RE/MAX Collection Tom Carroll

Broker/Owner RE/MAX Partners
Serving the Andovers Since 1993


Traveling to visit family or friends, or just to get away during the holiday season is great, but keeping your children occupied during a long plane or car ride can be a real challenge. Some kids can say entertained for hours with electronic devices, but others may get bored and need a change.  Or you just may prefer not to have the kids staring at a screen for hours on end.  With some advance planning, you can keep the kids busy and make your travel time less stressful at the same time.
1. Activity Books

Your local pharmacy, dollar-type store, used or new bookstore probably has an entire section dedicated to activity books geared towards kids of all ages. These books of puzzles, activities, quizzes and games are easy to transport and keep kids occupied when they need to be still and quiet. Hidden picture books are great, especially for younger kids who might not be able to read well enough to do more complicated puzzles and games independently. The older kids can help the younger ones learn how to do the puzzles, too.  Another great choice of car trips is a book of Mad Libs. Mad Libs are silly, fill-in-the-blank games that everyone can take part in while providing hilarious entertainment for the whole car. I bet you had Mad Libs as a kid!

2. Inexpensive toys

Buy age appropriate toys from the dollar store, wrap them up, and give one to your children whenever they start to get bored or restless. Unwrapping a new toy is exciting and the novelty will make each trinket seem like a fun new adventure.  And if the toy gets lost or broken, it didn't cost much so it won't be like losing that $40 video game or Lego set.  Mazes, magnetic doodle faces or magnetic games like tic tac toe and Trouble will entertain without losing game pieces!

3. Window Decorations 

Inexpensive window clings can be an entertaining, non-messy way to let your child decorate the airplane or car window. These window clings can be rearranged, added and removed multiple times, providing long-term entertainment for a child who is trapped in a seat for several hours.  Think "Colorforms" from your childhood.  How much fun were those?

4. New Coloring & "Painting" Materials 

A new coloring book and crayons can be another fun way to pass the time. The novelty of having brand new coloring supplies - particularly if they have to wait until they are in the plane or car to use them - can add an extra level of anticipation to the journey. Paint with water books are great for on a plane.  Just ask the flight attendant for a small amount of water in a cup and the kids can paint away! Invisible markers are fun, too, and won't make a mess on clothing or other surfaces. 

5. Glow-in-the-Dark Fun

If you will be traveling at night, buy some glow sticks, glow bracelets or glow window clings and bring them along. These can be an endlessly entertaining way to provide each child with their own personal night light.  

6. No-Fail Traffic Games

If you will be driving to your holiday destination, there is always the old fallback of the license plate game. Print out a license plate checklist for each member of your family and play all day to see who can spot all the states first.  Alternatives are to look for drivers wearing sunglasses or hats, or cars with dogs, or any other specific item or action you can come up with. 

7. Story Time

Audio books can be a great way to entertain everyone in the car. Your children will be transfixed and the story can help the long drive pass more quickly.

8. Edible Fun

Buy an inexpensive tackle box or plastic container with multiple compartments and pack snacks.  Kids can create their own "stack snack" or eat the items individually, or one compartment at a time. Pack licorice ropes and cheerios or Fruit Loops to make edible jewelry!  An over the seat organizer or backpack is a great place to store these items.

Of course, with Google and Facebook Moms pages, you're sure to be able to find a plethora of additional ideas.  Whatever you do, wherever you go, have fun and create memories that will last a lifetime!


Thanksgiving is fading in your rear view mirror and now the holiday season is in full swing.  Are you throwing a holiday party? Hosting a more intimate gathering?  Whatever you're planning, it can be stressful, but with a few simple strategies you can make your holiday celebration a memorable one for everyone.
1. Consider a Theme

This can be anything from a tacky sweater Christmas party to a Mad Men '50s party or anything you can dream up. The best themes are ones that can carry over from the decorations to the food and attire.

2. Choose the Right Food

What does the usual array of finger foods, chips and dip, and veggie platters say to your gets?  Boring!   While the food will be memorable for its status as the usual go to foods, it will not provide a memorable experience for anyone. Try to provide at least one memorable dish that will impress your guests and leave them wanting to come back for your next holiday party. It doesn't have to be anything overly difficult to make; there are many dishes that look impressive but are pretty easy to prepare.  Google is a great place to find inspiration, or look up a dish from your favorite restaurant to see how it's made.  Your party will be twice as memorable if you can come up with an amazing dessert as well.  Creme brulee anyone?

