7 Tips for Teaching Gratitude and Thankfulness During the Holidays

What better time to discuss thankfulness and gratitude than during the holidays? With four young ones to raise, I’m constantly worried that I’m raising unappreciative brats! Not that my kids aren’t well-behaved and courteous in public, because they are. But at home, it’s another story. There is a streak of entitlement running rampant and I want to nip that in the bud!

Thankfulness During the Holidays

My mom’s group at church recently discussed how to raise grateful children and it got my wheels turning. Am I doing enough with my four kids to teach them gratitude and thankfulness? And what about good manners? Don’t those go hand in hand? Of course saying, “Thank you” is important, but I think that true gratitude goes beyond good manners. And with the season of giving, there are so many beautiful ways to foster a feeling of gratitude. Here are a few key thoughts I have about teaching gratitude and thankfulness, especially during the holidays.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my post. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

1. Age Matters

Naturally I expect the best manners from my teenagers. And of course, my six year old knows how to properly behave…for his age. But I wouldn’t expect the same behavior from my toddler that I do from my kindergartner! Discuss with your partner ahead of time what behaviors you each expect from your children, with consideration for their ages.

This starts with teaching “please” and “thank you” from a young age. If your toddler receives a treat from someone, you can speak on their behalf to offer the “thank you”. Or if they are able to speak, remind them to say it themselves.

Elementary aged children can be expected to offer thanks without prompting. That doesn’t mean they don’t sometimes get wrapped up in the moment and forget though! Elementary aged kids do love to give, so make sure they have the opportunity to create something special for someone over the holiday (like a hand-drawn card).

Older children can show their gratitude in larger ways, both verbally and in physical action. Older kids and teens are able to think outside of their own small world and will often come up with their own ideas during the holidays. This may include donating their time volunteering.


2. Laying Out Expectations

Before we head out for a holiday-themed event, I run through my expectations for each child. When kids know what is expected of them, it’s easier for them to know their boundaries. I tailor topics to each specific child, depending upon their age and abilities.

Discussions might include:

  • Encouraging them to remember their manners during a holiday dinner when they are a guest (not wiggling at the table, using a napkin, etc.)
  • Chatting with the adult party hosts for a few minutes to say thank you for the invitation before running off to play.
  • Not whining about what foods they don’t like at the party.
  • Helping to clear their plate.
  • Offering to help the host to clean up.
  • Not asking for seconds of dessert, at least not until everyone else has had a first serving.
  • Saying “Thank you for inviting me” when leaving.

3. “I Want”

I told my mom’s group that I was having some issues with my six year old acting entitled to certain things around our house. Seems like the holidays brings out the sassy attitude even more! And what can we expect, when we ask our kids, “What do you want for Christmas?” With the focus on getting stuff so heavy during the holidays, young children can really get wrapped up in what they “want” and not what they can do for others.

Instead of asking the kids what THEY want to receive for Christmas, I’m twisting things a bit. I’ve been asking them what they think their siblings would like to receive. Instead of focusing on what they’re going to get, I can see that my kids are more excited to be involved in making decisions and helping choose gifts for others. We’re taking it one step further by making gifts instead of buying (easy things, like laminated bookmarks).

4. Role-Playing

What’s more cringe-worthy than a kid who receives a gift and says, “I hate this”. How embarrassing. And of course, hurtful to the person who gave the gift.

In our house, we do a lot of role-playing before parties and gatherings. It’s good practice for kids and a reminder of your expectations. Ideas for role-play is to ask, “What would you say if you received a gift that you didn’t like?” or “What if you received a gift that you already have?”

My son celebrated his sixth birthday recently and we did some role-play on the way to his play date birthday party. I asked him, “What if someone gives you underwear?!” His response was, “Thanks for the undies!”

So yes, the correct and easiest answer is always, “Thank you for the _____!” Even if you don’t like it. Even if you already have it. Even if it’s a weird present. Thank you is always the right comment to make.

5. Volunteer and Give

There are always going to be a lot of ways to volunteer your time during the holidays. Places like churches need extra help in the kid care area, which is usually something that teens can help with. Younger kids can assist with bagging up canned goods in a food bank.

There are also organizations that accept special items for donation during this season. When we donated food to our local food bank, I made sure that my 6 year old knew we were giving and explained where the food was going. He was so excited to tell everyone how many items he’d donated! We also made up boxes for Samaritan’s Purse this year. He helped me choose the items for the two boxes we filled and went with me when we dropped them off. He was able to see how grateful the volunteers were when we came with our donations and they prayed with us over the boxes. It was something he’s not forgotten and I know that it had a big impact on him.

6. Take the Focus Off Stuff

If you sense your kids are too focused on the stuff this holiday season, find ways to move the focus on experiences rather than things. That’s really what the holiday is, spending time with family and making memories. Things like baking and decorating cookies, watching a Christmas movie on TV, walking through the neighborhood to see decorations and singing along to songs on the radio are favorite ways to celebrate without spending a lot!

7. Keep It Simple

Figure out what things are most important to you and your family. From there you can decide what to do and what to skip this holiday. I find that when I try to cram too much good stuff into the season, it becomes not only stressful for me, it’s hard on the kids. And when the kids are having a rough time, it tends to come out in crabby behavior. And then we start to think, “Ungrateful brats!”

Be sure to work in plenty of downtime between holiday celebrations. Pick and choose only what you most love about the holidays and do those things. Don’t feel guilty about skipping over other things. Perhaps you can alternate years? Do what brings you and your family the most joy, incorporating gratefulness and thankfulness about being together!

Fed up with "ungrateful brats" during the holidays? These 7 practical tips can help teach you children about thankfulness during the holidays.


Get Ready for the Holidays – Dress-Up Guide for Kids

There’s only a few times a year when I have veto power on what my kids wear. One of those times is Christmas and you can be sure, I’m making sure the kids look great! Bye-bye sweatpants with holes in the knees – hello, adorable sweater with a snowflake design! Of course the baby never complains so she always has her hair and outfit on point. But during the holidays I can doll her up even more!

