Tips for Your Lunch: Stay Healthy and Pack!

Eat Lunch or Skip It?

Do not skip it; eat lunch!

If you think skipping lunch will help you lose weight, your thinking is on the wrong track. Skipping lunch can potentially lead to weight gain. When your stomach is empty, your brain lets your cells know to conserve energy — thereby slowing down your metabolism.

Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, author of “The Blood Sugar Solution,” says that eating triggers a process called thermogenesis. This process lets the brain know to activate the metabolic process of turning food into energy.

To keep your metabolism working at the highest efficiency, Dr. Hyman recommends eating small meals every three to four hours. Not only will that keep your metabolism working, but it will also keep your blood sugar levels stable.

Normal blood sugar levels mean your brain is getting the glucose it needs to run efficiently. And you won’t be irritable, tired, fatigued, or hangry.

Another negative of skipping lunch is that you are more likely to hit the vending machine around mid-afternoon. And there’s nothing nutritional or low-calorie in those machines.

So eat your lunch, you, and everyone you work with will be happier.

Pack It or Eat Out?

So, now that we know we shouldn’t skip lunch, we have to decide if we’re going to pack a lunch or eat out.

We don’t have to tell you that it’s more expensive to eat out, but have you ever added up what it does cost to eat out for lunch?

If you eat at a drive-through fast-food restaurant, you’re going to spend about $6. If you go to a national chain and have a sit-down full-service lunch, you’re going to spend about $20.

So, let’s say you do the drive-through for four days and treat yourself once a week. That’s going to total almost $3,000 for the year. Egads! That’s a chunk of change for most of us. And that doesn’t include the gas to drive there.

But the effects on your health could be more costly. Partly because you’re more likely to overeat when dining out and not even realize you’re doing it.

Here’s a good example you’ll recognize. We went out to dinner at our local Mexican restaurant the other night with a friend. And you know the drill, as they seat you, they also seat that big basket of chips and salsa on the table. And they do it for lunch too.

Of course, we immediately started munching those chips and salsa. The three of us mindlessly ate that entire basket of chips while catching up on gossip. Then dinner arrived, a large plate overflowing with yummy food.

A dinner chock full of too many calories, fat, sodium, preservatives, probably some genetically modified foods, and who knows what else.

We don’t need to go any further. Be healthy, save money, and pack your lunch.

What and How to Pack Your Lunch

You can always quickly throw something into your lunch box in the morning. Or you could give a little thought to tomorrow’s lunch before you head to bed.

But even better, think about what you’d like for lunch while you’re grocery shopping for the week. Then set aside about an hour on a Sunday afternoon or evening to pack a week’s worth of healthy lunches and snacks. Seriously, with a little thought and planning, that’s all the time it will take.

If you plan on packing sandwiches, it’s best to prepare them the morning of or the night before. But go ahead and portion everything out on Sunday, so it’s at the ready. Then it will only take you a minute to throw that sandwich together.

And a trick to help keep your bread from getting soggy is to spread a thin layer of low-fat mayo or mustard on both slices of bread.

If you’re going to have lettuce and tomatoes or pickles on your sandwich, pack them separately and place them on your sandwich right before you eat. Do the same with any salads, like tuna or chicken.

Green leafy salads with veggies are always a good idea but don’t mix in the dressing, unless you’re like me and sometimes enjoy a soggy salad. An excellent way to pack a veggie salad is to use a mason jar.

Put your dressing in the jar first, then add some chopped veggies, like tomatoes, celery, peppers, or carrots. Then put in your lettuce, and if you want some croutons, put them in last. Close up the jar and store in the fridge. You can prep a full weeks worth of salads this way.

Leftovers are always an excellent choice, but we’ll address that in a minute.

Unless you pick number 7 on our list of best lunch boxes for men, you’ll need to purchase something to hold the food you’re going to pack. And you’ll want to get some ice packs as well.

If you’re going for convenience, stock up on disposable sandwich and snack bags, although you’ll find reusable bags available too.

Reusable containers will cost less in the long run and are better for the environment. Plus they’ll give you more flexibility in the types of food you can pack, especially if you get containers that are freezer and microwave-safe.

Get a variety of sizes, some large enough for an entree, and some smaller for a veggie side or dessert. And if you like soup or chili on those cold winter days, get an insulated mug.

And don’t forget that snacks, sauces, and dips need containers too. You could spend an entire afternoon online looking at all the possibilities to include in any of our best lunch boxes for men.

Leftovers

I’m fortunate because the man in my life loves leftovers. He’d be perfectly content eating leftovers for lunch every day. But I know he’s not the norm, and I’ll leave it at that.

But just because you or the man in your life doesn’t want to eat tonight’s leftovers for lunch tomorrow, doesn’t mean you can’t pack them for lunch. Portion them out and freeze them in microwave-safe containers.

Next week, pull it out of the freezer the night before, or even in the morning. By lunchtime, it will be ready for the microwave — a nutritional, delicious, healthy meal at no extra cost.

Healthy snack options

Here’s where packing best lunch boxes for men checks all the boxes and shines. Say bye-bye vending machine with your expensive non-healthy goodies.

Fill a small snack container with some almonds or walnuts. Both are chock full of health benefits and will keep the body at peak performance all afternoon.

Some sliced veggies with some low-fat dip or peanut butter make a great afternoon pick-me-up. And don’t forget some fresh fruit. Pack an apple, orange, banana, or put some grapes in one of those snack containers.

If you’re watching your carbs and could use some more protein, roll up a slice or two of roast beef or turkey. Or pack some cheese cubes.

Keeping up with Yourself: Staying Healthy with a Busy Lifestyle

How often do you think to yourself, “I’ve got to eat better,” “I’ve got to get out and exercise more often,” or “I really should be drinking more water”?

Chances are it’s more than you’re comfortable with, and for good reason: Americans work anywhere from 44 to 50 hours per week, leaving us precious little time to cook, shop, exercise, and still maintain relationships with our friends and family. 

But every time that little voice in your head chirps an “I oughtta,” you should listen to it, because when you’re the busiest is exactly when you need to consider your health all the more carefully.

If that sounds impossible, don’t worry - there are a few ways to do this.

For one, it’s absolutely crucial to establish a routine. Part of why we don’t fit healthy practices like eating full meals, resting, and exercising is because all we can focus on is what’s on our to-do lists. But by snatching a quick ten or twenty minutes here or there, you can easily fit in a few healthy practices here and there. 

You can probably manage it today, but the key is to keep it up. Set aside the 15 minutes after your lunch break for stretching and breathing. Wake up ten minutes earlier to avoid feeling so rushed. Pre-cook meals at the weekend so you don’t leave yourself any excuse to dash out to the nearest fast food joint.

The consequences of overlooking your health and overworking include excess weight, hypertension, stress and depression, exhaustion, and even shortened lifespans.

It may be a little daunting, but you’re going to have to get creative, and you’re going to have to discipline yourself.

Take sleep, for example. One 2018 study found that nearly a third (32.9%) of US Americans got fewer than six hours of sleep per night. Much of that can be attributed to economic conditions, but it’s also important to note that people are pushed, and push themselves, harder than they have for decades. So the next time you feel like you just can’t leave that file for the office the next day or those figures have to be crunched or those materials have to be prepped, just remember this: there’s always tomorrow, and your health comes first.

Try setting yourself an absolute hard deadline for sleep. Chances are you’ll miss it once or twice to begin with, but the more you keep at it, the easier and more natural it will feel, and your body will thank you for it. 

Exercises, too, can become a force of habit if you incorporate them into your day. Try standing at work instead of sitting, or do lunges now and then, or take a walk while you make phone calls.

And of course, avoid snacks and too many long evenings on the couch. The biggest temptation can be to just collapse after a long day, but if you take the time and make the effort to put half an hour into a simple dinner or to go for a jog, you’ll be thanking yourself for years to come.

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swimming pool during golden hour

Keep Leaves and Debris out with the Top 7 Best Pool Covers

Now that summer's over, it's time to start thinking about closing down your pool for the winter. There are a few tasks that you must perform to make sure that your pool remains healthy even during the off-season. You should clean the pool water and add winter chemicals. But you have to cover your pool too. So let's take a look at some of the best pool covers you can get this year.

Types of Pool Covers

While you're searching for the best pool covers, there are a few types that you should know about.

Solar pool covers

Automatic pool covers

Thermal pool covers

Winter pool covers

Hidden swimming pool covers

How We Revied

Our goal is to help you find the best pool covers to meet your needs. In our review process, we took a look at top-selling covers. We then narrowed down our list by researching professional and consumer reviews. We also compared the features and price of each cover. All of the covers on our list meet our standards for top quality products.

The Top 3 Best Pool Covers for Above Ground Pools

Here are our top three picks for the best pool covers for above ground pools this year.

1

1. Pool Mate 351632RPM Heavy-Duty Blue Winter Pool Cover

Pool Mate 351632RPM Heavy-Duty Blue Winter Pool Cover for In-Ground...
  • Heavy-duty, polyethylene
  • Stops algae growth
  • 5-Foot overlap for easy installation

Our first contender for the best pool covers for above ground pools comes from Pool Mate. This cover will protect your pool during harsh winter conditions.