3. Plan in Advance 

The sooner you start planning your party, the more time you will have to spend perfecting the decorations, planning the menu and determining the guest list. Your friends and family are more likely to be able to come if you invite them early on, so they clan plan their party season, too.   Getting yoru invites out early also signals that you really want those people to attend - and if invitees do decline, you will still have time to invite a few additional people that didn't make the first cut guest list (okay, the B Listers). 

4. Don't Skimp on the Decorations

Great decorations can help to transform your home to coincide with a theme, time of year or holiday. Lots of festive garlands and mood lighting can help to improve the atmosphere without breaking the budget. A word of caution - skip the old plastic light up figures, the cardboard cutouts and the things you and your kids made in grade school.  While they may have sentimental meaning to you, keep them out of sight until after the party.  You want to set an inviting, festive and grown up mood.  You don't want your guests remembering your tacky decorations!

5. Games and Activities  

Make sure that there is something for your guests to do when they are finished eating. Silly games can be a great way to break the ice and get a conversation going, but consider your audience when planning the games. Small children will enjoy an entirely different set of party games than the older attendees.  You can also add a swap of some sort, such as an ornament swap instead of the traditional all-encompassing item swap.  Or collect small toys or pantry items for an organization you support and provide gift bags and tags for guests to help wrap in their own personal style.

6. Prizes to Boost Participation   

Prizes can add a whole new level of competition to any party game. They do not have to be anything expensive or elaborate – any prizes will be exciting and memorable. Bonus points if the prizes are in keeping with the theme of your party.  Everyone likes to win and it will evoke happy memories of childhood parties and the excitement of bringing home a "goodie bag."

7. Select the Music  

A quiet party is a dull party, so make sure you have holiday themed music to go with your holiday themed party. Again, consider your audience when choosing the music. The right music can help to make it a fun and memorable evening for everyone.  Keep the volume of the music in mind and make adjustments as conversation and the number of guests increases - or decreases as the first people leave.

8. Don't Make Your Guest Play Musical Chairs

This one might seem obvious, but make sure there is plenty of seating available in the areas that people are likely to congregate. Nobody wants to stand for the duration of the party.  Provide a variety of seating; some guests may need back support or a higher or lower chair. Be sure there are occasional tables scattered about so your guests won't have to put their plates and glasses on the floor where it's awkward to reach down to get them, or where someone might step on them.  Embarrassment is definitely something that can kill a party mood!  Provide an array of glasses to help guests identify their stray beverage, or grab a set of washable glass markers in silver, gold, red and green (or other colors to match your theme).  The guests can write their own names, or you can pre-personalize and have the glasses ready and waiting.

Whatever your plans this holiday season, enjoy the moments with friends and family and leave the stress behind!

Work Off That Turkey This Weekend With Some Fun!

Dinner is over, the dishes are done, the turkey coma has set in! Take advantage of the long weekend to have some fun and work off that big meal.

24th Annual Methuen Festival of Trees.  Do you love Christmas trees? Looking for some tree decorating ideas? Want to awe the kids? Head to 13 Branch Street in Methuen (you'll see the big neon sign on Rte. 113) on Friday or Saturday from 10 am - 9 pm. In addition to nearly 250 trees, there are gifts and decorations for sale, raffle (win a tree or even $5,000!) and food.

Not enough trees in Methuen? Take a quick ride north and see more at the 5th Annual Sea Festival of Trees at the Blue Ocean Event Center on Salisbury Beach. Check out the holiday trees, designer wreaths, holiday stage performances, Seaside Ice rink and skate rentals, visits with Santa and other fun characters, our Giant Gingerbread Castle display, North Pole Gift and Sweet Shoppe, and Festival Café. Open daily through December 3.

Edaville Railroad Christmas Festival of Lights.  Kids and adults alike will love the park even more than usual when they see the 17 million (yes million) lights around the park.  Take a ride on the train and take advantage of all the other attractions in the park.

