2016 – A Look Back at the Year that Was on Saving Up for Disney Blog

It’s been another very interesting year for me personally as well as for my blog and I’ve appreciated those of you who have been following along! Here is what I’ve been up to this year and what I have planned for 2017.

Please note that this post includes affiliate links

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Me, in a shirt from Etsy seller MouseApparel

This Life

Last year I’d found out that I was being laid off from my full time job and would be a stay-at-home-mom for the first time. That offered enough challenge on its own but then I also found out I was expecting another baby! We live in a small home so I “nested” before she was born and I got busy and organized the house on a budget and shared the tips in my post Budget-friendly & Practical Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces

Budget-friendly & Practical Organizing Solutions for Small Spaces

I tested out a few new recipes on my family before sharing them with my readers here including Roasted Garlic & Rosemary Potato Soup, Slow-cooker Baked Beans and Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies. Since having the baby and working to get the excess weight off, I’ve been focused on cooking “real food” and limiting processed meals, prepackaged items and other than the occasional Chick-fil-A lunch, have been dining mainly at home. I will continue to find and post budget-friendly recipes that incorporate real, wholesome foods.

This baked beans recipe is the perfect side dish! It's budget-friendly and crowd-pleasing. Best of all this baked bean recipe goes together in the slow cooker!

LEGOLAND Blogger

Early in the year I was asked to be a LEGOLAND Official Blogger! We’ve been visiting LEGOLAND California since it had first opened so this partnership was welcome. We visited several times this year, including the Brick or Treat Halloween Party.

pin-legoland-preschoolers   LEGOLAND® California Resort Brick-or-Treat Party Nights Halloween Celebration

LEGOLAND California – A Delightful Amusement Park for Preschoolers

Brick-or-Treat Party Nights Halloween Celebration at LEGOLAND® California Resort

Legoland Blogger

Traveling Mom

Before baby girl was born, we squeezed in one last Disneyland trip. It gave me plenty to write about and I was able to cover several topics for TravelingMom including Important Advice You Can’t Ignore If You’re Pregnant at Disney and Tweens & Toddlers at Disney – What You Need to Make Everyone Happy.

pin-disney-pregnant   PIN-Tweens and Toddlers at Disney

I loved my second year as a TravelingMom in 2016. The TMOM crew is extremely supportive and I’ve been living vicariously through those who are touring the globe! Having the opportunity to travel more outside of my small community is one of my goals for 2017. In the meantime, while I have a young baby at home, I’ve been exploring my area and wrote about it as the Day Trips TMOM.

Free in San Diego – 21 Things for Families in Beautiful Balboa Park

Little Italy San Diego – A Day Trip Tour of What to See, Eat and Do

pin-21-free-things-for-families   little-italy

My baby girl was only a few weeks old during the Traveling Mom’s annual spring retreat so I had to miss it in 2016 (believe me though, I was trying to convince my husband to the bitter end that I could travel alone with a 3-week old!). Fortunately for me, Traveling Mom hosted a retreat in the fall and I was able to travel cross-county alone with my girl (who was 6-months at the time) to Walt Disney World. It was my first solo trip with any of my kids and fortunately she appears to be a born traveler! We never had any issues and we had a fantastic time exploring the parks and Disney Springs at our own pace. The Traveling Moms lovingly welcomed #TBABY during the retreat.

I wrote for Traveling Mom about the character buffet we experienced at the Wyndham Lake Buena Vista.

save-half-the-cost-on-a

My Number One Viewed Post for 2017

Given the questions I receive via email from my readers, I wrote this post that was extremely well received. It’s my #1 most viewed this year!

5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation

These are the 5 Things You Need to Do Before Your First Disney Vacation! Don't be caught unprepared before your first Disneyland or Walt Disney World trip!

Preschool Playdate #DisneyKids

About a week before I delivered the baby, I hosted a #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate at the park. It was a blast and I was honored to be invited to host two years in a row!

Celebration Fun at Our #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate Party 2016!

Celebration Fun at Our #DisneyKids Preschool Playdate Party!

