{DINO}MITE Valentine's Day Treats

I remember collecting Valentines from my classmates (in my homemade paper plate mailbox) when I was a little girl. It's a special childhood memory that I want my boys to have too. So, each year, I try to come up with fun Valentines for my kids to share with their friends on Valentine's Day. Today, I am sharing a fun NEW dinosaur Valentine idea and free printable tags for you to use.

I found some adorable (and cheap) plastic dinosaurs at the dollar store, I placed them in clear plastic bags, and I added sweet tags that I designed. The tags say, "Have a {DINO}mite Valentine's Day!"

Isn't this a cute Valentine? 

To use the tags I designed: right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

I made enough of these Valentines for my 8 year old to share with all his classmates, and I couldn't be happier with how they turned out. They are bright, colourful, and really cute!

My youngest son is super-excited about sharing this special Valentine with his friends on February 14th! What kind of Valentine are your kids sharing with their friends this year? If you need more inspiration, you can find more Valentine's Day ideas here.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

How I Am Trying My Best To Raise Kind Kids

Hockey is a way of life for my family. With three boys in rep hockey (one in Novice, one in Atom, and one in PeeWee), the majority of our family's time and money is spent pursuing the boys' passion for the sport. However, I never forget that I am raising humans... not hockey players, and my husband and I try to make "giving back" a priority in our home. Kids take pride in knowing that their actions have an impact in the world, and I am hoping that being active in the community will help to make my boys kind and confident. Today, I am sharing some simple tips for teaching kids to be kind.

1) Have kids perform a simple random acts of kindness - Teaching children that little actions can have a big impact is an important lesson. Recently, I challenged each of my boys to make a card and deliver a treat to someone special. We found these "Have a Happy Day!" water bottles at the dollar store, and we filled them with yellow treats. 

I hope getting one of these treats "brightened" the day for each of the recipients.

2) Have kids think of a way to raise money for charity - My boys have a cousin that has Cystic Fibrosis, so they are always trying to think of ways to raise money to support research for the disease. They sell toys, run lemonade stands, and host an annual "letter writing to Santa" fundraiser.

3) Have kids support someone they know - Last year, one of my middle son's teammates was diagnosed with cancer, and his entire team rallied behind him... supporting him and raising money to help his family. It was heartwarming to watch this brave boy's hockey family work together to help him.

4) Learn about how other kids are giving back - Nothing inspires kids more than the actions of other kids. And, in partnership with Hockey Canada, Chevrolet* is encouraging good sportsmanship on and off the ice. For the second year, Chevrolet is continuing the Good Deeds Cup to search for PeeWee teams in Canada that demonstrate good deeds throughout the community. Aside from spreading good sportsmanship throughout their community, finalists and the ultimate winner will receive the Good Deeds Cup, be featured on Sportsnet, and receive $15,000 towards the charity of their choice.

To help a team win the Good Deeds Cup, visit www.chevrolethockey.com and view a video to vote for your choice from the top 10 finalists for the winner of the Chevrolet Good Deeds Cup.

How do you encourage your kids to be kind? Leave your comments below. I am always inspired by the heartwarming actions of children, aren't you?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with YMC and Chevrolet and have received compensation for this post. All opinions in this post are my own.

Sports Party Centrepiece Ideas

Customized centre pieces add a festive flair to parties and banquets. The one I am sharing today has a hockey theme, but it could easily work for any sports theme. I purchased some inexpensive items from the dollar store and created something simple and fun. Keep reading for all the DIY details.

I purchased some dollar store jewels, a glass container, and some battery operated tealights. The tealight under the jewels casts a lovely glow, and works well in a banquet setting. 

Just add a puck or ball, and you have a fun piece of decor.

You can also attach sports cards to the top of dowels and insert them into the container. 

I love using simple dollar store supplies to create something new and unique, and I think this is a really fun piece of DIY party decor, don't you?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Shared HOCKEY BEDROOM (on a budget) Revealed

My two older boys have shared a room for most of their lives, but recently I realized that my boys were outgrowing their room's childish decor. I needed to redo the room to incorporate practical (and age appropriate) storage solutions for their things, as well as their individual interests and personalities. With a small room and a limited budget, I managed to come up with shared HOCKEY BEDROOM that both of my boys are extremely happy with.

