homemade tooth fairy boxes

tooth fairy box

post contains affiliate links


tooth fairy box


originally published as ‘tooth fairy, we’re ready!’ on October 13, 2009

If you check around the internet, dozens of sites exist with perfect, beautiful tooth fairy pillows. If we had more time, I would have ordered one of them for my loose-tooth Maddy. I’m all about out-sourcing when I can.

With her first teeny-tiny baby tooth hanging on by a thread, last week we hit the craft store and bought a little box for Maddy to paint and prepare as a perfect landing spot for her tooth.

Without a sewing machine or the proper sewing skills, this mama needed a tooth fairy pillow back-up plan.

  • Tooth Fairy Box: Yes, ours is a box. But it’s star-shaped, and now it’s all glittered up, and it’s totally. . . beautiful. Maddy worked her little heart out on it.

tooth fairy box blank

It started out as an inexpensive little wooden box.
tooth fairy box blank
And with a little paint, it slowly became gooooorgeous.
tooth fairy box blank

After a few days of a high fever and feeling completely lousy, finally today Maddy said she wanted to finish decorating her Tooth Fairy Box. We flipped our -at and -an family flip books aside, and we did some old-school free crafting, all in the name of our favorite little fairy and my baby being on the mend.

tooth fairy box

We haven’t met the Tooth Fairy yet, but we know she loves sparkles.
tooth fairy box owen
Owen’s Tooth Fairy Box

Knowing that once Maddy starts losing her pearly whites, Owen won’t be too far behind, while Maddy decorated her box, I made one for Owen, who really wasn’t up for creating one on his own. Painting Tooth Fairy Boxes or playing golf, baseball, and tire swinging out back with Dad? Guess what Owen did. . .

tooth fairy boxWe’ve got Owen feeling lousy today, but once everyone’s back on their feet, we’ll hit the library for some of these Tooth Fairy book titles:

Some of my favorite Tooth Fairy Pillow spots:

  • One Crafty Place: Although this blog is no longer being updated, Chrissy did an awesome job of assembling some very cool crafts. Check out her Tooth Fairy Pillows from around the web.

summer fun cards of 2013

summer fun cards 2013

summer fun cards 2013 Every year for the last few years, we’ve rocked out our Summer Fun Cards in the first few weeks of the summer.

We choose an afternoon, we gather markers and index cards, and we brainstorm and write down everything fun we want to do during the long summer months.  It’s all about summer and fun and we throw our ideas onto little index cards.

Summer. Fun. Cards.

Our refreshments of choice usually involve freeze-pops or ice-cream, and our attire is usually swimsuits or tank tops.

We talk about summers past, we talk about what we loved and what we wished; we talk about what we want to do and what we absolutely don’t want to do.

It’s fun.

This year, in order to ensure that we don’t miss a beat, we changed things up just slightly.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Summer Fun Cards, 2013: In years past, we’ve created the cards, punched a hole in the corner, and hung them on our railing right smack dab in the middle of our house. Like this:

summer fun cards

Or like this:

summer fun cards

This year, we’ve mixed things up a bit thanks to inspiration from my smart friend Heather and her boys.  We added something and moved locations.

We added a small box on each card, reserved for a checkmark once the fun event is completed.

summer fun cards

Maddy’s thinking Great Wolf Lodge. . .

summer fun cards

. . . and Cora’s got Disney World on her mind.  Way to dream big, ladies!

summer fun cards

visit Dutch Wonderland, eat crabs, eat ice-cream, and pick strawberries

And we moved the cards to our door leading into the garage—a door we open and close any time we leave the house.  That way, there’s no missing our cards and no escape from our summertime fun.

This year we also tried to add a box to each card, but some missed the box.

summer fun cards

Owen’s pretty straightforward and illustrates sparingly. . .

summer fun cards

. . . but he does have high hopes for our birds.

Up on the door they went.

Ready to check off as we go!

What did we add this year?

  • pick strawberries
  • pick blueberries
  • go to Cold Stone
  • go to Jimmy Cone (we love sweets)
  • go mini golfing
  • camp out back
  • teach the birds to talk
  • go to Disney World
  • go to Great Wolf Lodge
  • go to Dutch Wonderland
  • go to a baseball game

summer fun cards 2013

 summer fun cards 2013

We also added:

  • swim in at least two different pools
  • eat crabs
  • catch lightening bugs
  • eat s’mores
  • go to the pool
  • go to Nanny & Pap’s
  • go fishing
  • Wii party
  • have a yes day
  • try kayaking or boating
  • have a magic show

And that’s it! Just a little variation from Summer Fun Cards 2012, Summer Fun Cards 2011, and Summer Fun Cards 2010.  

Summer Fun Cards have become a tradition–a simple one!–that we all really enjoy and appreciate. And it’s never too late! All you need are a few ideas, a few cards, and a few weeks of summer. Let the fun begin!

For me, it’s not a contest to fill our summer with nonstop activities. Summer Fun Cards help me to move through the days more intentionally–that’s all. And I know that we only have so many summers with our kids under our roofs as kids, that I really want to make the most of it while I can.

