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holidays

carrot patch spring themed sensory bin

Spring Themed Sensory Bins

We love sensory bins in our house. Especially now that the boys are a bit older and a little bit independent, it is the perfect activity to set up before I start making dinner. We love to try new things and the possibilities really are endless. Here are just a few that we have tried that are perfect for this time of year:

Carrot Patch Sensory Bin

carrot patch spring themed sensory bin
The boys had a lot of fun digging up their carrots, making shakers out of the carrot eggs, using the carrot eggs to scoop up beans, and just exploring the beans and gardening tools. They also had a little bonus surprise when they discovered that some of the carrots were actually bubbles. 🙂
carrot patch spring themed sensory bin
Supplies:

  • 4 2lb. bags of black beans
  • Carrot bubbles (I bought them at Walmart)
  • Carrot Easter Eggs (Dollar Store)
  • Mini gardening tools (Walmart)

 

Easter Sensory Bin

spring/easter sensory bin
We did this one last year and the boys had so much fun with it! There is just something about Easter eggs that seems to keep kids entertained for minutes (hehe, I would say hours, but nothing has ever held my kids’ attention for hours). The kids really had fun though and this got them very excited for Easter.
spring/easter sensory bin
Supplies:

  • Rice ( I use a plastic ziploc container, then let the kids add 1 cup of rice, 1 tablespoon of vinegar and then a few drops of food coloring – repeat until you have enough rice – my kids love doing this as much as they love playing in the bin)
  • Plastic Easter eggs
  • Cookie cutters or pancake molds in spring shapes
  • Flower shaped cupcake molds
  • Pretend butterflies
  • Plastic spoons (the boys loved using the spoons to scoop rice into the eggs)

 

Gardening Sensory Bin

gardening - spring themed sensory bin
This idea is courtesy of MamaLifeInspiration and was a huge hit. Boys and dirt is always a winning combination and when you throw in bugs you can’t go wrong! 🙂 The boys also really liked using the tweezers to collect and study their bugs in the container, which is great fine motor practice!
gardening - spring themed sensory bin
(Notice his boots are on the wrong feet. I pointed it out to him, but he said they were comfy like that)

Supplies:

  • Potting Soil (One bag from the dollar store worked perfect)
  • Kid’s Gardening Tools (I found some at the Dollar Section at Target after a few searches, but both Walmart and Target also have some character ones in the Gardening section)
  • Plastic Bugs (we got ours from the Dollar Store)
  • A few fake flowers (left over from my DIY Easter Bunny Ears)
  • We found a cute little bug catcher set at the Dollar Store that included a magnifying glass, tweezers to collect the bugs and a plastic bottle to put them in. This isn’t at all necessary, but it was a big hit with my boys.

 

I always get questions about our set-up, it’s really cool, right? It is fairly easy and affordable to make too and can be broken down and stored in the storage container if you are tight on space. If you are interested you can check out the instructions here. For more seasonal sensory bin inspiration check out these posts:

St. Patrick’s Day Sensory Bin

St. Patrick's Day themed sensory bin

Valentine’s Day Sensory Bin

valentines day sensory bin

Halloween Sensory Bin

halloween sensory table

spring themed sensory bins - carrot patch, Easter, and Gardening
bunny chow - nut-free, wheat-free, fun and easy Easter or Spring treat.

Bunny Chow

Bunny Chow

Easy and delicious nut-free Easter or spring snack that the kids can help make.


Copycatable Rating:?????

Ingredients

  • 5 cups Rice Chex Cereal
  • 1 bag (11oz.) white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup strawberry cake mix
  • 1/2 cup funfetti cake mix

Directions

  1. Place 5 cups of chex mix in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Microwave white chocolate on medium heat in 30 second increments until melted.
  3. Pour melted chocolate over cereal and carefully stir.
  4. Scoop half of the cereal into one large ziploc bag and the other half in another.
  5. Add strawberry cake mix to one bag and shake until well-coated. (My kids love doing this step)
  6. Add funfetti cake mix to the other bag and shake until well-coated.
  7. Pour onto waxed paper to cool.
  8. *To make it even more festive you could add sprinkles, holiday m&m’s, cadbury chocolate eggs or marshmallows. We found really cute flower marshmallows that looked like bunny tails. :)*

diy holiday stamps instructions and free printable - perfect for decorating gift tags, wrapping paper, scrapbooks, etc.

