What's Cool About School

  • August 23, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Back to School--for kids, it's the end of summer inevitability.  For parents, it may be a long-awaited reprieve.  No matter how you view the end of summer vacation and the back to school transition, school time is nigh.  No need to feel sad or stressed at summer's end, because there is still plenty of fun to be had.  There is so much cool about school!

Sleep-Summer vacations, schedule interruptions, late nights following long days, lazy mornings that are just so perfect for sleeping in--let's face it, there are a lot of reasons why regular sleep schedules go awry during the summer months.  You and your kids may even be a little sleep deprived.  Back to school may mean getting up early again--but it likely also means a more realistic (and healthy) bedtime from which all will benefit. 

Routine-Going back to school has a rather significant side benefit that can't be overlooked.  School attendance forces the family into a routine.  Having to be in class at a particular time each day ensures that all other activities are worked around that necessity, making life both predictable and simpler from many standpoints. 

Mom Time-The kids will be at school for hours each day--whether you work in or out of the home, moms can rejoice about having time to do the things that they need to without having to stress about entertaining the kids or figure out ways to keep them busy.

Extracurricular Activities & Sports-Maybe you haven't missed attending Bobby's football games or schlepping Sally to her piano lessons --or maybe you have.  Back-to-School usually means back to extracurricular activities as well--and many of these are enjoyable events for parents and children alike.

Clothes & School Supplies-One of the major upsides of going back to class is in the gearing up process.  A new pair of shoes, a fresh new notebook, pens that work, pencils that aren't chewed into stubs and highlighters that aren't dried out--if your child can't see the bright side in much else, surely there will be a silver lining found in new school supplies and gear!  

Friends-Summer schedules are not always conducive to staying in close touch with many school friends.  Getting back into the classroom means reconnecting with many buddies that have been neglected over the summer months. 

Brain Power-Summertime often means that learning in the traditional sense is put on hold.  Between way too much television watching, hours playing video games, traveling hither and yon and engaging in a very wide range of other summertime activities, suffice it to say--it might be time to re-engage the kid's brains.  Active learning feels good, and it is good for you!

Summer is winding itself down, and soon the kids will find themselves back in a classroom.  No need to despair, as there are so many things about the school routine to look forward to.  Back to school is COOL! 

Music Festivals 101: What You Need to Know

  • August 12, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

At first glance, today's music festivals might seem very modern, trendy and like a rather new-fangled idea. The truth is, the core concept of a music festival has been around for centuries. As long as there have been human beings, there have been reasons to celebrate with music. Even during mankind's earliest social events, it certainly didn't take long to incorporate music, dance and all manner of merrymaking into the festivities. Centuries ago, many of the ancient celebrations were marked to show gratitude after the time of harvest. Other primeval cultures such as the ancient Greeks were well known for holding a wide variety of competitive games, including musical competitions to showcase the unique talents of many.

Today's modern music festivals are now a time-honored tradition, thoroughly ingrained into our current culture. Nowadays, music festivals themselves are considered by many to be almost a coming of age event. Although folks of all ages attend can music festivals, they are far and wide most densely populated by twenty-something's.

Are you ready to get your groove on and attend a summer music festival?  Here are a few tips to make your music festival experience a super positive one!

Plan Ahead: A little planning goes a long way at any music festival. Many of the larger festivals have multiple stages. It's possible for two of your favorite musical artists to be playing simultaneously, meaning you may have to make some tough decisions. If you are going to the festival with others, talk about your plans in advance and discuss very specific meeting places should your group become separated.

Map It Out: Many music festival celebrations will publish a map of the venue in advance. If you can get a hold of one, it's a valuable thing to have. Maps are often available upon arrival but many times they run out of them--so having your own is a good idea. Before you arrive, have a basic idea of where you need to leave your car, where you are going to camp and where the critical areas of the venue are located. (Stages, restrooms, food vendors, merchandise, phone charging stations, etc.)

Gear Up: Although you may be prepared to rough it for a few days, there are a few items that may make the difference between a little uncomfortable and utterly miserable. Consider adding these items to your festival packing list:

  • Phone charger
  • Comfortable shoes (you will be doing a lot of walking)
  • Hats
  • Sunscreen
  • Jacket
  • Raingear (check the forecast before you depart!)
  • Refillable water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Nutrition bars
  • Fanny pack or money belt
  • Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Ear Plugs

Dress a Little Insane: Hey, it's a music festival after all!  Now is the time to wear all those wild and crazy things that you can't wear in your normal, everyday life!  Glow sticks, unique accessories, hats, and costumes are the order of the day. Here is a list of some of our favorite music festival dress up essentials:

  • Temporary Tattoos
  • Face Paint
  • Colorful or Crazy wigs
  • Fairy Wings
  • Hats of all manner, shape and size
  • Hair Accessories
  • Opposuits
  • Skin Suits
  • Masks
  • Crazy Glasses
  • Tutus
  • Beads

Make your music festival experience as fun and memorable as possible by planning ahead and getting your gear ready. A general game plan combined with the spirit of fun loving adventure is sure to get you off to a great start.

