The kids are almost home for the summer! If you’re looking
for some unique ideas on how to occupy them and keep those “Mom, I’m bored”
comments at bay, then check out some of our suggestions below.
Play outside with your kids this summer! Going to the park or playing a game of soccer is a great way to get your kids active and out in the sunshine. If you’re looking for something different to do outside, then check out our garden card deck. It includes forty fun outdoor activities and games, as well as a booklet with information on gardening tools, plant care and garden safety. It’s a fun and easy way for budding green-thumbs to learn about gardening.
Read to your kids this summer! Visit your local library and have your kids pick out books that are interesting to them. If you’re looking for something new to read to your kids, then check out Look Where We Live. In this picture book, five young friends spend the day traveling around their neighbourhood and participating in activities designed to raise money for their local library. Along the way, they learn about the people and places that make up their community and what it means to be a part of one.
For those rainy summer days, play a board game inside with your kids. If you’re looking for new games your little ones can play, then check out this memory game. They’ll have tons of fun flipping over squares to find the matching animal. Not only will they enjoy themselves and be entertained for hours, but this game will help them build their memory and concentration skills.
This summer, try cooking with your kids! They’ll love getting to eat the final product. Plus, it gives you a chance to teach your kids about kitchen safety and healthy eating. If you’re looking for some new recipes to try making with your kids, then check out the More-with-Less cookbook. The recipes are both healthy and kind to your wallet.
Try Something New
Try something new this summer and do yoga with your kids! Sign up for a family class together or try it in the comfort of your own home, in your backyard or gather up a group of friends and practice in the park with this yoga card deck. Filled with illustrated cards that have clear descriptions and drawings, you can practice bending, twisting and breathing together.
What do you have planned to do with your kids this summer?
Let us know in the comments below!
With the school year coming to an end, it’s the perfect time
to thank your child’s teacher. Show your appreciation with one (or more!) of
these gift ideas. Plus, many of these gifts empower families in countries all
over the world by giving the makers and their children the opportunities to
apply for scholarship funds and attend school, literacy classes and training
sessions. What better gift to give a teacher?
A mug is a classic teacher gift that every educator will not only love but use every day. You can even fill one up with a few chocolate bars too! Famous for its ceramics, this mug is from the village of Bat Trang where makers working with Mai Handicrafts have the opportunity to apply for scholarship funds.
Help your child’s teacher keep their pencils, markers and pens secure with a pencil case. Crafted from jute, this pencil case was made by artisans working with Saidpur Enterprises. The organization offers literacy classes and training sessions on nutrition, women’s legal rights, educational awareness and financial advice.
Teachers will love that these socks help to educate children! With the purchase of these socks, our friends at Conscious Step will make a donation to resource centres in India where children from marginalized communities are given the opportunity to learn, read and write.
But first, tea. Teachers who are tea lovers will love the chance to try something new. This tea is just one of the many types of fair trade tea Ten Thousand Villages carries. Pair this gift idea with one of our mugs for a tea-themed gift!
Gift your child’s teacher with a basket that they can use in their classroom. Made from kaisa grass and recycled plastic, this basket is perfect for holding toys or books. Pair this gift with some of the ideas above and fill it up with school supplies or books!
What are you getting your child’s teacher this year? Or if
you’re a teacher, what would be the perfect gift for you? Let us know in the
Add your favourite picture of you and dad to a frame and you’ve got yourself a simple, yet sentimental Father’s Day gift. The frame pictured above was handcrafted from recycled bicycle chain by the makers of Noah’s Ark.
A wallet is a Father’s Day gift that dad will not only love but use every day. You can even surprise him by sticking a gift card inside! This wallet was hand-stitched by makers in Colombia and made with upcycled materials.
Keep it lighthearted this Father’s Day with a funky pair of socks. With the purchase of these socks, our friends at Conscious Step will make a donation to resource centres in India where children from marginalized communities are given the opportunity to learn, read and write.
Gift dad with his favourite coffee this Father’s Day and spend some quality time drinking it with him. If he’s a coffee connoisseur, he might enjoy trying something different. Pair some coffee with any one of the handmade ceramic mugs from our collection.
