This Memorial Day weekend will be more meaningful than ever.

We’ve all been missing social interaction with our extended family and friends. We’ve been missing the freedom to do what we want, when we want. And, we’ve been missing celebrations like birthday parties and graduations. As folks slowly begin to transition back to small group gatherings, make the most of your time together over the long weekend. Cherish the time you have to bond with your family over the holiday, and find fun ways to celebrate the little things. If you’re staying home this Memorial Day weekend, here are eight great ways to make it special.

1. CELEBRATE THE TRUE MEANING OF THE HOLIDAY

Start Memorial Day weekend off right by teaching your family the true meaning of the holiday: to honor those you have fought for the freedom of our country. If you know any veterans, help your kids make cards to thank them. Brush up on your US history and plan a trivia night for a fun way to learn it. Decorate your house and yard with flags and make a patriotic craft or dessert with your kids. Plan your own Memorial Day parade by decorating bikes or wagons with red, white and blue and riding through your neighborhood.

2. CELEBRATE THE START OF SUMMER

Memorial Day weekend traditionally marks the beginning of summer, and you can kick it off right with a Welcome Summer Party! The days are getting longer and the weather is getting warmer, so break out the summer fun like water balloons, sprinklers and popsicles. It’s the perfect time to take advantage of sunny days and milder nights.

Get everyone outside, put on some sunscreen and play all day in the summer sun and all night under the stars.Some of the most interesting art activities can involve nature and observing the world around them. Plus, being outside means that you can be a little more messy which is a great opportunity for a tie dye kit or mosaic stone kit. You can also include supplies to paint so many fun outdoor projects like birdhouses, garden pots and pet rocks.

3. CELEBRATE AN EXTRA DAY

Memorial Day Weekend gives you an opportunity for a whole extra day with no work and no school work. Take advantage of the long weekend by sharing your favorite activities with your family. If you love music, plan a backyard dance party or download a new album to listen to together. Love food? Make a new recipe with your kids or try a new take-out restaurant. If you love art, buy a craft kit or some paints to start on a new group project. Or, if you love to garden, plan and plant a family garden. Make the long weekend count and take advantage of every minute by enjoying the day together and really bonding over shared activities.

4. CELEBRATE BACKYARD FUN

If you have concerns about heading to the public park or beach over Memorial Day weekend, just don’t go. There are so many ways to have a great holiday celebration without ever leaving your own backyard. Pull out the grill and some paper plates and enjoy the simplicity of cooking outside. Set up some backyard games like corn hole, Bocce ball, volleyball or badminton. Fill a cooler with drinks and kick back in your lawn chairs.

Better yet, get the whole family active with Capture the Flag REDUX. It’s the classic Capture the Flag revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Just like the traditional game, players split into teams and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the flag. But unlike the classic, the flag is now a glowing orb and players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members and glowing jail markers.

5. CELEBRATE A STAY-CATION

Sure vacation is fun, but if you aren’t able to leave town, create your own stay-cation at home. A stay-cation lets you enjoy the long weekend without the cost or hassle of a traditional vacation, and it can be equally relaxing and fun. Step one is to put away your work emails and house chores. Step two is to plan fun stay-cation actives: take in some movies, go on long bike rides, soak up the sun, eat some junky food and read some junky magazines. And, if you need to make if simpler, just remember: eat, play, nap, repeat.

6. CELEBRATE THE END OF SCHOOL

We’re SURE you’ll miss being a stand-in teacher, but as the school work begins to wind down for the year, celebrate your children’s efforts as well as your own. Let Memorial Day weekend be a chance for them to put down their pencils, unwind from a stressful semester of digital learning and just play. Free play can be a great way for kids to learn creativity and build their imaginations. And, family gamily night is the ideal way to teach them strategy and teamwork. Let loose with some extra fun family activities like a slumber party on the family room floor or in a tent outside. Arrange an ice cream sundae party with all of the toppings. Stay up late, eat snacks and play together as a family.

Just because you’re stuck at home doesn’t mean you can’t make this Easter a great one.

If your Easter bunny has been too busy social distancing to shop for baskets for your family… don’t panic. There is still time to compose a really fun basket of spring goodies that you can either order online or shop online and pick up at retailers. While candy and chocolate are always a good start, consider adding a few Easter toys or games that fit your child’s individual personality. With the days and nights starting to get warmer, it’s the perfect time to choose ones that will get your kids outside and active no matter what their specific interests are. So hop to it!

FOR THE EXPLORER BUNNY…

Spring is the ideal time to get outdoors and let kids explore their environment. If your child is curious about nature, look for fun explorer kits with magnifying glasses, bug catchers and binoculars to stick in their basket. If your kids are older, consider a microscope, compass or other camping gear. Be sure to include an age-appropriate book on nature so that they can look up and identify the bugs, birds and plants around them. If they are more of a night owl, consider a headlamp, night vision goggles or a telescope with a chart of the constellations.

FOR THE ARTISTIC BUNNY…

Capture the magic of the spring season with an assortment of art supplies for your budding Picasso. Include sidewalk chalk, watercolors, markers and a sketch book.

Some of the most interesting art activities can involve nature and observing the world around them. Plus, being outside means that you can be a little more messy which is a great opportunity for a tie dye kit or mosaic stone kit. You can also include supplies to paint so many fun outdoor projects like birdhouses, garden pots and pet rocks.

FOR THE ACTIVE BUNNY…

GLOW BATTLE. There is a really fun selection of basket-worthy active games that you can still order online at starluxgames.com. Glow Battle is a great game to get the whole family outside and moving. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons.  Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets have a base to “recharge” after they get hit. It’s a fun and fast-paced glowing game that incorporates speed with strategy. One of the best Easter games to burn off all the energy they’ll have from their Easter candy! Available here.

A family plays Glow Battle in their living room.

