Category Archives: holidays

5 Easy, (mostly) Recyclable Halloween Decorating Ideas

My interest in holiday decorating comes and goes.

I’m not sure why. Different seasons of life, perhaps?

My interest or lack thereof in storing A TON of holiday decor is more steady. I like to keep some Christmas and autumn decor, but I don’t have space or the desire to store items for all the other holidays.

If I can make it and recycle the decor when I’m finished, I consider that a holiday decorating win. 

Here are 5 easy Halloween decorating projects that are low-on-cost, high-on-impact and (mostly) recyclable.

I should note that after I wrote this post, I was doing a little fact checking. Yes, I do aim for accuracy over here. Crazy, I know. Anyway, not all municipalities consider heavily colored or dyed paper recyclable. A few of these decor ideas do involve colored paper. In the event colored paper is not considered recyclable in your area, I’ve tried to offer an alternative. Please craft responsibly. The fate of the planet may depend on it! Or something slightly less dramatic…I didn’t fact check that part. 


My kids LOVED coming home to a wall full of bats last year! It was fun to surprise them.

All you need for this craft is construction paper/card stock, scissors and tape. If you don’t have black construction paper or card stock, you could print out bats on regular computer paper too. It will just take a lot of ink.

I printed off a bat outline I found on the internet, traced it onto a bunch of black card stock I had in my stash and then started cutting. Trace, cut, repeat.

The bats are simply taped to the wall.

If you bend the wings on the paper bats slightly it gives a nice 3-D effect.


More construction paper for the win! Use black or brown colored paper to cover books on your shelves.

Then you get to be creative. Use a white colored pencil or crayon to make up faux book titles.

Your book titles can be as chilling or as benign as you want them to be.


Alright, this one isn’t home decor, exactly. But it is fun, recyclable and adds some flare to a child’s lunchbox.

You can print out free Halloween lunch box countdown notes here.

Or you could just use this idea and make it your own! A handwritten countdown on a sticky note will be just as memorable for your little ghouls and goblins.


Scour your yard or garden for anything you could use to make a broomstick!

I used a long branch and a bunch of palm leaves, but small twigs would work too. Secure the “broom” to the “stick” with hot glue and twine. Tutorial here.

When you are finished with the broom, dismantle it and dispose of it in your yard debris or compost container.


Paper pumpkins are probably my favorite Halloween craft because they can be used through the entire fall season.

Plus, these pumpkins are just so stinking cute!

Also, you don’t have to stick with the classic orange pumpkin!

I’m a big fan of white pumpkins and computer paper works great for this project.

All you need for this project is paper, scissors and tape – lots of tape. Every time you roll up the paper or fold up one of the strips, it will be secured with clear tape. If you don’t have green paper for the stem, you could just color it in with a marker.

I have not gone crazy on Halloween decor (so far) this year. I’m happy to stick with pumpkins this go-around.

In case anyone is wondering, today was the first day I’ve seen real pumpkins for sale in Ireland. This drove me nuts last year, but I’m adjusting my expectations and ‘trying’ to live like a local! Thank goodness for my stash of faux pumpkins. Who knew those would be a necessary item when I was packing up all our earthly possessions for our overseas move. Got rid of the couch, but I kept the faux pumpkins. Clearly, I have my priorities.

Striped and Flower Petal Denim Pumpkins

Bet you were hoping I was done with the denim projects, huh?

Nope! Hahahaha!

I’m 97.328% sure this is the last post about denim pumpkins though, you lucky ducks!

You already know all about the braided denim pumpkin.

I don’t like to play favorites, but there is a reason I shared its textured gorgeousness first.

It wasn’t my first trip to the denim pumpkin patch though!

On my first trip I created a striped denim pumpkin made out of strips of cut-up jeans. I didn’t measure. I didn’t worry about straight lines. In other words, a project right up my alley!

The only thing you’ll need to make this pumpkin is a styrofoam pumpkin, old jeans (or those new ones that look old), scissors, hot glue and twine.

I used shorter strips of denim to cover the majority of the pumpkin and then finished with longer strips to cover up the remaining bits. The longer strips then became the foundation for the stem, which was just wrapped in twine and sealed with a bit of glue.

The last denim pumpkin I made was what I’m calling a flower petal pumpkin. Or maybe it has a slight acorn vibe to it?