Dads who have a sweet tooth will love getting chocolate for Father’s Day. Gather his favourite chocolate bars together and arrange them in a basket. Have him try something new and give him one of our Divine chocolate bars.
Spend some quality time with dad this Father’s Day and play a game with him. If he’s a fan of chess, gift him with a new chess set and then maybe let him win the next game. This chess set was hand carved by the makers of Dominion Traders.
What are you getting your dad for Father’s Day? Or what
would be the perfect gift for you for Father’s Day? Let us know in the comments
Stop by the Museum of Vancouver to take a walk on the wild side and visit the Wild Things exhibit, discover captivating Haida stories including the Bear Mother, or travel back in time to learn about the city’s past from 1900 to 1970. An experience the entire family will enjoy!
Home to thousands of incredible ocean species and amazing aquatic life, the Vancouver Aquarium is the perfect outing for the whole family. Take in the breathtaking exhibits or watch an exciting lineup of educational shows.
Head over to the Sidney Museum to enjoy a LEGO wonderland complete with a 6 foot build by Robin Sather, a professional Canadian Lego Builder, interactive LEGO Mosaic Build, VicLug Lego Display and a LEGO scavenger hunt.
10 AM – 12 PM
Admission: $25 for Members, $30 for Non-Members
You may have seen the soapstone we carry at Ten Thousand Villages, like the Friendship Candleholder or the We Are Three Statue, but now you can create your own soapstone carving! Head over to the Robert Bateman Centre where participants will start with a pre-cut soapstone animal shape of their choosing and are guided into a step-by-step process through a 90-minute workshop.
*For ages 7 to adult, parents can either accompany their child free of charge, or purchase their own soapstone to carve*
Enjoy some good old-fashioned family fun at this winter celebration blending sport, recreation, arts and culture and more. Whether you’re hoping to go for a slip down an ice slide, hitch a ride on a horse drawn sleigh, or explore your way through a fort, there is something for everyone!
Visit the heart of downtown Calgary as they illuminate the city throughout the weekend with one-of-a-kind interactive light displays, art, entertainment, food trucks and activities. On Monday, enjoy a free family skate party at Brightside Hub complete with music, games and prizes!
Gather the clan and head to Prince Albert National Park for some snow-filled adventure of cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing or doing Metis inspired activities. Borrow cross-country skis, snowshoes and ice fishing equipment at the Hawood Inn, free of charge, or check out a winter geocache kit at the Visitor Centre and practice your treasure hunting skills with a modern day scavenger hunt!
Enjoy a day with the whole family—including your dog! Embrace the great outdoors through public skating, horse drawn sleigh rides, snow cricket, cross-country skiing and more. If that’s not enough, it’s the only day of the year that the public is allowed onto the ice of Wascana Lake. Be there for all the fun!
Let the kids bounce, laugh, run and play at Kids Fest Toronto which spans over 80,000 square feet at the International Centre in Mississauga. With a variety of inflatables, shows, interactive activities, games, crafts and more, there is something for kids of all ages and perfect for a family day out!
Bring the family together to explore the past of Toronto by touring a historic kitchen from 1826 and sampling baking from the hearth, taking part in hands-on activities, pop-up shows and multi-dimensional exhibits. Make sure to bring your skates because The Bentway at Fort York public skating trail will be open until 9 PM!
Just over the bridge from Downtown Ottawa in the heart of Parc Jacques-Cartier is where super slides, magnificent snow sculptures, shows, a Kiddie Zone for toddlers and plenty more activities await you! This winter playground will get you out of the house, and definitely be a hit for the whole family!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year filled with lots of love, laughter, and family and friends coming together.
With holiday get-togethers in full swing, finding the right hostess gift can be an added last-minute stress. Fortunately, you don’t have to show up empty handed or spend big money to show your gratitude. Gifts under $25 work best, say many etiquette experts.
In fact, there are tricks to make seasonal gifting easier too. For instance buy a few of the same item, and wrap them up, so you’ll be party-ready all season long.
Here are a few ideas to navigate the season with ease.
One word: Food
There’s a reason so many partygoers show up with a bottle of wine or a box of chocolate. Unlike other gift options that tend to clutter the house, food and drinkare enjoyed – and then gone. Candies, cookies and other treats such as confectionaries all work well too.
