Top 3 Back To School Lists for Teachers

primary school science experimentToday was “meet and greet” for my kids before school starts Monday and I really enjoyed meeting their teachers.  My boys walked up with a smile on their faces and shook hands with their new teacher, the one they’ll spend nearly everyday with for almost an entire year.  I noticed every teacher had their own unique presentation of asking for additional supplies they need that go beyond the rather detailed supply list each student is instructed to purchase.  One of my son’s teachers had a cute flower pot with each flower as a different need in the classroom – science kits, an electric pencil sharpener, gift cards to amazon, target and other items to help make their classroom even better.

I deeply appreciate a creative, well organized teacher that can lead 20+ kids to a love of learning.  It’s a hard job.  They need stuff in the classroom to make learning fun, interesting and help tell stories.  As a parent, I want to help provide it.  They spend a lot of time with my kid and make a life long impression, so any contribution I’m able to extend, I do.

Here are a three back to school lists to remember. Teachers and homeroom parents are staying organized using ThingToBring to know who is contributing what to an ongoing supply list, party or fundraiser.

1. The Year Round List –  Date the event for the last day of school and keep an ongoing list of items needed in the classroom – tissues, glue, sanitized wipes, etc.  Everyone on the list will be notified when a new item is added and someone signs up for something.  Parental camaraderie helps keep the classroom stocked all year long without the teacher having to personally ask for it.

2. Classroom Parties – Create a sign-up sheet for the Halloween, Holiday and Valentine’s parties. Add the arts and crafts, games and snacks you need. Your previously invited parents will be saved from your Year Round List so it’ll be fast and easy to create new lists.

3. Fundraisers & Donations – Our school does annual can drives, auctions, shoe drives and more. At times, classrooms put together baskets, or a collection of items that specifically represent the class. It’s nice that the list is open for all invited to see. This helps parents support each other and reach out if it appears one needs help gathering items or financially needs help with their own child’s supplies.

The needs haven’t changed and the lists are long. Teachers don’t have a supplied budget for classroom enhancement and back to school lists. They lean on parents for support. In fact, majority of teachers purchase student supplies with their own money as reported by The Journal from a recent study. According to the report, teachers expect to spend a total of about $500 on school supplies by the end of this school year, 47% of which will come from their own pockets. I’ve watched every teacher I know stretch an inch into a mile with creativity.  They’re experts on conserving resources based on the experience of not having much.

It’s hard to ask for stuff. Let technology help ask for the items needed with a list in ThingToBring so your kids can gather, create, give and learn more often.  Getting the kids involved by participating in the list assignments gives them responsibility and they actually might get a kick out of using the iOS or Android app to add items they’d like in the classroom (of course with teacher approval) . . . the ipads and xbox may have to wait for larger contribution back to school lists. :) 

How to Host the Best Summer Cookout

Group Of Friends Having Outdoor Summer Cookout At HomeIs your backyard the perfect place for a summer cookout?  Mine is – I have a beautiful, large oak tree that shades the entire yard with plenty of space for the kids to throw the ball around.  The screened patio is great to hang out, grill out, watch a game on the  patio TV or listen to my summer playlist. As you can see, I’m going to take advantage of the outdoors and have family and friends over for the best summer cookout. I’ve compiled a fantastic menu with recipe links and options for each course as well as games to make my backyard party even more memorable. Are you coming over?

As the host, I tend to stress about getting everything ready and making the event perfect.  It feels so much better answering the question from my friends, “what can I bring” with a signup list ready to go with ThingtoBring. I use the iOS app more than the site to keep track of who’s bringing what to this summer cookout.

Here’s my selected menu along with links for other options:

Cocktails.  I always start here! I recently watched Tiffani Theissen mix up a Peach Texas Tea with Tequila and had to give it a try.  All I can say is YUM.  Delish also offers up other no-fail summer cocktails.

Appetizers. I love a good, light caprese salad with fresh mozzarella and ripe tomatoes with a fresh, right from the farm olive oil, but any of these apps from Bon Appetit will do just fine by me.

Meat on the Grill.  I’m in Tampa, so I’ll be choosing a fresh caught grouper from our Gulf.  I love how Grilling Companion compiled the most popular grilling recipes based on the top 10 grilling cities around America. Choose your main course to fit your location for a fun, local touch.

Sides & Salads. Everything is better with bacon and this BLT Pasta is a must for my summer cookout.  Potato salad, corn on the cob and other cookout side staples are organized nicely to choose from thanks to the food network.

Dessert. It’s hot. It’s summer. Dessert at my party will be cold, fruity, and sweet.  Raspberry icebox cake is my choice.  I love fruity desserts. These are a few runner-ups on my list. Maybe I’ll assign 2 or 3 desserts in my ThingToBring list.  You can never have enough dessert, right?

