Holidays

4 Fun Ways to Fight Adultitis and Make Memories this Christmas

holly-jolly-christmasThis time of year is tailor-made for creating some amazing scenes with loved ones. Unfortunately, it’s also the most common time to let busyness drive us into “doing-what-we’ve-always-done” mode.

Hello, Rutville.

Here are four fun but simple tips to make sure Adultitis gets nothing but coal in its stocking this year.

Minivan Express
It’s kind of like Pajama Run meets The Polar Express, and you don’t even need a minivan to play. First, print up some golden tickets (templates here) and hide them under your kids’ pillows. While the normal bedtime routine is underway, prep some popcorn and hot chocolate in coffee mugs (with lids). When the kids discover the golden tickets under their pillows, it’s time to grab some slippers and head for the family vehicle to get their ticket punched. Then, with a soundtrack of Christmas music playing in the background, go for a ride around town looking at neighborhood light displays. You could also plan on stopping by the mall to get pictures taken with Santa or go ice skating if you have a rink nearby.

Ugly Wrap
You’ve heard of Ugly Cookies, right? If you’ve got any kind of a gift exchange planned with the family or at work, stipulate that the gifts be “Ugly Wrapped.” The organization that inspired this idea reported gifts that showed up wrapped with a collection of scrap paper, bubble wrap, and my favorite, a coffee container with small deer antlers on the top as a bow with dryer sheets tied to it. Believe it.

Name That Tree
One of our friends gets a real Christmas tree every year and they always name it. One year it was “Bruce the Spruce,” another year “Ralph” took up residence in their family room. One time they named their tree “Leviathan.” They have fun recalling all of the different trees that have come and gone over the years. I’m not sure why, but naming things that normally don’t have names is a super fun way to escape adulthood.

Christmas Vandalism
A reader once told us about a tradition in her small town to sneak out in the middle of the night and decorate a random bush, shrub, or tree by the side of the road. Part of the fun is to pick a really busy street and not get “caught” by passing cars. She reported that by Christmas, it’s not uncommon to see dozens — if not hundreds! — of decorated trees by the highways. Our world needs more joy, more whimsy, more silliness. This activity begs an important question: If an act of vandalism is done in a spirit of cheerfulness and actually adds or enhances beauty, is it still called vandalism?

What is your favorite way to have fun at Christmastime?

The Perfect Gift is Not For Sale

lucy-on-horse

What do you get for the person that has everything?

What’s an equally great gift for the person who has next to nothing?

Easy. How about the gift of time?

Last Christmas, an acquaintance of ours gave her children a piece of paper emblazoned with the words, “The Gift of Time.” Each kid got to pick an activity to do with just Mom and Dad. For example, one of the girls elected to go to a theatrical production of RENT.

I guarantee those memories made will last longer than some gadget that could have been gifted instead, destined to be sold at a garage sale sometime down the line. Every time I clean the house, I’m reminded that it would be a whole lot easier if we just had less stuff.

The last few years, we’ve encouraged friends and family to contribute toward experiences for our kids. A number of them pitched in towards private swimming lessons for Lucy. She loves it! She looks forward to her swim time every week, and I can’t believe how much her confidence has grown in the time since she first began. I don’t know of many toys that fit that bill.

Earlier this year, we helped Lucy cross something off her Bucket List: horseback riding. An hour-long stroll through the woods on the back of her favorite animal (besides a cheetah!) really made an impression. Check out her letter to Santa to see what’s on the top of her Christmas list this year.

We live in a society that is stuff rich and time poor. Time is the most valuable thing we have. It’s more in demand than Cabbage Patch Kids or Tickle Me Elmo dolls ever were.

Experiences last long after a toy gets broken or outgrown. And the gift of time — the kind that is generous, unrestricted, and free of distraction — is as fitting a present for kids as it is for spouses, parents, neighbors, employees, and the neighbor lady across the street. Babysit for some busy parents so they can enjoy a dinner and a movie NOT rated ‘G.” Take a friend on a surprise adventure that includes a delicious lunch and a spa visit. Join the widow across the street when she walks her dogs and offer company and conversation.

At the end of our lives, we will not spend time taking inventory on all the stuff we collected. No, we will be reflecting on the scenes we created, the experiences that took our breath away, and the memories we made spending time with the people we love.