Mom’s Craft Night – December

Back in September, I went to an amazing two-day scrapbooking event called Ready, Set, Create. One of the teachers, Vicki Boutin, taught a layout class that involved making our own stamps. I absolutely loved it! I decided it would be perfect for our December craft night as it is a busy time of year and this craft is quite relaxing and easy. I created a page of holiday stamps for everyone to use and am really happy with how they turned out. The possibilities are really endless with these. They could be used to decorate wrapping paper, scrapbooks, cards, gift tags, etc. and you could make them for every holiday or you could make generic ones. I also think my boys would love to play with these. And for how affordable this craft is, you could go nuts!

Supplies:

  • 9×12 Adhesive Foam Sheet
  • 9×12 Thick Foam Sheet
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Stamp Pads (I recommend Tim Holtz Distress Ink)

diy holiday stamps instructions and free printable

Instructions:

Download your free printable here.

easy diy holiday stamps instructions and free printable - perfect for decorating gift tags, wrapping paper, scrapbooks, etc.

Print it out and color over the backside with a pencil.

Place sheet drawing side up on sticky backed (non-foam) side of foam sheet.

Trace shapes with pencil. When you lift the sheet up the shapes should have transferred onto sticky side of foam.

Cut out shapes.

Remove backing from thin foam and adhere it to the thick foam (thick foam will act as your base).

Cut around the shape leaving a small border.

diy holiday stamps instructions and free printable

Tips:

*Any scratches or marks on the thin foam will show up when stamped. This is great if you want to add details such as stripes on your ornament, but if you want a clean image, be careful.

*If ink gets on the base, just wipe it off with a damp paper towel before stamping

*Stamps clean easily with a damp paper towel when using Tim Holtz distress inks.

diy hot apple cider and soft ginger cookies perfect for craft night making holiday stamps

To make the night extra festive, with minimal effort, I made hot apple cider in the crockpot and soft ginger cookies. It was a really fun evening and I have been loving using my holiday stamps.

free printable - calm and bright gift label - teacher gift idea

Holiday Teacher Gifts

Anyone else kind of panicking that Christmas is in ten days and tomorrow is the last day of school?! I imagine I am not the only one who was frantically pulling together a last minute teacher gift today so I figured I would share what I did just in case it helps a fellow procrastinator out.

After having pulled these together quickly at Halloween, I thought I would buy two different sized bath bombs from Lush and make snowmen as teacher gifts, but when I went to Lush, they already had something similar so I bought these adorable bath bomb penguins. I felt that they weren’t enough on their own so I added a bag of cookies with a homemade tag. I used lunch bags with about 4.5 inches cut off the tops, filled them with the homemade cookies, used washi tape to seal them, and attached my tag with a mini clothespin. I think they turned out really cute and took less than 5 minutes to put together, which was still enough time for my oldest to pull the pom pom off his new hat and my youngest to throw all his cars around the house!

free printable - calm and bright holiday gift labels

Click here to get the free printable for the tags I made. If you use them, I’d love for you to let me know. 🙂 Tag me on instagram @thecreativecopycat Thanks and Happy Holidays!

oreo truffle christmas tree

Oreo Truffle Christmas Tree

I know elves stick to the four main food groups Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corn and Syrup, but in my world, the four main food groups are: Candy, Cupcakes, Cookies and Coffee. 😉 And in the cookie department, Oreos have my heart all the way. So, naturally, I look for any excuse to buy them.

This brings me to Oreo truffles, one of my absolute favorite desserts. I make oreo truffles instead of cake pops for every party. They don’t require baking so they can be whipped up much faster than traditional cake pops, but you can still create all sorts of fun things with them. Every year, I tell myself I am going to make wintery fun pops from my Bakerella cookbook, but I always have so much going on this time of year that it never ends up happening. I still make my oreo truffles, but usually just stick them on a tray and call it a day.

image from pinterest - egg carton christmas tree

When I saw this photo of an egg carton Christmas tree on Pinterest a few days ago, I knew a Christmas tree of oreo truffles would be a perfect, simple and festive dessert.