FOR THE ATHLETIC BUNNY…

You’ll win big when you customize your athletic-lover’s basket by adding fun sports gadgets and balls. Go for a classic collection of footballs, baseball gloves and tennis rackets, or mix it up with some non traditional outdoor sports toys like a disc golf, spike ball or bocce ball set. Spring time is the best time to let your little athlete get their sports fix. It’s also a great time to stock up on training gear like cones and jump ropes and hula hoops – all exciting and fun ways to brighten up their basket. Plus, the whole family can team up for some friendly, competitive Easter games.

FOR THE BACKYARD BUNNY…

Capture is the Flag REDUX is the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights, and can be the centerpiece of a basket for your whole family. Bring your backyard to life at night as you team up to break players out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win. Each game box includes two glowing orbs to use as the “flags,” color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members, glowing jail markers, and a rulebook. As an extra bonus, each kit includes 12 game variation cards that offer even more ways to play Capture the Flag, as well as other games. Available here.

No school? No problem.

“School is cancelled” may be one of the scariest phrases that a parent can ever hear. All of a sudden, you are faced with a day or (gasp) multiple days with your kids in your house, and you’re just minutes away from hearing them saying “I’m bored” every ten minutes. Before you know it, your pulse begins to race and you start to sweat as you wonder how on earth you will keep your kids active and entertained in the endless hours or maybe days ahead. Don’t panic – stay calm and check out these fresh and fun cabin fever relievers for when you’re stuck at home: 

A girl holding four balloons jumps in the air as if they are lifting her off the ground.

1. BALLOON OLYMPICS

The summer olympics may be postponed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stage your own! Balloons are inexpensive and can be full of more than just hot air. They can be full of fun and imagination, crazy games, whacky challenges and silly pranks. Stock up on balloons of different shapes and sizes at your house and pull them out when you need some quick and easy entertainment. Whoever takes home the gold gets a week off from doing dishes!

• When it comes to Balloon Volleyball, there are no official rules and making them up as you go is part of the fun. Determine some boundaries, pick sides and keep the balloon in the air as long as you can. 

• Balloon tennis is a variation where you grab whatever you want such as a ping pong paddle, a badminton racket, or a book and whack the balloon to your opponent’s side to get points.

• Pick teams and have Balloon Relay Races down the hall or across the room. Take turns running with a balloon to a chair and then sit on it until it pops, and run back to tag your teammate.

Three balloons are tied to a toddler who crawls on the ground.

2. PLAN AN OLD SCHOOL NIGHT

Turns out, a trip back in time might just be the thing you need to create some new memories together. Spend the day letting the parents pick their favorite childhood meals or snacks, stack your music playlist with classic tunes from back in the day, and play some old school games.

A Family plays Capture the Flag.

• Look for a new twist on an old classic like Capture the Flag Redux. It’s like the traditional Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate teams, and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory and steal the glowing orb.

• Make a playlist of your favorite old-school music, have everyone dress in their best 80s wardrobe (or whatever decade you choose!) and have a dance party! Or watch a movie from the same decade.

• Play an old-school team game of kickball or wiffle ball outside or inside with a small foam ball. Tell your kids stories about how you used to play outside until the sun went down. Let them roll their eyes a time or two.

A small boy dressed in business casual wear gasps as he holds a book.

3. FAMILY STYLE TED TALKS

Let each family member put together a fun presentation about a topic they’re passionate about, and then have a presentation party. It can be about why pizza is good for you, or how video games increase coordination or anything really. You can even let them dress up if they want. Leave time for a Q&A session! Check out the most popular TED talks of all time here.

• If you have laptops that your kids are able to use, let them practice their powerpoint skills by creating a simple presentation. It’s also a great way to practice their speaking skills in a fun, relaxed atmosphere.

• If you don’t want to use laptops, have them create a poster of their topic and give them a pointer or ruler to do their presentation.

A family plays Glow Battle in their living room.

4. GLOW FOR IT!

When the days get long, turn out the lights for shining afternoon or evening of excitement. Be sure to stock up on glowing goodies like flashlights and batteries, glow bracelets and a few fun glow games. Glowing products are an exciting way to add a spark to any long day at home.

• Flashlight tag is an undeniably fun way to have a blast and also instill some thrill into your home bound crew. Players go around hiding from the person shining their flashlight. When the beam catches them, the flashlight switches hands, and they are it.

Glow Battle is a light-up battle game can be played outside, but is also great fun indoors, too. Simply clear some space, dim the lights and hand out the glowing batons. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent. And come on, don’t pretend you wouldn’t love to thwack each other a bit after being stuck together all day!

• Play Glow and Seek, just like hide and seek in the dark while wearing neon glow bracelets.

5. FAMILY CAMPOUT

• If you have an indoor fireplace or a backyard firepit, grill some hot dogs over the open flames.

• When you’re cozied up by the fire, have everyone take turns telling ghost stories or funny stories. If you don’t have a fire, pass a flashlight around and illuminate their face while they tell their tales.

• Play a spooky glow-in-the-dark game like Wizards and Werewolves. It is a pulse-pounding outdoor game that pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting competition of speed, skill and wits.

A family plays Wizards & Werewolves in their yard.

6. HELP YOUR NEIGHBORS

Even when they’re not in school, kids can still learn valuable lessons. And, there is no better lesson you can teach your kids than to think about others.

A girl rake's leaves in the yard.

• A day out of school can be the ideal time to help an elderly neighbor by shoveling snow, raking leaves, walking their dog, grocery shopping or bringing their trash can in for them.

• Deliver some happiness to friends or neighbors with a secret care package left at their door. Include some fun treats, kids’ artwork or a nice note. You just might realize that you worry a little less about your own problems when you put others first.

Military life comes with its own unique stressors. Here are some of our favorite ways to let off some steam as a family.

Military families face many challenges. While they are supporting their family members in uniform, they’re often also dealing with the strain from frequent moves on top of the normal challenges of having a family.  This makes it incredibly important for military families to become active in their communities, have healthy and fun games to relieve stress and find ways to keep family members connected with each other.
If you’re in the military, we’ve put together a list of ways to help you do just that!  

Five boys run happily on a trail through a field.

1. STAY ACTIVE

Studies show that almost any kind of physical activity can reduce stress. If your family is feeling the strain from a deployment or other military family challenges, find an active hobby that you all can do together. 