Is it easy? No. Do I want to punk out and do nothing some days? Absolutely. And we do. Believe me.

These are just ideas–and it’s fun to dream, right?

kid-friendly july 4th treat: flag cake

july 4th flag cake

july 4th flag cakeOne of our favorite summertime traditions involves sweets (big surprise).

Every year for as long as I can remember, the kids and I have made a July 4th flag cake.  It’s simple. It’s sweet. And it’s so pretty, it’s hard to take.

It’s a 100% kid-friendly July 4th treat: the traditional flag cake.

All you need is a boxed cake mix, cool whip, strawberries, and blueberries, and you’re ready to rock and roll.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Traditional July 4th Flag Cake:  Though there’s nothing magical or wild about this cake, kids love it.

And like any family tradition, they look forward to doing it each year. They love buying the supplies, baking the cake, and assembling the flag.

They love bringing it to parties or picnics, and they love eating it.

It’s super-easy, which I love.  Perfect for parents who are trying to get it all done and make it look like they’re doing it in style.

Here’s how you do it:

july 4 flag cake

july 4 flag cake

1.  Clean the berries & bake the cake.  Be sure to get the kids involved. Have them read the recipe and follow directions, or allow them to add ingredients, crack eggs, or scrape the pan.

july 4 flag cake


2.  Ice it with Cool-Whip.  Because really? Cool Whip rocks.

We just like the way the whipped topping makes it taste more like a shortcake and less like a heavy, fruit-topped birthday cake.

july 4 flag cake

july 4 flag cake

3.  Cut the strawberries in half.

july 4 flag cake


july 4 flag cake

4.  Make your flag!  We usually do four lines of six blueberries in the upper left hand corner for the ‘stars’ and five rows of strawberries for the ‘stripes’.

Helpful Hint: use a toothpick to poke tiny holes where the fruit should go so that they stay in a straight line.

july 4 flag cake


july 4 flag cake

That’s it. Super-easy. Super-fun.

A sweet way of ringing in Independence Day, if you ask me.

july 4 flag cake


How do you ring in the 4th? What are your family’s Independence Day traditions?

april fool’s family fun: 3 no-fail ways to get kids laughing

april fools family fun: get your kids laughing

april fools family fun I’ve always found April Fools’ time a great excuse to sneak in a few extra laughs, some silliness, some second-glances, and some smiles.  I’ll even take eye-rolls if it comes with a crooked smile.

This year is no different.

I really just focused on food this year, and with the help of some new
Melissa and Doug Sushi Slicing Play Set – Wooden Play Food
and Sweet Treats, with some creativity and super-silliness, I’m pretty sure I’ve found 3 no-fail ways to get my kids laughing.

3 no-fail ways to get any kid laughing.

I’d even say we’ve got 3 no-fail ways to get the prankster laughing, and as long as someone’s laughing, it’s all good.

From breakfast through bedtime, April Fools’ Day can be a laugh every time you turn around.

(Just watch your back–it’s April Fools’ after all.)

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • April Fools’ Family Fun–3 No-Fail Ways to Get Kids Laughing: It doesn’t matter if the kids are totally fooled or not–that’s what we must remember.

It’s about keeping life light, not being serious all the time, and having some fun. Even if kids do double-takes, give these tricks a second glance, or chuckle even a little–it’s a win.

For me, as far as April Fools’ is concerned, it’s about trying.

Here are our 3, no-fail ways to get our kids laughing–

1.Real Food or Not? Let your kids figure it out!  Maddy, Owen, and Cora may not have been totally tricked with I substituted real food for some of their favorite Melissa & Doug toys, but the expression on their faces was priceless when I tried to pull this on ’em.

april fools family fun sushi

Lunchtime sushi sound indulgent? Not if you grab a pack or two at the grocery store while you’re picking up some last-minute things.  It’s actually pretty affordable–and healthy. And my kids totally dig it.

And when you substitute some play slicing sushi along side?  It’s almost pretty enough to eat.

april fools family fun sushi

What did Owen pick up next? That sashimi?

april fools family fun sushi

Cora’s sushi was ready to go. . .

april fools family fun sushi

. . . and boy was she hungry!

We went a little sweet-happy for a family gathering this week, but before we packed up our little familia in the ole van, Mom played a few little tricks on everyone.

I just added a few real ‘sweets’ to the Melissa & Doug Sweet Treats Tower. . .

april fools family fun sweets

 So pretty.  And looks so tasty!

april fools family fun sweets


I set the Sweet Treats Tower on the table and the kids descended upon it in no time flat.

And when word got out that there were real sweets on the tower? It was all over.


april fools family fun sweets

Awwwwh, Owen thought the strawberry was real!   Got him!


No, but really! Please help me get this tray of sweets ready for Grandma’s house?

I asked Maddy to wrap it before we left, and she gave me a good Moooooom!

