It’s A DIY Christmas! 5 DIY Gifts You Can Make With Your Kids!

DIY Mini Sugar Scrub

diy-mint-sugar-scrub-final2

We love these tiny jars of sugar scrub from Love Grows Wild! What’s so great about these is how inexpensive and child-friendly they are to make. You’ll need…
–Coconut Oil
–Granulated Sugar
–Peppermint Oil
–Green Food Coloring

…and of course…

–Mini Jars
–Twine or String
–Gift Tags

Yes, that’s it.

This sugar scrub is so simple to make, since it’s all about preference and not at all about measuring and weighing! Just put your preferred amount of coconut oil into a microwave-safe bowl and nuke it for ten to fifteen seconds–from there, add your sugar, green food coloring (just a few drops at first), and as much peppermint oil as you want! If you you’re looking for a more moist concoction, add more coconut oil; if you want it more dry and crumbly, add more sugar! Easy peasy. Stir until well combined, and spoon into jars! Last but not least, lid it up, wrap twine or string around the top of the jar and slap on a gift tag! This is a perfect stocking stuffer for moms, grandmas, aunts, sisters and cousins! (And you can make a lot for just a little investment!)

Spa Slippers

gallery-1476205920-slippers-gift-3

This idea comes straight from blogger Pretty Providence–it combines everything a winter night calls for! This is great for moms, dads, grandpas and grandmas, since it’s so versatile and thoughtful! What you’ll need…
–A Pair of Slippers (In the Proper Size for your Recipient)
–Ribbon
–For Moms and Grandmas:
Lotions
Hand Sanitizer
Tiny Soaps
Chocolates
Nail Polish
EOS Products

 

–For Dads and Grandpas:
Soap-on-a-Rope
Tiny Shaving Kit
Handmade Comb
Playing Cards
Candy/Chocolate
Beard Wax (For our decidedly furry fathers out there)

Assembly is super simple–stuff those slippers full of goodies for your chosen recipient and tie them together side-by-side with a matching ribbon. Kids will have a blast picking out personal items for their Nana or Papa and filling the slippers up! This one may be simple, but it’s oh so sweet! Another bonus–this gift is super personalizable!

 

Personalized Coffee Mugs

december-2011-181

These are so sweet for grandmas, grandpas, teachers and much more! This idea comes from Two Shades of Pink, and we’re obsessed! They’re so easy and sooo adorable! All you’ll need…
–Ceramic Mugs (You can sometimes find these at Dollar Tree, but a better bet is Target)
–Ceramic Paint Pens (In a variety of colors–you can find these at Michael’s)

 

It’s very simple–let your kids write or draw a special message on the mug! Your kiddos will have a great time making these special mugs for everyone on their list and letting their imaginations run wild! After they’re done, wait 24 hours, then bake the mugs at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. This will set the paint and make sure they stand up to the elements! (NOTE: it’s a good idea for you to write the date on the bottom!)

For an added bonus, you can pack the mugs full of Land O Lakes gourmet hot chocolate mixes, candy canes, and chocolate kisses!

Custom Totes

handprint-mothers-day-gifts2

Nifty Mom from Saint Louis came up with this sweet idea for her boys to make–these handprint tote bags are perfect for a grandma, aunt, teacher, or even big sister! (You can also buy cloth drawstring backpacks for brothers, uncles, dads, etc…). Decorated with handprints, this is an adorable way to remember what those chubby little hands and feet looked like once upon a time! Plus, the handmade thoughtfulness of this gift will make it a treasured keepsake for years to come! Your kids will love getting messy to make these, and you can make any design you want, so the only limit is the imagination! Here’s what you need…

–Canvas Tote Bags (Or Drawstring Backpacks)

–Acrylic Paint
–Cardboard, Paperboard or Cardstock
–Hands and Feet!

