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a month of elf on the shelf ideas with free north pole breakfast printables

Elf on the Shelf 2016

This was our third year of having Jingle Bell visit and it is becoming one of our favorite traditions. We always kick of Jingle Bell’s arrival with a fun breakfast and we all just love looking for him each morning.  Here is all of the fun we had while Jingle Bell visited us last year. 

a month of elf on the shelf ideas. Tons of fun original ideas with free printables and links to free printables

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Day 1 – North Pole Breakfast (12/3)

north pole breakfast - elf on the shelf idea - free printables

Since we usually spend Thanksgiving out of town, our elf always arrives the first Saturday of December. Last year, he arrived on December 3rd, 2016.  We hosted our North Pole Breakfast to welcome our elf, Jingle Bell. We had Snowman donuts, strawberry/banana santa hats, chocolate reindeer donuts and gifts. To read more about this tradition and all the fun we had at our breakfast (and to get some free printables), CLICK HERE

Day 2 – Snow Angel (12/4)

snow angel- elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell dumped out some of our fake snow decorations and made a snow angel.

Day 3 – Ornament Hunt (12/5)

hide ornaments around the house to find and add to the tree - elf on the shelf ideas

 

Scavenger Hunts have been a big hit over the years, so this year Jingle Bell hid ornaments around the house. He asked the kids to find them and then put them on the tree.

Day 4 – Spreading Holiday Cheer (12/6)

spread holiday cheer - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell brought us a gift bow and asked us to spread some holiday cheer by doing something nice for someone else. We filled a box with cookies and gave it to our mailman. I know the kids are still young, but I’m hoping as they get older we can continue to teach them about doing nice things for others, especially at this time of year. To get the free printables from Frugal Coupon Living, click here.

Day 5 – Nerf Gun Attack (12/7)

nerf gun attack - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell was hanging upside down pointing a nerf gun at us. Of course, Hudson thought it was hilarious.

Day 6 – Pooping Elf (12/8)

Pooping Elf - elf on the shelf idea

We found Jingle Bell in the bathroom, pooping in a glass and reading the Elf on the Shelf Book. The boys couldn’t believe their elf poops chocolate kisses. This was one of their favorites, by far. In fact, a year later, they are still talking about it. Being a mom of boys has meant accepting that boys think poop is funny, lol. To get the mini Elf on the Shelf Book from A Little of This That, click here.

Day 7 – Disney Gingerbread House (12/9)

gingerbread house - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell brought us a gingerbread kit. The kids loved that it was a Disney themed house and we all had a great time building it together.

Day 8 – Backwards Day (12/10)

Backwards Day - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell declared it Backwards Day. He turned our banner around, wore his clothes backwards, and encouraged us to be as backwards as possible for the day. We had dinner for breakfast, breakfast for dinner and the boys wore their clothes backwards too. It was such a fun and silly day!

Day 9 – Train Ride Around the Tree (12/11)

elf riding a train around the tree - elf on the shelf idea

The kids woke up to find Jingle Bell riding a train around the tree. The kids absolutely loved this!

Day 10 – Elf Yourself (12/12)

Elf Yourself - elf on the shelf ideas

The kids loved looking in the mirror and becoming an elf.

Day 11 – Swinging from the Light (12/13)

elf swinging from a chandelier - elf on the shelf idea

Part of the fun for the boys is trying to find Jingle Bell each morning. JB doesn’t have to always be doing something elaborate, just the fact that he is somewhere else and the kids get to search for him brings them so much joy.

Day 12 – Lego Christmas Tree (12/14)

elf sized Christmas tree - elf on the shelf ideas

Jingle Bell built his own elf sized Christmas tree with legos.

Day 13 – Paper Sack Races (12/15)

sack race with other stuffed animals - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell recruited some of the boys’ other toys to have a sack race.

Day 14 – Nerf Gun Fight (12/16)

nerf gun fight - elf on the shelf idea

Apparently the toys thought Jingle Bell was cheating at the sack races, so they tied him up and had a nerf gun fight. The boys thought it was pretty funny.

