Thursday, December 29, 2011

New Year's Eve Mantel

The Christmas decorations are down and the mantel is now all set for New Year's Eve!  I created four bags: one for each hour from 9 to 12 (of course this is 12 NOON since we do NOON Year's Eve for our toddler).  The first bag is filled with fun things to wear: silly glasses, beads, hats, etc.  The second bag has noise makers such as horns and clappers.  The third bag has games: Pin the Nose on Frosty, the Year-in-Review BINGO I spoke about HERE, the Scavenger Hunt I blogged about HERE and New Year's Eve trivia for the adults :)  I also found these awesome printable mustaches and props for a DIY Photo Booth that I am DEFINITELY going to use!  How adorable are these!?!
The fourth and final bag has confetti poppers, sparklers, and silly string.  We are going to toast with our champagne glasses filled with milk!  And of course we are going to eat milk's favorite cookie: OREOs!  
Here are some pictures of the mantel and the bags:
 REALLY in love with the stocking holders that spell out WISH!  Found them at Target 50% off :)
 The "i" is a candle which is perfect next to our New Year's Eve Bayberry candle.

The last thing I want to share is a bag topper that I created as a gag or a fun party favor.  The front has Baby New Year and is labeled BABY NEW YEAR POOP and says "Out with the old..."  The back has the year 2012 and says "Hoping too much shit doesn't happen to you in 2012!"  I tried to upload it on Google docs to share, but it changed the format on me :(  I will figure out how to share documents in the near future :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

More New Year's Fun!

I have been crafting (and shopping!) all day long and I am really excited about what I have come up with to add to our NOON Year's celebration.  First, I made this awesome centerpiece.  Our daughter LOVES M&M, I had to find a way to incorporate them into the fun!  I found a HUGE champagne glass at Michael's and I had a 40% off coupon so I got it for $8.  The M&Ms were on sale at Target and the party horns were a rip-off at Party City :)  Here is the M&M Masterpiece"
There are also a few Dark Chocolate Hershey Kisses in there for Mommy ~ LOL!  The other thing I made was a New Year's Eve Wish Box.  This was quite simple...all you need is a box of your choice and you can put the words "Wish Box" on the outside in whatever manner you choose.  I found a purple glitter box on sale at Target and used silver glitter sticker letters and some embellishments I had.  Here is the New Year's Eve Wish Box:
This is our personal version of the New Year's Eve Wishing Wall in Times Square.  There is also a Virtual Wishing Wall!  My hubby and I are just going to fill in the blanks to answer the questions on these great cards I found here.  
Next, I made a simple NYE Scavenger Hunt.  Our daughter is only 2 and a half, so I wanted the items to be things she could easily find herself or with our help.
I can hardly contain my excitement over this next item!  I spent some serious time Googling a way to do this and finally found a teaching website that you can use to upload PHOTOS and create a BINGO card!  I uploaded favorite photos from 2011 and created a BINGO game for NYE:
Now, I suppose I am missing all the "magic" of Christmas already: Magic Mints, Magic Reindeer Food, the Magic Pillowcase...because I went ahead and made some Magic New Year Wishing Bubbles!  This is really simple ~ you just use a bottle of bubble that you already have and cover the label with any paper you would like and make a cute label that says "Magic New Year Wishing Bubbles."  I also have a beautiful pewter bubble wand that I purchased from Chasing Fireflies that goes perfectly with the Magic Bubbles :)
I also wrote a little poem to go with it.  Naturally, this is protected by Copyright, so please do not copy my work for any reason.  You may pin it or link to it :)

It’s New Year’s Eve
And the year is through,
It’s time to make new wishes
And your hopes and dreams anew!

Then close your eyes and make a wish
When blowing your magic bubbles
Focus on your hopes and dreams
And they will carry away your troubles.

Be sure to check back because I have some more to share before the New Year!  

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Year's Eve Traditions

I can hardly believe that Christmas Day has come and gone!  We had a fabulous Christmas this year.  On Christmas Day we brought cookies to the fire department and they were so gracious and sweet.  They invited our daughter to sit on the fire truck but she was too afraid.  Maybe next year :)  

We removed the Christmas ornaments today and converted it into a New Year's tree.  This is something that I started last year.  I purchased these adorable ornies on Etsy last year.  They are in storage at my MIL's house right now, but I am going to pick them up tomorrow.  
I can't wait to put them on the tree!  I do have pictures of the way it looks right now though: all silver and purple thanks to some incredible deals at Walmart today!
New Year's Hat as a topper:)
What better symbol of a new year than a butterfly!?!

I am feeling pretty crafty after creating this New Year's wreath today:
It was really simple: I purchased a clearance wreath at The Christmas Tree Shop and used a frisbee to cut out a large circle on silver glitter scrapbook paper and the clockface came from here.

The other New Year's tradition we do is the Bayberry Candle.  Here is a little background about the Bayberry candle I found on the internet (click for source):
Burning bayberry candles is a tradition dating back to colonial times. Early colonists came upon the bayberry shrub growing in the sand belt of the Atlantic coast, as well as the shores of Lake Erie. The berry-type fruit is crusted with a greenish-white wax, settlers found that boiling the fruit created a wax residue on the surface of the water. The wax had a fragrant aroma and burned magnificently. Many berries had to be boiled to get enough wax to make a candle, these candles burned longer, cleaner, and brighter than did the traditional candles of the time. Therefore, bayberry candles were saved and burned on special occasions only! One such special occasion was the celebration of the New Year.
If you have a New Year's tradition I would love to hear about it!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Christmas Traditions