One of the things that we love about this cover is that its heavy-duty polyethylene material stops algae growth. It does this by preventing UV rays from entering the pool.


This is a solid pool cover, so it will block out dirt and debris.

If you use this cover and close your pool with proper winterizing chemicals, you will have an easy time opening a clean pool in the spring. We recommend opening your pool by mid-May to prevent algae growth.


This cover is available in many different sizes. And it features a 5-foot overlap. It should float comfortably on the water.


The Pool Mate cover comes with water tube loops. You should use the loops with water tubes, which you can purchase separately.


We also love the lightweight material that is more durable than other covers because all of the seams are heat-sealed for optimal performance.


This cover also comes with a 10-year warranty.

PROS

  • Comes with a long warranty
  • Great entry-level cover
  • Easy to install and remove
  • Easy to store

CONS

  • The cover can leak
  • Not as durable as some of the others

2

2. Blue Wave NS110 8-mil Solar Blanket

Blue Wave NS110 8-mil Solar Blanket for Round Above-Ground Pools,...
  • RETAINS HEAT - Insulating thermal cells trap heat and retain warmth on cool cloudy days allowing you to swim in warmer...
  • LONG-LASTING - Created with UV-protected polymer, our solar blankets are resistant to the deterioration caused by...
  • EXTENDS THE SEASON - This high-quality 8-mil solar blanket uses passive heating to raise your swimming pool’s...

The next spot on our list of the best pool covers goes to Blue Wave. The first thing that we love about this one is that it retains heat. This cover features insulating thermal cells that trap heat and retain warmth even on cool cloudy days.


This solar blanket uses UV-protected polymer, which means that the cover is resistant to deterioration caused by pool chemicals and UV radiation.


This cover's innovative technology can raise the temperature of your pool by up to 15 degrees Fahrenheit.


And the thermal bubbles will retain the warmth even after the sun goes down. That means that you can swim comfortably even at night or on cloudy days.


The Blue Wave cover optimizes heat retention thanks to the opaque, blue color, which allows the most sunlight to reach your pool.


It also reduces evaporation. This cover will prevent up to 95 percent of chemical and pool water evaporation. This means that it's not only environmentally friendly, but it will also save you time and money.


This cover is available in many different sizes, and it comes with a three-year manufacturer warranty.

PROS

  • Circle shape
  • Warms the water and keeps the pool warm
  • Very durable
  • Lightweight

CONS

  • The bubbles can burst over time
  • The cover may be too thin for some people

3

3. Intex Solar Cover for Easy Set and Frame Pools

Intex Solar Cover for 16ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools
  • Pool cover helps keep pool water warmer
  • Helps protect pool from debris
  • Designed with central drainage holes to prevent rainwater from pooling on cover

No conversation about the best pool covers would be complete without mentioning Intex. This solar pool cover will help to keep your pool water warmer.


The Intex cover is solid and will protect your pool from dirt, leaves, and debris.


One unique thing about this cover is that it is designed with central drainage holes. This is especially nice because it keeps rainwater from pooling on the cover.


Another thing that we love about the Intex solar cover is that it is lightweight and super easy to use. You just place the cover inside the walls of your pool and let it float to the surface.


When it comes to sizing, this one comes in many different options, but they are all circular and meant to fit Easy Set and framed pools.

This cover will also reduce evaporation by up to 95 percent.


We also love that this cover comes with a convenient carrying bag, which makes storing and transporting a breeze. You should always make sure that you dry the cover before putting it in the carrying bag.

PROS

  • Circle shape
  • Solar blanket
  • Comes with a carrying bag
  • Lightweight and easy to install

CONS

  • Not as high of quality as some of the others
  • Not as durable as some of the others
  • The holes in the cover can let some debris in

The Top 4 Best Pool Covers for In-Ground Pools

Here are our top four picks for the best pool covers for in-ground pools this year.

1

1. Blue Wave Rectangular In-Ground Pool Safety Cover

Blue Wave 20-ft x 40-ft Rectangular In Ground Pool Safety Cover - Blue
  • Select cover based on your pool size. Actual cover measures approximately 2-ft wider and 2-ft longer
  • Comes complete with all hardware to install on concrete decking
  • Includes: brass anchors, stainless-steel springs, buckles, installation tools, and storage bag

When it comes to the best pool covers for in-ground pools, you should consider this one by Blue Wave. This cover is durable and strong enough to support your whole family. However, it's light enough to install or remove in about five minutes.


Blue Wave makes this premium cover out of super-strong two-ply mesh that has a break strength of more than 4,000 pounds.


Another thing that we love about this one is the safety features. When this cover is in use, it's held in place with brass anchors that lay flush with the pool deck when you're not using the cover.


The drill and tamp style brass anchoring system will permanently secure the anchors to the concrete.


This cover also offers great winter protection for your pool.


Multi-seamed stitching not only ensures safety, but it also prevents wear and tear. The reinforced wear strips on the underside of the cover guard against fraying and abrasion.


The mesh on this cover will allow rainwater through, but it will stop leaves and other debris. It also makes spring clean up a breeze because no water collects on the cover.


The Blue Wave cover also comes with a storage bag. And it is backed with an incredible 18-year warranty.

PROS

  • One of the most durable on the market
  • Looks great
  • Comes with a long warranty
  • High quality

CONS

  • The mesh will allow some debris in
  • Some complained that they received missing parts
  • Expensive

2

2. Loop-Loc Safety Pool Cover

20 x 40 Rectangle Loop-Loc Safety Pool Cover
  • 20 x 40 Rectangle Loop-Loc Safety Pool Cover
  • Size Listed is Pool Size - Cover will be 2' larger
  • All hardware for cement installation included

Loop-Loc is the next contender on our list of the best pool covers this year. This cover will fit a 20-foot by 40-foot pool. The cover will be slightly larger.


All of the hardware required for cement installation comes with this cover.


One of the things that we love about this cover is that it is made of a new, thicker weave, which blocks nearly all of the sun's rays from reaching your pool water.


But even as it blocks out the sun, it will still let in rainwater and snow, so you don't have to worry about the cover breaking. You should consider this cover if you're looking for less light and debris getting into your pool.


This cover system is strong enough to support the weight of your whole family.


The Loop-Loc cover is one of the strongest and most durable on the market this year. It's also one of the safest.

PROS

  • Comes with all of the installation hardware
  • Super strong mesh that blocks the sun
  • Can hold a lot of weight

CONS

  • Only available in one size
  • You may need a pump to drain excess water

3

3. Water Warden Pool Safety Cover

Intex Solar Cover for 16ft Diameter Easy Set and Frame Pools
  • Pool cover helps keep pool water warmer
  • Helps protect pool from debris
  • Designed with central drainage holes to prevent rainwater from pooling on cover

Water Warden makes another of the best pool covers this year. The first thing that we love about this cover is that it is super safe. It's triple-stitched and double-strapped on the top and bottom. That double strapping adds a second layer of durability and protection.


We love that this cover protects your in-ground pool from harsh winter conditions in just one step.


This cover features a lightweight mesh along with two-ply webbing. That means that it will trap all twigs, leaves, and other debris, while still allowing rainwater to seep through.


Another thing that we love about this cover is that it comes with a heavy-duty hardware kit. The hardware comes from finely crafted materials, including stainless steel, solid brass, and heavy-duty aluminum.


Water Warden designed the D-ring springs to eliminate the need for buckles.

You'll also love that this pool safety cover can block out almost 100 percent of the sunlight. That means that you won't get algae growth in your swimming pool. You'll be very happy about that when you open your pool in the spring!


This cover will fit a pool that measures 20 feet by 40 feet.

PROS

  • Easy to remove and install
  • Comes with all of the needed hardware like springs and hooks
  • Easy to store

CONS

  • Only available in one size
  • It could require new anchors to be drilled into your pool
  • On the pricey side

4

4. Yard Guard Green Mesh Inground Safety Pool Cover

YARD GUARD 18'x36' Green Mesh - CES Rectangle Inground Safety Pool...
  • High-quality in-ground pool safety cover with porous, tight mesh that keeps out silt and debris
  • Resistant to rot, mildew, UV, and damage caused by pool water
  • White thread is triple-stitched at all perimeter stress points

Last up on our list of the best pool covers this year is the cover by Yard Guard.


This high-quality in-ground pool safety cover features porous, tight mesh that keeps out all debris and silt, while still allowing rainwater and snow to seep through.


One of the things that we love about this one is that it is resistant to mildew, rot,


UV, and damage that can be caused by your pool water.

This cover also features triple-stitched white thread at all of the perimeter stress points. For added strength, straps run on both the top and bottom of the cover.


And on top of that, reinforced webbing on the top and bottom of every seam assure that it is super safe and strong. The rub strips on the seams will also protect your pool's surface.


This cover is built to withstand many years of wear and tear.


Another thing that we love about this cover is that it features modern cover technology with a computerized shaping and cutting system that assures the best quality.


This cover also comes with a 15-year warranty.

PROS

  • Easy to install and remove
  • Comes with a 15-year warranty
  • Instructions are easy to follow

CONS

  • Straps can stretch a bit
  • Not as durable as some of the more expensive covers

The Bottom Line on the Best Pool Covers

That's not all, here are a couple tips for those of you with above ground pools!