Day 15 – Snowball Fight (12/15)

elf on the shelf snowball fight with instructions to make your own ice walls - elf on the shelf ideas

The boys woke up to find Jingle Bell and Buzz Lightyear having a snowball fight. Then they noticed that Jingle Bell had left them their own ice walls and their snowballs so they could have their own snowball fight. It was so fun! One of our favorite Jingle Bell memories and the ice walls and snowballs have provided hours and hours of fun! Click here to learn how to make your own ice walls and click here to purchase indoor snowballs.

Day 16 – Paper Airplane (12/18)

paper airplane riding elf - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell took one of the paper airplanes the boys had made and flew on it.

Day 17 – Glow Party (12/19)

glow party - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell had a glow party in the bathroom. He had glow stick necklaces around his neck and left some for the boys to play with too.

Day 18 – Book Tree (12/20)

new Christmas books decorating the tree - elf on the shelf idea

Jingle Bell brought the boys a bunch of new books and covered the tree in them. It wasn’t quite as funny as when JB covered the tree in underwear, but the kids still liked it. Plus, they loved having new holiday books to read.

Day 19 – Cookie Decorating (12/21)

let's make cookies for santa cookie playset - elf on the shelf ideas

Jingle Bell brought the boys the cutest pretend cookie set and suggested we bake cookies for Santa.

Day 20 – sELF Portrait (12/22)

sELF portrait - elf on the shelf ideas

Jingle Bell painted a sELF portrait. He is quite an artist.

Day 21 – Mini Cookies (12/23)

Elf size cookies - elf on the shelf ideas

We baked our cookies a few days earlier, but didn’t have time to decorate them, so Jingle Bell made some elf sized cookies and reminded us that we needed to finish our cookies for Santa.

Day 22 – Goodbye Jingle Bell (12/24)

Goodbye Letter - elf on the shelf ideas

Jingle Bell said good-bye and headed off the the North Pole.




For more Elf on the Shelf Ideas, check out these posts:

Elf on the Shelf 2015

Elf on the Shelf 2014

turkey handprint craft

Fall Fun

We have been having so much fun celebrating the fall season. In past years, we have kind of gone straight from Halloween to Christmas and skipped over fall, so we are really enjoying all the fall activities this year. Here are some of the fun things we have done:

Turkey Playdoh

turkey playdoh invitation to play

Supplies:

– Play doh in brown, red, orange, and yellow

– Feathers (you could also collect leaves to use as the turkey’s feathers)

– Orange Pipe Cleaner cut into small pieces

– Googly eyes

turkey playdoh activity

Fall Leaves Playdoh Mat

fall leaves playdoh mat is a fun fall activity

I also printed out and laminated a fall playdoh mat from Tot Schooling. We had a lot of fun making leaves for our tree. We even made a game out of it by each selecting a play doh color and seeing who could make and place the most leaves on the tree. This site had tons of other fun playdoh mats so we will definitely be making more next fall. Plus since they are laminated, they are something we can use year after year.

Turkey Counting and Color Matching Activities

turkey counting playdoh activity

color sorting turkey feathers

I used printables from A Little Pinch of Perfect to set up a few different, fun activities for the boys. We used the turkey feathers for some color matching. We also used some playdoh and did some counting activities while making turkeys. The kids had a lot of fun with these educational printables.

Handprint Turkeys

turkey handprint craft

turkey handprint art

I am a sucker for handprint art, so I really wanted to make handprint turkeys with the boys. I found so many options on Pinterest, but the handprint feather one was my favorite. I made a few changes and love how it turned out. While we had the paint out, I couldn’t help but make the single hand turkeys as well. I made these with the boys on each of their first Thanksgivings and thought it would be so fun to compare the size of their hands now to the baby handprints.

Feed the Turkey

feed the turkey is a fun activity that helps with counting and fine motor skills

feed the turkey is a fun activity that helps with counting and fine motor skills

feed the turkey is a fun activity that helps with counting and fine motor skills

My boys loved this activity from Busy Toddler. I used a milk jar from the dollar section of target, some construction paper and googly eyes to make my turkey. Then placed a bag of pom poms into a bowl. We used our handy helper tongs I bought at Walmart and borrowed a spinner from a board game (you could also use dice). The boys took turns spinning the spinner, picking up that number of pom poms and placing them into the turkey. They both had so much fun with this activity!