I actually like this one more in person than I do in the pictures.

Most everything is better in real life though! Except skunks.

I gave the pumpkin a quick coat of really dark blue paint.

Then I hot glued denim circles around the top of the pumpkin and added a branch for a stem.

Faster than you can drink a pumpkin spiced latte it’s DONE!

These Dollar Store pumpkins are hollow, so it’s easy to cut off the stem it comes with and add a branch instead.

Not going to lie – it was fun to experiment with this project!

It’s a shame I ran out of pumpkins because I do have a few more makeover ideas.

Plus, a half a pair of jeans left!

These pumpkins might not be everyone’s jam. Shocking, I know!

I’m cool with that though.

I hope when you read posts like this one, you might feel encouraged to challenge yourself to reuse or repurpose something in a way that brings you a bit of happiness when you look at it, use it or gift it. You never know where the creative journey might take you!


Horseshoe Pumpkins Go Mainstream

Questions have come up recently about my DIY horseshoe pumpkin.

This is, in part, because my braided denim pumpkin and the horseshoe pumpkin by extension were honored with a Salvaged Junk feature on Funky Junk Interiors last week.

You know how much I love salvaged junk, so this really made my day!

When I told my 7-year-old son about this good news, I thought he’d say, “cool.”

Instead, he reached over, patted my shoulder and with all sincerity said, “I’m happy for you.”

This might not seem like a big deal to you, but I’m living through a very long season of fart jokes. In that moment, hope sprang eternal that he might someday grow into an emotionally mature young man.

That was, by far, more rewarding than any work accolade.

In the two years since we made our horseshoe pumpkins out of authentic, seen-some-trail-time-on-an-actual-horse horseshoes, it appears this idea has made it into the retail mainstream.

It doesn’t take them long, does it?

A friend messaged me this past weekend with a picture of a horseshoe pumpkin she scored at a store called Real Deals. It looked really cool! It was a little more symmetrical and less rusty than my version. I loved it.

A reader asked me if it was possible to make a horseshoe pumpkin without using a welder.

My gut reaction was “no.” I’m still leaning hard in that direction.

My second reaction was “maybe” because I can’t discount the ingenuity of a determined and creative mind!

It wouldn’t look like mine or any others that are for sale right now though. The horseshoes are heavy, so keeping them in place would be the tricky part. Perhaps you could do it with a heck of a lot of wire and a dowel for the stem? Horseshoes are magnetic, so maybe there’s something possible with magnets? Perhaps you could create a discreet base to secure the horseshoes?

I’m sure someone will figure it out!

Here’s the step-by-step of how we made our version. It’s a lot easier if you have 8 horseshoes that are the exact same size and shape, which you can see, we did not.

If you are intent on making one yourself and don’t have a welder, I think any auto/machine shop in town could weld one together for you in 10 minutes. Perhaps someone in your neighborhood has a welder that you could trade a plate of cookies in exchange for this very easy welding project?

It’s worth a shot! Everyone loves cookies!

Or, you could try Etsy. I found a bunch of sellers there offering horseshoe pumpkins for $30 – 40. I liked this rustic one and this painted one was nice. If Amazon is more your style, this mini rustic horseshoe pumpkin was less than $15 earlier this week.

This is the third year I’ve pulled out our horseshoe pumpkins and they still make me happy! Hurray for dumpster diving and all the salvaged junk projects out there!



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Braided Denim Pumpkin

I have these illusions that I’m an unique, one-of-a-kind, broke-the-mold sort of person.

But I’m really just like most people. In fact, I’m just like the MILLIONS of other crafty people in the world who have fallen down the rabbit hole known as The Dollar Store and emerged with a styrofoam pumpkin.

Okay, okay. I have six Dollar Store pumpkins. Six. But that’s all, I swear.

And you can’t just buy a Dollar Store pumpkin and be done with it. Nooo. No way. That’s against the code. Something crafty must be done with those Dollar Store pumpkins or you develop an eye twitch and bad luck for 7 years.

Or so I’ve heard.

I decided my Dollar Store pumpkin was a good candidate for a denim makeover. If you’ve been reading this blog in the last few months, you will know I have been repurposing Handy Husband’s old jeans. I’m determined to put this material to good use and this might be my favorite project until the next one yet. (I say that every time!)