Oreo Truffle Christmas Tree

  • Servings: Approx.18 truffles
  • Print

Delicious and easy oreo truffles displayed as a Christmas Tree are the perfect holiday dessert.

Copycatable Rating:????? Credit : oreo truffle recipe from Bakerella

Ingredients

  • 1/2 package of regular oreos
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • Green Candy Melts
  • Yellow Candy Melts
  • M&Ms for decorations
  • corn syrup

Directions

  1. Finely crush oreos in mixer
  2. Transfer to bowl, add softened cream cheese and stir to combine
  3. Using a cookie scoop, form balls and place on wax lined cookie sheet. (I used a mini star cookie cutter to make one star shaped)
  4. Place in refrigerator.
  5. Melt candy melts following packaging instructions.
  6. One at a time, dip a truffle into the melted candy.
  7. Place onto the lined baking sheet and let them dry.
  8. Assemble into tree shape and use corn syrup to attach m&ms
  9. Refrigerate until ready to eat

elf on the shelf idea - photobooth - with free printables - elf sized props and photo strips

Holiday Photo Booth – Elf on the Shelf Idea with Free Printable

I love photo booths. I pretty much set one up for every holiday and we always have a blast in them. For our holiday themed photo booth, I found free printables on Pinterest. If you aren’t already following me, you should – I have an entire board dedicated to DIY Photobooths with tons of links to free Christmas printables. Just download the printables you like best, print them, cut them out and glue them to dowels.  Or you can just buy a few holiday hats, headbands and glasses from Target. They always have cute holiday stuff, especially in the dollar section and these are especially great for little kids.

holiday diy photobooth with free elf on the shelf sized photobooth props

Then follow my DIY Photobooth Tutorial found here.

To add your elf on the shelf into the fun, you can print out elf-sized photo booth props. Sadly, the elf photobooth printables I used are no longer available. I know some shops sell them, such as this one, but I couldn’t find any free ones. I’m no professional (sorry no santa beards or reindeer antlers from me), but I did whip up a few simple props that I think will get the job done. 🙂 All you have to do is print them, cut them out and glue them to toothpicks (I used the ones with only one pointy edge). Click here for free printables.

Free Printables for elf on the shelf sized photobooth props and photobooth strips

Then you just snap some pics, print them out and watch your kids eyes light up!

Or, if that all sounds like too much work (I get it, it is a busy time of year). You can just print out the photo strips and photobooth props I made and set them up next to your elf. Most kids are pretty easy to please and I’m sure any variation of this idea is sure to be a hit.

If you use my printables, please tag me on instagram @thecreativecopycat. I’d love to see your pictures. 🙂

north pole breakfast for elf on the shelf arrival

North Pole Breakfast 2016

This has to be one of my favorite holiday traditions. It is such a fun way to celebrate the arrival of our elf, Jingle Bell. Every year he arrives the first Saturday of December and we have a fun and festive breakfast to kick off the holiday season.

north pole breakfast for elf on the shelf arrival

This year, I tried a few new things from Pinterest. I made reindeer donuts, which we all loved! I had been wanting to make these the past few years, but Hudson couldn’t eat the chocolate donuts until this year so I knew these were a must! They were so easy and so cute. You just add m&ms for the nose, pearlized sprinkles for the eyes and pretzels for the antlers. (Total 5 star copycatable rating).

reindeer donuts for north pole breakfast

I also made stacked donut snowmen, which were cute, but I’m not sure that I would make them again. I’m kind of a semi-plan/mostly fly by the seat of my pants at the last minute kind of gal and these were just a bit too much work for a last minute project. You use two different sizes of powdered donuts and powdered donut holes to make the snowmen. My grocery store didn’t have powdered donut holes, so I bought glazed and covered them in powdered sugar. (well, I actually accidentally covered them in flour first, ooops, then attempted to brush them off and re-cover them with powdered sugar). Then you add pretzel sticks for the arms. (so far so good). For the hats, I bought chocolate wafers from the ice cream section and Godiva chocolates. The original recipe called for chocolate cordial cherries, but I couldn’t find those and don’t really like cherries, so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with Godiva. I attached the chocolates to the wafers with some frosting (still going good). Then I attached the hats to the tops of the snowmen. I cut a sliver off each donut hole to make the tops flat, which also helped the hats to stick. Then came time to make the faces. This is where things went downhill. The instructions said to use black decorating icing – not the gel kind – but of course, my grocery store only had gel so that is what I used. It did not stick! I didn’t even attempt the orange frosting noses and stuck orange tic tacs in instead and after struggling with three snowmen, I decided they didn’t need faces. haha. (I would say this is a 3 star copycatable rating for a few reasons-it required a lot of ingredients, a lot of assembly, and the faces were very challenging. In all fairness, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe, so maybe next year I will plan ahead better and give it another try). The good news is that the kids loved them so at least my effort was rewarded.

