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Five fun ways to make holiday memories with your child


(BPT) – The holidays are a special time of year for everyone, but through the eyes of a child, it can feel like pure magic. Parents and caregivers looking to make this holiday extra special should spend less time worrying about trinkets under the tree, and instead, focus on spending quality time with their families. To make this holiday the best yet, consider these five festive ideas for bonding and creating unforgettable memories together.

Watch a favorite holiday movie together

From Frosty the Snowman to Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer – everyone has a favorite holiday movie they remember from their childhood. This year, relive those fond memories with your child as you snuggle up on the couch together. Don’t forget to gather the movie night essentials such as popcorn, holiday cookies or a mug of hot chocolate topped with Hot Cocoa & Cream PEEPS. Snap a picture of everyone together and share the joy!

Organize a holiday scavenger hunt

Santa’s elves escaped the North Pole to have a little mischief in the yard or in the house. It’s up to you and your child to find all the things on Santa’s scavenger hunt list. Before kids wake, hide fun holiday items around for the ultimate holiday scavenger hunt. A pinecone, candy cane, star and red bulb are just a few examples of what you can put on the list.

Bake with a cultural twist

Baking holiday cookies is a fantastic tradition for kids and adults alike. This year, in addition to your favorite recipes, add a new one inspired by your cultural heritage. Try Lebkuchen from Germany, Melomakarona from Greece or Alfajores from Argentina. A few minutes online and you’ll find the perfect recipe to expand your holiday cookie platter and help kids delve into their family history.

Embrace the spirit of the season

The holidays are a wonderful time full of wish lists and present exchanges. This year, help kids understand the joy of giving back by volunteering together. Whether you buy presents for a family in need, write holiday letters to the troops or help at a homeless shelter, you’re showing kids that it feels just as good to give as it does to receive. Plus, the experience will leave a positive impact long after the holidays are over.

Make an ornament keepsake

Let children’s imaginations take flight and embrace the spirit of the holiday season by creating a special ornament together. With a few simple supplies, you can create a cute and customizable ornament that will remind you of this special project each year as you pull out the decorations. Make a few extra and let your child give them to grandparents, teachers and friends.

Try this simple guide for fun and festive Snow Globe Christmas Ornaments:


PEEPS Christmas marshmallow shapes: Gingerbread Men, Trees, Snowmen or Reindeer

DIY ornaments

Tape with a holiday design (washi tape)

Miniature seasonal props

Loose glitter snow

Hot glue

Popsicle sticks




Best practice: Select which PEEPS you want to use in the ornament, remove from packaging, and let sit overnight.

1. Start with one half of the ornament. (DIY ornaments typically sold in a set of halves.)

2. To create a platform for the PEEPS to stand on, take a Popsicle stick and cut it so it rests across the lower third of the inside. Secure the stick using hot glue to the inside of the ornament.

3. Prop your selected PEEPS shape on the Popsicle platform and secure with hot glue.

4. Add festive miniature props such as the mini-Christmas tree and candy cane shown above, secure with hot glue.

5. Let the ornament stand for 10 minutes.

6. Add enough loose glitter snow to the finished half of the ornament to hide the Popsicle stick.

7. Connect the front half of the ornament and carefully secure with hot glue.

8. Add the tape with holiday design (washi tape) to cover the seam of the ornament or add bells and ribbon to the outside of the ornament.

Caution: glue gun can be extremely hot. Parents should supervise at all times.

For more holiday inspiration visit marshmallowpeeps.com.

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Local girl meets Hollywood star

Katie Schumann met the actor Robert DeNiro during spring break. Photo courtesy of Glenn Stout.

Katie Schumann met the actor Robert DeNiro during spring break. Photo courtesy of Glenn Stout.

A Cedar Springs grad had an exciting spring break this year when she met Hollywood star Robert DeNiro on the set of a film he was making in Florida.

Katie Schumann, the daughter of Mark Schumann, and Jayne Bremmer, all of Cedar Springs, was visiting with her Grandma Verla, Uncle Glenn Stout and Aunt Boni in Briny Breezes, Florida at a mobile home park located on the Atlantic ocean, about fifteen miles south of West Palm Beach.

“This is a community where elders vacation and can relax with the amenities of a country club,” explained Katie. “The residents are super sweet and I love talking and hanging out with them when I go down to visit.”

Glenn said that over the past number of years scenes in two movies have been shot there, “Folks” and “In Her Shoes.”

“The park has a beautiful clubhouse that sets right on the beach facing the Atlantic which is where much of the filming had been done in the past,” he explained. “A rumor was floating around the park at this time that yet another crew might be stopping at Briny for another shoot.”

Katie said her aunt told her the night before that they might be shooting the movie the next morning at the clubhouse, where there Zumba class was held. “My Uncle came back from trying to get his DJ equipment up at the clubhouse and he said that the filming crew was up there filming a scene! He got his camera and went running back up there and I was close behind him,” she said.

“Katie and I made our way to the clubhouse early on the suspected day to find lots of people shouting directions to local resident extras while camera men shot the scenes from the clubhouse porch. Golf carts and police cars were everywhere,” said Glenn.

The two watched the crew film a scene, but didn’t see DeNiro and then they announced it was time to move to a different location.

“I had just said to Katie that while this was certainly filming for a movie, it didn’t appear that Mr. DeNiro was there. Lots of unfamiliar faces, but none that looked like him.  Katie’s eyes got big when she said, “Look! He’s right over there!” He had walked right by us, inches away, on his way to his car! The next thing I knew, Katie was following him and his assistant. It made me a bit nervous. What was she doing?