A smile!  I’ll take it!

april fools family fun sweets


2. Fake Chicken Wings and celery!  These wings and celery look so real, there’s no doubt your kids will be tricked!

With the help of one of my favorite family magazines, I found this idea totally silly and really do-able.  Lucky for us, we had all ingredients on hand.  And especially because my husband’s been home for Spring Break, this will make a fabulous April Fools’ Day lunch!

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 1: prepare Rice Krispie Treats, just the normal recipe.  I have made them for so many years, I know it’s 3 Tablespoons of butter, the whole bag of marshmallows, and then Rice Krispies to taste.

I usually do about a 1/2 a cup less Rice Krispies than the recipe calls for so that they’re extra soft and chewy.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 2: Form softball sized clumps of Rice Krispie Treat.  And then comes the real fun–forming the treats into chicken wings.

I made three drumsticks and three wings, squeezing the Krispies tightly because I wanted them to be heavy enough to really feel like wings.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 3: Create the ‘wing sauce’.   I used 1/2 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup of apricot preserves.  I microwaved it for about 45 seconds so that the brown sugar dissolved.

Then I covered the wings in sauce.  This sauce was so sticky, it wasn’t even funny.  Well, it was kind of funny.

april fools family fun  chicken wings

april fools family fun  chicken wings

Step 4: Make the celery and bleu cheese.  I used Laffy Taffy, which was also so totally sticky, but it was easy to mold. my third one was a little rough looking, because my fingers were sticky, but I think it looks fine.

Bleu cheese? Vanilla yogurt.

I covered this with foil and plan to ‘sauce’ the ‘wings’ just before lunch on April Fools’ Day. Watch out, family!


3.  Googly Eyes: I can’t get enough of these. They make me laugh so hard.

april fools family fun  googly eyes

I put my husband to work, adding sets of googy eyes everywhere, just like we’ve done before.

And just like the kids totally love. (Not really.)

But this year, since I was in the Rice Krispie Treat-making mode, I whipped up some real looking eyes that will stare out from the kids’ cereal bowls at breakfast.

I was going to make real googly eyes that the kids could eat!  Eat!

april fools family fun googly eyes

I formed tight little Rice Krispie balls that will function as our eyes, and then I melted white chocolate.

I dipped each ball into chocolate, because eyes are white, right?

april fools family fun  eyes

april fools family fun  eyes

april fools family fun  eyes

And then I added a dark chocolate chip to complete the eye. I really smashed it down so it would dry in the melted white and stay put.

I put them on a plate to cool.

Then into cereal bowls they went–ready for breakfast in the morning.

april fools family fun  eyes

So funny!

When Maddy, Owen, and Cora wake up, I’ll add a little cereal on top, bring the bowl to the table, and see what they do!  Hee-hee! I can hardly wait!

april fools family fun drinks

Jell-O juice for April Fools’? A family favorite!

An oldie but goodie–Jell-O in juice cups.  We have a cranberry mix juice on hand, in our fridge, so I prepared red Jell-O. I just made a layer on the bottom of their cups, and when we pour juice for them in the morning–BAM! It’ll be stuck!

And really? That’s it for this year. I can’t take much more, really, or the fun will do me in.

What’s your favorite April Fools’ Trick? Do tell! I’d LOVE to hear it–and I am already gathering ideas for next year!



More April Fools’ Day ideas: 


Follow our board on Pinterest for more April Fools’ day ideas: 


Follow amy mascott @teachmama’s board april fools’ & simple, silly tricks on Pinterest.


fyi: affilliate links used in this post


melissa & doug BA badge 2013

fyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   Thank you, Melissa & Doug, for creating toys that keep kids and families smiling–April Fools’ Day or any day!

new year’s interview: fun family tradition

new years day 2013 - 27

new years interviewIt’s New Year’s Interview time! (I can hardly believe it!)

This year, we made some minor adjustments to our traditional New Year’s Family Interview because as the kids get older, I’m more interested in their thoughts and reflections than on their favorite color or best friend.

So after our late-afternoon fondue dinner, we busted out with the biggie ice-cream sundae fixings.

We made monster sundaes, got all crazy on sugar, and then got to work on our interviews–a fun and easy family tradition that we’ve all come to appreciate and cherish.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • New Year’s Interview–Fun Family Tradition: It’s really just that–a fun family tradition and nothing more.

No pressure, no stress, just a few questions to kick off the year and to summarize where we all are as far as favorites, dreams, ideas, and activities are concerned.

new years family interview icecream

Before New Year’s Interviews? Ice-cream!!

We make sure all (or most!) of our ice-cream dishes are away, and then we get rockin’ and rollin’ on our interviews.

Each page of the interview is only a half-sheet, which I think is perfect; it’s not intimidating, and it means that answers can be short and sweet.

I did make some changes this year.

  • What is your favorite color?
  • What is your favorite food?
  • Who is your best friend?

Have changed to:

  • What is your favorite thing to wear?
  • What is one cool thing you learned last year?
  • Who do you like to hang out with the most?

I just thought the new questions lent themselves to more thought than the older ones. But if you want the older ones, download last year’s New Year’s Interview version. No biggie!

new years interview

Owen zips through his. . .

new years interview

. . . and Maddy takes her time on hers.