Add a couple of game options and you’re party planning will be done.  Water balloon dodgeball and lawn jenga are a ton of fun but don’t forget about slip and slide wiffle ball and traditional horseshoes. Of course, you can find all the outdoor cookout games your heart desires on Pinterest.

Create ways to share fun, quality time with your family and friends. There’s no need to stress when you’re the host when you use ThingToBring.  Let us know how your summer cookout goes.

Win The SUPPER Bowl With The Best Potluck Recipes

superbowl food largeWe love Super Bowl gatherings – cheering for our favorite team, watching the clever commercials, hanging out with good friends, but most of all, we love the food! Snacks, sides and main dishes will be devoured while all eyes are on the TV.  Whether you host the party or go to one, you’ll likely have a dish or two to make. Get acknowledged as the winner of the SUPPER BOWL with the best potluck recipes.

These are our favorite dishes for the big game.

The Snackadium.  This is so impressive. Bring your ‘A’ game with this chip/dip/sandwiches/treat replica of a stadium.  It’s sure to put points on your side of the board from HomeandHeartDIY.

Chili. Choose white chicken chili or a hearty beef, but a football game just isn’t the same without chili.  These are highly rated favorites on Food.com.

Chicken Wings.  GrillingCompanion.com has the best grilled sriracha chicken wing recipe. Sriracha sauce is a magically hot and delicious hot sauce from Thailand. This recipe is perfectly balanced with a little honey, lime juice and butter for a deliciously spicy, but not painful wing sauce.

Pork Sliders.  There are so many great recipes, especially for the slow-cooker. Really. Throw on some coleslaw and you’ve got a win on your hands. A nice variety posted here on Pinterest.

Brownies – Keep it classic. Fudgy and chewy. If that’s too boring for you these are the cutest desserts and snacks compiled by Buzzfeed.


Our top 5 choices can help you score big with your friends.  Gathering is fun and easy when everyone shares in the planning. Get bonus points for being tech savvy and use the ThingToBring site or app to make this Super Bowl not just about football, but a SUPPER BOWL with the best potluck recipes.

TOP 5 TIPS TO PREVENT OFFICE CHRISTMAS PARTY MISHAPS

Your December weekends are filled with gatherings among friends, family and co-workers. Don’t get caught up in the moment and prevent yourself from having a lingering office Christmas party mishap.  Follow our top 5 tips so you aren’t “that guy.”  Your reputation will thank us.

Too much of a good thing

  1. Don’t Spike The Eggnog.
    Sure, have a glass or two, but when you drink too much in mixed company, you’re bound for a fail. Before you know it, you’re the self-proclaimed comedian telling inappropriate jokes in front of your wife’s boss creating quite the lasting impression.
  2. Secret Santa Gift Gone Wrong.
    If you’re doing a gift exchange, stay conservative. Get a candle, snowglobe, spirits, a scarf – here are some suggestions from Bustle. Just stay away from the gag gifts because you think you’re funny – fake poop, underwear and definitely stay away from the adult entertainment store.  You’ll have a  rep damaging photo on social for eternity guaranteed.
  3. Caught Empty Handed.
    Don’t go to your office Christmas party empty handed – ask what to bring in advance. Don’t get complicated with your dish. Stick to easy meals and crowd favorites.  Suggest to the host a potluck sign up app or service like Thing to Bring so everyone can complement each other’s dishes. Not bringing anything = loser.
  4. Mistaken Identity.
    So your co-worker and girlfriend are wearing similar dresses . . . look before you smack. Accidentally smacking your co-worker on the backside thinking it’s your girlfriend will almost always end the party with an unhappy spouse and call from HR.
  5. Squatting Is For Ducks.
    Never be the last one to leave.  If your hosts are yawning and washing dishing, the night is over.  Pick up on the cues and time it so you’re not the first one to run out but definitely not the last.

Get an invite next year by following our top 5 tips to prevent an embarrassing office Christmas party mishap.  Enjoy as much time as you can with family and friends and have a safe and happy holiday!

Send a Sign Up Sheet to Anyone

ThingToBring.com and ThingToBring for iPhone has been updated to make it easier than ever to send sign up sheets for volunteer events, potluck dinners and tailgates. Now you simply create your event and ThingToBring will create a link that you can email to anyone. The recipient uses the link to RSVP and sign up for things to bring. We ask for their email on RSVP so we can tell you who is bringing what to the event:

screenshot-2

Create a Birthday Gift Registry Sign Up Sheet

How often have you sent out invitations for your son or daughter’s birthday party and gotten the question “what are they in to?”?  At first glance, creating a birthday gift registry for kids may seem tacky, but can’t you think of times when it would have helped you when you were rushing through the store on the way to the party because you forgot to get a gift?  I know it would have saved me on several occasions!  What about friends and family that can’t come and/or live out of town?  Maybe they want some ideas that they can order online and have shipped to the special birthday boy or girl.

