Clothespin Christmas Angel (an elf alternative)

posted in: Notes | 1

My kids are really excited for December.  And since Thanksgiving has come and gone, there’s definitely been an uptick in the Christmas spirit around our household.  Last year, I’d been considering making kindness elves for the Christmas countdown, but never got around to it.  I have never really liked the elf on the shelf idea, so this year I did a little more exploring of alternatives to elf on the shelf, and kindness elves.

Some people made kindness elves, kindness kids, etc — whose purpose was to help the kids learn to pay it forward.  I liked the idea.  But then I stumbled across this idea of a Christmas angel.

 

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I decided to print out a few kindness elf printables for the Christmas angel to share with the boys each day.  After checking out a bunch of different options, I decided to use these cute circle tags by Passionate Penny Pincher.

And since we celebrate Christmas in both the secular and religious sense, the Christmas angel will also be delivering a daily advent prompt to help my boys understand things on a more spiritual level too.  That part was easy, as I found this printable that goes along with the Jesus Storybook Bible #afflink …so I printed out a set of free printable advent cards for December.

When the kids wake up, I’m going to have this cute little clothespin angel sitting out on the kitchen table with some of the printables I mentioned inside this envelope.  I also wrote a brief “introduction” letter to the boys, from the Christmas Angel, of course.  The text was inspired by a Christmas Angel note I found at The Riches of His Love.

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

How to Make the Clothespin Christmas Angel

Now, in case you’re wondering how I made the clothespin angel, here’s the quick cliff notes version.

(Sorry, I didn’t take step by step photos, as I honestly wasn’t sure how it would turn out!)

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I took a square piece of fabric that was about five inches by five inches — and cut a small hole in the center. Then I pushed the clothespin through the opening.

Using the gold pipe cleaner, I made a halo at one end, then bent it around the neck of the clothespin angel to secure the fabric “dress.”

I used another gold pipe cleaner as a combo waistband and set of arms.

Then, I took two more pipe cleaners and bent them into angel wings.  Honestly, they looked more like flower petals than wings at first, but I still think it turned out cute!

I then attached the wings to the clothespin Christmas angel on the back side (at the “waistband”).

Using some permanent markers, I colored the main part of the clothespin gold (it turned out more brown, but oh well), and drew a face on the Christmas Angel too.

I kept it really simple… because, well, simple is better!

…and easier.

So, if you don’t have all the supplies, then by all means, improvise!  Make it work for you 🙂

Considering an alternative to Kindness Elves or Elf on a Shelf? We made a clothespin Christmas Angel! - BPhotoArt.com

I’ll see how many days we continue the Christmas Angel concept… it might be a huge hit, or it could be a bust.  I’m all for being practical.  So, I’ll try to report back and let you know how it turned out.  It may be that this Christmas Angel ends up as nothing more than a cute decoration for our Christmas tree!

What are your ideas for helping kids get in the Christmas spirit?  Do you try to focus on being kind, or…? Do you love/hate elf on the shelf?  Don’t care one way or the other?  That’s cool too.

Regardless, I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

 

Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts

posted in: Notes | 3

 

Thanksgiving kind of snuck up on our family this year.  I’m not sure if it was just because life was busy, or we were preoccupied with school and the daily grind.

Whatever the reason, Thanksgiving is here.  And we haven’t decorated.  We haven’t finished going grocery shopping.  We know we’ll be spending Thanksgiving with family, but the details?  Nope.  Those are still TBD.

Maybe you’re a little more on top of planning ahead for the holidays than I am.  But, then again, maybe you’re not.  Whatever your holiday preparedness, I’m going to share some easy last minute Thanksgiving crafts and activities for the whole family!

And, if you scroll all the way to the bottom, you’ll even find a round-up of 12 or so recipes to help you use up your Thanksgiving leftovers.

There are several printables, some games, many crafts!  Most are oriented towards kids, but there are some that I think would be fun for adults too.

Okay, so without further ado, here are the activities.15+ Easy Last Minute Thanksgiving Activities + Crafts for Whole Family - BPhotoArt.com

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters (printable!)

I love the idea of these conversation starter coasters from Adventure in a Box!  You can print out the coasters from the free printable, and enjoy a number of fun conversations that might not have been otherwise had!

Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable - Adventure in a Box
Thanksgiving Conversation Starter Coasters Printable – Adventure in a Box

Thanksgiving Bingo (printable!)

If your family is into games, maybe you’d like to try this Thanksgiving Bingo Game from One Creative Mommy.  It looks really cute, and even if you don’t have Thanksgiving themed m&ms in the house, I bet kids would love playing with whatever snack or treat items you have on hand.

Best Thanksgiving Bingo - One Creative Mommy
Best Thanksgiving Bingo – One Creative Mommy

 

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving

I love Red Ted Art crafts, and this Egg Carton Turkey craft is no exception!  Plus, it holds candy corn… too cute!  These would make adorable name cards for a Thanksgiving dinner, don’t you think?

Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving - Red Ted Art
Egg Carton Turkey Craft for Thanksgiving – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Gratefulness Game

Planet Smarty created this Gratefulness Game to Promote Wiriting and Math for her kids.  I love the idea of this game.  And, if you want to make a pretty thankfulness collage like is shown in the image below, check out the blog post for info on how to do that too!

Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math - Planet Smarty
Gratefulness Game to Promote Writing and Math – Planet Smarty

Paper Roll Tukery Craft

How about this cute paper roll turkey craft from Non Toy Gifts?  Everyone is bound to have a spare paper roll (or two) lying around the house.  And, in a pinch, you could make a cylinder out of a piece of paper, right?

Paper Roll Turkey Craft - Non Toy Gifts
Paper Roll Turkey Craft – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree

Last year, we created this Thanksgiving Thankfulness Tree, and the boys loved it.  Even though we haven’t talked about it since then, my older son mentioned it out of the blue as we were talking about preparing for Thanksgiving.  I guess it really made an impression!

Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving - BPhotoArt.com
Make a Photo Thankfulness Tree for Thanksgiving – BPhotoArt.com

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids

Here’s another cute idea from One Creative Mommy!  Have the kids make pinecone turkeys!  I can totally see an extension activity for this craft — I think we’ll be making them using autumn leaves as the feathers since my boys love nature scavenger hunts so much.

Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids - One Creative Mommy
Pinecone Turkey Craft for Kids – One Creative Mommy

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards

If your kids want to get in the spirit by making Thanksgiving cards, here’s a gorgeous craft idea from Red Ted Art.  You can make Quilled Thanksgiving Cards!  I think these would be fun for adults to make too…. but hey, maybe that’s just me.

Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids - Red Ted Art
Quilled Thanksgiving Cards for Kids – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Cranberry Slime

Since no holiday is complete without a little mess, or a little science experiment,… why not give this Thanksgiving Science: Taste-Safe Cranberry Slime a try?  My boys would love doing this.  Although, you’d have to have cranberries (or get them on your next run out to the grocery store!).

Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime - Schooling a Monkey
Thanksgiving Science: Taste Safe Cranberry Slime – Schooling a Monkey

Leaf Mandala + Thanksgiving Turkey Coloring Pages (printable! for grownups!)

Yes, I admit, this collection of Thanksgiving activities has been mostly centered on ideas for kids.  But, when the kids, are happy, the adults can be too, right?  Anyways, here are several Thanksgiving Coloring Page Printables from Red Ted Art.  Get the kids set up with an activity, then start coloring one of these yourself!

Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) - Red Ted Art
Leaf Mandala & Thanks Giving Turkey Coloring Pages (for Grown Ups) – Red Ted Art

Thanksgiving Hats

Another cute idea to keep kids busy?  Make Thanksgiving hats!  There are ten different ideas in this post by Non Toy Gifts, and I have to admit, some are pretty creative!  My boys liked the boat hat best.

10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids - Non Toy Gifts
10 Thanksgiving Hats for Kids – Non Toy Gifts

Thanksgiving Matching Game (printable!)

Here’s another cute printable that you can use to pass the time on Thanksgiving day!  Beauty Through Imperfection created a Thanksgiving-themed matching game printable.  If your kids are anything like mine… this should be a hit (no promises, they could be engrossed for hours, or it could last only minutes).

Thanksgiving Matching Game - Beauty Through Imperfection
Thanksgiving Matching Game – Beauty Through Imperfection

Turkey Place Cards

Since no Thanksgiving table is complete without decoration, these turkey place cards might be a cute project!  Although Mommy’s Bundle designed them for the kids’ table, I can see them in use at a low key family table too!

Turkey Place Cards for the Kids - Mommy's Bundle
Turkey Place Cards for the Kids – Mommy’s Bundle

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft

If you’re looking for a somewhat healthy Thanksgiving snack, this edible craft turkey for kids from One Creative Mommy should be a hit…. it was for a class of kindergardeners, at least!

Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids' Craft - One Creative Mommy
Thanksgiving Turkey Snack + Kids’ Craft – One Creative Mommy

Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids

This Turkey Baster Pom Pom Race, by School Time Snippets, is very simple, but I bet it will be popular with the younger kiddos!  Simple, no prep, and easy to clean up. My idea of a perfect game.

FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids - School Time Snippets
FUN Turkey Baster Pom Pom Game for Kids – School Time Snippets

Turkey Bookmark Corner for Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner, from Red Ted Art, is really adorable.  And is the perfect thing for Thanksgiving, don’t you think?

Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner - Red Ted Art
Thanksgiving Turkey Bookmark Corner – Red Ted Art

The Gratitude Game (Pick up Sticks)

I love this Thanksgiving-adapted take on pick up sticks, by Teach Beside Me!  The Gratitude Game inspires thankfulness by having you name something you’re thankful for each time you pick up a stick.  Great idea!

(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me
(Thanksgiving) The Gratitude Game -Teach Beside Me

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving

Even thought I’m posting this days before Thanksgiving, the concept of gratitude is still valuable.  Especially considering, for many of us, the next holiday approaching will be Christmas. And in a world of “I want” and “I need” — it’s nice to be intentional about giving thanks.

Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving - Betsy's Photography (BPhotoArt.com)
Cultivating Gratitude: Ideas for a Month of Thanksgiving – Betsy’s Photography (BPhotoArt.com)

Recipe Ideas for Thanksgiving Leftovers

This last one isn’t really a Thanksgiving Day activity, but since the holiday typically includes an abundance of leftovers, you may appreciate these ideas on how to use up all those Thanksgiving meal items!

12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers
12+ Recipe Ideas For Thanksgiving Leftovers

Okay. Now I’m finished, I promise. Go enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, have fun during your festivities, and make sure to remember the most important thing to be thankful for is the gift of friends of family.

Children’s Christmas Books About Giving, NOT Getting

posted in: Parenting | 0

While Thanksgiving is fast approaching, it’s not the only holiday on the horizon.  Beyond that, is Christmas. And while Thanksgiving is considered a time to give thanks, Christmas — for us — is a time to focus on the joy of giving.  Yes, for kids, it’s about getting.  Making lists for Santa.  Asking for presents.  But for our boys, we try to shift their focus to the underlying theme — the joy of giving (not getting).

So, with that in mind, I’ve created a list for you….

10 Children's Christmas Books about giving, not getting. A book list of picture books for kids.

Christmas Books About Giving, NOT Getting

Here are some Christmas books about giving, not getting.  I’ve included affiliate links to Amazon, in case you’d like to buy them for the little ones in your lives.  I’ll include a short synopsis of each story, in case you find that helpful… and a sentence or two about why this book intrigued me.

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving

Story Synopsis: As the title states, Brother and Sister learn about the joy of giving!  At first, the bear cubs are like any other kids anticipating Christmas — they are excited about the getting aspect.  But as they go through the festivities, and have bought their presents (saving as much of their money for themselves as they can) — they end up having a change of heart.  After they hear the Christmas Even pageant story, Brother and Sister end up giving their “saved” money to the poor.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My kids love everything Berenstain Bears, so this one was a no brainer for me.  Brother and Sister are relatable characters for young kids, and my boys have enjoyed learning about other holidays with books in the series (like the Valentine’s Day Blessing activity we did).

The Berenstain Bears and the Joy of Giving. By Jan + Mike Berenstain

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving

Story Synopsis: A retelling of the story of St. Nicholas, set in modern times.  This story portraits Nicholas as a young bog who wants to help the poor.  He spends his life secretly helping poor people, giving gifts on Christmas Eve to remind others of the greatest gift of Christmas.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I loved the illustrations in this book, and how the story is set in modern times — it’s a fun retelling of the classic legend.  The last pages of the book share traditions in other countries about Father Christmas.

The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving By Dandi Daley Mackall

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving: A Christmas Story

Story Synopsis: A selfish little bunny ends up lost in the woods with just his toys.  while wandering, some birds mistake him for Santa — who they hope can find them a place to live.  Ultimately Howard learns that having things isn’t really that important, compared to being around loved ones.  Howard gives his toys away to the forest birds.

Betsy’s Thoughts: This story sounds great for little ones, because the emotions are ones they can relate to easily.  The bunny’s materialism (my toys” ) ultimately gives way to gratefulness and giving.  And, there’s a song too!

Howard B. Wigglebottom and the Power of Giving: A Christmas Story. By Howard Binkow

The Poky Little Puppy’s First Christmas

Story Synopsis: While the family goes out to get the Christmas tree, the poky little puppy wanders off and makes friends with a skunk.  On Christmas morning, he learns that his friend is homeless — and the poky little puppy gives up his first Christmas present to make sure his friend has a home.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My boys love this book. It helps reinforce the idea of looking out for others, and caring about the wellbeing of others more than about the stuff you have.

The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas (Little Golden Book)

The Smallest Gift of Christmas

Story Synopsis: Roland selfishly thinks that bigger is better.  So when he gets a very small Christmas present he wishes for something bigger, bigger, and bigger.  In the end, Roland learns that it isn’t really the size of a present that matters — a skyscraper-sized gift can’t compare to the greatest gift of all — family.

Betsy’s Thoughts: Kids tend to think that bigger is better (a penny has to be worth more because it’s bigger than a dime, right? Kid logic.).  I like how this book goes to extremes of searching for a suitably bigger present, with the ultimate discovery that finding that present isn’t as valuable as spending time with family.

The Smallest Gift of Christmas. By Peter H. Reynolds

Saint Nicholas: A Story of Joyful Giving

Story Synopsis: After Junior wonders what Santa has to do with the meaning of Christmas (i.e. the birth of Jesus), Bob the Tomato tells the story of St. Nicholas to the veggies.

Betsy’s Thoughts: My kids love VeggieTales, so this Christmas story about giving seemed like a sure winner.  And, I like that it has a music CD. Because, if you’re going to do VeggieTales, it has be be set to music, right?

Saint Nicholas (VeggieTales): A Story of Joyful Giving. By VeggieTales

The Wish Tree

Story Synopsis: A boy journeys through a winter forest, looking for a wish tree.  He meets animals along the way, and helps them.  Ultimately, he finds his wishing tree and ties his wish to the branch.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I like the illustrations in this book, and also that it’s not specifically a Christmas story.  The boy, even though he wants to have his own wish come true, takes time away from his journey to help others along the way.  I love stories that reinforce the importance of giving!

The Wish Tree. By Kyo Maclear

Gifts of the Heart

Story Synopsis: While on the way to see their grandkids for Christmas, Grandma and Grandpa lose all their presents in a big storm.  The grandparents, along with their grandchildren, search all over Mother Goose Land to find them.  Ultimately, they discover the best gifts of all — gifts of the heart.

Betsy’s Thoughts: I really liked the title of this story.  Because what I want my kids to focus on during Christmas is on giving.  And there is nothing better than giving out of love and generosity.

Gifts of the Heart. By Karen Boes Oman

The Mouse in the Manger

Story Synopsis: Oscar the mouse runs away from home to look for a bed with more hay.  He finds himself in the stable where Mary and Joseph have stopped.  He tries to make friends with the animals, but only succeeds in getting them to give him some hay for his bed.  When he finally has enough hay for the perfect bed, Oscar is lonely.  Mary befriends him, and helps him see the true meaning of friendship.  And in the end, Oscar gives up his hay so that the newborn baby Jesus can have a bed.  He returns home that night, with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what it means to be a friend, and to give up that which matters most to you.

Betsy’s Thoughts: This is my all time favorite Christmas story.  I remember it from when I was little, and love the mouse’s viewpoint …and how he decides to selflessly give away that one thing which he wanted most.

The Mouse in the Manger. by Rev. Gennaro L. Gentile

Mr. Getaway and the Christmas Elves

Story Synopsis: Mr. Getaway takes his class on a field trip to see Santa’s workshop.  The kids learn that work is good, and get to see the elves happily working on toys they will be giving away.

Betsy’s Thoughts: Since my kindergartner is excited about anything “field trip” related, I figured this book would be a hit. I like that it focuses on how the elves selflessly work on gifts to send to children via Santa.

Mr. Getaway and the Christmas Elves. By Sally Huss.

Title

Story Synopsis: A

Betsy’s Thoughts: I l


Winter + Holiday Children's Story Books - a book list series hosted by the Jenny EvolutionThis post is part of the Winter and Holiday book series being hosted by The Jenny Evolution!

Please check out the other book lists being shared…

There are book lists about Christmas Eve, the Nutcracker, the Nativity, Christmas tree books, books about reindeer, books about snow, Christmas coloring books, Christmas classics, books that celebrate 0winter holidays around the world, animals in the snow, Christmas songs, Christmas miracles, rhyming Christmas books, and more.

Simple Holiday Ornament Card (with Photo Window)

posted in: Local | 8

Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

My boys were a little antsy for Christmas this weekend, so we skipped the usual “wait until one holiday is done to begin celebrating the next one” — a mandatory rule at our house.  After all, it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet!  But they wanted to make holiday cards, since I’d been talking with their Grandma about the family photos that we’ll be putting on their annual greeting card.