Turkey Thankful For You Cards

thankful turkey craft

thankful turkey craft

thankful turkey craft

thankful turkey craft

thankful turkey craft

Luc begs to water color and color every single day, so when Ashley from The Littles and Me posted this project I knew I wanted to do it. The boys had so much fun using watercolors and kwikstix to paint and color their turkeys and feathers. Hudson even cut his feathers out and both boys glued the feathers to the turkeys. These will make the perfect gift for Luc’s Grandma and Nonna on Thanksgiving.

Fall Leaf Banner

DIY Fall Leaf Garland - inexpensive and easy to make - perfect to add a touch of fall to your decor

This was the perfect activity for my water color loving little boy. For all the details, check out this post.

Thankful Tree

thankful tree - paint leaves then each member of the family writes what they are thankful for

We had so much painting our leaves to make fall banners that we had a few leaves left over. I used the extra leaves and our black Halloween tree to make a thankful tree. We have spent a few evenings talking about what we are thankful for and writing those things on our leaves. It has been a lot of fun to hear what the kids are thankful for (things like snacks and toys, hehe). I can’t wait to add the leaves to my scrapbook after we are done admiring our tree.

Mini Pumpkin Pies

mini pumpkin pies - so cute, perfect Thanksgiving dessert and a fun baking activity with kids

It wouldn’t be fall without some baking. For all the details on these fun, mini pumpkin pies, check out this post.

Fall Shelfie

best books for fall and a cute way to display them

We have had so much fun reading books about Autumn, being thankful, turkeys and Thanksgiving. For all the details on our fall shelfie, check out this post.

Playing in the Leaves

playing in the leaves is the perfect fall activity

Since we live in Southern California, we don’t really get the full fall experience like most people do, but we do have a few trees near our house that change colors and lose their leaves. We have taken a few walks to play in the leaves and it is so fun. Even I wanted to pick up a pile and throw them in the air. There is just something about playing in leaves that truly makes it feel like fall.

 

kid tested and approved fun fall activities. Tons of Pinterest' best activities and art projects for fall and Thanksgiving

These activities were all pretty easy and lots of fun. I hope they inspire you to have some fall fun with your family.

shark week playdate - free banner printable, chumming for sharks yogurt recipe, shark bait recipe, link to popcorn bucket printable and tons of other shark week ideas

Shark Week Playdate and Free Printables

We had our friends over for a playdate during shark week, so I of course used it as an excuse to have a fun, shark themed get together. I love little events like this because it allows me to be crafty and creative without all the work and stress of a full-blown party. I didn’t start making stuff or preparing until Monday (our friends came over on Wednesday) so this is totally do-able for busy or last-minute moms. 🙂

DECORATIONS

I started out like I always do, searching Pinterest for ideas and free printables. I found some really cute stuff to use as well as some fun ideas. I didn’t see anything I could use for a banner though, so I made one myself. I think it turned out really cute and I always feel like a banner makes the table look complete. You can download the free banner printable by clicking HERE. Just cut it out, punch holes in the corners and run string through it. Lately I have been using blue painters tape to hang up my banners then covering the tape up with cute washi.

shark week letterboard idea

I also used my letterboard for the occasion. It was a bit of a challenge creating the shark fin, but I love how it turned out.