snowmen donuts at north pole breakfast for elf on the shelf arrival

I also did my usual strawberry banana santa hats and north pole donut tower.

north pole breakfast for elf on the shelf arrival santa hats made with bananas, strawberries and mini marshmallows

Every year, Jingle Bell brings the kids gifts, writes a welcome letter and puts out a matching sign. (these usually can be found on pinterest, but I couldn’t find a new one this year so I made my own. I actually loved this because I was able to tie in the color of my table, which usually clashes with all the Christmas green.)

north pole breakfast welcome letters from elf on the shelf

north pole breakfast welcome letters from elf on the shelf

Jingle Bell brought Hudson pajamas and an activity book and he brought Luc a collection of elf on the shelf books.

gifts at north pole breakfast - elf on the shelf pajamas and coloring book

north pole breakfast gift from elf

Luc said he didn’t like Jingle Bell, but he loved the donuts! Hudson loved everything about the breakfast (he shares my love of holidays and sweets!). It was such a fun morning!

north pole breakfast elf on the shelf arrival

Click here to download my free printable so you can have your own North Pole Breakfast! 🙂

north pole breakfast free printable for elf on the shelf arrival

north pole breakfast with free printable for elf on the shelf arrival

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast for arrival

Elf on the Shelf 2015

I shared our 2014 adventures with Jingle Bell on the blog a few days ago and today I am back with a look at 2015. Year one, we were so excited and over the top. Year two, we had a few ideas and plans and a whole lot of half-asleep “dang, we forgot about the elf” moments. I’m sure many of you can relate. 😉 The great thing about little kids, though, is that they don’t care. They were just as excited about the elf being in a stocking as they were about their elf ziplining down a string of lights. It really is just so magical and fun to be experiencing all of this through our kid’s eyes.

elf on the shelf ideas - a month of ideas - some really easy ones and some more elaborate ones

Our elf arrived again on the first Saturday of December for our North Pole Breakfast. We had powdered donuts, strawberry/banana santa hats and an apple candy cane. Jingle Bell wrote each of the boys a note again and brought little presents. 

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast for elf's arrival

elf on the shelf ideas north pole breakfast welcome letter and presents

elf on the shelf ideas north pole breakfast welcome letter

On Day 2 (12/6),  Jingle Bell went ziplining down our Christmas lights

elf on the shelf ideas ziplining from the lights

On Day 3 (12/7), Jingle Bell covered our tree with holiday underwear from Gap and Gymboree, which Hudson of course thought was hilarious.  elf on the shelf ideas new christmas underwear decorating the christmas tree

 

On Day 4 (12/8), Jingle Bell was in a stocking.

elf on the shelf idea in the stocking

On Day 5 (12/9), Jingle Bell took a marshmallow bath and brought the boys bath crayons and fizzy bath tablets to encourage them to stop being so smelly and bathe once in a while. 😉

elf on the shelf idea marshmallow bath with gifts for bath time fun

On Day 6 (12/10), JB put on a fancy suit and took Hudson’s car for a drive.

elf on the shelf idea date night tux and car ride

On Day 7 (12/11), Jingle Bell ended up taped to the wall with elf bandaids.

elf on the shelf idea elf bandaids

On Day 8 (12/12), JB was hiding in our living room light.

easy elf on the shelf idea hiding in the light

On Day 9 (12/13), JB brought a felt snowman to play with

elf on the shelf idea do you wanna build a snowman felt snowman activity

On Day 10 (12/14), JB brought toothbrushes and toothpaste and made a smiley face on the mirror with the toothpaste.

elf on the shelf idea toothpaste smile on the mirror and gifts of toothbrushes, toothpastes and teether brushes