To make a braided denim pumpkin, gather up your supplies: old jeans, styrofoam pumpkin, scissors, hot glue gun, needle and thread.

Then you’ll begin the most gratifying part of this project – cutting up a pair of jeans!

It feels a little naughty the first time you do it. Then, it’s sort of empowering. Like you are a superhero saving the entire neighborhood from an accidental flash of your husband’s boxer briefs from the blown out crotch in his jeans saving the planet by repurposing an item destined for the landfill.

You’ll be cutting the jeans into long, thin strips. I pretty much winged it because this is not a project you should over think. It’s a Dollar Store pumpkin, not the Mona Lisa. My strips were approximately 1/3-inch wide by 10-inches long.

I’d say this project took a good chunk of the right leg of this pair of relaxed-fit jeans. Plan accordingly if you are working with skinny jeans.

This next part may or may not have been necessary. It’s just what happened while I was winging my way through the process. Since I didn’t want my braid to come unraveled before I attached it to the pumpkin, I held the 3 strips together and secured them with a couple of stitches of blue thread. I probably could have used hot glue, but this just seemed easier and less glue-stringy at the time.

Then I braided the denim and secured the other end of the braid with a few more hand stitches.

I repeated this process about twenty or so a million times.

The last part of the process was to hot glue my braided strips onto the pumpkin.

I did not want to add bulk to the bottom of the pumpkin, so I never glued an end of one braid on top of another braid. No overlapping, I did get the braids as close together as I could though to hide the orange styrofoam.

As the gaps between the glued-on braids started to close, I ended up cutting my braids to size because I didn’t need the final braids to be as long as the ones I started out with.

My original intent was to trim the very first and longest braids to fit close to the stem. However, I decided I liked the curly-Q effect, so I left a few.

Here’s how it turned out…

I also gave this faux pumpkin a stem upgrade! It’s super easy! I used a craft knife to cut off the styrofoam stem.

It turns out the pumpkin is hollow! That’s one mystery solved.

Then I shoved carefully inserted a branch into the pumpkin to act as a stem. I had intended on glueing the branch in and may need to in the future as the styrofoam breaks away, but for now, it doesn’t need it.

I love the texture the denim braids provide.

And since denim goes with everything, this pumpkin works with a variety of color schemes.

I’m smitten with this pumpkin. Absolutely adore it.

Beyond that, I’m happy I took an hour of “me time” to sit down and create something pretty for my home. This time it was a braided denim pumpkin. Next time…who knows?

Golf Ball Pumpkins

How does a non-golfing family end up with a bucket of golf balls?

I imagine it’s the usual way.

We scavenged for them.

In our version of “I Spy” we search the beach at low tide for golf balls hidden under rocks. At the top of the cliffs above the beach there is a park and it seems some golfers like hitting balls into the ocean. Naughty, naughty.

Collecting the golf balls is great fun, but I needed something to do with the growing collection other than take up an expensive hobby play golf.

My daughter and her friends transformed the first bunch into emojis.

That project was super cute, but it did not deplete the golf ball reserves.

As the days on the calendar moved closer to autumn, I knew there was only one thing to do…turn the rest of the golf balls into mini pumpkins.

And it’s so easy. Paint the golf balls and then hot glue on a stem! That’s it!

But because I like to hear the sound of my own typing, I’m going to riff a bit on this project.

First and foremost, no matter what type of paint you decide to use, painting round objects takes time.

So. Much. Time.

Pull on your patience pants because you cannot rush things. You need to make sure the paint is fully dry – not just dry to the touch – before you rotate the golf balls to paint another section.

Now, it turns out that plastic shot glasses make a perfect pedestal to hold the golf balls while painting. Again, just make sure they dry FULLY before you rotate.

Otherwise, the paint will get dinged up and that little fiasco will make you want to use those shot glasses for their intended purpose. Not that I know this from experience or anything.

Spray paint with primer would work great for transforming the golf balls into pumpkins. I ended up not finding the exact spray paint color I was looking for, so I decided to experiment with mixing acrylic paints to achieve a custom color.

What happened next was a happy accident. I didn’t really know how much paint this project would require. Covering over the writing on the balls ended up taking several coats of paint. I didn’t count, but 4 or 5 coats maybe? And this was over the course of a few days.

