1. A Great Thanksgiving Doesn’t Have to Break Your Bank

    Thanksgiving Spending TipsFor many families, Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season and the spending spree that comes along with it. It’s not uncommon for some moms, dads and kids to head out bright and early on “Black Friday” – the day after Thanksgiving – with the hope of finding the best deals on those wish-list items. 

    No matter if you’re a Black Friday early-riser or wake-up-at-noon super sleeper wouldn’t it be nice to have a fatter wallet (not just a fatter stomach) once Thanksgiving is over? You can, with the help of these money-saving tips:

    • Plan your menu early – Know what you’re going to serve for Thanksgiving about five weeks ahead of the big day. Many supermarkets have lower prices on traditional Thanksgiving items in the month leading up to the holiday, so check the store circulars for the lowest prices – and make sure to look for matching coupons. For a small weekly fee, websites such as www.thegrocerygame.com will help you find deals and let you know if there’s a coupon to lower the cost even further.
    • Don’t overbuy – The tendency for many Thanksgiving cooks is to prepare more food than needed. Often, however, the extra food (and the extra money spent) may be wasted. To make sure you don’t overspend and over-prepare, go online and search for terms such as, “How much food do I need for Thanksgiving” or “How much turkey do I need for 10 people.” You’ll find lots of sites that can help you to determine an appropriate amount of food.
    • Use leftovers – A meal with leftovers can be just as satisfying as the original feast. Be sure to save more than just the turkey. Cranberry sauce can be used again, vegetables can be used to create soups and dips, and mashed potatoes can be shaped into patties for frying.
  2. Let Your Little Ones Lend a Hand This Thanksgiving (Without Worrying They’ll Make a Big Mess)

    Thanksgiving Activities for ChildrenFor some parents, it’s difficult to hand over tasks to their young children, especially if it involves food and drinks.  It’s not that the parents are “control freaks”; they just know that kids aren’t always careful, which can lead to mistakes and messes, spills and stains.  And that means the parents spend less time fixing dinner and more time fixing problems.

    Thankfully, there are lots of ways to get children involved in Thanksgiving preparations without having to worry about big messes.  Here is a sampling of ideas:

  3. Eat, Drink and Be Healthy This Thanksgiving

    Healthy Eating Tips for ThanksgivingThe center of attention on Thanksgiving Day is always the food. Sure, there are some families where a crazy uncle tries to steal the spotlight, but the real star of this holiday is the seemingly endless supply of turkey, stuffing, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, pies and other goodies.

    With so much great food, many of us think it’s impossible to stay healthy on this special day, but it’s not. Here are five tips to help you enjoy a healthier Thanksgiving and still eat plenty of delicious food. Now, that’s something to be thankful for!

    1. Lay off the skin – Even though turkey skin is tasty and hard to resist, eating even two ounces will tack an additional 220 calories onto your meal. By comparison, two ounces of mashed potatoes made with whole milk and butter total 70 calories. Two ounces of turkey breast are just 29 calories. So, before adding that turkey skin to your plate, ask yourself if it’s really worth the extra calories. If you’re still tempted, think about this. It takes roughly 50 minutes of raking leaves to burn off 220 calories.
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  4. Dining in for Father’s Day? Celebrating From Your Home? Simple Ways to Make it Special.

    For some families, celebrating Father’s Day is all about dinner at a restaurant. Other families like to stay in and show dad a good time from the comfort of their own home. No matter which type of celebration you prefer, we’re here to help you make dad’s special day just that…special.

    Out and About

    It’s safe to say that dining out with children is never as relaxing as it was before you had kids. But there are ways to make your dining experience—especially one as important as Father’s Day—a bit more enjoyable. Here are just a few ideas:

    1.    Go to places that are family friendly. It may seem obvious, but taking young kids to a restaurant known for its romantic ambience isn’t a good idea for you or the other guests. You’ll probably spend the entire meal trying to keep your son or daughter quiet. That’s definitely not a great way to spend Father’s Day. Instead, try to find a place that’s a little noisy and doesn’t mind a mess on the table. You’ll be more relaxed—and happy—knowing your kids can be kids.