On Day 11 (12/15), JB was reading the Night Before Christmas and brought wrapped books for each day leading up to Christmas.

elf on the shelf idea wrapped books countdown to christmas

On Day 12 (12/16), Jingle Bell reminded us of the reason for the season by bringing us a little people manger (this was purchased from Amazon)

elf on the shelf idea remember the reason for the season little people nativity scene gift

On Day 13 (12/17), we found JB in a decorative bowl of cherries on the table.

elf on the shelf idea life is like a bowl of cherries

On Day 14 (12/18), Jingle Bell was hanging from snowflakes.

elf on the shelf idea just hanging around

On Day 15 (12/19), Jingle Bell  hid the snowballs that were a huge hit the year before around the house. (snowballs were purchased on Amazon) The boys absolutely love these snowballs and they love scavenger hunts so this one was a huge hit!

elf on the shelf idea scavenger hunt for snowballs

On Day 16 (12/20), we found Jingle Bell with his very own Mickey Ears on. Hud accidentally touched Jingle Bell while grabbing his own Mickey Ears, so we whipped up Santa’s magical recovery kit, sprinkled on some magic dust and prayed Jingle Bell would be back the next day.

elf on the shelf idea mickey ears for your elf

elf on the shelf idea for when you accidentally touch your elf - elf magical recovery dust and recovery kit

elf on the shelf idea for when you accidentally touch your elf - elf magical recovery dust and recovery kit

elf on the shelf idea for when you accidentally touch your elf - elf magical recovery dust and recovery kit

On Day 17 (12/21), Jingle Bell was back, sitting on our new tree, with a certificate of health. Whew!

elf on the shelf idea for when you accidentally touch your elf - elf certificate of health after using magical recovery dust, recovery kit

On Day 18 (12/22), Jingle Bell was having a rest in our guest bedroom with one of Luc’s blankies.

elf-on-shelf-day-18

On Day 19 (12/23), Jingle Bell brought light up light sabers (Target dollar section) and he had his very own elf-sized light saber lollipop with a sign that read “May the Holiday Force be with you”

elf on the shelf idea may the holiday force be with you lightsabers and lightsaber lollipop

elf on the shelf idea may the holiday force be with you lightsabers and lightsaber lollipop

On Day 20 (12/24), Jingle Bell said good-bye and headed off the the North Pole.

elf on the shelf idea goodbye letter

Links:

Elf on the Shelf Breakfast Printables

Elf on the Shelf North Pole Breakfast – 2013

FREE Elf on the Shelf Notes

 

Disney Frozen Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

Elf on the Shelf Magical Recovery Kit

 

 

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast

Elf on the Shelf 2014

Happy December everyone. It seems like a lot of elves are arriving today, but ours doesn’t arrive until Saturday, so in the meantime,  I thought I would share our past elf adventures. I was a bit unsure of the elf craze when my sister-in-law asked if we could get one for our nephew as a Christmas present. I didn’t understand why a mischievous elf who make messes all over your house, watches your children and reports back to Santa. It seemed a bit hypocritical if you ask me. Because of that, I was leaning more towards an activity advent calendar, but I bought one for my nephew and picked one up for Hudson too, then we skipped the whole thing because we decided Hudson was too young. The following year, when Hudson was two,  we decided to give the elf thing a try. I actually was really happy we decided to go with the elf instead of the calendar because the possibilities are endless. Our elf can suggest activities, bring small gifts, or just create a bit of holiday magic. As the kids get older, my goal is to have our elf help encourage us to do more and more for others, but for now, we are trying to keep things light and fun (and not too mischievous). Our elf has been a lot of fun for the whole family and I’m sure it will become a beloved tradition in our home. Below are our adventures with our elf from 2014 along with links to all the printables still available that I used. 🙂 

month of elf on the shelf ideas for toddlers with links to tons of printables
Since we were out of town, our elf arrived on December 6th, 2014. He started things off with a bang. He hosted a North Pole Breakfast complete with Snowman donuts, strawberry/banana santa hats, banana/blueberry snowmen, and an apple candy cane. Our elf also brought Hud’s favorite, balloons. The elf wrote each of the boys a note. Hud was most excited about the balloons and snowman “cupcakes” (donuts), but he eventually calmed down enough to listen to the book and realize that his elf was sitting on the table. Did I mention the kid who is allergic to everything and never eats sweets got to eat powdered donuts?! 🙂 We asked Hud what our elf should be called and he gave us his standard, “yeah” answer. So we started listing tons of options. Jingle Bells is Hudson’s favorite Christmas song so as soon as I suggested that one his eyes lit up and he said Jingle Bell. I asked if we should call him Jingle, he sternly said no. Then I said what about Jingle Bells, again he said no, Jingle Bell. So Jingle Bell it is. 

