Saturday, December 22, 2012

Santa Handprint Craft

I found this adorable Santa hand print idea on Pinterest and had to try it. What a fun way to make a Christmas card or just to display on your fridge.  This would be a great little project to do every year and see how much your child's hand print has grown!

I used my favorite - washable Crayola paints - for this project.  Simply paint your child's hand with the appropriate colors - white on their four fingers, including the top of their palm and up both sides.  Also a circle of white on the tip of their thumb. Now paint the rest of their thumb red, along with the bottom of their palm, leaving a  rectangle of blank space in the middle. Fill that rectangle with Santa's face. If you don't have an appropriate skin tone, you can use a base of yellow paint, covered with a layer of orange paint. 

This hand print shows up really well on darker paper.  Once it's dry (which only takes a couple minutes if you used the Crayola paint and it didn't get too thick), use a permanent marker to draw on Santa's eyes and nose in black.  Add a little round mouth in red marker, as if he's saying "Ho! Ho! Ho!" 

I am in love with this hand print!!

Reindeer Pretzel Rods

My two- year old looooves "big daddy pretzel sticks" - aka - pretzel rods. You can find them by the bag at regular grocery stores, or in a neat plastic canister from Aldi.  It is so fun and easy to dress them up with melted chocolate or almond bark. Here is a fun reindeer pretzel stick I came up with for Christmas! I know Santa would like to get one of these on Christmas Eve, and they are great snacks for a holiday party as well!

Start by melting almond bark in the microwave. I like to melt mine in a ceramic coffee mug so it's deeper and has a handle.  You'll need about 6 squares of the almond bark for this recipe.  Microwave it for about 21 seconds at a time, stirring in between each time until it is all smooth. 

Dip each pretzel rod into your melted almond bark, tipping the mug at a 45 degree angle if you want more of the pretzel to get covered. I like just covering the tip so it doesn't get too overwhelmingly sweet. Lay your pretzel rods on a sheet of wax paper.

Before the almond bark hardens all the way, add mini M&M's or chocolate chips for the eyes and nose.  Use red ones to make little Rudolfs! My daughter (5) was in charge of this part.  She also helped with the dipping above, so this is a very kid-friendly snack! 

Finally, break off small twisted pretzels to look like antlers. You might use up quite a few that break all the way through but just eat up the extras! Place them at the top sides of your pretzel rods, resting in the melted almond bark. Since I made this up as I went along, I was so happy to discover they all stayed in once the almond bark was hardened. Woohoo!

Just let your pretzel rods sit out until they are hardened, which doesn't take very long. Maybe an hour or two. These are super cute and yummy snacks to make. Great to pass along to friends or teachers as well!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Christmas Handprint Reindeer and Wreath Craft

I love making gifts and decorations using my kids' hand prints! Here are two fun and easy ideas to make for Christmas.

Start by tracing your child's hand and cutting it out. You might want to make one really good hand print on a piece of card stock or cardboard so you can reuse it for other projects. Just be sure to make a new hand print every once in a while so you can still  capture your child's hand growing!!

Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer Puppet

Here's what you'll need:

brown construction paper
craft sticks
googly eyes
red craft pom pom
brown paper lunch sack

Use your hand print pattern to cut out two hands from brown construction paper. Attach them to the back of your paper lunch sack - I used glue dots (LOVE those!). Be sure the thumbs are facing together so your "antlers" are symmetrical.  If the hand print is larger and kind of flimsy, secure a craft stick to the back to keep it from flopping over. Again, I used glue dots. My son's hand prints (age 2) were small enough to stand up straight on their own.

Have your child make Rudolf's face using googly eyes and a red craft pom pom.  They could also use crayons or markers to draw it on, too.  My kids had so much fun playing with these little puppets and they were so fast to make! They ran around making their reindeer fly and then pretended to be elves taking care of Santa's reindeer. It was a very fun project!