Essentially, I was mixing the paint each time I brushed on a new layer. So that meant the balls ended up with slightly different colors. Pumpkins aren’t uniform. In fact, they are imperfect and quirky, so this worked for me.

I excel at justifying my DIY outcomes.

The pumpkin “stems” were procured from a shrub growing in my garden. I trimmed the twig to my desired size with scissors and glued it on with a dab of hot glue. I added the green twine (also with hot glue) as I thought it made my pumpkins look a little more pumpkin-esque.

Beware! The glued-on stems are a bit fragile. So if you’re going to take photos of your cute pumpkins and one rolls off the table…the stem is probably going to pop off and you’ll need to glue it back on. Not that this happened to me or anything.

*cough* twice *cough*

As I prepare to bathe the entire house in pumpkin-everything, I think my new golf ball pumpkins will find a home in a pretty bowl in my living room. Or on the dining room table. We’ll see.

Also, if pumpkins aren’t your thing – don’t tell anyone – that could turn ugly!

But if pumpkins really aren’t your thing, you could paint the golf balls red instead and make APPLES!!

Wow. That was a happy little plot twist. This blog. Always keeps you asking why on your toes.


P.S. Please don’t buy new golf balls for this project. Ask around first. Golfers will often have a ton of practice balls that aren’t in great shape that they will be willing to part with for free or cheap.

Happy 4th of July

Do you know how I feel today?

I feel blessed.

This week I have the privilege of being back on U.S. soil to celebrate the 4th of July in my hometown with the people I love.

It’s been awhile since I’ve been “home” for the 4th of July and I’m excited to share this day with my friends and family, but especially my kids.

I picked out festive shirts for the kids to wear to the parade we will attend on the 4th. I used my stern mom voice to ask my son, “will you REALLY wear this shirt to the parade? Because I’m not buying it if you won’t wear it.”

And he said, “is the 4th of July like St. Patrick’s Day when you get to pinch someone if they aren’t wearing red, white and blue?”

You can imagine his extreme disappointment when I said sure, pinch away “no.”

I kind of like his idea though!

I’m heeding my own advice this week (shocking, I know!) to “always take the trip” because I’m acutely aware of how quickly my children are growing.

I do not take these moments with them for granted.

I’ll probably be back to regular blog posting next week. How about I keep you in the loop on that?

In the meantime, Happy 4th of July!

P.S. Last year I posted a free printable of the above eagle print I created. You can find it here.

Junky 4th of July Wreath

I went dumpster diving and found treasure!

Let me clarify something though. Dumpsters in Ireland are called skips.

They range in size from 2.5 cubic yards to 35 cubic yards. You can also order a gigantic bag for your yard waste/other debris and that is called a baby skip. Aw, so cute!

Aren’t you glad for all the random information you learn on this blog?

Here’s what a skip looks like when it’s being hauled away on the lorry. This is not the one that held my treasure though. It held some old windows that were replaced in our house.

I walk by skips in front of houses and businesses all the time.

I ALWAYS stop and look in them.

Who doesn’t?!?!

I have often cursed our lack of a car when I’ve seen something neat and salvageable in these skips.

Well, my friends, my fortune changed when I ran across a skip full of junk outside our neighbor’s house one day.

One particular item caught my eye, but I walked passed it!

When I got home, I couldn’t stop thinking about this junky object, so I nonchalantly walked back down the sidewalk, snatched the junky object out of the bin and fast-walked back to my house.

As my son would say, “nothing suspicious is going on here!”

This was my treasure.

Of all the things I could have taken out of that dumpster, I’m sure my neighbors didn’t expect me to take this thing.

I don’t exactly know its purpose.

I’m sure one of you smarty pants out there will tell me.

If its purpose was gross, I don’t want to know.

That would be my luck. Also, soap is my friend.

Anyway, I showed that picture to a friend and she asked me what I was going to do with this…thing.

Besides love it forever?

I’m not exactly sure what its long term purpose will be, but here’s how I’m using it today.

Ooh, la, la!

I dove into my country roots and made a junky 4th of July wreath!

The flowers are made with a lot of hot glue, buttons, felt and Handy Husband’s jeans.

Don’t worry, they weren’t his good jeans.

I had the bright idea to add an outline of the continental U.S. to the inside of my wreath.


My bright ideas can be a pain in the behind.