But it also means that because two people’s answers can fit on a sheet, that the kids should complete theirs first–that way, there’s no ‘influencing’ of answers or ideas from another person’s responses.  So the kids grab a pen and find a quiet spot, and they complete their interview.

When they needed support with reading or writing, my husband and I took turns helping them. Now, I just sat across the table from Cora because she wanted to do it all on her own since this year, the ‘coolest thing she learned’ was how to read. (Yay!!!)

new years family interview

Cora works on her interview–all by herself.

When everyone has completed his or her interview, we take turns reading answers and sharing.

Sometimes, we video everyone reading, and other times–it’s cool just reading them.

new years day interview

And then we share our answers!

And then we clip them all into our rockstar New Year’s Interview binder and read answers from past years.   Sometimes, the kids get a real kick out of seeing up-close how much their handwriting (or spelling) has improved, and we always have a giggle when we see the first year’s–Cora’s scribble across the page and Owen’s teeny name, Maddy’s attempts at writing on her own.

The 2014 version just has a teeny, tiny difference: 2014 written on the header. Here’s the new year’s family interview 2014 for you to download: family interview 2014

Here’s the 2015 New Year’s Family Interview: family interview 2015 | teachmama.com

new year's interview: fun family tradition

Please, if you choose to share, link to this post instead of the attachment page–thank you!

It’s a great–easy!–tradition that can be started any time.  Missed New Year’s? Do your family interviews every President’s Day or Mother’s Day and start your New Year’s then.

It doesn’t matter.

What matters is that the kids are thinking, the kids are writing, the kids are reflecting, and the family’s doing something fun together.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, peaceful 2015 filled with love, laughter, and time together!

Need some more fun New Year’s ideas?

Check out:

Please feel free to pin this post for later!

new years interview | teachmama.com

fab ideas for new year’s, organization and winter family fun

new year's ideas for tradition, organization and family

Happy New Year, my friends!fab ideas for new year's, organization and winter family fun

Let’s do what we can to get 2013 started in a fun, organized, and fresh way by checking out what the experts are doing–and you know those experts are other parents and teachers out there, right?

I’ve been all about Pinterest lately, and I invite you to join me.

Though it may be intimidating at first, it’s easy and fun once you get the hang of it. And you’ll find a boatload of cool ideas over there.

Pinterest is essentially a virtual pinboard–you can ‘pin’ your favorite ideas and photos with the click of a button. It’s super for storing ideas, finding ideas, and sharing ideas.

A quick shout out to some of my fave Pinterest pals landed all of these cool ideas for ringing in New Year’s, organizing home and family, and celebrating winter with activities and crafts for kids.

Check out the boards, follow them, and let’s make 2013 a year to remember!

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Fab Ideas for New Year’s, Organization, & Winter Family Fun:

new year's ideas for tradition, organization and family

Here are some great boards for New Year’s Ideas:


pinterest organizing home

Let’s start the New Year organized! Check out these amazing boards:


pinterest post organized home

Some more amazing organization boards:


Take a look at these fab boards filled with wintertime activities and ideas:


pinterest post winter 2

More winter-pinterest board awesomeness: 

pinterest fun activities for kids

And if the winter pinterest boards aren’t enough, check out these boards for any time of the year, cool kid-fun:

Remember, though it’s important for families to enjoy time together, doing fun activities and cool things together, down time is an absolute must. And I admit that I often fall into the Pinterest trap of getting caught up in all of these crafts, printables, ideas, and games, thinking that 100% of our family time must be spent engaged in absolutely awesome, incredible, and memorable activities.  But it doesn’t.

I do have to remind myself that especially with school-aged kids, down-time–totally unstructured, free-bird, open play time–is a necessity.snowy day

The Joys of Doing Nothing, by Margery D. Rosen, really spoke to me.   It’s true: Leading a frenetic life is not inevitable or enviable. And parenting is not a competitive sport.

But most importantly, to me, was the part about being a role model:

You are your child’s best teacher. If she sees that you value unstructured time, she will, too. “The world is a rich learning environment, without all the frills,” says Hirsh-Pasek. Carve out time to turn off your cell phone, stop checking your e-mail, and just hang out, without lamenting that you “should” be doing something instead of “wasting time.”

I love it.  Let’s go.


Please leave the url below for your favorite boards–ringing in the New Year, organizing house and family, or wintertime activities. I’d love to find more awesome boards to follow!

I plan to do a round-up of the best boards for unstructured, free play, down-time, and free play spaces in January. Please leave the url of those boards, and I’ll add them to the post!


fyi: This blog post is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom. Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats.

christmas eve tradition: family pajamas

christmas eve family pjs


post contains affiliate links




christmas eve family pjsOne of my favorite nights of the year is Christmas Eve, and one of my favorite Christmas Eve family traditions involves something really simple: pajamas.

I love any sort of family tradition, but for some reason, I always feel like holiday traditions are the best.