Stick the cardboard, paperboard or cardstock into the bag (so the paint doesn’t bleed through to the other side) and set your kids loose! Encourage them to write a sweet message or paint a special picture for their intended recipient–make sure you get some handprints on there! What’s even better, is after they dry, you can use them to package another present! You could make a kit for an older sister, complete with bookmarks, journals, pencils and a favorite novel…or you could make grandma a gardening bag, full of homemade seed bombs, seed packets and new garden gloves!

Polymer Clay Magnets

Polymer clay is awesome–you can make darn near anything out of it! We thought it would be adorable to make polymer clay magnets for your friends and family–you make make a bunch for cheap, and the options are literally endless!

–Polymer Clay in Many Colors (We Prefer Sculpey)
–Super Strength Magnets
–Hot Glue

–Wax Paper
–Cookie Cutters (Optional)
–Rubber Stamps (Optional)

We recommend making miniature picture frames out of the polymer clay, but you can make whatever you want! You can cut shapes from the cookie cutters, or just hand-shape your frames out of any colors that you like! Consider using rubber stamps to press a message or pattern into the clay. Simply bake the magnets according to the instructions on your clay package–once cooled, you can seal them with a matte or gloss glaze, and use hot-glue to attach a photo and a magnet to the back! Grandma can stick hers to the fridge while dad puts his on his toolbox at work!

Mom Don’t Make No Junk–A Guide to Amazing Homemade Lunches!

Make A Schedulemajorly important. Over the weekend, decide what your kid’s lunches will be, or at least nail down a theme. Is Monday set aside for an italian feast? Do you have Tokyo Tuesdays full of Japanese goodies? Should you decide to send something super special on Fridays? It’s a good idea to have at least one week planned out, but it’s even better if you can go two weeks in advance–it’ll make shopping and preparation go so much smoother.

Know Your Way Around A Lunchbox–It’s important to first understand the anatomy of a perfect lunch. There is a basic, five-step process to making a lunch that’s healthy and filling (and incorporates all your kiddo’s favorite foods!):

Step One: Select Your Starch and Pick your Protein
You’ve got a lot to play with when it comes to this first step–your starches and protein can be anything from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to pasta with meatballs, ramen and chicken, a turkey wrap, pork dumplings, or beans and rice.
Step Two: Find Your Fruit

Depending on your entree from step one, pick a fruit pairing that makes sense. If you’ve packed a tropical lunch, consider mangoes and pineapples. Make sure your child is getting a different favorite fruit every day! Great fruits that travel well are grapes, berries, apples (unsliced), and peaches!

 

Step Three: VIP Veggies
This one is trickier, since kids don’t always do vegetables–our advice is to pick and pack your veggies carefully. On every other day (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) pack your kid’s favorites (common faves are baby carrots, broccoli, even cauliflower). On the “off” days (Tuesdays, Thursdays), pick a vegetable and accompanying dip that your child might not be familiar with–peppers and hummus for example, or celery and cream cheese!

Step Four: Super Snacks
Include one packaged snack item that you know your child loves–you can pick greek yogurt or a cheese stick, or you can go a little wild with theme-appropriate cookies, fruit leather…even seaweed or kale chips!

Step Five: Bring your Own Beverage
As always, pack your child a plastic, refillable water bottle to keep them hydrated all day! Along with lunch, you could include a juicebox, milk box or whatever else you can think of!

Presentation…
Kids go crazy for a fun-looking lunch! Presenting new and healthy foods in an attractive way is half the battle! Step one is to let your child or teen pick their own lunchbox. While your little princess might love a pink sparkly number, your teen may prefer something a little more sophisticated looking. From there, the options are endless…

Bento Box Lunchesthis is a both new and ancient idea! Originating in 1100s, the Japanese bento originally holds rice, vegetables and and meat in individual compartments within a box-shaped container. Nowadays, parents are taking gourmet bento box lunches to a whole new level–and you can jump on board! Pick up a bento box set that fits inside your child’s lunch box with a little room to spare–and let your imagination run wild. You can make lunches themed with your children’s favorite animals, TV shows or superheroes. Pinterest is chock full of adorable bento box ideas like this one:

bento_cheesybunny

We love this–and believe it or not, these instagram-worthy, gourmet school lunches aren’t to difficult to assemble!