Insider Disney Tips

As a Disney travel “expert” I wrote several articles about planning trips that were successfully shared via social media. Pinterest is my number one traffic driver, so it’s a good thing I love Pinterest and enjoy creating “pinnable” images! I love when my readers share, so please continue to pin and share away!

Tip #1 - No surprises! Check out these 7 rookie mistakes to avoid when you plan your Disney vacation!  Check Out these 12 Best Uses of Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

7 Rookie Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Disney Vacation

12 Things to Do Waiting in Line at Disney Parks

Disney Baby

In mid-July I was approached about a dream writing opportunity, as a contributing author for the Disney Baby blog! I have been able to blend my love for babies and Disney into these posts and have so loved this amazing opportunity. I am writing about Disney Parks travel tips for families with babies as well as other baby tips as a “seasoned mom”!

pin-naps   pin-breastfeeding   pin-halloween-party

9 Guaranteed Ways to Get Baby to Nap at Disney Parks

8 Tips for Breastfeeding Your Baby at Disneyland

Taking Baby to Mickey’s No-So-Scary Halloween Party

Social Media Moms On-the-Road

In August, I was delighted to receive an invitation to the Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road Event at Disneyland. This year was invite-only and the bloggers there were able connect with each other in a small venue, hear from celebrity speakers and watch a sneak peek of Moana! Afterwards we were able to enjoy the Disneyland parks, my baby girl’s first visit!

Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road…at Disneyland! #DisneySMMCDLR

Find out more about Disney Social Media Moms On-the-Road event that took place at Disneyland including up-coming Disney events & the new film Moana #DisneySMMCDLR

New Affiliates

I picked up a few new affiliates over 2016. Thank you again for anyone who has clicked and purchased through my affiliate links; it continues to help me in a small financial way to run my business.

Park Savers affiliate link

If you’re needing Disney vacation tickets, hotel room or an entire vacation package, Park Savers is my go-to!

Target is a favorite and I happily welcomed them as an affiliate this year. Gotta love saving that 5% with a Target Debit RedCard!

What to do with all those vacation photos? Put them in a book, on a place mat or on a coffee mug from Shutterfly! A Shutterfly calendar has been my must-do family gift for 10+ years so I really appreciate being able to share their products as one of my affiliates.

gymboree2

Baby Girl in her new Gymboree outfit

I’ve been shopping at Gymboree for nearly 13 years for my kids and love that they are one of my new affiliates. My kids received a lot of Gymboree clothing this Christmas (their sales are exceptional!)

And naturally The Disney Store is a favorite place to buy gifts for my fellow Disney-lovers (or gifts for myself!)

Blogorail

I love my Blogorail community and how we’ve continued to grow and learn from each other! They really help me think of new and exciting topics to write about. Some of these posts are among my most popular and in part, because they are shared in the Blogorail community.

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland  What to Wear in the Parks? These are the Best Disney Outfits for Kids  Knock out travel boredom with these helpful Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disneyland and Walt Disney World

Insider Tips -Make the Most of Your First Two Hours at Disneyland

What to Wear in the Parks – Best Disney Outfits for Kids

Kid-Friendly Road Trip Tips for Driving to Disney

Jamberry

I continue to run a side business as a Jamberry Independent Consultant. I was beyond thrilled to see the Disney Collection by Jamberry come to fruition and have the hardest time deciding on a favorite wrap! Remember that if you’re saving up for Disney too, all those little ways you can earn money count and Jamberry is a great way to do that. Let me know if you’d like more information about becoming a consultant (or would like to host an online party!)

disney-hand2 disney-hand1

Family Media Day

I was tickled to receive an invitation to Family Media Day at Disneyland in 2016. It was my first visit to Disneyland during the holiday season in 4 years. We loved being able to have one last visit for the year and taking fantastic family photos together at the Happiest Place on Earth. I welcomed having new holiday photographs as well, since it had been so long since we’d last visited during the holidays and I’d used every Christmas shot I had in my portfolio!

disney-holiday-pin  disney-holiday11

I also had enough new material to write this post for Traveling Mom.

9 Must-Do Attraction Tips for Disneyland Christmas Celebrations

Pinterest

My most Pinned post of the year came right at the tail end of 2016! Hoping this one will grab some traction for next year too (Click through and Pin it yourself!)