We spend the afternoon with one side of the family, opening gifts, sharing time together, enjoying a great Christmas Eve Day lunch.  It’s a whirlwind of kids and wrapping paper, gifts and sweets.

Then we zip over to church to watch our kiddos perform in the Gospel Drama at Christmas Eve afternoon mass.

It’s a super exciting–but busy day.

Finally, we head home for some time together, and Christmas Eve fun continues–just for us.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Christmas Eve Tradition–Family Pajamas: By Christmas Eve, everything is settled. Everything is ready.

(Or at least that’s our goal. Quite often Santa’s helpers are up really, really, really late doing last-minute Christmasy things, but a girl can dream, right?)

christmas eve family pjs

This favorite family tradition involves giving a little gift to each other before the big day arrives–before Santa takes a trip down our dirty chimney to bring gifts to our littles.

It’s simple, but it’s become a well-anticipated tradition: Family Pajamas.

We are not the family who orders specially-made monogrammed pj’s for our family each year.

We just don’t.

christmas eve family pjs

Cora has the Hope pattern. . .pants and boots

We are not the family who insists on those crazy-cool color-coordinated or matching pajamas for our family.

I just can’t.

But we are a family who enjoys opening–and wearing–a special, new pair of pj’s on Christmas Eve.  They’re usually not that Christmasy, but they’re usually picked especially for each person.  Usually they’re pajamas that mirror something of interest to each person.

This year, it’s sports for Owen, cool rainbow tie-dye for Maddy, and hearts and peace signs for Cora.

So after baths are taken and after teeth are brushed, each of us opens a special gift–and we all know exactly what it will be: pajamas.

christmas eve family pjs

Maddy loves the Rainbow pants and boots.

We cozy up in them before we read The Night Before Christmas and before we put out cookies for the big guy in red, before we put out reindeer food or pour that special glass of milk.

We sit in front of the tree, lights on, and house warm.   And we try to settle anxious bellies and clear the space in front of the hearth.

And then we head to bed.  Most of us, anyway.

christmas eve family pjs

Owen’s Zach pattern is perfect for him.

As grateful as we are for the time we spend with both families, I think we’ve all come to really enjoy the time on Christmas Eve with our little immediate family–nothing special, nothing crazy–just time together.

This year, more than ever I believe, we’ll hug our littles a bit more tightly, we’ll enjoy the chaos of the morning and the days to follow a little bit more genuinely, and we’ll embrace our late, late night a bit more willingly.

christmas eve family pjs


http://www.melissaanddoug.com/Merriest Christmas to everyone and wishes for a happy, healthy, peaceful New Year for everyone.

fyi: I wrote this post as part of the Melissa & Doug Blog Ambassador program.   I’m thankful for Melissa & Doug for always creating great, smart products for children of all ages, and I’m excited that they have so widely expanded their product line in the last year. Many thanks, guys

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com


kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com


teachmama gift guide 2012



holiday gift guide | teachmama.com


fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

how to make a candy wreath

make a candy wreath b - 62


post contains affiliate links




how to make a candy wreath

One of my favorite challenges is finding a craft that doubles both as a fun family activity and a gift–especially during this crazy busy but totally festive time of year.

And the Candy Wreath is a serious winner in both categories.

It’s a project–several steps and takes a bit o’ quality family time and manpower.

It’s a gift–it’s beautiful when finished. And kids’ smiles upon completion are totally worth a million bucks.

For the most part, it’s inexpensive. Aside from the candy, the materials are pretty affordable–which makes it a big-time winner in my book.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Make a Fun and Fabulous Candy Wreath: The Candy Wreath is simple: it’s wrapped candy tied to a wire hanger. That’s it.

To make it, you simply need:

But it looks like a whole lot more:

how to make a candy wreath cut ribbon

Lots of cutting. . .


how to make a candy wreath tie candy

. . . and tying. . .

how to make a candy wreath candy

 . . . and candy-eating goes into making these wreaths!

 Want the real skinny?

Check out How to Make a Fun & Fabulous Candy Wreath vlog for the steps, the how-to, and a little more:


This is the very first year our family rocked out the Candy Wreath, though growing up, we made them quite often.  My grandma taught my mom, and my mom taught my three sisters and me, and many a winter night was spent watching tv, chatting, and cutting or tying, tying or cutting.


how to make a candy wreath wreath

Final wreath? So pretty. And such a fun gift to give.

I think I cried hard my first year at college when the infamous wreath arrived at my dorm–a care package that spoke more to me than to the tons of friends who came by to grab candy before or after class would ever know. I knew the hours that went into making it. I knew the fingers that tied those ribbons.  And I wondered how it was at home–that year I wasn’t there to make them with everybody else.

I remember feeling my heart ache for the changes that this year signified.  But I remember feeling really loved.

candy wreath | teachmama.com

So here’s to hoping that the Candy Wreaths are a from-here-on-out tradition for our family–and here’s to hoping that I don’t weep too heavily when I send that Candy Wreath off to my baby eight years from now–when my first heads off to college.

Happiest holidays to you!