23rd Annual Castleberry Faire at the Shriner's Auditorium in Wilmington. Over 250 of the nation’s finest Craftspeople selling products including Holiday Décor, Pottery, Tile, Fine Jewelry, Soy Candles, Turned Wood, Soaps, Fine Art, Toys, Wildlife & Nature Photography, Ceramics, Wearable Art, Victorian Wreaths, Leather, Pet Treats & Accessories, Children’s Clothing, Clay, Ladies Apparel, Sports Apparel, Sheep Skin Accessories, Fleece, doll clothes, table games and so, so, so much more! Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Boston Winter at City Hall Plaza returns! This outdoor mix of live performances, holiday shopping market in dozens of "chalets" and an outdoor skating rink.  Easy to park or take the T, walk to other attractions like Faneuil Hall, or just spent some time enjoying the events and local vendors offerings.

Cider Hill Farm Holiday Open House at the farm in Amesbury on Saturday and Sunday. Bring the kids and enjoy storytime, gingerbread man decorating, letter writing to our troops, a complimentary hot chocolate bar, and more! After your visit, take a stroll through downtown Amesbury and check out all the new shops, cafes and restaurants.  Amesbury is bustling!

North Andover Holiday Events The annual Santa parade kicks off at the middle school on Saturday at noon, and will progress down Main Street to Elm Street to Watter Street, back to Main Street and end at Sutton Street.  Lots of local talent will be participating! On Sunday at 4:30 be on the Common for the tree lighting and take part in the festivities until 6:30. Meet Santa Claus and have some free cookies and hot chocolate! There will be live entertainment as well as a free printed picture with Santa!

Small Business Saturday! Get out and support our local small businesses and take part in some special events and sales planned just for the day! 


Fall Festivals and Other Fun Stuff!

Fall is in the air and Halloween is on people's minds!  Here are some ideas for making the most of the weekend. 

King's Chapel Underground Tomb Tours, Boston.  This will definitely bring on thoughts of ghosts and goblins!  Guided tours will take you into 21 underground tombs, where you'll learn about the people buried there along with ancient burial customs. Tours are at 5:30 and 6:15 pm on Fridays and Saturdays through the end of the month.

Not-So-Scary Monster Safari Hayride at Smolak Farms, North AndoverFor those who want to anticipate Halloween in a less scary manner, bring the kids (costumes encouraged) to Smolak Farms on Saturday between 10 and 3:30.  They'll enjoy a tractor-pulled  hayride where they'll be greeted by friendly classic monsters, receive candy, a cider donut (parents get one, too!) and a sugar pumpkin.  While you're there you can meet the animals and check out the delicious offerings in the farmstand.

iFarm Fall Festival, 55 Towne Road, Boxford. Saturday from 12-4 there will be events for the whole family, including cook-offs, beer-tasting, pumpkin decorating, hay bale toss contest and garden tours. Come support a local farmer and have fun at the same time! 

Tewksbury Fall Harvest Fest, Livingston Field, Tewksbury on Sunday from 12-5. Festival events include rides, crafts, vendors, games and shows, including Michael Jackson, Taylor Swift and Katy Perry tribute performances and Rattlesnake Alley, a country/rock band. There will also be a cornhole tournament, remote-control racecars. And a live broadcast of the Patriots-Jets game from a pub tent!

The Haunting of Manning Park, Billerica on Saturday. Be prepared for a frighteningly good time! Ages 2-8 can experience the thrills and chills from 6-7 pm while the older crowd (that includes you, parents!) will walk the Trail of Terror from 7-9 pm. There will also be games, prizes and treats.  Bring a flashlight and wear appropriate walking shoes! Parking in the Chelmsford Forum at 2 Brick Kiln Road, only!

Applefest at Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA on Saturday and Sunday. Wachusett isn't just for winter skiing! Check out the 34th Annual Applefest with over 150 crafters and farmers' booths, foliage skyrides to the summit, pony rides, climbing wall, jugglers, barbecue, Celtic Celebration, beer garden and so much more! 

Grand Opening of Henry Bear's Park in Ipswich. Take a break from the scary events and apple festivals and bring the kids to the area's newest toy store at 3 Market Street.  Kids will love the facepainting, balloons, raffle prizes, craft making and more from 10-4.