Hopefully, we've helped you narrow down your search for the best pool covers today. We highly recommend all seven of the covers on our list this year. We especially love the four in-ground pool cover options.


Now we want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments section below what you think about our list this year. Do you have any great tips for finding the best pool covers? Share those with our readers too!


Above ground pool with cover

Shutting Down For The Summer: How To Winterize An Above Ground Pool

If you’re lucky enough to own a pool, you should know how to take proper care of it. When you know how to winterize an above ground pool, you can save it from the damaging effect of cold air and other elements. Freezing can cause any pool to become useless by the time spring rolls around.

There are right ways and wrong ways to winterize an outdoor, above ground pool. Therefore, it’s important to follow a step-by-step procedure if you want a functioning pool at the end of winter. That’s not a task to rush through, or you might waste all your efforts.

There might be several misconceptions surrounding the concept of winterizing a pool, so you should be able to clear those up. You can then look at the correct procedure before getting started on your pool winterizing project.

Learning How to Winterize an Above Ground Pool Protects Your Property

So, what are the damages and dangers if you leave your pool exposed to the cold winter air? Knowing this will motivate you in learning how to winterize an above ground pool:

Clean water for protecting the pool

It’s a misconception that you need to drain the water from the pool completely. With no water inside, your tools and pipes won’t be likely to freeze, right? However, it’s now a fact that having clean water in your above ground pool is a better way to preserve its function.

Before we start with how to winterize a pool, you should know about the chemicals that go in the water first. These include chlorine shock, algaecide, and stain avoidance chemicals.

As the name suggests, algaecide prevents pool algae from growing and blooming. After you dissolve this in the pool water, you’ll use chlorine shock to help the algaecide along. That will improve water clarity and also speed up the destroying process of algae growth.

Finally, you may apply stain avoidance to do away with any stains that might spoil the appearance of the pool. It’s also necessary for maintaining hygiene, as the stains can harden and become permanent if you leave them for the winter.

All these chemicals are suitable for securing your above ground swimming pool during the winter season. They serve to stabilize the pool water, ensuring that the latter stays in a similar condition before you shut it down.

Knowing how much water to drain

You don’t have to drain all the water inside. The pipes system is among the most important components of any pool. If this system is frozen, you can face a lot of damage.

Naturally, you’d avoid paying for the expensive repairs come springtime. That’s why you should drain the pool to below the level of the skimmer or the filtration system.

Fortunately, most modern pool systems have a detachable pump and filtration system. That makes the steps in how to winterize an above ground pool much easier, as you may imagine. All you have to do is remove the skimmer and pump, make sure they’re dry, and store them separately.

Those who already know how to winterize an above ground pool will also be aware of the importance of air pillows. It’s an additional item that we place beneath the winter cover of our pool. The air pillow goes in the middle of the above ground pool. Its main function is to center any rain, ice, or snow pressure.

If these elements have too much pressure, they’d move towards the air pillow instead of damaging the pool. That way, even if you want to drain most of the pool water, a closely-fitting cover will still prevent most of the damage.

The maintenance of swimming pools

equipment for cleaning  a pool


A swimming pool of any kind is a great luxury, but this also means that you have to make a lot of effort on its maintenance. If you’re not aware of how to winterize an above ground pool properly, be prepared to pay through the nose.

Think of your swimming pool as an investment. It can give you a lot of return for the money you spent on construction and water. However, if you don’t want this investment to fail, knowing how to drain its pipes and secure it from damage is a must.

The cold weather can freeze up certain areas of the pool. Additionally, it can also attract twigs, leaves, and other forms of debris into the pool. If you don’t winterize properly, you could end up with a choked and dirty pool that’s unfit for immediate use.

Once you know how to winterize an above ground pool correctly, you likely won’t have to pay for repairing much damage in the warmer weather. Plus, you can reopen an undamaged pool more easily when the right season rolls around.

Storing the whole pool

Some above-ground pools are not necessarily installed inside the ground, but stand above it. This type of pool is more economical and easier to protect during the winter. All you have to do is pull off the detachable parts and store away the whole pool in a large indoor area. Make sure you follow the storage instructions on the package: don’t just wing it.


When Is the Right Time to Winterize Your Above Ground Pool?

The closing time of your above ground pool will vary according to the temperature in your area. If you want to cut it as close as possible, you should wait until the temperature goes below 65 degrees Fahrenheit or 18 degrees Celsius.

The reasoning behind this is that algae need heat for growing, just like most plants. When the temperature is low, it’s more likely that your pool water is free of infestations.

That’s why we should leave the pool open until the cold season officially starts. An open pool will also give you time for cleaning, testing, and balancing the pool’s pH before closing it for the winter.

Some areas might see a rise in temperatures above 65 degrees during winter. If this happens in your locality, you can use the warm period to test the pool water chemistry. If it’s off, you can try balancing it again.

This testing and balancing will help to clean the water and keep it clear for the spring.


The Step-By-Step Process

We now come to the actual process of how to winterize an above ground pool. The following steps will make things easier to understand and follow:

Step 1: Remove some parts of the pool

First of all, you need to remove some parts of the pool. You can wrap them up and store them in a shed or any other sheltered place. It will ensure that they won’t rust during the winter season. The first two parts you need to screw off are the step ladder and the filtration system.

Next, remove the pipes. Wash these thoroughly, as they contain a lot of residue and gunk. Finally, dry off all these parts before securing them at a reasonable temperature.

Step 2: Make it hygienic by adjusting the contents

Next, you have to adjust the water inside the pool. That means balancing the levels of alkalinity, water pH, and calcium hardness. Every pool has different levels for these substances, though they're all necessary. You’ll have to increase or lower the levels as required.

The general rule of thumb here is that the calcium hardness should be between 180 and 220. The pH level should ideally be between 7.2 and 7.4. Alkalinity levels should be at least 80 ppm and 120 ppm at the maximum.

To prevent the growth of algae as much as possible, it’s essential to measure all these levels precisely. After this, cover the pool as neatly and tightly as you can. This will help to enhance the performance of these substances, which in turn will maintain the hygiene of your pool.

Step 3: Clean it up

dried leaves on a pool


The next step in the process is to clean up your pool. When in use during the warmer months, the pool would naturally have some debris inside it. These include large particles, such as leaves (both fresh and dry). You’ll have to remove these from the pool’s surface as they have organic particles.

After the leaves, try to remove any foreign objects from your above ground pool. That also includes the tiniest amount of algae.

Step 4: Reduce the water level

While you shouldn’t completely drain the pool, it’s necessary to reduce the water level. At the very least, the pool’s water level should be beneath the filtration system or skimmer line.

This precaution will ensure that there’s no water splashing into the skimmer’s mouth. If there is any water there during a freezing winter, you’ll probably find some frozen water damage in the system afterward.

Step 5: Cover the pool

With the water balanced out and below a certain level, it’s now safe to close up your above ground pool. Make sure the cover is tight and neat, or a winter wind could blow it out. Cover clips will come in handy for securing the cover to the pool sides.

You should also inspect your pool cover before putting it on. When in storage, covers like these can develop holes. If this is the case, you can use patches for avoiding any snowmelt or rain damage.

If the rips and tears are too much, you might have to invest in a new pool cover. This additional cost would still be lower than expensive repairs for your pool.

An air pillow is also a worthy investment here. It will help to centralize your cover and keep any snow, rain, or ice away from the pool. If the winter is cold enough to form ice, that air pillow will function as an ice equalizer.

Step 6: Remove the filters

The final step in winterizing your pool is to remove the filters or the pump and filter system. Take off these parts, hose them down properly, and leave them out to dry. It’s best if you can leave them like this overnight.

Once these parts dry out completely, you can put the system back together. Finally, store it away for the season in a dry, sheltered place.


Time to Take Care of Your Above Ground Pool

Now that you know how to winterize an above ground pool, you’ll be all set for the cold season! Proper winterizing will help to extend the life of your swimming pool and ensure that you’ll have many more seasons to cherish. Stay on your toes about winterizing and enjoy the fruits of your efforts when spring finally comes around.

Do you have any additional information for those learning how to winterize an above ground pool? Let us know in the comments section.


Featured Image: Public Domain, by Jonathan Hogue via Wikimedia Commons

kid writing on a piece of paper

9 Simple and Meaningful Teacher Christmas Presents for This Holiday Season

With the Christmas season fast approaching, many parents out there are starting to think about gifts for all the important people in their lives and their child’s lives. It can be hard to spend the time and energy on a teacher’s Christmas present when you have to wrap your presents for the kiddos under the tree, but today we are here to take some of the difficulty out of the gift buying process. Here are some of our favorite cute and simple ways to thank a teacher this Christmas and put a smile on their faces. 

Baking Supplies

teacher christmas gifts

For this gift, all you need is some necessary cooking supplies, a mitt or small baking tin, and a spatula. Make sure that the teacher in question doesn’t have any significant allergies or dietary restrictions!