I have two teens and two littles, ages 6 and 20 months. My big kids are picking their own outfits, of course. But I still like to choose something special for  them to wear during the holidays. My six year old is in kindergarten this year, which means his first school holiday concert! He’ll need something nice to wear for that event. And then there are several cookie decorating parties, a few family events, a live theater show and a big Christmas party.  The kids will need something to wear for each event, ranging from Christmas casual to dressed up. This is my dress-up guide for getting the kids holiday ready!

This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. I was compensated for this post.

New Holiday Outfits

Every kid knows that the holidays are the best time of year! Delicious treats, fun activities at school and cozy new clothes. You want the kids to look cute but you don’t want them revolting because something is itchy or “feels weird”. That’s why Gymboree is my holiday clothing go-to. My kids dressed in coordinating Gymboree outfits last year and everyone from the baby to the big kids looked fantastic. And comfortable clothes for kids are important. If they aren’t comfortable, they aren’t going to want to wear it!

You’re going to find adorable and cozy outfits from Gymboree that are easy to wash and wear. Right now holiday styles are 50% off, while supplies last!

The girls in their coordinating Gymboree holiday outfits in 2016

I love these Fair Isle designs where little sister can coordinate with big sister. They are similar but not matchy-matchy.

And the brothers can’t be left out either. I’m a sucker for a holiday plaid shirt and my boys tend to wear one from Gymboree every year! Give them some cool accessories like boots or a beanie and the boys will be happy.

Don’t forget the pajamas! We give our kids a “Night Before Christmas” box with a new holiday book, cocoa and a pair of jammies. These adorable holiday-themed Gymmies are perfect for Christmas morning photos.

Beautiful Hair Care

If you want a head-to-toe look for the kids, start off with a good sudsing! We’re already a fan of Fairy Tales Bug Bandit. I was recently sent hydrating shampoo, conditioner and styling gel in the Fairy Tales Hair Care Curly-Q line. My baby daughter was blessed with amazing curls and I confess, that I’ve not really known how to properly care for them! She usually wakes up with a matted mess that I have to untangle. And then of course, she’s left with a frizzy halo instead of curls.

I have been washing, conditioning and using the styling gel spray on my daughter’s curls and wow, the difference is incredible. Not only are the curls more defined, her hair is also much softer, shinier and easily managed.

Curls by Fairy Tales Hair Care & outfit by Gymboree!

Ingredients like quinoa, rice amino acids, Mururmuru butter, aloe, and avocado butter combine to keep curls bouncy and frizz-free. Products are also sulfate, paraben, phthalate-free as well as gluten, soy, dairy and nut-free.

If you have a curly-headed kiddo, I can’t recommend these products enough. Or try the Tangle Tamers, Sun & Swim or Rosemary Repel hair care lines. Check out Fairy Tales Hair Care for all these products (and the must-have, Lice Good-Bye Survival Kit!)


Dressed Up Head to Toe

I’ve talked about how much we love Pediped shoes here before. My kids have been wearing them since before they could walk! Look at my cute squishy last year, wearing her elegant Pediped originals. They have big kid shoes too, from dress-up styles to cold weather boots.

Pediped shoes are high quality and a great value for how well they are made. Want to save money on Pediped shoes? If you enroll in Ebates, you can get 6% cash back when you shop through the link for Pediped Outlet and 5% cash back through Pediped.


Accessories Round Out the Look

If a full head-to-toe outfit overhaul isn’t in the budget, look to accessories that can dress up your kid’s holiday look. Things like a new hat, holiday themed socks, a neck tie or sparkling stockings can brighten up an older outfit. And kids love using accessories to personalize their style! Shop Gymboree for these on-sale accessories.

 

Quick and Easy Mickey and the Roadster Racers Birthday Party

My son just turned six and he’s slightly obsessed with Mickey Mouse. He has dressed like Mickey for three of five Halloween costumes. And we’ve had several birthday parties in a Mickey theme (including a Sorcerer’s Apprentice party). So of course this year he was set on a Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party. I was ready to make that happen – on a budget, of course! And with four kids, I just don’t have it in me for anything over-the-top, so these are very quick and easy ideas. I’ve even included my FREE PRINTABLES so you can host your own Mickey and the Roadster Racers party!

Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Roadster Racers Birthday Party on a Budget

The Roadster Racers has a simple color scheme of red, black, yellow. You could add in black and white checked accents too! I went with plain red tablecloths with black plates and napkins. No expensive character-laden designs needed. Consider using the color scheme on balloons or crepe paper streamers. Or use black and white checked scrapbook paper to create pennant flags.

I had a “Kitchen Sink” bowl from Disneyland that made a perfect snack container! See what you have in the color schemes to use before making purchases.


Roadster Racers Outfit

My birthday boy wore the Mickey Mouse costume I’d made him for Halloween during his play date party. Here is my costume tutorial if you’d like to make one for your racer! If you don’t have a costume, consider having your child dress in an outfit or t-shirt that fits the theme.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

My Roadster Racer and his Zebra sister on Halloween. The costume doubled as his birthday party outfit.


Roadster Racers Themed Food

This was a fun and quirky way to incorporate the theme of the party, with snacks inspired by the show. We had a play date at the park after lunch so we just served simple goodies like mini doughnuts (“spare tires”) and cupcakes (“traffic light treats”). I’ve included the FREE PRINTABLE for each of these so you can print at home and use for your own party!

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Traffic Light Treats

I made easy cupcakes at home. On the chocolate frosted cupcakes, I split mini Oreo cookies in half and placed them in the frosting to resemble Mouse ears. On the vanilla frosted cupcakes we used plain M&M candies in yellow, red and green to look like a street light (you might see an orange M&M…we ran out of yellow – Guess what, nobody cared!)

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Nuts & Bolts and Dip Sticks

Store-bought Trail mix is a quick Nuts & Bolts treat. My friend Leslie of Trips with Tykes has a great Mickey Mouse Trail Mix so make it your own!

Pretzel sticks or rods are perfect Dip Sticks. You could also use baby carrots and Ranch dressing!

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Spare Tires

Mini chocolate doughnuts make tasty Spare Tires. We didn’t have any extras of these laying around after the party!