Around here the "Christmas Season" begins the day after Thanksgiving with the arrival of our Elf on the Shelf.  Her name is Elfie and she joined our family for our daughter's very first Christmas.  I immediately turned her into a feminine elf with a skirt, earrings, and a decked out hat.  Naturally, she didn't really have a clue what this elf was, but now she is becoming aware of our little elf friend and looks for her in the morning.  
The Sunday immediately after Thanksgiving begins Advent.  This year we did our family devotions each Sunday and lit a candle each week. We have also been doing Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands.  Our daughter has a lot of fun crafting these projects and, more importantly, she is learning the Christmas story!
Advent is a challenge for me because I have a TON of things I want to do and only four weeks to do them.  I keep reminding myself that we do not have to do EVERYTHING every year…we can do something new and fun each year as long as we keep the focus on CHRIST!  Another incredible and stunning book we added to our book collection in The Advent Book.  It is a bit expensive, but it is a true keepsake that is sure to become a family heirloom passes on for generations.  I highly recommend it!
Early on in the season, we participate in Operation Christmas Child through Samaritan's Purse by preparing a shoe box of toys for a child.  This is one of my favorite things to do because it is so simple and yet, the impact is huge!  It truly reflects the spirit of Saint Nicholas and the REAL impetus for our present-day Santa.  

Speaking of Saint Nicholas, our family celebrates Saint Nicholas Day on December 6th.  On the eve on St. Nicholas Day, we leave out our shoes and carrots for St. Nick's horse.  Treats are left and a present that our daughter will be spiritually blessed by (typically a Christian book or toy).  This year St. Nick left her the Little People Manger.  

Last night we went on our Polar Express ride to look at the beautiful light displays in our area.  I adore these printable Polar Express tickets.  There is one particular light display in Staten Island that is very special.  The homeowner lost his wife on 9/11 and after a dark period he decided to create a spectacular light display and raise money for cancer patients. 
On Christmas Eve we attend our church's candlight service and it is always so beautiful to see!  Our pastor always has the children come to the front and he reads a special Christmas picture book.  It is pure joy to watch the children dressed in their finest clothes with that twinkle in their eyes in anticipation of the fun in store for them!  I am certain God smiles at this sight as well.

     When we get home we'll leave milk and cookies on our special plate just for Santa and Bella will rest her head on her Magic Chistmas Pillow.  We'll sprinkle Magic Reindeer Food outside too!
    When Santa arrives he will be caught in the act thanks to  Here is an early peak at Santa at our house:
      On Christmas morning we'll put baby Jesus in the manger and enjoy Jesus' birthday breakfast.  Although Elfie will have flown away with Santa the night before, we will welcome our Christmas Angel!  We also do the tradition of the Christmas Pickle!  This is a German tradition and the person who finds the pickle gets a special treat!

I hope you got some good ideas and I would love to hear about YOUR Christmas traditions!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Christmas Angel

Just about everyone has head about The Elf on the Shelf and is partaking in this new tradition.  I eagerly jumped on board the elf bandwagon and our elf, Elfie, made her first appearance the night of Thanksgiving 2009 for Isabella's first Christmas.  It is a fun tradition, however, I have to admit it doesn't really fit in with what I want the focus of our Christmas season to be and what I want our daughter to learn about: Christ.

There have been many calls in recent years for people to turn back to the birth of our Lord as the central focus of the holiday season.  The days leading up to the birth of Jesus, known as Advent, have certainly become more of a mainstream celebration, with many folks now using all kinds of advent calendars.  I have done my best to keep all of the "vehicles" we use during advent driving toward to manger, but with little ones that sure is a challenge!  Well, I recently discovered The Christmas Angel and I think this little sweetie is just what I have been looking for!

I did not do away with out elf.  She will leave on Christmas Eve with Santa.  She will leave a goodbye letter and introduce The Christmas Angel.  I plan on having Twelve Days of Christmas Kindess using our angel.  Each day we will learn and talk about one of Jesus' many names (revealing his nature) and Bella (with our help of course) will do an act of CHRISTmas kindess.  Here is the muffin tin I made for this:

 Each day has a paper link with one of the names of Jesus for us to talk about along with a Hershey kiss for when the act of kindness is done.  I downloaded the beautiful Names of Jesus advent chain from the FABULOUS homeschool blog Spell Out Loud.  I picked the twelve I liked the best and would be easy to teach an almost 3 year old.

On Christmas Day our Christmas Angel will be staged by the baby Jesus with this little poem:
Away in a manger,
No crib for a bed,
The little Lord Jesus
Lay down his sweet head.

Many generations later,
The problem unaddressed
Precious little children,
Without a place to rest.

Let us take up this cross
In the year ahead
To put aside some comforts
To give a few a bed.

Our first act of kindness will be a year-long endeavor to save up change for the non-profit organization Sweet Sleep.  Here is our change container:

I am really excited about our Twelve Days of Christmas Kindness!  Our angel will leave us on Epiphany (most likely by way of La Befana.)  Pop over and check out The Christmas Angel website and LIKE them on Facebook to get  more ideas!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Plant Some Magic Mints!

Anyone who knows me, knows I love fun traditions and will do just about anything to make our daughters childhood fun and magical!  I read about this on Tip Junkie's blog and I LOVE this idea!  When you have the first snow (or anytime it snows) you take some peppermints and "plant" them outside.  If you want to add even more magic you can sprinkle on some magic fertilizer (perhaps left by your Elf on the Shelf!)  The fertilizer I am using is  multi-colored nonpareils since Bella likes cherry candy canes and this helps explain the colorful candy canes as opposed to peppermint ones blooming ;) 

Once your little one is tucked in bed, or you know he or she won't be looking, take out the peppermints and place candy canes!  Your child will look in the morning and see that candy canes have magically bloomed!

Print out this adorable Magic Mint Seed poem from Happy Home Fairy to add that special touch to your peppermint package.  Here is a picture of mine :)