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast donuts and strawberry banana santa hats

elf on the shelf idea north pole breakfast

elf on the shelf ideas north pole breakfast foods-candy cane apple, donut snowmen, banana snowmen

On Day 2 (12/7), Hudson immediately asked about the tree. He is super excited about it and that was definitely his focus that morning. When we mentioned his elf, he ran straight to the kitchen table to look for his elf. We explained to him that each night he moves, but Hudson still expected him to be in the same place. When he spotted JB hanging from the tree he got excited. JB had hidden 10 candy canes in the room for Hudson to find. Hudson loved looking for the candy canes!

elf on the shelf idea candy cane scavenger hunt with link to free printable

On Day 3 (12/8), Jingle Bell brought Elf diapers for the boys. He let Pooh, Tigger and Eeyore each have a diaper and they all rode on our sled. Hudson first went to the table this morning, then the tree to look for his elf, haha. When he spotted him he got very excited and thought the elf diapers were pretty awesome. When I put him and Luc in them later in the day, he was giddy about them.

elf on the shelf idea sled carrying stuffed animals in elf diapers

On Day 4 (12/9), Jingle Bell made snowflakes out of q-tips on the stairs. Hudson is really obsessed with q-tips at the moment so he thought this was really neat. This was the day that I really had to emphasize that Hudson could look at Jingle Bell, but he wasn’t allowed to touch him. I could tell it was tempting every time Hud walked by, but he followed by directions.

elf on the shelf idea snowflake q-tips

On Day 5 (12/10), Hudson immediately spotted Jingle Bell sledding down our stairs. Hudson seems to be getting more excited about JB each day he is here. Hudson walked up and down the stairs so many times that day saying, “no touching, only watch Jingle bell sledding down stairs”

elf on the shelf idea sledding down the stairs using paper towel roll and cup lid

On Day 6 (12/11), JB put on some goggles and an aviator jacket and took to the skies. He decided to fly Hudson’s plane.

elf on the shelf idea flying in an airplane

On Day 7 (12/12), Jingle Bell colored a picture and left one for Hudson to color as well. Hudson was very excited to color his elf and send it back to Santa with JB.

elf on the shelf idea coloring page with link to printable

elf on the shelf idea coloring page with link to printable

On Day 8 (12/13), JB was hanging from our snowflake decorations. He brought two jingle bells to play music with. Hudson loved shaking them and singing his favorite Christmas song, Jingle Bells.

elf on the shelf idea elf brought jingle bells for singing carols

elf on the shelf idea elf brought jingle bells for singing carols

On Day 9 (12/14), we found Jingle Bell ice skating or “ice slipping” as Hud calls it! Hud was very excited about it!!

elf on the shelf idea elf goes ice skating

elf on the shelf idea freeze water in cake pan so elf can ice skate

On Day 10 (12/15), Jingle Bell brought a can of instant snow. Hudson of course wanted to play with it right away so I put him in his high chair and we made it. Hudson thought it was really cool, but boy was it messy!

elf on the shelf idea can of instant snow

On Day 11 (12/16), JB brought some decorations so Hudson could spruce up the tree had made the day before.He loves crafts and had lots of fun gluing the ornaments on his Christmas tree.

elf on the shelf idea ornaments on tree craft

On Day 12 (12/17), JB was hanging out in Hudson’s basketball hoop.

elf on the shelf idea basketball hoop

On Day 13 (12/18), JB built a snowman out of toilet paper.