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Coolants

Our drink section was labeled Coolants, to chill down our active party guests! You could also put this label on an actual cooler.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Links to Free Roadster Racers Party Printables

Roadster Racers Gifts

I purchased this small Mickey race car toy to use as a “cupcake topper” to set the theme for our party. It doubled as decoration and a toy to play with later as a memento for my son’s birthday.

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

What to get your Roadster Racer fan for their birthday? Check out these appropriate gifts and videos!


More Printable Party Decorations

I found all these great, free printables on the Disney Junior website that are perfect for your Roadster Racers party.

Birthday Party on a Budget

Looking for more birthday party ideas? Check out my post Birthday Party On a Budget!

Mickey and the Roadster Racers birthday party ideas that are quick, easy and inexpensive!

Best Games and Toys for Unplugged Kids

I was at the toy store recently, perusing the aisles and looking for something my toddler daughter would enjoy. I walked out of the store empty-handed. First off, I didn’t want to buy her anything that made noise, was electronic or needed batteries. Second, so many of the toys were waaaaay too pricey for what they were! Third, I didn’t want to purchase anything that she’d outgrow in a month or two. I was looking for toys she’d be able to play with for several years and games that weren’t one-and-done.

Toys That Don’t Need Batteries

I went home and looked at the toys that I’ve purchased for my kids over the years, the favorites and the classics. These are items that have proven their worth in gold. These are the toys and games that get frequently pulled out, played with and foster imagination. Some I bought when my teens were babies and my littlest one plays with them today!

This post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Outdoor Toys

Ultimate Frisbee by Wham-O

My big kids are SO into playing frisbee with friends lately! They even play Ultimate Frisbee during P.E. at school. If the frisbee craze hasn’t started in your area, take one to the park and see how many kids ask to join in!


Things that Go

Brio Classic Deluxe Train Set

I bought a Brio train set for my eldest over 15 years ago and it’s still in perfect condition and played with weekly! These classic wooden toys are an investment but quite possibly, your grandchildren will play with them someday too.


Family Games

Apples to Apples Disney Version

Already own and love the original Apples to Apples Game? Try one of the other varieties, including Junior, Disney, Bible or Big Picture. This is a family favorite.


Fostering Imagination

Hearth & Hand™ with Magnolia Wooden Dollhouse with Furniture

My dad made me a dollhouse for Christmas the year I turned 8. We would make furniture together with tiny picture frames from magazine pages and food from clay. Those are special memories! This dollhouse is beautiful and simple, the perfect heirloom.


Crafts and Creativity

Crayola Rock Painting Kit

Our community loves to paint and hide rocks for others to find (see this post). And my kids would love this kit that gives them all the tools they need to paint their own designs.


Toys for Builders

Magformers Magnets

Think outside the LEGO box for other creative toys that your builder will love! These magnet sets combine building with movement for maximum creativity.


Water Play

B. Toys Fish & Splish

End the day on a wet note by encouraging water play in the tub. This set is particularly fun because it’s also functional – the toys are also a comb and nail brush.

No batteries needed! These are the best toys for kids that don't need batteries.

Holiday Shopping Guide: Disney Gifts for Toddlers

That first holiday when your child is old enough to enjoy the season is just the best! They can enjoy the holiday meal. They love looking at lights in the neighborhood. And of course, they’re old enough to open gifts now too! I can’t wait for my toddler daughter to see the Christmas tree this year. But I have a feeling we won’t be setting any presents out under the tree, for fear she’ll open them all before the actual holiday! Holiday shopping for toddlers is already so much fun. And of course adding a pixie dust sprinkling of Disney in with the presents is so magical. Here is the shopping guide with my suggestions of Disney gifts for toddlers!

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Disney gifts for toddlers including stocking stuffers, toys, bath and meal time fun and favorite books and movies!

Disney Toys for Toddlers

Number one on the lists of all little boys and girls – TOYS! These adorable Disney-themed toys for toddlers include Little People and LEGO Duplo blocks.

Fisher-Price Little People

LEGO Duplo Disney blocks are adorable and really feed a toddler’s imagination!


Adorable Outfits and Clothes

Toddlers love to wear comfy clothes that also feature their favorite characters! These machine-washable outfits are great for a day at Disney…or any day!

 

Disney Books, Music and Movies

What’s better on a chilly day than snuggling up to read, watch favorite movies or listen to songs together with your toddler? These are all perfect for little ones and make great Disney gifts for toddlers. These DVDs are family favorites!


Disney Dollies

Toddlers love to emulate mama and that means having a baby to care for of their very own. Each of my kids had their own special Disney-themed stuffy or doll (even me – my lovie was Winnie the Pooh!)

 

Outdoor Play

Toddlers love to explore the great outdoors. These outdoor play items with a Disney twist will keep them active outside.

           

 

Disney Dining

A favorite character featured at meal time makes lima beans look more appealing! Okay, maybe not, but toddlers love to see Disney characters on their cups, plates, bibs and placemats.



Toddler Games

These games are fine for little ones to play on their own, but everything is more fun with family! Include these fun games on your next family game night to include your toddler as well.

  


Dressing Up Disney

Kids of all ages love to play dress-up! Toddlers too, so keep their dress-up box full and fill their imaginations!

 


Disney Travel Gear

Hitting the road? Even if you’re not headed to the Disney Parks, you can pack your toddler’s favorite characters on everything from pint-sized backpacks, lunch boxes and sunglasses.


Bath Time

I have a hard time dragging my toddler out of the tub, she loves it! But if your toddler has a bath time aversion, perhaps these fun toys and products would help encourage some clean up?

“it’s a small world” Bathtub Boat


Bed Time

What better place to read a bed time story than from your very own toddler sized Cars chair? And how sweet to cuddle up in your toddler-sized blanket set with a favorite Disney character!

Stocking Stuffers

My toddler loves seeing her favorite characters in unexpected places like on her toothbrush! Stuff their stockings with these Disney gifts for toddlers, like toothpaste, Band-Aids, slippers and undies (perfect for those toddlers who are gearing up for potty training!)