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

If you’d like to take a look back at my blog over the years, here’s how Saving Up for Disney has evolved –

2015 Look Back

2014 Look Back 

Looking Forward

Looking forward to 2017, I’d like to give thanks to my readers and subscribers. I particularly appreciate the comments and connections and seeing you share my posts via social media (that’s what really helps me to grow!) I’ve had a few readers reach out with personal trip planning questions and I’ve enjoyed the personal connection and helping them out.

Thanks for bouncing along with me in 2016!

Thanks for bouncing along with me in 2016!

I’ve said it before, but please continue to comment and share my posts via social media if you can, it helps me (as a small business owner) to grow and succeed. Reach out to me or comment on the posts if things resonate with you!

Blessings to everyone in the new year and cheers for what’s to come in 2017.

Julie-signature

 

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break?

The winter break is upon us and that means two full weeks with the kids at home. It can either be two weeks of fun or two weeks of hearing, “I’m BORED” 473 times a day! This year I’m determined to be prepared with a calendar of activities to keep boredom at bay without breaking my holiday budget. Here are 12 budget-friendly things to do with your kids on winter break!

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking and purchasing through the links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

 

Seasonal Tabletop Craft Decor

Add a bit of joy to the house with a simple craft. These would be so pretty decorating a tabletop as a centerpiece. I plan on making these with the kids on winter break. We have pine trees lining our street so finding them will be easy enough but if you don’t have them readily available, they are sold online. To create your own pinecone centerpiece you’ll need Ponderosa Pine Cones, White Acrylic Paint, Small Clay Pots and Gold Stars.

12 Budget-Friendly Things to Do With the Kids on Winter Break

Photo Credit & Link from Town & Country Living

Holiday Titles from the Library

We have a small collection of holiday books and movies that we pull out during this time of year. Pick up a few new seasonal story books, music CDs or DVDs from the library for entertainment this holiday. You can often reserve them in advance online as well.

Pajama Day

Declare a PJ Day! Stack up all those holiday books and pile the pillows and blankets on the floor in the living room for a cozy day in your pajamas. Make a special treat like popcorn or Rice Krispy treats served with cocoa and marshmallows and let everyone lounge and relax.

gymmiesnightgown

Gymboree Gymmies come in the cutest holiday patterns!

Holiday Art Project

Last year my daughter made this in school. Give each child a canvas, acrylic paints and a brush and let them create their own winter scene that you can pull out with the decorations each year. To make your own painting you’ll need a Stretched Canvas, Acrylic Paint Set, Paint Brush Set and Crafting Plastic Drop Cloth

 Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Window Scenes

When I was a girl my grandparents let us us acrylic paints on the inside of the living room windows to create a holiday scene. I wish I had a picture to show you! It was a highlight of our season and we painted new scenes every year. My other grandmother had the cutest retro window clings and we’d decorate with those and rearrange them throughout the season. Try these adorable seasonal window decor ideas- White Snowflakes Window Clings,  Crayola Washable Window Markers, Super Window Sticker Art

Movie Marathon

Pile up a stack of those Christmas movies and work your way through them. I recently picked up A Christmas Story which my kids hadn’t seen but is one of my absolute favorites! White Christmas is my 13-yr old’s holiday favorite and it’s streaming on Netflix right now. My preschooler loves The Polar Express so we’ve already seen that one several times this year!

Need Things to Do with Kids on Winter Break? Check out this budget-friendly list of 12 things to do with kids on winter break.

Cut Snowflakes

Coffee filter snowflakes are easy for older kids to make and look so pretty taped to a window or strung in a garland. Cheap and easy entertainment and decor in one! To make this craft you’ll need Coffee Filters and Titanium Softgrip Detail Scissors

snowflakes2

Coffee Filter Ornament craft and image from The Pink Couch

Snuggly Knotted Blanket Making

This one is easy enough for older kids to make on their own. Consider crafting a few as gifts or to donate. You’ll need a good, sharp pair of scissors because it require quite a bit of cutting. But the cozy soft blanket you’ll have at the end is worth it! You’ll need Winter Fleece Fabric by the yard and Fabric Scissors with Comfort Grip

fleece-blanket

Knotted blanket tutorial and image from Sewlicious Home Decor

Nature Walk

Kids on winter break get stir crazy from being cooped up inside. Bundle up and head outside for some fresh air and a blast of nature! I did a quick search on Pinterest and found a free printable for a Winter Adventure Hunt from Montessori Nature.

