Posts from the ‘Seasonal’ Category

6 Easy and Fun Elf on the Shelf Ideas That Will Bring a Smile to Your Little One’s Face

The Elf on the Shelf® has become a great tradition that children of all ages love! If you aren’t familiar with it, the story goes that special scout elves are sent from the North Pole to help Santa manage his naughty and nice lists. When a family adopts a scout elf and gives it a name, the scout elf receives its Christmas magic and can fly to the North Pole each night to tell Santa about all of the day’s adventures. Each morning, the scout elf returns to its family. Parents place the elf, and children wake up and race around the house looking for their scout elf each morning!

If you’re looking for some creative placement ideas for your elf, check out these we found on the web!

Feeding the Dog and Raiding the Candy Bowl, from Home Stories A to Z

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Playing in the Cereal and Teaching Other Stuffed Animals About Elves, from A Small Snippet

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Coloring With Crayons and Getting Ready to Make Breakfast, by Sweet CS Designs

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Where have you placed your The Elf on the Shelf®? We’d love for you to share your ideas!

Note: Be sure to read these safety warnings. Santa wants to make sure everyone stays safe!

Make a Christmas Countdown Calendar With Your Little One!

We’re happy to have Sarah Bouvier, guest blogger from New England’s Sweet Lil You, sharing with us how to make a “Christmas Countdown” calendar that can be re-used each Christmas! This is such a fun project that you can get your little ones involved in!


Before becoming a mom I didn’t realize just how quickly babies grow, especially during their first year.  Now I see that they grow and change seemingly overnight.  Because of this I’m always looking for fun ways to capture who my daughter is at every age and stage.

My daughter was 8 months old when she experienced Christmas for the first time.  We were still struggling with erratic sleep schedules as well as teething, food allergies, reflux, and everything else that goes with being a first time mom.

Needless to say, we didn’t create as many keepsakes as I would have liked.  I do have a few mementos from her first Christmas. We made a handprint ornament, and a footprint reindeer; we also made some salt-dough plaques with hand and footprints. However, there was so much more I wanted to do. I’ve been trying to make up for it this year, so we’ve been working on a bunch of projects! One of those projects is a Chalkboard Christmas Countdown Calendar, complete with handprint Santa! Avery finished calendar Gerber This is a fun project that you can use year after year! Ours has already become a big part of our holiday traditions.  My daughter loves moving the magnet each day as we get closer and closer to Santa’s arrival! Craft instructions handprint gerber For this project you’ll need a large magnetic chalkboard.  I purchased ours at Target, in the stationary section, but your can find them at most office supply and craft stores. You’ll also need paint (I use acrylic because it’s easy to clean off little hands and non-toxic), a paint pen to draw your lines, and letter/number stencils if you’re like me and have awful handwriting! calendar grid gerber handprint craft Step 1: Measure out your calendar grid, and use chalk to mark it. Step 2: Trace over your chalk lines with the paint pen, and let dry. Stenciling numbers Gerber craft Christmas Step 3: Stencil or write your numbers in the grid. If you’re using a stencil, use a foam brush or a stencil brush. Use a very small amount of paint (the brush should feel almost dry) and dab/sponge the paint on gently. (If paint is “bleeding” under the stencil you’re using too much paint.)   Make sure that you let each number dry before moving on to the next. You don’t want to smudge or smear your work. Step 4:  Apply paint to your child’s hand.  Not too much, and not too little. Toddler baby hand print craft Gerber Step 5: Help your child press their hand onto the chalkboard. If you’re not happy with how the print came out, use a damp cloth to wipe off the paint and try again.

Step 6: Allow the handprint to dry completely. handprint santa gerber craft chirstmas calendar Step 7: Paint on Santa’s hat and face! Step 8: Using your stencil, or freehand, add holiday wording to the top!  I used “Santa Claus is coming to town!” but you use whatever you’d like! Other examples include “_______’s Christmas Countdown” or “Countdown to Christmas” Handprint Santa Christmas Calendar Gerber Craft Baby's First Christmas My daughter and I had a lot of fun working on this project together, and I think it would be perfect to make for your baby’s first Christmas. It’s definitely a keepsake that we will display every Christmas and I’ll smile seeing that tiny handprint!