Let’s just say this is an interpretive version of the map because it was harder than I anticipated to thread embroidery floss through the squares in the complicated shape of the U.S.

Sorry Great Lakes. And Louisiana. And…the rest of you.

I used white embroidery thread for the map because I thought it would be a good contrast with the rusted wire.

Unfortunately, I neglected to realize that all of my walls are white.

Therefore, the white thread blends in and virtually disappears with every possible background in my home except this one.

*insert forehead slap here*

If this project ends up finding a more permanent spot in my home, I’m going to have to add a different color thread to the map. And THAT will be fun. I’d probably also take off the flowers since they are great for 4th of July decorating, but my minimalistic self couldn’t handle them all year long.

What do you think of my ‘junky find’ turned 4th of July wreath?

For a project that used materials I already had on hand, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. Plus, the 4th is one of my favorite American holidays.

More importantly, who wants to go dumpster diving with me? I promise it’s fun!

P.S. Here’s something else I picked up – not out of a dumpster, but off the side of the road and turned into art for my home.

Tourist Maps Make Great Wrapping Paper

Monday’s post was a little heavy, emotionally speaking, so let’s reel it back in, shall we? Besides, this blog, similar to the inner workings of my brain, thrives on randomness and abrupt topic changes. Keep up! Keep up! The whiplash is worth it.

How many of you have traveled someplace new and picked up a tourist map (or 3 because each of your kids needs their own map even if they ask you to hold it 7.3 seconds later, thank you very much)?

*raises hand*

Then how many of you have chucked that map(s) in the recycle bin or garbage when you were finished?

*raises hand*

If one of your tourist maps survives the trip in good shape, don’t throw it away!

You can reuse it as wrapping paper!

It’s fun. It’s unique. It’s economical.

It works for any gender or age.

And those map creases are an excellent cutting guide.

I did have to repair a slight tear in one of the creases with a bit of tape, but when I’m wrapping a Nerf gun for a 7-year-old, perfection is not at the top of my priority list.

Actually, perfection is rarely at the top of my priority list. Makes life so much easier!

I was carrying these presents through the mall on our way to a birthday party at a miniature golf place. I stopped to pick up a free sample of a sports drink the college kids were handing out. I meant to do a “grab a free bottle fly by” because we were on a timeline, but the kid stopped me and said, “is that map wrapping paper?”

I said “Well, it’s a map that I’m using as wrapping paper.”

“From a real place?” he replied.

“Nope! From a fake place!”

Kidding, I didn’t say that. I thought it, but my internal filter was working that day.

What I actually said was, “Yes, from our trip to Copenhagen.”

“WOW! That’s such a good idea!”

As a side note, I do love it when college kids think my ideas are great. It gives me that “I’ve still got it” feeling.

Then I talked to him for another 3 minutes about how expensive we found Denmark to be compared to Ireland while Handy Husband tapped his foot waited patiently for me to stop holding court with my adoring fans.

Not only is a tourist map a great item to reuse as wrapping paper, but it is also a conversation starter. These win-win ideas make me ridiculously happy!

And in this case, since I reused and thereby helped the planet, I think this was a win-win-win idea.

Thank Goodness for Easter Break

Hello, everyone!

I hope you had a lovely Easter.

Spring Break in the Republic of Ireland is actually called Easter Break and it takes place the week before and the week after Easter. In fact, today is a bank holiday, which means the adults get the day off too. Hurray!

We are more than ready for a break from our routine. Because there’s nothing like a break from your routine to make you appreciate your routine!

I’m taking the week off from blogging to spend the remainder of Easter Break doing family stuff. Adventures and, hopefully, an abundance of sunshine are in store for us!

As the sign on my local pharmacy door says, goodbye for now! I’ll be back next week and I hope you will too.

You can always follow me on Instagram to see where our adventures take us.

Until then, I hope you have the happiest of weeks.

10 Tips for Surviving a Parade With Kids

Let’s talk parades.

I LOVE parades, which just proves I’m a complicated individual. I don’t enjoy hanging out with large groups of people. I’m not very patient. And did I mention ALL. THE. PEOPLE?

Yet, I love parades!