There’s nothing wrong with giving a meaningful, thoughtful gift that the recipient can hold and treasure. But if you’re stuck trying to find the perfect something for a certain somebody, a little time is all you need.

Adultitis Antidote #1: Sticky Cup

sticky-cup

This is a wonderful April Fool’s Day prank that’s fun to do all year long. Just be aware of the national emergency you will cause for everyone around you.

Well, some people will not even notice. But the ones who do are likely to drive miles — I mean MILES, people — out of their way to let you know that you have Taco Bell on the top of your car. Of course, you and the people driving with you have the task of acting clueless. That’s part of the fun (and a challenge).

One guy reported to me that it’s the perfect way to occupy kids on long road trips. They love watching the reactions of other drivers!

One thing’s for sure, there’s no easier or cheaper way to have fun in any economy than “Sticky Cup.”

How to Create Your Own Holiday

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How hard is it to create your own holiday?

If you want to be all official about it, you can register your holiday with Chase’s Calendar of Events. But even that’s not a requirement.

A lady I met at a speaking engagement in Orlando told me about her son who lives in San Francisco. In honor of his birthday, he started putting homemade signs up everywhere that said, “June 1st is Pirate’s Day.” That’s it. He put them on trains, telephone poles, and other public hot spots. And sure enough, June 1st came around and people could be spotted wearing eyepatches and various pirate gear.

Granted, San Francisco is known for being a little eccentric. But I’m willing to bet you could have similar results if you tried this in your workplace, your neighborhood, or even your own home.

Turns out all you really need to start your own holiday is a little imagination, a few signs, and some courage.

What do you think would be a great new holiday?

Five Pin Friday: April Fool’s Day

pinterest-april-fools

Here are five pins featuring fun (and relatively harmless) April Fool’s Day pranks.

1) Malfunctioning Mouse – Get your cube mate good.

2) Googly Good Morning! – What a great use of googly eyes! (We sell those, by the way.)

3) Post-It Car – Just a little reminder of where they parked their car.

4) Brown E’s – A cruel joke for those who were expecting a chocolate fix.

5) Doughnut Seeds – Brilliant! I only wish they worked.

Want even more Adultitis-free inspiration?…

Follow Me on Pinterest

Office Staff Uses Tiny Spoons and Ugly Wrap to Upend Traditional Luncheon

tiny-spoons

An organization I spoke to last year traditionally celebrates the holidays with a luncheon and gift exchange. Pretty typical stuff.

The only problem is that Adultitis LOVES typical. Typical is only a hop, skip and a jump away from a rut, and as Ellen Glasgow says, “The only difference between a rut and a grave is their dimensions.”

Fortunately, after hearing one of my programs on Curing Adultitis, Janet Mincks and her team decided to go in a different direction with their holiday party.

It has been 4 months since you spoke to us at our All Staff Professional Development Day. What an impact you have made…We decided to throw away the traditional luncheon routine and make it not only interesting but fun. We exchanged names, however the gift was a small $10.00 gift, but needed to be “Ugly Wrapped”. The presentation of the gifts ranged from a collection of scrap wrapping paper, bubble wrap, and my favorite, a coffee container with small deer antlers on the top as a bow with dryer sheets tied to it. Our lunch included soup and salad, but everyone was only given tiny small delicatessen spoons, and skewers for their salads. The group couldn’t believe that we carried this “Adultitis” (theme) that far.

ugly-wrap

Nicely done, Janet! (I must say that I too have quite an admiration of that antler-adorned coffee container!) Thanks for showing us that there is no rule that says your holiday party has to look the same every year.

Unless you want it to be a guest of honor, that is.


A Champion of Childhood is someone instilled with the soaring spirit of childhood who rallies against rules that don’t exist while engaging in ruthless, senseless acts of silliness that undermine the slavery of Adultitis and its unadventurous version of adulthood. We like shining a light upon the most remarkable among us, holding them up as a dazzling example of what we should strive for in this epic battle against Adultitis. See more here.

Bill Murray and a Lesson On Slowing Down

I love this awesome video (via Don Miller) of Bill Murray with some fans. He agreed to slowly walk down a hallway with the guys so they could film it as though they were in one of his movies. It’s pretty epic, and goes WAY beyond a simple autograph.