For more Holiday gift ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


 

Cultivating Family Holiday Traditions When You Feel Like You Don’t Have Any

My husband and I have been married for almost 7 years. Our anniversary is at the end of the month, followed up three days later by Thanksgiving and then our son’s sixth birthday two days after that. Exactly two weeks later my eldest son turns 14 and two weeks after that is Christmas Day. And then New Years the week after, of course. That’s a lot of events crammed into a short amount of time. Do we have anything special planned for them? Nope. Do we have anything planned at all? Uh…no.

Creating Family Holiday Traditions

You know how some families have these great traditions that happen each year on special events? I love hearing about these family traditions! Like a special birthday plate that has been handed down and is served on each year. Or an elf breakfast celebrating the first day of December. How about particular songs that are sung in celebration of a special day, certain meals that are prepared, specific decorations that are put up.

Yeah, we don’t have any of those. I feel like we really have no family traditions.

Perhaps I’m feeling a little guilty coming out of Halloween. While my kids had costumes (3 out of 4 handmade, thank you very much!) and they did go trick-or-treating, we didn’t go to the pumpkin patch and we didn’t even purchase or carve pumpkins. Despite several trips to the attic to look for the “fall box” my husband wasn’t able to find my autumn decorations so the house went un-decorated (to the disappointment of the kindergartener).

Is it lack of planning that I almost always find myself thinking a few days before a kid’s birthday, “Dang, we should have planned a party or something!”?

Is there lack of creativity (or sheer exhaustion) that I just don’t have it in me to come up with ideas for cute ways to celebrate when there is a special day?

Perhaps it’s lack of budget that with so many big events squished into a month, there’s no way we can do something grand for each special day?

But family traditions don’t have to be grand. Or cost anything. Or require a lot of planning, do they?

Why Have Family Holiday Traditions?

Why bother with traditions at all? Is it just a guilt thing, thinking my kids are missing out? Not at all. I know that participating in traditions is very important towards creating family bonds and childhood memories. Traditions create an identity and reinforce your family values. Having a tradition also means that people know what to expect. Expectation isn’t a bad thing. It’s something to look forward to, something to get excited about. Traditions are also special because it gives people something to teach, to pass down to others.

I had to think really hard about things that we do as a family that would be considered a tradition. Some years I’ve done things that might be considered tradition, the next year I missed the mark. I WANT to create traditions. I want to make things more consistent year after year. And with an anniversary, two birthdays and three major holidays coming up, the time to create traditions is now!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

My son’s thankful list.

Please note that I use affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you.

Curating Family Traditions

So, how can you create family traditions? Fortunately the internet is a wealth of ideas that you can pick and choose from as they fit into your family. I intend to be more committed to coming up with memory-worthy family traditions that will bring my family and I closer. Creating and cultivating traditions doesn’t have to cost anything or be overly extravagant. As I created this list, I realized that my family has more traditions than I knew!

Thanksgiving

Seasonal Table Decor – From the tablecloth you spread on the dining room table to the glass candlesticks you place in the center, choose Thanksgiving table decor that you want to use year after year as a tradition.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Inviting Friends – What better way to show the spirit of Thanksgiving than by inviting others to your Thanksgiving table? Request that friends bring a dish to share that includes their tradition or culture.

Dinner Prayer – In our family, we always start each meal with a prayer. At Thanksgiving, we all stand around the table and hold hands. Each person says one quick thing they are thankful for to share with the group.

Traditional Foods – While turkey, gravy with mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie are pretty much every American’s traditional Thanksgiving dinner fare, what are the traditional foods in your family? I’ve heard of tamales, mac and cheese, ambrosia salad and creamed corn appearing at the table. Dig up one of grandma’s favorite old recipes and make it a tradition to prepare that dish each year.

Football – Whether watching the big games on TV or pulling out the football to play in the yard, do it together as a family.

Eating the Leftovers – You’d better hope there are leftovers! We actually try to make a LOT of extra food, planning that there will be plenty of leftovers. Leftover apple pie for breakfast, turkey sandwiches for dinner and full Thanksgiving dinner again at night! My friend’s family makes tacos the next day by stuffing corn tortillas with mashed potatoes, a beaten egg, chopped leftover ham, cheddar cheese and green onions (they close the tortilla and fry it in oil – delish!!)

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Enjoying traditional Thanksgiving foods as well as our family favorites.

December

Advent Calendar – My mom had the cutest Advent calendar made of felt. She’d pull it out each December and I loved using it each day as a kid. There are some really cool calendars out there now, counting down the days to Christmas. Certainly helps to build anticipation for the holidays.


Donating Gifts – Our church collects gifts each year, as does our kid’s school and the dentist office. We try to donate something to each one. It’s a perfect tradition to share with the kids that shows it’s better to give than to receive. This year we’ve already purchased a bunch of goodies to create boxes for Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child.

Movie Day – Choose one day (maybe a snowy or rainy one) where everyone gathers together and watches traditional Christmas film favorites.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.


Hot Cocoa & Egg Nog – Give these two seasonal drinks a grand entrance and make it a special occasion. Offer them after a neighborhood walk to see holiday lights or while snuggled in front of the fireplace.

Volunteering – Despite the busy season, many of us still squeeze in volunteer work. Whether it’s at the local food bank or with your church, volunteering yourself as a tradition really expresses your family values.

Holiday Lights – Here’s another one that we actually do. I never thought of it being a tradition, but it totally is! Take a drive in the car or a walk through the neighborhood to admire the holiday light displays. Bring a traditional snack like popcorn or cocoa to make it extra special.

Bake & Decorate Cookies – For many this tradition can be a chore! Take back the joy in holiday baking by only making your most favorite cookies. Include the kids and let them decorate (don’t worry about perfection – the kids just want to have fun and eat their creations!)

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Christmas

Decorating the Tree – I have a confession. I used to decorate the Christmas tree by myself when the kids were in bed! I was always worried about broken ornaments and strange placement. And then I got over that. I remembered when my parents would play Christmas music and my brother and I would pull each ornament out of the box, oohing and aahhing with the memories of each one. I want my kids to have that tradition too.

Wrap Together – Last year I stopped wrapping all the Christmas gifts alone. I started enlisting the help of each child individually to get them more involved in the holiday. I allowed the younger one to wrap gifts (lots of tape was sacrificed!) for his older brother and sister. He loved keeping the secrets of the gift and the anticipation of them opening it on Christmas morning.