One of my goals for the room was to make sure each boy had his own "side". They have matching bedding, but I labelled each side with a hockey stick containing each of their names. (You can find a step-by-step tutorial for the hockey sticks here.)

Check out the before and after picture (below) of the back wall of the room.

Don't you love the hockey sticks with the names? I painted the letters to match the colours in the bedding.

The red dresser that was originally in their room didn't match the new bedding, so I switched the dresser they had for one I had in another room. "Shopping your house" is a great way to decorate on a budget.

I hung a framed poster over the dresser, and added two baskets for books -- one for each boy.

Check out the before and after picture of my middle son's side of the room (below).

He wanted a place to display some of his LEGO, so my husband hung a couple of IKEA shelves, and I framed his first jersey in an inexpensive shadow box.

And for additional LEGO storage, I hung a clear shoe rack on the back of his door.

Check out the before and after picture of my oldest son's side of the room (below).

My oldest son wanted some DIY artwork on his side of the room. I put his first jersey in an inexpensive shadow box, I framed a picture I took of him playing hockey at the beach last summer, and I hung hockey cards showcasing his favourite players.

I also used a used an inexpensive ($30) bookcase to store the boys' books and belongings. Using cheap bookcase in a small space is another helpful tip for organizing a shared room.

Check out the before and after picture of the back end of my boys' shared bedroom (below).

I swapped out their toy bins for an inexpensive book shelf with baskets to store their "bits and bobs". Each boy has two baskets to store their "treasures", and I now know where to put things that they leave lying around the house.

What do you think of my boys' new room decor? I love that the room is age appropriate, organized, and decorated to their tastes. And, of course, I am thrilled that they are both happy with how it turned out!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Holiday Celebrations (Ideas, Recipes and Activities for Every Holiday)

Below, you will find a collection of my holiday celebration posts... including: New Year's Eve, Valentine's Day, St.Patrick's Day, Easter, April Fool's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Canada Day, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas. There are many ideas for easy and inexpensive ways to make every holiday special. Scroll down and click on the links for additional info, ideas, and recipes.
Click on the links (below) to access the holiday collection you are interested in.


New Year's Eve Ideas for Kids

Celebrating New Year's Eve with kids can be a lot of fun... and you won't have to worry about finding and paying for a babysitter! Win. Win. I'm always a big fan of ringing in the new year with my boys', so today, I am sharing some of my favourite ideas for celebrating New Year's Eve with kids.

1) Countdown bags - I first put together countdown bags for my boys when in 2012, and they have been a New Year's Eve staple in our house ever since. It's a fun way to keep the kids entertained, and it is a wonderful way to build anticipation for the big countdown. Read all about our simple New Year countdown bags here.

2) Photo booth - Setting up a photo booth is another fun way to entertain kids (and to document the fun of the celebration). You can download the props below, print them on card stock, and attach a stick for holding them. You can also inexpensively buy props at the dollar store.

To download my props: right-click on the pictures below, save them to your computer, and print them like regular 8X10 photos.

3) Mocktail bar - Setting up a fun drink station for kids can be a lot of fun. Fruit juice and sparking water can be used with whimsical garnishes like candy stir sticks and gummy bears. You can also have milk in fancy, candy-rimmed glasses for a "milk and cookies" toast at midnight.

4) Party favours - Every party needs a "party favour". I love the idea of midnight kisses (Hershey Kisses in champagne flutes), candy rings or bells to "ring in the new year", and/or breakfast for the next day (cereal in plastic bowls with cute tags.

5) Fortune cookies - Fortune cookies are always fun for kids, and it is simple to turn store bought cookies into a special treat using the tutorial you can find here. You could also turn them into a party favour by adding a tag that says "wishing you good fortune in the the new year"

6) Year in Review Questionnaire - New Year's Eve is the perfect time to review the past year with kids. It's also wonderful to set goals for the year ahead. I love this 2017 Year in Review form, and you can download it for free by: right-clicking on the picture below, saving it to your computer, and printing it like a regular 8X10 photo.

How do you celebrate New Year's Eve? Do you stay at home with the kids, or head out to an adult party? You can always do both if you do something early with the kids. There is no law against an early countdown. Happy New Year, and all the best to you and your family!

Gina Bell 
(aka East Coast Mommy)
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