• Start a family garden and let each family member plan what they want to plant in their corner of the garden or yard. 

• Find an upcoming local race and train for it as a family.

• Visit the recreation center or gym and take classes together. 

• Search for physical fitness opportunities like joining a local swim team, training in martial arts or even creating an obstacle course in your backyard. 

A person crouches low to the ground as they plant seeds in a garden.
Kids run around a living room with glow batons from their Glow Battle kit.

• Choose a Glow Battle kit to play a number of active family battle games. Just find an open space, identify your teams with the different colored glowing bracelets, and break out the swords of light. Then, use the harmless, glowing batons to attack your opponent and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Glow battles are a great way to keep your family active, teach your kids strategy and encourage social interaction.

2. SOAK UP YOUR SURROUNDINGS

Frequently relocating as a military family to new places can be scary for both kids and adults alike. Conquer your fear of the unknown by going out as a family and exploring together.

A family of three stands smiling on a path in a forest with their dog.

• Adapt to your new environment by trying new restaurants and exploring local shops and farmer’s markets.

• Visit a museum and soak up some history, science or culture. Be sure to ask about discounted tickets for military families!

• Learn a new language. Frequently moving may mean that you encounter diverse cultures and languages. Inquire at your local college or cultural centers and see if they have opportunities to learn a foreign language. You can also search for online courses or phone apps like Duolingo to easily learn a few new words a day. 

• Check out the local parks to give your family a chance to meet new friends, and also get outside and get moving.

• Take family cooking classes. Trying new foods and recipes is an ideal way to embrace your new community and the local flavors and traditions.

3. SPEND TIME TOGETHER

One of the realities of military family life is that you are often separated for long periods of time. When you do have time together as a family, make it count. Choose some fun rewarding activities that you can do together as a family.

• Create traditions with family friendly competitions of some kind. Consider a family corn hole tournament, scavenger hunt, talent show, or sports championship like backyard volleyball, wiffle ball or flag football. You can even make a funny trophy for the winners to keep and flaunt their victory.

• Compile a collection of your family’s favorite board games for a weekly game night. Classics such as Scrabble, Monopoly, Uno or Life are good games to get you started.

• Volunteer together as a family. It will help you connect to your community while you connect as a family. Inquire at local animal shelters, parks, soup kitchens, churches or community centers for volunteer opportunities.

A group of kids play Capture the Flag REDUX.

• Play a neighborhood favorite with Capture the Flag REDUX. It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. What better way to spend time as a family or meet some new friends? Each game box includes two glowing orbs to use as the “flags,” color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members, glowing jail markers, and a rulebook. Available here.

Keep them Active, give their social skills a Boost and encourage Creativity.

Playing a variety of games can be an important part of a daily routine for every child, but especially for kids who are homeschooled. The power of playing games can have an amazing effect on kids. Not only does it provide kids with the obvious chance to have fun, but games can give children the opportunity to develop valuable skills such as strategic and creative thinking, as well as social and teamwork skills. Games that get kids up and moving have the added perk of providing ever-important physical fitness benefits, and it’s easier than you may think to have all these benefits with homeschool games.

Kids that are homeschooled have the unique flexibility to be able to play games as a part of their daily curriculum. Active games can serve as physical education development for these kids, as well as offering so many teachable moments and hands-on, experiential learning. A good arsenal of games includes those that offer a combination of these benefits.

A girl runs through a field

A is for Active

CHOOSE GAMES THAT ENCOURAGE PHYSICAL ACTIVITY. Homeschool curriculum should include games that keep kids active for a number of reasons. The obvious reason is that all kids need activity and exercise to keep their bodies healthy. In addition, studies show that exercise can boost thinking skills and that being outside can improve mood, creativity and even IQ. Make time each day to get your kids active and outside if the weather is permitting. Choose games that involve running, jumping, stretching and tagging. Our favorites are:  

RED LIGHT – GREEN LIGHT
One player is “it” and stands with their back to the others. When the player yells “green light” the others move towards them until they yell “red light” and spin around. Players must freeze before being seen by the “it” player or go back to the starting line. The first person to reach the “it” player wins! 

MOTHER MAY I
The chosen “mother” faces away from the other players some distance from them and answers yes or no to their question of “Mother May I _____.” The blank should be some movement to get the player across the room. For instance, “Mother may I take four kangaroo hops?” or “Mother may I duck walk for three seconds?” The Mother answers no if players are reaching them too quickly, but they must also give an alternative movement by saying, “No you may not do that, but you may _____.” The first person to reach Mother wins! 

FREEZE TAG
Okay, we all know this one. One person is “it,” and if you’re tagged you have to freeze. Here are a few new versions to try:

  • TOILET TAG: When players are frozen they must get down on one knee and put their arm out to the side. To unfreeze them, another player sits on their knee and “flushes” the toilet.
  • SHADOW TAG: The “it” player has to stay in the shadow of something (a tree, building or fence all work). The other players have to run in and out of the shadow but can only be tagged when they’re in it.
  • CATEGORIES TAG: To unfreeze someone, a player has to tag them and call out something that belongs to whatever category you choose. Try movies, books, animals, countries — anything you’d like!

GLOW BATTLE
It’s an exciting game of fast-paced running and dueling. Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets, and you can play with 2 to 20 players anywhere that you have open space. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons.

B is for Boost

CHOOSE GAMES THAT BOOST SOCIAL SKILLS & TEACH TEAMWORK. Studies show that social interaction is important for children’s physical health as well as their mental well-being. Because homeschool kids often have less exposure to social situations during the school day, it’s important for them to learn social skills from other activities like homeschool games. This can include gathering with friends and family to play games that teach teamwork and require cooperation, leadership and decision-making skills. Here’s just a few of our favorites: 

FRISBEE H-O-R-S-E
It’s like the basketball game but with a frisbee! Players choose a target for their frisbee and try to hit it. If players don’t hit the target, they get a letter. Last person to spell HORSE wins! Plays as individuals or on teams.

CAPTURE THE FLAG REDUX
It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights and the perfect choice to play with friends as the sun goes down after a day of home-schooling. It will foster teamwork and interaction, as players break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win.