A Christmas Ornament

christmas teacher ornament

What better way to have a teacher think of your child and smile, then by getting them a creative ornament for their tree. Our favorite is one that has the teacher’s name on it and crayons inside. However, Etsy and other sites have many options of unique and creative ornaments that will fit any teacher’s personality. 

A Teacher’s Bag 

Christmas teacher bag gift

Lugging activities and assignments back and forth to school can make a teacher’s arms and back ache. Give them the gift this Christmas of a teacher’s bag that can help them to cart their supplies to and fro. Add their names on the bag and what grade they teach for an extra special touch. 

Starbucks or a Coffee Gift Card

thanks a latte teacher gift

What teacher doesn’t need a pick me up from caffeine now and then? A great gift is to give them the gift of a gift card to a coffee shop, Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts and package it by saying, “Thanks a latte for all you do.”

Pens

teacher pen gift

What is one thing that teachers never have enough of? Pens or pencils. I can’t tell you the number of times my kids have gone to school for two weeks, lost all their pencils somehow, and had to ask the teacher to borrow one of theirs. Replace those this Christmas by creating a cute baggie to hold the pencils and pens with this sweet quote attached, “ you hap-PEN to be an INK-credible teacher.” 

A Plant

plant for teacher

Want to spruce up a teacher’s desk or home? Gift them a plant this Christmas. This pot below is our favorite, and it has a witty quote attached, “ Thanks for helping me grow.” 

A Personalized Teacher Sign 

personalized teacher signs

A great personal gift to give to any teacher your child admires is a sign that they can hang in their classroom. This sign can have a quote about shaping young minds or have their name. A personalized sign is a gift that, if you have the extra time to put in the effort, will last for the long run. 

Last-Minute Candy 

teacher candy jar

And if you are scrambling to find a last-minute gift, you can always give the gift of food. Don’t be afraid to give a teacher the gift of candy, chocolate covered pretzels, or Christmas popcorn. Buy a jar and some ribbon and the treat for inside, and the gift is complete.

A Movie or Restaurant Gift Card

movie gift card

Give your child’s teacher the gift of a night out to rest and relax. Get them a gift card to a nicer restaurant in town or the movie theater. You never know the financial spot your child’s teacher is in, and this gift might allow them to indulge in an evening they wouldn’t usually be able to afford. 

 

I hope that this article has helped to spark your brain with some fun and creative ways to thank a teacher near to your child’s heart this Christmas. Let us know how you plan to spoil your child’s teacher in the comments below!

 

white cooler

What Size Cooler Do I Need? Pick the Perfect Size for Snack Attacks

As I headed out to see the game I thought it would be nice to have a cool drink and a sandwich or two by my side. I stopped at the store and as I picked up some drinks I noticed the coolers they had placed next to the refrigerators. I thought, "A cooler would be nice to have so my drinks stay cold, but what size cooler do I need?"

What Size Cooler Do I Need?

Long story short, they had small coolers, huge coolers, soft coolers and, backpack coolers. So many choices I didn't know what to grab. I took a minute to decide and ended up picking a medium-sized cooler for the game.

For my situation, I had a few friends who were going to see the game with me. I knew they would need a cool place for their drinks as well. Even with the ice and the drinks, I was able to hoist the cooler into the back of my truck and head out to the game.

Sitting in the parking lot outside the game, I realized that my original decision may have been flawed. My cooler worked perfectly for this game, but would it be just as perfect for the other events I would attend?

I knew there were a few events I would be walking around. I couldn't carry my new cooler around with me at those events. What size cooler do I need for those events? Since a cooler lasts, I wanted the perfect cooler for any outing. Like many things, the determination of the cooler rests the details.

And the simple answer you want to know is: The cooler size you need depends on what you're doing, where you're going, and who you'll be with.

The Answer Rests in the Details

cooler-behind-the-car

Image via Unsplash

A cooler is made for many occasions. Considering this fact, we know that many variables apply when deciding what cooler to buy.

Coolers made out of fabric are mobile but don't last as long as other coolers. Large coolers lack this mobility but have the versatility of a large space. Treated right, these coolers last for a long time. A medium-sized cooler is more mobile than a large cooler but wouldn't fit all of the things you need for a large event.

So choosing the cooler based on your specific situation is ideal. When you ask yourself, "What cooler do I need?" Think of your needs and how the cooler you buy satisfies them.

The longevity of the cooler

Effective mobility

People, places, and things

The Determination

Based on these variables, you can make your determination. "What size cooler do I need if I am moving a lot?" you may ask. You need a small mobile cooler. What size cooler do I need if I have quite a bit of people to support? You need a large cooler.

Store your cooler in safe places if you get one with lighter material. If your cooler needs to be able to handle some wear and tear, then get a cooler made with stronger material. Make your determination based on the needs that you have for your cooler.

The Effect of the Right Cooler

drinks in cooler

Image via Unsplash

The right coolers have a big effect on the enjoyment you have at your events. The effect is felt by everyone around you. We all enjoy having a cool drink by our side, especially at the events we attend. And you don't have to worry about your food going bad along the way.

You don't have to run to the store as often since you have all of the storage you need. The event goes smoothly, and you travel easily. With all of the items that you need to keep cool along the way. A cooler isn't essential for every attendee of an event, but one can be very useful for a group or party.

A cooler allows for some extra fun to be had in the time you spend out and about. They can save you money by preventing the need for stops at the store or food stand every time that you need food or drink.

Usability

The uses are vast with the right cooler. You can take your cooler to the park with a nice picnic inside. You can enjoy the game with some ice-cold drinks and even a small lunch by your side.

Or you can keep everything you need with you as you travel around in your vehicle. And you can enjoy your time at a festival with a mobile cooler.

You can even use a cooler for medicines that have to stay cool. No matter where you go, you may want to have a cooler by your side.

Ultimately the decision rests on the variables at play. Although, it may be of your own preference to go against the most logical of answers. Sure it's difficult to carry a huge cooler around with you, but determination and strong muscles can allow you to have that preference.

Plus, if you're moving around that much, get one with wheels!

Preference

beach cooler

Image via Pexels

It can seem so simple of a decision, but the necessity of the choice makes it an important one. When I made my decision, I made it based on the factors involved, but I also made it based on my preference. We all live our own lives and so thus have our own biases, beliefs, and preferences.

To live the best of our life is to make the most out of our choices. Logical decisions in a situation like this may not be your preference. The goal is to be happy, healthy, and fed. So make the choice that works for you.

On to the Game!

What size cooler do I need? The most effective and preferential one I can find. And the same goes for you. Whether it's a fabric cooler, small cooler, large cooler, handheld cooler, or some other cooler in the family, it will do its job based on what it's made for. So choose wisely.

Now it's time to load up and head out to the game. Have fun, and stay cool! Did we help you pick the right cooler? Let us know in the comments below!


Featured image source: Unsplash

two man standing beside a pitched tent

How To Set Up A Tent In A Matter Of Minutes The Easy Way

Camping is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, you can’t enjoy this amazing outdoor activity if you don’t know how to set up a tent.

While straightforward for some, learning how to set up a tent is often more challenging than it looks. And this fact is especially true if it’s your first time. When you’re all alone at your campsite, it could be a struggle to pitch your tent. If you don’t do it right, you will not have a decent place to sleep and relax.

Fortunately, even a beginner can set up a tent. All you need to know are a few key steps. Soon enough, you’ll be enjoying the beauty of nature instead of crying over a tent pole you don’t know where to put.

​What Is a Tent?

It would be logistically impossible to take your home while camping. Although you can’t have your plush bed, comforter, and pillow in the middle of a clearing, you can have something that comes close -- a tent. A tent is made up of sheets of fabric and other materials attached to poles and frames.

Tents have been used as portable homes for many years, especially by nomads, disaster victims, soldiers, and campers. The main purpose of tents is to provide users a temporary shelter.

Given the popularity of tents for recreational purposes, we focus on small and light types of tents, which are usually used by backpackers. Most of these tents are so compact they can easily fit in any bag.

​Types of Tents

​There are many different kinds of tents available that offer distinct features and limitations. Here are the most common types of tents you can find on the market today.

​Dome tent

Coleman Sundome 4-Person Tent, Green
  • Dome tent with spacious interior allows you to move comfortably
  • Easy setup in only 10 minutes
  • WeatherTec system with patented welded floors and inverted seams to keep you dry

One of the most popular types of tent follows a dome structure. Knowing how to set up a tent is crucial if you have this type of tent. This tent is known for its flexibility thanks to its pole that can easily bend into a half-circle.

The flexible poles of this tent cross in the middle. Its sides are more vertical, which gives better headroom space and a bigger floor area.

​Basic ridge tent

Paria Outdoor Products Breeze Mesh Tent - Ultralight 2 Person Mesh...
  • ULTIMATE PROTECTION - The 30 Denier rip-stop silnylon floor has a silicon/PU dual-coating and fully taped seams,...
  • LIGHTWEIGHT - So light, you won't even notice! Our mesh tent comes in at only 24 ounces, which also includes the line...
  • VERSATILE - Pair the Breeze mesh tent with our Sanctuary Siltarp to get the perfect shelter every time! During clear...

