Super-cute Party Favor {Breakfast for Tomorrow}

Here's one last post for 2013... a really quick party favor... breakfast for tomorrow.


I filled a plastic cup with cereal, added a colorful plastic spoon, and tied it up in a clear loot bag with some ribbon and a cute tag.  (You can download the tags here.)  Isn't it sweet?  

It is a great favor for a New Year's Eve party, but I think it would be adorable for a sleepover too!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

New Year's Eve Party Favor {Midnight Kisses}

How cute is this {midnight kisses} New Year's Eve party favor?  It's easy, inexpensive, and totally fun!


All I did was fill dollar store champagne flutes with Hershey's kisses and add a "midnight kisses" tags.  You can download the Midnight Kisses Tags {for free} here.  The tags are set up as 4X6 photos, so you can send them for one hour processing and save the ink in your printer. 


Didn't our New Year's Eve party favors turn out cute?  I can't wait to share them with our guests!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)


PS... and if you are looking for some last minute decor, I have some {matching} 4X6 photos you can print and attach to paper straws or craft sticks.  You can download them here and here.

5 Ways to Celebrate New Year's Eve With Kids

New Years’ Eve is a great time to plan a celebration with kids. I like to stay home and ring in the new year as a family, but if you have “grown up” plans, an earlier party with the kids is fun too. Here are 5 ways to celebrate New Year's Eve with kids:


1)  Countdown bagsI like to fill eight bags with different treats or activities, and every hour, my boys are allowed to open one of the bags.  You can find all the DIY details here.


2)  Year in review questionnaires - Last year I created a year in review questionnaire for the kids to fill out, and I have updated it so that we can do it again this year.  It's a fun activity, and it makes a nice keepsake too.  You can download the questionnaire I designed here.
 



3)  DIY party favors - We like to craft party hats and signs (which you can read about here), and we like to make our own noisemaker (which you can read about here).  I also think it would be fun to bake muffins with my boys and send our guests home with "breakfast for 2014" or "midnight kisses" party favors.



 4)  Special treats - Milk in wine glasses (rimmed with sprinkles) and chocolate chip cookies are perfect for a "midnight toast".  You can find our favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe here.



5)  Fun themes - I think it's fun to pick a theme for the decorations, food, and activities. I am considering a “clock” theme (including a cake shaped like a clock face), a movie night (with lots of glow sticks and a “milk and cookies” snack bar), or a pancakes and PJs” dance party.  Or, you can keep things simple by picking a fun color scheme to tie everything together.



However you choose to celebrate, I hope you and your family have a very Happy New Year, and I wish you all the best in 2014!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

2013 Year in Review Questionnaire

2014 version here.

Last year, my boys filled out a 2012 Year in Review Questionnaire.  I think it is a great tradition for kids, so I will be doing it again this year.


If you would like to do this activity with your little ones, you can download a copy of my 2013 New Year's Eve questionnaire {for free} here.

Happy New Year!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

My Favorite Ginger Molasses Cookies

These ginger molasses cookies are a favorite in this house.  I especially love them during the school year because they freeze really well, and they are great to have on hand for the boys' lunches.  They are the perfect ginger molasses cookie because they are soft and chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.


Here's how you make {My Favorite} Ginger Molasses Cookies*:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground all spice
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup white sugar (+ 1/2 cup for rolling)
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup fancy molasses
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together:  flour, ginger, cinnamon, all spice, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together:  oil, white sugar, brown sugar, egg, molasses, and vanilla.  Keep whisking until all the ingredients are well mixed.  Add to flour mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.

Roll into 1 inch balls, coat each ball with sugar, and place 1 inch apart on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 8-10 minutes (until crisp around the edges and cracked on top).

*This recipe was adapted from one I found here.



You can print out a copy of this recipe by: right-clicking on the recipe (below), saving it to your computer, and printing it like a regular 4X6 photo.