Top Tips For Summer Dress Up Fun

  • August 02, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Today's kids are growing up in a very modern world.  In a world where most everything has become so focused on technology, it's refreshing to know that some old school kid activities haven't gone out of style.  Playing dress up is one of those things that kids still love to do, and with good reason.  Not only is dressing up in a costume a great way for kids to use their imaginations, but it's also a fun way for a child to try out various adult roles.  We already know how much kids love to dress up, so here are some great tips to help you assemble all those spectacularly fun items for your child's imaginative play this summer and well beyond! 

Hit the Thrift Store:  It's pretty easy to hit the dress up jackpot by taking a quick trip to the thrift store. With the investment of very little money, you can find all sorts of unique clothing items, hats, and accessories that your kids will enjoy adding to their dress up wardrobe. The beauty of thrift store finds is that your child's costume stash will be original, unique and unlike any other!

Halloween Store Sales:  Many Halloween stores offer fantastic sales, specials, and discounts during the summer to make room for the fall Halloween merchandise. Now is the time to stockpile your child's favorite costumes so that they can enjoy dressing up all year long!

Accessorize!  Children don't necessarily have to have an elaborate costume to get into their favorite character look.  A few well-chosen accessories often have the maximum amount of fun for your child with minimal effort.  Crowns, Wands, play weapons, wings, masks and a host of other accessories are all great additions to your child's costume collection.

Top it off!  Hats are likely one of the most valuable accessories you can have as part of your child's dress up collection.  Let's face it; by only putting on a great hat, your child can almost instantly transform into another character.  Some of our favorite hats for children include headwear styles for pirates, soldiers, firemen, police officers, astronauts, princesses, train conductors, and cowboys.  Let your child's imagination be your guide!

Props and Other Gear:  Every dress up day is better with a few props!  Props can take dressing up to the next level. By using a bit of gear, suddenly your child can act out a scenario in his/her mind, tapping into all sorts of imagination and creativity.  The props you collect will obviously depend on your child's interests, but they don't have to be elaborate. Many things that make terrific props you can probably find around your house.  For example, little girls love to pretend to put on makeup using Mom's old empty lipstick tubes and empty cosmetic containers.  An elastic bandage or a play doctor's kit is perfect for fixing up pretend patients.  And what would a tea party be without some simple teacups and play dishes?

Face Paint:  Kids LOVE to have their faces painted, and you don't have to have a lot of artistic talent to paint simple designs on your child's face.  With a few brush strokes, you can add a basic painted mask to your little superhero, or some whiskers to create a cat face.  There are hundreds of easy face painting ideas for you to try online.

Themed Play or Party:  Why not plan a special themed play date or party for your child and his/her friends?  Superheroes, pirates, princesses, clowns, and fairies are just a few of the fantastic characters that kids love to dress up as that are made even more fun when a day is planned around them. 

Kids love to play dress up.  Not only is dressing up fun, but it also is a great way for kids to learn to be creative while using their incredible imaginations.  Dressing up also helps your child learn to communicate effectively while also building their confidence.  Take advantage of the carefree days of summer to let your child explore the beautiful world that is inside his/her creative mind! 

US Political Conventions: What You Need to Know

  • July 22, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

After talking about them for what seems like forever, the long-awaited United States Political Conventions are finally here! This week the Republican National Convention began on July 18. Next week the Democrats will follow suit with their convention. All you have to do is turn on your television or check out your Twitter feed, and you will easily be able to tune into all the convention hoopla that certainly will ensue. Without a doubt, this year above all others has created a lot of attention around politics. Perhaps you are interested in watching the conventions for the first time--or maybe you just want to know what all the political fuss is about. Today we are going to lay out the basics about the upcoming conventions and tell you what you need to know!

Who, What, Where & When: The United States Political Conventions are held primarily to act as the formal nominating event that chooses each party's Presidential and Vice Presidential Candidates. During the conventions for each of the major parties, separate governing rules for the convention are established, and these rules will determine how the nominating process will occur. Every US State and territory has a specific number of apportioned voting representatives for their individual state. These representatives are known as delegates.

Another important function of both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions is to spell out the official platforms of each party. A platform specifies the party's basic principles, priorities, and goals along with their general plan of action for the immediate future.

At each of the conventions, you will obviously see many delegates. The Republicans have 2472 voting delegates, while the Democrats have 4765 delegates. Generally speaking, following the primary election process, a frontrunner candidate has come into the convention as the presumptive nominee. Usually, the official nomination that occurs at the convention is just a formality that officially confirms the presumptive nominee as the then official nominee. The Vice Presidential candidate of each party will also be officially nominated.

Over 15,000 representatives from the media will also be present at each of the conventions, their purpose being to report on and cover all the events that happen during the event. Party officials, invited guests, staffers, volunteers, as well as local businesspeople, will also be present to watch each of the conventions.