Bento boxes are amazing for modular, organized eating, and offer a lot of opportunity to make lunch super special for your little one. Got teens? Bento boxes are still perfect for them! While your middle and high schoolers might not need a Hello Kitty themed lunch, you can let them choose what they’d like in their bento box, and even pack it themselves. It gives them the independence to control their lunch while giving you peace of mind they will have an organized, delicious lunch that they’ll actually eat. Bento boxes have been around for hundreds of years for a reason–they’re organized, economical, healthy and totally zen. If you’re looking for a way to offer your child a lunch that’s a cut above the rest, follow our five step recipe for amazing lunches and toss it in a bento box!

,

Mom-To-Be? We Made A List–You Check it Twice!

Hygiene

1) Believe it or not, you will need a newborn toothbrush from day one. Most folks let this basic hygiene fall by the wayside because, well, newborns don’t have teeth! However, your baby’s gums need cleaned once a day to wash away any bacteria that’s accumulated throughout the day. It’ll cut down on sickness, and as the teeth start to push through, a bacteria build up can cause pain and damage to the brand new teeth! Newborn toothbrushes look a lot like a rubber thimble that slides onto your index finger, with super soft silicone bristles. Rinse the brush thoroughly, and gently wipe baby’s gums clean, and rinse again. You can find amazing, high-quality and super safe baby brushes at Target. ($4–$8)

2) This one is simple, but you don’t want to be caught without it! Cotton balls. That’s right, your average cotton ball is imperative to proper infant hygiene. In the first few weeks, moisten a cotton ball with warm water to gently wash your baby’s face, eyelids, ears, neck and chin. Cotton balls are also useful during bath time for cleaning your baby’s genital areas safely and gently.  Even if you’ve got some on hand, please go grab a bag or two more–you’ll go through them fast. (Remember, standard washcloths are slightly too abrasive for baby’s skin, so until your child is about a month old, use cotton!)

Feeding

1) Breastfeeders, this one is important–milk storage bags. We know you’ve probably grabbed a top-of-the-line pump, but don’t forget that you’ll need someplace to store your breastmilk, and a Ziploc just won’t do. Breastmilk bags are the best way to preserve and store your milk (according to the CDC, you can store your breastmilk in the fridge for up to 5 days, or in the freezer for a year–having a safely-stored supply is a life saver). Parents have agreed, unanimously, that Kiinde offers the best, most parent-friendly breast milk bag ever. Pre-sterilized, BPA free, completely leak-proof and with a huge variety of specially designed extras (Kiinde has a bottle and adapter that works with your bag), we love this thing. Target has the whole Kiinde storage and feeding system to suit your needs. (Various kits can run anywhere from $7.99 to a single bottle all the way up to $99.99 for the complete packaging, storage, feeding and sterilizing kit.)

2) Formula-feeders, we’re here for you. We know you’ve got places to go–the store, church, maybe to pick up your other kiddos or you’re just spending the day with your own mom! No matter where you go, you’ve got to think about feeding baby–and that can mean lugging around a can of formula, those annoying little scoops, and a bottle. We can’t tell you how many ways we’ve tried packing our formula and hitting the road–all with less than stellar results. But now there’s the B.Box Essential Bottle.
We. Love. This. Thing. The base of the bottle holds a special, waterproof compartment for storing just the right amount of dry formula–but that’s not all. Once you’ve filled the bottle with water, just push a button and bam–the powdered formula is dispensed into the bottle. With a few shakes, you’re ready to feed anywhere. (This innovative new bottle runs about $20 at Target, Amazon or eBay.)