You can also make these cookies a little fancier by dipping them in melted white chocolate. Trust me... they are delicious!


What's your favorite type of cookie?  If you try these soft and chewy ginger molasses cookies, let me know how they turn out.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Christmas Potpourri {Cute Neighbour Gift}

Every Christmas we like to make a little something to give out to our neighbours, so this year, the boys and I packaged up some Christmas Potpourri.


Isn't it cute?  

Each bag contained:
1 orange 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp whole cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 cinnamon sticks

We just threw all the ingredients into a clear bag, attached the cute tag I designed {which you can download for free here}, and tied it with a ribbon.


I even made a bag for myself, and it's boiling on my stove as we speak.  What's your favorite Christmas smell?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Elf on the Shelf Idea - Elf Kisses... with free printable

Is your elf running out of Elf on the Shelf ideas?  This one is super-simple and lots of fun!


Little ones will be delighted to find the note below and some chocolate kisses.  Seriously... who doesn't love little treats?


You can right-click on the picture to save it to your computer, or you can download the 4X6 jpg here.

I am so glad we have such a nice Elf on the Shelf!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Gift Bags Kids Can Make

I'm always looking for ways to involve my kids in the gift-giving process.  So, when it came time for us to deliver Christmas gifts to our neighbours, I had the boys make these Christmas tree gift bags.


I love how they turned out, don't you?  Want to make your own?


You'll need: plain brown gift bags from the Dollar Store, strips of construction paper in various colors, scissors, glue, and yellow buttons.  Then:

1)  Cut strips of construction paper into various lengths... from larger to smaller... and arrange them on the bag.  Secure them with white glue.

2)  Cut a short strip of brown paper for the tree trunk, and secure with glue.

3)  Glue a yellow button onto the top of the tree.

4)  Allow glue to dry completely.

That's it!  You are ready to fill the bag with lots of Christmas goodies.  My boys had a great time delivering their homemade gift bags to our neighbours.

How do you get your children involved in the gift-giving process?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum Review

I have always used a manual toothbrush, so when Phillips offered me the chance to test the Philips Sonicare FlexCare Platinum, I jumped at the opportunity.



The verdict.... I LOVE it.  I tested it for 14 days, and I can seriously see the difference.  My teeth actually feel smoother.  (It removes up to 7x more plaque in hard-to-reach areas and reduces gingivitis up to 2x better than a manual toothbrush.) 

As a busy mom, it is nice to have something I can do for myself that doesn't take any extra time... because time is in short supply around here.  I am all about efficiency, and this toothbrush helps me clean my teeth better in the same amount of time.

It took me a day or two to get used to the vibrating, but the toothbrush has variable speeds, so it made the adjustment easy.  And, this model comes with a UV Sanitizer which is a fantastic way to fight germs in a house with three little boys and a mom who needs to stay healthy.  :-)

The bottom line is... I think this toothbrush is fantastic, and I highly recommend giving it a try.

 
Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Disclosure: I was provided with this product (free of charge) for reviewing purposes only. No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are 100% my own.

Tissue Paper Wreath - Preschool Craft

As you may know, I am a monthly contributor on the CBC Parents Site, and today I am sharing a simple Christmas craft.  Aren't these Tissue Paper Wreaths adorable?


My boys really enjoyed making them, and if you think your little one would have fun with this craft too, you can find the full tutorial here.


And, while you're there, take a look around. The CBC Parents Site has a lot of fantastic crafts and activities for kids.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Easy and Inexpensive Christmas Card {Quick Tip Tuesday #30}

Christmas cards can be expensive... especially custom cards.  However, you can easily put together an adorable option for less than $.15 a card.


The secret is to design a card that can be printed as a normal 4X6 photo.  I used Picmonkey.com to come up with this little card.  Cute, right?