When you think of a tent, this type of tent may be the picture that comes to your mind. Basic ridge tents have a pole at every end, and some models have a cross pole or ridge which holds its shape.

This type of tent is a popular choice for campers thanks to its incredible stability, especially in harsh conditions. Although it is stable, you may not like the space that it offers. There is limited headspace to allow you to stand, so it’s not a top choice for family holidays.

​​​​Geodesic and semi-geodesic

Hubs Geodesic Dome Kit
  • Simple to snap together connectors that make durable geodesic domes quick, fun and easy to build.
  • The kit contains everything you need except for the sticks.
  • Scaleable – choose the size that suits you

The term geodesic refers to the shortest route between the world’s two points. This idea applies to a tent whose pole crisscrosses over its surface to form triangles. This structure helps balance the stress to make it more stable in extreme weather conditions.

Geodesic structures are the best tent to take while mountain climbing. So if you plan to pitch your tent in more extreme climates, keep an eye out for this tent.

​How to Set Up a Tent the Easy Way

Sleeping outdoors doesn’t have to be tough. Now that you know the importance of this camping must-have, it’s time to learn how to set up a tent.

When setting up your tent, always take your time. While an experienced camper may be able to set up a tent in a few minutes, someone just learning how to set up a tent may need close to an hour.

If you rush any of the important steps, you may end up with an unsecured temporary home. Just make sure to pitch your tent before night falls so you can have shelter to protect you from the wind.

​Before setting up

Setting up a tent is an art form. When learning how to set up a tent, keep in mind that you will get better in time. You are bound to run into some troubles on your first try, but that doesn’t mean it would be a bad experience.

Don’t set up your tent just yet. You first have to complete these preliminary steps before you can successfully pitch your tent for the night.

​Ensure you are carrying all supplies

​Check your tent

​Examine the campsite

tent pitched in a campsite

Image Via Pixabay

Before setting up your tent, observe your campsite first. Check to see if the ground is flat enough to be your base. Pick a wide and open space where you can pitch your tent. If you’re camping in a national park, ensure that you are setting up in a designated area. If not, double-check to be sure you’re not pitching your tent on private property.

Remove all rocks and debris from the site you choose to pitch your tent. If you’re somewhere with pine trees, you may even use the leaves to serve as a soft layer underneath your tent. Never set-up your tent where there are hollow areas since water may accumulate there if it rains.

You should also check out where the sun casts its light and which way the wind blows. Also, be on the lookout for beehives, cobwebs, and trees around your site. The last thing you want is to have a tree branch fall on top of your tent.

​​​​​​​​Placing the tarp

​The first step in learning how to set up a tent is to place the tarp on the ground. This step will serve as the protective layer between the ground and your tent so that it won’t gather moisture. Fold the tarp until it reaches a smaller size than your tent, just enough so it won’t hang beyond your tent’s edge. If your tarp is larger, it may accumulate rainwater.

​Laying the tent

man teaching young guy how to set up a tent

Image Via Flickr

​Now, you’re finally ready to break out your tent. Put all the components of your tent on the ground, including poles, stakes, and the fabric itself. Then, lay the bottom side of your tent on top of your tarp. Check to find where the door and windows should be positioned.

​Moving on with tent poles

This part may be intimidating for some people, but it’s actually very easy. Depending on which tent you have, connect it to your tent poles or bungee ropes. Ensure that you connect every single one. Then, lay the poles together across your flat tent.

Most tents come with two poles that connect to form an X in the middle. Insert the pole through the flaps on the corners and the top of each tent. Then, attach the clips to secure it. If you’re unsure of how to do this, you may check the instruction guide that came with your tent to see how the poles fit the proper way.

​Raising the tent

After you’ve inserted the poles, the next step in learning how to set up a tent is raising it. This step may be hard to do if you’re on your own, so if you have friends or family with you, ask for their help.

When the poles are inserted in the right spots of your tent, they will bend. This effect makes your tent stand up tall so you can sleep in it. Pull the tent’s corners apart and ensure that the poles are untangled until it aligns with your square tarp. Attach the necessary structural components of your tent, such as plastic hooks, to make it stand up.

​​​​​​Securing your tent

man pitching a tent

Image Via Flickr

Now that you’ve gotten your tent perfectly aligned with your tarp, insert the stakes on the flaps near the ground and push it firmly. This step is particularly easy to do, but when you find yourself in hard ground, use a good hammer. Keep in mind that some stakes bend with pressure, so be careful. You don’t want to break it.

The next step to secure your tent is to add a rain fly. This sheet will cover your tent to protect you from any rain that comes your way.

​After Camping

tents pitched in a campsite

Image Via Pixabay

Part of learning how to set up a tent is knowing what to do after you’ve used it. In this section, we’ve gathered everything you need to know about how to care for your tent.

​Drying your tent

​Packing up your tent

​Airing out your tent

​​​​​​Ready to Go Camping?

woman sitting beside a pitched tent

Image Via Pixabay

​See? Learning how to set up a tent isn’t as challenging as you thought. Even if you’re not an outdoor person, you can easily do this when the situation calls for it. Whether you need a tent for an overnight music festival or a weeklong camping trip, knowing how to set up a tent allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.

Once you’ve got your tent ready, you can finally toast some marshmallows, listen to the calming sounds of nature, and sleep soundly.

So do you have any additional tips on how to set up a tent? We’d love to read your thoughts in the comments below!

​Featured Image Via Pixabay

bubble-gum-shoes-glue-dirt-

How to Get Gum off Shoes for Footwear That Never Fails

Stepping in a sticky, dirty piece of chewing gum is no fun. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to figure out how how to get gum off shoes in most cases.

What’s more, it only requires some common household items or things you can buy almost anywhere. And it won’t take long before your shoes are gum-free again.

So, if you’ve been freaking out about how to get gum off shoes, you’ve come to the right place. Don’t worry. It’ll be gone soon.

How to Get Gum off Shoes

There are many takes on how to get gum off shoes, but they’re not all interchangeable. Some are universal, but others only work for certain types of shoes or certain parts of the shoe.

If you get gum on a pair of trusty tennis shoes, almost anything will work. But if you’re wearing finer shoes when you step in the sticky mess, it can be a trickier situation.

Materials like suede and nubuck are famously sensitive, so you may need to stick to using a specialized cleaner. Saddle soap is also ideal for leather and similar materials, which may need a touch-up after the gum removal. You’ll also need a good brush, and those are helpful for all types of shoes.

Now, that’s not the only solution. Let’s begin with something simple and universal that should work for virtually all shoes.

Stick It in the Freezer

top-opening-refrigerator

image by pexels

Like most other things, gum hardens if it gets cold. Therefore, using a freezer is a simple solution to how to get gum off shoes.

First, you should stick the shoe in a plastic bag. Surely, you don’t want to get dirt from your shoes in your freezer. Also, this method is far more effective if the gum has something to stick to.

So, use a plastic bag, and make sure to press it against the gum until it sticks. Now it’s ready for the freezer.

After an hour or two, it should be sufficiently frozen. Now, the only thing left to do is to take it out and pull the gum off the shoe.

If it didn’t work, you probably took it out too soon. Putting it back in and waiting longer should do the trick. You can also try scraping off the frozen gum with a butter knife or a similar tool.

Another Job for WD-40

WD-40 Multi-Use Product with SMART STRAW SPRAYS 2 WAYS, 14.4 OZ...
  • Drives out moisture and quickly dries out electrical systems to eliminate moisture-induced short circuits
  • Acts as a corrosion inhibitor to shield against moisture and other corrosive elements to prevent rust
  • Frees sticky mechanisms, loosens rust-to-metal bonds and helps release stuck, frozen or rusted metal parts

If you know some mechanics or people who are really into cars and machinery, you’ve probably seen or heard about the power of WD-40. It’s a mix of lubricants and solvents with countless uses all revolving in getting stuck things to move.

Gum's no exception to this effect. If you spray some WD-40 onto the gum and around it and then leave it for a couple of minutes, it should come right off.

To remove the gum, you’ll want to use a rag or paper towel. If there’s still some gum residue on the shoe, a second spray should take care of that.

Regarding how to get gum off shoes, few solutions are this simple and effective. However, it’s not suitable for suede and other porous, absorbent materials. The oil will stain fabrics, so be careful.

Also, make sure to rinse and wipe off your shoes after removing gum with WD-40. The active ingredients may react with rubber and plastic materials if left on.

Solving the Problem with Solvents

WD-40 is only one example of common products that can dissolve the gum. If you don’t have it, you may have other household products that can do the job.

Please note the importance of carefully choosing a solvent for the job. Impurities can stain or damage your shoes. Also, you need to make sure that the product won’t dissolve the shoe materials.

Acetone

Naphtha or lighter fluid

Apply Ice

Freezing and dissolving the gum are the best approaches to how to get gum off shoes. But what if you don’t have a suitable freezer and your shoe can’t handle solvents?

If you can get your hands on some ice, it’ll make a fine substitute for a freezer.

First, you’ll want to put the ice in a plastic bag to keep your shoe dry. Then, your shoe with the gummed side up and set the ice bag on top of the gum. Next, seal the shoe and ice bag inside another plastic bag to keep the cold inside.

