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Monday, December 17, 2012

Elf on the Shelf --- Quick and Painless Ideas

If you have kids, then you may have heard a thing or two about Elf on the Shelf. It's the latest holiday craze that may drive you crazy. 

But, all the work is well worth it when you see that big smile or hear a tiny giggle as your girl or boy gets up every morning to search for the elf. (And, in my case, it speeds up the process of getting dressed in the morning so she can go on the scavenger hunt).

This is the first year we got our elf. The special  guest from the North Pole is named Snowflake (my daughter decided that with the help of her Grandma Dea Dea). Our elf is a girl through and through ... she's got earrings and a couture skirt. She also came with the Elf on the Shelf book and DVD movie.

So, here is a look at what Snowflake has gotten into this year. Some elves can be mischievous, but our little gal doesn't get into too much trouble -- thank goodness!

Here's a glimpse ...

DAY 1: 

Snowflake arrives with a message for my girl.

DAY 2:

Snowflake decided to hitch a ride with Elmo and the polar bears.

DAY 3:

This one was special because Snowflake helped put up the train and the tree while my little girl was sleeping! Such a good helper!

The picture above comes with a funny story. The train came off the tracks and my daughter kept yelling, "Something is wrong with the Elf!" She repeated this over and over, but I thought she was talking about the train derailment. I finally looked and a real bug was crawling on Snowflake! Poor elf couldn't tell us!

 Now, for all those who don't know the story behind the elf ... if you touch her, her magic will go away! I had to carefully, with toddler eyes watching every move, put a napkin against Snowflake's collar and the bug eventually crawled onto the napkin. No elves or bugs were harmed in this process ... I let the bug go free outside where it belongs!

DAY 4:

Snowflake is tired and opted for some relaxing TV!
(She found a television frame and a small remote that wasn't needed during the day).

DAY 5:

When my daughter saw the elf with the cooking utensils she yelled, "The Elf is baking!"

DAY 6:

Our elf likes fishing in a mason jar with a pencil and toy fish. 
She colored the water with food coloring and also left some goldfish snacks (in a snack cup -- not in the water) for my daughter.

DAY 7:

Snowflake is checking out the Christmas decorations!

DAY 8:

Weeeeeeee ... our adventurous elf is zip lining to the Christmas tree! 

DAY 9:

The elf is potty training with Elmo's potty. I think she used a little too much TP! 
She looks guilty in the pictures!

DAY 10:

Snowflake wanted to be the star or angel on our tree for the day.

DAY 11:

Every gal likes getting "dolled" up once in a while! 

DAY 12:

It's been twelve days of the Elf ... time for some much needed rest in the guest bedroom (with a pillow case used as a blanket). She even left a message!

DAY 13:

Snowflake isn't afraid of heights ... for sure! 
This time she was in the chandelier.

DAY 14:

It looks like Snowflake tried to do a snow angel in the sugar, but gave up.

DAY 15:

Yee-haw! She was found wearing cowboy boots and even had a twine lasso! Next time, I think she should invite the Toy Story folks (Woody, Jessie and Bullseye).

DAY 16:

And the Emmy goes to .... Snowflake! She left behind a quick speech too! 
(If you don't have an Emmy around the house, maybe the elf can make an award.)

DAY 17:

Even elves have to do some work sometimes. 
Santa's train broke down, so she grabbed the toy tools and got to work. She's so handy around the house!

DAY 18:

This elf got a little thirsty from trips to and from the North Pole. Look -- she turned the milk green with food coloring! Snowflake didn't mind the cold temps in the fridge, but my little girl didn't want anything to do with green milk! Oh well! 

DAY 19:

 I wish I had this kind of help all year long! Snowflake grabbed some toy scissors and helped cut coupons! Wouldn't that be great if she could do this every night!

DAY 20:

Snowflake loves to eat too! We found her in the toy deli grabbing a bite to eat. She chose pizza, cake and lemonade and paid with a credit card -- I'm guessing she'll expense these purchases with Santa. 

I hope she used the coupons she cut too -- times are tough!

DAY 21:

Our goofy elf decided to have a little fun on day 21. She got into the foam stickers! What a mess!

DAY 22:


DAY 23:

The next one was fun! Snowflake put signs around the house pointing to the car. She was strapped in for a ride to a Christmas party! She was, of course, hanging in a place where little hands couldn't touch her during the ride.

DAY 24:

Snowflake got creative. She hopped in the toy wagon with Santa Elmo and a bag full of toys. Rudolph is, of course, leading the way back to the North Pole!

