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Your Hippo Holidays Guide

What are the main ingredients for any magical at-home holiday storytime? An openness to magic, a big imagination, and your favorite books, of course! Build your own holiday storytime escape for kids of all stripes and families with our Hippo Holidays Guide, featuring tips from a few of our very own Hippo Park authors and illustrators. And as an extra holiday treat, we invite you to scroll to the bottom of the post to enter a giveaway for a complete set of HIppo Park titles.

Holiday Magic Tips from RILLA ALEXANDER, the author and illustrator of Herbert on the Slide… And how cute is that puppy?

Your ultimate holiday reading nook (besides a nice stack of books, of course):

Make a fort out of the couch or with the bedspread and fill it with all your favorite books. It’s dark in there so I would definitely bring a flashlight.

What would be some great soundtrack music for storytime?

Even though we don’t live in Portland, we have KMHD Portland’s Jazz radio on all the time. We love what they play, especially at holiday times.

Add a dash of magic to your storytime:
Try drawing what is going on—what toys the kids are playing with and what you are eating. Often I will start drawing and then the kids will color them in. That usually kicks off their own drawings, and we end up with a visual diary of the holiday.

Your go-to stocking stuffer gifts, especially for creative kids (or creative kids-at-heart)?

I like to give kids Woody Stabilo Pencils—which I use to color in my books too. They’re big and soft like crayons but you can also add water and paint with them.

DANIEL BERNSTROM is the author of A Bear, A Bee, and a Honey Tree—and a great Dad!

Special ingredient for your hot cocoa?
We have milk allergies in our house, so we have special hot cocoa with extra almond milk or coconut milk.

Add a dash of magic to your storytime:

Be sure to read your stories in funny voices! The kids’ eyes sparkle.

Your go-to stocking stuffer gifts, especially for creative kids (or creative kids-at-heart)?

I give my kids gold coins because supposedly Saint Nicholas (Santa) dropped gold coins down the chimney. Just make sure you request them from the bank in advance so that they have them on hand.

Top it off with a new holiday tradition!

In years past, my family try to give a gift to a neighbor or a friend who doesn’t have close relations. It’s fun to see the kids give the gift! They ask about it every year.

Sparkles and spice for CONSTANCE LOMBARDO, author of Tiny Spoon Vs. Little Fork.

Your ultimate holiday reading nook:

Add lots of stuffed animals to cuddle with, a string of twinkling lights, pillows of all sizes, and snacks like popcorn nearby.

Special ingredient for your hot cocoa?
I like to add a pinch of cayenne and lots of marshmallows!

Your go-to stocking stuffer gifts, especially for creative kids (or creative kids-at-heart)?

Books! For little ones, board books. Or find some mini-books that fit inside a stocking.

Top it off with a new holiday tradition!

My family’s Christmas Eve tradition was a party with lots of singing. Toward the end of the night, we’d organize a special ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ event where everyone gets assigned a day. (“You be the three French Hens!” “Who wants to be seven swans a-swimming?”) If you don’t have professional musicians on hand, bring kazoos! People love hearing carolers and will sing along.

Snuggle up with JAMIE MICHALAK, author of Come On In: There’s a Party Inside This Book!

Your ultimate holiday reading nook:
Snuggle under a blanket by the Christmas tree’s glow. Add some freshly baked cookies and cocoa within reach. Decorate by hanging jingle bells or paper snowflakes. How magical is that!

Speaking of cocoa—special ingredient for your hot cocoa?
A dollop of Fluff because it takes me back to the first time I had it as a kid after a perfect day of sledding. I’d never thought of using Fluff in anything other than a Fluffernutter, so this was a revelation.

Add a dash of magic to your storytime:
Add sing-alongs, small treats, and book-themed snacks. (For Come On In, I’d make lemon-shaped cookies with candy eyes and a licorice mouth. If I were more crafty, I’d make cookies
shaped like all of the characters, especially the lederhosen! And dogs made of toast, of
course.)

Top it off with a new holiday tradition!
My family usually plays a new board game together on Christmas night. This year we want to play the Clue Escape Room Game, which is an escape room board game starring the Clue characters. We also host a neighborhood caroling party for kids and adults. Everyone gathers at our house for hot chocolate and a singing warm-up before strolling. No singing talent required.

Jazz it up with JIMBO MATISON, illustrator of How to Draw a Happy Cat.

Your ultimate holiday reading nook:
Don’t forget a comfy thick rug with surrounding pillows and a focused lighting centered on where they sit and the rest of the room slightly darker.

What would be some great soundtrack music for storytime?
Try bebop-era jazz renditions of the classics (mid-40s). Monk, Gillespie, Parker, Mingus.

Special ingredient for your hot cocoa?
I have a snappy trick for hot cocoa. I add vanilla extract. It cheers it up.

Top it off with a new holiday tradition!
I really love the USPS Operation Santa, where you personally go to the post office and handpick letters from kids written to Santa, and you do your best to fulfill their holiday wish. It’s all about giving, and it’s pretty fantastic.

Enter here for a chance to win a set of all 5 Hippo Park books!

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