5 Holiday Gifts That Aren’t Plastic Toys

Blog, Five Favorites

Okay, I know, It’s not even Halloween yet and I’m already mentioning the major Holiday season! But, my son has a December birthday, so between the two we start our planning early. Many parents love this time of year, but I’ve heard more and more that parents want to move away from the plastic overload and focus on something…. else…. but what?

I understand the worry completely. I’m looking around my home now at the abundance of toys that he’s received as gifts from various people, that he barely plays with. Of course he loves his legos and Minecraft figures, but he’s also the type to forgo the beach toys and play with sand and seaweed instead. He’ll pick up a stick in the woods and make it part of his pretend play, more than he’ll pick up most of the toys in his room.

So what do you get a child as a present, when you want to avoid the commercialized plastic toys that inevitably turn into clutter? Here are 5 alternatives that just might do the trick.

  1. An Experience. My parents get my son a membership to the Museum of Science in Boston for Christmas. This is the perfect gift for him, because we go several times a year for fun and for homeschool field trips. Your experience gift could be a museum, a trip, hiking, a day of paintball, a class – the list goes on. Basically, find something your child will love to do outside of the home. You can add to this idea with gifts that go along with the experience. Luggage and a new passport holder, a travel journal, a new paintball gun, a new apron for the cooking class. Really, the possibilities are endless!
  2. Art Supplies. If your child is an artist then you know how many times a year you need to restock supplies! For the holidays, think of things that are maybe more expensive, that would really make for a special treat. A brand new sketchbook, wrapped canvas for paintings, professional brushes, or Copic markers are just a few examples.
  3. Nature Exploration Supplies. This can tie back into experiences, but if there’s something your child will need for your outdoor adventures, this could make for a special gift as well! A well made compass, a nature journal, a container for observing and releasing bugs, and maybe even a tent! These gifts can be used again and again for camping, hikes, or even in your back yard.
  4. A Fort Building Kit. Remember the days of making blanket forts? I still do it! Of course, it’s now with my son. You can find pre-made fort making kits online, or you can put together your own with rope, sheets, twinkle lights, and other materials. Package it nicely, and presto!
  5. A Camera. Okay, so I’m a little biased on this one. But there’s something beautiful about seeing the world through your child’s eyes. There are cameras that are suited for any child from toddlerhood to adulthood.  Print the pictures they take and add them to an album or scrapbook, so they can look back on them for years to come. Their photographs can also make wonderful presents for grandparents! It’s a win-win all around.

I hope these tips helped in your holiday planning, and that you have a wonderful string of holidays.


PS: If you’d like to book a November session for holiday cards, please CONTACT me and book your day! I do not work in December, so the November dates are the last ones available for holiday cards and photo gifts. 

New Packaging – New Hampshire Photographer


Natural. Organic. Genuine. Emotive.


These are the words I use to describe the types of images I’d like to take. When I thought about the type of packaging I’d like to use for photo orders, I wanted it to reflect these same words, or at least most of them. I’ve been playing with and tweaking some ideas for a while now, and I’m incredibly happy with the final result.


How adorable is that? Now your photo orders will be wrapped in the same beautiful setup.


Nature Play – NH Photographer

Blog, Family

I learned something on our recent trip to Cape Cod. I noticed my son collecting nature items in the past, of course, but for some reason it really stayed with me on this trip. We were at the beach, and my son had said no to playing with plastic buckets and shovels. I shrugged and thought nothing of it, until I watched more closely. He picked up a piece of seaweed and played for a long time, seeing it blow in the wind and waving it around. He drew pictures in the sand and pretended he was a pirate leaving clues to a treasure. He had a fantastic time, and not a moment of it involved plastic toys.


I was reminded of something I learned from Leah M, the creator of the curriculum we sometimes use in our homeschooling. Kids learn and grow creatively when they have open ended toys to use, and aren’t told how to use them. Loose parts in nature seem to be some of the best. A stick can be a cane, a bow, a sword, or a building tool. Rocks become beautiful treasures, and seaweed can easily become entertainment.

Our kids are connected to nature. We all are, really, but sometimes the daily grind of adulthood can make us forget. This beautiful reminder allowed me to let go of pressures and allow him, and myself, to just be and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. No plastic toys or electronics needed.


PS: Let’s have a photoshoot based on your child playing in and enjoying nature, from a documentary standpoint! For information and to book, please CONTACT me.


NOT back to school portraits – Cape Cod

Blog, Family, Travel

While I reside and (mostly) work in New Hampshire, it’s no secret that I love to travel. Cape Cod has become a family tradition, along with my parents. To add to the tradition, I started taking my son’s annual NOT back to school portraits on the beach. Our September trip normally happens during back to school time for New England, so I take advantage of the empty beaches to photograph my homeschooled child yearly.