5 Traditions for Baby’s First Christmas

The holiday season is even more fun when you have a little one in the house! The traditions you experienced growing up take on new meaning, and it’s fun to invent your own. Here are a few of our favorite traditions.

  • Cute Christmas PJs —Christmas PJs are adorable, and when little ones get older, they’ll enjoy picking out their own!
  • Holiday Movies —Choose a classic holiday movie to watch each year. Or mix it up and watch a different one each time!
  • Keepsake Ornaments. Create a keepsake ornament for each Christmas. As your little one grows, he or she can help you make them.
  • Christmas Carols. Babies love listening to music. You can sing Christmas carols in your home, or go door-to-door for an old-fashioned caroling.
  • Holiday Lights. Children of all ages love holiday lights, so this is a tradition you can continue for years to come! Take a tour of the lights in your neighborhood, or go all-out with a one of the big displays, if you have one in your area.

Holiday traditions are memories that your little one will treasure forever. Share your traditions with us —we’d love to hear your ideas!

 

photo credit: a n i. Y. via photopin cc

How to Keep Your Holiday House Accident-Free

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Trees, garlands, lights, wreaths, and all sorts of festive decorations are going up over the next couple of weeks. If this is your first Christmas with baby, you might be wondering how to keep your home safe for your little one. We’ve gathered 7 holiday baby-proofing tips from Parents.com and SheKnows.com.

  • Reduce the risk of fire. Artificial trees should be marked “fire-resistant.” Live trees should be fresh and green, not dry. To tell if a live tree is fresh, just tap it on the ground —if needles fall off, keep looking.
  • Make sure lights are all in good condition. Frayed wires, broken sockets, and loose connections are all signs that lights shouldn’t be used.
  • Secure the tree. Tugs from baby can send a tree toppling. If you weigh the tree down with bricks at the stand or use an extra tie-down, you can prevent a crash. Also consider putting a playpen or other obstacle in front of the tree to keep your little one from trying to climb.
  • Keep all ornaments out of baby’s reach. Little ones shouldn’t be able to reach tree ornaments, or they’ll want to take them down to play! As a precaution, make sure all ornaments are non-breakable.
  • Stow all cords and wires. Baby shouldn’t be able to access cords or wires because they’re a choking hazard. Make sure all cords and wires are tucked away.
  • Skip the poisonous plants. Poinsettias are perfect, but amaryllis, mistletoe and holly are toxic.
  • Use festive placemats instead of tablecloths. Little ones can pull tablecloths, sending dishes and cutlery down on top of them. With placemats, you get to keep the Christmas theme, without the risk!

You don’t have to sacrifice the Christmas cheer to keep your little one safe and happy! Planning ahead with these tips will keep your holiday house accident-free.
photo credit: susivinh via photopin cc

Let Dad Keep Your Little One Entertained While You Shop Black Friday

It’s sale season! And if you’re one of those people who wouldn’t let anything keep you from the Black Friday deals, you might need some ideas on what to do with your little one while you shop. Most men don’t love shopping, so try pitching one of these ideas to your partner to give you time to snag the special savings.

  1. Toddler Dance Party. Who doesn’t love a dance party?! Dads and little ones can bond and have a blast at the same time. Just put on your tot’s favorite music and get down!
  2. Story Time. Most little ones are happy to listen to stories and will sit mesmerized while Dad reads to them. Gather some picture books and let baby see the colorful images during the story.
  3. Build a Fort.Remember how much you enjoyed making blanket forts when you were little? Let Dad take it to the next level with these super cool ideas!
  4. Special Toys. Save some toys that you bring out only during Daddy playtime. Baby will look forward to his or her favorites and they’ll make it that much more special.
  5. Day Out With Dad—If Dad doesn’t mind the traffic, he can take the little one on a fun adventure—to the park, the children’s museum, or to see the latest kids’ movie.

