Milk & Cookies for Santa – DIY Scrabble Coasters

Post by Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey’s Essentials DIY Scrabble CoastersOne of the simple yet classic Christmas traditions that our family always looks forward to is leaving out milk and cookies for Santa (don’t forget the carrots for Rudoph!). If you’ve got one more Christmas craft left in you before the big event, these simple DIY scrabble coasters could be a blast to make with letter loving kids on Christmas Eve. It’s a fun exercise to come up with 4-5 letter words that make up holiday sayings – and a particularly fun challenge when you only have a certain number of individual letters. Even if the kids in your house are a little to you to put together words, this can still be a fun way to work with letters. My two and a half year old Ollie loved fishing out certain letters for me. This craft is inexpensive, quick, and most importantly these can be a memento that your family pulls out year after year to perfectly prop up Santa’s milk alongside his cookies. (This is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe) See the simple directions for the coasters below.

Materials for DIY Scrabble Coasters:

  • Scrabble Tiles (found here)*
  • Craft glue
  • Cork coasters or cork board (found at a local craft store)
  • Scissors

DIY Scrabble Coasters 2 DIY Scrabble Coasters 3DIY Scrabble Coasters Instructions

  1. Choose holiday phrases or words that can easily be made up with the Scrabble letters. We found that there were a lot more 5 letter holiday words than 4 letter words, so our coasters aren’t a perfect square, but the shape didn’t bother us and I’m sure Santa won’t mind.
  2. Organize your letters before using the craft glue to glue each letter onto the cork board or coaster aligning the first letter to the upper corner.
  3. Allow each coaster to dry completely before using sharp scissors or an x-acto knife to carefully trim the edges.
  4. Hint Hint: I found that one set of 100 scrabble letters made about 4 coasters.

DIY Scrabble Coasters 5Hopefully these cheery coasters will get your kids even more excited for Santa’s big arrival and make sure that Jolly Old St. Nick is well taken care of when he stops at your house.

Happy Holidays!

Kelsey Nixon  is the host of Kelsey’s Essentials on Cooking Channel and author of Kitchen Confidence. Kelsey’s Essentials is also currently airing Mon-Thurs at 3pm on Food Network. Kelsey, her husband Robby, and son Oliver (“Ollie”) live in New York City. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table Decor

Post written by Paging Supermom

 

Hosting Thanksgiving is so much fun, but it’s also a crazy bunch of work. We are here to help get the kid friendly Thanksgiving table decor checked off your to-do list, and also to convince you to use our favorite Pumpkin Pie shortcut. Shortcuts not for you? Then don’t miss this killer recipe for the easiest, homemade Pecan Pie.

Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table Decor We have been known to cringe at store-bought decorations but count on Land of Nod to provide the kind of details you’d expect from something homemade, like those real string bows on the pilgrim’s bonnet in this Thanksgiving Cupcake Kit. We used the liners and toppers to make our Cornbread Muffins more festive (click here for our favorite Cornbread Muffin Recipe).

We adore all the details of the Land of Nod Thanksgiving Decor Collection, including the foil-stamped, gold accents.

The Thanksgiving Mini Garland looks adorable strung together with a couple of Orange Circle garlands. Land of Nod offers these geometric felt garlands in a variety of colors, and they are super handy to have tucked away in your party box.

Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table Decor - 2Set the kid’s table with our free printable Graph Paper Tablecloth and the Chalk Around the World Globe is the perfect, interactive centerpiece for your kid friendly Thanksgiving table decor. Get the free download of these Atlantic Ocean Placemats then add sails to straws (using this free template) to turn cups into boats. There is also a spot on the placemats where children can write what they are thankful for.

Kid Friendly Thanksgiving Table Decor - 3It’s always a good idea to have a few activities to keep little hands busy on Thanksgiving Day. These Pilgrim Cookie Cutters and a set of playdough will do the job quite nicely.