So, off I went to oblige my boys.  Sometimes it can be a struggle to find a craft or activity that both of them can do, since Toby is five and Zack is still two.  But after a bit of creative thinking on my part, we were able to come up with an easy Christmas card craft idea that can be adapted for any age!

So, here’s my take on the kid-made Christmas card idea.

(Don’t worry, I’ll share a free printable at the end with you, so you can easily make this simple holiday ornament card too).

Now, depending on your child’s age, you’ll be able to do less work — my five year old was able to cut out the circle windows for his own card.  But my two year old’s attempts with scissors did no more than make strips of paper (which you’ll notice we glued onto a solid sheet of colored paper to create striped ornaments. Too cute!

Supplies to have on hand

You’ll probably want to get supplies out ahead of time.  So, here are the things we used.  I included affiliate links to some items on Amazon, in case you want to get your own.

  • Zots Glue Dots or a gluestick
  • Paper Edger Scissors (the ones that make a fancy/crazy cut rather than a straight line)
  • Normal Scissors
  • Crayons, markers, or coloring pencils
  • paper in assorted colors
  • printable PDF, printed on standard paper

You might have noticed I didn’t bother to use cardstock for this project.  That’s because the two layers of paper make the card sturdy enough.  And, if you decide to include a piece of artwork inside the card, then the recipient can take it out and hang it on their fridge!

Making the Holiday Ornament Cards

I set the kids loose with all the craft supplies on the table, so we ended up with a few outtake cards too.

No big deal.  Those are adorable too.

But since you want to know how to make the ones I’ve shown you… I’ll focus on those.

First, we cut out the gray ornament shapes on my printable, shown below.  There are download links for a PDF and a JPG file right below the image.

Simple Holiday Ornament Card Free Printable... Cut out ornaments to showcase artwork or photos of your kids!

Holiday Ornament Card Printable (PDF format)  |  Holiday Ornament Cart Printable (JPG format)

After we had the picture window openings created, my boys decorated a second sheet of paper.  This ultimately sits behind the printable, and you’ll see some pops of color (or some cute pictures) in the ornament openings.

I did help the kids position the photos to make sure they were in the openings, but if you didn’t trim the photos close to size, as we did, there would be a lot more wiggle room.

If you’re having trouble visualizing this whole concept, don’t worry!

I took some photos to show you exactly what the two pieces of paper look like before (and after) they are sandwiched together.

Holiday Card Components (Before)

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn't really need to worry about placement so much!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. For this artwork page, created by my two year old, we didn’t really need to worry about placement so much!

 

The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!
The holiday ornament card, just before being assembled. Note how we positioned the photos so they will show through the ornament openings!

 

Holiday Card (after, unfolded)

And once you put them together the holiday ornaments look very festive, regardless of whether you choose to showcase a crayon artwork or show off photos of your kids!

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great, even if you choose not to include any photos. I think this is a great simple holiday ornament card!

 

Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!
Once sandwiched together, the two parts of the card look great. I love how the paper strips cut with the edging scissors look on the ornaments!

 

Now all that’s left to do is the folding. Depending on your child’s accuracy, they may ask you to help with this step.

Fine by me!

Simple Holiday Ornament Cards

Okay, now that you’ve seen the process, here are the finished cards!

The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.
The finished holiday ornament cards, after being assembled and folded.

 

If you want to see the fronts, insides, and backs of each card, feel free to click on an image below to enlarge.

Holiday Card Outtakes

Now, I have to admit, Zack (the two year old) helped me make both of these cards. Toby (the five year old), while perfectly capable, decided to do his own thing and create a very lovely holiday card of his own (he insisted I draw him something to color too).

Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!
Toby decided to draw this lovely holiday greeting card with the sun shining down on the pine trees and the water. Not exactly a printable holiday ornament card, but still adorable!

 

Here are a few other outtakes of cards that my boys created… along the same thought process, but without the holiday ornament card printable.

 

 

I meant to share some pictures of the kids creating these holiday ornament cards, but things were a little crazy so I set the camera aside to help make sure everyone was using scissors safely (ahem…. toddler alert!).

Hopefully you’ve enjoyed this cute and simple holiday card craft enough that you’ll forgive my being so early with the activity!  Now, go have some fun, download the printable, and cut out those ornaments to showcase your favorite kid-made artwork or photos of your kids!

 

 


kid-made-christmas-card-series-badge-largebphotoart-holiday-ornament-card-photo-window-sqYou’ll enjoy checking out the other Christmas cards created in this series! Thirty bloggers will be sharing their kid-made Christmas cards with you, so make sure to check out the entire Kid-Made Christmas Card Series (hosted by Mum in the Mad House).

Make sure to peek at this really cute Christmas tree card by Sew Kidding!

 

 

Make a Jack-O-Lantern Stamp from an Apple {Plus Two Halloween Crafts}

posted in: Parenting | 0

Make a Jack-O-Lantern Stamp from an Apple ...plus Two Halloween Crafts!

It’s always fun to get ready for Halloween. Whether you’re pumpkin-carving, or maybe making a costume to wear when trick-or-treating, Halloween gives us the chance to be creative (like we did with this Jack-O-Lantern stamp craft!).

Did you know that carving pumpkins didn’t become popular until the celebration of Halloween was brought to North America? Originally in Ireland, people carved lanterns out of turnips. Well, in America, of course, pumpkins were very easy to come by (not to mention easier to carve!), so the tradition evolved to include pumpkin carving.

You might want to check out my post, 6 Tips for Helping Kids Carve Pumpkins; or learn how to Create Your Own Pumpkin Stencil from Better Homes and Gardens.

6 Tips for Helping Kids Carve Pumpkins - Betsy's Photography - BPhotoArt.com

Anyways, my boys were pretty excited for fall this year.  Our neighbors had a pumpkin patch, and gave us pumpkins… so we have a very well decorated front porch.  The leaves are coming down in droves, and there have been multiple requests for a leaf pile.  And, of course, reminders that we need to carve pumpkins.  Well, I wasn’t quite ready to carve pumpkins (we went overboard last year), but wanted to give the boys a chance to do something fun for Halloween.

So, we made Halloween cards! Well, they did.  And I made a garland.

You probably have most of the supplies on hand for this craft, but here are some links in case (#afflinks)

Supplies:

How to Make a Jack-o-Lantern Stamp From an Apple

While most of this craft is kid-friendly, the first step is going to depend on how old your child is, and how much you trust them to use a knife safely.  So, most likely, you, the adult, will be doing this first step… after that, let the kids loose!

The kids were excited to make jack-o-lantern stamps...
The kids were excited to make jack-o-lantern stamps…

 

Cut the apple in half.  Then carve out a chunk for the smile, and cut out two triangles for the eyes.  If you want to get fancy and cut out teeth too, go for it.  In my book, simpler is easier!

I cut the apple in half, and carved out a face in each side -- one for each of my boys.
I cut the apple in half, and carved out a face in each side — one for each of my boys.
Toby wanted to show off his jack-o-lantern apple stamp.
Toby wanted to show off his jack-o-lantern apple stamp.

Use the Jack-O-Lantern Stamp to Make a Halloween Card

Next, put some paint out for the kids. I took a kitchen plate, covered it in a plastic grocery bag, and then put the pumpkin orange paint on top.  This made for easy clean up, and allowed the kids to smear their apple stamps around to get full coverage.

Then, let them stamp to their heart’s content on the black construction paper with their thoroughly inked stamps.  My kindergardener was able to do this all by himself, while my toddler needed help placing the stamp down so the paint didn’t smear.  I didn’t think of this until after we were done with the project, but you could take a corn holder (for corn on the cob) and stick it in the skin side of the apple, creating a handle.

Oh well… hindsight is 20/20.

After the boys gleefully covered their paper cards with pumpkin stamps, I got out the white crayons.  My toddler was uninterested in crayons, and moved onto another activity, but my kindergardener sounded out and wrote an entire greeting on his Halloween card.  It’s so cute when kids start to learn to write… I love the phonetic spelling stage 🙂 🙂 …it’s so adorable!  But, I admit, it’s sometimes hard to read.  So, I did write a transcription of the message and tape it onto the card before we delivered it.

This craft took about 5 minutes for me to think up and prepare for the boys… and it occupied them for maybe a half hour.  Your mileage may vary, depending on your child’s interest and age.

Once you coat it with paint, the jack-o-lantern stamp looks a lot less like an apple, and more like a pumpkin.
Once you coat it with paint, the jack-o-lantern stamp looks a lot less like an apple, and more like a pumpkin.
Both boys diligently stamped away on their black construction paper to create lovely Halloween cards.
Both boys diligently stamped away on their black construction paper to create lovely Halloween cards.
Toby was definitely old enough to handle this craft on his own.
Toby was definitely old enough to handle this craft on his own.
The paint transferred better when we pushed really hard and went slower rather than faster.
The paint transferred better when we pushed really hard and went slower rather than faster.