    2.    Beat the dinner rush. Since most people go out to eat after 6 p.m.—especially on weekends—make a point of arriving at the restaurant around 5 p.m. If you think the restaurant still might be crowded at that time, be sure to make reservations. You won’t wait as long to be seated and you’ll get your food quicker. And when kids are involved, you usually only have about a half hour before they start to get antsy.

    3.    Bring your own entertainment. Most family friendly restaurants offer crayons and placemats to keep kids occupied, but it’s also a good idea to bring some of your son or daughter’s favorite toys. Or, let your older kids play games on your cell phone. Games like Hangman can actually be fun for the whole family.

    4.    No snacking before going to the restaurant. If your kids ask for a snack before you go out, don’t give in! They may complain about being hungry, but that’s a good thing. After all, you’re going to the restaurant to eat.

    The Inside Scoop

    For the family that likes to stay home on Father’s Day, there are many ways to have fun with dad. These ideas might work for your family:

    • Host your own concert. Set up a pretend stage, get a hairbrush to use as a microphone, put up some folding chairs for your audience, turn down the lights and shine a bright flashlight on the singer. Then take turns singing your favorite songs. Be sure to cheer loudest for dad, since it’s his special day.
    • Host a movie night. Don’t just rent a movie and sit on the couch. Go all out to make it just like a night at the theater. Hand out tickets, set up a concession stand with fresh-popped popcorn and boxed candy, and turn down all the lights. Even though it’s dad’s day, try to pick a movie that the whole family can enjoy.
    • Look at old pictures and videos. Kids love seeing old photos of themselves and watching videos from when they were younger. If you have your photos in a box, bring it to the center of the room so everyone can sit around it. Or, if all your images are in digital form, create a slideshow on your computer. For videos, the best approach is to hook up the camera to your TV. That way, everyone will be able to see the show without having to huddle around a tiny camcorder screen.

    No matter how you choose to spend your Father’s Day—at a restaurant or in your home—don’t forget to tell dad just how much you love and appreciate him. That’s probably what he wants most anyway.

  5. Father’s Day Gift Ideas to Help Dad Enjoy a Longer, Healthier Life

    One doesn’t have to look too far to find a news story about a “crazy” dad who screamed at the umpire or threw a tantrum on the sideline. The more powerful sports stories, however, are those that aren’t in the newspapers: the father who plays catch with his son every night until it’s too dark to see the ball, or who encourages his daughter to keep skating even though she has fallen down more than she has stood up, or who puts an arm around his child after losing the big game.

    These lessons in hard work, patience, perspective and love may not be front-page news, but you can celebrate them this Father’s Day. So, if your dad understands what it means to build healthy character in his kids, give him a gift that shows how much you appreciate his healthy attitude – one that says, “We want you to enjoy a long, healthy life!”

    Here are a few ideas:

    • Set up a basketball hoop in the driveway, and then challenge your dad to a game of one-on-one. If you’re feeling really generous, let him win.
    • Turn off the TV. The typical dad may want to relax on Father’s Day but that doesn’t mean he has to sit on the couch and watch television. Turn off the TV and take him somewhere to do something active. For example, if he likes watching golf, go with him to the driving range. If he enjoys baseball, take a trip to the batting cages. Maybe the activity is as simple as just going for a walk together.
    • Cook a healthy meal. For some families, figuring out what dad would like for dinner is a tough decision. This year, make sure the meal is healthy and made from ingredients that you know he likes. You can find lots of recipes online, but don’t stop there – buy him a healthy-cooking cookbook to tempt him to eat healthier all year long.

    If none of these gifts are quite right for your dad, find one that is, and make sure to give him a big hug as you give him his gift. Studies show that hugs can reduce stress, reduce heart rate, improve moods and lower blood pressure.