RELAY RACES
Try out these variations!

  • PENGUIN RELAY: Players hold an object between their ankles or knees as they waddle to the next team member. If it falls, you have to start over!
  • SLIP N’ SLIDE RELAY: Set up two slip n’ slides. Players can start at the bottom or top of the slide, but they must run up the hill and slide all the way down before tagging the next player in.
  • SAKHLI RELAY: Players stand in a line and put their left hand under the legs of the person in front of them and grab the hand of the other player with their right hand to form a chain. Run to the end and back without breaking the chain to win! This can also be played as a game of tag where the chain keeps growing with every tagged player.


C IS FOR CREATIVITY

CHOOSE GAMES THAT INSPIRE CREATIVE & STRATEGIC THINKING. Sometimes thinking outside of the box is the best know-how of all. Although critical and strategic thinking skills don’t fully develop until adolescence, the foundations for them can begin in childhood. Initiating homeschool games that require kids to think critically, discuss strategy and encourage creativity are a great way for homeschool parents to help strengthen these skills. Look for games that spark the imagination and foster creativity to keep young minds active and challenged. Giant outside yard games like Jenga and Connect Four encourage strategic thinking while home-made games like scavenger hunts or treasure maps develop creativity.


HOMEMADE SCAVENGER HUNT
Try dividing into two to have one team devise a treasure map for the other. Then, both teams start at the same time to see who finds all the treasure first. 

WIZARDS & WEREWOLVES
Bring fantasy to life in this outdoor game of hunting, hiding and howling! Play as a Wizard to search for glowing crystals or bare your teeth and hunt as a Werewolf. This unique game blends imagination with physical activity and is best played after the sun goes down. 

DIY BRAND NEW GAME
You can even let your homeschooler make up their very own active games. Provide them with a variety of sports equipment such as bean bags, jump ropes, hula hoops and different sized balls. Let them develop the rules and name the game. Change the equipment up each week to provide inspiration. You can even provide a variety of recycled goods such as plastic bottles or cardboard boxes. One week, they may create a bowling alley with 2 liter bottles and duct tape. The next week, they may want to create and master their own miniature golf course with foam pool noodles and empty metal cans. With your supervision, bring out the spray paint and let them paint a hopscotch or twister game on the grass.

With these basic ABCs for homeschool games, there is no limit to their active imaginations. Whatever you choose to play, keep them Active, give them a Boost and encourage Creativity. Make it a part of your daily or weekly routine and watch as the benefits take hold.

Everything You Need to Know About Nerf and Other Foam Weaponry

Did you know that enough Nerf darts have been sold over the last five years to circle our planet four times around? The count is somewhere over 4 billion darts since the inception of the product. Yes, seriously, someone did the math. If you are a parent, you may feel like you’ve picked up that same number of foam darts off of your living room floor or in your kids’ play area. What is the crazy attraction that kids have to these foam fighting toys? Here is the low-down on Nerf guns, darts, bullets and other harmless foam-based weaponry.

Four small photos each show a different kid playing with a different nerf gun.

What Does Nerf Stand For?

Nerf is a brand of toys and guns that was created by Parker Brothers and is owned by the worldwide toy company, Hasbro. Sources say that NERF™ may be an acronym for “Non-Expanding Recreational Foam” or may have been created as a backronym after the toys came into existence. Although Nerf products started with sports balls (most notably the American football) the majority of the toys now are the foam-based guns. These guns, referred to as blasters, shoot ammunition including darts and balls made from Nerf foam. These foam-based weapons have taken today’s generation by storm. While it’s fun to toss around a Nerf football, shooting your friends with an arsenal of foam balls is a whole new level of excitement.

The foam-based universe has now expanded to include games with glowing swords, axes and the like. Whatever your kid (or you!) are looking for, it’s out there.

A close up of a hand holding a nerf gun against a blurred background.

What Are The Best Nerf Products? 

Apparently, there is a Nerf gun line for every type of personality. Currently, there are 18 lines of different Nerf blasters. They include: N-Strike Elite, Alien Menace, Dart Tag, Vortex, Zombie Strike, and many, MANY more.

There are also Nerf alternatives that use similarly harmless weapons but offer different modes of play.  Take Glow Battle for instance.  Rather than use guns, players battle each other using glowing foam swords.

Based on several review sites, here’s the low down on the best foam weapon products:

NAMEINCLUDESRECOMMENDED FOR

N-Strike Elite Strong-arm Blaster Nerf Gun
Revolver-style gun and six-dart rapid firing capability that can shoot up to 75 feet
Easy dart loading and automatic firing

Warriors Mark Axe Throwing
Target, two axes, wall hangerLess space to run
Glow Battle10 glowing swords, 10 light-up bracelets, all batteriesGroups, evening/night play, all ages, a more active game
Massive Monster Mayhem: Hero’s HammerA double-sided foam hammerImpersonating Thor
REALHUNLEE Training NunchucksFoam nunchucks with steel chainMartial arts training
Five yellow nerf darts lay against a white background.

Do Nerf Darts Come In Different Sizes?

Yes! If you’re purchasing a nerf shooter, you’ll need to know some basic info about the different sizes. Nerf nerds may know that there are a variety of specific nerf bullets and darts to load in your weapons. For the Nerf novice, we will start with the three main types of Nerf darts.

Traditional:Original style. Smallest and safest. Have most design variety.
Mega:Significantly larger. Whistle when they fly through air. Bright color makes them easier to see – which may be of little consolation to moms picking them up.
High Impact Rounds:Fastest and hardest hitting darts. Small foam balls that bounce around. Harder to find. Recommended for ages 14+

Psst… If you’re sick and tired of picking up Nerf darts, stepping on them in the middle of the night or extracting them from your vacuum, Glow Battle is your new best friend. With a few swords instead of a hundred darts, clean up could not be easier. And yes, we admit it: we have a vested reason for telling you about Glow Battle: we produce it!

A young boy wearing goggles holds a nerf gun with both hands.

Are Nerf Toys Dangerous?

