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Posts tagged ‘christmas’

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Wrapping Money

If you like searching for the perfect gift then giving money is probably not your favorite thing to do. But as kids get older, this seems to be a popular request. Just because you’re skipping the hunting and gathering doesn’t mean you still can’t have a little fun with giving money.

Oh Happy Day has a variation on the Pass the Parcel game in which the lucky recipient unwraps multiple layers of wrapping paper, revealing a little more money in each layer. Make them earn that cash while stretching out the experience!

One great tip: use twine instead of tape to close the layers, so nobody will accidentally tear the money bills.

Looking for other creative ways to give gifts? Check out these posts:

Follow the Spool

Surprise Balls

There’s what you give, and there’s how you give it.

The Gift of Experience

Big Ideas in Small Packages

Merry Making Via the Mail


(image courtesy Oh Happy Day)

Friday, December 6th, 2013

Countdown to Christmas

I’m a huge fan of all kids of advent/countdown calendars and love the wide variety of ones you can buy or make. If you’re looking for an alternative to candy or trinkets, consider using ornaments that can be added to the tree each day.

Yes, it’s December 6th, but there’s still time to put together a 15 or 10-day countdown to the big day. Or even better, start today!


(image courtesy House and Home)

Saturday, December 22nd, 2012

Holiday Games for Kids

I had a blast planning Livi’s third grade classroom holiday party yesterday! If you’re looking for a few games for the kids at your holiday gatherings, these were a lot of fun and didn’t take too much planning.

Candy Cane Relay

Create a minimum of two teams and pass out a candy cane to each child. Each child should place the cane in her mouth, like a fish hook. Then hang another candy cane from the first child’s “hook.” They then must pass it on to the person behind them without using their hands. First team who gets the candy cane to the end of the line wins!

Rudolph Race

Tie a red pom pom onto a piece of string or yarn. You’ll need one for each child. Then line up the kids with their arms behind their backs. The kids start off by having the end of the string in their mouths, with the pom poms hanging from the other end. The kids then start pulling the string up into their mouths, and the winner is the first one whose pom pom touches his mouth.

Gift Unwrap Relay

Wrap a gift box for each child. Then divide the group into teams. The first person on each team puts on mittens and the race is on to unwrap the package! After the first person is finished, they remove the mittens and pass them on to the next person who then opens their package and so on down the line. Once the last person on each team has unwrapped a package her team wins!

After the festivities each child received a Perler bead reindeer. If you haven’t HERD of these tiny little beads, I’ll be sharing more about this fun craft in the new year — they’ve become an obsession at our house!

Until then, happy holidays to all! See you back here in 2013!

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

First Class Stocking

I’ve posted before about AmberLee of Giver’s Log and her love of sending everyday yet extraordinary packages through the mail. So it should be no surprise to see her latest… a stocking stuffed full of goodies! You can read more about it here.

(image courtesy Giver’s Log)

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Holiday Trees (Minus Those Pesky Needles)

Who says creating a holiday tree is a cookie cutter process? If you’re looking to try a new approach this year, check out these out of the ordinary displays!


Another bookshelf, minus the books


Flat canvas

Book pile




Hand drawn



And yes, even sticky notes!

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

Surprise Balls

If you enjoy the packaging of a gift as much as the gift itself, then surprise balls are for you! First, you start with a small trinket or piece of candy. Then you wrap it in crepe paper. Then you add another object and wrap. And repeat several times, depending on the desired size of your surprise ball.

This would no doubt be fun for kids but don’t rule out springing this on some adults as well! Older kids might like a money ball filled with coins, bills or gift cards. An adult version might contain very small, non-fragile ornaments, packets of tea and coffee, or notes about bigger gifts or surprises. Imagine sitting around the dinner table or by the fire, unraveling a surprise and passing it on to the person next to you! Of course, this is a fun idea for holidays and special events throughout the year.

For another creative gift giving approach, check out this post on following the spool!

(images courtesy Honestly WTF, via Design Mom)

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

Are you ready for December 1st?

Thanksgiving is over. So is Black Friday. And Cyber Monday. It’s not quite December yet, so what’s next? THE COUNTDOWN CALENDAR!

Saturday is the start of the celebratory month; are you ready?

If you’re new to my blog, you may not know that I am obsessed with advent/countdown calendars! I’ve been using them for years, but to my delight, they’ve become quite the trend in the past couple of years.

These calendars come in a wide range of styles but all serve the same purpose: To bring a dose of daily delight to children and adults alike. Yes… I said adults! Even if you don’t have children, these are playful gifts for a spouse, significant other, extended family member, friend or coworker. Remember the imagination and anticipation you felt this time of year as a kid? Reignite those magical feelings for someone in your life and have some fun doing it!

Regardless of what your calendar may hold, one thing rings true with all: holidays AND the every day present celebratory moments, if you’re game!

Check out my past posts below for lots of creative options you can make as well as my Pinterest board of calendars.

