Christmas Present Wrapping Party

Post written by Michelle of Avery & Augustine

Christmas Present Wrapping PartyChristmas Present Wrapping Party 2Christmas Present Wrapping Party 3Christmas Present Wrapping Party 4Christmas Present Wrapping Party 5Christmas Present Wrapping Party 6Christmas Present Wrapping Party 7Christmas Present Wrapping Party 8Christmas Present Wrapping Party 9Christmas Present Wrapping Party 10Christmas Present Wrapping Party 11Christmas Present Wrapping Party 12I thought it would be fun to turn this year’s wrapping of Christmas gifts into a Christmas present wrapping party, inspired by one I had seen in an old issue of Real Simple years ago.  These merry garlands and plush friends helped create a festive and jovial atmosphere!  I set up a simple plate of wintry snacks because I knew we would work up an appetite in the midst of all the paper and ribbon frenzy—slivers of gjetost, freeze-dried cranberries, shortbread trees, chocolate creme-filled cookies and Happy Hippos.

Every year, I try to come up with a different theme for our gift wrapping, be it a particular set of colors or patterns.  This year, we went with a color palette of reds and grays.  We used washi tape to embellish our packages, creating simple Christmas motifs and letting Avery and Nate have a go at it with their own designs.  Avery and I knit some chains to tie around a couple of the presents.  Avery wrote gift recipients’ names on card stock using these dual-tip markers and I cut out an outline of each name, creating a unique shape for each.  I liked how using the brush tip of the markers added some nice depth to the letters.  When Avery looks at all of our wrapped parcels, she’ll know that she had a part in the creative process and that her work was valued.

I love how when we look back at photos of this event, it’ll remind us of the things we did together as a family throughout 2014—Nate experimenting with washi tape and different art media, the fun Avery had starting to knit (and how proud she was when got the hang of it!) and her important milestone of learning how to write letters, words and names.  Wondering if this wrapping party will become an annual tradition!

Thanks to The Land of Nod for providing us with inspiration for our wrapping party!

You can see Michelle’s work and read about her two young children and their first forays in cooking, art and everything in between at Avery and Augustine.

Kids Thanksgiving Day Craft Table

Written by Barbara Rucci of Art Bar Blog

In our family, Thanksgivings are massive. I married into a wild and wonderful Italian family where it’s not unusual for fifty (or more) relatives to gather in one place. My kids love getting together with their cousins. Their football games are legendary, as is the amount of apple pie they can eat!

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Art BarEvery year, I set up a Thanksgiving day craft table for anyone who wants to get creative. My idea is always to let the materials invite the kids in, and to have the craft be something that is completely do-able without any adult help (or very little). Oh, and no mess!

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - CraftsBeaded Leaf Necklaces Supplies:

  • Pony Beads
  • Wooden beads
  • Yarn
  • Markers (green & pink)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Brushes
  • Glass of water + damp sponge or paper towel
  • Leaf template (download HERE)
  • Hold punch (1/8”)
  • Scotch tape

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf NecklacesDirections for making the necklaces:

  1. Print out the leaf template on watercolor paper. Cut out the circles and punch a hole at the top.
  2. Cut your strings into 28” pieces. Fold the string in half and push the loop through the hole. Bring the ends through the loop and pull tight.
  3. I taped the ends of the string like shoelaces to make them easier to string the beads.

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 1The rest of the necklace making is all up to the kids! Some painted, some used markers. Some beaded first, some didn’t bead at all. Some made just one necklace while another made three! That is the beauty of craft like this one. It is open-ended enough to appeal to all ages. It is simple without any frustration.Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 2 Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 3Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 4

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 5Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 5The Land of Nod markers were a big hit. They have this painterly tip that the kids loved. Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 7So vibrant and colorful. And fun for every age…even the teens!

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 11Hopefully, at the end of the day, the kids will leave with a little bit of gratefulness in their hearts for the beauty of nature.

Thanksgiving Day Craft Table - Beaded Leaf Necklaces 12Barbara Rucci is passionate about two things: Kids + Art. As a graphic designer and mom to three whippersnappers, she gets to explore her passions every day. Art Bar Blog is a place where she cultivates her love of beautiful things and creative people, and shares simple tips and ideas to bring art and beauty into our everyday lives.

Family Game Night

Post by Suzanne of Not-So-SAHM

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop

This summer was a whirlwind of travel and adventure. It never seemed like we had time to sit down as a family and catch up. Strangely, now that the school year has started our calendar has calmed down and we have found ourselves home with nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon. It has been heavenly.