Here’s Don’s commentary:

It just goes to show you how great life can be if you’re willing to slow down for people. Of course, none of us are Bill Murray, but slowing down for your spouse, your kids or your friends for just a minute to really give them something that will blow their minds is a magical concoction that makes life great.

I couldn’t agree more. In a season typically filled with busyness, stress, and last-minute everything, it’s a particularly great lesson to let soak in.

If you want some REAL holiday magic this season, try slowing down.

Ornaments, Advent Wreaths and Holy Guacamole

holy-guacamole

We put our Christmas tree up last weekend. The kids helped out, and by “helped out” I mean dropped hooks on the ground and placed multiple ornaments on a single branch about two feet from the ground.

Trimming the tree is one of my favorite traditions in a holiday season filled with them. Most of the ornaments we own have a story behind them, whether it’s a souvenir from our travels, or a gift from a grandma, or a memento from our early years of dating. It’s fun strolling down memory lane as each ornament goes up on the tree.

Here are a few of our other holiday traditions:

  • I make up a batch of fresh guacamole to eat while we decorate the tree. Not sure how this started, but green avocado and red tomatoes fit the Christmas theme.
  • The kids each get to buy one ornament every year. This year, Ben picked Superman and Lucy chose My Little Pony. I use a Sharpie to write their name and the year on the ornament.
  • We usually go on at least one Christmas music-enhanced Pajama Run to look at the twinkling holiday lights.
  • We have a real pine advent wreath displayed prominently on our kitchen table to serve as a constant reminder of the reason for the season and all that we have to be grateful for.

Family traditions are important. They provide a source of identity and security, strengthen the family bond, connect generations, and create lasting memories. They also lift us out of the mundane ruts of everyday life, which is where Adultitis likes to fester.

If you’re looking to go on the offensive against Adultitis this year, look for an opportunity to resurrect an old family tradition, tweak one that’s gotten stale (ugly cookies, anyone?), or create a brand new one!

What is YOUR favorite holiday tradition? Let’s see how many awesome ideas we can collect!

#Thankstagram

thankstagram

Baby toes. Ocean sunsets. Cream puffs from the Wisconsin State Fair.

These are a few of my favorite things.

When we focus on the stuff that’s missing from our stories, it’s the equivalent of inviting Adultitis into your living room and encouraging him to put up his feet while you prepare him a seven course dinner. I’m just saying that you shouldn’t be surprised at how difficult it is to get him to leave at the end of the night.

On the other hand, cultivating a sense of gratitude is like slapping a restraining order on the big jerk.

As much as I have to be grateful for, I still find it all too easy to take the good parts of my life for granted. And as the old saying goes, we don’t know how good we have it ’till it’s gone.

The recent post from my friend Ryan really struck a nerve with me. He wrote about the idea of taking one picture a day of something you are grateful for. One thing. And then post it on Instagram or Facebook or Twitter or wherever. It’s sort of like a gratitude journal, except it’s so easy a caveman could do it. If cavemen had smartphones.

Well, color me inspired. I intend to celebrate Thanksgiving Day thirty times this November. Starting on the first, and for the whole month, I will be posting my one thing every day on Instagram, using the hashtag #thankstagram.

Who’s in?

Costumes for a Good Cause

elaine-witch
We’re in the throes of Halloween Unleashed, our 7th officially-sanctioned Small Rebellion. Your challenge is to wear a costume somewhere unexpected, just for fun.

But it can also be for a good cause, too.

Elaine Hand loves dressing up in costume. She was in a full-fledged witch costume at a recent speaking program I had in Illinois! (Maybe it’s in her blood; her mother was born on Halloween :) The thing that makes her a Champion of Childhood in our book is that she wears costumes all year long! Here’s how it started, in Elaine’s own words: [Read more…]

My Humble Take On The Hot Halloween Debate

kim-cat

The hot debate in school districts around the country is whether to “Halloween” or not. When I was in school 30 years ago, every class had a Halloween party and the younger kids got to dress up and partake in a Halloween parade throughout the school, which was a super fun treat for everyone. One teacher even had the unique tradition of making homemade donuts in class, complete with sprinkles. It was an awesome time of year. Fun for the sake of fun!