More Countdown Calendars

The Countdown Begins December 1st!

Advent Calendar Wrap Up

D.I.Y. Advent Projects

Countdown Calendars for Kids

Love this modern approach!

A great way to use up that Halloween candy!

Free printable here.

Looking to buy one that’s ready to use? I found these cute wool stockings at Crate & Barrel.

And here’s a new one from Pottery Barn.

These are available at Target; I’ve also seen the Lego versions at Toys R Us.

Friday, January 6th, 2012

Holiday Toasts

from Jamie

Since we had so much fun with last year’s tropical fruit tasting following our Christmas brunch, I decided to keep the explorer spirit alive this year with a hot cocoa bar. First, I purchased as many hot chocolate flavors as I could find (in an ideal world I would have made these from scratch — there are a bunch of unique recipes online!) Then I provided lots of different toppings, including whipped cream, sprinkles, silver/red/green sugar, marshmallows and Pocky sticks in chocolate, strawberry and cappucino flavors (a biscuit dessert from Japan available online and in select stores).

Another cool find: miniature cups made out of chocolate! I found mine at a local foodie destination called Jungle Jim’s International Market but others are available online. The adults had Kahlua in theirs while the kiddies stuck with cold milk.

To add a tropical flair to juice glasses, we lined them with a slice of starfruit.

There was also no shortage of elderflower beverages on hand! I first discovered the St. Germain liqueur a year ago when a friend gave me a small sample. Having a real sweet tooth when it comes to cocktails, I immediately fell in love with it (this must be what nectar tastes like!) The flavor is unlike anything else and is derived from elderflower blossoms. Recently, we were excited to find elderflower concentrate and juice boxes at IKEA, which means two things: 1) I can have an elderflower beverage at any hour of the day and 2) my daughter can participate in the elderflower craze as well! (The concentrate goes quite nicely with tonic water or seltzer.)

Here’s to tasty toasting in the new year!

Thursday, January 5th, 2012

There’s what you give, and there’s how you give it.

from Jamie

Not only did the holidays go by fast, so did the gift giving! Adding some creativity to the process made for more joy in the planning stages and more fun and sustained gift opening. I thought I’d share a couple of fun things we did for family.

First up, we gave my brother-in-law and his girlfriend an annual membership to their local aquarium which they love. But how could the short time it takes to open an envelope match up to a year’s worth of experiences? Let the fun begin…

First, we sat around the breakfast table thinking about words and objects that hint at an aquarium. These became small teases that were given ahead of the final gift. (Think jar of jelly meets Swedish fish candy.)

The grand finale, a fish bowl, was wrapped in a cooler, since the aquatic scene was made primarily from blue jello! We also included a plastic plant and a few Swedish fish. But the surprise continues…

After unwrapping the fish bowl, the recipients were instructed to reach deep into the jello! At the bottom, was a note wrapped in a plastic baggie that finally revealed the annual pass to the aquarium. (One recommendation I’ll leave you with: open this in the kitchen and not on Grandma’s carpet!)

Next up, my two year old nephew is REALLY into Thomas the Train right now. Right before Thanksgiving, I was going through a pile of boxes in our basement and got the idea to make a cardboard train for him. And this is where my contribution stops! Livi swooped in and promptly figured out the exact arrangement and stacking of the box cars and then she covered them with black marker graphics. (Ok, so I was the “expert” at covering some of the boxes with kraft paper.)

Christmas morning, we excitedly set up the train and hid presents for my nephew, brother and sister-in-law inside all of the boxes. Lastly, we used black electrical tape to create tracks outside and taped up a few railroad signs.

It was a big hit! And I know that long after everyone forgets the gifts from this year, we’ll remember the train that delivered them!

My favorite graphic: the driver!

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

It’s a wrap!

from Jamie

Ready or not, the holidays are truly here! If you’re doing a lot of wrapping right now, AND lamenting at how quickly the UNwrapping will occur, consider this game that I just made for my daughter’s grade school classroom party.

First, you collect a pile of interestingly shaped objects — the more distinctive the shape when wrapped, the better! Also, look for items that have a noticeable texture. Some things I collected: a slinky, an orange, a soda can, dried corn, a battery, a shell, a matchbox car, roll of toilet paper, etc.

Then, you guessed it — you wrap! Along the way, write big numbers on the outside of the packages that correspond to your own secret list. Then decide if you also want to write some clues for each object. (I opted to do this for a class of second graders, which ended up being the wise thing to do.) Lastly, decide if you want people to work individually or as teams to figure out what the objects are. Then pass the objects around for investigation. The answers can be yelled out (first correct shout out wins) or have the answers written on paper and read aloud at the end.

This object, appropriately numbered 25, was everyone’s favorite, straight from the North Pole! Need a clue? Look at the unwrapped objects again!

On that merry note, happy holidays to all! See you in 2012!
Jamie & Kate