Posted by: ad65shorty | December 6, 2013

12 Days of Service Jar for Christmas

This is one of our favorite Christmas traditions!

Remember our Gratitude Jar we do in November? The service activities have really had an impact on my children. My husband and I were discussing it one evening, and he said, “I wish we could continue this into next month. Maybe like 12 Days of Service or something.” And so that’s exactly what we’re doing! We decided to do a spin off of the gratitude jar, except this time the activities are only service-oriented.

So, we made a list of some people in our community that we could serve. I put them on gift tags and placed the tags in a jar. You could easily do this as an advent idea, but we decided to limit ours to 12 because this season gets so busy. On the nights that we are free, we pull out one at dinner time and figure out a way we can serve that person. We try to get creative with this and try to do more than just baking cookies each time, although we definitely include baking! It would be fun to hang the tags on a tree or branches (I’m thinking silver) in a vase.

Our family loves this. We find that it helps us turn our thoughts and hearts to Christ.

My friend and neighbor suggested that this would be a fabulous neighbor gift! I LOVE that idea!! And obviously, you could do this any time of year, not just at Christmas.

Here are some ideas (many from YOU):

grandparents                           stranger

mailman                                   Bishop (Church leader)

neighbors                                 friends

soldiers                                     Primary teacher (children’s Church leader)

school teacher                         music/dance teacher or coach

someone in need                    librarian

doctor/dentist                         co-workers/boss

bus driver                                organization (like Salvation Army, Toys for Tots, etc)

elderly (at a facility)              firefighters

baby-sitter                              missionaries

grocer/pharmacist

Can you think of anyone else?

Posted by: ad65shorty | December 4, 2013

Neighborhood Christmas Baking Fun!

This is such a fun, simple (and somewhat messy) activity to do with all the kids in the neighborhood. Host a simple Christmas cookie party, where kids can come and decorate Christmas-shaped sugar cookies to their hearts content! You can go big or keep it to a small few. This is a great all-ages party idea!

My recommendations:

1. Bake the cookies the day before. You can even use the refrigerated sugar cookie dough instead of homemade to make it really easy.

2. Provide each child with a small bowl or cup of frosting. They always want to lick the knife, and this way there is no germ sharing!

3. I like to provide a popsicle stick for spreading instead of a knife. Much easier clean-up!

4. I’ve done big bowls with all the candy in the middle for the kids to share, or I’ve split all the candies into individual smaller bowls so there is no fighting and no hogging of the candies. Sprinkles are a must!

5. Provide lots of shapes for the kids to choose from. Make some for eating now and some they can take home.

6. For even less mess, cover your table with a festive tablecloth.

7. Ask another mom to stay and help!

This is such a simple party for planning and lots of fun for all involved! If you want to make it last longer, put on a fun Christmas movie!

Posted by: ad65shorty | December 2, 2013

Stories for Snuggling: The Night Before Christmas

 The Night Before Christmas Board Book

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore (illustrated by Bruce Whatley)

Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without this classic story, right?! I have seen many versions of this story through the years, but this one has to be my all-time favorite! Whatley’s illustrations are incredible and really add to the classic poem. His pictures are vivid and colorful and so realistic. I mean, just look at that cover! Don’t you want to pick the book up and see what’s inside?! Santa looks so real; it’s amazing! Children can’t put this version of the book down!

Posted by: ad65shorty | November 15, 2013

Simple Homemade Native American Costume

Another favorite of yours! This is my 2nd top post of all time (second only to pumpkin pie playdough). I hadn’t planned on sharing it so I don’t have any pictures of the process. It’s fairly simple to make though with minimal sewing. Perfect for a Thanksgiving feast!

I am so proud of this project!!! In my 31 years, I think I have sewn maybe 5 things all by myself. Sewing is so hard for me and makes me cry, but I had this vision and wanted to see if I could create it! My son’s Kindergarten teacher asked that the kids come in either a Pilgrim costume or a Native American costume for their Friendship Feast at school. My son chose a Native American. So, this is what I came up with:

Cute, huh?! (Sorry about the quality of pictures. It’s really dark and cloudy today, and I was in a hurry!)

Here are my directions. I don’t have pictures of the process because honestly, I didn’t think about it. If you need any clarification, please ask!

1. I bought a light brown fleece material at my local craft store, enough to make a smock for him, and a dress for my daughter.

2. I measured (by sight) how long to make it and how wide to make it. My son’s went about mid-thigh. My kids are the perfect height that I was able to just copy his to make a knee-length dress for my daughter. I added a couple of inches to the width to accomodate for the seam.

3. I folded the material at the shoulders so that it would have a front and a back and drew a t-shirt shape (with no sleeves) with marker on the material.

4. I cut it out, then measured it again against my son. (Just to check ’cause I’m a little OCD!)

5. At the fold, near the top, I found the middle and marked it. I then created a “V” shape neck-line for the front. My sister-in-law suggested cutting a slit at the back so it would go over his head easily and still look nice when he was wearing it. She said I could safety pin it, but we just let it hang. Start small ’cause you can always cut bigger.

6. I then turned it inside-out and sewed about a one-inch seam on each side. My sister-in-law suggested having it curve near the armpit area so it was more comfortable. I just guess-timated on that!  (She also suggested to sew the seam on the outside, and then cut fringe down the side. Cute idea, but way too advanced for me!)