Sing-a-long with Peter Sheridan at The Pike School on Saturday at 10. Your little ones will have a ball singing along with this favorite children's entertainer who accompanies his singing with guitar, harmonica and more. Free coffee for parents, too, who are invited to join in the fun!

Farmers' Market, Andover on Saturday. Opens at 10, offering the best local produce and artisan products. The end of the market season is almost here, so don't miss out! 

Hye Kef, Saturday at 7 pm at The Doubletree on Old River Road in Andover.  This 5-hour Dance features the legendary Onnik Dinkjian!! Sponsored by Armenian Friends of America, Inc. (AFA) of the Merrimack Valley. The band will include John Berberian on Oud, Mal Barsamian on clarinet, Ara Dinkjian on keyboard and Ron Tutunjian on Dumbeg. Ticket prices include a full dinner buffet.

Crossroads Music Series Kickoff, Saturday at 8 pm at the North Parish Church in North Andover. Crossroads Music Series kicks off its concert season with ‘Alice and the Groove Diggers’ on Saturday, October 14th. ‘Alice and the Groove Diggers’ (formerly together as ‘Oncoming Traffic’) presenting a mix of Classic Rock, R&B and Blues.

Sunday Open Houses! Yes, the Pats are on at 1:00 so plan your open house visits accordingly! Check out my website to get the scoop on Open House locations and times. 



Whole Lotta Stuff Goin' On This Weekend!

October - one of the busiest months for fun things to do, both indoors and out!

Newburyport Fall Festival in downtown Newburyport on Sunday & Monday. The annual festival offers a ton of great food, live music, and family fun, with craft vendor booths and specials in downtown shops and restaurants. Live entertainment in Market Square and a Scarecrow contest are some of the other events.

North Andover Fire Department Open House, Saturday from 10 - 1.  Bring the kids or the young-at-heart to see the fire trucks up close and personal, meet our firefighters and see what the station looks like from the inside out!

Teddy Bear Picnic at the Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover on Sunday from 1-3. Kids and parents can enjoy storytime and a light picnic (refreshments provided) at the teddy bear garden. There will also be crafts, bubbles, and a Bear Scavenger Hunt. Stuffed animal best friends are encouraged to attend! Please bring your own blanket to relax on the lawn.  A portrait photographer will be here to take complementary portraits of children with their stuffed animals. Also, Mini Emporium, an Andover-based mobile children's boutique specializing in baby and kiddos will be on the property during the event. 

Fall Foliage Train Rides in NH.  Who doesn't love a train ride?  There are several different rides from which to choose, including both old restored and newer cars and engines.  Whether it's a one hour ride or several hours with a hot meal or snacks, you'll enjoy relaxing and taking in the views.

Salem is gearing up for its favorite and most popular time of year! Visitors from around the globe head to our famous neighboring town to take in the sights, sounds, food and vibes of the city. Events abound for all ages! This weekend's fun events include Lanterns in the Village on Sturday and Sunday.  This pumpkin-patch party is being held in Pioneer Village, where decorated pumpkins will be lit and spooky stories will be read, and you can tour the village.  For those looking for more scare factor, check out the Zombie Walk from 3:30-5:30 on Saturday, when zombies of all ages will be roaming the streets.  If you need help transforming into a zombie, there will be facepainters and makeup artists available to help you create the look you desire. Saturday and Sunday is also when the annual Haunted Biz Baz Street Fair takes place.  Dress up and join in the fun! 

Art Brunch at the W Hotel in Boston on Sunday from noon to 5 pm. Partake in the Bloody Mary bar and take in the art at the pop-up gallery - and meet and mingle with the artists!  on Friday at the World Trade Center (Boston) from 4-10 pm. Enjoy live music, food and beer, of course!

Fashion on Fire, Friday at 7 pm at the Hilton in Woburn. A Boston Fashion Week gala hosted by Erika Tarantal anchor/reporter of News Channel 5 Boston featuring a fashion show with top Boston area designers, dance and music by nationally recognized performers, special vendors with amazing shopping, a silent auction benefiting Project Smile, the Best-in-Shoe competition and delicious complimentary appetizers, desserts and a complimentary Svedka cocktail. Guests are encouraged to wear their fanciest or most outrageous shoes so they can strut the catwalk and compete for the title of Best-in-Shoe.