It was easy, inexpensive, and fast (1 hour developing makes it perfect for last minute cards).  Do you send out Christmas cards?  I just love getting Christmas cards in the mail, don't you?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Felt Ornament - Santa Belly

Every year, I come up with a simple felt ornament that I can send out with my Christmas cards.  Because I make so many, I always design something that is easy, inexpensive, and lightweight.  Here is the felt ornament I am sending out this year.


Cute, right?  My 4 year old calls it a "Santa Belly" ornament.  


Here's how easy it is to make your own:

1)  Cut two identical circles from red felt.  {Mine were about 3 inches in diameter.}

2)  Cut a black strip of felt, and stitch it onto the middle of one of the circles.  {Mine was about 1/4" wide.}

3)  Sew a yellow button onto the middle of the circle with the black stripe.

4)  Attach a ribbon hanger, and stitch the 2nd red circle onto the back of the front circle.

This year, I made 60 of these ornaments.  I think they make sending out Christmas cards a little more fun, don't you?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Elf on the Shelf Donuts... free printable box

Look what our Elf on the Shelf brought us!  Aren't these teeny tiny "Elf Donuts" adorable?


These donuts are actually Cheerios topped with icing and sprinkles, and they came in an adorable box that you can download for free here.  (I was inspired by the adorable box I found here at Earning as I Sew.  Her version is super-cute too.)



Lately, I've heard some people complaining about Elves that bring expensive gifts... but who wouldn't love this idea -- a few Cheerios in a free box?  

What flavour "Elf Donut" would be most popular at your house?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

The Polar Express Mini Van Adventure... with free printable golden tickets

Last night, our family continued one of our favorite Christmas traditions -- The Polar Express (mini van edition).


The adventure started when my boys headed to bed and found tickets to "The Polar Express" golden tickets lying on their pillows.  (You can download a copy of the ticket I designed here.)  Excitement ensued, and everyone got on their coats and hats as fast as they could.


When they got to our van, I punched their tickets (wearing my conductors hat), they had a snack of hot chocolate and cookies, we listened to Christmas carols, and we toured our town in search of our favorite Christmas lights.

Then, when we got home, each boy found a bell (from Santa's sleigh) on his pillow.


Fun, right?  Have you ever gone on a Polar Express adventure with your little ones?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)


PS - (Click here for a cute printable tag for your bell.)


Snowman Soup - Simple Gift for Classmates - with free printable tags

My boys and I always like to make little Christmas gifts/treats that they can share with their classmates.  Here is what we came up with this year... snowman soup.


To make snowman soup, we filled bags from the dollar store with a bag of hot chocolate, some mini marshmallows, and a candy cane.  You can download the tags I designed {for free} here.


I sent the tags {which are a 4X6 jpegs} for one hour photo processing, cut them out, punched holes in the corners, and attached them to the bags with ribbon. 

This is a fantastic easy and inexpensive DIY gift idea.  It would be fun for neighbours too.  My boys and I made 90 of these bags to share with their friends.  That's a lot of snowman soup!  :-)


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)


PS - If you are looking for more classroom treat/gift ideas, you can find 5 more here.

Elf on the Shelf - Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt

Look what our Elf on the Shelf brought last night -- it's a rhyming candy cane scavenger hunt.  "Elfie" brought us eight cards containing clues to the locations of hidden candy canes.  Fun, right?


Here are the clues that "Elfie" came up with... and you can download them here.  (PS- The answers to the clues are:  bed, shoe, tree, car, bin, sink, hat, sink.)


And.... if you want to come up with your own clues, you can download blank cards here.


Do you think your little ones would enjoy this Candy Cane Scavenger Hunt?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)



Easy Elf on the Shelf Idea {Quick Tip Tuesday #29}

Our Elf on the Shelf is soooo good to us.  He knows that we have special Christmas activities that we do every year, and sometimes he helps us get them done.  For example, last week he brought us a gingerbread house kit.


Fun, right?  The boys were super excited to see it sitting next to "Elfie" when they got up in the morning, and I was thrilled I didn't have to go out and get one.  ;-)

Do you make gingerbread houses with your little ones?  Maybe you should tell your Elf on the Shelf that you need one.