Miscellaneous

1) A common problem for parents…your baby scratches their own face. It sounds silly, but we’ve seen it first hand–turns out, baby gets a little irritated when it happens, too. Even if you cut their nails regularly, they still manage it. You may want to invest in some super-soft scratch-free mittens for baby. These slide over your baby’s hands so that those pesky arms and hands (that they can’t quite control) don’t attack them anymore! We’ve found that the best mittens–the ones that are soft, don’t fall off, and are made from the best organic cotton–come from the trusted Burt’s Bees. That’s right–Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Essential Mittens are incredible. What’s better? One pair will only set you back $5, so you can grab a high-quality “just in case” set without breaking the bank. And if you never end up needing them, that’s great–send them along to your local Pregnancy Center or other child-friendly organization!

We know you’ve got a long road ahead, but don’t worry–with just a few super inexpensive additions to your nursery, bringing baby home will go that much smoother. Good luck, and congratulations, Mama-to-Be!

,

Fostering Your Child’s Passion–How to Encourage Your Child to do Great Things

How can I tell what my child enjoys?


Simple–when attempting to understand your child and their personal passions, it’s important to take a backseat and listen. Observe. Is your son constantly running to the printer to grab paper and a pencil? Does your daughter take things apart to see how they work? These are little behaviors that can go almost unnoticed, but can tell a lot about what makes your child tick. So if your child always asks to help you make dinner, or has a tendency to dance like no one’s watching or puts on shows for her stuffed animals, these can be the very first clues to understanding your child.
Another way to mine for these gems is to pay close attention to your child’s studies. What do they devote most of their time to? Talking to your child’s teachers and keeping an eye on those report cards can give you a window into your kiddo’s day, and show you what subjects they tend to prefer.
Asking your child about their day at school is another great way to get some insight–what do they talk about the most? One little boy was asked every single day what he did at school, and every day, he would say “We ate lunch.”That same little boy is now showing proficiency and interest in food and cooking–he tries new foods more freely and enjoys watching cooking shows! It starts small, but these flowers bloom fast.

I have an idea of what my child is passionate about…what’s next?
After you’ve gotten a rough idea of what your child likes, it’s time to engage. You can begin asking questions like “You really seem to enjoy writing…is that true?” or “You talk a lot about this…is it something you enjoy? Would you like to do this as a grown up?” Make sure you really listen to what your child has to say–remember, you’re looking to be a partner on your child’s discovery journey, not the leader. If you find yourself marching your child down a path and correcting them about what they like and don’t like, you may want to step back and regroup. For example, if you really want your child to join little league, but he tends to enjoy staying home and drawing, don’t ignore what he loves just because it doesn’t fit your image of your son! Resist judging your child’s choices–it will only lead to a lack of communication and hurt feelings between you and your child.

We’ve narrowed down my child’s passion–how can we encourage it?

Now comes the fun part! There are tons of ways to encourage and foster what your child is passionate about. Consider taking cooking or painting classes together with your child, or helping your child use their allowance for new building set. Consider going hiking or to the zoo on a discount day for an inexpensive outing for your wild child, or just take your soccer-loving girl to the park to kick the ball around. Surprise your kiddo with a new set of paints or let them help you with dinner.
What’s more important than immersing your child in their passion is positivity. It’s natural for children to get discouraged, even when doing something they love–but rather than focusing on setbacks or offering criticism, focus on solutions. Instead of pointing out a sloppy jump shot, maybe offer to play a few pickup games with your child. Don’t allow your child to speak negatively about themselves, either–nurturing a positive self-image will boost your child’s self esteem and confidence.

 

My child seems to have changed course…what do I do?

Don’t panic–maybe you’ve spent the last few years paying for violin lessons or you’re up to your ears in colored pencils…and suddenly, your child wants to be a vet. That’s okay! Exploring different facets of life is important. Helping your child discover new passions is just one more exciting challenge of being a parent!
Good luck!