Curl up with Camino and bring back the tastes of childhood. Made with Fair Trade, organic cocoa from the Dominican Republic, and organic sugar from Paraguay, this luxury beverage is both GMO-free and certified Kosher.
Keep water rings at bay with this set of six neutral yet sparkling coasters created by makers in Moradabad, India. The glass chips are recycled glass taken from old bottles and other glass items. They are cleaned and coloured before use. The set comes in a box for easy storage.
Flowers and plants
A holiday themed floral arrangement or even a Christmas cactus or poinsettia are sure winners too. But to be a really good guest, don’t expect the host to rush around finding a vase in the middle of the party. Arrive with the flowers ready to go in a simple, neutral vase or planter.
Imagine a single bloom in this modern vessel. Genuine stone has a coolness and weight that cannot be mimicked. And because this bud vase is made from real marble, each has a distinct colour and pattern of nature’s choosing. Handcrafted by stone workers with Dominion Traders, which works with underprivileged artisans who make stone and shesham wood crafts in the city of Karachi.
Springtime bouquets get a contemporary lift from this textured vase created by ceramic makers in Nepal’s high mountainous areas. Artisan partner Nepali Craft Trading offers an education allowance for young girls and works with about 90 per cent women, training them so many can earn a living from home or in small local workshops.
A smaller glazed striped planter with matching saucer. Viet Lam Company (Vilaco) is a private exporter that markets ceramics and lacquer-ware along with bamboo, palm leaf and rattan baskets. The company contracts orders from several factories and cooperatives in and around Ho Chi Minh City, providing piece rate work, materials for production and payment for labour costs. In some cases, maker families have been working together for generations, tracing the history of their workshop back more than 800 years. Bring indoors during winter months.
Flower and herbs take root in this whitewashed terracotta planter showcasing a geometric design. Makers form models, and then press clay into them before setting the clay outside to dry in the sun. Historically in Bangladesh, rains were mostly restricted to monsoon season, but terracotta makers have noticed rains are becoming much less predictable. Wet weather can ruin pieces, so they are worried climate change will cause a shortened work season. Please bring inside for winter.
Small and sweet
No one wants to arrive at a party only to find themselves navigating a busy front hallway while clutching an oversized gift. Small and easy to carry? Absolutely. That works. Think guest soaps, lotions, scented candles or tree ornaments along with a nice card instead.
Enjoy the sweet and spicy pleasure of our cinnamon-scented soap, handmade by makers of Palam Rural Centre in Tamil Nadu, India. Palam employs members of the Harijan (“untouchables”) caste, and provides healthcare and schooling for makers’ families. All our soaps made in India use palm oil grown on local plantations. This palm oil provides work to local farmers and does not contribute to deforestation.
Celebrate the magic of the season with this simple beaded bracelet showcasing a metal star charm. Rather than commuting long distances to work in factories, cleaning houses or taking jobs as low-paid sales clerks, Sapia’s makers in Colombia often work from home and, most importantly, have stable and steady income.
Next day gifts
After hours of cleaning, cooking and preparing for guests, hosts often don’t think about what they’ll eat the next morning after the last revelers have gone home. Leave a thoughtful basket behind full of fair trade coffee, jam, croissants and orange juice, and you’ll always be welcome again.
Woven grass baskets keep odds and ends tidy – especially when handles make them easy to hoist and hide. With ocean-hued, earth-friendly recycled plastic accents, this basket was created by women working with Dhaka Handicrafts, ensuring that makers in rural villages have fair wages, safe working conditions and use environmentally friendly processes.
In Uganda, colourful baskets are traditionally given as gifts for holidays and special events. Fill this snowflake basket with clementines or pomegranates for a decorative centrepiece, or keep it by the door as a cheerfully coloured catch-all. Uganda Crafts employs approximately 300 artisans in five workshops or cooperatives, 85 percent of them women.
Baskets are so useful over the holidays, just the thing to keep clutter at bay – or to be filled with gifts to eliminate the need for wrapping paper. In Bangladesh, where this one is make by hand, jute is called the “golden fibre.” And no wonder. Being an annual crop, reed-like jute, which grows three metres high, can be planted and harvested each year, rather than deforesting entire areas. The fibre is also 100% biodegradable and recyclable.