Generally speaking, Nerf toys are fairly safe, though the Nerf guns should cause a bit more pause than other types of foam toys. You should always read the manufacturer’s recommendations and guidelines. Most Nerf toys are designed for children ages 8 and up, with a few models specifically made for older children, so be sure to purchase accordingly. Adult supervision is also recommended during play. Plus, there are few precautions to take that will help you avoid accidental injuries during a Nerf battle. These include:

  1. Never aim at anyone’s face, head or eyes. Even foam can do damage when it is fired at a close enough range.
  2. Never look into the barrel of a Nerf gun, even if you don’t think it is loaded. An accidental discharge could damage an eyeball.
  3. Ideally, protective googles should be worn during battle as a direct hit to the eye could cause injury.
  4. Do not try to modify the Nerf guns or darts to shoot faster or harder. Tampering with the toys could cause serious damage or injuries.

What Are The Best Nerf Alternatives?

So what is a parent to do if their kids want the thrill of battle, but you are hesitant about introducing guns into their world? Or maybe as a parent, you worry about the projectile-type injuries that could possibly come with foam blasters? Well, there are a variety of other harmless foam based weaponry that will satisfy your youngsters’ thirst for strategy and competition without encouraging them to point guns at each other. Our personal favorite, of course is:

GLOW BATTLE FROM STARLUX GAMES

Five kids stand ready for action as they hold glow batons.

Glow Battle is the epic foam-based battle game for 2 to 10 players. Players use harmless glowing foam batons to strategize and take down their opponents. First, identify your teams with the included different colored LED bracelets. Then, use strategy, teamwork, and your own warrior instincts to team up and attack your opponent, and send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. It’s a great way to keep your kids active, teach them strategy and encourage social interaction. Physical activity becomes part of the fun as players run, jump and swing at each other to win. Each game box comes with 10 weapons, 10 glowing wristbands, 8 regeneration station markers and 10 game playing cards with different game variations.

Got Preteens? Here Are Some Gift Ideas You Can Feel Good About Giving.

The holidays are here and whether the preteens in your life have been naughty or nice, you’re probably going to buy them a few gifts. Sure you can get them whatever big budget electronic gift that is on their list, but we all know what happens when you do that: They disappear into their screen-world for hours at a time, and you get to listen to them complain about needing the updated version next year anyway. 

Because the pre-teenage years are important ones for formation, think about what you want their upcoming year to look like. Think outside the screen and looks for gifts that encourage your preteen to have a year full of active play, social interaction and creative development. How can you do that without giving totally boring gifts that will cause their eyes to roll right out of their heads? Here’s a list of gifts for preteens that they’ll feel excited to get and you feel good about giving.

A boy kicking a soccer ball.

GIFTS OF GOOD FITNESS

Healthy habits should be a priority, even for the under thirteen crowd. Experts recommend that kids and preteens get at least 60 minutes of of physical activity every day, but many don’t. The right gift can be the motivation they need to get them off of the couch, away from their screens and active. Here are some examples of fun fitness finds:

  • New exercise gear such as sneakers, a cool sweatsuit or yoga outfit.
  • A certificate for a fun activity like rock climbing, ice skating, or hip-hop dance.
  • Sports equipment including a new basketball, tennis racket, or football.
  • A cool water bottle in a fun color or design that they can carry with them.
  • Active glow-in-the-dark games like Glow Battle from Starlux Games.
A young boy with headphones closes his eyes to listen to music and is surrounded by yellowing leaves on trees.

GIFTS THAT ROCK ON

There are so many cool ways to keep the music playing in your preteen’s life. Music is a great way to keep them moving and improve their moods. In fact, studies show that listening to music can help preteens cope with their emotions. In addition, listening to music while working out makes exercise feel easier and improves athletic performance. Here are some fun gifts to help them never miss a beat:


Three teens play Wizards & Werewolves on a hill.

GIFTS THAT GET SOCIAL

Research shows that social connection and interaction in the preteen years is important for mental and physical well-being. Search for gifts and games that allow them to connect with their friends and family members in fun ways. Games and activities that involve absurdity and laughter are always a big holiday hit on the preteen gift list.

  • Board games that involve being a little goofy or stepping out of their comfort zone like 
  • Multiple-player sports equipment like a ping pong table, volleyball net or basketball hoop. 
  • A gift card to a social activity with their friends such as bowling, paint ball, or miniature golf.

A fantasy-filled LARP game like Werewolves and Wizards

A preteen uses chalk to draw on the sidewalk.

GIFTS THAT GET CREATIVE

Encourage your teen to embrace their inner creative side with some art-inspired gifts. They don’t have to be a Picasso or Rachael Ray to have some fun using the innovative part of their brain. Plus, the American Art Therapy Association reports that 45 minutes of creative activity can help reduce stress no matter what your artistic ability. Try these gifts to bring a little art to the table.

  • Coloring books or doodle pads for preteens/teens with fine-tip markers.
  • Advanced art and crafts kits or science lab kits made for preteens.
  • A series of lessons with a cooking expert, singing coach or painting instructor.
  • An unusual musical instrument such as a ukulele or a harmonica.
  • A polaroid camera for the little hipster in your life.
Two preteens ride mountain bikes on a grassy hill.

GIFTS THAT OPEN DOORS

The best way for preteens to unplug is to spend some time outside where they can restore their mental energy and regulate their mood. Spending time outside reduces stress, anxiety and depression. Check out these gifts for preteens that encourage them to put down their screens and step out into the fresh air.

  • Camping gear like a tent, sleeping bag, hiking boots or fishing rod.
  • Tools for exploring the great outdoors like a telescope, compass, or metal detector.
  • Outdoor toys for preteens as big as a trampoline or as small as a cool kite or frisbee.
  • Gifts to get moving outside like a mountain bike, scooter, skateboard, or snowboard.
  • An updated neighborhood classic like Capture the Flag REDUX.
A group of kids pose after playing Capture the Flag REDUX.