Now, you’ll have to press the ice down for a while. You must freeze the gum solid before it’ll come off, so give it several minutes.

Next, you can scrape it off. It’s best to use something that’s thin enough to get under the gum but dull enough not to harm your shoe. For example, a butter knife is perfect.

Try Melting It

If you can harden something with cold, you can dissolve it with heat. So, let’s reverse our thoughts on how to get gum off shoes and melt it.

No, we’re not suggesting that you roast your shoes in the oven. What we do suggest is that you use a hairdryer. A heat gun can be more effective, but you must also be careful not to melt or scorch the shoe.

Grab a spoon or butter knife, then start heating the gum. Check the gum’s consistency frequently with the tool, and start scraping it off when it’s soft and less sticky. You can finish it off with a paper towel to get any residue.

hairdryer-hair-dryer-device-budget

image by pixabay

The Peanut Butter Trick

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when someone gets gum in their hair? Peanut butter, right?

Well, its helpful properties also apply to how to get gum off shoes. You see, the oil in peanut butter can dissolve the sticky compounds. Also, the little particles have an abrasive effect that helps you break the rubbery bonds and scrub everything off.

It’s best to use creamy peanut butter because it’s more effective. You’ll want to apply a thick layer of the buttery goodness on and around the gum for the best effect. Around two tablespoons should be enough.

Now, you need to give it at least 10 minutes to work its magic. Then, you can scrub it off. A hard-bristle brush or some steel wool is ideal. Also, you should scrub with the grooves rather than against them. This reduces the risk of damaging your shoe.

Please note that peanut butter will stain suede, nubuck, and fabrics. So, it’s only suitable for non-absorbent surfaces.

peanut-butter-breakfast-food-dinner

image by pixabay

Time to Oil Up?

oil-cooking-oil-kitchen-cook-eat

image by pixabay

What do peanut butter and WD-40 have in common? The answer is oil. How does this relate to how to remove gum from shoes?

Well, chewing gum gets its chewiness from rubbery or plastic compounds, which consist of oils. Therefore, many oils can mix with these compounds and ruin the stickiness.

So, regular cooking oil can help you with how to get gum off shoes. You can rub it onto the gum with a cotton ball or rag, and then leave it for a few minutes. Then, you can simply scrub it off.

Again, the oil will stain suede, fabrics, and leather. So, don’t use it on shoes made with those materials. It’s fine if you only use it on the sole, but you must be careful not to let it spill onto the sensitive materials.

Outside? Try Sand

shoes-chinese-men-glue

image by pexels

If you stepped on a pretty fresh piece of gum and noticed it right away, it’s best to deal with it as soon as possible. Thankfully, you can use dry sand and dust from the ground to remove the gum.

First, take off your shoe and set it with the gum facing up. Then, sprinkle some sand onto the gum. Next, grab a stick or other object you can use to scrape it off.

Keep scraping and pouring sand and mixing it into the gum. This will both dry it out and help you scrape it off.

You may not always be able to get everything off with this method. However, it’ll make things much easier when you get home and can use other methods.

Good as New!

classic-close-up-fashion

image by pexels

Wasn’t that easy? With your new arsenal of ways how to get gum off shoes, you’ll always be able to enjoy gum-free shoes.

Do you want to stay updated on outdoor games, sports, and general fun? Check out our game list and subscribe to our newsletter to get frequent inspiration for fun things to do.


Featured image by pixabay

How to Host a Murder Mystery Party Just in Time for Halloween

Are you ready to learn how to host a murder mystery party? Everyone loves to dig into a fun whodunnit type of story. There’s something incredibly exciting about seeing a problem, digging up clues, and putting the pieces together to solve the case. Whether we indulge in these sorts of mysteries by watching movies, reading books, listening to podcasts, or even hearing about the adventures in other people’s lives, there’s one place everyone can take a crack at it:

A murder mystery party.

These get-togethers can be an excellent party for any group of people, be it coworkers, family, a club, or even people who enjoy roleplaying. After all, what’s not to love about getting to put on your acting hat, pretending to be someone else for an evening, and getting to star in your detective role? Similarly, what could be a better choice for the Halloween season?

If that sounds like an excellent idea to you, there’s no better time to get started on the planning than now. But where do you learn how to host a murder mystery party? By reading our guide below!

Decide on Your Guests

escp europe london campus' halloween party

Image via flickr

While we’re talking about how to host a murder mystery party, we can’t forget about the guests. You can’t have a murder mystery party without any guests! Ideally, your invitation pool will include people who like to roleplay a little or don’t mind putting themselves out there to interact with others.

The guests you invite will decide several things, such as the tone of the party (friends vs. coworkers vs. family), the space you need, and how many players your game can accommodate. Like other parties, your guest list can also determine when you should schedule it for, so you can optimize your players.

Pick a Theme!

lights! camera! murder

Image via flickr

While the idea of a murder mystery party may bring to mind specific images (dinner theater anyone?), you can actually enjoy a variety of different themes. From classic murder mysteries to fantasy settings to sci-fi to the Old West, you have no shortage of choices. Your guest list will come in handy here, as you can pick a theme that your guests will enjoy playing.

At this stage, it’s also helpful to determine if you want your party to be dinner based or just a free for all in the evening. This decision will determine your layout later on, and it’s an essential part of how to host a murder mystery party.

If you’re uncertain about what themes you can go with, never fear! You can find numerous companies that sell murder mystery kits across different genres—which brings us into our next step!

Choose Your Story

murder mystery party

Image via flickr

We’ve mentioned murder mystery kits just above, so let’s talk a little bit more about them here. These kits essentially have everything you need to tell your story. They include the premise, character information, the identity of the murderer, possible scenes to help pace the party, and the clues your guests will need to solve the case.

Alternatively, you can take a crack at writing the story yourself! Building a concept from scratch can be a bit of a challenge. You’ll need to ensure there are enough clues to figure out who the culprit is without making it glaringly obvious and ending the game early.

There’s no one right way to choose your story. Kits are perfect for people who want time to plan the other aspects while writing the game on your own can be a fun and creative outlet. Plus it lets you customize the story for your guests!

Assigning Characters

murder mystery theme

Image via flickr

Once you have your story and your guest list settled, you’ll want to think about casting the “roles” of the mystery. There are plenty of ways you can go about this, such as:

  • Picking out characters that match the personalities of your guests, so it’s easy for them to play their role
  • Giving your guests characters with opposing personalities to challenge them
  • Letting your guests pick out the characters they’re interested in playing

While you can finalize the cast list close to the party date, stay aware that this is a task you’ll need to do to make your party successful!

Choosing a Location

murder mystery gang

Image via flickr

You can’t have a party without a venue. When selecting your location, think about how many players you’ll have, if you need extra space for food, and what your party budget can afford to rent out if necessary.

Even with small guest counts, people should have enough room to confer in private discussions without revealing their hand to everyone in the room. Locations that match the theme of the party can also add to the atmosphere!

So long as you plan it right, any location can host a murder mystery. It could be your home, outdoors, or a recreation hall—though you might earn bonus points if you can rent a haunted mansion for the evening.

Planning Decorations

decorations

Image via flickr

Even if your location doesn’t match up entirely with your theme, there’s no reason to fret! Some decorations and a bit of imagination can go a long way when the game is afoot. Some considerations to make when planning your decorations are:

  • Your budget
  • The theme of your party
  • What you’re allowed to do if you’re renting a place
  • How much time you’ll need to set up/tear down before and after the party
  • Any props or clues needed for the mystery

If you plan to have tables, several smaller ones are better than one large one to provide your guests with some places to have private conversations while in character.

Planning the Menu

cake on table

Image via flickr

Are you planning on serving dinner at your party? How about snacks or drinks? Murder mysteries can take several hours depending on the players, so some refreshments are usually excellent to have around. Having designated areas for food will give your guests a chance to encounter each other while in character as well!

If you have a kit which has a story focused around different phases where new clues enter the game, you can split up your food in courses, such as cocktail hour, dinner, dessert, etc. Keeping track of your guest list and RSVPs will ensure you have enough food prepared for everyone.

Sending Invitations

invitations

Image via flickr

No murder mystery party would be complete without invitations! As with any other party invite, you’ll need to have the essentials on it: the date, time, and location, as well as a way to RSVP and other essential details.

The invitation is the prime place to note if you’ll have a dress code for the party. People can have a lot of fun if they dress in character, but, for other groups, it can be a lot of pressure. Pick what’s best for your guests, and dressing up can be a lot of fun if you host your murder mystery around Halloween!

Make Name Tags

four markers on table

Image via Unsplash

Acting in character is some of the enjoyment of murder mysteries, but it’s not always easy to remember all the character names—especially if you have a lot of guests. Name tags are essential for your guests to have. So you should prepare them in advance. The style you decide to go with can complement your party, or it can just be convenient to make.

Plan Your Timetable

person holding blue ballpoint pen writing in notebook

Image via pexels

Having a structure for the evening will help the game move forward. If your party is going to be in a rented area or paired along with mealtimes, having a schedule is essential. For murder mystery kits that have mealtimes in mind, there is usually a recommendation of when to introduce new clues, break for eating, and bring in new elements of the game.

