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10 Back to School Tips, Treats, and Traditions

I can't bear to think about sending my boys back to school (when they don't go back until the first week of September), but I know a lot of my readers have children heading back within the next couple of weeks.  With this in mind, I thought this was a perfect time to share a collection of my favorite back to school tips, treats, and traditions.


1)  Back to school countdown - Build some anticipation by counting down to the big day. Why not try an easy countdown with candy or a simple balloon pop countdown? {Click on the links for more details.}


2)  Back pack organization - Get organized by making sure the backpacks have a place (and don't end up on the floor).  Over the door hooks are a perfect solution for a small space. {Click on the link for more details.}


3)  School lunch ideas - Get ready for lunches with these tips and tricks: a lunch idea for kids that don't like sandwiches, an out of the box lunch idea, a tip to make packing lunches easier, and 5 tips for getting kids to eat their lunches.  {Click on the links for more details.}


4)  Lunchbox notes - Make lunches a little more fun with these FREE printable lunchbox notes.  {Click on the link for more details.}


5)  Back to school printables - These FREE back to school printables make fun back to school photo props or back to school home decor.  {Click on the link for more details.}


6)  First day of school photos - I always take photos of my boys (on the first day of school) holding a photo from the first day of school the year before.  {Click on the link for more details.}


7)  First day of school teacher gift - My boys like to bring a little gift for their new teacher on the first day of school.  You can read about it here. {Click on the link for more details.}


8)  First day of school class treats - My boys like to bring treats for their new classmates on the first day of school.  You can find a few ideas for class treats here. {Click on the link for more details.}


9)  Elf on the shelf postcard - If your little ones are fans of Elf on the Shelf, you might want to check out the FREE printable first day of school postcard here. {Click on the link for more details.}


10)  Back to school traditions - If you are looking to start some back to school traditions, you can check out my five favorite back to school traditions here.  {Click on the link for more details.}


I still have a month before I have to say good bye to summer, but I know the time will go by quickly.  I hope you have more vacation ahead, but if you are heading back to school soon, these tips should be helpful.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Jake and the Neverland Pirates Party Food

Don't you just love a party with cute food?  Recently, I had a Jake and the Neverland Pirates party for my youngest son, and although I kept it simple, I think the pirate themed food was adorable!


Here are some of the highlights:

1) "Fish" sandwiches - I made peanut butter sandwiches, cut them out with a cookie cutter, and added a chocolate chip eye.  Cute, right?


2) Fish and Chips - I threw some salt and vinegar chips and goldfish in a bowl and called it "fish and chips".  My 5 year old thought it was hilarious.


3) Pixie Sticks - Although I am not a big fan of feeding my kids pure sugar.  I couldn't resist serving "pixie dust" at a Jake and the Neverland Pirates party.


4) Gummy sharks - This is another overly sugary snack, but sharks and pirates just go together, so I had to have a few on the table.


5) Bucket of Cheesies - I bought this bucket on clearance, cleaned it, and filled it with my little guy's favorite treat.  Clever, right?


6)  Edible Necklaces - The party guests made their own edible necklaces with some cord, froot loops and a gold coin.  It's a party craft and a snack.  Fun!


7)  Pirate Cake - Every party needs a cake, and this one was adorable.  You can find the full tutorial here.


All the pirate party food was a hit with the little party guests. Which one is your favorite?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

No-Sew Spy Shirts

Recently, I threw a 7th birthday party for my middle son.  He chose a "spy" theme, and I thought it would be fun to have the boys wear personalized spy t-shirts.


I bought 3 plain black shirts at Old Navy for $6 each.  Then, I used dimensional fabric paint to write on each shirt.  I used their agents as their secret agent names.  Fun, right?


It's a fantastic idea for an adorable personalized spy t-shirt, and it could easily be made into a no sew spy costume for Halloween.  Add some black pants, gloves, and a ski mask, and you're good to go!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Birthday Letter {to my middle son turning 7}

My second born son turns 7 today, and in keeping with tradition, I have written him a birthday letter.  It is my way of capturing all the little details that I don't want to forget when he is older.  Here are some of the reasons my adorable 7 year old is so special:


To my sweet boy,

I can't believe that you are turning 7 today.  Time goes by so quickly, and I am really making an effort to treasure every moment of your childhood.  You are full of energy and life, and I am grateful that I have you for my son.  Here are a few reasons that you are such a wonderful little boy.

  • You lost your first teeth this year (three of them)... but you still have a killer smile.
  • Your favorite color is blue, and you love watching Star Wars.
  • You are turning into an excellent reader, and I love all the notes you write me in your "Mommy and Me" journal.
  • You are a natural athlete.  You recently won your first trophy at Tir Nan Og (a track meet), and Mommy and Daddy were very proud of you.
  • You are fantastic at fixing and building things.  You love LEGO, and you want to "fix things" when you grown up.
  • You have tons of friends.  When you go out, you are always waving and smiling at someone you know.
  • You continue to love playing with your brothers.  Some of your favorite games are: hockey, soccer, baseball, cars, pirates, and Star Wars.  (You are great at acting out scenes from Star Wars with pool noodle light sabres.  You are an awesome Jedi!)
  • You have a really big heart.  When I am sick, you give me your "blankie" to make me feel better and you cry at sad movies.  You also made cards for everyone on Father's Day so no one would feel left out.
I love you to the moon and back... and more each day.

Love, Mommy xoxo

Simple Spy Cake

My middle son is having his 7th birthday party tomorrow, so I thought a 007 spy cake would be perfect.  I am not a professional cake decorator, so I came up with a simple design using two round cakes and one square one.


I used Duncan Hines Cake mixes, but I used 2 tbsp less water and half the oil called for in the recipe in order to make the cake more dense and easy to work with.  Then, I carefully carved out the numbers, covered them in a crumb coats, and stuck them in the refrigerator.  When the icing for firm, I added a finishing coat of frosting.

I decorated the cakes with dollar store magnifying glasses, sunglasses, and black icing footprints.

Didn't it turn out cute?  Have you ever had a spy themed birthday?  What kind of cake did you have?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Spy Party - Loot Bags

I am planning a spy party for my middle son on Sunday afternoon, and I thought it would be fun to send all the guests home with a simple spy kit loot bag.  Here's what I came up with:


Each kit contains a notebook, pen, fake moustache, glow stick, laser pointer and glasses.  Fun, right?  

I packaged each kit in a brown lunch bag, stamped it "top secret", and added a cute tag I made in Picmonkey. 



I think all the guests of the party will be thrilled with their spy kit loot bags, and I know my little birthday boy will be excited to give them out to his friends.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Pixie Dust Pouches {with free printable tags}

We recently had a Jake and the Neverland Pirates party, and because I think it is fun to send the guests off with some fun party favors, I made some inexpensive pixie dust pouches.


I purchased some little glass jars at the dollar store (6 for $1.00) and half filled them with red and gold glitter.  Then, I put them in small yellow bags, and added a cord necklace.  I finished them off with a cute little tag I designed.

To print your own tags, right click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a normal 4 X 6 photo.


Obviously these aren't for unsupervised use or for young children.  Anything that goes around a child's neck can be dangerous if worn while playing.


I think these pixie dust pouches were a fun addition to our little party.  Do you have a little Jake and the Neverland Pirates fan that would enjoy these magical accessories?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)
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