It’s probably nostalgia knocking on my door. I remember going to a 4th of July parade as a little girl with my grandma and cousins. I remember exactly where we’d sit on a curb with a few trees doing a terrible job of shading us from the July sun. I remember cowgirl princesses on horses and beauty queens in convertibles doing that elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist wave as they slowly passed by. There were restored hot rod cars, old-fashioned firetrucks and best of all, square dancers do-si-do-ing down Main Street. Through the rosy lens of childhood, it was AMAZING.

When I had kids, I was ready to carry on those traditions. Relive it all through their bright little eyes.

But, man.

Childhood Me didn’t realize it’s a little more complicated than just showing up with a 3-year-old and a newborn and expecting everyone to have the most fun in the history of fun.

Here are 10 things I’ve learned in the last 10 years about surviving a parade with your kids and I daresay, even enjoying it! Surviving it is a good start, but parades are awesome! Let’s enjoy the experience too!

Tip #1: Lower Your Expectations

I realize the irony here. I encourage you to aim higher in the introduction and now I’m all “bring it back down, bring it back down.” Remember the complicated individual part?

What I really mean is don’t put so much pressure on you, the day or the event itself to bring about some sort of kumbaya family bonding moment. It’s a parade. And you’re going there with your real family, not those perfect kids from the Gap commercials.

With that in mind, do what you can to set yourselves up for success by planning ahead.

The rest? As much as it pains me to say, you can’t plan your way through everything. That’s why a good attitude can go a long way toward making the experience fun and memorable. So put on a smile in the event something zigs, when you expected it to zag. Remember, it’s just a parade.

Tip #2: Know Before You Go

Knowledge is your friend, folks.

Ask other people who have attended the parade in prior years for their advice for viewing, seating (do people bring chairs or is it standing only), how to get there, when will streets be shut down, where to park, etc. If you don’t know anyone who has attended the parade before, go online to find answers. Or you can be like me and call the local municipality that’s hosting the parade. It’s their job to answer your most burning questions and they love it when someone isn’t calling to complain. Truly.

Also, for the love of your sanity, know the parade route. It will, most likely, be published online. This is good for a variety of reasons such as helping you decide where to watch the parade. It also helps you understand road closures that will impede your commute to and from the event. Traffic is probably going to be messed up, so take a deep breath, allow extra time and just go with the flow detour.

At the recent St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin we understood the road closures, but we were not fully aware of the public transportation closures. Not all of the train stations were open on parade day, so we had to walk a bit further to catch a train home…in the rain. Lesson learned.

The last thing to know before you go? Ask yourself if you and your kids can handle it? Really handle it.

I’ve often dragged my kids somewhere and then been upset because they had a meltdown halfway through. Of course we weren’t having fun then. Neither was I. Their behavior was less about them and more about me putting them in a situation they weren’t ready to handle. If you have really little kids that will miss a nap or won’t stay in a stroller or cannot handle waiting, then by all means, wait another year. This is about making good memories, not about souring them (and yourself) on the experience.

Tip #3: Come Prepared

You need to channel your inner Boy Scout for this one. Be prepared. You could be waiting a good long while for the parade to start. Plus, the parade itself could last over an hour. Food, water and something for the kids to do while you wait will be lifesavers.

At the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin, I knew we’d have to stake out our spot if we wanted to keep it. I also knew the parade started at lunch time and the restaurants would be extra busy. That was a hassle I didn’t want to deal with, so I packed a lunch.

As far as pre-parade entertainment, we arrived at 10 a.m. for a 12 p.m. parade. It was closer to 12:30 by the time the parade reached our spot. That’s a lot of waiting no matter if you are 5 or 50. We brought books and tablets to keep the kids busy. Kids might be able to jump on a trampoline for 2 hours straight, but to ask them to stand perfectly still behind a parade barricade for 2 hours is pretty much Mission Impossible. My kids sat on the ground and read their books, played their games, ate their lunch and then popped up every now and then to see what was happening around us. They were entertained and I wasn’t stressed about them getting lost in a crowd of strangers.

How we’ve chosen to handle the parade wait has been different for every single parade we’ve attended. Figure out what works for you given the parade circumstances and the ages of your children.

Tip #4: Bring Reinforcements

Especially if you have younger kids, it’s always good when the adult to child ratio is in your favor. Grandparents are lifesavers when it comes to this!

In terms of keeping kids entertained before the parade starts, there is nothing better than having friends along. Yes, thankfully, friends beat out books and technology in our house. Human interaction for the win!

