by Stephanie Gibson Lepore
Content Director, Bham Family magazine
Twin mom and former teacher creates theme days for memory-making fun at home
Photographs courtesy of Libba Lambert
Celebrating the little things is in Libba Lambert’s lineage. “Throughout my childhood, my mom strived to make holidays and ordinary days so special. She decorated her house for every occasion, and her table was always beautifully set. My mom has always been such an inspiration to me, and her creativity and love for making every day special carried over into my teaching career,” says Libba, who taught kindergarten for 12 years. “As a teacher, I wanted each one of my students to love kindergarten. I have precious memories of crafting with them and using some of my themes in the classroom. I also knew I wanted my kids’ childhoods to be as magical as my own.”
Even though the dream of a magical childhood was always there, the start of theme days for her twins was actually born out of necessity. “I made the decision to stay at home after my twins, Hazel Elizabeth and Sullivan, were born at only 29 weeks,” she explains. “As a result of their prematurity, they both were diagnosed with chronic lung disease and compromised immune systems, which initially made it difficult for them to be around other children until they were older and their immune systems were better able to fight germs. As their mother, it saddened me to see them miss out on birthday parties and fun social events due to their underlying health conditions. That’s what prompted me to start doing fun, themed craft days at home with them.”
“I thoroughly enjoy creating and coming up with new ways to make an ordinary day extra-special for my twins. Some days are packed with an amazing theme and activity, and other days, a simple book and cookie from the local bakery is just as exciting to them,” says Libba, explaining that the idea is to celebrate each day, big or small. On bigger theme days, she includes a craft, matching clothes, kid-friendly snacks to make, new books, and small toys. “No matter what you plan for your children, you’re guaranteed to make wonderful memories, and that’s the ultimate goal.”
The Lambert twins love theme days and all that comes with them: baking, crafting, reading books, wearing coordinating outfits or pajamas, and eating off matching plates. “They cherish the memories we make on these special days and so do I. The days are passing too quickly and I’m trying to soak up each moment with them,” says Libba.
Libba’s mom, “Queenie,” also a talented seamstress, shares her talents for the twins’ theme days, too. “One of my all-time favorite theme days was our Polar Express Theme Day,” says Libba. “My precious mom made us (including Libba’s husband, Greg) matching pajamas and she made coordinating robes for the twins, just like the ones in the movie. I surprised Hazel Elizabeth and Sullivan with an electric Polar Express Train and tickets to ride “the real” Polar Express Train in Calera. We made train cookies, read the Polar Express book, watched the movie, and made a train craft. It was such a special time together as a family.”
An annual twin-pleaser is National Ice Cream Day. “This one has proven time and time again to be one of their favorites. One year, I surprised them with a toy ice cream truck they could both fit in, and we made pretend and real ice cream cones. We played in that truck for hours and made more ice cream cones than I can count. They still talk about the fun we had that day and sure love that ice cream truck!” says Libba.
When asked their favorite things about theme days, Hazel Elizabeth and Sullivan both answered, “Everything!” Pressed for details, Hazel Elizabeth says she loves to create snacks, while Sullivan enjoys making biscuits from scratch, often with a themed cookie cutter. “I remember so many days of baking with my mom as a child, and I hope my twins will remember our time together in the kitchen as well,” says Libba. “They also love to paint, so any of our theme days that include painting have always been a winner in their books. They still talk about our Mickey and Minnie, beachbound, and gingerbread themes.”
The idea of a theme day need not be overwhelming, nor should the actual day cost a ton of money. Libba’s best advice: Don’t sweat the small stuff. “As a teacher and now a mom, I know things don’t always go as planned. Theme days should always be laid-back, not complicated.” She says that, by buying one or two new things each holiday season, your collection will build quickly over the years.
As word of Libba’s theme days spread to other moms and neighbors through social media and chit-chat, a few friends reached out to her for ideas they could incorporate at home. “My friends would often tell me that I needed to share my theme day ideas with others. During quarantine, a few close friends finally convinced me to give it a whirl, and that is when I created Sprinkle Joy Everyday,” says Libba, who post details of her theme days on Instagram (@SprinkleJoyEveryday). She lists ideas and where to find the parts and pieces so other moms can easily plan a similar day with their own children. In addition, she also creates and sells theme day sets, making it super-easy and accessible for busy moms.
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“One of the main reasons I created my Instagram account was to share my love for theme days, snacks, and crafts with other moms. I always felt so honored when friends would ask me for ideas for their children, and I wanted them to realize it doesn’t have to be over the top to be special.”
“I truly believe children love an opportunity to learn through creative play. Theme days offer great ways to celebrate ordinary days as well as big holidays. When you plan a theme day at home, you’re sure to have a day full of joy!” says Libba. “Your children will look back on these days with full hearts and maybe even carry on some of the same traditions to their children.”