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Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered eight holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these hour long, commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving.

During the holiday season, gift-giving is considered a traditional aspect of our seasonal celebrations. Instead of purchasing a gift, gift givers can also look to the domestic arts, crafts, and visual arts for inspiration in making handmade gifts that encourage originality and thought. This week in Learning Ahead we are featuring ways to give gifts that are value-base (non-commerical & creative-free play), support learning and accessible through community-based events, resources and opportunities!

Take the challenge this year by shopping local and non-commercial during the holiday season. The abundance of craft fairs and open studios happening in the area featuring handmade products by local artists and artisans make it easy to find that special something when looking for a gift of any kind. Handmade wood or glass ornaments, hand-knitted scarves, upcycled accessories, one-of-a kind prints and stationary… our region is filled with a strong creative economy filled with amazing artisans!

Making a zine is a rewarding, creative process and can certainly be a part of your gift giving plans for the holidays. Need some inspiration for your zine-making adventures? We have a great local resource and documentary to share with you!

Makerspaces inspire creativity! These community places provide the space to combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM!) in order to make and create. They are like an artist’s studio but also include digital making as well as physical making. Activities include woodworking, electronics, computers, 3D printing, knitting, screen printing, sewing, and more! Western Massachusetts has a number of community maker spaces to start brainstorming your do-it-yourself gift giving ideas.

An age-old skill, knitting provides us with some of our most treasured warm clothes. Learning the art of knitting can not only help to provide warmth, but can lead to explorations of local history, local agriculture, and complex math – and families can even engage in service-based learning by donating hand-knitted goods to help support people in need!

Tis becoming to season to pay special attention to spreading kindness to those around us! Families can spread kindness by sharing homemade foods with neighbors, and can expand this activity to include studies of world cultures by baking foods enjoyed internationally!

Step back in time to a simpler day when holiday celebrations involved cooking over an open fire and illuminating homes with candlelight – the holiday season offers opportunities to experience celebrations of the past at three different living history museums! Families can explore, watch demonstrations, and engage in hands-on activities in order to learn about the ways in which the holiday season was honored in early New England.

During Easter many towns host egg hunts for their residents. Check our list of Easter events for an egg hunt nearest you, along with Easter craft opportunities, brunch and Easter Bunny appearances.

Is your Christmas tree still standing? For some of us, “O Tannenbaum” would be left standing through St. Valentine’s Day if we could get away with it! St. Knut’s Day is coming up, a day where traditionally in Sweden the edible ornaments of the Christmas tree were looted by the kids as the tree was removed from the home. Join in the custom of St. Knut’s Day, and maybe even create a new family tradition to dovetail with taking down the evergreen in your living room: http://wp.me/p2aDO-a71

We’ve curated a collection of holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show for your listening enjoyment! Listen any time to these hour-long commercial-free podcasts, originally broadcasted on 103.3FM WXOJ, celebrating Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving!

Some children are fine with the upheaval that happens during holiday celebrations, but if your child tends to be a bit more sensitive, make sure you plan more than the meal. This month in “Time to Talk,” Kathy give strategies and suggestions on how to add structure and language learning to holiday celebrations with a little planning…

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Berkshire County Highlights for Families: December 15th – 28th, 2012 There are just a couple more weekends left before Christmas, followed by school winter vacation. Berkshire County continues to celebrate the change of season and several of the museums and community centers will have activities for kids during the week of winter vacation. – Then it’s the New Year! Cookies with origins from around the world are a staple of the holidays!… Read More

8 Tips for Happier Holidays with Your kids It’s time once again to begin preparing for the holidays and gearing up for family, fun and festivals. The kids will be getting excited and be at home for school vacation. Here are eight tips for ensuring a happier holiday season. TIP No. 1: Good Behavior in Someone Else’s Home At some point prior to arriving at someone else’s home for a holiday party,… Read More

Hilltown Family Variety Show Holiday Radio Shows/Podcasts Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered six holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show from over the years to share with your family as we celebrate the season. Enjoy these commercial-free podcasts that celebrate Chanukah, Christmas, Winter Solstice, Kwanzaa, the New Year and the spirit of peace and giving. The Heart of Chanukah… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Old Sturbridge Village hosts Christmas by Candlelight Celebration of favorite holiday traditions, music & food Nine evening events set for Dec. 7-9; 14-16; 21-23 Take a break from the overwhelming wave of commercialized holiday “spirit” that the post-Thanksgiving season brings – visit Old Sturbridge Village for Christmas by Candlelight, which offers an incredibly wide variety of family-friendly holiday activities, performances, demonstrations, readings, crafts, and more!  Villagers dressed in period costume will share… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Berkshire County Highlights for Families: December 1st-14th, 2012 The holidays are here and they’re celebrating in the Berkshires!  Holiday strolls are taking place in Williamstown, Great Barrington and Stockbridge during these first two weeks of December. Santa’s making his rounds visiting Crane & Company’s Model Farm, Dalton CRA, Lilac Park, Lenox Fire Department, and the Berkshire Museum.  Gingerbread houses are being built at Hops & Vines and the Lenox Library, and latkes… Read More

Holiday Strolls in the Berkshires As the temperature slowly drops and the skies become increasingly more grey, towns across Western Massachusetts are beginning to look more and more festive by the minute!  Leafless trees now don coats of twinkling lights, streetlights are wrapped cozily in strands of deep green garland, and bright red bows decorate wreaths – welcoming both visitors and the holiday season.  Begin your family’s holiday season this weekend by… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a community event, educational program or service opportunity for youth/families happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these… Read More

Holidays are a Time to Give and Regift During the holiday season many Western MA libraries organize community alternatives to holiday consumerism and consumption while enabling their youth patrons to think about giving rather than just receiving for the holidays. For over 20 years the Dickinson Memorial Library in Northfield has hosted an annual Children’s Holiday Bazaar for their youth patrons. For several months leading up to the bazaar the library asks town… Read More

Status Updates: Community Service Connections Here are 10 ways families and teens can support their community and others post Hurricane Sandy and leading up to the holidays.  All of these suggestions were posted to the Hilltown Families Facebook page over the past week.  We offer daily updates and announcements on our Facebook page for families living throughout Western MA! If you haven’t already, be sure you not only “Like” our page, but… Read More

Hilltown Family Variety Show Holiday Radio Shows/Podcasts Originally broadcasted out of Northampton, MA on WXOJ-LP 103.3FM (Valley Free Radio) for the holidays, we’ve gathered three holiday episodes of the Hilltown Family Variety Show that aired this December to share with your family as we finish out the year. Enjoy the podcasts! Holiday Show with Guest DJ, Charity Kahn (Charity and the JAMBand) ◊ Playlist/Video Charity Kahn of Charity and the JAMBand Guest DJs… Read More

Discover fun and educational events happening this week in Western Mass, along with announcements, upcoming events, links, resources and the HFVS podcast. SUGGEST AN EVENT If you have a family friendly event or educational program happening in Western Massachusetts that you’d like to let us know about, post your event on our “Suggest An Event” page. The events below are “suggested.” Please take the time to confirm that these events are happening,… Read More

Keeping Holiday Traditions Alive in the Berkshires Currently my living room looks as if Christmas threw up all over it. Boxes of old decorations, more stockings than we have family members and pets combined (and that includes the three fish, cat and new puppy, Murphy), tree ornaments, Christmas villages, holiday-themed books, empty cookie tins and more lay strewn on top of couches, countertops, hardwood floors and coffee tables making it difficult to… Read More

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