ThingToBring.com and Thing2Bring for iPhone can help.  Simply create your birthday party invitation and add a few toys as “Things” that your child really likes to play with.  You can also specify the theme for the party.  If the theme is Star Wars, well, there are tons of ideas right there for birthday gift shopping.  Then add the email addresses for the people you want to invite to the party.  They will receive an email containing a link to sign up for Things to bring to your party.  They can either sign up for the exact toy you added or use the list (or theme) as a suggested gift registry and buy toys that are similar.  I can see that Spencer is in to Star Wars, but it looks like Nana is bringing that Star Wars Lego Storm Trooper set already.  I bet he doesn’t have the Interceptor!

As an added bonus, how many times have you forgotten to jot down who brought what toy to the party?  Remember that cold sweat that hits you when you are filling out the thank you cards and you can’t remember who brought the Nerf gun?  ThingToBring allows invitees to add their own ThingToBring to your party.  So if they are bringing something you didn’t have on the list, but add their toy to the list, you have a record of who brought what from the birthday gift registry!  No more writing vague thank you notes!

Create a Thanksgiving Sign Up Sheet

You’ve got a lot of research to do now that you have that turkey thawing in the refrigerator. Should you smoke it? How about frying? If you are frying, make sure you read all of the warnings so you don’t create a poultry inferno (seriously, be careful)? How about a Bourbon glaze? You are hosting this dinner, so you need an excuse to buy a BIG bottle, right? Speaking of hosting, don’t forget those last few hours when you realize everyone is coming over and you and start to frantically clean the house. All of this planning and work and you haven’t even STARTED thinking about sides and desert, right? I’ve got a question. What is the rest of your family stressing over? Shouldn’t you get them to work on those casseroles and pies? I mean, there are a lot of delicious recipes out there just waiting to be brought to go along with your amazing turkey (I have faith in you, it is going to turn out great, soooo juicy). Get the rest of those slackers working too by creating a Thanksgiving sign up sheet!

I know you want to do everything yourself, but everyone else wants to contribute too. Everyone at the table this Thanksgiving wants to take their turn explaining how they came up with that recipe from scratch (they are lying). Don’t deny them their moment and take the side dish burden off of yourself at the same time. With ThingToBring.com, you can create a sign up sheet for Thanksgiving, your next potluck or any other event where you want to tell people what they can bring to the party. Don’t know what you want them to bring? That’s cool, they can add their own Thing to Bring when they RSVP on the site. Simply create the event, invite all of your family and friends and they will get an email saying they “have a Thing To Bring” to your Thanksgiving dinner. Once they click on the link, they can RSVP and then sign up for anything you listed as needed for the party or they can add their own super-secret mac and cheese dish. You just sit back, keep researching that turkey and sip on some of that extra Bourbon. Everyone else can spend their time online trying to find a recipe they can take credit for too. Stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, broccoli casserole…..oh man, and the pies! I need to get to work too!

Win the Tailgate and Discovering Missing Features

As a season ticket holder, I am generally very optimistic about my USF Bulls. Given the many upset wins we have had over the years, I am convinced we can beat anybody on any given day. However, I am also a realist, so I knew we were in trouble when the number 4 team in the country (Florida State) was coming to town. You see, this was the highest ranked team we have ever played and given the fact that FSU is a more established Florida football program, we knew the sellout crowd would be split pretty evenly. So if we didn’t have the advantage in the stadium, we needed to make sure we did in the parking lot. That meant we needed to really blow it out and win the tailgate! Even though the game didn’t work out in our favor, the party did and we won the tailgate by a landslide.

Our tailgate planning started as usual, with an “anchor” protein around which we wanted to build a menu. I had dedicated myself to smoking 12 pounds of pork shoulder overnight, so I needed everyone else to make the sides while I grabbed a power nap before the game. I created an online sign up sheet for our party and my awesome tailgating partners did the rest. The pork was amazing, we all ate too much and then entered the stadium fat, happy and optimistic about the game.

I’m still working out the kinks with ThingToBring, so I keep running in to new features I need to add to make my party planning life easier. This week’s realization was that we need a way to let attendees add new friends. When you send out a sign up sheet for something like a tailgate or picnic, inevitably someone is going to want to ask “mind if so-and-so comes too”. Of course the answer is yes, but then the follow up is always “what can they bring”. So I need to work on a way to let “so-and-so” be added to the sign up, but in a way that doesn’t let people go crazy and start spamming people (spamming bad, party good). Maybe a way to let the organizer approve the addition of a friend prior to the invite being sent out?