SNACKS

Chumming for Sharks Yogurt

chumming for sharks yogurt - perfect healthy snack or breakfast for shark week or a shark birthday

I wanted to have a few snacks with at least one healthy option, but most of the ideas on Pinterest were not very healthy. Usually I am all about desserts, but we have been making an effort to eat healthier lately so I came up with my own snack idea by combining a few ideas from Pinterest. We ended up making chumming for sharks yogurt. The kids helped me make these, which was a lot of fun. To make these you will need the following:

  • Granola (optional)
  • Greek Yogurt (we used vanilla)
  • Blue food coloring (you only need a few drops)
  • Frozen Strawberries in Sugar (we bought this from the frozen section of the grocery store)
  • Plastic Cups
  • Mini spoons
  • Grey construction paper (to make shark fins)
  • Glue gun

We added a little bit of granola to the bottom of the cups, put a few drops of blue food coloring into the yogurt, scooped the yogurt into the cup, then topped it with the chum (the frozen strawberries). I explained to the boys that chum is what they dump in the water to attract sharks and then what do you know, a few sharks showed up and jumped right into our bowls. 😉 The kids loved it! I free hand cut out shark fins out of grey construction paper and glued them onto mini spoons. I also used a few sharks left over from the adorable popcorn buckets I made using a printable from My Printly.

Shark Bait

shark bait popcorn snack is easy, delicious, and perfect for shark week or a shark party

Of course, I had to do one sweet treat, so I made shark bait. It was so delicious and all the little sharks ate it up super fast! I spent Tuesday night driving from store to store searching for shark gummies. I feel like I always see them until the time I need them, then they vanished. I found gummy bears, worms, snakes, octopus, frogs, dinosaurs, alligators and lions! Literally every gummy animal ever made except sharks! Then I thought, why would sharks want to eat sharks, and decided that putting them in my shark bait didn’t make sense anyways. That is when I came up with the goldfish idea. Sharks love eating fish, especially delicious sweet ones. They have so many fun flavors now too that you could use, but I must say, the s’mores goldfish were perfect in this recipe. To make the shark bait you will need the following:

  • Sea Salt Air Popped Popcorn
  • Ghiradelli White Chocolate Chips
  • Blue M&Ms
  • S’mores Goldfish Crackers

I put wax paper on a cookie sheet, spread out my popcorn, sprinkled in goldfish and m&ms, then drizzled the melted white chocolate over it. I put it in the fridge until it cooled then broke it apart and put it in the cutest popcorn buckets from My Printly. These were so perfect for our playdate and I have been refilling the containers with shark bait all week so the boys can munch on it while watching Shark Week.

Ocean Water

ocean water - blue gatorade with a swedish fish makes an easy and fun drink for shark week or a shark party

For drinks, I kept it simple with blue Gatorade and a swedish fish on each straw.

ACTIVITIES

Shark Sensory Bin

shark sensory bin

I set up a shark sensory bin. What I love most about sensory bins is that they don’t always have to be fancy. I didn’t have time to buy anything (and to be honest didn’t really want to spend a bunch of money) so I just used what we already had. A bag of glass circle vase fillers, water and plastic sharks. That’s it! And you know what, the kids loved it and played with it for quite a while. Sometimes, I think we as moms get caught up in making everything Pinterest worthy, but kids don’t need much to have fun. They were getting so creative and having the best time! When you give kids water activities, you usually can’t go wrong.

Shark Slime

shark slime - perfect activity for shark week

We also made shark slime. For our first attempt, the day before the playdate, we tried to use a non-borax recipe, but the slime was so sticky. I watched a bunch of you tube videos and started adding everything they recommended for sticky slime, but nothing helped. So my hubby bought borax and like magic our sticky bowl of blue goop turned into slime. When our friends came over, we made a second batch using the borax recipe and it worked great. The kids loved playing with their sharks in the slime! I used this recipe to make the slime.

Shark Play Doh Mats

shark week playdoh mats free printables

I also had a little play doh station with our shark week playdoh mats, some playdoh and some cutters. My boys had already done this activity earlier in the week and the kids were all having so much fun with the other activities that we didn’t get to this. You can check the play doh mats out here.

Shark Cutting and Tracing Activity

free printable - shark cutting and tracing practice

I also made a fun little printable for Hudson. I printed one out and had it laminated so it could be used as a tracing exercise. Both boys had fun with that. Then I printed one out on regular paper so Hudson could also use it for cutting. Hudson loves cutting so this was perfect for him. You can get the printable HERE. *Graphics were purchased from Prettygrafik Design.