Halloween was not so fun for me, though. To be honest, the stress and anxiety started each year about October 1st when the costumes started popping up in the stores and pictures of jack-o-lanterns started donning windows. These outwards signs of the inevitable holiday filled me with dread and sadness. October 31st would soon be here. Not again! [Read more…]

The Pediatrician with Dozens of Fake IDs

ellen-leonardEllen Leonard is an amazing pediatrician from Connecticut. She is also a Champion of Childhood.

It would seem that of all of the world’s professions, “pediatrician” would be near the top of the list when it comes to those that are most conducive to wearing Halloween costumes at work. Ellen does every year. While she’s not the only person who does, it strikes me that at the hospital she’s worked for over 26 years, she is in the minority.

Even more notable is the effort she puts into her costumes. She’s pictured above dressed as the Man with the Yellow Hat from Curious George. The pants, shirt, and hat were purchased at Savers, an resale shop that supports Big Brothers & Big Sisters. “It amazed me that somebody actually wore those yellow pants,” she said, “But I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.” [Read more…]

Small Rebellion #7: Halloween Unleashed

07-halloween-unleashed

Halloween is exciting for kids and adults, too;
Dressing in costume: a thing we all love to do.

But why settle for parties or just Trick or Treat?
What if you wore one when you went out to eat?

Perhaps shopping for groceries or driving car pool;
Or serving on jury duty would even be cool.

Or maybe while getting your vision corrected;
Just wear your costume somewhere unexpected.

Adultitis won’t like it and people might stare;
The rebellion is knowing that you just don’t care.

Halloween is the best. I love that it’s free of the obligatory gift-buying and mountains of stress that usually accompany the other major holidays. Halloween is pretty much just about fun. And zombies.

I also love that although Trick or Treating is still a domain of childhood and rambunctious teenagers, it’s not uncommon for grown-ups to get in on the costume-wearing fun. However, most of us over the age of twenty usually require a bit of “costume cover.” You know, that socially acceptable event or occasion where it’s “appropriate” to dress up.

But what if you dressed up in costume for a dinner out with your sweetheart? Or for your weekly trip to the supermarket? Or for jury duty? [Read more…]

How to Adultitis-Proof Your Wedding

wedding-socks

A wedding is supposed to be one of the happiest days of your life. But it can also be a breeding ground for Adultitis. This sinister foe downright salivates at events involving formal wear, the merging of families, and an expectation that everything is supposed to go perfectly.

Is it possible to Adultitis-proof your wedding?

Yes.

But it requires a mindset that decides you’re going to have fun no matter what the caterer messes up or your mother-in-law does.

It also helps to incorporate some ideas that send the message to you and your guests that Adultitis is not invited. I’ve been collecting some of my favorite best Adultitis-free invites, favors, photo-ops and more on a Pinterest board.

What are YOUR favorite ideas for Adultitis-proofing a wedding?

When Plates Tell Stories

fancy-china

Yep, plates tell stories. Especially fancy plates.

A few months ago, a woman came up to me after one of my speaking programs to talk about her experience cleaning out her mother’s home after her passing. The woman and her siblings found a box of fine china, each piece carefully wrapped just as it was when it was gifted to their parents on their wedding day. The mother was married for over fifty years. She had four kids. Thirteen grandkids. And the china was still in the box, unused.

Although muffled by cardboard and packing paper, these plates told a clear story: There is no occasion special enough to risk chipping or breaking a plate. [Read more…]

Easter Clothes

easter-clothes
A quick cartoon drawn in Photoshop. I like imagining the words being spoken by George Costanza’s mother.

K&J Insider Love: Valentine’s Day eCards

vday-art-montage
Love is in the air! I’ve created a bunch of art over the last year that lends itself well to Valentine’s Day. And while they have not yet been transformed into real live paper greeting cards, I thought it would be nice to make them into eCards for Kim & Jason Insiders, who are pretty much our favorite people on the face of the Earth. (Yet another perk of free membership.)

Only Insiders can send them, but recipients don’t need to be an Insider to receive them. It’s a stamp-free, paper-free benefit for people who want to send a little digital love across the Interwebs. Enjoy!
[Read more…]

Family Turns Christmas Eve Dinner Into a Barbarian Affair

corinne-spaghetti-dinner
twisty-strawOne of the attendees of last summer’s Escape Adulthood Summit was inspired by the Barbarian birthday party we held to celebrate our son Ben turning one. She wanted to have one with her family on Christmas Eve, but she was worried about how it would be received. Unsurprisingly, it would be quite a departure from their normal holiday traditions.

