Kids Helping Kids: “Together we light up the dark”

The beauty of being an online business is getting to reach and serve people all over the country. I Love Sparklers recently received an inspiring video from clients in California who are making a difference in their community while simultaneously learning important business and marketing skills. These students and their cause struck a chord with us and we are sure it will tug at your heartstrings as well. Here is a peek at the video promoting their upcoming fundraiser concert (it also just so happens to feature our sparklers).

Kids Helping Kids is a student-run, non-profit organization out of Santa Barbara, California benefiting local youth, families in hard times, and even some international organizations. A few examples of local causes they have raised money for include paying funeral costs for a student who passed in a tragic accident, purchasing a much-needed wheelchair for a student with a rare skin disease, and subsidizing ACT/SAT testing fees for students who couldn’t afford it. They also donate to global charities including Club Hope in Nicaragua. The organization is run by students in the Advanced Placement Economics class and they have raised $2.5 million dollars total for their causes since the organization’s inception in 2002.

Kid Helping Kids puts together several fundraising events each year ranging anywhere from restaurant nights and school dances to their annual benefit gala concert. They host the gala in the world-class Granada Theatre and attendees have been entertained by some incredible artists. Headliners have included  Five for Fighting (2010), Mat Kearney and Tyrone Wells (2011), Sara Bareilles and Tyrone Wells (2012), Switchfoot and Brad Corrigan from Dispatch (2013), Andy Grammer and Tim Lopez from Plain White T’s (2014), Ingrid Michaelson and Jon McLaughlin (2015), NeedtoBreathe and Johnnyswim (2016), Gavin DeGraw and Parachute (2017). This year’s concert will be a 2-day event in honor of the 10th anniversary of the gala with one concert on January 12th and January 13th with Andy Grammer and NeedtoBreathe headlining. I don’t know about you, but we want to go!

Kids Helping Kids Staff in front of Granade Theatre

 

Kids Helping Kids has a goal of raising $500,000 this year and they are not yet halfway to their goal. It is the season for giving! If you are looking for a worthy charity to give to in the name of a loved one or maybe you live in Southern California and you have the ability to attend an epic concert for a good cause. We think you would be hard-pressed to find a better organization to give to.  With ticket prices ranging from $34-  $804 per ticket, they would make a great gift for that person on your list who has everything.

If you happen to be a teacher or administrator at a high school check out their website at www.kidshelpingkids.org. They have received a grant to plant more organizations in high schools throughout the country and if you are interested in starting a chapter, this type of education for young people and philanthropy is exactly what we need in communities all over the country.

Creating Christmas Traditions

First comes love, then comes marriage, then come babies….and realizing that making Christmas magical can be a lot of work (and expensive)! If you are like me and you love this time of year, it can be hard not to splurge for every expensive Christmas “experience” out there. I have 2 little girls and another little on the way so we are trying new things to find the traditions we really love and can afford to continue. Here are three inexpensive things we have tried and loved.

Christmas Book Countdown

This tradition has been a favorite of mine for a couple of years now. I collected Christmas books from my childhood, garage sales, and discount stores throughout the year and set them away. You could also borrow some from your local library for free. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how many books you have. How many books you have will determine when you start the countdown.

All you have to do is wrap your book collection and put it under the tree.  To save money, I use leftover paper and scraps from last Christmas. The wrapping can be tedious but you can get help from older children. My four year old loved helping this year. She is learning how to write numbers, so she also numbered each book in black marker from 1-24.

Once the prep is done, the kiddos get to take turns finding and opening one book from under the tree each night.  My kids wake up each morning asking if its time to open another book. It doesn’t matter to them that it’s the same books each year. It actually makes for a good guessing game.  Added bonus: they don’t beg to open their other gifts early.

These books looked better than ours but my girls loved helping! Via River’s Edge Curriculum

 

Follow the Bright Star

Adorable sticking out of the tree!