At the end of the evening, it’s always fun to have a time where everyone explains what happened during the game from their perspective. Plenty of events can occur while guests are busy doing other things, so this “wrap up” at the end is a recommended part of your timetable!

Laying Out the Rules

As the party approaches, you’ll also want to lay out the rules so all your guests can learn them. Your guides can include many different aspects. But some important ones to consider are:

  • How players can win
  • If there is any dress code
  • “Combat” systems (for games that have them)
  • Who are hosts that can help with game questions
  • What areas are off limits (especially if you are renting a location)

To ensure you can run the game properly, you should also use the time when planning the rules to review the game scenario, understand everyone’s characters, and know who the murder is.

Prepare to Host

grayscale and depth of field photography of clown

Image via Unsplash

Once you have all the preparation work done, you should get yourself ready to be a host. (If you find yourself interested in playing, you might want to see if someone will feel interested in hosting for you!) When guests arrive, you should be there to pass out nametags, acquaint guests with each other, and explain the rules once everyone comes.

As the game goes on, your role as the host will be to check on players, serve food if you have it, and introduce the new phases of the game as they happen. Don’t be afraid to review your timetable and bring everyone together as you need to move the game along. From there, your job is to have fun with everyone else!

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve made it to the end of our guide, you now know how to host a murder mystery party! The earlier you start planning, the better, so don’t be afraid to get started!

kids lunch bag with berries

The Best Lunch Box For Kids: Back To School In Style

With school right around the corner, you might have a search for the best lunch box for kids on your mind. Just add it to the list of what backpack, shoes, clothes, and school supplies to buy, right?

Without a doubt, school shopping can be overwhelming. Surely your child’s school supplies list seems miles long. Perhaps you, like me, feel like this season means being “on the run and never done.”

Whether you have one school-aged child or a dozen, this time of year is a whirlwind. Thankfully, searching for the best lunch box for kids can be both fun and successful.

Finding The Best Lunch Box For Kids: What’s On Your Mind?

back to school lunch bag for kids

Image source: Flickr

Lunch boxes have come a long way since you and I were in school! Back then, the best lunch box for kids probably featured the Power Rangers or another beloved character on a simple metal tin.

Nowadays, you have a lot more options when it comes to the best lunch box for kids.

Why Might My Child Need The Best Lunch Box For Kids?

If you regularly send your child to school with a packed lunch, you definitely need the best lunch box for kids. Simply tossing a lunch in a brown paper bag or recycled grocery bag won’t cut it.

Not only might your child feel embarrassed, but these packages are unsafe!

Your child needs the best lunch box for kids so they can travel to school in a safe and stylish manner. A high-quality lunch box helps keep your child’s food cold or warm. Also, a good kids lunch box will protect your child’s food from spilling, getting lost, or being tampered with.

Additionally, a unique lunch box is an excellent option if you have a child with allergies. Sometimes buying food at school is simply not feasible. So instead, send your child to school with the confidence of a durable and easy-to-recognize lunch box.

What Are The Most Popular Options For The Best Lunch Box For Kids?

This school year, you have virtually unlimited options when it comes to buying the best lunch box for kids. Though the metal character-laden lunch boxes of your childhood bring back fond memories, they are often made of silicone, glass, or metal. Also, they don’t provide insulation for temperature control.

Here are some options you’ll see in stores this school year:

Insulated lunch boxes

One great food-safe option for the best lunch box for kids is an insulated bag. This type of lunch box keeps food cool or warm for hours.

Did you know that the Federal Drug Administration recommends foods like deli meats, cheese, cooked foods, milk, and yogurt not sit at room temperature for more than two hours? Now think about what time your child eats lunch.

via GIPHY

Most of us send our children to school in the early morning. And generally, they don’t eat until noon or sometimes even later. This means the best lunch box for kids needs to keep your child’s food at a safe temperature for long periods of time.

The exterior of an insulated lunch box typically features a tough, fabric-plastic blend, such as vinyl, nylon, or polyester. They also feature an inner layer made of water-resistant plastic, aluminum, vinyl, or foil. Batting made of foam makes up the middle layer and most of the insulating capacity.

All three layers work to keep food warm or cool. It’s also a great idea to stick a few ice packs in your child’s lunch box. However, this type of cooler is not the only option for your kids’ lunch.

Bento lunch boxes

Long before we packed lunches for our kids, Japanese soldiers used bento boxes to carry their meals. Now, bento lunch boxes safely store and easily separate different types of food for your child at lunchtime.

via GIPHY

Bento boxes may remind you of school lunch trays. Within a small square or rectangular box, you will find a tray divided into several smaller sections.

Bento lunch boxes are a great option if you have a picky eater. As someone who admittedly hates her food touching, I wish I had a bento box when I was a student!

Also, bento boxes help teach your little one about portion control and healthy eating habits. Likewise, if you’re environmentally conscious, bento boxes help reduce the use of disposable plastic containers.

How We Reviewed The Best Lunch Box For Kids

It’s easy to get lost among all the different options for the best lunch box for kids. Fortunately, our list will help streamline the selection process for you. That’s one less thing for you to worry about this school year!

Our search for the best lunch box for kids was multifaceted.

First, we wanted to find out the different types currently available in popular stores. When I was a child, I often fended for myself by throwing some miscellaneous items together in a brown paper bag. So it was eye-opening and informative to read about all the different kinds of lunch boxes you can buy today.

lunch box in a bag

Image via Flickr

After understanding the different types of lunch boxes available, we used professional and consumer reviews to narrow down the best-rated and best-priced options. In the end, we have a list of the 10 best lunch boxes for kids out there.

Our List Of The 10 Best Lunch Boxes For Kids

We’ve assembled a comprehensive list that covers both insulated and bento-style lunch boxes. No matter your child’s age or personality, you’re sure to find a great lunch box for the coming school year.

While our list is numbered, keep in mind that these products are the best-of-the-best and are in no particular order.

MAZFORCE Original Lunch Box

MAZFORCE Original Lunch Box Insulated Lunch Bag - Tough & Spacious...
  • GRIP YOUR LUNCHBOX WITH CONFIDENCE - Seize the day with this unique tough & modern insulated lunch box. The design is...
  • KEEP YOUR FOOD FRESH FOR HOURS - Keep your drinks cold and don't let your sandwiches spoil with our ultra-thick foam...
  • STOP WASTING VALUABLE SPACE - Don't sacrifice an inch inside your lunch bag. This bag is designed with a max-efficient,...

First up on our list is the MAZFORCE Original Lunch Box. This is a great environmentally-conscious option for the best lunch box for kids. It features eco-friendly, waterproof Oxford fabric and a leak-proof aluminum inner lining.

You’ll feel safe sending your child to school with the MAZFORCE because it’s free from PVC, BPA, phthalates, and lead. These chemicals, used in most plastics, can leach into foods and potentially cause harm.

Additionally, you’ll love the six designs available to ensure your child has a one-of-a-kind lunch box. Also, the MAZFORCE comes with a variety of practical features and perks. For example, the handle includes a detachable buckle. This means you can easily clip it to your child’s backpack.

Inside, you’ll find mesh pockets and an outer zipper pouch, all perfect for organization. The outside of the MAZFORCE has a mesh pouch for water bottle storage.

If for any reason you dislike the MAZFORCE, you can fall back on the hassle-free refund and exchange policy.

OmieBox

OmieBox Bento Box for Kids - Insulated Bento Lunch Box with Leak Proof...
  • KIDS EAT BETTER -- Your kids will gobble lunch up when it’s their favorite food served warm inside OmieBox. OmieBox...
  • EASIER, FASTER LUNCH PREP -- Now you can send hot soup and chilled strawberries without using a million small lunch box...
  • HIGH QUALITY INVESTMENT - Durable, built to last and saves you the expense of buying a separate kids thermos! OmieBox...

Next up is the OmieBox, which is a strong contender for the best lunch box for kids if you’re looking for an insulated bento box. The OmieBox features an outer box with a three-compartment removable tray to divide your little one’s lunch.

This lunch box is unique in other ways, though. One of the inner-compartments includes a removable thermos insert. Also, the entire OmieBox is double-walled and air-insulated. That means you can keep your child’s food warm or cool with plenty of time to spare.

Additionally, this product is made of stainless steel and is BPA-free. Its rounded corners make it easy to clean — perfect for busy moms and dads with eager eaters! The rubber seals help keep food from spilling, and the secure clasp is still easy to open with small hands.

You can purchase the OmieBox in a variety of vibrant colors to suit your child’s taste.

OPUX Premium Insulated Lunch Box

OPUX Premium Insulated Lunch Box | Soft Leakproof School Lunch Bag for...
  • THE LUNCH BAG YOU NEED for carrying food, snacks, lunch to school, office, work, and on the go. This durable reusable...
  • KEEPS FOOD HOT/COLD FOR HOURS Our insulated lunch bag will keep your food/drinks at optimal temperature so you can...
  • FUNCTIONAL AND EASY TO CARE Equipped with a front pocket for utensils and side mesh pocket to hold beverage. This lunch...

OPUX makes a reliable, insulated lunch box option for any student. While the outer design looks fairly standard, you can choose from 18 different colors to ensure your child’s lunch box stands out.