“People started moving everywhere and Robert De Niro was escorted right past me with his security guard into his black escalade!” explained Katie. “The door was still open in the backseat and so I walked right up to the security guard and asked if I could have a picture with him. You honestly probably weren’t supposed to do that, but I thought I would regret it if I didn’t ask. She said that I could and I just had to wait until he was done checking his phone. He was totally cool about getting back out of the car and taking a picture with me.”

Glenn saw the actor get out of the car and pose with his arm around Katie, so Glenn whipped out his phone and took the photo. DeNiro then got back in the car and was driven away.

“He is such a big movie star and really it was crazy that we actually got a picture together,” remarked Katie. “It was only the park manager and I that got a picture with him and I was totally floored. I talked about it all day and was full of energy and excitement! That was definitely the highlight of my vacation and I am very lucky to have family members that let me stay with them for my spring break!”

Katie said she has one more year at Grand Rapids Community College, and then plans to go to Grand Valley State University.

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Former Sparta man appears in TV movie


Steve Campbell, center, speaks with Jane Seymour on the set of "Perfectly Prudence," while Joe Lando stands in the foreground.

Steve Campbell, center, speaks with Jane Seymour on the set of “Perfectly Prudence,” while Joe Lando stands in the foreground.

Thanks to tax incentives luring film production companies here to Michigan, a person no longer has to go to Hollywood to get cast in a movie.  Just ask former Sparta resident Steve Campbell. He’s been called to work on four major movies in six months. He even got some screen time in the movie that aired on the Hallmark Channel this week—Perfectly Prudence with Jane Seymour, Joe Lando, Adam Kaufman and James Keach.
Steve only got the acting bug in the last few years. He’s been doing local community theater in Big Rapids, and wanted to expand and take advantage of the movie industry coming to town. “I went to michiganfilmoffice.org where they have cast and crew opportunities and saw postings about Real Steal being made in Detroit. I contacted the casting agencies and asked what it took, and they said I had to send over an acting resume and a couple of headshots. A couple of the agencies then accepted me,” he said.
The first movie he did was as a paid extra in a film called “Salvation Boulevard” with Pierce Brosnan, Marissa Tomei, and Ed Harris, in Detroit. In it he attended a purity ball with his onscreen 12-year-old daughter. “I danced with her, and then Pierce Brosnan and another actor held up swords and we walked underneath them and laid a rose at the foot of the cross,” he explained.  He said he thinks the film is coming out in November.
Next he was called for “Real Steel,” the movie that got him interested in the first place—a Steven Spielberg production with Hugh Jackman and Evangeline Lilly (Kate of Lost).  The movie is a boxing drama set in the near-future where 2,000-pound robots that look like humans do battle. He was a paid extra that was part of a crowd watching the event. “There were several hundred of us from all walks of life and they wanted us as dirty and as Mad Max futuristic-looking as we could be.” He said they smeared them with Vaseline and soot to make them look sweaty and dirty, and gave them empty beer bottles to hold while they cheered for whichever robot they were told to cheer for. He was in Detroit for 10 days, and said that although they could shower each night, they couldn’t clean their clothes. “We had to put on the same dirty, nasty clothes every day and when we got there they would regrease us and soot up the clothes again,” said Steve.
He said the funniest part was that he lost his voice. “We were screaming our lungs out for 14 hours. When I went through drive thru to get something to eat, I tried to order but nothing came out,” he said with a chuckle. He had to go inside and point things out that he wanted.
He said that at one point on the set, he was not far away from Hugh Jackman, but didn’t say anything to him.  “They were pretty strict. They said that unless the actor talks to you, don’t bug him.”
Steve found that mindset to be totally different on his next project, Perfectly Prudence. The Hallmark movie stars Jane Seymour and Joe Lando, known to many fans as Dr. Quinn and Sully from “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.” Steve was selected to be a stand-in for Joe Lando and the other three male actors, which meant that they had to wear the same color of clothes, have a similar hair style, etc. Once the actors did a run through of the scene, he and the female stand-in had to do the scene exactly as the actors did, with all the nuances, so that the film crew could adjust the lighting, shadows, etc.
“They would then call the actors back in and Joe Lando would high five me and say, ‘Good job, Steve,’” he recalled. “Those actors were much more accessible.” He said they were all on a first name basis, and took lunch together. “I was sitting next to Jane and she was asking how many kids I had, that kind of stuff.”
They were shooting in a house in Ada, and about five days into the shoot, they told him to change his shirt—they needed a camera man for a scene. “So I got to do a little more,” he said. Although it was not a speaking role, he did get some face time on the screen. “It was kind of surreal,” he said, “watching and knowing I did all of those things, or that I’m just off screen.”
Steve also did a quick scene for the movie “Set up” starring Bruce Willis, which was recently filmed in Grand Rapids. In that movie, he and his onscreen wife are talking with a parish priest as Fifty Cent walks by. “You can’t hear what we’re saying, so when he asks what he can help us with, I started telling him how my wife was such a nag, and how she paints her nails at all weird hours, stuff like that, and you could see the actor (playing the priest) was trying not to laugh,” he said. “We had some fun.” He did a lot of waiting around on that movie, though, and didn’t play the part he was originally cast for—a homeless man.
So was Steve surprised by the offers he’s had? “I certainly didn’t expect to get four films in six months,” he said. He also doesn’t quibble about the pay, which is a few dollars more than minimum wage. “It’s an opportunity to do something fun and get paid for it,” he remarked.
Will we see him in major roles? Now that he has an agent, it’s not impossible. “She submits me for bigger roles, and hopefully one of these days one of them will pop up,”  he said.

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