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com


kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com


teachmama gift guide 2012



holiday gift guide | teachmama.com


fyi: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Forever and always I recommend only products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”  For more information, please see teachmama media, llc. disclosure policy

how to celebrate a golden birthday

golden birthday party

golden birthday partyGolden Birthday: that rare and exciting birthday when the date of your birth matches your age.

Yes! It’s true! So special? It’s golden.

You were born on February 10 and this year you turn 10?! Waaa-hooo! Golden Birthday!

This year you will celebrate your big 1-6 on the 16h of January?! Yippppeeee! Golden, Baby!

12 on August 12? Golden! 31 on October 31? Yes!!! Golden! November 16 finds you turning 16?

I say ‘golden’ You say ‘birthday’.

Me: Golden!

You: Birthday!

Me: Golden!

You: Birthday!

golden birthday

So how does one celebrate his or her Golden Birthday?

Easy. Lots o’ gold and lots o’ glitter.

We celebrated our family’s first el cumpleaños de oro this past weekend, and it was. . . golden.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • How to Celebrate a Golden Birthday: We got lucky with this one, because Maddy wanted to kick off her birthday in the wilds of inflatables. So because it was her very special Golden Birthday, we did just that.

We’re not ones to outsource this way–when possible, we celebrate on the home front. Or the pool front.

But for this one, it was fine. It was special.  So huge inflatable birthday place it was.

At home, however, we did a few things to make her Golden Birthday special, and these are things that anyone, anywhere can do, with a few simple decorations. (And we didn’t even have balloons on hand!)

golden birthday party details

What Golden Birthday girl doesn’t want to brush her teeth with a blinged out toothbrush?

  • We blinged out her toothbrush, hairbrush, and the bathroom–in gold. Just the star garland and gold curling ribbon. But it looked so pretty–so simple–but so glittery and golden.
  • We decorated her bedroom. We hung a simple Happy Birthday banner in her bedroom with tons of gold curling ribbon hanging from it.

golden birthday party details

Yes, everything yellow was gold for the day. It was glorious.

golden birthday party decorations

Golden Birthday place setting: sure, would have been maaah-velous if the utensils were real gold, but Ikea kid-cutlery in yellow will do.

  • We set a special, special Golden Birthday place setting just for her.  We blinged out the Special Plate like nobody’s business. Stars, ribbon, garland all golden and all gorgeous.  Yellow (golden!) fork, knife, and spoon decorated with star garland and ribbon.  Yellow (golden!) wine glass blinged out with star garland and ribbon.

golden birthday decorations

golden birthday party decorations

  • We created a golden centerpiece.  Using a trifle bowl and dollar-store gold ornaments, and of course, gold curling ribbon.  So inexpensive–because we had most of the items, and two packs of gold balls and a few golden trees at $1 each? Who could resist?

golden birthday party

From Cake Mix Cooking for Kids, Maddy found Lemon Sandwich Cookies (yum!). . .

golden birthday party

. . . and she baked Snickerdoodle cookies, two batches of cupcakes, and iced ’em all!

golden birthday party

A gum ball on top makes them look fab–but they tasted great, too!

golden birthday goodies

Maddy’s sweets–incredible!–and beautiful with a golden garland around them! Small cupcake stand–one of our faves.

  • So we ate sweets made by Maddy.Though the party was not at home, we did do a few things to make the pizza- and sweets- eating part of the party a little more personal.  And a whole lot is due to Maddy’s latest baking craze.And really, along the way she was learning a ton. In order to complete this massive sweets order, she had to do a lot of planning; she created a ‘work’ schedule for the week, and she really stood by it.

She read recipes, made some mistakes, and had to try again.  We tried a new icing technique–for us–by putting the icing in an icing bag without the special top and putting it in a swirl pattern.  They looked fabulous.

In the end, looking at her finished work and listening to her buddies gush over the dessert, she was one proud birthday girl.

golden birthday goodies

Maddy lined up the Scratch Art Fashion girls, bracelets, and keychains–

golden birthday goodies

. . . while I prepared bags.  And then she stuffed away!

  • The goodie bags were simple–and full of a few fun and affordable activities for tweens and her Golden Birthday buddies. I wasn’t sure how much time we’d have after the jump-o-rama, and I was worried the girls would be bored in the party room of the huge inflatable party place.

So I leaned on my friends from Melissa & Doug to help me find a cool, perfect-for-a-golden birthday party bunch o’favors.  No, no wooden toys this time.  They’ve really expanded their craft line lately, and the Scratch Art Party Packs were perfect!

Want a copy of the Golden Birthday Goodie Bag template? Download maddy’s birthday thank you new (word) or maddy’s birthday thank you new (as a pdf). I created the template using PicMonkey.

golden birthday goodies

We thought these goodie bags were perfect for tweens–and a golden birthday!

We picked up some cool zebra-print goodie bags from Michael’s Craft Store, I created a quick bunch of fun labels (click here to check ’em out!), and we filled the bags.  We used about two sets of the Scratch Art Girl Fashion Party Set, two packs of the Scratch Art Bracelets Party Set, and the Scratch Art Keychains (or the Scratch Art Stickers or Magnetic Frames would work, too!)

