IMG_8815.jpg

“Every family has a story. Our story starts with a party.”

—Meghan McCloskey, Chief Boogie Momster

IMG_5149.jpg

Cheers to Grandma.

My grandmother says I used to toddle around in my diaper asking when the party would start. (That’s her on the right, circa 1989. I’m the one sitting next to her.) “Parties” were big in our family. Even if we weren’t having a real party with guests and everything, my grandmother called the 5 o’clock hour a party because there was always music and laughing and board games and general togetherness (and for the adults, “happies”—the extraordinary word she used for “cocktails”).

IMG_8848.jpg

Valentine’s Day was everything.

As a kid, it was my favorite holiday. Each year I awoke to a trail of paper hearts leading me from my room to an over-the-top breakfast in the kitchen: strawberry waffles; hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream and sprinkles; and festive streamers and heart-shaped confetti surrounding pink and red place settings. My incredible mom threw this fun little party for my sisters and me every February 14, rising at dawn or staying up too late the night before to set it all up. Throughout the day, the house was a mess, but she didn't clean—she helped us craft sparkly cards or necklaces or something requiring the hot glue gun. It was magical.

IMG_2709.JPG

Apparently craftiness is genetic.

So is celebrate-everything-ness. I have a gene that keeps me up all night hanging streamers and blowing up balloons and baking treats to surprise my kids with on their first day of school. No matter how hard I try, no matter how tired I am, I can’t not do it.

So I celebrate everything, just like my mom did. Every silly holiday, every birthday, every first something, every last something. And I make family togetherness a priority, just like my grandmother did. (The kids even call their juice boxes “happies” when it’s 5 o’clock. “Happies” is just too fun not to say.)

But get this: through my first six years of motherhood, I also worked full-time at a Fortune 100 company. The only time I had to celebrate and play with my kids was in the fringe hours of the day. I knew how hard it was for working moms to carve out intentional, screen-free family time, let alone plan for the holidays . . .

IMG_3561.jpg

The coffee date that kicked me into gear.

Just before my third baby turned one, I had coffee with a friend I hadn't seen in years. She was pregnant with her second child and wanted advice on balancing a career with being a mom. It sparked an inspiring and powerful conversation about working moms—and all moms—and just how awesome they are.

Then we got to talking about this borderline obsessive thing I have with the holidays—the table decorations, the kids' crafts and games, the festive snacks. My friend said I needed to box up my holiday supplies and sell them at our company's farmers' markets.

She wasn't the first person to tell me this. Or the second. Or the third.

Before the next holiday, I sent an email to a bunch of coworkers to see if they'd be interested in something like this. I sold 25 boxes immediately.

In the first few months of running my side-business, my goal was to help kids experience the same Valentine’s Day magic I did as a child, while giving their hard-working moms and dads the break they deserved. It was fun—but it felt like something was missing.

IMG_5619.jpeg

In the meantime, I had an urge to give back.

Since my oldest daughter was born, I’d felt a strong urge to help others, to give back the community. With each baby, that feeling grew. Over the years I’d looked into getting a teaching degree to help kids in the classroom, then I started sponsoring a child in the Middle East and donating to other causes. Selfishly, donating money didn't mean much to me because I wasn't doing anything—I was sitting at a desk all day in my comfortable corporate job. It didn't scratch the itch.

Then I heard a podcast that told the Toms story and was inspired to keep my little business alive for the sheer purpose of being able to give. It hit me: the boxes I sold could fund boxes for children in need.

I contacted a local foster care resource center right away, and they were thrilled to start accepting boxes. I rallied my friends and family to help me put them together. (They still help me every month, and our list of volunteers is growing! Learn more about how we give.)

Giving back in this way not only brings joy to kids in need, but also lets me teach my own kids about the importance of giving. They are such a big part of this. (I wrote about that here.)

IMG_4948.JPG

Stronger bonds, better self-esteem.

Arts and crafts not only create lasting memories and strengthen bonds between parents and children, but also enable healthy self-expression and boost self-esteem. As a mom, I’ve been watching it happen for years.

With my insights, I’ve now created dozens of hand-made craft kits inspired by activities and traditions my kids enjoy. They include all the materials you need for a variety of themed crafts, simple decorations, educational games, recipes, and more.

I hope you have as much fun with them as I do with my kids, and as my mother did with hers.

Screen Shot 2018-05-02 at 6.29.30 AM.png