GIFTS THAT ARE JUST PLAIN FUN

The preteen years can be confusing ones…and not just for the preteens. If you have a preteen in your life, you may feel like you’re on a roller coaster. They like one thing one day but can’t stand it the next. If you’ve exhausted all your gift ideas and still don’t know what they like or what to get them, go for a crazy, fun gift that just might bring a rare smile to your preteen’s face. 

  • Adorable socks with llamas, tacos or snowmen on them.
  • A snuggly burrito blanket, or a blanket with a giant picture of their own face on it.
  • A cool hooded sweatshirt with their favorite sports team, movie character or rock band.
  • Something that lights up their room like string lights, glow-in-the-dark stars or a message light box.
  • A trip somewhere they’ve always wanted to go with an accessory like a travel pillow or trip journal. 

The possibilities are endless. Whatever your gifts to your preteens end up being, we hope your holiday is filled with quality time with your friends and family. 

Because Holiday Stress Isn’t Just for Adults

When most people think about holiday stress, they envision people fighting to shop in crazy retail store sales or struggling to put toys together at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve, or even hoards of people stressed by holiday parties and spending overload. They don’t realize that the holidays can be an extremely stressful time for teenagers as well. Here are just some of the factors that lead to teen holiday stress: 

  • End-of-semester exams and projects
  • Winter break assignments
  • Upcoming grades
  • Family situations
  • Financial stress
  • Overscheduling
  • Changes in sleep routine
  • Less time outside 
  • Poor eating habits

Here are five ways to help your teen combat holiday stress:

A woman and her pug sleep on a bed.

1. SLEEP WELL

Studies show that teens need eight to ten hours of sleep nightly, but most don’t get it – especially during the busy holiday season. In fact, two out of every three teens is sleep deprived, and that’s just not healthy. Teens need good sleep habits to perform their best when they are awake and to manage the stress that comes with being a teenager. Sleep is like fuel for their growing brains and their bodies. Try to encourage your teenager to get as close to eight hours of sleep each night as possible and to stick to a bedtime routine that involves going to sleep around the same time each night and winding down an hour or so before bed.

Regular physical activity can also improve the quality of their nighttime sleep and increase sleep duration. Exercising outdoors reduces stress which leads to better shut-eye and better health overall. Encourage your teens to get out and walk, bike or play active games. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out Capture the Flag REDUX from Starlux Games. It’s the classic Capture the Flag game revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights, and it’s a great way to get teens moving as they break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the glowing flag to win. Plus, you can still play it outside even with shorter daylight hours!


Five kids play Capture the Flag REDUX together.

2. STAY ACTIVE

As mentioned above, exercise is a great way to reduce stress! There is no end to the benefits of physical activity for kids and teens. It builds strong bones and muscles, helps maintain a healthy weight, improves strength, coordination and endurance, plus it promotes emotional well being. But, as you probably know, teenagers can get bored doing the same type of activity Every. Single. Day. It’s up to you, as the parent, to offer them a variety of choices that are fun and age-appropriate. The best way to encourage your teens to get active is to be a good role model when it comes to physical activity and join in with them on their exercise endeavors. Not only will you get to spend valuable time together, you’ll also stay healthier in the process. 


This holiday season, look for a variety of games to play with your teens are active AND exciting. One such game? Glow Battle! Players use harmless, glow-in-the-dark batons to team up and thwack their opponents then send them running back to their base to “recharge” before they get hit again. Teams are distinguished with light-up bracelets and bases are marked with LED lights. Play inside or out – it’s easy to set up and way better than staring at a screen.

A variety of colorful, healthy foods.

3. EAT WELL

Hey: It’s the standby recommendation for a reason. Teens won’t always choose the healthiest food on earth, so there’s always room for a few upgrades. Because holiday parties and crazy schedules can wreak havoc on any diet (teen and adult!), a few small changes could make a difference in their mood and general well-being. Encourage them to add some protein to their meals or choose a fruit for their snacks. For example, you could persuade them to add a yogurt to their usual bowl of sugary cereal or cut the chips in half and add some grapes or carrots to their lunch box. Lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables, and plenty of water can help regulate their mood. Taking good care of your body through diet, sleep and exercise can help teens combat stress and keep it from becoming a serious prolonged problem.

Four teens smiling as they take a selfie together.

4. BE SOCIAL

That party they’re asking to go to just might be good for them! Research shows that social interaction in teen years is important for both physical health and mental well-being. Social relationships help teens cope with the stress and pressure of teenage life. Encourage your teens’ friendships, and help them find activities over the holiday break that involve putting down their phones and connecting with these friends. 


Is your teen a fantasy fanatic? Try Wizards & Werewolves! This epic glow-in-the-dark game pits two mythical forces against each other in an exciting backyard battle of speed, skill and wits. This game is sure to be a huge holiday hit for teens as werewolves howl, hide crystals and hunt wizards, while the wizards use their mystical powers to avoid the werewolves and destroy the dark side.

Four teens stand on top of a mountain at sunset.

5. PUT DOWN THE SCREENS

This one is good for teens AND you. Over holiday break, unplug and get outdoors to restore mental energy and regulate moods. By now it’s confirmed: Teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier. Set some guidelines for screen time with your teens and be a good role model when it comes to screen use. And, as you’re searching for cool teen gifts this holiday season, look for ones that encourage your kids to be active, play outside, and interact with others while having fun. You just might be surprised at how much holiday-break excitement that you can conjure up  with the right screen-free gift. Help create good habits now to reduce teen holiday stress and embrace a lifetime of improved sleep, better health and well-being and overall happiness.

Baby It’s Warm Outside

In every holiday movie, Christmas carol or seasonal commercial, you see glistening white snow, frosty cheeks, steaming hot chocolate and warm woolen mittens. It seems like the whole Christmas season is wrapped in snowflakes and icicles. So, what are you to do if you live where the weather is tropical and warm year round? Getting into the Christmas spirit while surrounded by palm trees and cacti can be a challenge, but you don’t have to blast the AC to feel festive. There are all sorts of ways to make it feel like Christmas even if you live where it’s 72 degrees and sunny.

Two hands hold two lit sparklers in a holiday-decorated living room.