This year I wanted to be sure that we emphasized the Nativity story.  So, I picked up a package of gold star sparklers. The star sparklers come 6 to a package so just one was plenty for my little family. Once I opened them to take a look, the sparklers were so cute I decided to stick them in the tree as decoration. (Disclaimer: I have an artificial tree and double checked how warm my lights got after being on for an extended period of time. Sparklers obviously can catch fire so use your best judgment if you decide to try this.)

On the night we opened the story of Jesus’s birth we talked about how the 3 kings followed a bright star to find Jesus in Bethlehem. I told them that they should also always seek out Jesus and that He is the real reason for why we celebrate Christmas. Then I let them go and “seek out” a star on the tree to take outside to light.

Sparklers are such a treat for kids that they really only get to enjoy once or twice a year. My girls loved this so much they wanted to burn them all in one night. I decided to make them wait and we will burn one each week and talk more about the story of Jesus’s birth each time. This could also be a fun kids Christmas party idea or even as take-home favors.

 

Christmas Eve Box

This tradition is really simple. I wrap a present for my girls with pajamas, snacks, cocoa mix and a Christmas movie to open the 24th. Last year I had purchased Polar Express on sale but you could even record a favorite from the Hallmark Channel or the “25 Days of Christmas” special to watch. We love this tradition, the kids love it and it is a low-cost gift that doesn’t require buying anything the kids don’t already need (face it, by the end of the year they all need a new set of PJs.)  My husband and I also really enjoy all of the snuggles and curling up with a cup of hot cocoa before the craziness of Christmas morning.

However you choose to celebrate the season, we hope its wonderful and full of good cheer!

Why a Winter Wedding? 5 trends we love

The cold weather, fires, soft blankets, cuddling, hot drinks, and the Holidays: all reasons why winter is a romantic and wonderful time of year to have a wedding! Summer is typically the most popular season but there are so many great reasons to have a winter wedding. Here are 5 popular trends right now that we love for winter

 

Long-Sleeved Lace Wedding Gowns

Image via Pinterest

Lace wedding gowns have been trending for some time and it is no wonder why.  The detail is stunning and classic yet subtly sexy. What we love about these sleeved versions is the illusion of being just a little more covered but still baring some skin.

As you can see from the example pictured, the lace sleeve goes beautifully with all cuts of dresses whether your style is A-line, ballgown or more fitted through the hip.  Not to mention that these dresses would also pair beautifully with a luxurious fur shawl for outdoor photos in the cold winter air.

 

 

Photo Credit Hative

Pictures in Falling Snow

Speaking of outdoor photo shoots, who does not love a good snow photo?  Falling snow is so beautiful and soothing. It makes a gorgeous backdrop for a romantic photo. What better reason to plan winter nuptials than to have stunning one of a kind photos?

We do realize that planning a winter wedding is no guarantee for snow. In fact, most of us here in the South don’t have the privilege of ever seeing snow except on vacation. In lieu of real snow, if you live in a warm climate, or as a backup plan, we recommend a wedding confetti cannon to give a similar look for a romantic picture of the newlyweds either outdoors or maybe even indoors during the first dance! The wedding confetti cannon will shoot approximately 15 feet in the air and cascade down on the happy couple much like snowflakes.

Gorgeous Winter Bouquets

Bouquets are gorgeous no matter the season but there are so many unique things that make winter bouquets stand out. There is so much texture and depth that can be added with rich colored berries, bits of evergreen, succulents and even the occasional pinecone. The occasional dried flower or seed pod make a beautiful statement as well. Your florist can typically still get a few of your other favorite blooms for a gorgeous combination.

 

Photo via Elegant Wedding Invites

 

Photography: Hazelwood Photo

Rustic Woodland Details

The rustic-woodland look is all the rage right now from Joanna’s farmhouse chic to buffalo plaid. While you can incorporate this look during any season it really lends itself to the winter wedding. Raw wood, evergreen sprigs, and candlelight are a beautiful backdrop for your big event.