Thanksgiving Pilgrim Cookie CuttersYour little ones will also get a kick out of taking turns being the chef as they assemble this pretend turkey. Be sure to snag this adorable Pull Apart Poultry toy, and download our free printable Turkey Platter and Garnish.

Kids Play Food: Thanksgiving Turkey

Kids Play Food: Thanksgiving Turkey - 2Before or after dessert, serve up a little educational fun with a homemade Fraction Pie. Print our free Fraction Pie templates on cardstock and cut out the pieces. You may wish to laminate for added durability. We used a recycled pie tin to hold our pie pieces.

Kids Thanksgiving Activity: Make A Fraction PieWant more? Head here for more free printables and family-friendly Thanksgiving ideas.

Paging Supermom is written by “Sometimes Supermoms” Aimée and Bettijo, and came to be after many discussions with each other sharing their best insights on homemaking, parenting, party planning, teaching, playing and sometimes simply surviving. They soon discovered that although they can’t claim to be super all the time, each had their own moments. By sharing successes (and some of the funny moments when they fell flat on their faces), they hope to inspire others to find their inner superhero a little more often.

DIY Halloween Spider Straws

Written by Aleah and Nick of Valley & Co.

Halloween really brings out the kid in us and each year we get so excited to pull out all of the stops to decorate for the festivities. Pumpkins galore, dried corn stalks, creepy bats, aged scary silhouettes, and freshly made apple cider and home-baked goods are some of our Halloween must-haves for entertaining. This year will be our first Halloween as parents so now we can truly justify decking the halls with fun! To add the perfect dose of eeriness to a Halloween meal, surprise the kiddos with these Spooky Halloween Spider Straws. It’s a simple project that yields scary results!

MATERIALS YOU’LL NEED:
For the straws: paper straws || plastic spiders || faux spiderwebs || hot glue gun
For the glass: orange sprinkles {or rimming sugar} || water || tall glass

Kids Craft: DIY Halloween Spider Straws

Step 1. warm up your hot glue gun and dab a bead of glue towards the top of the straw

DIY Halloween Spider Straws - Step 1Step 2. gently press a spider onto the glue, holding into place while the glue dries
DIY Halloween Spider Straws - Step 2 DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 3Step 3: prepare a small piece of the spiderweb and turn the spider over. Place a few dabs of hot glue on several of the legs and secure the spiderweb onto each bead, stretching it as you go and pulling over the top of the spider.

DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 4Ta-da!

DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 5Serve up these spooky straws in a big glass of milk on Halloween morning and make it extra festive by adding a pop of edible orange fun! Pour a mound of orange sprinkles into a small plate. Rub the rim of a glass with water and turn the glass upside down, rolling the rim in the sprinkles until it’s coated. Then carefully pour the milk into the glass.

DIY Halloween Spider Straws - Step 4

DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 8 DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 6 DIY Halloween Spider Straws - 7 Party planning tip: If you’re hosting a Halloween gathering, set out a side table welcoming your guests with pre-rimmed glasses with straws at the ready. Let guests garnish drinks {whether it’s milk or other libations} with all sorts of fun elements like edible red flowers, frozen spiders {simply place plastic spiders in an ice cube tray and fill with water to freeze}, or raspberries {use them frozen if you want them to attain a dripping red look as they melt}.

Who else is as excited for Halloween as we are?

Nick and Aleah Valley, of Valley & Co., began planning and designing utterly fantastic celebrations in 2003. They also pen Valley & Co. Lifestyle, an entertaining blog, where they share their pro party planner tips, effortless entertaining ideas, recipes, and tips on how they balance family life with running a business. Their entertaining and party tips are frequently sought after for publications like Better Homes and Gardens, Sunset Magazine, BRIDES Magazine, Occasions Magazine, and many more. You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram

Milk & Cookies Birthday Party

Hi there! I’m Kelsey Nixon. I host a cooking show on Cooking Channel called Kelsey’s Essentials and I recently wrote my first cookbook, Kitchen ConfidenceMost importantly, I’m a mom to 2 year old Ollie! I recently threw a birthday bash for him celebrating with two of his favorite things – milk & cookies! He’s also a big fan of Elmo and Cookie Monster, so this was an attempt to do something that he really loved, but that didn’t have an overly pronounced character theme. After throwing a big party for his 1st birthday where I made all of the food (and ran myself ragged during the process), I decided to just focus on a fun cake this year and not worry about feeding all of our guests an entire meal. By scheduling the casual party later in the afternoon at the park, this worked really well. No one showed up super hungry, yet they were all happy to have a little something fun to eat.

