What are you doing New Year’s Eve?

Hey, New Year’s Folks!

Congratulations! We did it! We made it to the end of another year. Tonight we stand on the horizon and look out to the next one. Bye, 2014; 2015, here we come! We celebrate by staying awake until the new year arrives at midnight. What you do in those late hours before twelve o’ clock strikes is up to you and the people you’re celebrating with.The time has finally come; the new year is almost here!

I think lots of families’ New Year’s Eve traditions tend to follow along the same lines: eat some snacks, watch some movies, and countdown to midnight. I know that was MY family’s tradition. We’d have a diabolical spread in the kitchen where we’d all plate up with snack foods:

Summer sausage, three kinds of cheeses, four different brands of crackers, chips, pickles, olives, carrots, broccoli, celery, vegie dip, mini loaves of rye bread for finger sandwiches, shrimp, and COOKIES! Once you were all plated up, we all convened in the living room where we would go back and forth between watching movies and checking in on the party in Times Square.

This is the trivia game where it helps to be just as fast as you are smart.Brimming with anticipation, we would get a bunch of games going too. Guesstures (the fast-action version of charades) was a family favorite and Scattergories (the letter-specific word association game) got a lot of play as well. But older than these party games, we had Quizzard. Quizzard is a very old trivia game (from the 80′s) with an electronic buzzer so you had to think fast before somebody else buzzed in.

Of course, come 11:59 pm, we’d countdown to the arrival of the new year with the folks in Time Square—all of us except my mother who was typically already asleep at this point. After that, we’d watch old black and white movies starring Bing Crosby like ‘Going My Way,’ ‘The Bells of St. Mary,’ or ‘Holiday Inn’ until we were all sound asleep.

I hope your New Year’s traditions of ringing in the new year will be as fun as they were in my family when I was growing up. Happy New Year, Everybody. Thanks for reading.

- John

FRUITCAKE? Why?

Hey, Fruitcakers!

Like building snowmen, sipping hot chocolate, and warming up by the fireplace, mailing fruitcakes has become a pretty standard tradition in the winter season. It’s very common for families to receive this specific kind of cake throughout the winter holidays. In fact, there’s a day for it! Yesterday was National Fruitcake Day. Chock full of fruit and sugar, learn a little about this misunderstood dessert on today's Blog post.I can safely say for myself that I have never tried fruitcake, nor do I have a burning desire to EVER try it. Come to think of it, I don’t know anybody who actually LIKES fruitcake! Legendary late night host Johnny Carson is noted for his ridicule of this dessert, saying, “The worst gift is fruitcake. There is only one fruitcake in the entire world and people keep sending it to each other.”

Still, that hasn’t stopped anyone from sending fruitcakes to one another. But if fruitcake isn’t a desired, delectable dessert that’s loved by all, then how did it get to be so customary to send this cake in the mail this time of year?

Well, let’s have a quick history lesson about the matter. First of all, fruitcakes have been around since the days of ancient Rome. They put pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins in their fruitcakes—which doesn’t sound too bad. Surprisingly, a lot of the old recipes for fruitcakes likely trump any fruitcake made today. Indeed, fruitcake USED TO BE…dare I say…TASTY!

Back in the 1200’s, travelers loved having a compact, energizing cake that didn’t risk easily spoiling. And about 500 years after that, fruitcakes really hit their stride. So, you see, the question isn’t so much ‘how did such a disliked dessert get to be so popular?’, but more so, ‘how did such a beloved dessert get to be so mocked?’.

Over time, as the fruitcake evolved, baking and assembling fruitcakes became rather involved. And because they became A LOT of work, they were only offered for special occasions like weddings and birthdays. At this point, all fruitcakes were locally made. But this changed when it became popular to mail-order products in 1913.

Once fruitcakes started traveling across the country, they began to lose their appeal. Legendary Late Night host, Johnny Carson gives fruitcake a hard time.Maybe it was because people didn’t know exactly where the cake came from. Maybe fruitcakes aren’t made with the same care and expertise as they once were. Maybe it’s because of Johnny Carson.

In any case, fruitcakes—despite their bad rep—don’t seem to be going anywhere. Go ahead and try one this year. You might like it! And, as always, thanks for reading!

- John

Have fun with snow without going outside!

Hey, Winter Fans!

Snow. Snow. Snow. It’s cold, wet, white, and we LOVE the stuff! What other type of what kind of snowflake will you make today?precipitation allows you to throw it at one another, mold it into a man, or make angelic impressions in it? Snow is, indeed, one unique, white wonder of our wintry world. It only makes sense that we have a day inspired by this soft, white stuff.

what kind of snowflake will you make today?Today is Cutout Snowflakes Day! You know what’s amazing about snowflakes is that, despite the fact that there are billions upon billions of them that fall every year (a ‘septillion’ to be more-or-less specific—which, written out, would look like this: 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000), no two are ever exactly identical!what kind of snowflake will you make today?Cutting snowflakes from paper is more than just something you do for decoration or a what kind of snowflake will you make today?quick, craft time activity. To cut out a beautiful design that imitates the creations of Nature herself, that’s an art! It takes skill, coordination, and reliable know-how in order to make something as beautifully crafted as the freshly fallen snow.

what kind of snowflake will you make today?While the activity is referred to as making ‘snowflake cutouts’, the actual cutting is a surprisingly minimal part of the job. What’s even more important than the cutting is the FOLDING. It’s nothing overly fancy like some kind of complicated origami swan—it’s just folding in halves and thirds. Despite its simplicity, even just folding in thirds and halves can be a little confusing. Cut out paper snowflakes for wintry decoration around your house!