CRAFTS

I had a few crafts to do that I found on Pinterest, but we didn’t get to those either. Good thing shark week lasts an entire week so we can fit in all the fun we planned.

Clothespin Sharks

clothespin shark craft for shark week

I let each of the kids select one craft from Pinterest. Hudson chose clothespin sharks from Kix. This wasn’t an ideal craft for my kids’ ages so I pretty much ended up making these, but the kids did love playing with them.

Toilet Paper Roll Sharks and Paper Towel Roll Hammerhead Sharks

Luc chose to make paper toilet roll sharks. The one he selected was a regular shark, but his favorite shark is the hammerhead so I got really excited when I found a paper towel roll hammerhead shark on Pinterest. We are planning to make both, but so far have only completed phase one. I will update this once we finish the project.

Shark Hats

shark hats perfect for shark week

I was also planning to make shark hats, but the hats we selected required an obscure paper size in numerous colors that was not readily available (please tell me I am not the only one who spends tons of time driving from store to store looking for seemingly basic craft supplies that are actually impossible to find). Luckily, one of my friends, Danielle, from Mama Life Inspiration, who is an awesome blogger, posted an adorable shark hat idea. So we ended up making those instead and the boys had tons of fun finger painting their shark fins and tails. Of course they also loved running around in their shark hats. For more details on the hats and for the link to the shark fin hat template click here. Danielle also has a bunch of other fun shark week ideas on her blog so be sure to take a look.

As you can see, we squeezed a whole lot of Shark Fun into one week. My boys just love sharks so much that I couldn’t help myself and went a little overboard. You could easily pick just a few of these ideas to make your shark week a bit more fun.

I hope you have a fin-tastic Shark Week!!

st patrick's day dessert table with links to free printables

St. Patrick’s Day Round-up

We had so much fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year. We crammed a lot in and most of the things we did didn’t involve a lot of work on my end which was a plus! Our family has been sick with one thing or another since Christmas and I was in bed all last weekend so I didn’t plan anything for this holiday until I was feeling better on Tuesday. So most of these ideas can totally be thrown together at the last-minute with minimal effort, yay! And because I was short on time, I had to get creative and I came up with a few really simple and easy ideas that were some of the biggest hits with my kids. In case you are busy or hate reading, here is a cliff notes, round-up photo. If you want all the details though (with links to recipes and printables), keep on reading.

Tons of fun ideas for St. Patrick's Day - sensory bin, fine motor activities, art, desserts, meals, and links to printables

We started off the week, with green pancakes. We do this every year and it is always a hit. My kids love pancakes! 🙂 There are so many ways you could do this. Green food coloring is the easiest. Spinach pancakes are a healthier option, but my kids refused to eat them the year I made them. I always like doing mine in shapes. One year I free-handed shamrocks, but now I just use my heart pancake molds.

use heart shaped pancake molds and green food coloring to make shamrock pancakes

We added another fun breakfast idea into the mix this year and it was also a big hit. I saw this idea on Pinterest from the Celebration Shoppe. We made shamrock cinnamon rolls. You just carefully unroll the cinnamon roll dough (I used the Pillsbury grand cinnamon rolls), cut it into five pieces, then pinch 4 of them into teardrops and place together like a shamrock.

shamrock cinnamon rolls using store bought cinnamon rolls

Then I baked them at 350 for about 13-15 minutes. I added a drop of food coloring to the frosting then spread it all over the warm rolls. I topped them with a few green sprinkles too to make them extra festive. The kids loved these and Luc has been asking for them for breakfast every morning since.

shamrock cinnamon rolls using store bought cinnamon rolls

Last year, I  made Hudson an elaborate rainbow lunch (complete with a pot of gold chicken nuggets), but this year I simply ran out of time.

rainbow fruit with pot of gold chicken nuggets

On our drive home from pre-school I started wracking my brain trying to figure something out using things we had on hand and I came up with the easiest and cutest lunch idea: I put some spreadable butter in a bowl, added a drop of food coloring and made Hudson a shamrock toasty sandwich.

add food coloring to spreadable butter and heart cookie cutter to make a shamrock toasty sandwich