Christmas Music Sing-along- Turn on the music and everyone join in, you know the words! Now it’s time to teach the lyrics of your favorite Christmas songs to the kids too.

Christmas Morning Breakfast- While we don’t have a traditional meal per se, we do always indulge in a big Christmas morning breakfast before gift opening. Sometimes we have French toast. Other days, it’s pancakes. But there is always bacon!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Bacon for Christmas morning is our family holiday tradition!

Collecting Ornaments – In writing this post, I realized that THIS is a tradition of mine! My grandmother would purchase my brother and I ornaments from Avon each year and those are my most cherished collection. I’ve been purchasing the Hallmark Beauty of Birds Series for my own white tree display.

I used to buy my eldest son a Hallmark ornament of his own each year that reflected something he’d loved that year. Unfortunately with four kids now, the cost of buying each of them a pricey ornament is out of my budget. But perhaps I can take them to the store and let them each choose something inexpensive.

Church – While we attend church each Sunday together as a family, participating in a traditional Christmas church service has it’s own feeling.

New Years

Ring in the new year with family-friendly celebrations that keep you close at home, creating memories together.

Special Foods – After the indulgence of Christmas, my family always chose to go a different route for New Year’s Eve. Appetizers like a cheese and cracker platter, fresh cut fruit and nuts served with a glass of wine are a perfectly acceptable dinner! We’d follow it up with the big box of chocolate and peanut brittle that someone always seemed to gift us each year!

Dress for the Occasion – Choose the theme for your evening – Is it glamorous? Then dress up to the nines! Or casual and cozy? Then have everyone wear their pajamas and snuggle in blankets.


Stay Up Till Midnight (Maybe) – I admit, we haven’t made it past midnight in several years (having little ones and no party plans does that to you!) No need to stay up till midnight in your neighborhood though. Choose midnight in a different time zone and celebrate your New Year at 8 pm if you’d rather the kids stick to their normal bedtime!

Games All Night – When I was younger, my family would pull out several board games to play together. We’d play cards, Yahtzee, Clue and put together a puzzle until the clock struck midnight.

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Birthdays

With four kids, birthday parties aren’t always in the budget. But small traditions are so important when celebrating each child’s special day.

Breakfast In Bed – Serve your child’s favorite breakfast to them in bed. What a fun way to wake up!

Kid’s Choice – Give kids the choice of activity on this day and you might be surprised what they choose. For my son’s 5th birthday, his one request was a play date at the park with his preschool bestie – easy and done! Plan ahead and ask them their choice for dinner as well so you can prepare it on their birthday.

A Birthday Letter from Mom & Dad – Write a letter to your child with notable thoughts on the year past. Save the birthday letters in a special box to be gifted to them when they’re an adult.

Cake Served on a Special Plate – I bought a pretty vintage white cake platter the year we were married. It was going to hold our wedding cake but the cake ended up being too wide. However this cake plate makes a special appearance for each birthday!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

Anniversary

My anniversary, I’ve got nothing. We went to dinner on our first anniversary and since then, we’ve always just treated it like any other day. No gifts, no cards, just a regular day that includes the phrase, “Happy Anniversary, honey”.

I don’t want to blow off our wedding anniversary anymore. I want to create some traditions that show my husband (as well as my kids) that we treasure our marriage with a celebration. Doesn’t have to be expensive or over the top, but it should be something!

30+ family holiday traditions you can create with your family on a budget.

A blurry cell phone selfie is better than nothing!

Same Restaurant – Do you have a special restaurant that you dined in while dating? Return each year for your anniversary (or another restaurant in the same food theme).

Love Letter – Given that I’ve never even received a store-bought card, this one isn’t really in my husband’s wheelhouse but there are some partners who love to share their thoughts and feelings on paper.

Give Traditional Gifts with a Twist – You know those “traditional anniversary themes” for gifts, like paper for the first year and gold for the 50th? Add a twist to those by setting a budget each year. For instance it’s my 7th anniversary this year and the theme is wool or copper. If we set a budget of $20, we could buy a copper bangle, a wool scarf, Moscow mule mug or a wool felt ornament. The point is to actually purchase something that is perfect for your partner, not just anything to fill the quota of a gift.

Wedding Album – Pull out the wedding photos and guest book to look through it together and reflect on the day.

Get Away for the Big Days – Though we might not have it in the budget to have a get-away each year on our anniversary, we’re already planning our 10th anniversary with a big holiday vacation.

And what if none of these traditions feel right for your family? No matter, try only what feels right. What’s most important is gathering together. And the memories you make!

Gift Guide – 100 Best Books for Kids of All Ages

Books are the BEST gifts! I love giving books and I love when my kids receive books. The hardest part about giving books as a gift is choosing something that the child hasn’t already read or received. There are the beloved classics, like Good Night, Moon, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Where the Wild Things Are for young kids. And so many kids have already read through the Harry Potter or Little House on the Prairie series. Nobody giving a book as a gift wants to hear, “Oh, I already have this one!” I’ve created a list of the 100 best books for kids that might be off your radar. Perhaps you’ve heard of these titles or maybe even read them as a child yourself but it will be a new discovery for the little ones in your life!

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

Gift guide to the best books for kids, including a bunch you've never heard of!

Choosing the “Best Books for Kids”

A few years ago my eldest son got stuck on reading a comic book series. Again. And again.

Not that there’s anything wrong with the series. There are some that will say to let kids read whatever interests them because at least they’re reading. However, I liken some books to “junk food”.  Sure, they’re light and easy to read. They go down easy. But then, where’s the substance? What are you reading that’s making you learn or grow? We all enjoy a little junk food but if that’s all your diet is, you’ll need to round it out with MORE.

Not every book has to be life-changing but finding books that literally move your child and make them think, those are the diamonds in the rough!

I took my son to the bookstore and showed him a few of my favorite books that I knew he’d enjoy. He started on the Hatchet series by Gary Paulsen and was completely absorbed with the story. I was able to say, “Told you so!!” As a result he’s been taking bigger stretches on his book choices.

Each of the books suggested are my family favorites. They have been read and owned by my own children, stand the test of time and are age-appropriate. I’ve also included BONUS BOOKS that were suggested by friends as their family favorites!