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party

Once I decided to focus on the cake, I knew immediately that I wanted to do a chocolate chip cookie layer cake. I’d never made a “cookie cake” before, but felt like it seemed simple enough to tackle. I altered my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe slightly to make it more of a bar cookie – meaning that it was a bit thicker and more soft on the inside with crispy edges.

I used a springform pan to make the layers the exact same shape, but you could do the same thing with a standard cake pan as well. For the layers of frosting I used a cream cheese based recipe that wasn’t too sweet. I was worried that the weight of the cookies would be too much for the frosting, but it ended up working out just fine and the tart flavor of the cream cheese layers was a great compliment to the sweet cookies. I assembled the cake the day before since I had to work the morning of the party and ended up storing the cake loosely covered in the refrigerator. I didn’t want the frosting to become too soft causing the layers to shift, but I also didn’t want the refrigerator to dry out the cookie. It ended up working out perfectly, and if I were to make the cake again, I’d follow the same method of completing it the day before and storing it in the refrigerator until party time. I sliced the cake with a serrated knife to make sure that I could easily get through the layers.

The cake looked as good as it tasted and ended up being a great conversation piece for the adults throughout the party – I think everyone went home with a verbal tutorial! You can find the full recipe and detailed directions here.

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 1

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 2

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 3

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 4

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 5

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 6
When it came to the decorating details, I used many of the same decorations that we had used at his 1st birthday party. We kept the same color scheme and reused a darling garland (similar here) that felt fun and festive with blues and greens. I’m a big fan of Shop Sweet Lulu and think that they do a great job of curating party decorations. I was able to find some additional details like this number 2 balloon  these mini milk jugs  and these paper goods that helped bring our simple theme to life and made the get together feel celebratory. I used Cookie Crisp cereal to fill the mini milk jugs for favors and also used the crispy cereal pieces to decorate the straws that everyone enjoyed with their milk. I also had some fresh fruit as an option to balance out all the sweets. We used this small picnic table to set up a few details and it was awesome. One of my favorite family purchases for summer!

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 7

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Cookie Birthday Cake

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Stacked Cookie Birthday Cake

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Cookie Cake

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Cookie Cake - 1

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Cookie Cake - 2

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party: Cookie Cake - 3

We held the party at a playground in Central Park that had a small grassy area where we could all congregate. It was perfect for toddlers because the playground kept them contained, yet the adults were still able to mingle a bit on the grass without having to chase their toddlers everywhere. This parachute was fun for both the parents and kids to play with on and off throughout the afternoon.

Overall, I put in a little bit of effort and felt like we all had a great experience – most importantly Ollie had a blast! Since I wasn’t so concerned about preparing an entire menu, I was able to focus on Ollie and our guests more. It was a much more enjoyable experience this year! Just like any mom out there, I love the idea of throwing birthday parties for my kids that look like they fell from the pages of Pinterest, but I also know that it’s important to be realistic and not overwhelm yourself. This little party felt like a good balance where I focused on a few details (cake, small favors, cookie straws) and let everything else just fall into place.

Milk and Cookies Birthday Party - 2nd Birthday

Happy Birthday Ollie! 2 years old has never looked so good!

Kelsey Nixon (www.kelseynixon.com) is the host of Kelsey’s Essentials on Cooking Channel and author of Kitchen Confidence. Kelsey’s Essentials is also currently airing Mon-Thurs at 3pm on Food Network. Kelsey, her husband Robby, and son Oliver (“Ollie”) live in New York City. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.