Classic Plastic Model Club Gala 25th Model Car Exhibition at the Elks Hall in Lawrence on Sunday from 8 - 4. See the best scale models in New England. The 2017 theme is 50th anniversary of the Camaro, Cougar & Firebird; sub-theme is Animal-named Vehicles.

FairyTale Players production of Cinderella, Saturday at 10 am at the Unitarian Universalist Church in Andover. The Tale of Cinderella's Sisters' Sassy Shoes includes kooky stepsisters, a scooter-riding princess, and, of course, silly shoe snafus! The magic of friendship blossoms when respect and kindness are remembered. We invite everyone to come dressed in costume, dance with us at the ball, and share jokes with Cinderella!

Open Houses in Andover and North Andover.  Check out the weekend's open houses at!

The Three W's for the Weekend - What, When, Where!


Fall Festival on the Common, North Andover on Saturday from 10-4  

The annual tradition continues with fun for the family! Local food and craft vendors, live performances, pony rides, face painting, pumpkin decorating, sand art and all the things your kids love to do and that bring back childhood memories for you! 

Dueling Pianos, Friday at the Amvets Club in Haverhill, 7:30 pm

Sponsored by the Haverhill Exchange Club.  You'll feel like you're in a Chicago club at this event, with light refreshments available.  The event raises funds for the Child Abuse Awareness Fund.

33rd Annual Boston Film Festival, AMC Loews Boston Common

See world premier films, documentaries and Q&As with Hollywood directors, producers, writers and actors.  See the full schedule

Phantom of the Opera, Boston Opera House through October 1

One of the most loved musicals has returned to Boston! And how fitting that it is being performed at the gorgeous Boston Opera House!

13th Annual Portsmouth Fairy House Tour, Saturday & Sunday at 11 am

Who can resist these magical little fantasy homes! Over 200 fairy houses will be on display on the grounds of the beautiful Strawberry Banke. There will also be performances by the Southern New Hampshire Dance Theater and the New Hampshire Theatre Project Youth Repertory Company, as well as book signings by author Tracy Kane.

Punto Urban Art Museum Walking Tour, Salem, MA. Saturday from 1-2 pm and Sunday from 10-11 am

Family fun, pet friendly! Check out over 25 large-scale indoor and outdoor murals in Salem's Point Neighborhood, created by 12 artists.

Zero Waste Day, Wynn Middle School, Tewksbury from 9 am - 1 pm

Take advantage of the opportunity to clean out the stuff that's been hanging around in your closets, garage, attic and basement! You can bring clothing, household goods and decorative items, tires (off rims), TVs and more.

Museum Day Live - throughout the US! FREE on Saturday!

Here in Massachusetts, from Amherst to Worcester, take a look at all the options! Who knew we have so many museums so close by, and so varied. Or if you're on the road, check out what's around wherever you are.

Andover Historical Society & Andover Farmer's Market, Saturday

While you're picking up local produce and products, check out the exhibits at the Andover Historical Society.  The Farmer's Market is open from 10-2 and the AHS is open 10-4, so you'll have plenty of time to hit both!

Country Music Festival at the Amesbury Sports Park, Saturday at noon & Sunday at 11 am

It's more than just seeing national and regional musicians like The Charlie Daniels Band, Travis Tritt and The Steel Drivers, it's also a time to enjoy a wide variety of gourmet food and specialized craft vendors! 

Open House Event in Andover, Sunday  

Take a look at the houses you've been dying to see, and the one you want to make you own! See for addresses and times!




It's officially summer and there's a lot to do this weekend!  


June Picnic Concert, Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover

Saturday June 24 from 4-7 pm

Enjoy the gardens while listening to live music by the band Cold Chocolate. Food and beverage trucks will be there or bring your own picnic. More info at


Amesbury Days, throughout Amesbury (Main St, Friend St, Upper Millyard)

Through Friday June 30

So many events! So much fun! Check the website to see times and locations of Art Show & Sale, kids art workshops, Strawberry Festival, Classic Car Show, Brewfest and sooooo much more!