Cookie Baking

Most kids love to help in the kitchen! Here are a few easy kid-friendly recipes, including one of my own for oatmeal peanut butter cookies. Try Christmas Crinkle Cookies, Chocolate Thumbprints or Christmas Snowballs. Baking items you may need are Holiday Metal Cookie Cutters, Mini Squeeze Bottles, Meringue Powder for royal icing and Christmas Holiday Sprinkles.

If cut-out sugar cookies are your thing, I highly recommend this recipe from SweetSugarBelle that uses powdered (confectioners sugar) instead of granulated. These cookies are melt-in-your-mouth yummy! This is also where you’ll find the perfect recipe and tutorials for making royal icing. You might not be able to decorate quite as fantastically detailed as she does, but here is some inspiration! Seriously, are those too cute to eat or what?!

polar-pals-cookies

Image credit and recipe from Sweet Sugarbelle

Wrapping Paper Games

If you haven’t finished up wrapping gifts, let your kids have at the tape and paper and allow them to wrap gifts for friends and family. When they’re done with the paper, the cardboard tubes can be used for several things. One Christmas, my Dad painted them red and white striped like a candy cane and slipped them around metal stair railings for a cute decoration. Of course, my boys always use the wrapping paper tubes as mock light sabers!

  

Gingerbread House Decorating

A friend of mine has the Candy Cottage Gingerbread House which looks like it’s made of cookie but is really plastic. All you need is your own icing and candy and you can decorate the house without risk of it toppling over! Some great candy suggestions are TWIZZLERS Christmas PULL ‘N’ PEEL Candy, Necco Wafers, Star Brites Peppermint Starlight Mints and Sixlets.

I love the “gingerbread” house made of graham crackers. Did you know that Honey Maid actually makes gingerbread crackers and chocolate grahams? This is a great petite size that kids can tackle on their own and enjoy the snack when they’re done!

gingerbread-house

Image from Our Best Bites.

How will you be spending winter break with the kids? Share with me in the comments!

 

Cookies for Santa – Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe with "healthier for you" ingredients!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

When Christmas Eve rolls around this year, don’t forget to set out that delicious plate of treats for Santa (with a cold glass of milk, of course!) This is one that Santa (and the rest of the family) is sure to love. These Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies would be perfect for a cookie exchange or bake sale as well.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies Recipe

I prepared these Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies with “better for you” ingredients like whole wheat flour, coconut oil, organic peanut butter and oats. But there was no scrimping on taste whatsoever; my family went wild over these cookies with such phrases as, “Melts in my mouth!” and “Amazing!” I think you’ll love them too…just don’t forget to leave a few for Santa!

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter (I used organic version, just nuts & salt)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 cup quick-cook oats

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together coconut oil and butter until blended.
  3. Add brown sugar and white sugar and mix until creamed.
  4. Add peanut butter and mix well.
  5. Add eggs, beating after each.
  6. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt and coconut. Mix well to combine.
  7. Add dry ingredients to wet a little at a time, mixing well after each addition.
  8. Mix in dry oats.
  9. Use a tablespoon to drop dough onto ungreased cookie sheet.
  10. Bake 10-15 minutes until cookies are lightly browned. Watch to make sure they do not overcook.
Recipe Management Powered by Zip Recipes Plugin
http://momrewritten.com/cookies-for-santa-oatmeal-peanut-butter-cookies/

Julie-signature

The Perfect Shirts for Disney Fans (Plus a Giveaway!)

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Shirts for Disney Fans That They’ll Love to Wear!

As a big time Disney fan I want to show the Disney love even when I’m not at the parks. I recently discovered MouseApparel on Etsy and sent a Christmas Disney-themed shirt as a gift.

I was looking for something that I could wear year-round so Adrienne then sent me this tee, I’m Done Adulting. Where’s Disney? Perfect, right! I love the raglan style and it’s a soft and roomy tee.