Here are some of my favorites!











-Sarah Chase

PS: I still have a couple of Saturdays open now in September for New Hampshire! If you are also a homeschooled family and would like to schedule a NOT back to school session, please CONTACT me!

PPS: For fall family sessions, I have 2 Saturdays available in October! Book one of them before they’re gone.

Imagination – NH Photographer

Blog, Uncategorized

Think back to your childhood.

Did you love to play dress up? Did you host tea parties, or create elaborate stories with toys? I sure did, and my son does, too. Imaginative play is an important part of childhood. Children constantly practice creative thinking and problem solving skills just by playing pretend.

Recently, my son wanted to dress up as a ninja. We didn’t have a ninja costume, so he went through his drawers and pulled out navy blue thermals. When he inquired about a mask, I invited him to think about another way to create one, since we didn’t have one on hand. He took another pair of pants and placed it on his head like a hat, then wrapped the pant legs around his mouth area. He then jumped on to his bed and did a roll, before ducking behind one of his pillows. I couldn’t help but smile as he happily played ninja in his room, coming up with the outfit and story line on his own.

This is just one of many examples of how my son has used his imagination and creative problem solving in order to bring his ideas to life. Be it pirates, a viking adventure, a cat, or a Minecraft character, he uses what he has to create his vision the way he wants it.


I was also quite the imaginative child. Yes, I did end up in a creative field, but that’s not the only way creativity has shown up in my life. When I learned more about ADD and why I had a hard time retaining information, I was able to create new ways to study and remember. This especially helped me in college.  I love to think out of the box when it comes to solving problems, and I see possibility everywhere I look. Inspiration finds me in some pretty unusual ways. I can even take a seemingly ordinary moment and turn it into a memorable art piece, taking the viewer back to that real moment.


Imagination, to me, is so much more than playing pretend or painting a picture. It is the fundamental stepping stone to creative thinking, in any medium and form. We encourage it in our home for our son and for ourselves, and I’d like to encourage you to get back in touch with yours!

-Sarah Chase

Our time in Iceland – Family Travel

Blog, Family, Travel

This past March I got on a plane with my husband, son, and my father. The purple aircraft was small, but well worth the coming experience. Months before, we found a deal for tickets to Iceland, and just like that, the country made it to the top of our travel list. I was nervous to fly, as I always am, but the excitement of the coming adventure got me to sit down on the plane. My son was over the moon excited- it was his first time flying!

We expected to sleep on our overnight travels. My son had different plans. He was too excited, and only closed his eyes for the last hour or so. We arrived at Keflavik airport in the early morning with tired eyes. We tried our best to drag our bags while holding our son, until a lovely person who worked there offered one of the airport’s strollers. I thanked them, put B in it, and we were off to find some Coffee.

There was fog outside in the parking lot. We walked around, looking for the license plate that matched the one on our paperwork. “Wow, you got the big car!” the woman had said to us, so we were looking for an SUV. We laughed when the smaller-than-my-forester car was parked in front of us, matching plates and all.




Breakfast in Reykjavik was incredible on that first day, then we explored the west coastline near the city until it was time to grocery shop and check into our cabin. As we drove, my son fell asleep in his carseat. We expected it, with the little sleep he got on the plane and the time zone difference. It was impossible to wake him, even when we saw some of the famous, Icelandic ponies!



The AirB&B cabin was the perfect place to hang our hats and rest. From every window we could see the beautiful, Icelandic landscape; mountains, Þingvallavatn (lake), and of course the intriguing and bouncy moss.

We went straight to seeing the sights. With only a week to spend and a long list of places to see, we couldn’t afford to wait. Rain was falling, but we didn’t want that to stop us. During our drive to the first stop, the rain fell away and made way for a rainbow over the road. I smiled as I watched us drive towards it, and took it as a sign of good things to come.

Strokkur, Geysir, and Gullfoss. Each site was incredible to view. The spray of Strokkur as it blasted from the earth, the deep color of the dormant Geysir, and the vast glory of Gullfoss had us in awe.





The following day we made our way south. Skogafoss was the main event on our minds, but we also thought about stopping at the black sand beaches afterwards. On the way, we found plenty of other things to see, and made quite a few stops.

Skogafoss was beautiful. It’s hard to describe the feeling of calm that washed over me as I listened to the water crashing into the rocks below. We approached it together, ultimately getting soaked by the spray.








After so much adventuring, it was time for a day to relax. We decided on the Secret Lagoon, over the more popular (but less natural) Blue Lagoon. The warm water led us all to a state of bliss. We waded and swam for hours.


The following day, my husband and my father decided to go on a walking glacier tour. B was too young, so he and I stayed at the cabin together. The boys had an incredible experience, while B and I played outside, watched movies, and had some time to lay down. That evening, when they returned from their tour, we went to the fault line in Þingvellir, where the continents are drifting apart.