Gift guide to the best books for kids, including a bunch you've never heard of!

Best Books for Babies and Toddlers

I’ve been reading to my kids since they were newborns. Text can be minimal to allow you to riff off the pictures and simply talk to your little one and make up your own story. Or choose a book with a fun rhyme that will help your toddler pick up words and rhythm. I always choose sturdy board books for babies and toddlers.
Look, Look! – The black and white contrasts with minimal text, making this perfect for newborns.

Jamberry – One of my very favorites, with tons of detail and wonderful read-aloud rhyme.

 

Time for Bed -A bedtime book (or two, or three!) is a baby and toddler must. This one is gentle and sweet.

More Great Books for Babies & Toddlers

Good Night, Gorilla

The Napping House

Dinosaurumpus!

First 100 Board Book Box Set

A Porcupine Named Fluffy

Say Goodnight

Dear Zoo: A Lift-the-Flap Book

Bonus Books for Babies and Toddlers

Corduroy

Giraffes Can’t Dance

God Gave Us You

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean!

On the Night You Were Born

My Heart Is Like a Zoo

We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Bear’s Busy Family

Big Red Barn

Snuggle Puppy!

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

Cheep! Cheep!


Read-Aloud Books for Preschoolers

Preschoolers love to cuddle up and read together. They are looking for “more to the story” at this age though a fun read-aloud with fantastic pictures and rhyme is always welcome too!

When The Wind Stops – For that preschooler who wants to know, “Why?”, this book about days and seasons and beginnings and endings is gorgeous and perfect.

“The Way I Feel” Library – My mother-in-law bought these for my eldest son when he was young. They were such a Godsend when he was struggling with emotions. We’d snuggle together, read and discuss. I’ve kept them in our library for the other kids too, they are such important books.

Beatrix Potter the Complete Tales – So you may have read Peter Rabbit before, but what about Jeremy Fisher, The Tailor of Gloucester and my favorite, the Tale of Two Bad Mice? These soft illustrations and story lines are ideal for preschoolers (Wow, do those little animals get into mischief, kids LOVE that!)

Other Books We Love for Preschoolers

The Book with No Pictures

My Book About Me

Miss Suzy

Read With Dick and Jane – Jump & Run

The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear

Quick As a Cricket

Mix It Up!

Caps for Sale: A Tale of a Peddler Some Monkeys and Their Monkey Business

Llama Llama’s Little Library

Mother Mother I Want Another

Bonus Books for Preschoolers (suggested by family & friends)

Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Good Night, Little Dragons

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type

Madeline

Dragons Love Tacos

I Love You, Stinky Face

Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!

Press Here

Thelma the Unicorn

The Prince Won’t Go to Bed!

The Day the Crayons Quit

Skippyjon Jones


Great Books for Beginning Readers

Beginning readers tend to waffle between wanting to read a little and still wanting to be read to. I’m suggesting a mix of beginning chapter books, longer read-together chapter books and picture books. Many beginning readers still find pictures very important to the story experience.

Three Tales of My Father’s Dragon – This was the first read-aloud chapter book I read to my boys. It’s a fantastic story of imagination, wit and creativity. My kids have read it alone to themselves again when they were solid readers.

Somebody Loves You, Mr. Hatch – My youngest son pulled this off the shelf recently and his teenage brother gushed, “I LOVE that book!” The sentiment about seeing & caring for others is sweet (even when it’s not Valentine’s Day).

 

 

 

Mr. Putter & Tabby series – I can admit it. Whenever we get a new Mr. Putter and Tabby book I’m on the edge of my seat with excitement about what silliness will happen with this creaky old man and his elderly cat. They are so fun to read (and how many books for little kids celebrate the elderly?!)

Other Wonderful Books for Beginning Readers

Miss Twiggley’s Tree

Badger’s Parting Gifts

Johnny Appleseed

Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury

Good Night, Good Knight

Wolf Story

The Little House

When Dinosaurs Came with Everything

Henry and Mudge Ready-to-Read Collection

 

Bonus Books for Beginning Readers (suggested by family & friends)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Complete Series

Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons

Iggy Peck, Architect

The Lorax

Leo the Late Bloomer

How I Became a Pirate

In the Night Kitchen

The Stranger

Junkyard Wonders

Galactic Hot Dogs Collection

The Last Kids on Earth


Engaging Books for Elementary

Elementary aged kids enjoy a healthy mix of fiction and non-fiction. Non-fiction must to have engaging photos and interesting text that’s easy to comprehend.

All-of-a-Kind Family – One of my most favorite book series as a child, I devoured these stories about 5 diverse sisters living in NYC at the turn of the century. So much charm and spunk, you’ll love each character (it also is a fantastic series about Jewish culture and holidays).

 

DK Eyewitness Books – There’s a DK Eyewitness book for just about every topic on Earth!! Seriously, if your child has an interest in something whether it be Castles in Ireland, Sportfishing, Elephanits, Astronomy or the American Revolution, you can find it. And they’ll love these amazingly detailed books with tons of images.

 

 

My Side of the Mountain Trilogy- I never knew there was more than one book after My Side of the Mountain, but my son found them and was so absorbed by the continued story line. My Side of the Mountain is followed up by On the Far Side of the Mountain and Frightful’s Mountain.

More Great Books for Beginning Readers

Material World: A Global Family Portrait

The Disney Book

Ella Enchanted

The Way Things Work Now

Barefoot Books World Atlas

Look-Alikes: The More You Look, the More You See!

A Street Through Time

Bunnicula in a Box

Bonus Books for Elementary (suggested by family & friends)

Timmy Failure: Now Look What You’ve Done

Smile and Sisters: The Box Set

Nancy Drew Diaries Supersleuth Collection: Curse of the Arctic Star; Strangers on a Train; Mystery of the Midnight Rider; Once Upon a Thriller; … Clue at Black Creek Farm; A Script for Danger

Absolutely Almost

The Original Adventures of Hank the Cowdog (Hank the Cowdog (Quality))

Peter and the Starcatchers


Upper Ages

Kids reading in the upper age category crave compelling story lines that transport them to a different part of the world, an old (or future) era or a completely new realm. I tried to choose titles that my own tween/teens didn’t read with their class at school.