Check out these other shirts for Disney fans, with choices for adults and kids (including a way to win your own tee!)

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Celebrating Your Best Days

Disney days are just the best! Wear these at the parks (or just anytime you want to add Disney fun to your day!)

Best Day Ever

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

I’m Only Here for the Churros

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Home

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Holiday Flair

MouseApparel has several holiday designs in the shop. These are two of my favorites. Perfect to wear when posing for photos in front of the Christmas tree, either the one at your house or the big trees at Disney!

It’s the Most Wonderful Time to Wear Ears

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

A Very Disney Christmas To You

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

For the Kids

The kids are represented too, with many designs that are offered on children’s sized tee as well!

Watch Me Whip (kid sized)

https://www.etsy.com/listing/293796379/disney-glitter-home-shirtglitter-disney?ref=shop_home_active_33

Image Credit: MouseApparel

Free Shipping Offer!

Adrienne of MouseApparel has so generously extended this special offer to my readers:

FREE SHIPPING on any MouseApparel orders placed before 12/31/2016! Use promo code: SavingUp2016 for free First Class Mail shipping on all US orders until 12/31/2016.

Shirts for Disney Fans That They'll Love to Wear!

Win Your Own MouseApparel Tee

This giveaway is for my newsletter subscribers. Leave your email address and be added to my newsletter list (I promise not to spam you!) The winner will be able to choose one tee from the MouseApparel Etsy shop!

Open to US & Canada

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Julie-signature

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques for Gifts (and Budgets!) of All Sizes

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #WrapGiveRepeat #CollectiveBias

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly! #ad @walmart

Everyone loves to receive a beautifully wrapped gift. When you take the time to wrap a gift creatively, it shows that you really care! If I spend time carefully shopping for just the right thing, I also want to take the time to wrap the gift perfectly as well. It makes my recipient feel so special when they say, “This is for ME?!”

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Gift wrapping something in a truly special way doesn’t require expensive gift bags or elaborate decor.  Are you ready to Wrap.Give.Repeat? Let me show you my simple gift wrapping techniques for gifts of all sizes.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques

I have three special gift wrapping techniques I’d love to share. One is a pleated technique that’s really sophisticated. I also like to make gift bags with wrapping paper and tape for odd-shaped gifts. Third, I always use my leftover scraps of wrapping paper to make curled bows that coordinate.

I popped in to the Walmart at my local mall to pick up a Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape 3 Pack Caddie and Scotch™ Multi-Purpose Scissor 8″. These items were located with the greeting cards and office supplies.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

I like to stock up on Scotch® Brand wrapping products so when I’m in a wrapping frenzy on Christmas Eve, there’s no chance of running out! With the 50% bonus and Rollback pricing at Walmart, there’s no reason not to stock up and save. Plus my preschooler has been in a bit of “go crazy with the tape on everything” phase and has pretty much depleted every roll I had in the house!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Best Results Tips

Before you pull out the gifts, be sure to have these things ready to go!

Lots of room – Time to clear off your craft table or invade the dining room! Give yourself plenty of space to spread out. Resist the urge to wrap on the floor (your back and knees will thank me later).

Thick, high-quality wrapping paper – You will not get the best results if you’re using thin paper that tears easily. But it doesn’t mean you have to indulge in expense; I pick up my wrapping papers the year before on clearance (I bought these last year at 75% off, for about a dollar per roll!) Choose paper that has the square inches lined on the back so you can cut the pieces straight.

A pair of sharp scissors – Leave the utility shears in the kitchen and purchase a pair of dedicated gift wrap scissors to keep in the craft caddy. Scotch™ Multi-Purpose Scissor 8″ glide right through the wrapping paper, so you’ll have perfectly straight lines and crisp edges.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

A gift wrapping caddy -Inexpensive and handy, a caddy will keep all your wrapping supplies like Scotch® Gift Wrap Tape, scissors, ribbon and gift tags all in one place so you can grab & go when you’re ready to wrap!