Judging by the pictures she sent, it seems like it went over pretty well. (Bonus points for the twisty straw!)

Sometimes the biggest hurdle to initiating a Small Rebellion is our own fear. That feeling of dread or uncertainty is Adultitis’ last stand against against you. 90% of the time, our attempts at a Small Rebellion will be well received and much appreciated. So maybe it falls flat the other 10% of the time.

The cool thing? In either scenario, Adultitis loses.

A Post About The Winter Blues (and Ben’s Favorite Ornaments)

quack-quack
For the last week I have felt this unsaid pressure to take down the Christmas tree. It’s January 15th, we “should probably” get it all put away. (Hmm, is this a “rule that doesn’t exist“?) Here’s the dealio… when the tree comes down, I’m afraid that the reality of January floods the house. It’s cold. Spring is a LONG ways away. Like, not even in sight. January has the potential to be quite BLAH without the twinkling lights on our beautiful tree.

grover-ornament

But if I think about it even more honestly, the real reason is not the winter blues. It’s this… [Read more…]

The Minivan Express

minivan-express
If you’ve been around here for awhile, you’ve probably heard of a Pajama Run. The Minivan Express is similar, but with a holiday twist. First, print up some golden tickets (templates here) and hide them under your kids’ pillows. While the normal bedtime routine is underway, prep some popcorn and hot chocolate in coffee mugs (with lids).

When the kids discover the golden tickets under their pillows, it’s time to grab some slippers and head for the family vehicle (doesn’t have to be a minivan :) to get their ticket punched. Then, with a soundtrack of Christmas music playing in the background, go for a ride around town looking at neighborhood light displays. You could also plan on stopping by the mall to get pictures taken with Santa or go ice skating if you have a rink nearby.

Family traditions are important and an easy way to create priceless memories that your entire clan will cherish forever. The Minivan Express might be a good one to start this year.

Credits: Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler for the idea and Miracle Mama for the photo

Christmas Vandalism

outdoor-christmas-treeAccording to Wikipedia, “Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, an ancient Germanic people, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable.”

Most of the time vandalism is mean and perpetrated by jerk heads.

But what if an act of vandalism is done is a spirit of cheerfulness and actually adds or enhances beauty? Is it still called vandalism? [Read more…]

Christmas Carol eCards!

santa-claus-is-coming
I made some art that features some whimsical little Christmas friends painted over the top of sheet music for classic Christmas carols. I was originally going to make them into a set of real-live Christmas cards. And them time went by too fast. Oh well, maybe next year.

So I decided to turn them into eCards for Kim & Jason Insiders. (Yet another perk of free membership.) Recipients don’t need to be an Insider to receive them, so you don’t have to worry about hassling them to sign up. Just a fun way to spread a little Christmas cheer without having to buy stamps :)

Here are the four designs:

  • Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (Gingerbread Man)
  • O Christmas Tree (Christmas Tree)
  • Santa Claus is Coming To Town (Stocking)
  • A Holly Jolly Christmas (Wreath)

[Read more…]

Christmas Cookies Get Ugly

ugly-cookies-soyphet

What sorts of things do you do every Christmas, the exact same way, because you’ve ALWAYS done them that way?

What if you changed things up this year?

I’m not talking about the sacred, untouchable family traditions (although maybe I am). But what about the things you do automatically, without much thought and without any real meaning? What if, instead of trying to make your Christmas cookies look like Martha Stewart’s, you went 180º in the other direction and made them ugly instead. You know, on purpose.

The photos of the treats above are from my friend Soyphet, whose office held an Ugly Cookie decorating event this year. Ugly indeed. Funny thing is, I still want to eat them. And they make me smile.

Sure feels like a more fun and meaningful tradition than the boring old Christmas cookie swap.

Ben’s Barbarian Birthday Bash

Our nephew Caden was a big fan of going “Barbarian.”

A few months ago, as our son Ben’s first birthday was approaching, Kim and I wondered how we could make his party special. We were well aware of the fact that he would remember precisely none of it, so our focus was actually about making it memorable for the guests. [Read more…]

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