I think we did alright for our first year with an Elf on the Shelf. I'm not gonna lie, I kinda miss our little red dressed magical gal. 

I hope this blog gives you some quick and easy options -- especially for those nights where you are exhausted after eating cookies and drinking a little egg nog!

Feel free to pin my pix for inspiration on Pinterest!



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Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cost Cutting Christmas Ideas

Happy Holidays!

We all know the holidays can put a big dent in your bank account, so I searched Pinterest for some easy (and cheap) ways to make a few gifts without looking like a penny pinching Grinch! 

In other words, hopefully the recipients will think you're giving them a nice little keepsake instead of looking like a Christmas cheapskate. 

Here's what I came up with -- snowmen/women ornaments and candy bar socks! Keep reading to find out how to make these -- they are super easy and very cute (if I must say so myself)!

Snowmen Ornaments

(Click here for the original idea/website)

What You'll Need:

Ornaments with "snow" (see description below for more info)
Acrylic Paint (white and orange)
Paint Pens (black, red, green, blue, yellow)
Clear Acrylic Gloss Coating (Spray Can)
Wet Paper Towels to clean fingers

I bought the ornaments from Hobby Lobby. 
They already have the filler balls inside and best of all -- they are plastic! The original cost was $6.99 for a box of four, but they were 50 percent off!! Yay! 
So, it comes down to costing 87 cents EACH!

1. Once you have all your supplies handy, start with painting fingers white. My young daughter helped me out and I had her keep her painted fingers in the air while I switched to the next ornament. Just paint the inside of the finger (not the complete tip of the finger -- just the inside).

*** Be sure to think ahead of time how many snowmen/women you want on each ornament (i.e. I did three to represent our family and changed it up for others).

2. Once the white dries, you can start adding hats and ear muffs with the paint markers (start at top and work your way down).

3. For the nose, I took the fantastic advice from the original website. I used a toothpick to dab a dot of orange and dragged the paint to the right to create the pointed noses. It worked great!

4. Add the coal mouth/buttons and some personality to your little snowmen/women (like scarfs). It's also nice to put the date and/or the family name ... etc.

5. After the paint is completely dry, take the ornaments outside and spray them with the gloss coating. The reason I did this is because the paint seems to easily scratch (which is nice when you mess up), but I wanted to protect the final snowmen/women for years to come. Make sure your ornaments are dry before spraying, otherwise the paint will smear which is NOT a pretty site!! 

6. Last but not least, add ribbon and hang (or wrap for a present). Easy peasy!

Candy Bar Socks Gift

What You'll Need:

Candy Bars (I used Hershey)
White Paper (I used the paper that comes with a new scrapbook)
Double Sided Tape

1. Cut the white paper to fit the candy bars.
2. Put double sided tape on the paper and tape to candy bar. Add another piece of tape on the other side to seal the white paper.
3. I folded the socks in half and tucked the foot of the socks behind the candy bar. Add ribbon  around the folded sock and make a bow.
4. Add double sided tape to the inside of the socks to keep them in place.
5. Draw on the snowmen faces and you're done!

I mean ... who doesn't like comfy socks and chocolate!

My very own inexpensive Christmas decorating ideas


I made these stockings years ago, but I'm sure you can still find these supplies at the craft store. Basically, you buy the stockings with nothing on them, wooden letters (I painted green) and sew on some charms (also found at craft store).

Mason Jars:

I got a great deal on mason jars last year, so I love to decorate with them at any opportunity. For the above decor, I put some straw like filler inside and tied some twine around the top. Then, all you have to do is add some real or fake pine to the jar.

Here's another look at the same idea, but I added battery operated Christmas lights to the biggest jar (which are not lit in the picture -- sorry). 

The jars above have epsom salt inside (which sparkles like snow) and I melted a candle on top.

** I bought the bags of epsom salt at Walgreens near the pharmacy -- I got the plain, no smell kind.

Felt Bags:

These adorable felt bags play several roles in my house. They are nice and festive around the tree, great for saving on wrapping paper and you can re-use them every year!!

These are sold at Michaels, but wait for them to go on sale! I got them on Black Friday for a few bucks each (originally $4.99 each). I'm sure you can find them even cheaper right after the holidays to save for next year.

These bags saved me on tape and wrapping backache. They are also easier for the younger kids to get into their presents and you end up with less trash on Christmas day! It's a no brainer!

I hope you enjoyed this festive blog to get you in the holiday spirit without spending too much! 

Feel free to pin my pix!


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