The green color intensified in the panini press and I used a heart cookie cutter to make the shamrock. I served it with some leftover shamrock shake and green veggie chips. Super easy, delicious and very cute.

add food coloring to spreadable butter and heart cookie cutter to make a shamrock toasty sandwich

add food coloring to spreadable butter and heart cookie cutter to make a shamrock toasty sandwich

Speaking of smoothies, we have done different variations of green smoothies over the years. All have been dairy free because of Hudson’s allergy. Last year we tried this one from my friend Amy and we really liked it.

dairy free healthy mint smoothie

This year, we changed it up and went with a dole whip smoothie as a pot of gold. I have been wanting to try a dole whip smoothie forever and since we had already planned on watching Moana on St. Patrick’s Day, I figured it would be the perfect dessert. Unfortunately, my blender died half way through making these and the boys didn’t end up liking it (I think because they weren’t smooth enough – they are weird about texture). If you are interested though the super easy 3-ingredient recipe and adorable printables can be found at The Littles and Me.

pot of gold 3 ingredient dole whip smoothies with link to printables

We also did some really fun activities this year. My boys love sensory bins, so I threw together a St. Patrick’s Day themed one for them using chick peas, a few shamrock stickers, cups, funnels, miniature tongs (from Walmart), and spikey balls. This ended up being a great fine motor sensory bin because both boys used the tongs to pick up the balls and place them in the cups.

St. Patrick's Day themed sensory bin

We were invited to a very fun playdate this year too. Our friend had a few simple treats and snacks and provided us with canvases and paints so we could make a rainbow hand print. It was really easy and I am such a sucker for hand print art so of course I love how they turned out!

rainbow handprint art - perfect for St. Patrick's Day

Every year I make rice krispy treats with Lucky Charms marshmallows in them. I know most people just use Lucky charms cereal, but I did that one year and prefer this way. The only problem is that you have to pick out all the marshmallows. Well, I came across the cutest little hand tweezers “handy helpers” at Walmart and decided this would be a perfect fine motor activity for my 4-year-old. I poured a large bowl of cereal and asked him to pick out all the marshmallows. It was a total win-win.

Fine motor activity - have child pick out marshmallows using "handy helpers" or mini tongs

Then we made the rice krispy treats together. For his afternoon snack, I gave him a lucky charm treat with a big glass of green milk and he couldn’t have been happier. 🙂 (I also used the treats to bribe the boys to take their antibiotics – dessert for breakfast is a big hit with kids. 😉 )

rice krispy treats with lucky charm marshmallows added and green milk - perfect treat for St. Patrick's Day

I have a funny story to share – a few years ago, pre-kids, I decided at the last-minute to make a St. Patrick’s Day dinner (my first). See, last minute has always been my jam. 😉 I knew I wouldn’t have time to make something super traditional because I literally made the decision to make something on my way home from work. I found a recipe from Paula Deen, grabbed groceries and got to cooking. The cabbage I was making looked amazing and then I got to the part in the recipe where I had to add cans of corned beef. They were supposed to hold their shape, but they hit the cabbage and turned into a soupy mess of what looked a lot like dog food. It looked so gross, that Nic and I both refused to even try it. I threw it in the trash and he headed out to get us McDonalds. I had kind of erased this funny disaster from my memory, but I was solo parenting this week and grabbed the kids McDonalds for dinner Thursday night. The boys both loved the Shamrock shake and we had a really fun night reading a few St. Patrick’s Day themed books. I think this is going to have to become our new Night Before St. Patrick’s Day tradition because it was really fun, easy and a bit sentimental. 😉

the night before St. Patrick's Day tradition - read books and drink a McDonald's shamrock shake

For St. Patrick’s Day dinner, I usually make corned beef and cabbage in the crockpot, but because I didn’t plan ahead we didn’t have all the ingredients we needed. Instead, I made cheese stuffed spinach tortellini (the ones you buy pre-packaged) and then I made a green sauce loosely following this recipe from Taming Twins. (You could use pesto for a much easier option, but my boys haven’t been cleared to eat pine nuts – they have allergies). I forgot to put spinach on the grocery list and didn’t really measure; I just threw the boiled brocoli, cauliflower and cheese in my cuisinart (because my blender was toast from the smoothie) and added some milk until I got the consistency I wanted. Hudson really liked it, but Luc took one look at it and refused to even try it. I guess you can’t win them all right? 😉

spinach tortellini with brocolli cheese sauce for an easy and festive green St. Patrick's Day dinner