elf on the shelf idea olaf with link to printable

On Day 14 (12/19), JB brought the boys each a personalized Christmas book. Hudson received the Night Before Christmas and Luc got a book titled, Luc’s Very Merry First Christmas. (these were purchased from Pottery Barn Kids)

elf on the shelf idea personalized books

On Day 15 (12/20), Jingle Bell brought us the hit of the holiday season. Each of the boys got a bucket full of snowballs for indoor snowball fights. Hudson, dada and Luc immediately had a snowball fight. It was hilarious and everyone loved it. These were played with over and over again the rest of the month! Thanks for an awesome gift JB! (These can be purchased from Amazon)

elf on the shelf idea snowball fight

On Day 16 (12/21), Jingle Bell set out stuff for us to make sugar cookies for Santa. Hudson loves making sugar cookies. He helped cut out all the shapes, then decorated them the next day with lots of frosting and sprinkles.

elf on the shelf idea bake cookies

On Day 17 (12/22), Jingle Bell brought the boys pajamas to wear on Christmas Eve.

elf on the shelf ideas christmas pajama delivery

I’m not exactly sure how it happened, but later that day, I found Hudson sitting on the couch with Jingle Bell in his lap! I immediately reminded him that he couldn’t touch Jingle Bell and he gave me a grumpy face.  We said a little apology and did a little magical dance and thankfully, JB didn’t lose his magic.

elf on the shelf oops he touched the elf

On Day 18 (12/23), Jingle Bell took photos in our photo booth! He had his own props and everything! Hudson thought it was hilarious!! For more info and free printables so your elf can get in on the photobooth fun click here.

elf on the shelf idea photo booth with link to props printable

On Day 19 (12/24), we got a goodbye letter from our elf. He had to head back to the North Pole, but he promises to be back next year.

elf on the shelf goodbye letter

Links:

FREE Elf on the Shelf Notes

Elf On The Shelf Sized Coloring Sheets {And Kid Sized Coloring Sheets, Too!}

Elf on the Shelf North Pole Breakfast

Disney Frozen Elf on the Shelf Free Printable

fancy pumpkin pie using cookie and pie crust cutters

How to Make Your Pumpkin Pie Look Fancy

I know I haven’t been blogging here long, but if you haven’t already noticed, I use the word easy a lot. 🙂

I love crafting, baking and party planning, but if I can cut a corner or make my life easier in any way, I am taking it. I am constantly juggling a million things, have two little kids who have an insane amount of energy and I’ve gotten very little sleep in the past 4 years (sounds familiar, right?) so as much as I love making elaborate creations, I have had to compromise. With the holidays coming up, I just wanted to share a really simple way to fancy up your pumpkin pie, although these would work for any pie.

pumpkin pie and cookie cutters for fancy pumpkin pie

My first trick is that I always buy Pillsbury refrigerated dough. I know, I know! I honestly can’t tell the difference between this and homemade and everyone who has tried my pies agrees, so I save myself the time and effort by skipping homemade crust. I like the Pillsbury dough for a number of reasons. First of all, you place it in your real pie dish so it looks like you made it (I have gotten tons of compliments on my pie crust-I always share my secret, but again, this just re-enforces my corner cutting ways). Second, it comes with a second crust that I use for decorating. I don’t have to roll it out and I am guaranteed to have my designs be the perfect thickness, which is a double bonus because I am terrible at rolling out dough. (I really wish Pillsbury were paying me to write this, but I just really am a fan of their product ;)).

pumpkin pie cutters and cookie cutters

I use Williams Sonoma pie crust cutters, which are amazing! You push it in and it cuts and presses a design on the dough, then pops it out. I am a huge fan of these! I also bought a mini ABC cookie cutter set from Amazon so that I could cut out letters. I was really happy with how easy they were to use (I used a knife to gently push the dough out) and think they will be fun for tons of different baking projects.

pumpkin pie cutters from williams sonoma

I placed all my cutouts on a silpat lined cookie sheet, put a little egg wash on them (one egg lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons of water) and baked them in a 375 degree oven until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

williams sonoma pumpkin pie cutters and cookie cutters for fancy pumpkin pie

Once the decorations and your pie are cool, you can decorate away. And if you are an over-achieving mom who makes her pie crust from scratch (I use that term with love as I am a total over-achiever), you can still use these cutters and impress all your family and friends even more than you already are. 🙂

pumpkin pie cutters and cookie cutters for fancy pumpkin pie