If you can plan to watch the parade with someone else, it will add to the experience (aka the fun) for all.

Tip #5: Know the Weather

This comes back to being prepared, but you have to know what the weather might do during the parade. For those summer parades, do you have sunscreen, a hat, water, a fan, etc? For the parades where the weather might not be so nice, do you have rain gear and warm clothes?

For the Dublin parade I packed small blankets and even garbage bags. Garbage bags can be versatile if you need to make a dry place to sit, a bag to hold parade loot, or to fashion a makeshift poncho.

In case you are wondering, yes, I sometimes feel like a sherpa hauling all of this stuff around in my backpack. But the one time I don’t is the one time I need it.

The guys in the below photo? Let’s just say I hope their arm paint was waterproof because it started raining halfway through the parade. Major bummer, but the show must go on!

Tip #6: Decide in Advance Where You Want to View the Parade

I know plenty of people who never wait for a parade to start. They will always show up 30 minutes late and somehow find a place to stand to view the festivities. It helps that they are tall.

I prefer to view the parade from the start of the route. Especially when you are attending the event with children, it’s just less waiting time. If the parade starts at noon and it starts on time, it still will take several minutes for the parade to travel even a few blocks.

Plus, the performers in the parade are still giving it 110% at the start of the parade. By the end of the parade…they might be a little less enthusiastic. Or they’ve run out of candy to throw. Or they are drenched and their poor fingers are too cold to play the tuba like they usually do.

I don’t even want to know what happens to the poor lady walking on stilts…

Tip #7: Slightly Dehydrate

I’m not telling you to dehydrate yourself or your kids. That would be bad and I’m not qualified to give you medical advice. Not qualified.

What I am saying is it might be hard to find a bathroom at a parade. So if you know you are going to be standing outside for 2 hours before a parade starts, you might not want to give the kids that extra juice box right before you leave the house. Some parades set up extra toilets to handle the demand…some don’t. Or they don’t have near enough toilets.

Better yet, pick a strategic parade viewing spot close to a bathroom. It’s not the worst idea ever. Perhaps that’s what this guy was looking for…

Tip #8: Get in the Spirit

Part of the fun of attending a parade is getting yourself in the spirit. This might mean wearing green to a St. Patrick’s Day parade, wearing a Santa Hat to a Christmas parade, etc.

It also means cheering and clapping when the parade floats go by. I’ve been to parades where the attendees burst out into song and it pretty much made my year!

Tip #9: Be Respectful and Aware

Cultural Respect:
Pay attention to any cultural or patriotic customs that are observed during a parade and be respectful. For instance, in the United States it is customary to stand when the American Flag passes by at the start of the parade.

Other countries may have their own customs. Be culturally aware of what’s happening around you to prevent a faux pas.

Personal Space? Forget About it! So, Be Aware:
Especially if you are going to a standing room only parade, be prepared to have your personal sense of space violated. There will be crowding. Lots of crowding.

If someone is too invasive, then just politely remind them that, for instance, your child’s head is not a tripod base for their cell phone camera. Most people like that will just move on after you’ve gently reminded them to be considerate.

Make sure any valuables are safely tucked away or protected if you know people are going to be bumping up against you. Don’t leave money, keys or phones in your back pockets and be careful about jacket pockets. Just be cautious and aware.

Tip #10: Put Away The Camera

Take a few photos to remember the parade, but after that, put away the camera.

Seriously, put it away.

Be present in the moment.

Watch your children’s reactions to the outrageously amazing floats that go by. Take time to notice all the details that you don’t when you’re viewing life through your phone screen.

The best memories of all won’t be the ones you capture on your screen. They will be the ones you capture with your heart.

Trust me. You won’t regret it.

I do love a parade. I don’t care if they are cheesey. It is incredibly heartwarming to see hundreds or even thousands of people with different backgrounds and viewpoints come together for one moment in time.

And for that one moment, they are all in agreement over the simple premise that parades rock! They enthusiastically cheer on the kids in the marching band, the horses, the pooper scooper guy, the grand marshall in the convertible, the firefighters, the local carpet cleaner’s mascot. It’s a big community love fest and it reminds you of the good in humanity.

If you are thinking about attending a parade with children, I hope one or more of these tips help make your experience happy and memorable.