gani, as I alluded to above, is the way to greet people throughout the weeklong Kwanzaa celebration. This festive phrase is Swahili for “What’s the news?” Why do you greet one another in Swahili during Kwanzaa? Because Kwanzaa is all about expressing yourself through your African heritage and learning about where you come from.

The celebration of this holiday isn’t quite so old, but the cultural values that it honors are The man who started it all, Maulana Karengaamong the oldest in the world. It was celebrated for the first time in the December of 1966 (and the first day into the new year). This holiday was created by a man named Maulana Karenga. His idea behind Kwanzaa was to “give Blacks an alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and their history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society.”

Kwanzaa spans from December 26 and lasts until January 1. But just because this holiday overlaps with Christmas and New Year’s doesn’t mean missing out on those holidays. Many households incorporate Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day celebrations into their Kwanzaa festivities. After all, gift-giving, feasting, singing, and further merrymaking are already what Kwanzaa’s all about.

A time for togetherness, Kwanzaa is about knowing where you come from and why it's importantThose who have a combined celebration of these holidays will typically find a way to involve an ethnic element in their Christmas and New Year’s observance. In fact, one will often find the kinara, the candleholder in Kwanzaa celebrations, sitting in the same area as the Christmas tree.

Kwanzaa  may have started out small, but it’s really started to catch on in more recent years. In 2004, it was estimated that 4.7 million people planned on celebrating Kwanzaa in the United States. It is claimed, however, that this holiday is recognized all around the world. Though not in an official capacity, Kwanzaa is supposedly recognized in countries like France, Great Britain, Jamaica, Brazil, and others. An estimation of worldwide Kwanzaa celebrators is thought to be around 30 million!

Embrace the Kwanzaa celebration and you’re sure to proudly stay connected to your heritage. Enjoy your families’ holiday festivities this year and thanks for reading!

- John

Curious about Christmas customs?

Hey, Holidayers!

Yesterday I talked about Hanukkah, the first of the chief, three December holidays that are celebrated in the United States. While Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa are as wildly popular as they are, it’s surprising how little we actually know about them. Tune in each day this week to learn about the history of December holidays we celebrate in the United States.
Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, your boughs are so unchanging!
Next up is Christmas.

Christmas, of course, is the Christian celebration that annually commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ on December 25. Many of its traditions, however, have been adopted from a varied past. When you stop and think about it, what do our traditions have to do with the birth of Jesus? We bring trees into our homes, give gifts to one another, and kiss beneath the mistletoe—WHY? Let’s take a look.

Christmas trees (while they may be different now) are nothing new. People have been putting trees in their homes for thousands of years in recognition of the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. Without modern science to explain this phenomenon, people feared that the sun would grow farther and farther away until it disappeared completely, forever! Evergreens and palm trees, which never lose their healthy, green color, were kept inside homes almost as good luck charms.
Gift giving has been a tradition since before Christmas ever existed!
Giving gifts is just as old a tradition as Christmas trees are. During the Saturnalia celebration—a Thanksgiving-esque holiday from thousands of years ago—masters of the house would give gifts to their servants and children and they would play silly role reversal games with them to help make the day feel joyful and light.
Does this plant really have magical powers or is it just a fun game to kiss underneath it?
As for mistletoe—well, that’s been a traditional item for a long time too, maybe even longer than gift giving or keeping trees inside. It was the ancient Greeks who started smooching underneath this parasitic plant. In those times, mistletoe was associated with fertility. Even earlier than that, though, the Celtics used mistletoe in ceremonies. They didn’t kiss under it. They just thought it had strange abilities like healing illnesses, protecting against nightmares, and…predicting the future.

But no matter where these traditions came from, the important thing is that we keep the traditions alive in our celebrations today. Enjoy your festivities and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John