This past Saturday was unbearably hot and the kids had tired of playing outside so with a little help from our friends at Land of Nod and their Don’t let the Blocks Drop game, we had an awesome family game night.

My kids are obsessed with building blocks so I knew instantly they would be tremendously excited about this game. They were equally excited about making moves that kept the tower standing as they were when the tower came tumbling down. The game is so simple but so fun and was easily enjoyed by my 3 and 6 year old. Fun, fun!

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 2Planning the first move.

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 3“I did it!”

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 4

Yummy snacks.Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 5

Eeek, it’s getting really tall!

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 6

Falling, down, down, down…

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 7All down, what to do now?

Family Game Night - Don't Let the Blocks Drop 8

Time to build something new!

Rebecca and Suzanne are bloggers, graphic designers, and event stylists living in Washington, DC.  Rebecca is a mom to two young kiddos and, in her spare time (ha!), likes to pretend she’s a back-up dancer, craft cocktails, and run long distances. Suzanne is a big fan of good design, good wine, and her two rambunctious little boys. They share DIY lifestyle and event styling projects at A Feteful Life. Rebecca also blogs kid-friendly projects at Not-So-SAHM

Back to School Family Dinner

Post by Kelsey Nixon of Kelsey’s Essentials

Back to School Dinner IdeasIf you’re like most parents, you’ve recently sent your kids back to school for another school year. This can be such an exciting time for some kids (and parents!) or a dreaded time for others. Whether you’ve got kids who are thrilled to be back in school or kids that are requiring a pep talk each morning, one way to celebrate the big change is with a back to school family dinner. It’s a great way to celebrate your kiddos as they embark upon another year and discuss things like goals. Below you’ll find my best tips for pulling together a fun dinner that is sure to be memorable and may even turn into a tradition for your growing family.

Back to School Dinner Ideas 2Menu

When it comes to the menu, let your kids be in charge! By making their favorite recipes you can really make your kids feel like a big part of this event. If you get requests like boxed macaroni and cheese or grilled cheese sandwiches, consider making a grown up version of these kid favorites. Dishes like my Grilled Cheese with Bacon, Apple and CheddarSpaghetti and Meatballs, and my Skillet Bacon Mac and Cheese are great options.

Back to School Dinner Ideas - 3 Back to School Dinner Ideas - 4 Back to School Dinner Ideas - 5 Back to School Dinner Ideas - 6 Back to School Dinner Ideas - 7Fun

Decorate the table with a school theme to get your kids in the back to school spirit. A crown is always a fun accessory that will make any young kid feel special. Traditional items like a school bus, desk supplies (1,2), books, and a globe are a great way to pull off this fun yet simple look. Or maybe you turn over the decorating responsibilities to your kids completely!

Plan a few simple activities for your dinner that will help generate conversation amongst you and your kids. Depending on the age of your children you can take a simple Alphabet book and play a game where they identify one thing that they’re looking forward to this school year based on the letter that they flip to. For example, if your 2nd grader flips to “R” they might enthusiastically exclaim “Recess!” While your 7th grader might flip to “S” and sheepishly mention that school dances should be a lot of fun. This can be a great way to discuss all of the positive things to look forward to.

Back to School Dinner Ideas - 8 Back to School Dinner Ideas - 9Tradition

To get the whole family involved, consider picking a theme for the year. Something that the entire family can focus on as a whole. Think of it as a yearly mission statement. Creatively displaying this theme with something like this darling banner is a great way to remind your kids of the theme day in and day out. You could also make an effort to set some personal goals with each of your children as well.

A back to school dinner is also a great time to fill out a memory book recording your kid’s stats as they enter their respective grades. Whether it’s as simple as their age and height or a bit more detailed like their favorite foods and subjects in school, your kids will get a kick out of the documentation.

Back to School Dinner Ideas - 10Cooking Craft

For dessert, try this simple cooking craft that will get everyone in the spirit to hit the books and head back to school. Make these flashcard graham cracker cookie sandwiches by simple spreading chocolate buttercream frosting in between two graham cracker cookies. Decorate the tops of the cookies by using white frosting to pipe on traditional numbers and letters that you’d find on flash cards. These cookies are best if you make them a day in advance and let them sit in an airtight container overnight. They get soft and chewy and are so delicious! It’s a great alternative to a traditional cookie or cupcake and easy enough that your kids can help make them. My own mom made these cookie sandwiches for me and my siblings growing up!

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.