Give them a sweet morning pick-me-up with these dried pineapples. From the fertile valley of Santander, Colombia, the pineapples are picked when ripe to bring out their full flavour and natural sweetness.
Poor dad! According to recent data, people typically spend 50 per cent more on Mother’s Day than on Father’s Day. Of course moms are worth all the attention they get. Let’s face it, mothers do a lot – but fathers are increasingly catching up when it comes to time spent on childcare: 131 minutes per day, according to Statistics Canada.
While the most popular gifts for dad include meals out, clothing, books, music and electronics, meaningful fair trade gifts not only help us celebrate our own fathers, but make life better for maker and farming fathers around the world.
So we asked our staff one question: If you could pick anything from Ten Thousand Villages this year, what would you like to receive or give to dad on Father’s Day? Here’s what they told us.
Play it up
“I think my father would have liked to receive a Mancala set, the African bead game. He would have appreciated it for its seeming simplicity, its endless variables for play and the way it challenges strategic thinking.”
— Lis, Hamilton location associate
“I really have my eye on the Mangowood Mancala Game! It seems like a neat game with a long African history. I like games that require strategy and planning. It seems like the perfect distraction for a rainy day at the lake!”
— Dave, marketing and design coordinator
“One of the games, in particular the fish mancala board. Games are good for quality family time.”
— Gregg, Hamilton location associate
Sip and savour
“The exquisitely hand-blown Phoenician glass in aqua makes me feel the fusion of the West Bank and Hebron, indeed of our wider fair trade world! An ice-cold beverage helps takes the edge off the intense heat of summer and the natural glass feels so delightful in one’s hand.”
— Ian, Hamilton location store manager
“Divine Chocolate! Honestly, it’s the best tasting chocolate I’ve ever had. Definitely a guilty pleasure.”
— Drew, director of sales
Lazy days in the backyard
“My dad will love a summer fun hammock chair!”
— Manisha, Danforth staff member
“My husband works hard around the house and I never have to ask him to get things done, so I’d like to treat him to the gift of relaxation this year with the navy dreams hammock. This will look great in the yard and is made of soft crochet cotton so I know he’ll enjoy relaxing when his chores are done.”
— Andrea, e-commerce sales and business development coordinator
“I will give to my dad the large blue skies planter for his patio.”
— Angela, Danforth staff member
Quirky dad gifts
“I choose the Nosey Spectacle Stand that holds reading glasses. I think that’s a very useful gift because many times people are losing their glasses. It will be handy if they have a place to keep them.”
— Ilias, Danforth location store manager
“My dad has an obsession with clocks—working or not; Grandfather clocks, table clocks, alarm clocks, pocket watches. For Father’s Day, I’ve been looking at the Time to Cruise Hanging Clock that is made from recycled bike chains in India. My dad may have a lot of clocks, but none of them have a beautiful story of hope behind them like this one does!”
Exchanging vows, tossing the bouquet, and quirky, hilarious and heartfelt speeches are just a few Canadian wedding traditions.
Have you ever been curious about wedding traditions in other countries?
At Ten Thousand Villages, we work with artisan partners from many countries and cultures around the world—and we love learning about their customs! Weddings may be a universal tradition, but each country has their own beloved rituals that make their special day memorable.
Here are some beautiful wedding traditions from around the globe:
India: Beautiful Body Art
There are many beautiful customs in Indian weddings, but one of the most beloved and well-known is the Mehndi ceremony. Most people are familiar with the Indian tradition of henna among female wedding guests. Prior to the wedding, intricate designs are hand-painted directly on the bride’s skin with a paste made from dried and powdered henna leaves. The artwork often includes paisley, flowers, and vines—and sometimes the henna artist will hide the groom’s initials within the design! Mehndi art symbolizes joy, beauty, hope and love.
Vietnam: What White Wedding?