CREATE AN INDOOR WINTER WONDERLAND

Whatever the weather outside, it can look like an arctic paradise inside.

ADD SOME SNOW
Decorate your mantel with cotton batting, snow globes and miniature frosted trees  to add a wintery mix to your home. Gather tree branches and spray them with white paint or with spray snow and group them in containers of varying sizes on your tables or hearth. Fill mason jars or apothecary jars with fake snow and winter accents like pine cones and berries for a wintery centerpiece. BONUS: None of it will melt! 

IT’S STARTING TO SMELL A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS
Bring in the scent of a winter woodland and fresh pine with a real Christmas tree. Or, if a real tree isn’t your jam, choose fresh garland or pine springs that you can use throughout your house. Mix pine sprigs with battery-powered lights on your mantle, wrap a garland of fresh greenery on a stairway handrail or over a door frame, or hang a fresh evergreen wreath on a wall to fill your home with the aroma of Christmas.


A woman decorates for Christmas where it's warm

ADD SOME SPARKLE

There’s no time like Christmas to add a little shimmer and shine inside and out.

CHRISTMAS LIGHTS
A classic holiday staple for a reason! Sparkling Christmas lights make it look festive wherever you live on the map – and, there’s no such thing as too many lights. Add them outside to your house, landscape, and trees along with other lighted yard decor such as lit snowmen, reindeer or elves. Wrap tree trunks and branches, use net lights over your bushes, and place landscape spot lights to shine on your front door. Inside your home you can add strands of lights in so many more places than just on your tree. Frame a window or door with rope lights, hang a strand of icicles lights across the mantle or across the headboards in your bedrooms. There are so many types and shapes of Christmas lights to choose from including icicle lights, colored bulbs or tiny white battery-powered fairy lights. (Pssst… we like these glow-in-the-dark night lights that can add a pop of color.) Mix a fun variety of sizes, colors and shapes to shout, “It’s Christmas” from every corner of your home.

YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY CANDLES
For some romantic sparkle, use candles throughout the holiday season for decorating and entertaining. Choose some festive scents like cranberry, pine, cinnamon and gingerbread for your kitchen and bathrooms. For a beautiful table centerpiece, cluster candles in glass votives and jars and place among greenery and berries. You can even find flameless LED candles to use throughout your house and in your windows to get the same ambiance with less worry

SHARE IT WHILE YOU WEAR IT
Share the holiday cheer by adding some shimmer to your wardrobe! Try a DIY ugly Christmas sweater. If the weather is too warm to wear a sweater, then choose a sequined t-shirt or sparkly jewelry. Too warm to wear a fur-trimmed coat? Don’t be afraid to pair your shorts with some shimmery shoes and a fur-trimmed Santa hat.

PLAY FESTIVE GAMES

The reindeer aren’t the only ones who play games at the holidays. Plan a few days of seasonal and glowing games to get everyone in the holiday mood.

SNOW MANY GAMES TO PLAY
Play a Snow Shovel Relay Race game by filling two big buckets up with cotton balls or fake snow purchased at a craft store. Then divide into teams, give each team a shovel and let players race to scoop the snow out of the large bucket and fill up smaller buckets that are 20 feet away. Then, they pass the shovels off to their teammates for a turn until the bucket is full. Another hilarious game is to divide in pairs and use rolls of toilet paper to wrap your partner up like a snowman from head to toe, and then add a hat and scarf to complete the look. The first one with their partner completely wrapped and dressed is the winner.

STARLUX GAMES
The glow-in-the-dark games at Starlux Games are the perfect way to add more shine in warm locations where you can be outside and active during the holidays. These games add excitement, action and adventure to any Christmas family party or group gathering. Check out Capture the Flag REDUX: a futuristic twist on the classic game complete with glowing orbs to use as flags and color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate teams. Or, choose Glow Battle and prepare for fast-paced running and dueling with harmless glowing batons. For a fantasy-filled game, Wizards and Werewolves will transform your backyard into an epic glowing mythical competition. There’s even a Starlux Swimming Games kit that comes with glow-in-the-dark pool lights…definitely a benefit of living where it’s warm.

A decorated gingerbread house

EAT, DRINK AND BE MERRY

Festive food, drink and merriment can definitely complete the mood for the perfect Christmas season. 

A TROPICAL TWIST
For a warm-weather twist on some traditional holiday fare, throw the ham on the backyard grill with some pineapple, add some sides like fruit salad and a veggie tray and then serve Christmas dinner under the lights outside. Don’t forget to finish it off with holiday-themed desserts like reindeer cookies or snowball cupcakes.

HOT CHOCOLATE… MINUS THE HOT
If it’s too warm where you live for steaming mugs of hot chocolate, try frozen hot chocolate. It’s also the perfect time of year for frosty cocktails like eggnog, cranberry-mixed drinks, and other fun party punches that will keep you cool. 


Whether it’s 32 degrees or 82 degrees, the best way to celebrate Christmas when it’s warm is to be merry! Enjoy spending time with your family and friends doing the things you love. Watch holiday movies, play the classic Christmas carols, head to the local ice skating rink or holiday parade…and send everyone warm wishes for a happy new year.

The More the Merrier

Christmas is coming and that means party, party, party! After all, it’s the most magical time of the year, and festivities are everywhere. If you’re in charge of a big group holiday party or want to host one, you may have some gnawing questions about how to entertain during the holidays dancing around your head instead of visions of sugarplums. 

How will I feed all of my guests? 

How long will they all stay? 

And, how (how?!) will I ever keep all of the different ages entertained? 

Don’t panic. A little planning goes a long way when it comes to big holiday parties. To help you, we’ve broken it down to the three basic factors of any festivity, otherwise known as the three F’s of entertaining for a big group  – Friends, Food & Fun.

Two friends are dressed in holiday pajamas and holding champagne while smiling.

1. FRIENDS


First and foremost, you must consider who will be coming to your big group gathering. Whether it be friends, family, or friends of family – make a list of who you’ll be inviting and how you can best entertain them. If it’s family guests like Aunt Ida and little nephew Joey that will call for a different plan than if it’s work guests like your boss and fellow coworkers. Whether you’re hosting your entire in-laws side of the family, your book club or your office staff, make sure you keep it to a manageable size for your location and budget.