 

Toby decided to personalize his Halloween card further by writing "Happy Halloween" ...among other things.
Toby decided to personalize his Halloween card further by writing “Happy Halloween” …among other things.
The apple stamps worked pretty well, I'd say. This crafting session was a success!
The apple stamps worked pretty well, I’d say. This crafting session was a success!

Use the Jack-O-Lantern Stamp Make a Halloween Garland

After the boys were done, I cut up some black construction paper into triangles and stamped them with the jack-o-lantern stamp.

Once the paint was dry, I punched holes in the corners and then had my older boy thread yarn through the holes so we could hang it up.

Voila!  Fun and easy decorations for my front door!

Mom's project while the boys made cards? cutting triangles from the construction paper so I could make a fun jack-o-lantern garland.
Mom’s project while the boys made cards? cutting triangles from the construction paper so I could make a fun jack-o-lantern garland.
I punched holes in the triangles and threaded floss through to string them together.
I punched holes in the triangles and threaded floss through to string them together.
We hung it over the sliding glass door, upon my boys' request.
We hung it over the sliding glass door, upon my boys’ request.
The boys decided it looked very spooky!
The boys decided it looked very spooky!

Use Your Imagination!

I am sure there are a million other ways you could use this cute jack-o-lantern stamp…

Do you have any other ideas for an extension activity based on this project?  Think of something else you could stamp with an apple Jack-o-lantern stamp?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

The Easy Way to Draw a Heart + A Photo Valentine Craft

posted in: Parenting | 0

Last year in preschool, Toby’s teacher taught him (and me) a neat way to draw a heart.  It’s so ingenius that I had to share.  And since this trick about how to make a hear is so short and sweet, I thought I would also share an idea for making a photo Valentine’s Day card too.

But first, this trick for drawing a heart.

If your child is learning their letters, this method will be something they can do — Toby learned how to draw hearts this way at the age of three.

You need two letters to make the heart.  First you draw a big “V” — and then you put a little “m” on top of it. I’ve included a diagram below, that shows the heart with the “V” and the “m” not-quite-put-together, as well as the final heart.

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Pretty simple, huh?

It’s amazing what kids gravitate towards.

So, now onto part two of this post.  The photo Valentine craft.

We usually have some holiday cards left over every year, so I let the kids turn them into photo crafts until we run out.  Last year we made photo valentines with pictures, and my toddler had fun, so I decided to make a photo Valentine’s Day card a little early so I could share the idea with you!

Toby was taking a rare nap when we created this card, so I had an 18 month old’s help putting on glue and decorating.  But hopefully this rendition will inspire you, in the very least!

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As you can see, I cut out some heart shapes, and cut out the photo of our family in a heart shape as well.  With an older child, I would have drawn the heart outlines and handed over a pair of scissors.  Toby would’ve loved that.  But, Zack just enjoyed helping my hands open and close the scissors as I cut.  And he wanted to use the marker too, so I let him have free reign of the inside of the Valentine’s card.  We kept it pretty simple. “Happy Valentine’s Day” on the front of the card, with “love Zack” on the inside.

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Then we digressed to other activities.  Zack found the paper I had gotten out, and a pen.  He had fun drawing on the paper, and wanted more hearts. So I drew him a few.

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After tearing up some paper, grabbing the scissors, and exhausting his young attention span, we were done with our photo Valentine craft activity.  Zack is a little young to do more than help push the cut out objects onto the card, but he did really enjoy the portions of this activity where I let him help.

Do you make homemade Valentine’s Day cards?  Have you ever included photos in your Valentines?  What do you think about the “trick” for drawing a heart? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

How to Make Boxes from Greeting Cards

posted in: Notes | 20

I don’t remember exactly when I learned to make boxes from greeting cards, but I do remember where I was taught and who was there.  It was a family gathering, around Christmastime.

For whatever reason, one of my extended relatives was teaching us how to make these neat boxes.  I think it was because she had given a gift in a greeting card box and everyone was really impressed.

Once you learn how to make these, you’ll agree with me — making boxes from cards is fun and easy!bphotoart-greeting-card-boxes-

Step 1: find an old greeting card, or an extra one you won’t need for its original purpose anymore.

Step 2: Cut the card in half, at the fold line.  If you’ve got skills, like me, you could even gently tear it in half.  Your call.

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Step 3: Find a ruler and line it up along the edge of the card.  Use a pen to draw a fold/cut line on the card.  I just used the width of the ruler, but you could measure in 1″ if you want.  This measurement will determine how tall your box is.

bphotoart-greeting-card-boxes-1489

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Step 4: Next, you’ll want to make four cuts along the lines you just made.  DO NOT cut the whole length — just cut in to where the two lines intersect.  You will be folding all the other lines, as shown below.

bphotoart-greeting-card-boxes-1492

Step 5: Now it’s time to put the box together. Fold the sides of the box in, and then flip up the remaining part of the box side.  Take a peek at the visual below to see what I mean.

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Step 6: Secure the flaps you just folded with tape, or glue them if you prefer.  I’m lazy and use clear tape, as shown below.  You can tape the inside and outside, or just the outside, depending on how sturdy you want the box to be.

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Step 7: Repeat Steps 2-6 for the other half of the card so that you can have a box lid!

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Note that your box top and bottom will be the exact same size, so there may be a little warping/bending of the bottom as you fit them together.  You can solve this if you want, by trimming a slim piece (1/16″ or so) of the width and length of the “bottom” card piece before getting started. Again, it’s all about priorities, and whether you want to spend the extra energy doing this.

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Toby had lots of fun putting the boxes together and taking them apart again.  he also started playing with them as boats, which prompted another greeting card-based activity, which i’ll be blogging about a bit later… bphotoart-greeting-card-boxes-1503

We made many boxes, and Toby had fun stacking them.  Wouldn’t these be cute for delivering little gifts?

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There you have it.  I told you this was pretty easy.  And it’s addicting too.  Here are a few snapshots from that first year we learned how to make the greeting card boxes.  My mom and I got a little carried away with it.  Or maybe not.  Your guess is as good as mine!

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bphotoart-christmas-card-boxes-2547

You don’t have to limit yourself to using a particular season of greeting card.  These ones were made from Christmas cards, but you could make greeting card boxes from wedding cards, baby shower cards, birthday cards,…. well, you get the idea.

Do you have any nifty ways to repurpose old greeting cards?  If so, I’d love to hear about your ideas in the comments below.

10 Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs

posted in: Notes | 10

10 Ways to Decorate Easter EggsOne of my favorite parts about spring is celebrating Easter.  And with Easter, comes the necessity of making Easter eggs.  Over the years, I’ve enjoyed decorating eggs a number of different ways — but the traditionally dyed hard boiled eggs, along with hand-blown eggs, are my favorites.

I’ll get into the details of how we do things in a little bit, but first I wanted to help inspire you for the Easter egg decorating season.  So I’ll be sharing some images of Easter Eggs decorated in ten different ways!

But first, a little teaser about what we’re doing this year with our Easter eggs.  This one is my own concoction — and I’ll be sharing in more detail (with pictures) sometime in the next few weeks.  But, it’s actually not too complicated to adhere a photo to an Easter egg.  And if you combined this with the hand-blown egg process, it could be an adorable Easter gift for grandparents to receive!

Each of these ten different ideas for decorating was actually based on a different stock photo that I came across while looking for some images to use — and once inspiration struck, I couldn’t help myself.

So, rather than recreate each of the photos myself, I decided to share these “found photographs” (which are, of course, used with permission from Pixabay.com).

Now, without further ado, let’s get onto the 10 ways you can decorate Easter eggs!

1. Decorate Easter eggs with seed beads.

I haven’t done this myself, but I loved the look of these Easter eggs that had been decorated with seed beads.  What a unique and creative way to decorate Easter eggs!  Now, this activity might be suited for older kids or adults, but I could see adapting the activity to be suitable for younger kids by using pony beads or sequins.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs decorated with beads.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

2. Use pearls and silver cording to decorate Easter eggs.

This option also caught my eye as an alternate Easter egg method.  I imagine you’d use hot glue or something to easily adhere the pearls and the silver cord (or ribbon).  This activity would be doable for younger kids, although you might want to leave off the cording (or maybe put that on prior to having your kids get started.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs decorated with cording and pearls.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

3. Tried and true – just dye your Easter eggs.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dying Easter eggs solid colors.  When put together, they look fantastic and add cheer to any Easter basket.  I’ve always used either an Easter egg kit or normal food coloring to dye Easter eggs, but I hear there are some fun natural food dyes you can use as well.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Simple dyed Easter eggs.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

4. Crochet Easter egg decorations.

If you or your kids likes to work with yarn, you could always try your hand at making crochet Easter eggs.  This intricate lace egg ornament caught my eye, and I imagine it took quite a lot of time and skill to create.  But, there are simpler patterns for eggs made from yarn too.  Here is a pattern I found on Amazon for Elegant Easter Eggs (#afflink).

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Crocheted Easter egg ornaments.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

5. Make hand-blown Easter egg ornaments

This is one of my favorite ways to do Easter eggs.  You poke two holes in a raw egg (one at each end), and gently blow into one hole…and the raw egg will come out the other hole… giving you a hollow eggshell you can decorate in any way you like.  You could dye the shells, paint them, the sky’s the limit.  If you want, you can also thread a slim ribbon through the holes in the eggshell to make an Easter ornament that can be hung anywhere!

