Neighborhood Kids family fun in bellingham & whatcom county


Frugal Fun for Birthday Parties at Home

The focus on frugality is popular these days. But just because your family is on a budget, that doesn’t mean you want to skimp on birthday celebrations for your kids. Here are some ideas for fun birthday party activities that won’t break the family bank.

Decorating cupcakes is a great birthday party activity. What’s a frugal but fun party activity for kids?

Decorate Your Own Cupcake

Cupcakes are a great alterative to a traditional birthday cake because everyone’s portion is the same and you don’t have to deal with the clean-up of plates and forks. They also provide a built-in activity for your child’s birthday celebration. Give everyone an undecorated cupcake and provide the decorating materials. Make a batch of white frosting and then distribute a 3 oz. Dixie cup with frosting to each child. Let the kids pick a color and have a grown-up add the food color. Once the cupcakes are frosted, let kids decorate with sprinkles, chocolate chips, coconut flakes, and other toppings. Make sure to take a photo of everyone with their creation before the cupcake eating begins!

“Drive In” Movie

If you have access to a projector (we all know someone that we could ask to borrow their company or classroom’s projector for an afternoon), set up your living room, garage, or backyard (weather permitting) for a big screen viewing of your child’s favorite movie. Use a white wall or hang a white sheet as a screen, and hook-up the projector to your DVD player. Set up the whole affair with a concession stand where kids can each choose one beverage, one sweet snack, and a bowl of popcorn to enjoy during the movie; instead of providing soda and candy, juice boxes or water bottles and dried fruit are a nice alternative. Let kids spread out on pillows and blanket on the floor, or set up folding lawn chairs outside or in the garage. Compared to a trip to the local multiplex, it’s a pretty inexpensive way to entertain a crowd a kids for the evening.

Downtown Scavenger Hunt

So, this activity doesn’t technically take place “at home,” but you don’t need to pay a party rental fee at any of the places you visit. A scavenger hunt gets everyone moving for some exercise, and kids can practice puzzle-solving, map reading, and navigation skills. They’ll also get familiar with the local businesses in your community. To start out, give everyone in a party a map of the streets in the downtown area of your town (in Bellingham, you can get print off a “Terrain” view of just street names and no business names at Google Maps). Write out clues that will direct them to some memorable places in the area, like banks, museums, eateries, and parks. One example might be something like, “This is my favorite place to go in Bellingham for a cold, sweet treat. Its mascot is a duck and its name starts with M.” It won’t take long for kids to figure out that you’re talking about Mallard Ice Cream. Maybe that should be the last stop on the trip, as it’s not very kind to take anyone to Mallard (let alone a group of excited children), and deny them a cone of delicious ice cream.

What are some ways that your family has saved money and still had a great birthday celebration? Leave a comment below!

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Mentorship Opportunities in Bellingham

Rearing your own children is a full time job, so you’re probably thinking that the last thing you have the time or energy for is mentoring. But there are other ways to support the youth in the Bellingham community that need some extra encouragement.

Mentorship Opportunities in Whatcom County How can you support mentorship programs in Bellingham and Whatcom County?

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwest Washington is an amazing way to encourage at-risk youth in our community, but a weekly one-on-one mentoring session might not be a feasible commitment for you. You can always donate money, organize an informational Open House for your friends and co-workers, volunteer at a BBBS booth at community events, and more. Visit Get Involved! to see even more ideas for contributing to this great program.

A new mentorship program for high school students in Bellingham and Whatcom County called SEE YOU IN SCHOOL! started in 2009 as a dropout prevention effort by Communities in Schools of Whatcom County. Once again, you might not be ready for a one-on-one mentorship situation, but you can spread the word about volunteer opportunities to your friends or even writing government representatives to remind them that support for public schools is a priority in our community.

Did you participate in 4-H when you were in high school? WSU of Whatcom County has an exciting, one-time volunteer opportunity coming up at Meridian High School on March 13, 2010. On “Super Saturday,” adult volunteers will have the chance to share their hobbies and interests with young people. Art, wilderness skills, baking, photography—we know you’ve got lots of knowledge to share with school age children in Whatcom County! Visit WSU Whatcom County Extension – 4-H Youth Programs for more information.

Still not sure where to start? Visit Washington State Mentors or visit Whatcom Volunteer Center to find resources for mentoring in our community.

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What’s Up on MLK, Jr. Day in Bellingham?

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Kids might simply be excited for a day off from school, but many organizations and businesses in Bellingham want everyone in our community to remember why we celebrate the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr. on the third Monday of each January.

Check out one of the following activities for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in Bellingham on Monday, January 18, 2010.

MLK Jr. Day of Service Work Party – 10 AM to 1 PM
You and your kids can join Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association and the City of Bellingham Parks Volunteer Program in their annual MLK, Jr. Day of Service. They’ll work to remove non-native, invasive plant species and spread mulch throughout the streamside restoration project on Padden Creek. Tools and gloves are provides; wear sturdy shoes and weather-appropriate clothing. Call (360) 715-0383 for details.

MLK, Jr. Day Read-In and Book Drive – 11 AM to 3 PM
Village Books invites kids ages 3 to 8 to hear multicultural and social justice-themed books read by students from Western Washington University. These books will also be available for purchase to benefit three local non-profits: Agape House, Dorothy Place, and Blue Skies for Children. Before the Read-In at 10 AM, adults can participate in a free, interactive workshop on reading social justice books to children; it’s a great opportunity for parents and teachers! For details, call (360) 650-7520 or visit Center for Service-Learning.

MLK Jr. Day Poetry and Open Mic Night – 6 PM
Community Food Co-op hosts its 12th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Poetry Reading and Open Mic at the Downtown Swan Café. Everyone is invited to share a poem, song, or reading focusing on diversity, human rights, or related issues (five minute limit). All are welcome to enjoy this free event. For more information, call (360) 734-8158.

What will you do with your kids on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day?

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