Based on your overall list, you can come up with a good date and time frame for your party, as well as a fun theme. The holidays are a busy time of year, so be sure to get the date out early, or at least a “save the date” text or email. Order or create festive invitations and send them out at least two weeks ahead of time. A creative theme and invitation could be the reason guests choose your party over another during this busy season.  

Ask for a final RSVP a week or so before the date so that you can get a good grasp on how many will be attending, what ages will be there and how to feed and entertain them. You will also need to consider whether guests will know other people at the party. If not, it may call for fun name tags or a special ice breaker to introduce everyone.

A table is set with holiday decor and food.


2. FOOD


Once you have a general idea of how many will be coming to your party, it’s time to start thinking about how to feed all of your guests. First, decide how formal the refreshments will be. Is it a sit-down meal, a buffet, or just appetizers. Keep in mind that finger foods require no utensils and can make for less clean up and less stress. Next, decide whether you will want to hire a caterer, make the food yourself or ask your party-goers to bring a dish. You can always include part of the theme in the menu like “Spice up the holidays – bring your favorite spicy dish” or “Christmas around the world – bring your favorite international appetizer.” 

When you have your menu and food plan in place, make a grocery list and check it twice. Make sure that you have planned enough quantity for the size of your group and included any kid-friendly foods that might be necessary to keep the under 12 crowd happy. Also, be sure to add any paper products such as festive napkins and plates that you may need.

Whatever the food plan, don’t forget the drinks and desserts. Holiday parties are a perfect time to make fun punches and signature cocktails. Plus, you may have a massive riot on your hands if you dare to throw a party at Christmastime without desserts! Pinterest is a great place to search for holiday-themed dishes, party punch recipes, snowman-shaped cheeseballs and reindeer-inspired desserts.

Holiday drinks and mistletoe sit on a wooden table.

3. FUN


Sometimes the best tradition is not having a tradition at all. Choose a night for a surprise adventure for your family and pick a last-minute, spur of the moment activity.  Pile into the car for an outing to the bowling alley – a great place to get some “turkeys” – or head to the roller rink or ice skating rink or indoor miniature golf course. You just may want to confirm what their holiday hours are before you go. If you want to plan a stay-at-home surprise, try renting a big screen and projector for a home movie night. Don’t forget the popcorn and soda!

A couple wearing santa hats are smiling and have their hands in the air as confetti falls in their home.

The final “F” is what makes your party the most memorable. Compiling a list of games for every age will help make your big group get-together a holiday hit. Make sure your arsenal of games are ones that include everyone so that no one feels left out. Be sure to choose fun and simple games that are engaging and light-hearted. If there is a big range in ages, you can modify games and rules so that the younger kids can play as well. It’s especially fun at holiday parties to choose Christmas-themed games that you can’t play the rest of the year. Check out this list of go-to holiday games.

YULE NEVER GUESS:

Before your holiday get-together, write down the names of some famous Christmas characters (Frosty, Rudolph, Scrooge) on blank stickers. As your guests walk in the door, place a sticker on their back so that they can’t see it. Then, they can ask other guests only “yes or no” questions until they figure out who they are. It’s a great ice-breaker for parties where guests might not know each other that well.

CHRISTMAS CHARADES:

Divide your party-goers into two teams and have each team write down ten different Christmas carols on separate notecards. Then, one person from each team draws one of the opposing team’s notecards and has to act out the Christmas carol for their team without using any words. Set a timer and give the team two minutes to guess it. If they get it right, they get a point. The team with the most points after all of the cards are acted out are the Christmas Charade Champs! 

PRESENT THE PRESENT:

Before the party, wrap up twenty empty boxes of varying sizes as presents. Then, split your guests into two equal number of players to make up two relay teams. Place ten of the gifts on one table and then place the other ten on a table that is twenty feet or so away. At “go,” one team member from each team grabs a present and has to carry it across to the opposing table. Then, the next player takes the gift and places another one on top and carries them both across the room to a third teammate. The players keep stacking gifts and carrying them until they stack all ten present boxes. The first team to carry all ten of the gifts back to the starting point without dropping any is the winner. 

LET IT GLOW, LET IT GLOW, LET IT GLOW

Nothing says “festive” like glowing games. To really get your guests up and moving, try out these fun holiday-theme variations on the below glow-in-the-dark games by Starlux Games available here. If the weather cooperates, your party guests can bundle up and play in the backyard. And, if the weather doesn’t permit, choose a variation that allows you to play in a large inside room where you have open space. Either way, these games will ensure that all will be merry and bright.

A group of kids stare each other down as they old Capture the Flag REDUX gear.

CAPTURE THE FLAG REDUX

Gather your holiday crew for an exciting game of Capture the Flag revolutionized with futuristic glow-in-the-dark lights. Just like the traditional game, players split into teams and then work together to break teammates out of jail, sneak into enemy territory, protect base and steal the flag. But unlike the classic, the flag is now a glowing orb and players wear color-coded LED bracelets to differentiate team members and glowing jail markers. For a special holiday treat, play REDUX – Fugitives. This is the variation to determine Santa’s “naughty versus nice” list. The fugitives start on one end of the playing field marked with blue jail markers and the cops starts on the opposite end and try to tag the fugitives. Will naughty or nice prevail?

GLOW BATTLE

There are times when you really want to thwack your friends, relatives or co-workers, and Glow Battle is one of those games that encourages just that. Players use strategy, teamwork, and their own warrior instincts to team up and take down their opponent using harmless, glowing batons. Teams are designated by different colored LED bracelets have a base to “recharge” after they get hit. Pit cousin versus and cousin or uncle versus aunt in this thrilling glow-in-the-dark battle. For a true holiday gift giving extravaganza, play the Thieves and Guards variation. Purchase a handful of small gifts ahead of the party and adapt this game variation to let players capture the gifts instead of lights. You can even use the captured gifts as part of a gift exchange at the end of the match.