There are no white weddings here! In Vietnam, the colour red symbolizes good luck; so the choices of attire and décor at most Vietnamese weddings is red! Often the groom’s family will visit the home of the bride’s parents with offerings of wine, fruit and cake that is either wrapped in red paper or attractively laid out on red platters. Vietnamese people believe that odd numbers and the colour red will bring good luck to the couple.
Phillipines: Release the Doves!
Doves are a symbol of peace and love. In the Philipines, the happy couple release a pair of white doves, one male, the other female, during the reception to symbolize a harmonious life together.
Kenya: Wishing Good Luck!
In the Masai culture, it is not uncommon for the father of the bride to spit on his daughter as she leaves the village with her new husband. The Masai people of Kenya strongly believe that by being disrespectful rather than celebrating and praising excessively, they avoid tempting fate and welcoming bad luck to the marriage.
Peru: A Little More Than Cake!
At Peruvian weddings, rather than a bouquet toss, the cake is typically the center of attention for eligible singles. Assembled with hanging ribbons and one inexpensive ring embedded in the center, single women pull ribbons from the cake – the one who pulls the ribbon with the ring is said to be the next to get married!
At Ten Thousand Villages, we work with over 20,000 makers. Of those 20,000 many of those are women.
Not only do these women earn a sustainable income and develop new skills, they are able provide for their families; whether it is having flexible working hours to tend for their children and household duties, or that they are able to pick up the supplies to work from their home, these makers are forging a brighter future.
With Mother’s Day approaching, we wanted to share the stories of some of our maker mothers in fair trade. Each story reflects strength, hard work and hope.
In Hajiganj Handicrafts, a small workshop located near Saidpur, Rashida takes a few seconds to look after her eigh-month-old son Shumy, all the while holding with her feet the lid of a basked made with kaisa grass and palm leaves. For nearly 10 years, this work has enabled her to provide for herself and her children.
Jenny, maker with Sapia, Colombia:
“I dream to have the resources to give my children a good education and that they can become professionals. I dream they will graduate from college. “
“Before joining Sapia, I had another job in a company and I had almost no time to share with my family. The biggest one has been to have time with my family. Sharing with my kids and be aware of the children. Besides I have had the fortune of generating income to improve my home and the quality of life.”
Jothi maker with Blue Mango, India:
“Blue Mango is good to my family by giving me a steady income and helping to educate our children.”
“I joined Blue Mango in 2012 because we needed the money. Blue Mango is my first job outside the home.”
“My two daughters go to the Blue Mango Tuition Center and are studying well.”
“Right now we’re concentrating on our kids’ education. I hope to stay for a long time as my savings will allow me to fulfill my dream of sending my children to school, giving them the chance I never had”
Joyanti from Prokritee, Bangladesh:
“Currently, I am really happy with the financial condition of my family. Jobarpar has saved the lives of my kids and mine.”
“Working with Jobarpar Enterprise (JE) has not only given me an opportunity to support my family but also made me a respectable member in my community.”
“I come from a poor family who often struggled to provide me the basic needs to subsist. When I was just 16, my parents arranged my marriage with a local man whose family’s financial condition was no better than mine, if not worse. Nevertheless, I didn’t complain and became a good housewife–just like I was supposed to be. Within a few years into my marriage, I was blessed with two beautiful children, whose existence only made things worse for my husband. He was constantly struggling to bear the family expenses; and suddenly one day, due to the extreme fatigue he was going through, he fell sick. Things started going downhill for my family from that point, as the doctors told me that my husband wouldn’t be able work anymore.”
“I decided to leave my post as a housewife and start looking for a job. It’s uncommon for a woman to be the breadwinner in a Bangladeshi family, so my husband hesitated at first; but after considering the family’s dire financial condition, my husband supported my resolution.”
“For a while, I was only doing odd jobs, until I stumbled upon Jobarpar Enterprise in the year of 1999. The managers of Jobarpar Enterprise were kind to me and gave me a job, even though I had no prior experience of paper making. Thus, I began my wonderful journey with Jobarpar Enterprise.”
“Both of my kids go to school. My son is studying in 12th grade and my daughter is in 9th grade. I want to see my kids become successful members of my community. I want to see them living fulfilling lives of their own.