While they were playing with their new puppets, I busied myself creating another holiday hand print keepsake:

Hand Print Paper Wreath

Cut out multiple hand prints using your "handy" hand print template. (hehe) You'll need about eight hand prints from each child, all cut out of green construction paper. You can use different shades of green, or some green-patterned scrapbook paper would be really cute too! When you have enough cut out, lay them out to create a circle, careful to overlap them all just the same. For my wreath, I used hand prints from both of my kids so it is double layered, but you can make just a single layer wreath too.

Carefully glue the hand prints together, using a glue stick or - you guessed it - glue dots. Finish it off with a simple gift bow.  I chose to display mine on the wall by my kitchen table so I just used rolled up scotch tape to hang it.  You can also use a hole punch to tie a ribbon to it and hang it that way!
Need your wreath to be a little more sturdy? Attach a paper plate to the back with it's middle cut out. For a similar wreath I made with my daughter last year, click HERE.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Frosty's Musical Snowflakes Party Game

Here is a fun game to play at holiday parties this year, or just as some fun indoor exercise during the cold winter months! I collected some ideas from different games I found online to come up with a new version of musical chairs: "Frosty's Musical Snowflakes!"

Start with several white paper plates. You'll need enough for each kid to have one. I decorated mine with the same snowflake design on each, drawn on with a permanent marker.

On the back of just ONE plate, draw a red circle to be the  "Hot Spot!" Be sure you can't see it through the plate from the front.

Now scatter all the plates around the floor, completely randomly without knowing where the "Hot Spot" is.  Have the kids pretend to be snowmen and dance around among the plates while you play some music; preferably "Frosty the Snowman!" I like the version by Gene Autry.

When you stop the music, have the kids jump to the nearest snowflake. Once everyone is standing still, tell them to look under their paper plate to see who is standing on the "Hot Spot." Whoever landed on it has to MELT and is out of the game.

Gather all the plates from the floor and take away one regular plate from the mix. Have the kids close their eyes as you once again scatter the snowflakes on the floor, not knowing where the "Hot Spot" ends up. Then everyone opens their eyes and the game continues for another round, minus one player. Play continues until only one person is left standing!

We played several fun rounds with just my daughter (5) and I, with several snowflakes out and it turned into a fun game of chance to see if one of us landed on the "Hot Spot."  Even my 2 year old can play this one!

I would recommend making a few extra plain snowflake plates as well as an extra "Hot Spot" plate just in case any of them get torn or bent. If the "Hot Spot" gets scuffed or bent, for example, kids will know which one it is and try to avoid it. ;O)

For another fun holiday party idea, check out the Wrapping Paper Game from a blog I wrote last year! I plan to use this game at Molly's class party as well, with a package of pencils so all the kids will get one.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

White Donut Snowman Snack

Our special activity for today was to have a special snack. This is one of the many easier activities in my Christmas Countdown Calendar. For a full list of ideas, click  HERE!

Usually on my "special snack" days I throw together something I come up with on my own or have seen on Pinterest.  Today it was the latter and is probably a variation of what I saw since I didn't go back to check on the directions... (I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm not interested in perfection!!)

Slide three mini white powder donuts onto a chopstick. YES - I used the last remaining Hostess Donettes in my house for these!! This was a very precious snack and I'm glad my kids (ages 2 and 5) appreciated them!

Stick on M&M's for the eyes, nose, and buttons using white frosting.  Break some little pretzels into "sticks" and poke them in the sides to be arms. Try to use a skinny stick or else your donuts might break apart! Otherwise, you can actually eat your donuts right off the stick!!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fun Snowman Quesadillas

I love making fun snacks and meals for my kids. Here is a quick way to liven up a simple quesadilla!

Use a cookie cutter to make snowman shaped flour tortillas. You'll need two identical pieces per quesadilla.

Sprinkle some cheese (I like to use cheddar or a cheddar/jack blend) in between the two tortillas.  Microwave until the cheese is melted, about 21 seconds. You can also cook this on a skillet for just a few minutes and it would be even more delicioso. (See what I did there? hehe)

Once your snowman is cooked and on the plate, start making his face! Use a single string of shredded cheddar cheese as his carrot nose. Then spoon some sour cream into a small plastic sandwich bag. Add in a couple drops of food coloring. I thought blue looked good since I didn't have black.  Snip a TINY TINY TINY piece of the corner off your bag and pipe the eyes, mouth, and buttons on your snowman.