This insulated lunch box is BPA-, PVC-, lead-, phthalates-, and cadmium-free. Its outside is polyester fabric with reinforced zippers.

You can even help promote your child’s organizational skills with the OPUX box. It features a front pocket great for storing utensils. It also comes with a mesh pouch on the side for drinks. Its handle is detachable via a buckle, so you or your child can easily clip it to a bag.

The one downside with the OPUX is it doesn’t have a pocket inside. So, your child’s food items could become disorganized.

Bentgo Kids Lunch Box

Bentgo Kids Childrens Lunch Box - Bento-Styled Lunch Solution Offers...
  • PORTIONED FOR KIDS: 5 practical compartments portioned perfectly for a child’s appetite (recommended for ages 3-7)....
  • LEAK-PROOF TECHNOLOGY: Keeps meals and snacks fresh and mess-free during transport– Includes two kid-friendly latches...
  • MICROWAVE AND DISHWASHER-SAFE: Removable compartment tray reheats food safely in the microwave and cleans up easily in...

Another great option for a bento box is the Bentgo Kids Lunch Box. This fabulous lunch box for kids is both microwave- and dishwasher-safe, a major perk that sets it apart from competitors.

The bento box is drop-proof with rubber-coated edges, making it a sturdy and durable choice for young children. You can choose from three different color options.

You can rest easy knowing that this product is BPA-, vinyl-, lead-, and PVC-free. The tray is also removable for easy washing.

If you’re someone who likes to give back, you’ll love that Bentgo supports Feed the Children with each purchase. You’ll also love its two-year warranty.

Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Kids Lunch Bag

Skip Hop Zoo Kids Insulated Lunch Box, Eureka Unicorn, Multi
  • Roomy, insulated lunch bag keeps food and drinks cold
  • Large main compartment of the kids lunch box is big enough for a sandwich, apple and juice box
  • Easy-clean lunchbags are machine washable on a gentle cycle and allow to air dry with a gentle detergent.

If you’re looking for the cutest pick for the best lunch box for kids, the Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Kids Lunch Bag might be it!

You can choose from over 20 adorable zoo animals, like owls, monkeys, and bats, depending on your child’s preference. All of the animals are colorful, cheerful, and adorably designed.

This insulated lunch bag has a large inner compartment that comfortably holds a sandwich, apple, and juice box. You’ll also find a mesh pouch on the inside for added organization. The inside pocket is great for utensils or an ice pack. Another great interior feature is a name tag for extra security and organization.

Its handle has a clip so you can easily secure it to your child’s backpack. The lunch box itself is machine-washable, which is a significant perk for busy parents. Finally, the Skip Hop Zoo lunch box is both BPA- and phthalate-free.

Healthy Packers Insulated Lunch Box

Insulated Lunch Box for Adults and Kids - Professional Work Lunch Bag...
  • SUPERIOR QUALITY- Healthy Packers Insulated Lunchbox is made with top quality eco-friendly materials. Designed with you...
  • MAINTAIN FRESHNESS- We do not want you compromise on the quality of your lunch by letting nature dictate the temperature...
  • IDEAL SIZE- Neither too big nor too small, Healthy Packers lunch bags were designed to be the perfect size. With...

Yet another excellent option for the best lunch box for kids is the Healthy Packers Insulated Lunch Box. While we’ve included this lunch box in our list of the best children’s lunch boxes, it’s also great for adults, too.

This insulated lunch box is made of Oxford fabric, making it eco-friendly and durable. It has an aluminum inner lining that comes with a two-component insulation system. This means that the combination of thick foam and aluminum helps keep food extra fresh.

This Healthy Packers lunch box comes in six colors, and its interior is easy to wipe clean with a damp cloth. Take a peek inside, and you’ll also find a mesh pouch to help store utensils or an ice pack.

On the outside, an expandable drink holder and a reinforced zipper pouch on the front provide extra storage. Another great thing about this product is the buckle handle and the slim pocket on the back.

Artovida Insulated Neoprene Lunch Bag

ART OF LUNCH Insulated Neoprene Lunch Bag for Women, Men and Kids -...
  • INSULATED LUNCH BAG - This insulated lunch tote kids by Art of Lunch keeps your food fresh for longer than plastic lunch...
  • LARGE CAPACITY - Lunch bags for adults made with thicker neoprene than other brands, these insulated lunch bags stand...
  • CUTE DESIGNS - Art of Lunch works with amazing artists around the world to make lunch more interesting. Choose from a...

One of the best-rated products on our best lunch box for kids list is the Artovida Insulated Neoprene Lunch Bag. With over 20 stylish colors and patterns, just about anyone can find something they like!

This bag insulation comes from four-millimeter-thick neoprene, a synthetic rubber. This keeps your child’s food cool and fresh for up to four hours.

This lunch box stands upright and folds flat for storage, and can fit a container up to 7-by-6 inches. The Artovida Insulated Neoprene Lunch Bag is lead- and PVC-free and has a stain-resistant outer shell. It’s machine washable, which is great for on-the-go families.

It also comes with a lifetime guarantee, another major perk. However, you should note the Artovida’s handle. It is built into the rest of the cloth lunch box, so you can’t easily clip it onto your child’s bag like other products.

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag

PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag with Zip Closure, Pixel Hearts
  • This lunch bag features PackIt's patented cooling technology. Freezable gel is permanently built into the bag, so you...
  • To use, simply fold the PackIt Lunch Bag flat and store in the freezer overnight (12 hours). In the morning, the walls...
  • PackIt lunch bags are perfect for packing healthy foods such as: dairy, fruits and veggies. Food and drinks stay cool...

Next up is the PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag. It comes in 43 colors and designs so you will surely find something your child adores!

This lunch box for kids is certainly one-of-a-kind. Using patented technology and freezable gel, the entire insulated lining is a lunch box and ice pack combined. Simply place it in the freezer for 12 hours, and pack your child’s lunch the next day.

The PackIt Freezable Lunch Bag is made of non-toxic poly-canvas, which you can spot clean. It has a food-safe and water-resistant lining that can easily be wiped clean. This lunch box has a zip-top closure and a clip handle.

Another great detail is that the PackIt is free of PVC, BPA, lead, phthalate, and formaldehyde.

Though it is roomy and can fit a sandwich, snack, and 12-ounce drink, keep in mind that there are no organization pouches inside.

YumBox Original

Yumbox Original Leakproof Bento Lunch Box Container for Kids (Bijoux...
  • PRACTICAL LEAKPROOF DESIGN: Yumbox Original is designed to make your packed lunches easy & delicious. Molded silicone...
  • IDEAL PORTION SIZES FOR KIDS: Yumbox Original is designed for little kids. Our goal is to promote healthy & balanced...
  • PERFECT HEALTHY PACKED LUNCH: YUMBOX is a winner of Good Design Award for a Children's Product. Yumbox makes it so easy...

Another great bento-style option for the best lunch box for kids is the YumBox Original. The YumBox Original has a molded silicone-lined lid, which protects against dip and sauce spills but not necessarily pure liquids.

A major benefit of the YumBox Original is that each compartment on the tray has its own independent seal. Also, its removable tray can be thrown on the top rack of your dishwasher for easy cleaning.

The YumBox received the Good Design Award for a Children’s Product, and this box is made of food-safe materials. You won’t find any BPAs or phthalates here.

Worth noting is that the YumBox Original is not insulated. You should consider putting it in a bag with an ice pack to protect your child’s cold foods.

MIER Kids Lunch Box

MIER Kids Lunch Box, Fit in Backpack, Green
  • Update version: Update to leakproof lining but without a elastic drink holder inside. Recommend to carry it flat when...
  • Mesh pouch on the inside lid for ice pack, spoon, napkin, MIER special design for hook and loop closure, the stuff would...
  • Perfect Size: 10L x 4H x 7W (inches), it has enough room for a normal sized lunch and suitable for fitting into backpack

The last product on our best lunch box for kids list is the MIER Kids Lunch Box. This insulated lunch box comes in two fun colors and patterns.

It has an interior mesh pocket like many lunch boxes. However, the MIER lunch box has a hook and loop closure along the interior pocket. That means your child can store food or other items more securely without the hassle of a stuck zipper.

The MIER has a food-safe PEVA lining and should be hand washed. Also, keep in mind that this lunch box is not leakproof. You’re best off keeping it upright when liquids are inside. Also, the handle features padding but is not removable.

Seize The School Day With The Best Lunch Box For Kids

Calling all super parents! You don’t have to worry about finding the best lunch box for kids this school year. Instead, you can choose from any of the durable, stylish options above and rest easy knowing your child is carrying the best lunch box around.

via GIPHY

On top of featuring fun colors, patterns, and kid-friendly construction, the lunch boxes on our list are all made with food-safe materials. Also, many of them are easy to wash by hand, dishwasher, or even in your washing machine.

No matter what style of lunch box is on your kid’s back-to-school wishlist, we’re confident you’ll find the perfect solution with plenty of time left to pick up pencils, a backpack, and everything else they’ll need for the year.

So, what do you think? Which lunch box is your stellar student going to rock this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Featured Image via Pixabay