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple Gingerbread Man Ornament - Preschooler Craft

Sometimes you just need a simple Christmas craft to make with little ones, and this adorable gingerbread man ornament fits the bill perfectly.  It's easy to craft, it uses basic supplies... and it's totally cute!


Want to make one?


1)  First, download the gingerbread man template here, and cut it out.
2)  Color the gingerbread man.
3)  Using white glue, add google eyes, buttons, and yarn embellishments.
4)  Punch a hole in the top, and add a yarn or ribbon hanger.

That's it!  Cute, right?  What kind of homemade ornaments do you remember making when you were a child?  Do you still have them?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Snowman Door

Recently I came across an adorable snowman door (that you can find here).  I knew my boys would LOVE it, so we decided to do our own version.  Isn't it sweet?


It is so much cuter than a plain white door, and I love how easy and inexpensive it was to create.


Here's how my four year old and I made it...

1)  We traced a CD onto black construction paper to make the eyes.
2)  I drew the nose onto orange construction paper.
3)  We used a 2 inch punch to make the mouth.
4)  We used wrapping paper for the scarf.  (It's 3 1/2 inches wide.)
5)  We used a 3 inch punch to make the buttons.

Do you have a white door in your house?  I bet your little ones would love this project.  I know mine did!


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Elf on the Shelf Gift - Magic Elf Seeds

Look what our Elf brought again this year... MAGIC ELF SEEDS!


Two nights ago, "Elfie" brought magic elf seeds (which look a lot like tree-shaped cookie decorations) and a letter.  

The letter contained this poem (which you are welcome to use, but please don't reprint it without written consent from me):
Plant them in sugar, 
all in a row.  
Wait for the magic, 
and see what will grow.


My boys followed Santa's instructions and planted the seeds before they went to bed last night.



Then, this morning, we found the seeds had grown into chocolate suckers.  Can you believe it??????  This is our third year planting magic elf seeds, and it is still very exciting for us!  Has your elf brought you anything fun this year?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

MistleTOES Easy DIY Gift

I just love this "For Your MistleTOES" DIY gift idea.  It is perfect for a girlfriend, teacher, co-worker or neighbour.  It's cute on its own, but it could also be a fun addition to a gift basket.  Wouldn't it be fantastic to wrap it up with a pair of socks and a gift certificate for a pedicure?


This gift couldn't be more simple.  Download the tag I designed by "right clicking" on the picture below.  It is set up as a 4X6 .jpg file, so you can just print it or get it developed like a regular photo.  Then, just cut out the tag, and add a little ribbon.

Cute, right?  Who would you give this little DIY gift to?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Easy and Fun Elf on the Shelf Idea

Here's a quick tip for all you Elf on the Shelf owners.  Our "Elfie" likes to bring us little gifts from the north pole.  Last week he brought us an elf ornament.


It's easy and inexpensive, but it's lots of fun.  My boys were super-excited when they saw what Elfie brought us. 

Does your Elf on the Shelf like to bring you little gifts?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Our Favorite Christmas Traditions

I'm sure you have heard me say it before, but I truly believe that family traditions and rituals are the building blocks of childhood memories.  I have blogged about many of our Christmas traditions, but I thought it might be helpful to share a collection of my top five Christmas traditions.  



Just click on the links below for more info.

1)  The Polar Express - mini van edition.  Seriously fun!

2)  Elf on the Shelf - our elf antics are nice... not naughty.

3)  Letter Writing to Santa Party/Fundraiser - our way of giving back during the holiday season.

4)  The Tree - the five things we do every year.

5) Christmas Eve - the five traditions that make Christmas Eve the most special day of the year.

And of course, we bake cookies, build gingerbread houses, listen to Christmas carols, go carolling, and watch our favorite Christmas specials.

Are holiday specials part of your Christmas celebration?  What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?


Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)