It was time for another trip to Reykjavik. We needed to do a little laundry, as we packed pretty light, and Reykjavik had what was called the “Laundromat Cafe.” What we didn’t expect was the actual cafe on the top floor, with a Laundromat downstairs, and a large play area for kids. They served us our soy lattes while we watched our son play, and waited for our laundry to finish.

While we were in town, we decided to go to the Settlers Museum, which was about the vikings settling in Iceland. It was a fantastic learning stop, and B wanted to go around three times before going to the gift shop. He was excited to pick out a beautifully made, wooden sword and shield set. We watched as he played viking on the way back to the car, and only then did it occur to me that we may have an issue with our carry-on-only bags. Lesson learned. A $70-to-check-the-sword lesson to be exact.



Well worth it.

On our last full day we decided to climb Miðfell, The hill that was in view from the Cabin, that we had passed by each day on our way to sight-see. The view was beautiful, and B loved to bounce on the mossy hillside. The day ended with a walk along Þingvallavatn. I tried my best to soak up the scenery as much as I could. I knew it was going to be hard to leave this beautiful country.









Our time in Iceland was amazing. Beautiful sights during the day, and a dancing display of Auroras at night.


While it wasn’t originally a country we talked about visiting, I’m glad we did, and I would love to go back again and see more. The people were friendly, and there was so much to see and do. If you’re thinking of traveling somewhere as a family, give Iceland a try.




WOWAir | AirB&B


-Sarah Chase

PS: You may notice a different URL at the end of the video. Travel photography and vlogging is one of my many brands that I am bringing together under this site! Keep an eye out here on schasephoto.com for future travel posts. xo

From Boring to Being – New Hampshire photographer

Blog, Family

This is a shout out to parents of wonderfully wild ones. If you can’t imagine your little one sitting still for a traditional family portrait, you’re not alone. The photography experience I provide for children and family is based on the trial and error with my own child. 

Watch the video below- and then leave a comment if you can relate!


To book a session for your family, CONTACT me!

Five Favorites – Podcasts

Blog, Five Favorites

I’m not a morning person. I openly admit to that.

So, when I have to get ready in the morning I drink some coffee and throw on a podcast to help inspire me and wake me up. They aren’t something I listen to daily, but I love to play them while I prep for the day, especially while curling my hair! (We all know how long that takes!)

Today, I’m sharing 5 of my favorite podcasts with you. Most are directed towards creative fields, but give them a try. You may be surprised at what hits home for you.


  1. Let’s Play : The Create Podcast
  2. Creatively Unscripted
  3. Magic Lessons with Elizabeth Gilbert
  4. TED Radio Hour
  5. Exploring Unschooling


What are your favorite podcasts? Leave a comment below!

-Sarah Chase

How my son inspired the way I photograph families – NH photographer

Blog, Family

I’ve had a camera in my hand since I was a little girl. I remember joyously documenting places I went and people I loved. When my son was born, that joy continued. As he grew, his wonderfully wild personality did, too. Posing wasn’t working, and ideas I had of simple little setups just didn’t do the trick. Instead, I let go of control a little bit and started documenting him in his natural state.



What this did was create a relaxed environment, and gave us a lot of images to look back on fondly. The moments captured were real, as were the emotions.



When he was around age 2, a photographer friend of mine did a mother-and-son session for me. I was so excited, because I rarely get on that side of the camera. She got some beautiful shots, but I distinctly remember her saying to me, “Okay, I have no idea how you get such great photos of him! He doesn’t stop moving!” I couldn’t help but laugh, because it was true. My beautifully energetic son does not do well with sitting still.



When my business started, I noticed that this approach was helpful when working with other children, too. I mean, posing is great for certain niches, but when it comes to children they find sitting still and fake smiling at the camera pretty boring. So, I started to help families interact with each other, and encouraged play in children, and began photographing that instead of the traditional family portrait. The result is the same with my clients as it is for my personal photograph collection; real moments, real connections, real emotions.








I have learned a lot over the years, and I’m grateful to my son for shaping the way I capture moments and make memories. If you’re looking for a relaxed session this year, contact me for more information and to book! I look forward to working with you.

-Sarah Chase

PS: To learn more about my photography experience, download the 2017 client guide

Family and Friends – Cape Cod

Blog, Family, Travel

We love Cape Cod.

A drive away from our home in New Hampshire, Cape Cod makes the perfect getaway for my family. We travel here with my parents and enjoy time in the sun, sand, and doing activities.

And of course, I take a lot of photographs. Here are a few of my favorites from this trip!




















The past two weeks have been wonderful, and I look forward to returning in September!

-Sarah Chase

PS: To schedule a family session for New Hampshire or Cape Cod, Contact me.