The Cay – I read and reread this book a dozen times growing up. I just loved the story of this castaway boy and the man he’s been lost at sea with.

The Gary Paulsen Collection – I’d read Hatchet (the first in this collection) and had recommended it to my son. He’s since read the entire collection in the series as well as many other Gary Paulsen stories.

 

 

 

Rebecca – This is a classic but unlikely that your teen has ever read or even heard of it. Filled with intrigue, mystery and secrets, it’s a page-turner!

 

Other Must-Read Books for Upper Ages

Cabin on Trouble Creek

Warriors Box Set: Volumes 1 to 6: The Complete First Series

Julie of the Wolves

The Ranger’s Apprentice Collection

Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind

Kingdom Keepers Boxed Set

Bonus Books for Upper Ages (suggested by family & friends)

 

Brotherband Chronicles (7 Book Series)

Inheritance Cycle 4-Book Paperback Boxed Set (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, In)

I Survived Collector’s Toolbox

Masterminds

The Lunar Chronicles Boxed Set: Cinder, Scarlet, Cress, Fairest, Winter

5 Ways to Encourage Your Family Towards Healthier Living

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

Growing up, I was a very active kid. I played soccer, took dance lessons and was always outside playing with friends, roller skating or riding my bike. While I was very active physically, my nutrition was lacking. I was an extremely picky eater as a kid, definitely not taking in what I needed to stay healthy. Now that I’m an adult and have four kids (aged 18 months to 13 years old) my life is so busy just holding down the normal day to day routine. But my husband and I do strive to live a healthier lifestyle as a family. We are encouraging our kids with daily exercise, good health and nutrition. Here are a few ideas for encouraging families to live a healthier life!

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

1. Make it a Routine

What healthy routines are you making in your life? Once you do something a few times with your kids, it can quickly become the “norm”. Like dessert – I know if we’ve offered the kids a bowl of ice cream two nights in a row you can bet that they’ll be asking for it again on night 3! Simple healthy routines become habit if you do them often enough, too. Here are a few of our healthy living routines:

  • Taking off our shoes before entering the house. So much unhealthy bacteria on shoes – better that shoes stay on the porch or garage.
  • Flossing our teeth nightly.
  • Daily bathroom cleaning.
  • We get out of the house together each evening to take an after-dinner walk. It’s a way for us to help settle our stomachs, squeeze in a little exercise and tire out the kids before bedtime.

These are five easy and practical ways to help encourage your family towards living a healthier and more active life #NatureMadeFamily #ad

2. Get Input

Our kids each have their own idea of what kind of exercise they like to do. My eldest son would happily play basketball all day. The kindergartner loves to swim. Our teenage daughter isn’t crazy about exercising but she doesn’t mind riding the stationary bike at the gym. And of course the toddler just wants to climb on play equipment at the park! It’s important when getting kids on-board that you take their personal tastes into consideration and participate in the exercise that they enjoy. We get every child involved with family-friendly exercises.

3. Easy Meal Swaps

At mealtime, I know that there are certain foods my five-year old doesn’t enjoy. He’s tried them and his taste buds just aren’t having it, so I don’t push the issue. I don’t make a big deal out of the fact that he doesn’t like bananas, so at breakfast – I’ll cut up a pear for him instead. And at dinner tonight while the rest of us ate grilled zucchini, I steamed up some baby carrots for him in the microwave. I’m not making completely different meals for him. And I do make him at least try the foods before he determines that he doesn’t want more. But it’s easy enough for me to make a quick swap for him so I know he’s having a balanced meal.

4. Mix it Up

A bit of diversity is a great idea. Doing the same thing week after week is boring! Our weekends are spent outside, taking long walks around the lake, playing soccer or swimming. We never do the same thing two weekends in a row. Around the dinner table we are trying out new veggies and creative recipes. We’ve found recently that we enjoy spaghetti squash!

5. Supplements

I’ve been wanting to purchase a children’s vitamin for my kindergartner. With my son now spending long school hours around a bunch of other five year olds, I was looking for something that would support his immune system.

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I found Nature Made® Kids First® Vitamin C Gummies at Target. I also found Nature Made® Vitamin C Adult Gummies and picked those up for my husband and I. Target’s Cartwheel app currently offers 10% off all Nature Made® products, while supplies last.

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Going into winter, I want to get our family on a healthy routine of taking supplements. Nature Made® had the 1st gummies verified by USP for purity and potency.* Nature Made® Gummies also have great tasting natural flavors, are gluten free and have no preservatives or yeast.

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Kids First® Gummies are for children 4 years older and up, perfect for my kinder kid. And at just $9.99 for a value sized bottle, this is a great price. Gummy vitamins are just fun and it’s an easy way to get kids to take supplements. It never fails that my son reminds me every day to give him his gummy – he never forgets! See, now that’s a good healthy habit routine!

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† These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease

*Find those Nature Made USP verified gummies on NatureMade.com/USP

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Mickey Mouse Costumes to Make at Home on a Budget

In five years of trick-or-treating, my son has been Mickey Mouse three times! The first year was the classic Mickey (which he calls, “Happy Mickey”). Then Sorcerer Mickey. And this year, it’s Mickey in his Roadster Racers costume. As a big Disney fan, I love that my son wants to dress as his favorite character so often! And fortunately Mickey has plenty of incarnations to choose from! Here’s how you can make each of these three Mickey Mouse costumes on a budget at home.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Classic Mickey Mouse Costume

This sweet Mickey Mouse costume is the easiest of the bunch! Several of these pieces can be inexpensively store-bought and the rest go together quickly. Instructions for making your own Classic Mickey costume HERE.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

  • Black t-shirt
  • Black leggings (optional in warm weather)
  • Red shorts
  • Two large white buttons
  • Yellow shoes (but we settled for white!)
  • To sew the hood, you’ll need stretchy black fabric and polyfil

Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice Mickey Mouse Costume

With the wave of your wand (and a few stitches on your sewing machine) you’ll be able to sew up the Sorcerer’s hat that is the centerpiece of this darling costume. The instructions for putting together the Sorcerer’s Hat HERE.