Special gift toppers – While at Walmart I wanted to find some cute package toppers and there were SO many to choose from! I actually found these in the section designated for decorating mini Christmas trees. I just thought they were adorable and the price was certainly right. I’ll be able to decorate every single gift under the tree with a mini ornament that can be saved or reused on another gift.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #1 – The Pleated Box

My sister-in-law introduced me to a very chic wrapping technique that incorporates pleated folds in the wrapping paper to create an elegant look to each box. This works best on a flat box. You might want to use a bone folder and ruler for perfectly straight and crisp edges, though I was able to just eyeball it myself.

  • Wrap the box as usual.
  • Cut a coordinating strip of paper that will be pleated and wrapped around the box.
  • Fold the paper in half lengthwise (wrong sides together). Then turn the crease to one side to create a pleat.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Repeat the pleating several times, alternating sides. I created just three pleats but you can make as many or as few as you wish.
  • Wrap the pleated paper around the box and match up the edges (trim them a bit if needed to help them line up neatly).
  • Secure the seam with a long strip of Scotch® Gift Wrap tape.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

The pleated wrap is an elegant and unique look that only requires a simple bow topper. I can’t wait to gift this one to my Mom!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #2 – The Odd Shaped Gift

Making gift bags with sturdy wrapping paper for oddly shaped items is actually quicker and easier than people think (and your handcrafted bag will look so much prettier than gift bags that have been used and reused a dozen or more times!)

  • Take the odd shaped gift and lay it on the paper to get an idea how long to cut the paper. Add at least an inch for an overlap.
  • Determine the center of the piece of paper (lengthwise). Bring the two ends of paper into the middle, overlapping.
  • Crease the outside edges of the paper to make it flat.
  • Now determine the width of the bottom of the bag. Fold up the bottom edge of the paper and place the bottom of the gift on top to determine how much to fold the edge (add about an inch or so on each side).

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Open up the folded bottom and use Scotch® Gift Wrap tape to close the lengthwise seam of the bag.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Bend up the bottom of the bag at the crease. Press gently on each side and the paper will flatten itself into two triangle shapes, one on each side.
  • Use your fingers to flatten the creases.
  • Take the pointed edge at the top and bottom of each triangle and fold it down a few inches.
  • Use Scotch® Gift Wrap tape along all seams to secure the bottom of the bag.
  • Open the bag from the top flatten out the bottom.
  • Insert the gift to determine the height of the finished bag. Trim off any excess paper from the top of the bag, then fold the top of the bag down and secure with Scotch® Gift Wrap tape.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Keep reading on how to make the scrappy bow to decorate your bag!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Technique #3 – The Scrappy Bow

What to do with those strange long strips of wrapping paper that are leftover? I like to use every bit of extra wrapping paper so I use these leftover strips to make whimsical scrappy bows. I curl the sturdy wrapping paper with the blade of my Scotch™ Multi-Purpose Scissor 8″ and then use Scotch® Gift Wrap tape to piece the bow together! It’s fun to coordinate the wrapping paper on the box to the wrapping paper bows. They really make a bold statement!

  • Collect coordinating strips of wrapping paper.
  • On either end cut into the strip, cut narrow strips that are about 1″ wide. Leave a center section (about 1″) that is uncut.
  • Hold the base of each narrow strip firmly. Open your scissors to expose the blade and run the edge along the underside of the strip of paper (just like you would with curling ribbon). Move slowly and adjust your pressure so as not to tear the paper.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

  • Coax the curl into place with your fingers. You may need to repeat the process on the same strip if the paper doesn’t curl the first time.
  • Fold the bow in half and then in half again.
  • Gently shake out the bow to loosen the curls and you can arrange them or trim them as needed.
  • Add smaller pieces in coordinating papers by cutting, curling and taping them inside the first bow.

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

Tape the bow to the package. For more depth, add a length of curling ribbon and a mini ornament to complete the bow!

3 Simple Gift Wrapping Techniques That Are Creative, Unique and Budget-Friendly!

#WrapGiveRepeat

This holiday season Scotch® Brand will be donating $200,000 to Fisher House, a charity that provides a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. When making your seasonal donations, consider a donation to Fisher House via this link.

Are you a “Most Gifted Wrapper” with awesome gift wrapping techniques? How will you #WrapGiveRepeat this year?