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Hand-blown Easter egg ornaments.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

6. Draw wax patterns on Easter eggs.

You can paint intricate patterns on an Easter egg, of course.  The wax application will keep the dye from taking in certain areas, allowing subsequent dips in dye to add to the different color patterns.  The ones in this photo are on the simpler side, but still reminiscent of pysanky (extremely intricate Hungarian eggs that can take 80 hours to complete).  Last year, we used white crayon to draw on the eggs before dying them — Toby’s pattern at that point was an abstract squiggle. It still turned out to be cute (at least for anyone related to Toby!).

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs with intricate wax designs.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

7. Write words on plain eggs.

I found this photo with words written on eggs — they’re in German, and in case you’re wondering, the words are the names of different colors (green, red, blue, etc).  I thought a neat extension of this would be to write each child’s name on a set of eggs before hiding them for the Easter egg hunt.  You know, to make things more fair.  But you could also write Bible verses or other things of significance too.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs with words on them.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

8. Make smiley face Easter eggs.

I thought this one was really cute!  Especially with the googly eyes, don’t you think?  The facial features could be painted on or drawn with crayon/marker.  I think this take on Easter eggs could be a great activity for kids of any age.  Use glue for the eyes, or maybe frosting if you wanted it to be more food safe.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs that have been dyed then decorated with smiley faces.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

9. Paint intricate designs on Easter eggs.

These eggs are somewhat similar in intricacy to the wax resist eggs, but only require one session in the dye bath.  Then you would use paint to add in all the other traditional detailing and patterns.  Younger kids could make simpler patterns, or even just stripes of paint.

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs decorated with traditional painted designs.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

10. Make ribbon-wrapped Easter eggs.

I love this concept.  It’s easy to do, and looks really classy.  Plus, there’s no need to work with messy dyes or paint.  You just need some lengths of ribbon and maybe some glue or frosting to stick things together.  Don’t these look neat?

Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.
Easter eggs decorated with ribbons.
Image from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

What are your ideas?

If you have more ideas on how to decorate Easter eggs, I’d love to hear them! Please share in the comments section below!


Creative-Activities-for-Kids-Monthly-Blog-Hop-300x300Creative Easter Activities for Kids

This post is part of the Creative Activities for Kids monthly blog hop.

I’m Glad You *GLOW* To School With Me Valentine (+Printable)

posted in: Notes | 3

I'm Glad You *GLOW* To School With Me - Printable Valentine to Give With Glow SticksThis year marks a milestone for us — Toby’s first Valentine’s Day at school.  As we’ve geared up for Valentine’s Day with our Valentine Blessings activity and by making Heart Cracker Crisps, Toby has gotten understandably excited.  One of his big concerns was “will I get Valentines from my friends too?”

Why yes, that’s the plan.  And as we’ve gotten closer to the “big day” (the preschool class Valentine’s Day party), it was finally time to figure out what we were doing about making those Valentines.  Toby wanted to make something for his friends.  He also wanted to give them glow sticks like we played with earlier this month.

Between those two desires and a few neat “non candy” Valentine ideas I saw on Pinterest, we came up with this Valentine.  Each kid will receive one or two glow sticks ready for use, along with a printout of this hand-drawn Valentine (toddler approved).

Toby was all smiles when I pointed it out: “see, glow and grow sound similar, isn’t that silly!”  Hopefully his classmates get the play on words… but if not, oh well!

Since I already went through the effort of making these for Toby to share with his class, I thought to myself, “why not share the love?”  All you’ll need to do after printing these out is attach your glow sticks.

If you need a source for getting some good quality glow sticks, here’s a pack of 100 glow stick bracelets #afflink on Amazon that we reviewed and were pleased with.

While you could do any number of creative things to pair the glow sticks with their Valentine, here are some ideas we had:

  • punch a hole in the valentine and thread it through the glow stick, curved into bracelet form (this would activate the glow stick though, so unless you’re making these last minute…)
  • punch two holes in the valentine and thread the straight glow stick through
  • punch a hole in the valentine and tie it onto the glow stick with a ribbon
  • use tape to stick the glow stick to the back side of the valentine

For any of these that aren’t put into bracelet form, I’d probably attach the bracelet connector piece to one end, as we did for our valentines.

So, after printing out our valentines (on pink paper, of course), I cut the paper lengthwise, and left the remaining cuts for Toby to do.  He got some good scissor skills practice in!

Next, we punched two holes in each valentine — one at the top (through the “O” in “GLOW”) and the other at the bottom, near the two stick figures.  {Yes, I customized Toby’s valentines with his name… per teacher instruction we excluded any “to: so and so” fields.}  Here’s a picture of our half-finished valentines.

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Toby couldn’t get enough of a grip on the hole punch to punch the holes on his own, so he got help on that step:

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And then we put the glow sticks through the two holes — make sure to bend/curve the paper and keep the glow stick straight, otherwise it will “crack” and activate the glowing goodness.

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Cute, huh!  My husband thought it was clever.  Bonus points!

Anyways, if you’ve like to download a free printable to use these for your child’s Valentine’s Day exchange, I’ve put together a generic printable for you.  Here’s what it looks like (see below) — well, the printable is an 8-up version.  Just underneath the image are links to download the 8-up valentine printable.

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Download valentine printable sheet: PDF / JPG

As I said, the printout you’ll be downloading is set up to print out eight per sheet of 8.5″x11″ paper.  Depending on your printer’s margins, you may need to scale it down a bit.

These were actually really fun to make, and I’m glad we came up with a fun (non-candy) valentine that my toddler was excited to give his classmates.

What kind of valentines do your kids give?  I’d love to get more ideas or hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Heart Cracker Crisps

posted in: Notes | 1

Heart Cracker Crisps ...the easiest cracker recipe ever!l have to admit, when I made these crackers I was a bit sad I couldn’t try them (we’re doing the Whole30 this month).  But, my toddler loved the crackers, so they have to be good!

This recipe is so simple you will want to stock up on crackers.  It can be adapted for gluten free too.

So, what did we do?

Well, last month we hosted a number of parties, and we ended up with way too many burger buns.  I went ahead and made croutons with a dozen buns, but still had two dozen left.  What to do…

In my search for recipes to use up bread, I found several suggestions to make crackers.  And so I took that concept and winged it.

First we quartered the buns with a bread knife.  Then, we used a rolling pin to squish and flatten the quartered buns (psst.. lots of fun for toddlers!).  The flattened pieces were then put onto a few baking sheets and drizzled with olive oil.  After a generous sprinkling of salt, I placed the baking sheets in the oven to crisp up.

At this point, you could just eat them as is… but since we’d been reading about Valentine’s Day I decided to indulge my son’s enthusiam and make the crisps into hearts.

Doing so was pretty easy, since we used burger buns – once quartered they are lmost heart shaped.  With a paring knife, I trimmed off the corners of the bun’s outer edge, and then between those two corners I cut out a triangle.

Voila! A heart!

Toby was thrilled.  And he wanted to eat them right then and there.  Based on his enjoyment, I’d surmise that the cracker crisps are deliciously crunchy…

So here’s the recipe.  And make sure to check out the photos further down to see what we did (click any image to open in gallery view mode).

Heart Cracker Crisps Recipe

Ingredients:

  • burger buns, bread, etc
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 200 F
  • Quarter the buns, then press flat or flatten with rolling pin.
  • Place pieces on baking sheets, then drizzle with olive oil (you could spread butter over top instead). Sprinkle with sea salt (or try cinnamon sugar!).
  • Bake until crisp and golden, about 10-20 minutes,checking frequently.
  • Let cool.
  • To make heart shape crackers, cut off corners of rounded edge of cracker, then cut out a triangle between those two corners.

Note: You could adapt this to include cinnamon sugar on top for a sweet treat!  To make gluten free crisps, just use gluten free buns.

So yeah! Three ingredient cracker crisps!  Perfect for any time of the year, or maybe a less sweet alternative to all the Valentine’s Day candy… your choice.

Have you made anything like these before?  Or maybe you have a great recipe for using up leftover bread… share in the comments below!

 

More Creative Valentine’s Day Activities for Kids:

Creative Valentine's Day Activities for Kids

Valentine’s Day Blessing Activity

posted in: Learning | 4
Valentine Blessings - a book-based activity
Photo from Pixabay.com. Used with permission.

I grew up loving the Berenstain Bears books, and it is so fun to see my son enjoy the adventures of the Bear family too.  What’s neat is that Mike Berenstain (Stan and Jan’s son) continued his parents’ legacy by continuing the series!  This book-based activity is inspired by one such book… The Berenstain Bears’ Valentine Blessings #afflink.

It’s a cute story about a valentine Brother Bear gets from his secret admirer, which distracts him from the upcoming hockey game.  The story line is simple, but there are some good lessons within.  Papa Bear tries to help Brother feel better about things by telling how Mama and he started dating… and ultimately Brother’s hockey game goes well, the secret admirer is revealed… you get the idea.