The girls were busy, busy, busy for the last ten minutes of the party–thanks to the goodie bags!  And from what it seemed, they loved them!

Just like Martha Brockenbrough shares in her article, Are Kids’ Birthday Parties Out of Control? our party favors were double-duty: they doubled as a party activity.   So it was a win-win for every party-goer.  And really, I think that we did an amazing job of keeping things manageable–financially and otherwise–with Maddy’s Golden Birthday celebration, thanks to some creative thinking and careful spending.

Though Golden Birthdays are new for our family, I’m a big fan of anything that can add a little extra zing! to our lives without adding a whole lot of added stress or expense.   Golden Birthdays are special–and I think they’re a fun tradition to add to the mix!  No matter where you celebrate a Golden Birthday, you can do a few things at home to make it–golden.

It’s amazing what kinds of awesome golden you can find at discount stores this time of the year, so perhaps stocking up on all things golden now–so you have them on  hand for your own kiddo’s big Golden Birthday–might be wise!?

Does your family celebrate Golden Birthdays?  Please let me know what you guys do–I’d love to learn!


fyi: This blog post is part of an incentivized online influencer network for Mom’s Homeroom. Mom’s Homeroom is brought to you by Frosted Mini-Wheats.

Affiliate links are used throughout this post. Thanks so much for using ’em–every little bit helps offset the cost of running this bloggy-blog, yo!

take time to give this holiday: #blog4cause

take time for holiday giving

teach your children about giving: #blog4causeWe’re right smack dab in the middle of the holiday season, and it’s hard to slow down at this point.

I totally get that.

Believe me.

But it’s so important that we, as parents, take some time to model for our children the importance of giving this time of the year, when our kids’ brains are so saturated with commercials, ads, sales circulars, and toys. For themselves, of course.

So I encourage you to take a few moments today, while the kids are watching a show or are snuggled up during naptime–or even when all chaos is breaking out around you because most often, that’s the reality of this job–to re-read our original #blog4cause post.

Because we all need reminders.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Take Time to Give This Holiday– #blog4cause: Though we’ve started the campaign over six weeks ago, we plan to continue it through the holiday season–after Christmas and up until New Year’s.

Please visit the original #blog4cause post to take a look at causes, ideas, and inspiration for how to teach your family about giving this season.

take time for holiday giving

today is a great time for emptying give jars

Along with Allie McDonald of No Time for Flashcards and Amanda Morgan of Not Just Cute, our goal is simple: to empower parents to very simply get their family giving this holiday season. In any way that works for your family.

So far, collectively we have:take time for holiday giving

  • raised over $800;
  • volunteered over 60 hours of our time;
  • donated dozens of food and toy items to charity.

Which is all incredible–but I know we can do more.

So today, how about considering. . .

  • having your kids give a little extra money to the rice bowl at church?
  • encouraging a ‘clean-out’ of your toy boxes–and giving them to a thrift store so another family can buy them this season?
  • baking a few extra batches of cookies to give to your local fire station, hospital, or children’s school?
  • emptying your kids’ give jars and sending the money to a charity of your choice?
  • reading what others have done to give to others–check out the linkey below our main post?
  • working together–as a family–to figure out ways that your family can give to others. . . today.

Many thanks, friends.

Happy, happy, happy holidays to everyone!

Remember when you are finished doing whatever works for your family–and we’re all in different places, so anything and everything counts!–please do visit our linkey and share what you’ve done.  Including a link–if you’re a blogger–or a comment sharing what you’ve done will help inspire others. 

And sharing your giving happiness on our collective #blog4cause tally sheet will help us keep track of the giving awesomeness!

sweet homemade santa cookie tray

santa cookie tray

santa cookie tray We’ve been all about getting crafty with wooden trays around here lately, so while Maddy, Owen, and Cora worked on their Thank You Trays, I skipped ahead to the next biggie holiday: Christmas.

Of course, I had sweets on my mind, so thinking about the big man in red and his love of all things cookie, I created a sweet, homemade Santa Cookie Tray.

Very simple, very fun.

And a very perfect spot for Santa’s cookies come Christmas Eve.

With a little paint, tissue paper, and Mod Podge, this holiday craft was done before Santa could even think about giving me a wink of his eye or a twist of his head.

Here’s the skinny. . .

  • Sweet Santa Cookie Tray: It’s ‘sweet’ because it is cute, easy, and seriously sweet.  And it was made with supplies we had on hand: a wooden tray, craft paint, tissue paper, and Mod Podge.  That’s it.

We recycled a wooden tray from a Melissa & Doug Sandwich Set, but you could really use any plain wooden tray you’d like.

sweet homemade santa tray step 1--paint

1.  We painted the wooden tray.  I used a Plaid acrylic craft paint, the Apple Barrel collection in Antique White, to cover the tray–and I was surprised at how easily the bright red and white checks–and Sandwich Making decor–were covered. I only used one coat.