With these ideas, Dad will be thankful he doesn’t have to spend all day in the stores, baby will have a blast, and you’ll be able to score those crazy-good deals! A win for everyone!

10 tips for Baby’s First Christmas Card

Tiffany Dahle is the founder and managing editor behind the popular lifestyle blog, Peanut Blossom. Her blog features inspirational tips that help readers develop everyday opportunities for creativity in the kitchen, through photography, and on the road!


One of the things I most looked forward to during my daughters’ first year of life was celebrating their first Christmases. No matter which holiday your family celebrates, this season is filled with a joyous vibe that you’ll want to capture in memorable images to share with family and friends.

If you’d like to share your baby’s First Christmas as part of your holiday card, you’re facing special challenges for setting up a sweet scene everyone on your card list will adore. All you need to do is arm yourself with your camera, these simple tips, and then go play!

10 Tips for Capturing Baby’s First Holiday

  • Before you start, make sure everyone involved (including YOU) has recently had a snack. Hunger sneaks up on us and can quickly cause meltdowns, tantrums, and grumpy faces. The best smiles come from satisfied tummies.
  • Use safe and comfy props like stuffed chairs or blankets (and siblings!) to position baby for the photo. Get everybody comfy, and the whole shoot will go so much better.
  • Don’t use your camera’s flash. Use natural light whenever possible, babies do not respond well to bright flashes in their eyes and their sweet skin is so much more flattering with real light.
  • The best time to capture the twinkly lights of the Christmas tree are before the room has gone completely dark. Try late afternoon just as dusk is setting so that your child still has enough light on their face to avoid the camera flash.

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  • Capture your images by shooting at eye level to your child. Squat down low or even lay on your tummy on the floor to get the proper angle.
  • If baby can’t sit up yet, try shooting straight down with baby lying flat on the floor looking up. Use a solid color textured blanket to make a pretty backdrop but make sure it fills the entire frame. This means you’ll want to crop in closely and try to engage baby for some eye contact.
  • Give baby a safe holiday themed prop to hold and inspect. Think child-proof ornaments, a shiny bell, their stocking or a festive toy.

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  • You will have the best luck keeping your photo shoot in your own home. Babies are more comfortable in their familiar surroundings and you can break for naps as needed
  • Siblings are perfect for keeping baby in the right spot. Set them up with an activity where they will interact with one another like reading a story together.

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  • Let go of “perfect”. Getting more than one child in a photo at the same time with everyone smiling perfectly and looking at the camera can be darn near impossible. This is supposed to be fun for you all, not anxiety inducing. Even the imperfect image will be heart melting when you look back in the years to come.

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Keep this simple check list handy as you head into your photo session.

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Looking for more photography ideas for your family holiday card? You might also be interested in:

Keeping it personal! Christmas cards that tell your story.

 

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Get Your Little One Involved With DIY Craft Gifts for Grandparents

Trying to think of the perfect gift for the grandparents this holiday season? Why not make your own, and get your little one involved? You can create personalized gifts they’ll love so much better than anything you could get from a store! Here are some ideas to get you started:

I Love You Book This sweet book lets you and your little one share the love! You create the book, and then help your toddler fill it with ways he or she loves Granddad and Grandma!

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Art Trivet—Let your little one paint away with kid-safe paints, then use the artwork to make a pretty trivet!

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Handprint Mosaic Stepping Stones —Design a stepping stone for Grandma’s garden! When you’re finished setting the mosaic, get baby involved by pressing a handprint into the clay.

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Send a HugThis mailer is the cutest! When Grandpa opens this package, it will bring endless smiles!

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Chalk Photography—Grandparents love photos of the grandkids! But when you get tired of the same old poses, try something different. Draw a chalk drawing that you can include baby in, snap a photo, then just print and frame!

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What DIY gifts have you created that have been a hit with the grandparents? Please share your ideas!

 

Photo credits: I Can Teach My Child, Pretty Prudent, Hub Pages, Paging Supermom, Pinterest

Thanksgiving Crafts for Happy Toddlers

When Thanksgiving dinner has been tucked away into everyone’s tummies, the little ones always want to know what’s next on the agenda. You can keep toddlers occupied with enjoyable and easy craft projects. Here are a few that aren’t much trouble to pack and take with you, wherever you’re spending the holiday.