For dessert, I always make these Green Velvet Mint Cupcakes. They are just my twist on my favorite Red Velvet Peppermint Cupcakes.

use m&ms to make shamrocks - green velvet st patricks day cupcakes with mint cream cheese frosting

In the past I have also made Saltine Cracker Toffee (which can easily be adjusted for any holiday), but I figured we had enough dessert in the mix already this year.

saltine cracker toffee for st. patrick's day

I also stepped up my table display this year using a few really fun free printables from Elva M Designs. You can find the ones I used plus a bunch more here.

green velvet cupcakes with mint cream cheese frosting and link to free lucky you printables

I also printed out some fun photo booth props from the Dating Divas that can be found here. If you want to get more info on how to set-up your own DIY photobooth, check out this post.

link to free St. Patrick's Day photobooth props and diy photobooth set-up

I hope some of these ideas inspire you to add a little fun into your St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

May your troubles be less and your blessings be more and nothing but happiness come through your door. 🙂

(A link to this as a free printable and tons of other fun ideas can be found on my Pinterest page – be sure to follow me)

free printable shark valentines day cards

Shark Valentine’s Day Cards

Every year I ask Hudson what kind of Valentine cards he wants and then I look on Pinterest for a free printable or I make them myself. This year he asked for shark valentines (sharks are one of his favorite animals). I filled my Amazon cart with a few shark toy options: shark squirters and shark figurines and let Hudson pick what he wanted to gift to his classmates. Hudson ended up picking a fun 12-pack of small shark figurines by Wild Republic. With the figurines in mind, I searched Pinterest for a free shark printable, and while I did find a few cute ones, none of them were exactly what I had envisioned, so I made some myself.

free printable shark valentines day cards supplies

I purchased the graphics from Prettygrafik Design, I bought some Wilton pops favor bags (any similar sized plastic bags wil work), blue paper shred and blue m&m’s. We experimented with the shredded paper, m&ms and combining both before deciding that we liked how the tissue paper looked best.

free printable shark valentines day cards

Hudson helped put everything into each bag, I folded the bag once, placed the card on and Hudson helped me staple each card to the bag. Hudson and I both loved how they turned out and Hudson can’t wait to give these to all of his friends for Valentine’s Day.

free printable shark valentines day cards

 

If you would like to make these, you can grab the free printable here.

free printable shark valentines day cards

(Btw, how cute would these be with shark gummies in the bag for a candy version?)

free printable shark valentines

If you love this printable, please share on Pinterest and don’t forget to follow me on instagram and tag thecreativecopycat if you use any of our printables . Thanks! 🙂

valentine craft ideas - keepsake handprint crafts and fun crafts for kids

Valentine’s Day Crafts

I kind of have an obsession with hand print (and footprint) art. There is just something so special about capturing those tiny little hands and feet that has me hooked. Throughout Hudson’s first year, I was constantly making prints of his hands. I had plans to turn each hand print into a cute animal or holiday themed pinterest project, but sadly, didn’t finish most of them. Once Luc came along, the hand print captures became even more infrequent (those two kicked my butt the first two years!). One thing I did, that I will suggest is to at least capture the prints occasionally in those first few years because you can always go back and finish a project, but you can’t go back and capture those tiny hands and feet again. I’ve actually had “finish Valentine’s Day artwork” on my to-do list for over a year now, so thank you to this blog for pushing me to finally finish them. 🙂

On Hudson’s first Valentine’s Day, we did a family hand print. We put heart stickers on our hands to make the prints extra festive. I love seeing how small his hand looks next to ours.

valentine craft idea-put heart stickers on hands before stamping onto paper

I totally dropped the ball the next year (I’m going to have to blame the first trimester of pregnancy for that one) and apparently didn’t do any Valentine themed art projects. I was creating a baby though, so I’ll cut myself some slack. 😉