Finally, sprinkle some grated Parmesan cheese along the bottom of your snowman so it looks like he's on a mound of snow!! I made this for lunch one day for my kids (ages 2 and 5) plus my daughter's friend and they were a big hit! It took a plain lunch and turned it into something special, and that's what this blog is all about!

P.S. Check out another yummy snack you can make with flour tortillas from my blog HERE!

Monday, December 10, 2012

S'mores Snowman Snack

I recently procured a couple extra bags of large marshmallows so we have made several s'mores lately - in our oven! After a few plain ones, I decided to try something cute and came up with these easy and fun snowmen s'mores!

Start by lining a cookie sheet with foil, to keep it clean. Set out a few marshmallows on it and broil on high for about 4 minutes. If you want your marshmallows to have that yummy toasted coating, gently turn them over and broil for another 3 minutes or so on the other side.

Place two or three marshmallows on a plate and carefully flatten them down if desired. I made my snowman below with only two marshmallows just because my plate was so small. Three would look more like a real snowman actually... eh - I'm not worried about perfection! ;O) My kids still loved them!

Use chocolate chips for the eyes and smile... and buttons if you used three marshmallows!! I used an orange "Fruity Pebble" cereal for the carrot nose.  Other ideas might be an orange fruit snack, piece of orange tootsie roll, or a golden raisin.  For the stick arms, I melted 1/4 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips and placed them in a small plastic sandwich bag.  Trim a TINY corner of the bag and pipe it onto your plate.

As I type this, I realize that my "s'more" doesn't have any graham crackers... wouldn't it be cute to make a graham cracker hat?? NEXT TIME! lol

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Introductory Letter for your Elf on the Shelf

I have purchased a cute holiday edition Groovy Girls doll to be our secret Elf this Christmas! Click HERE for a link to purchase your own on  Check out my other blog post for a whole list of fun ideas to do with your elf all December long.

To go along with this fun new tradition, I have written a letter to my kids, from their new elf, explaining the story and rules for the Elf on the Shelf. You can use any part of this you'd like, just copy and paste it! Be sure to change it to your own elf's name!

"Holiday Greetings! Time to rock and roll! ~ I’m Chrissy Christmas, sent from the North Pole!
Santa Claus sent me through cold snow and ice to be sure you’re not being NAUGHTY, but NICE!
I’m one of his elves and I’m on a mission to be sure you’re sweet and find out what you’re wishin’.

I’ll be in your house and watch you all day, then travel at night so far, far away
To tell Santa about all the things that you’ve done. ~ I won’t miss a thing and we’ll have some fun!
He’ll find out about any fights or whining or messes you make,
but I’ll also tell him about all the nice questions, sweet games, and hugs and kisses you take!

Santa loves to bring presents to good girls and boys, so be sure to follow these simple joys:
Love each other; talk nicely; be sure to help out; be respectful; be happy and don’t cry or pout.
Listen to your mommy and daddy and teachers; be nice to friends, adults, and all of God’s creatures.

After I visit with Santa I’ll come back to your house ~ sneaking inside as quick as a mouse.
Then each morning when you are both awake, look around and find me – how long will it take?
Every day I’ll be somewhere silly and new, ready to spend my day watching you!

My job is important, Santa’s counting on me so please let me work and just leave me be.
I’ll have enough fun watching and making you search, so just give me hugs then return to my perch.
Your mommy can move me all by herself, and there I’ll sit still – your Elf on the Shelf!

When you leave cookies out on Christmas Eve night, leave me by them – I won’t take a bite!
After Santa leaves presents (like I’m sure he will), I’ll hop in his sleigh because it is real!
I’ll fly back to his workshop to spend the next year, but come Christmas time I’ll always be here."