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Follow Scotch® Brand on social media-

Taking Special Holiday Photos at Disneyland Resort

While visiting the Disneyland Resort over the holiday season, there’s just so much to see, do and eat to celebrate the season! Whether you want to share them on social media, use them for a Christmas card or save them in a memory album, there are lots of sweet places and things to photograph at Disneyland during the holidays. Capture those memories with these must-do tips for taking holiday photos at Disneyland.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post.

Taking Holiday Photos at Disneyland

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Christmas Trees

The Disneyland Christmas tree towers over Main Street U.S.A. and is decorated with over-sized ornaments that look like classic toys. Take a full shot of it and then move closer to capture individual ornaments on the tree.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A photo with the family is a must and there are many PhotoPass photographers standing here to snap a shot. This line moves quickly since they pose families around the entire circumference of the tree. We were able to use this photo for our Christmas card this year!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

The Holiday Treats

Eat all the treats! But first…take a photo of them. Capture the moment just before you bite into that soft gingerbread cookie or take a sip from your holiday eggnog. Unwrap your treat and take a snap of it in front of a favorite attraction (much better than a photo of it laying on the plate). Or hand it over to your child and photograph them nibbling, even cuter! Don’t want to indulge? Snap a photo of the sweet treats in the case or shop windows.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort   Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Draped in icicles and snow, the iconic castle is dressed up for winter. Take a few photos of the castle alone and also with your family posed in front. I like to take photos with the family from the pathway on the right-hand side. Foot traffic is lighter than directly in front and you won’t have anyone else in the background.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Favorite Characters

Even the characters get into the seasonal spirit with costumes that reflect the holidays. I recommend arriving at rope drop to catch the “Fab 5” in the hub of Main Street U.S.A. and catch photos with them all. We took this one with Donald a few years ago next to the Cove Bar (don’t you love the snowflakes on his outfit?)

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Seasonal Landscapes

I adore the care and thoughtfulness of the landscaping and flowers that are updated with the seasons. Christmas at Disneyland brings amazing arrangements like these bright poinsettias on Main Street U.S.A.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Themed Land Decor

Christmas in New Orleans? A wacky holiday in Toontown? A bright splash of Latin American festivities? Even Cars Land revs up the holiday decor! Take a wide angle shot of the decorations and then capture close ups to see the thoughtful detail that goes into keeping the theme of each area.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

Seasonal Ride Overlays

Haunted Mansion Holiday, it’s a small world – Holiday and Jingle Cruise have seasonal overlays that disappear shortly after the new year. The details in each attraction are fantastic so don’t miss photographing everything both inside and out.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Christmas Fantasy Parade

This classic parade is chockful of sweet holiday memories you’ll want to capture. Dancing reindeer, gingerbread cookies and of course, Santa and Mickey as well. We stood in the it’s a small world – holiday area and it was an ideal backdrop for taking pictures of this colorful parade.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Hotel Lobby Decor

Take a walk over to the hotels of the Disneyland resort and be rewarded with decor galore! We stayed at the Disneyland Hotel several years ago and walked inside each of the towers to check out the themed trees inside the lobbies.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

A stop inside Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa is both a visual and aromatic treat; a larger-than-life replica of the hotel in gingerbread is set up here and it smells delicious! Take a shot of the towering Christmas tree in the lobby and the rustic garlands hung throughout. Ride up the elevator to the second floor and capture an overhead view of the lobby in full holiday dress.

Santa

Naturally our favorite elf is greeting guests at the Happiest Place and there are several spots to find him. At Disneyland he’s in Critter Country. In Disney California Adventure park, we had a visit in the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail. Santa will also be visiting at the hotels of the Disneyland resort at special times over the winter season.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Photo Credit: Disney PhotoPass

During our recent visit, there was a “Nice List” book set up on a table where my son wrote in the names of our entire family. What a precious memory I was able to capture as he carefully noted each of us in Santa’s special book!

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Save Those Memories

Please note that I use affiliate links in the following section. If you click & purchase through the link you help me in a small financial way, thank you!