7. I turned it right-side out and cut a little fringe at the bottom. Mine are about an inch wide and a couple inches up.

8. We then took craft paint and some sponges we have to decorate. My daughter painted her whole dress. My son did a row near the neck and at the bottom by the fringe.

9. I also made them simple head-dresses. I cut a 2-inch strip that was wide enough to fit their heads. They each picked some feathers, and I sewed them onto the headband, then sewed the strip into a band to fit. This was a little tricky for me, but I did it!

My Native American neighbors ranted and raved about how well I did. I was just a little proud! :)

And my kids have worn them all day and are so excited to wear them for Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday!

Posted by: ad65shorty | November 5, 2013

Yarn Turkey with Service Activity

A favorite idea, perfect for serving and getting in the spirit of the holidays! (guest post from Emily)

Ack! I am in LOVE with this adorable yarn turkey!! Emily emailed me a week or so ago with this idea, and she finally had some time to put it together. She says her family is loving it!

Here’s the info she included:

He’s been spotted in the fridge and seen hanging from the shower curtain. This morning he was hiding in a shoe with a nice note. His name is Tommy the Turkey and he is one shy bird.

If you find Tommy, take him along with you to do a little service, then hide him for someone else to find.

Tommy is made with the same instructions as the yarn spider, but with 6 whole pipe cleaners instead of two cut in half. His long legs help him find the best hiding spots.

So, what you do is make the turkey, then hide the turkey for your children to find. When someone finds him, they do an act of service and then hide him again for another family member to find. Sweet!

Thanx so much, Emily! I love him!

Posted by: ad65shorty | November 1, 2013

Gratitude Countdown to Thanksgiving

Just re-posted this so it appears on the top:

I know I share this every year, but it’s just so good!! This one takes a little bit of prep so I wanted to give you some time to put it together if you’re interested!

I love this Gratitude Countdown to Thanksgiving! The idea is simple: You write 28 things you’re thankful for on slips of paper (one for each day until Thanksgiving) and put them in a jar. Each day your family pulls one out, reads it, and then does the corresponding activity. For example, “We are thankful for our neighbors,” and then you do something for one of your neighbors.

This has become a yearly tradition in our home. We have found it teaches our children a lot about service, improves their prayers, and helps them see how blessed we are! They look forward to pulling out a slip every night at dinner and seeing what our activity for the evening is. It’s fun to be “spontaneous” every once in awhile!

*To make it easy, here’s a list of ideas I use.

**Original idea found here.

I’d love to hear your family’s experiences with this activity!

Posted by: ad65shorty | October 29, 2013

Halloween Dinner Ideas

Here are some of our favorite dinner ideas for Halloween. Totally kid-friendly! (click on the picture for directions)

Mummy Hotdogs

Jack o’ Lantern pizza (this one from Papa Murphy’s)

Mini Mummy Pizzas (my kids’ favorite)

What is your family’s favorite Halloween dinner?

Posted by: ad65shorty | October 22, 2013

Halloween Craft Project for Toddlers

One evening, we had my 2-year-old nephew over for the evening. Whenever I have younger kids over for an extended period of time, I let them free-play, but always, always have some more structured activities for them to do, as well, especially when the fights over cars start happening!! This art project was so simple and cheap and kept these 2-year-olds entertained until I ran out of supplies.

DSC_0749

I printed off some simple Halloween clipart from the internet. I chose a pumpkin, but anything would work, of course. A haunted house would have been adorable. I bought these foam stickers in Halloween shapes at Target’s Dollar Spot awhile ago. I set the stickers out, as well as some crayons, and let the boys go at it! They got the concept of peeling the backing off the stickers quickly and had so much fun sticking the stickers onto their papers. They also colored the pumpkins a bit, as well!

Both kids have their pictures proudly displayed in their homes! Such a fun, simple, and fairly mess-free art project, perfect for toddlers for Halloween!

(And a secret: My 6-year-old thought this project was pretty fun, as well!)

Posted by: ad65shorty | October 21, 2013

Cute Yarn Spiders

Aren’t these spiders so cute?! We love them over here!

I like to hide them around the house for my kids to find–on their pillows, on the bookshelf, on their chairs in the kitchen. We made a whole bunch last year and gave them away to friends.

Want to make some? Go here to find out how. They take just minutes, and are made completely out of yarn and pipe cleaners!

Where would you hide the spider?

Posted by: ad65shorty | October 19, 2013

Local Fun: Witch Hunt at Gardner Village

Did you know that Gardner Village has a Witch Hunt for children 12 and under, similar to the Elf Hunt at Christmas? They’ve placed witch statues all around their “village.” You can get a list of certain witches to keep your eyes out for. If you find them all, you get a cookie for cheap (35 cents!) at their bakery.

We take the kids every year and have a BLAST! The kids enjoy running around, looking for all the cute witches. Our favorite is the “Witchy Poo.”

Here are some hints from times past to make your hunt easier:

1. Wear good walking shoes. You literally cover the whole village! (there’s usually one down by Archibald’s so make sure you take a visit there)

2. Dress appropriately for the weather since you’ll be outside. Gloves are great if it’s cold because you do a lot of writing, and your fingers get frozen!

3. Bring a clipboard for writing on.

**Gardner Village has many fun activities this time of year–for both kids and adults. Go here for more info.

And mark your calendars for December, when the elves come visit!

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

Categories

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 437 other followers