Though the tray dried rather quickly, I let it sit for a few days.


sweet homemade santa cookie tray -- letters

sweet homemade santa tray leaves

2.  I found letters for ‘Santa”.  I found black letters in our ‘ABC Box’ which is chock full o’ letters of the alphabet–stickers, cards, cut-outs.  These letters were big enough to make it very clear exactly whose tray this was–which is why I thought they were perfecto at about 2 1/2″ x 2 1/2″.


sweet homemade santa cookie tray--for

3.  I painted ‘for. . . ‘ onto the tray, right above ‘Santa’.

I used the Plaid gold metallic acrylic paint from the Folkflirt collection and let it dry.

I tried to use my fanciest letters.  Which aren’t all that fancy.


sweet homemade santa cookie tray--sides

I love the Mod Podge roller–

sweet homemade santa cookie tray --sides


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --sides


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --sides

4.  I covered the sides of the tray with tissue paper and sparkle.  I basically used the same tissue paper that I planned to use for the holly leaves, with an added white sparkle and silver sparkle.

Using the Sparkle Mod Podge, I covered one side at a time, simply adding tissue paper here and there, in a totally imperfect way, wherever I wanted some color. The edges went over on the top and sides and bottom, but that was totally fine.

I covered each side and then added a final coat of Sparkle Mod Podge when finished.



sweet homemade santa cookie tray--face


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --letters


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --letters


5.  I Mod Podged the face of the tray and secured the letters to the tray I used the Mat Antique Mod Podge because I wanted a flat look, knowing that I was going to bling out the holly leaves and berries and the sides of the tray.

The wide Mod Podge brush totally rocks; with one base coat, I placed the letters from ‘Santa’ on the bottom of the tray.  I pressed them down tightly with my fingers and then added a top coat of the same Mod Podge.


santa cookie tray--holly leaves and berries

holly berry stencil

6. I created the pattern for the holly leaves and cut the leaves and berries out of tissue paper. 

I drew two holly leaves and one berry on cardboard and cut it out.  You can download the holly leaf and berry pattern if you’d like and use it for any holiday crafty craft you want.


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --leaves


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --leaves


sweet homemade santa cookie tray--full cover
7.  I Mod Podged the holly leaves to the tray in 3-4 layers.  I used different shades and colors and layered them.

I wanted something a little antiquey–and a little modern–so I simply layered 3-4 sheets of tissue paper for each leaf.  I wanted bright, but I didn’t want the look of construction paper on wood tray. I used a dark green, light green, white, and light blue for the leaves and hot pink, light pink, and red for the berries.

Between each layer of tissue paper, I Mod Podged only over the leaf area; I did not cover the whole tray until I was finished securing the leaves.


sweet homemade santa tray berries

holly berries

8. Next up? Berries! I did the same thing as with the holly leaves, except I used a cardstock bright red as a base.

I wanted them to really hold up next to the leaves.  Then I layered the pinks and reds.  As a final top coat, I used the Mod Podge Sparkle for the berries.

SO totally fun.


santa cookie tray bottom

9.  I finished the bottom of the tray.  With two pieces of bright blue card stock (the only thing I had on hand), I used the Sparkle Mod Podge to secure the paper to the bottom of the tray. Because the paper is so thick, I used a heavy coat to secure it, and then I used a heavy coat to seal it.  I went through and really made sure the edges were sealed.

It is amazing how nicely the paper pulled together the back of the tray.


sweet homemade santa cookie tray --sparkle


santa cookie tray sparkle

10. Finally, I added a bit of sparkle to the top edges and ‘Santa’. 

I didn’t cover the whole thing; rather, I used the Sparkle Mod Podge to create a little pop to ‘Santa’ and on the leaves, following the veins of each leaf and on each berry.


santa cookie tray--finished

 santa cookie tray finished

sweet homemade santa tray final

Mission Complete! And that’s it! Our Sweet, Homemade Santa Cookie Tray is ready for the big guy in red and will hopefully protect his cookies from big, bad Bradyboy!

And it will make a super-cute holiday decoration until Christmas Eve–that I am sure of!

Though I am not a Mod Podge expert by any means, I think I may have a serious crush on the stuff. We’ve used it before, not only on our Thank You Trays but also on our bottle cap ornaments and on the adorable photo tiles we made for family last year; however, I’m only now figuring out the possibilities that the sticky stuff holds.

I have a super cute idea for something special for the kids for the holidays, which I look forward to sharing.

Until then, connect with the good folks at Plaid (makers of Mod Podge) on Facebook, twitter, or pinterest,  and please do check out the other cool holiday ideas that some of the world’s top crafty-craft bloggers have created for this campaign in the linky below.


fyi: This post is part of a paid campaign for Blueprint Social.  All opinions, as always, are my own, influenced only by my three little Santa-fans and tray decorators and myself. 

Want a few more holiday-inspired gift ideas or activities? Check out:

must have gifts for kids and families | teachmama.com

gifts for sunday school teachers or CCD teachers | teachmama.com


kids and family gift guide from teachmama.com


teachmama gift guide 2012



holiday gift guide | teachmama.com