Don’t let those beautiful holiday pictures sit unseen in your camera or computer; get them printed out so everyone can see. I love Shutterfly for the versatility of their products as well as their great prices. I’ve been purchasing from Shutterfly for a very long time and am happy to have them as an affiliate partner. They are always having great sales and offer coupons as well.

Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

Consider adding your Disneyland holiday photos to a calendar, ornament or a seasonal canvas that you display along with your decorations each winter. I’ve already ordered my Shutterfly Christmas cards, featuring our family photo in front of the Disneyland Christmas tree!

If you want to capture crisp and clean images but the budget isn’t ready for the investment of a new camera, consider renting your gear pre-vacation from my affiliate BorrowLenses. You can rent just a lens, camera or the entire kit to take with you on vacation. I borrowed a lens before my trip to Europe several years ago and was thrilled with the images I captured on a lens I wouldn’t have been able to purchase outright.


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Purchase discount Disneyland tickets and vacation packages from my affiliate Get Away Today.

Use the Promo Code REWRITTEN and receive an extra $10 off any 2-night or longer Southern California package. (Hotel and 2 ticket minimum purchase to qualify for the discount). 


Dozens of ideas for taking special holiday photos at Disneyland Resort

For Disney Parks Christmas must dos,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Christmas Must Dos at Disney Loop:

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

How to Add a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Christmas is a magical time, of course. And what makes it even more sweet is adding a touch of Disney magic to your holidays. Whether it’s in the house decorations, the Christmas tree or even in the kitchen, Disney fan welcome a generous helping of pixie dust in everything they do! Here are my ideas for adding Disney magic to your Christmas.

Please note that I use affiliate links in this post. Clicking through and purchasing through these links helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Disney Details for the Home

Fill the house with Christmas cheer, Disney-style! This personalized Christmas tree skirt has a cute retro look. These clever Holiday Mugs hold milk and have a slot underneath for your cookie! And when it’s time to cuddle up with a favorite movie, this Mickey & Minnie Fleece Throw will keep you cozy.

 

 

Deck the Tree with Disney Ornaments

We’ve been collecting Disney ornaments for the Christmas tree since I was a little girl. It’s fun to pick them up while on vacation as a memento of your trip. Choose an ornament that reminds you of a special time (like the first spin on the Mad Tea Party teacups) or holds a cherished photo from that time you met your first Disney princess. I adore this Fantasyland Castle Ornament, a perfect blend of the parks along with good cheer for the holidays!

Hallmark Teacup for Two Mickey and Minnie Mouse Ornament and Hallmark 2016 Disney Princesses Photo Holder Holiday Ornament

Bake Disney-inspired Holiday Treats

Make anything Mickey shaped or that has Mouse Ears and my kids think it’s fantastic! Here are some simple recipes that can be tweaked just a bit to make them “Disney” including these Mouse Ears Snowman Cookies from Family.com and Mouseketeer Gingerbread Cookies from the Disney Food Blog. It wouldn’t be too difficult to make Rice Krispies treats like this Mickey shaped one I had at the Disneyland Resort. I have more Christmas recipe ideas on this post.

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas      Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Adding a Touch of Disney Magic to Your Christmas

Cook up Disney Magic in the Kitchen

This cookbook is very merry and full of Disney fun for the holidays! A Merry Christmas Cookbook is geared for kids to cook under adult supervision with holiday recipes inspired by favorite characters. For more discerning tastes, try the The Ultimate Disney World Cookbook with over 300 recipes from Disney parks restaurants. Serve up those Disney delights (or cookies for Santa!) on these adorable Mickey & Friends Plates from the DisneyStore.

    

Decorate the Yard Top to Bottom

Bright and colorful, these Disney yard decorations let everyone in the neighborhood know your love for the Mouse! We love to walk through our neighborhood and look at the holiday decorations and my kids always love when someone has Disney inspired decor. I want one of these Disney Mickey Mouse Ears LightShow Swirling Multicolor LED Christmas Spotlight Projectors so much! Paired with the Inflatable LED Mickey and Minnie’s Sled Scene, you’ll have a house that all the kids will want to see each night. Hang this cheery winter Disney Parks Holiday flag all winter long!

How do you add Disney magic to your Christmas? Share with me in the comments!

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