I love that the book comes with some built-in activity suggestions.  There are some talking points for parents to help kids get thinking about ways they can be a blessing to others.  Maybe by making a special valentine and sending it to someone, or by helping out in the community.

Valentine Blessing Activities

I love the phrase, “blessed to be a blessing.”  Part of the goodness of life is being able to pay it forward.  To care about others and empathize with them.  To bring joy into the lives of those who need it.

So, to kick things off, Toby and I talked about what things we do (or could do) to be a blessing to others.  Here are some things we came up with:

  1. Make and send cards to people
  2. Send artwork to people, or give it to patients at the local hospital.  (I love this idea, because the minimalist in me can’t allow all my son’s masterpieces to be saved for the memory box.  What a great alternative destination compared to the recycle bin!).
  3. Make meals for others (we make meals for new moms and the sick through our church… Toby likes to help with the prep and delivery).
  4. Give away things we don’t need or use anymore
  5. Leave a cup of pennies by the mechanical horse at the grocery store (it’s a penny per ride)
  6. Take cookies or other treats to school and leave them in the mailboxes
  7. Bake bread and drop it off on our neighbors’ doorstep
  8. Put out a snack for the mailman and the trash guys.
  9. Pick flowers and give them to people
  10. Call people just to say hello

I’m sure there are many more ways to help others, but these were just a few of the things we thought of.  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Sending “Blessings” in the Mail

Now, before we get onto my craft activity idea, I have to confess.  I didn’t get my usual slew of photos taken to document our activity.  I’m going to blame it on the RSV virus that Zack has been dealing with… the past few days have been spent holding a sick baby boy so that he could feel a little less miserable.  I guess that’s a blessing though — we were able to find a position in which he could be comfortable.

So, I’ll share our activity, and then add photos to this post at a later time.  Now, back to business.

Around our home, we have a lot of stuff that ends up getting recycled.  And while that’s better than being tossed in the trash, I’d much rather repurpose things that can be reused in some way or another.  I’m all for form over function.  So, for this recycled Valentine craft, I gave my toddler a bunch of paper and had him cut it up, with scissors, to his heart’s content.  Once the “shredding” was finished, we started decorating.  I had Toby glue and tape the paper strips all over the front of a piece of red paper (since the majority of the paper Toby cut up was white).  After that, we had to let things dry.

Once the glue was dry, we folded the paper in half, so that the white was on the outside.  Then I cut out a heart window in the paper, so it would make a window on the front of the card.  If your child is old enough to cut out the heart, go for it (my son’s scissor skills aren’t quite refined enough yet).

You’ll now have a nice window to the inside of the card, providing a nice color contrast.  Feel free to glue the heart you cut out onto the inside of the card somewhere.

I invited Toby to decorate the card himself, so he could write or draw whatever message he desired. If you want, you can write something cutesy inside.

Toby proceeded to decorate some additional pieces of paper… he wanted to mail more cards to people, to make them happy. Made my heart melt!

Valentine’s Day Read and Play – Along with me, more than 20 bloggers are participating in a Valentine themed read and play!  Make sure to check out the other fun book-based Valentine’s activities…. enjoy!

 

Making Memories – 20 Takes on Favorite Family Christmas Traditions

posted in: Notes | 4

Making Memories: 20 Takes on Favorite Family Christmas TraditionsMerry Christmas!  Today I wanted to share with you some thoughts on Christmas traditions — from 20 women, including myself.  …wait, what are you doing online? Get unplugged and make some memories with your family!

If you must read on…. 🙂

I’ve listed some of my favorite Christmas traditions below, and further on you’ll find 19 other takes on favorite family Christmas traditions

  • Visit Santa – while we usually work in one visit to Santa during Christmastime, this year we had two.  Our “usual” venue was at the country club — see the snapshots of my two boys with their first visits with Santa. Such cutie pies!  But the highlight, for my train-loving toddler, was our train ride to see Santa (we also made hot cocoa and cocoa salt dough train ornaments that same week).
  • The Christmas Pickle – an ornament we hang on the tree, it’s shaped like a pickle. Whoever finds it is said to have good fortune for the year ahead.  In my childhood, it usually accompanied a game of “I Spy” on the tree, with the room lit by the lights on the tree or by the fire.
  • Orange in the Christmas stocking – we grew up with this tradition.  I wasn’t sure of the origins, but according to the St. Nicholas Center’s Christmas Customs page, it’s representative of gold dowry.  Oranges also used to be a scarce treat (read more about why we put oranges in stockings at Christmas.
  • Set out milk, cookies, carrots, AND gifts on Christmas Eve – we grew up with the tradition of putting out snacks for Santa and his reindeer, but only since having kids did we add the “gifts” part.  The boys select one toy for each year they are old, and Santa will take them to give to kids who don’t have any toys.  I absolutely love this.  Toby was so excited to give kids one of his fire engines, a fireman’s hat, a book, a well-loved stuffed animal, and a few wooden train accessories.  It has been great to see him so focused on giving during Christmastime.  Last year I wrote about the power of giving, and the toys that Toby decided to part with.  That year, the tough one (for me) to let go was the Hello Kitty house.  This year, it was tough for Steven — Toby decided to give some of his train table accessories (a building and a train engine).  Isn’t it amazing how this exercise in giving helps everyone?
  • Getting sick – this is one of those traditions that we wanted to put an end to.  Last year, I learned about Christmas tree allergies and how they are usually due to allergens that are on the surface of the tree.  So we took some measures to minimize our Christmas tree allergies this year.  I think it’s working!

Ok, well that’s all for now about our traditions — I want to share with you the 19 other takes on making memories at Christmastime.  Read on for some fun insight on different family Christmas traditions!  Click on an image below to enter gallery view mode.


I have so many favorites! I think the kids’ favorite is that every Christmas Eve Morning we go bowling. Then we eat out for lunch and head home to get ready for a big ham Christmas Eve dinner followed by a musical program where we sing and the kids play christmas songs on their instruments. I love it because we are focused on family time and having fun together and there are no distractions from other sources. On Christmas Eve we [also] let the children open presents from their siblings. I like this because in the craziness of Christmas morning sometimes the presents from their siblings would be overlooked and not seem as special. When they open them on Christmas Eve, both the giver and receiver are more excited about it and they have time to give each other hugs and say thank you. It’s worked really well for us.

Erin, Chicken Babies


My favorite tradition is our tree tradition. We go to a tree lot and pick out our perfect tree and then we come home and decorate it as a family while listening to Christmas music. We then bake cookies, and watch a Christmas movie while sitting next to the lit tree.

Brittany, Love Play and Learn


We do christmas PJs, order pizza and watch rudolf on Christmas eve It’s the one thing we do with our family of four, since we spend Christmas day with extended family (which is also super fun!)

Paula, Beauty Through Imperfection


TIS THE SEASON! We have two holiday traditions that I love. The first is simple- cutting down a Christmas Tree and our Tree decorating party the Saturday after Thanksgiving. First, we go cut down a tree. Then, we come home, and have left over thanksgiving dinner, fire in the fire place, and Christmas music while we decorate. The second is more spiritual, and it is our Jesus Stocking. Each year, our kids place money inside a stocking to help raise money for a charitable cause. It is our way of being the hands and feet of Jesus on His Birthday!

Mandy Kelly, Worshipful Living


My family has always had a very strange Christmas Eve dinner. We would have Greek potatoes, a turkey, stuffing, and the works. Plus, Chinese food and a birthday cake for Jesus every year

Stefanie, Called His


For the last 18 years, we have had the tradition of inviting fellow military (single or families away from extended family), into our home for the holidays. Nobody should be alone. For Christmas, I put together little stockings with goodies, for each person to take home.

Tina, The Rockin’ Housewife


For Christmas we wrap up 25 books and then the kids each get a fuzzy blanket. Starting on December 1st we unwrap one book a night to snuggle up and read for our bed time story.

Stephanie, Parenting Chaos


For Christmas we hang some of those HUGE stockings (you can get at the dollar store) with each person’s name on them. For the entire month we put little love notes, thank you’s, or treats in them for each other then we all open/go through them on Christmas eve. We also started doing only 3 gifts a few years ago and the kids loved it so we’ve done it since. They get 1 need (clothing type items) 1 spiritual gift, and 1 want (this is from Santa).  The kids also have 1 of their siblings they get a gift for.  Christmas eve we have 1 family gift that we open when we do our stockings, it has everyone’s jammies, hot cocoa, a movie, treats, book and those type of things to use that night.  It’s been great limiting the number of gifts under the tree and making the focus on the true meaning of Christmas. We also make homemade tree decorations each year and try to do as much homemade type of gifts as possible. (Pinterest is GREAT for ideas) You can see my post on the ornaments we made last year!