That’s why I’m including some helpful instructions with today’s Blog post to give you some guidance in your snowflake craft endeavors.

Once you’ve made a bunch of your snowflake cutouts, you can decorate your home. Hang them from the ceiling above your bed or tape them to the window so you can watch a blizzard falling every time you look outside. Have fun with this craft project today and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Warm holiday wishes

Hey there, Holidayers!

Each season provides us with its own specific atmosphere. And this particular season was made to be spent in the warm company of those who are dear to us. Despite the fact that it contains the coldest, darkest day of the year, we brighten the season up with our cheerfulness, our good will, and the company of our loved ones.

Just like I’m sure all of you do, I have plans to get together with my family during this I can't wait to see my family and exchange gifts with each other!holiday season. I’m taking the next few days off to be with them for our Christmas celebration. My family tends to get pretty into the holiday spirit, so there’s sure to be lots of food, festivities, and gifts!

I know I have all MY gifts wrapped up and ready for their recipients! I can’t wait to see what everyone in my family got for each other!

Every family has their own holiday traditions, and while traditions can be liable to change from time to time, some never will. I have a fairly big family: six siblings (including in-laws), three nieces, one nephew, and my mother. That’s a lot of presents, which is certainly a lot of work. But, despite how much effort is involved, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

In fact, our gift-opening is my favoIt should take us a good while to rip open so many gifts!rite part about our Christmas Day traditions. The whole family grabs a cozy seat in the living room with carols playing in the background, we drink hot chocolate, and watch one-by-one as we all open our presents which previously surrounded the tree. It typically takes us about three hours!

From everyone here at Everything Summer Camp, we wish you nothing but the warmest wishes for you and your families’ holiday traditions. Enjoy the festivities and, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Did someone say…Gift Cards?

Hey, Last-minute Gifters!

It’s okay—I’m certain that you’re far from the only people who find themselves unprepared this far into the holiday season. In fact, it seems like it happens to just about everybody (except for my sister). I know I’m typically in the same boat! But when the holidays are so important to us, we rise above the hard work to make them fun!
Gift card certificates from Everything Summer Camp make for a great gift!
We give gifts this time of year to let those who are close to us know that we are thinking of them. Getting gifts for people can be fun, satisfying, and, sometimes, incredibly easy. Sometimes it isn’t so fun and easy, though. Every family has those one or two folks who aren’t necessarily the easiest to shop for.

When you find yourself in a sticky situation such as this, gift cards are extraordinarily handy! A gift card to a cool place like Everything Summer Camp can work just as well as a gift that’s right on the money. With a little push in the right direction and a nice amount of money, our virtual gift card certificates make for a great gift. Kids can spend hours on our site, perusing our products and finding what they like most.

Here at Everything Summer Camp we have a massive assortment of not only fun items kids can enjoy, but prOne of our many awesome trunk designs at Everything Summer Camp.actical camp supplies and quality camping gear too. Our C&N Footlockers make great presents for all ages! For any kid with summer camp on the horizon, a student entering college, or simply for a family member’s attractive-looking storage unit around the house, our camp trunks make a classy gift.

I still remember when I got a C&N Footlocker for Christmas so many years ago! And I still get great use out of it! Give a campy gift this year with a virtual gift card certificate to Everything Summer Camp. Happy Holidays, Readers! And, as always, thanks for reading.

- John

Step into the light…

Hey, Flashlight Fans!

In this holiday season, our hearts are light. But that’s not the only kind of ‘light’ associated with this time of year. After all, with the days growing darker and darker, we use fluorescent, incandescent, and LED lights a lot more often than we do in the summer. Flashlights come in handy year-round too. Take today to check location and battery status of your flashlights around the house.Today of all days, you could very well find yourself in need of a flashlight since it happens to be the Winter Solstice—the one day out of the year with the shortest amount of daylight and the longest night. That’s why National Flashlight Day is today as well. The Winter Solstice AND National Flashlight Day consistently land on December 21 every year.

Did you know that when the flashlight was first invented in 1898, you were lucky if it worked at all? They required two D cell batteries which had become commercially available only two years prior. This early on, batteries were very weak. The light they created drained the batteries so fast that the light would only come on in quick flashes before dying out. That’s actually how they got the name ‘flashlights.’
Everything Summer Camp has an excellent assortment of flashlights including handy, hands-free headlamps!
Grab your flashlight and bust out your modern-day batteries! They’re the only things you’ll really need in order to celebrate this day. You can find fun flashlights here at Everything Summer Camp. We’ve got various, hands-free headlamps. The Hybrid Solar Flashlight is able to keep its charge for years. And the Odyssey 6 in 1 is a flashlight that’s also a WATER BOTTLE!This flashlight is more than just a flashlight---its a water bottle!

Today is a good day to test your flashlights, make sure that the batteries are still good and make sure that everyone in your family knows where the household flashlights are. It’s also smart to keep a flashlight in your car.

Entertain your family with some shadow puppets on the wall tonight and be sure to keep your Winter Solstice bright! Thanks for reading, Everybody.

- John

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