Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Family Date Night: A Recipe for the BEST Christmas Gift Ever #sponsor

This sponsored post is written by me on behalf of UncommonGoods. All opinions are my own. 

Weaving tales with Rory's Story Cubes from UncommonGoods

Do you love the holidays? Or do they inspire stress-induced cold sweats?! For me, I'll be completely candid - there's a little of both all rolled together.

Delight and dread. That's not the most festive combination, I know. But here's what I mean...

The holidays are a time to pause, unplug, and just be with loved ones. They are a time to cuddle up with mugs of hot chocolate while you watch a favorite movie with the kids, construct gingerbread mansions, and host festive dinner parties with friends. That's what I adore about the holidays.

But the holidays are also, inevitably, a time when school and work deadlines brutally collide with cookie decorating parties, cocktail soirees, end-of-the-year fundraisers, and more.

The biggest question that looms in my mind at this time of year is always: what do I give to so-and-so for Christmas? What do I give to my husband? What do I give to the boys? What about my best friends? The kids' teachers??

Over the years, my gift-giving has evolved into something more purposeful. I've learned that the best Christmas present you can give to someone is time. Time together. Time that's dedicated to fun. Time that's all about etching memories in minds.

D asked me once, "Why do you and Daddy leave us with a babysitter to go on a date?"

Well, because I love Daddy and it's important for us to spend time together, having fun.

His next question was completely logical. "So, when do R and I get to go on a date with you and Daddy, too? We love you and we like to have fun with you."

Good point. And, so, our family date nights were born.

So, that is the filter - the gift of time - through which I select presents these days. To that end, I have partnered with UncommonGoods to share a recipe for the best Christmas gift ever. A family date night.

What to Know About...

UncommonGoods is a company that this tree-hugging gal from California wholeheartedly adores. At the root of the company is an ardent respect for the creative individual. Their business practices are rooted in the belief that they have a responsibility to impact the world in a positive way.

See! We really do hug trees.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, New York, UncommonGoods is a privately-owned retailer whose mission is to shine the spotlight on unique products and handcrafted gifts and provide a sales venue for artists and designers. All of their products are produced without harm to animals or people.

While I have enjoyed every product I've ever received from them - and I've been purchasing from them for years now - here's what really gets me smiling: half of what they sell is made by hand, a majority of their products are created right here in the United States; and nearly a third of their entire collection incorporates recycled and/or upcycled materials.

Browse their gifts collections for your sweetheart, for those smaller humans in your life, or for your best girlfriends or yourself.

For this UncommonGoods-sponsored post about Christmas gifts, I am sharing my recipe for the best gift ever: the family date night.*

You can browse their Christmas gift collection here to come up with your own combinations. Like all good recipes, I hope this inspires you to get creative and mix it up!

Family Date Night: 
The BEST Christmas Gift Ever
Family Fun Bucket List from UncommonGoods

Ingredients
  • Your family
  • No external distractions
  • Something to eat
  • Something to drink
  • Something to do
  • optional: a roaring fire, your favorite tunes

Procedure
Your family: Gather everyone together. It doesn't matter if it's in the dining room, the family room, the living room, or the backyard. Just all be in the same place at the same time.

No external distractions: Shut off all devices. Yes, this is very important! Your family deserves your undivided attention; and you deserve theirs. Let the phone calls go to voicemail.

Something to eat: Make it fun. If cooking is not your thing, order your favorite take-out. If, like my family, you love to cook, UncommonGoods has a variety of tools for a culinary adventure. Check out their kitchen tool offerings here. I have been eyeing this, this, and this. A girl can dream, right?

We broke out the aprons, the baking sheets, the UncommonGoods' empanda fork (here), and we made Empanadas Mendocinas for our family date night dinner.


My Precise Kitchen Elf called the empanada fork an 'Empanada Generator' because he's really into electronics and because it helped him and the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf whip out three dozen empanadas much more quickly than usual. While they worked, they argued about who owned the empanada fork. "Mom, R likes empanadas more than I do...but what gadget do I get to have if that's his?" Really?!?

R and the Empanada Fork from UncommonGoods

If you want to make your own empanadas, our slightly non-traditional recipe can be found here. And, truly, the empanada fork doubled our production in the same amount of time. No more pressing the tines of a fork tediously around each and every pastry. What a timesaver!

Something to drink: Make it fun. Family Date Night is a time for special sips. For the kids, that usually means homemade syrup mixed with sparkling water as commercial soda is verboten in our household. For me and my Love, it usually means uncorking a nice bottle of red or hand-crafting a cocktail. 

I love the glassware that UncommonGoods offers. From elegant to chunky and austere to themed, it's as fun as it is useful. Check out the glassware collection here

My UncommonGoods stemless wine glasses, in the photo below, are hefty enough to survive being toppled by little hands, have a unique feel with their grape-like bumps, and are made from recycled glass. I only wish I had four more!

Caramel Tasting with Caramel Sampler from UncommonGoods

Something to do: Make it fun.You can play games. You can talk. Whatever you do, just make sure that everyone is involved and everyone is smiling. UncommonGoods has a wide variety of games and puzzles. See their game offerings here. Rory's Story Cubes (here), in the photo at the top, have been a family favorite for years and now we're happily scribbling dates and making plans with our Family Fun Bucket List (here).

Our something to do was actually our dessert course. I set up a caramel tasting, using UncommonGoods' caramel sampler (here). What a fun collection! We tasted caramel in flavors from butter to lavender and sesame seeds to pepper.


Six different caramels, miniature apples, and a tasting note card made for some amusing conversations. "Why do you like that one? It tastes like a weed!" Interestingly enough, out of the six caramels, two bubbled to the top as favorites. But our palates diverged. D and I enjoyed the Chewy Sesame Caramel about which Jake scribbled "strange, unworthy" on his tasting card. R and Jake thought the Spicy Chili topped the charts while I thought it tasted like a raisin.


Speaking of conversations, we used Table Topics (here) to spawn some interesting discussions. We only made it through half a dozen cards before the boys wanted to cuddle up and watch a movie. So, we'll be using this for months or longer. I had selected the "What Would You Do?" set that explores "the gray areas" of life.

"If a species of fish is on the brink of extinction will you order it in a restaurant?" asked one of the cards.

Table Topics - "What Would You Do?" Set - from UncommonGoods

My husband and I automatically, and rapidly, answered negatively. "No way!" we exclaimed, almost in unison. I was shocked when the boys, both conscientious eaters who question me about the sustainability of our seafood purchases, hesitated. Their articulate answers gave me pause.

D asserted, "Well, just because an animal species is labeled as 'endangered' doesn't mean that that particular specimen is endangered. I mean, maybe that piece was farmed and it doesn't affect the wild population at all." R admitted, "We do eat a lot of weird things. What if I didn't know it was endangered until after I left the restaurant? I still did order it. I can't say never." I guess the answer is not as unambiguous as I had initially thought. Now, they battle about who gets to read the next card. So far, we've explored altruism, justice vs. mercy, and more. I'm enjoying getting to see how their minds work.

So, do you see the underlying thread of a family date night? Be together. Have fun. That's it!

These smiles...they're the best present ever. You can't buy smiles. But you can certainly find some unique gifts that help in making those memories come to life. Best. Christmas. Gift. Ever.


*Disclosure: I received complimentary products, of my choosing, from UncommonGoods for the creation of this post. This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.*

Find UncommonGoods
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on Google+: here

2 comments:

  1. Fantastic post! I'm a huge Uncommon Goods fan too, and what a great way to incorporate some of their very cool products into your family date night, Camilla!

    ReplyDelete

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