JoDee, A to Z for Moms Like Me


We LOVE celebrating Christmas!! Let’s see: we start Christmas Eve with opening one of our presents for one another, sing carols & usually bake plus a fun family movie. Each year we also forgo the big presents, stick to stocking stuffers (sometimes a few books & misc.) & go on a trip! We’ve been doing this for years. Last year we went up North (Ontario) & had a great time: snowshoeing, tobogganing down hills, caroling with a local church door to door and eating tasty food together! Last, but certainly not least, we already read/talk about the Christmas story (Luke 2) together during the holidays.

Rachael, Parenting and Homeschooling in Faith


Since I was a little girl, we had a box with all the pieces of our Nativity scene wrapped in newsprint. My dad would read the Bible story and we had to dig through the pieces to find the character he mentioned and place them in the nativity. It was a great tradition. We are doing something similar with our kids nows.

Jen, Heaven Not Harvard


When I was a child, my grandmother prepared a special Christmas brunch for my whole family. Each year she planned the menu for months! I started taking on the tradition by helping her each year. When she was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago I started to do more until I was making the whole meal. This will be our second year without her, but we carry on her tradition.

Katie, The Wise Wife


Every year we purchase a new Swarovski crystal star ornament. Then when put them on the tree one by one and mention something about that particular year. The boys think it’s awesome to hear a snippet of our past years. We now have 13 stars and counting!

Jennifer, The Jenny Evolution


We created a Christmas Advent activity to teach our children who God is and stll enjoy seasonal fun in December. It’s an ebook now: 30 Bible lessons and fun family activiities for the whole family teaching kids the character of God during advent.

Katie, Paradise Praises


Every year I go out with my church ministry Actz to give food and cloth to the homeless in the DFW area, not to a shelter, but street homeless on cardboard box. Its a humbling expirence, instead of recieving you should be giving. This year i hope i can make a impact on a homeless person face

Avery, AK Reviews


We have loads! I’ve got a whole post: Family Christmas Traditions (some crafty, some not).

Hodge Podge


Our favorite tradition is the Christmas Pizza. We buy a take-n-bake pizza from Papa Murphy’s on Christmas Eve and then cook it Christmas day. The Christmas Pizza allows us to spend time together as a family without being stressed about cooking a big meal and cleaning on Christmas, plus it’s a real treat since we don’t buy pizza very often The year I had our daughter on Christmas Eve the only tradition I really cared about maintaining was the Christmas Pizza, so I forced my husband out the door to buy it while I labored at home by myself for a few minutes

Crystal, The Science Kiddo


We love singing. Last year my 3 year old daughter really connected with her Great Grandma while singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” Christy, Thriving STEM


Each year we read some of the Christmas Classics and then do something related to the book afterwards. In the past, we’ve read The Nutcracker and then watched the ballet (at home on video or go to the ballet depending on the kiddos’ age). We’ve read A Christmas Carol, and then visited Dicken’s Christmas Village near us. Our kiddos are 7, 6, 5, and 3. Depending on their age, depends on what version of the book we read. We don’t celebrate Santa in our home, so we try to find things that are Non Santa related. To aid in our understanding of each of the books, I usually create homeschool unit studies (Nutcracker and Christmas Carol Christmas units).  We also have our Random Acts of Christmas Kindness Tradition that is included on our countdown tree. The kiddos love it.   I also set up dates with each of my kiddos to go Christmas shopping. I take them to dinner. They choose the place. Then I give them $10 for each person on their list-their siblings and parents. From there we go shopping together until they find a gift for everyone. Before we go they’re great at asking their siblings for ideas and making sure they know what their siblings like. They do this with Mommy and Daddy too. We have such a fun time. And while we’re out, I get great ideas for them for their stockings etc. Even though we don’t celebrate Santa, they still each get a stocking.

Renae, Every Star is Different


Every Christmas we make homemade raviolis (around the 20th of December) and eat them on Christmas Day (and sometimes on New Years Day). We also bake cookies. On Christmas Eve was have the feast of the 7 fishes and try and have 7 different kinds of seafood for dinner (we don’t always get to 7 but we try and have a few different dishes).

Beth Anne, Beth Anne’s Best


Because we have lots of extended family to visit we seem to spend much of Christmas travelling or not at home and it was getting a little overwhelming. So a few years ago we started a new tradition of Christmas breakfast with just our family. The kids love planning the menu, and we go all out with fancy breakfast treats we never usually eat and we spend time together eating, opening presents and spending time as a family. It’s lovely!

Kate, Pickle Bums


What about you? Do you have any special Christmas traditions? Any you’re thinking of starting up? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

A Train Ride to See Santa

posted in: Local | 0

A Train Ride to See Santa on the Southern Michigan RailroadSince my toddler LOVES trains, and because this year he was old enough to fully appreciate Santa, I went online searching for something akin to Santa train rides (or a Polar Express experience).  I discovered that in Owosso, Michigan, you can buy tickets to ride on the actual Polar Express train — the Pere Marquette 1225 — through the Steam Railroading Institute.  The tickets include a stop at the North Pole, and a visit with Santa… and apparently the event sells out quickly.  The only thing left, when I got to their booking site, was the caboose — which is for 12 people, and could be rented out for $1500.  Not exactly what we were looking for… at least not this year, right?

So I finally found a (more local) alternative.  The Southern Michigan Railroad offers Santa train rides in Clinton, Michigan!  There were tickets available, both in coach and in the caboose (it costed about $40 for the three of us – baby was free).  The 30 minute train ride started and ended at the Clinton Station; and after the ride you could visit Santa inside said station.

The Santa train ride, believe it or not, was perfect for us this year.  Toby is nuts about trains, but the 30 minute train ride was just the right length.  Anything longer and he would’ve been jumping out of his seat; someone was antsy to see Santa.  We reserved seats in the caboose, but due to logistics, on the day of our ride, we did end up sitting in coach.  No matter, the ticket price was the same.

When the train arrived back at the station, everyone piled out and raced to the train station to see Santa.  Toby loved every minute of it.  He was actually so enthralled with the model trains inside the station that he ended up telling Santa he wanted a train (another one, hah) for Christmas.  Go figure.  Zack happily joined his big brother with Santa for a photo op — we did have to pry that long beard out of some baby fingers afterwards!

Here are some pictures from our train ride to see Santa; enjoy!  Click on an image to open in gallery view mode.

The whole Santa experience has been interesting for us this year.  We also saw Santa at the country club.  And when making plans for dinner that night, we were a little unsure how to proceed (that whole “two Santas” thing).  Fortunately, we’d read The Berenstain Bears Meet Santa Bear #afflink, which tactfully addresses why there are Santa bears in all the malls, how Santa can visit houses without chimneys, or travel without snow.

And when the boys get to the age where they begin to question the magic of Santa… I just found the perfect response: How to Ensure You Don’t Botch the “Is Santa Real?” Conversation.  Seriously. Read that post.  It is magical.  And so sweet.  And is the perfect way to focus on the giving, sharing, joyful aspects of Christmas rather than the “let down” of a shattered dream about Santa.  I’m not sure how my parents handled the Santa conversation; frankly, I don’t remember.  But Santa was only an accessory to Christmas for me, growing up.

And that’s how we want things to be around here for our boys.  Yes, Santa is great.  I want them to experience the magic of Santa… the joy of setting out cookies for Santa and carrots for the reindeer.  But Santa has his place.  He’s not the main reason for Christmas, but a symbol of selfless giving.  I don’t want Santa to get the credit for the best gifts!  (yes, I’m selfish that way, lol).  So we’ve relegated Santa’s offerings to the stockings… and one or two gifts to be placed under the tree in the wee hours of Christmas morning.

How do you celebrate Christmas?  Do you acknowledge Santa’s “existence” or do you fill your kids in on the real deal?  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Hand-Crafted Photo Gift Tags

posted in: Notes | 2

Hand-Crafted Photo Gift Tags - an easy 5 minute project!I love easy projects!  And this hand-crafted photo gift tag idea is one that takes mere minutes.  All you need are some photos, a pair of scissors, a hole punch, and some ribbon (or yarn, as I used).  Oh, and you’ll need gifts too.

We ended up with a number of extra greeting cards this year, so rather than wastefully recycling them, I thought we might incorporate the greeting cards into some craft activities.

But inspiration hit as I was doing some late night Christmas gift wrapping.  For pre-literate children, photo gift tags would be perfect!  They can identify who the gift should go to very easily… and thus can help deliver presents when it comes time to open all the gorgeously wrapped gifts.

Oh, and these would be so cute with kid-crafted wrapping paper!

Anyways, here’s what I did.

  1. Using the scissors, cut out freehand ovals around each family member’s face.
  2. Punch a hole out of the shape with a handheld hold punch… try to avoid the faces!
  3. Wrap your gift.
  4. Tie the photo gift tag onto the present with ribbon or yarn!

I guess you could skip steps 2-4, and just use tape to stick the photo faces onto the presents.  Your call.

This would also be cute with all those leftover school pictures that never seem to come in handy.

If you have a present for more than one person, you could string multiple tags onto the present.  Or, since we had a photo of the two kids together, I cut them out onto one tag.

And done!!

I told you this project was easy.  Now you have no excuse as to why your gift wrapping can’t be personalized.  Easily.  That’s the key.