In 2015, I used a printable I found on Pinterest to make an adorable Valentine decoration capturing Luc’s baby feet. Click here to check out the original post and grab your own free printable.

love footprints with cute poem and link to free printable

That same year, I used another fun Pinterest idea to make a cute heart hand print keepsake of Hudson’s hand prints. Check out the original post here.

handprint art in the shape of a heart with a cute poem

In addition to the hand print crafts, which are obviously more for me, we also enjoy doing regular crafts together. Last year, the boys made a stained glass heart with our Mom’s Club group that was a lot of fun for the kids. You can check out all the details in this post.

stained glass heart craft

stained glass heart craft for valentines day

This year, I threw this craft together to give the kids something to do while we were locked up in the house with hand, foot mouth. You can check out the original post here. I am terrible at drawing (yes, even things as simple as hearts) and I hate my writing, so I quickly made a printable to use instead. You can grab one for free here. 🙂 The kids really enjoyed this one – I cut the squares for Luc and he glued them on, while Hudson did all the cutting and gluing for his himself.

i heart you to pieces valentine craft with free printable

 

 

 

free printable - pass these mini liquor bottles with fun labels out when flying with your toddler

Flying with a Toddler – Drink Tag Printable

I have always been against those goody bags new parents pass out on planes when they fly with their baby for the first time. Traveling with littles in tow is very stressful and involves a lot of planning ahead so the last thing new parents have time for is to make goody bags for other passengers. Besides, I have sat next to my fair share of rude and obnoxious passengers and none of them were apologetic or offered me anything. I literally once sat next to a woman who pooped her pants and the flight attendants had to keep walking up and down the aisle spritzing perfume! (I know it is hard to believe, but that actually happened!) Anyways, my point is, this is one time I have not been on board with goody bags (and I love goody bags!).

We now have many flights with Hudson under our belts, including one where he screamed the entire time we were waiting to board, and the people behind me very loudly exclaimed it would probably be their bad fortune to end up next to me. Well, Hudson did not make a peep the entire flight and when I smugly stood up at the end of my flight and waited for my round of applause, or pat on the back, or apology, or heck, even a smile, I got nothing. So I felt happy that I didn’t waste my time making treats for all those random travelers.

Then Luc came along. Luc is the worst traveler! He hates the car, he hates to sleep and he absolutely hates flying too. After a two hour flight to Mexico, I was covered in coffee, sweat and on the verge of tears. I had to hold Luc’s legs the entire flight, while simultaneously trying to shove snacks down his throat to keep him from screaming and provide entertainment every 3 minutes because that was about how long each activity held his attention. I apologized to the man in front of me every time Luc kicked his seat (which was around 5 times) and apologized again at the end of the flight (I am an over-apologizer by nature) to which he loudly announced to everyone around us that my kid had kicked him the entire flight. I was mortified!

On our recent trip to Maui, Luc was a whiney, over-tired, loud, mess and the thing is, when a newborn baby cries people seem to be fairly understanding. They expect it from a baby. My two year old, who is gigantic and probably looks more like a three year old, is expected to behave. People have no sympathy or understanding when toddlers mis-behave on a plane and I can assure you they definitely don’t think it is cute.

So, with our upcoming Australia trip looming over me, I decided that I was going to have to give in to my people-pleasing ways and attempt to bribe the people around me into not totally hating us. 15 hours is just way too long to have daggers coming my way from all directions. Of course, when I searched Pinterest all the cards were all sweet and apologetic and geared for sweet little babies who might just cry. No one made one for the obnoxious, dictator toddler who kicks, screams and manipulates their parent the entire flight, while simultaneously torturing everyone around them. So, I went ahead and made my own. Here’s to hoping the benadryl our pediatrician recommended works and the people sitting around us have a sense of humor. 😉

Click here to get these labels. 🙂 Happy Flying!

free printable - pass these mini drinks and fun labels out when flying with your toddler

free drink tag printable for flying with your toddler
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!

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