You know the best part of this trend? It is very budget friendly because so much of it can be found in nature around you! You can use cut logs for pedestals and fresh cut pine or evergreen to spruce up your centerpieces. Take a look at this beautiful table center made from tree branches, berries and candlesticks. Easy on the eyes and the wallet. Win-Win!

Sparkling Grand Exit

Last, but certainly not least, the grand exit! Sparklers have quickly become the exit favor of choice no matter the season, but they are especially helpful in the winter time when the sun starts disappearing in the early evening. Even if you and your new spouse won’t be partying late into the night, sparklers can help light the way into your new life together.

Photo submitted by a happy I Love Sparklers customer

For the best results, we recommend these 20″ sparklers. With these sparklers, you will get 2 minutes of burn time and plenty of time to capture some beautiful pictures. If you are having an extra large wedding of over 150 people you may need to buy enough for each guest to have 2 to make sure everyone has a lit sparkler at the same time. You can even personalize the sparklers with your new name and wedding date with custom tags and display them in a galvanized bucket filled with sand.

Make Your Holiday Card “Sparkle”

No doubt you have noticed that the Holiday Season is already beginning. The music, decor and inevitable barrage of advertising are all signs that it is once again time to start thinking about holiday cards. Since we live in a warm climate, capturing the magic of the holidays is hard to do before Santa comes. The temperature still climbs into the 80’s most days and the thought of donning the entire family in flannel is not appealing. If this sounds familiar or even maybe if it doesn’t, fear not, we have a couple of ideas that may help inject some spark(le) into your otherwise lackluster Christmas photo tradition.

Let it Snow with the Wedding Confetti Cannon

Some of the best photos are unposed action shots and what better way to capture the spirit of the season than the joy of falling confetti? The white color of the Wedding Confetti Cannon will give the feel of falling snow and will undoubtedly spark big, genuine smiles from even the most stubborn of kiddos. For this idea we suggest a large seasonal blanket set out near a wooded area or even a Christmas Tree Farm and 2-4 of the Wedding Confetti Cannons depending on the size of your party. The wedding confetti cannons shoot 15 feet into the air so you could even have someone out of frame shoot the cannon overhead so it would not show in the photo.

It would be amazing to capture not only the initial fall of the white confetti but also children, fur babies and even the adults throwing and playing in confetti.  The blanket will serve two purposes, one is to add depth to the picture and the other is to catch the confetti to make it easier to gather and throw again if needed. The Wedding Confetti Cannons do “pop” when fired so we would suggest doing at least one test run or allowing small children and skittish pets to play in thrown confetti or piles on the blanket for best results. These confetti cannons shoot biodegradable confetti so any stray pieces should not cause issues.

Kids playing in confetti snow

Photo Credit: Britain Earl Photography

 

Light it up with 20″ Sparklers

What I love most about this idea is that even if you don’t get around to photos in time, or you get the cards and forget to buy stamps for 2 weeks (yep, I did that), your “Christmas Card” can easily become a “Happy New Year” card.  All you need to do is work with your favorite photographer to find the best time and place to capture your family encompassed in glowing light and sparkle.

The 20″ sparklers burn for over 2 minutes and come in larger quantities in case you don’t get just the “right” shot the first time. These are the same 20″ sparklers that we recommend for weddings so they will put off minimal smoke and are safe for children and clothing. Besides holding the sparklers, you can also talk to your photographer about slowing down the shutter speed to do some light writing that will send a message that really sparkles! You could write out 2018, create shapes or make a special announcement in the glittering light. For instance, this Christmas Tree design would make an awesome addition to a collage card.

Photo Credit: The Lightman https://the-lightman.deviantart.com/art/Sparkler-Christmas-Tree

 

Your holiday photo tradition shouldn’t have to be a dreaded obligation. Why not make it a memorable and fun experience instead? Call to book your favorite photographer now and let the creative juices flow!