Each of the respected conventions will have many exciting events. In addition to the open voting that occurs during the convention, you can expect to see keynote speakers, rallies and perhaps even a few political protests.

No matter what your political views may be, the Republican and Democratic conventions are an excellent way to learn about each of the nominated Presidential candidates and their respected platforms. You won't want to miss these unique events as these political conventions only happen once every four years. Significant and vital history is sure to be made!

To help you get into the spirit of the US Political Conventions, we have put together a massive collection of costumes, masks, accessories and politically-themed gear. With candidate masks, hats, patriotic accessories, and many other fabulous items to choose from, you can easily get into the spirit of the conventions, and even start rooting for your preferred candidate!

Hair Raising Facts about Colonial Wigs

  • July 13, 2016
  • Jenna Maxwell

Throughout history, men and women have enjoyed a virtual cornucopia of hairstyles.  Some of the more noteworthy and perhaps unusual historical hair foibles occurred during the 1700’s.  What in the world was up with all those massive coifs of curls?  And why oh why, did Colonial men often sport bow tied ponytails?  And finally, what was the deal with all that white, powdery hair?  Today we will attempt to clear the “hair” on all those nagging questions about Colonial hairdos.  Some of the harebrained answers may surprise you! 

Take a close look at a dollar bill. What do you see?  A perfectly coifed George Washington, right?  When looking at George Washington’s legendary hairstyle, you may assume that the Father of the Country was sporting a well-crafted wig.  After all, it was very common for most well-positioned gentlemen of the Colonial era to wear one.  George, however, did not wear a wig.  In fact, George’s hair was his own--grown long in the back and tied conveniently into a queue.  (That is a fancy name for what is essentially a ponytail.)  George used a thick pomade to mold his hair into a particular shape--in his case, some rather cute little curls on the sides, with a long queue tied in the back, hanging down long.  Once perfectly shaped, George heavily powdered the entire look with a white hair powder.  Wa-la!  The result is George Washington’s great Colonial hairstyle.  Admittedly, by today’s standards, most hairdos of this era look a little feminine or even a bit sissy.  Back in the 1700’s, however, these long locks with curlicue sides were all the rage.  Believe it or not, back in his day, George Washington’s particular hair look was considered to be a strong military style--sort of like the equivalent of today’s military buzz cut.  Those long pulled back ponytails were deemed to be not only fashionable but also very manly.

Obviously, not all men were able to grow long, luxurious locks.  Men and women of the eighteenth century had many challenges when it came to hair that thankfully, most folks don’t experience today.  In the 1700’s, there was a general aversion to bathing and most folks bathed very infrequently.  The result of this lack of hygiene is especially detrimental to hair.  Hair often became infested with lice, and because it hadn’t been washed, it often smelled quite rancid.  Other factors common at the time also inhibited hair growth.  Syphilis was spreading at epidemic rates during those days.  Infected individuals would often have rashes, head sores, and most notably, baldness.  Additionally, some men just went bald naturally.  Wigs enabled folks to have fashion-appropriate hair no matter what other issues may be at play.  A good wig became a fashion necessity for any person of means who wanted to retain their trendy good looks.  A wig solved a whole plethora of problems when it came to getting the hairstyle “just right.”

Whether a person chose to wear his or her natural hair or to wear a wig--usually thick pomade made from animal fat and a very strong fragrance was used to style the hair.  Once perfectly coifed, sometimes the hair was then doused with a white powder to finish off the look.  This white powder was made from various things, including wheat flour or sometimes dried white clay.  Interestingly enough, once the powder was applied to the wig, any fast movements by the individual, or even a stiff wind could result in powder being sprayed everywhere like a miniature snowstorm.  Thus, it became necessary for folks of the time to move around with great care and with a bit of gentility to keep the powdered hair in line. 

Like most high fashion looks that have come and gone throughout the ages, these heavily styled hair looks and wigs were primarily available to the most influential and affluent member of society.  Wigs were made by the local colonial wigmaker and were considered to be an expensive luxury item that could be afforded only by the most successful businessmen and gentry.  Some wigs were very expensive; this depended of course on the quality of the wig, the intricacy of the style and what type of hair was used to construct the wig.  The most desirable wigs were made from human hair--but usually, the wigs were made of horse, goat or yak hair. 

After the Revolutionary War, toward the end of the eighteenth century, powdered wigs (also known as Perukes) started to fall out of fashion.  The Brits had instituted a levy on hair powder, and the overall hair fashion trend went toward a much more natural looking hair rather than a powdered white. 

Getting a great Colonial hairstyle today is certainly a lot easier than it was in those historic days of yesteryear.  At Halloween Express, our massive collection of easy to wear wigs contains many wig styles that replicate those amazing Colonial looks of long ago--along with hundreds of other wig styles as well.  Finding the right wig at Halloween Express is easy--no smelly pomade or powder necessary! 

Hair Raising Facts about Colonial Wigs