“My husband is doing well now, as I am able to afford a better medical care for him. He runs a drugstore in our village. Also, I paid off all my loans that I took from local NGOs. Moreover, with the saved up money from my provident fund, I have recently bought a piece of land in my village, and I plan on building a house for my family there.”
“I am really thankful to Jobarpar Enterprise, as well as Prokritee, the parent organization of JE, for providing me the opportunity to support my family and implementing fair trade policies into its system.”
Without our volunteers, we couldn’t do everything we do. Volunteers are essential to the mission of Ten Thousand Villages.
Our volunteers share their time on a weekly or monthly basis depending on their interest and availability. For some, it could be a half day every week, while others volunteer more or less. Herb and his wife, Shirley, have volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages since 2003. Initially, they volunteered 3 days a week but have since reduced their schedule to a half day once per week.
At Ten Thousand Villages, we are passionate about creating economic opportunities for our artisan partners, enabling them to build a better life for their families through fair trade. To accomplish our mission, we rely on caring, determined individuals who hold a deep respect for the artisans that we work with.
Our volunteers span all age ranges, come from diverse backgrounds, and share a wide variety of skills. Karen was an ESL teacher working part time with people from around the world. To fill her time she began volunteering, and now Karen enjoys educating customers with artisan stories and information about product in our stores.
According to Karen, her volunteer shifts tend to be consistent, unless it’s the Christmas season or particularly busy in the store. Karen, who has volunteered at the Waterloo location for 6 years, spends her shifts assisting with day-to-day store operations.
“I do a lot of restocking, customer service, unpacking new shipments, merchandising and reading about new products,” Karen said. Other duties include maintaining the store’s cleanliness, ringing in sales, and other tasks to help with store functions.
“There’s a lot of interacting with customers. You get to meet really nice people that are kind of in alignment with how you think. The best thing about volunteering with Ten Thousand Villages is when people come in and you get to educate them on the products and artisan stories. Maybe they are a returning customer, or maybe I’ve just enlightened someone!” chimed Janet.
Janet has volunteered with Ten Thousand Villages for approximately 10 years. She currently volunteers at the Waterloo location.
Volunteering at Head Office in New Hamburg is a bit different, however, as tasks vary from week to week. One day, you could be placing price stickers on the products, the next time you could be counting items. “Today, I’m counting marbles!” Rosemary smiled. Rosemary began volunteering 5 years ago. “I was shopping at the tent sale and I noticed a sign looking for volunteers. I’ve met so many new people, and you’re doing work that’s worthwhile! You’re making a difference. It’s important.”
Regardless of where our volunteers work within the organization or the paths they take to join us, our volunteers are the heart of our team. We couldn’t accomplish our mission without their support.
Interested in learning more about volunteering with Ten Thousand Villages? Click here.
Goodbye grey, bleak and dismal days. This spring, home décor is heating up. Whether your living room needs a sprucing up, or you want to give your bedroom a fresh, new look, here are some of this season’s most inspired design trends sure to put a little spring in your step.
Ever visit a far-flung country and decide you’ve got to bring some of the region’s handcrafted flare back to your own home? You’re in luck. Travel-inspired interiors are gaining traction this year. Think earthy terracotta and globally influenced prints. Textiles and materials feel raw, natural and handcrafted. (And yes, Ten Thousand Villages has always been known to shine in this area. After all, our products come direct from dozens of countries – and thousands of makers – around the world.)
From embellishments to appliqué, if it feels good under your fingers, it’s got to go in the home. Ceramic is often flat mat with raised textures. Look out for fringes, tufts and tassels too. They add a fabulously handcrafted quality to a room.
Goodbye beige. This year, colours are bigger, bolder and way more vibrant. (Want to wallpaper your ceiling in bright blue? It’s a thing.) Look out for ice cream pastels, moody indigo and pops of pink, purple and orange. Or better yet, try out the new “maximalism” trend and double up with colours and textures.
Foliage and even more foliage. That’s the “it” look on the horizon. Forget last year’s tiny succulents though and embrace the humble houseplant instead. Lush, green and springtime bright, when it comes to filling the house with plants, the more the merrier. Just don’t forget to find equally inspired – and fair trade – containers to hold them. Some are crafted from recycled materials making it easy to go green in more ways than one.