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

  • Red tunic or over-sized t-shirt
  • Brown belt or rope to tie around the waist
  • Leggings or pants in a dark color
  • Blue and white cotton for the hat
  • Black felt for the Mouse ears

Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

Mickey and the Roadster Racers Costume

This is a completely handcrafted costume so it may take a little longer than the other two. But not more expensive, it just requires a few more creative touches. I made the jumpsuit and hood by following this McCall’s Costume Pattern. However I’ve made creative adjustments to add the color blocking.

If you’re not up for sewing something elaborate, this outfit could easily be put together by making it with a few store-bought pieces. By adding yellow felt designs to a sweatshirt and pants and then applying hand-painted patches you’ll have an inexpensive and unique Mickey Mouse costume!

WHAT YOU NEED TO BUY

When creating the patches I used the same technique as in this Finding Dory t-shirt. I fuse white cotton patches onto the fabric, stitch carefully around the outside and then paint my design onto the cotton. (The photo of my son when wearing this costume was before I finished with the patches).

SeaWorld San Diego Halloween Spooktacular offers family fun including trick or treating and Halloween activities!

I have a LOT more Halloween costume ideas HERE.


For more on the Halloween costume ideas,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!


Three budget-friendly Mickey Mouse costume ideas for Halloween

5 Ways to Make the First Day of School Extra Special

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

It’s Back to school season! And either your kid is on-board or they’re not. 3 out of my 4 kids are now in school. My two oldest are in their final year of junior high. My five year old just started kindergarten. The teens were looking forward to the first day of school. They were excited to see friends and finish their last year before high school.

My kindergartner on the other hand was a bit nervous. Which wasn’t like him at all, really. He’s always been fairly independent. And so smart, he just loves to learn. I think he just had way too much fun this summer and didn’t want it to end! Right with you there, buddy…

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I wanted to make sure that the first day of school was something really memorable and special for him. While the teens got themselves motivated, my kinder kid needed a little encouragement. I created these fun and easy ways to make the first day of school extra special. These are particularly sweet for very young children (though secretly, my teens got a kick out of them too!) Keep reading for a free printable and a special offer from Windex® brand and Shutterfly®.

1. A Special Wake-Up

I’ll be honest. On most days, I wake up my kids by either snapping on the overhead light or opening the window to let in the sunshine! But on the first day of school (and maybe even for the entire first week), I’ll wake them in a special way.

Take a picture of them sleeping first. There’s nothing cuter than a sleeping kiddo!

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For my music-loving kindergartner, I put on his favorite dance song and placed the CD player in the hallway before waking him gently. He happily jumped out of bed!

Long ago when my eldest son was in kindergarten I’d wake him up with a finger puppet character. Seriously. For some reason he’d get mad if I tried waking him up myself. But if Madame Queen the finger puppet awoke him by bopping him on the head he thought it was hilarious! Hey, you do what you can to keep the morning routine from completely melting down from the start, right?

2. Breakfast To Start the Day Off Right

My five year old would eat waffles morning, noon, and night. I know that waffles will be his request for the first day of school breakfast.

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  • Take a breakfast request a few days before the first day so you can make sure to have all the ingredients on hand.
  • If morning time is tight, consider preparing as much as possible the night before. I tend to make waffles in batches and freeze them. Then I can just pop in the toaster to reheat in the morning.
  • Even if you only have time for cold cereal, make the meal more well-rounded by adding fresh fruit like bananas, blueberries or sliced strawberries.

3. First Day Photo Op

I’ll admit it, I’m a photo-taking-social-media-sharing-mama! I love to take a cute first day photo and share it across social for everyone to see.

  • Document each step in the morning process, from waking up your student, breakfast, outfit, to catching the school bus.
  • Take your first day of school photo in the same place each year. It’s awesome to see the growth of your kiddos!
  • Get inside the classroom and take a photo of your child sitting at their desk.

Ideas for making the first day of school extra special, from breakfast to an after-school decoration and free printables! #MomentsShineWithWindex #ad

4. Welcome Home!

When my kids come home from their first day, they’re always a’ bubble with things to share. They want to tell me all about so-and-so in their class, a strict new teacher or what they did at recess. This year I wanted to surprise my kids with a special “welcome home” window that celebrates the first day of school. In particular, I knew my 5-year old would love the decorations and fanfare for his first day of kinder!

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I needed a clean and shiny surface to work with, so first I picked up Windex® Original Glass Cleaner at my local Kroger store, Food 4 Less. Windex® brand is known for its famous streak-free shine, so clean up on the window was quick and easy.

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While I was in the cleaning mood, I was able to clean up the kitchen and bathroom quickly with the Windex® Vinegar Multi-Surface Cleaner. I’ve always liked how versatile vinegar is to clean with but I’ve never liked the smell of it. This special ammonia-free formula has no harsh vinegar smell. It leaves behind only a fresh, clean scent.

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Once the window was prepped, I was able to decorate it from the outside with a temporary glass marker and crepe paper announcing the first day of school!

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The whole thing went together in just a few minutes and the impact was great. Check out the happy face on my kindergartner! And the big kids thought it was pretty cool too. And when it was time to clean up, Windex® Original Glass Cleaner came to the rescue again and wiped the window streak-free again!

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5. A First Day of School Memento

I’ve created this first day of school certificate printable. My son proudly held his “award” for completing his first day of kindergarten so I could take a picture.

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FREE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL PRINTABLE – Simply write in the name of your student and the date presented. After you take a photo of your student with their award, stow it for safekeeping in a school memory folder. I have a 3-ring binder for each child that holds awards and certificates.

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Once you’ve shared those adorable first day pictures on social media, it’s time to make a permanent memory of them. I’ve been using Shutterfly® since my teenager was a baby!

You can take those first day pictures and put them in a photo book. Or wouldn’t they look cute on the front cover of a spiral bound notebook? I also use the back to school photos that I take on my Shutterfly® calendar each year.

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Check out this amazing national offer with Shutterfly®. Buy 2 Windex® products and get $20 to shop at Shutterfly®. (Offer valid 7/15/17 – 12/1/17. Visit here for terms and conditions).

How will YOU make the first day of school special for your kids?

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