Turkey PuppetThis guy is fun to make, and the little ones can play with their creations afterwards!

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Thanksgiving Place Cards —If you need an activity to keep the kids occupied before dinner, have them create Thanksgiving place cards for everyone gathering around the table.

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Give Thanks Coloring Page —Nearly every toddler loves coloring, and this printable page lets you get in the Thanksgiving spirit!

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Tissue Paper Autumn Leaf—Little ones will love scrunching up the tissue paper for these pretty leaves.

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Thanksgiving Tree —Everyone can get involved in creating this Thankful Thanksgiving Tree! Kids and adults alike make construction paper handprints, and write down what they’re thankful for. Then all the handprints are collected together and placed on the tree!

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Crafts are a great way to ensure happy kids, and they’re fun for you too! (Way better than sitting around the living room listening to the same old stories from the relatives!)

 

 

Photo credits (from top): Hugs are FunAll Kids Network, In the Playroom, Kids Activities, Mama Smiles

When the Weather Outside is Frightful: Ideas for Indoor Exercise

The temps are dropping, the wind is picking up, and some parts of the country are starting to see snow and ice —it’s that time of year again! It’s almost impossible to make yourself get out in the weather. But you can stay fit and healthy through the winter, and you don’t need expensive gym equipment. Here are some indoor exercise ideas to keep you warm while working out!

  • Bodyweight strength training with baby—You can do planks, squats, push-ups, and more, all while watching your little one! Parents.com shows how to make it simple.
  • Online exercise TV —Whether you’re into yoga, barre, intense cardio, or strength training, there’s an online exercise program for you! Gaiam, DailyBurn, and FitnessBlender offer low-cost or free workouts you can stream.
  • Yoga for mom and baby —Yoga is nourishing for your joints and muscles, and it will relax you on days you’re stressed. MindBodyGreen has some wonderful ideas on integrating yoga and bonding with your little one.

How do you handle fitness during the winter months? We’d love to hear your ideas!

 

photo credit: theloushe via photopin cc

Tips for Easy Holiday Entertaining with Baby

Entertaining family and friends during the holidays can be stressful enough on its own. Add a baby to the mix, and your stress level can go through the roof if you try to take on too much.

But holiday entertaining can be simple and enjoyable for both you and your guests. Here are a few tips to keep everyone smiling.

  • Make a list. With everything from cleaning the bathrooms to cooking favorite dishes, you’re not going to be able to remember everything! Write your tasks down so you can relax and know that nothing will be forgotten.   large_3447058308
  • Cook ahead. Many things can be made ahead, like desserts, cookies, and sauces. Freeze them and just pop them in the microwave or oven when you’re ready for them. medium_4311836838
  • Ask for help. Why should you do all the cooking? Ask each guest to bring something along, and your to-do list will drastically shorten.
  • Don’t think your meal has to look like a magazine photo. Even if you could make your holiday table look like those on the covers of magazines, everything is going to get messed-up as soon as everyone sits down and digs in! So don’t pressure yourself with fancy table decorations and making sure everything is pristine.
  • Enlist a family babysitter. Ask your sister, mom, or cousin to watch baby while you get some things done. Just set up the playpen close to the holiday action, and the babysitter will enjoy it too!
  • Keep the dishes to a minimum. Who says you have to use fine china? Use cute holiday-themed paper plates to save yourself the time of washing loads of dishes. 24949249
  • There’s no shame in going store-bought. You don’t have to make everything from scratch. Or anything from scratch! Do what you need to, and don’t feel guilty —there’s no reason to!
  • Take some time to reflect. Thanksgiving is a time to think about the good things in your life. Don’t allow holiday entertaining to let your mind become consumed with stress and steal that opportunity from you. As you go through the days, let your mind focus on the things you appreciate.

photo credits (from top): Nick Bastian Tempe, AZ, missteee,  armigeressStudio 5,