You just need some photos, scissors, a hole punch, and some ribbon or yarn!
You just need some photos, scissors, a hole punch, and some ribbon or yarn!
String multiple photo gift tags onto one present for a shared gift!
String multiple photo gift tags onto one present for a shared gift!

Do you have any easy gift wrapping tips? I’d love to hear them… please share in the comments below!

Make a Photo Frame Ornament with Crayons!

posted in: Notes | 3

Make a Photo Frame Ornament With Crayons!

For my son’s preschool holiday party, I offered to make ornaments for the kids.  I’d been planning on making some sort of photo ornament, but when I saw a crayon ornament on Pinterest, I was inspired.  My variation might not work as well for a school photo due to the triangular shape, but I really like how it turned out.

The crayons perfectly frame the picture, and I even found a creative way to include a slot for threading ribbon.

Materials Needed (#afflinks):

The first thing you’ll want to do is print out your photo.  Or find a photo that you are willing to cut up.  We had this one on the computer, and I was (unfortunately) out of color ink the day we made this craft.  That’s why I did a black and white photo… but I actually like how it turned out!  If your crayons are “standard” sized, then you should be able to use a 3.5×5 photo to make your ornament.

Next, you’ll need to select three crayons for the project.  I made a number of these (one for each child in Toby’s class), and can attest that they look best with 3 different colors… or with three of the same color.

Lay out your three crayons in a triangle shape on your cardboard.  You’ll probably want to use a pen (or crayon, whatever’s easiest) to sketch out the equilateral triangle.

Then cut out the triangle.  Check and see how the crayons will fit (note that I made my triangle sides go from the butt end of the crayon to the edge of the paper near the tip.  The last part of this step is to cut off the end of one corner — this is where you’ll thread the ribbon later.

Now it’s time to assemble your ornament.  Using your hot glue gun, run a bead of glue along one of the triangle’s edges, then put the crayon in place.  Repeat this for the remaining sides, making sure that two of the crayons’ pointy ends will meet where you cut off the corner of the triangle.  Although, they don’t have to meet perfectly.

Now, flip over the ornament, and add a blob of glue anywhere that needs reinforcing (I did the “bottom” two corners).  Then, take a little strip of cardboard and cut it to a little less than an inch.  This will go at the top of the ornament, ensuring your ribbon has someplace secure to hang.  After a dry fit, put two dabs of glue on the cardboard and then put into place.

On the back (non-photo) side, I used metallic markers to write my son’s name and the year.

Cut a piece of ribbon, thread it through, and tie a knot… then you’re done!

Honestly, the longest part of this project was designing it.  Once I knew how to do it, these crayon ornaments were easy to make!

Nite Lights – Christmas Light Show

posted in: Local | 2

Nite Lites at the Jackson County FairgroundsJust a week or so ago, I learned about Nite Lites at the Jackson County Fairgrounds, one of the largest Christmas light shows in all of Michigan.  I was elated, and told my husband we had to go.  He agreed.

You see, both of us remember going to Domino’s Farms in Ann Arbor to see the Christmas light show.  It was an event; my parents and my brother, along with my grandparents, would all pile in the car for a driving tour of the elaborate light displays.  I think my favorite part was the “tunnel” of lights.  And since that light show had been discontinued years ago, it hadn’t crossed our minds.  That is, until a local parent told me about Nite Lites.

Nite Lites is a 2 mile long car ride through an elaborate light show, complete with train rides, games for kids, the option to see Santa, and more.  It draws around 37,000 people annually — how did we not know about this?  I feel like we’ve been hiding under a rock or something.

Anyways, we took the boys out for our annual Christmas dinner (dubbed as such because we give the waitress an especially nice tip), and then headed to see the light show.

When we arrived, the line of cars waiting was about a mile long, and we spent a number of minutes inching forward while Toby was practically jumping out of his seat in excitement.

Once we were inside the fairgrounds, Toby was allowed out of his carseat, and he rode shotgun with me for the light show.  Toby was brimming with excitement as he peered through the front windshield, craning his neck to count the big candles by the “official” entrance.

As we passed each item of interest, Toby would declare, “that’s my favorite too!”  He liked the semi truck, the train bearing presents, Rudolph bowling (complete with animation), to name a few.  It really brought back the magic of Christmas for me, that feeling of excitement and childhood wonder.  I’m so glad we were able to let Toby experience the same thrill of seeing such elaborate Christmas light displays.  Zack slept through the light show, of course, but no matter.  This will definitely be an experience that we repeat in the years to come.  Nite Lites met and surpassed our expectations!

While nothing compares to the actual experience of driving through a light show, I figured you might enjoy seeing a few smartphone captures from our drive.

Last share from the light display…a video!

A video posted by Betsy Finn {BPhotoArt.com} (@bphotoart_com) on

If you want to visit Nite Lites 2014, there is still time!!  The Christmas light show (which went up November 27th) runs until December 30th at the Jackson County Fairgrounds — every evening, 5:30 – 9:00 pm.   It costs $15 per vehicle, or $30 per bus.  So bring the family!

Kid-Crafted Wrapping Paper

posted in: Notes | 6

Child Artwork repurposed as wrapping paperIt’s probably fitting that my son is a prolific artist. Toby loves to draw, color, and create. And while I do save a representative sampling of his artwork for “years down the road” …it would be insane to hold onto everything. So, rather than throw away the “lovely drawings” (Toby’s words), I’ve found a way to give them a new purpose. We’ve been repurposing his old artwork as wrapping paper. Sometimes the sheets of paper are large enough to cover an individual gift on their own, but if not, I will just tape two (or three) sheets of drawings together. Presto chango …we have a one-of-a-kind gift that is meaningful both inside and out.

I’d go into more detail on “how to” make kid-crafted wrapping paper, but it’s pretty simple. I have a bin where I save the completed artwork, and as it comes time to wrap gifts throughout the year, I will use this supply of artwork for wrapping presents.

An alternate option, if you love this concept, but don’t want to part with your child’s many drawings, is to wrap the gift in plain paper. Then, hand it over to your child with an assortment of pens, pencils, or whatever your heart desires. Let your kid go to town with “decorating” the present. I did this recently — Toby decorated the plain brown cardboard shipping box with a metallic permanent marker. It actually looked pretty spectacular when he was finished.

In case you were curious, here’s the “before” shot of the drawing. I think it’s a combination of crayon, marker, and dry erase marker. Plus the errant sticker. But “mixed media” sounds better, so let’s go with that!

Do you have any great ideas for repurposing your child’s plethora of drawings or other artwork? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

bphotoart-child-artwork-repurposed-wrapping-paper-1592

Why you shouldn’t wrap your kid in Christmas lights for photos

posted in: Parenting | 11

Don't wrap your kid in Christmas lights for photos ...why? lead exposure!Around this time of year, it’s inevitable that I see photos of kids happily decked out in Christmas lights.  Hey, I know I helped trim the tree when I was young!  But there’s a difference between helping put the lights on the tree and deliberately wrapping a kid in Christmas lights.  And either way, there may be a hidden danger that has flown under your radar.

Lead exposure.  

Most Christmas lights come bearing California’s Prop 65 warning, which alerts consumers that the products may be carcinogenic and cause birth defects (lead is used in the plastic coating that insulates the wires of Christmas lights).  Jeanne Roberts of Greenhome.com writes:

 Lighting manufacturers readily admit there is lead in the PVC (polyvinyl chloride) used to insulate holiday lights from contact with water, or to prevent exposed wires which could cause a fire or electrocution … Over time, in the presence of sunlight and heat, the PVC portion of blinds, toys and light strings deteriorates, releasing lead as a form of “dust” indistinguishable from ordinary household dust. [Read more]

In a 2010 USA today article about avoiding a toxic Christmas, three sources of concern are Christmas lights, artificial trees, and candles. The article also discusses ways to minimize exposure.  But as was noted by pediatrician Philip Landrigan (Mount Sinai School of Medicine, NY):

…lead-based paint in windows is a far greater source of lead poisoning than individiual [sic] consumer products, especially ones such as Christmas decorations, which are used for only a few weeks a year.

When used normally, your child will likely have minimal exposure to lead.  After all, the Christmas lights are meant to be wrapped around the tree, not to be used as a toy.  Christmas lights aren’t something that your child should be touching for any extended length of time, and certainly not something to be played with or wrapped around a child’s body.

So it shouldn’t really be a problem.  That is, unless you are considering taking it upon yourself to duplicate those “adorable” kid wrapped in Christmas light photos.

And, lead exposure aside, why mess with electricity?  We spend so much time teaching our kids not to play with outlets, how it’s unsafe, yada yada yada… but in the pursuit of “the perfect Christmas picture” we fling common sense to the wind?  Yes, unfortunately, sometimes life does work that way.

Just like taking portraits on train tracks is a bad idea… it’s a bad idea to risk lead exposure for the sake of a cute photo.

But please ….please… now that you know, please don’t go wrapping your kids in Christmas lights any more.

Some further articles on the topic.

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