Hula Frog, events throughout the Merrimack Valley

Hulafrog compiles a list of fun things to do with your kids.  Some of the events planned for this weekend include Martin's Pond Children's Fishing Derby in North Reading on Saturday from 8-11 am, Drop-in Painting and Kitten Corner Hour in Tewksbury on Friday at 10 am, and Sprinkle Donuts Workshop at TasteBuds Kitchen in North Andover Saturday at 9:00.  

Check the website for the full list at


Dads and Donuts, Memorial Hall Library in Andover

Saturday June 24 at 10 am

Dads and kids are invited to a special pre-school story time followed by a craft - and donut holes, juice and coffee.  A great way to start the day.


Summer at the Stevens (Memorial Library) in North Andover

Saturday June 24 from 10-3

Kids age 4 and up can create a work of art with Rob Surette to be displayed in the Children's Room! More info on this summer children's program can be found at


Farmers Markets! Andover, North Andover, Haverhill 

It's the season for farm-fresh fruits and vegetables.  Come support your local farmers while picking up delicious and healthy food!

Saturday from 10-2 in Andover and 9-1 in Haverhill; Sunday from 10-2 in North Andover


St. Peter's Fiesta, Gloucester

Events throughout the weekend at Pavilion Beach and St. Peter's Park

Greasy Pole contest, boat races and blessing of the fleet, music, kids' events and, of course, food! for more info go to


Movies, local theaters

Looking to cool off? Check out some of the new family-friendly movies playing locally, including Cars 3, The Mummy  and Captain Underpants (all also playing in 3D), and The Book of Henry.


Open Houses, Sunday

Take a peek at some of the newest homes on the market in Andover and North Andover!, including:

51 Enmore St (open 11-1:30), 96 Maple Ave (open Sunday 2-4), 30 Burnham Road and 41 Clark Road in Andover

93 Putnam Road and 49 Equestrian Drive in North Andover.  

For times and additional open houses, check Zillow or



Aaaaah, those lazy days of summer when we were kids, waiting impatiently for the ice cream truck to come up the block with it's tinny music blaring from the roof-top speakers.  Now that our tastes are a bit more refined - or perhaps the ice cream truck no longer makes it to you neighborhood - here are some fabulous local places to get ice cream!  


One of the newest players is Town Market Andover in Andover.  Inside you'll find everything you need to keep you fueled for the day, including breakfast, lunch and dinner offerings, beer and wine tastings, and of course, Ice cream! 

Another newcomer to the field is Cows Rock in North Andover's Old Center. Cows Rock serves Richardson's ice cream, Richie's Italian Ice, coffee, bakery treats and sandwiches in a quaint brick building next to the common.

Speaking of Richardson's, the kids always enjoy a visit to the "real" Richardson's in Middleton, where the ice cream is made.  The cows can often be seen in the fields, and if you're looking to burn off some of the ice cream calories you can play mini golf, go to the driving range or hit the batting cages.

A couple other places that offer loads of entertainment along with awesome ice cream are Jay Gee's Ice Cream and Fun Center in Methuen where you can play mini-golf, drive the go-karts, use the batting cages or hang out in the arcade.  Kimball Farm in Westford is always a hit, and you may want to plan on spending a few hours there! You may not know where to start with things like bumper boats, zip line, pony rides, pitch and putt, country store and more to keep you busy.  Just be sure to end with an ice cream, it's totally worth the drive!

Looking for some history with your ice cream? Check out Putnam Pantry in Danvers, home of the original ice cream smorgasboard. Enjoy your overflowing sundae in an antique house turned shop, and don't leave without getting some hand-crafted chocolates or other candy made right on site.

Heritage Farm in Lowell offers not only delicious ice cream and treats, but is also well known for it's motorcyle and classic car nights.  The kids (or adults) can enjoy their ice cream while checking out the night's collection of vehicles.

Not to be missed is Benson's Homemade Ice Cream in Boxford, a staple since 1932.  Benson's is famous for making fresh native fruit flavored ice cream and toppings, including strawberry, red raspberry, peach and blueberry.

Finally, Carter's Ice Cream in Bradford is another long time area favorite.  The ice cream is made on site and new flavors are constantly being experimented with, such as pumpkin and salty chocolate caramel crunch.


Summer always seems to go by quickly, so get your ice cream before the sad day the stands close down for the season!