The Gift of Fall Accessories!

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As the days get cooler it is essential to start having the kids dress the part but we don’t have to bankrupt ourselves to do it!  A lot of times just adding the right accessories will keep them snugly and warm.

Here are our must haves for fall weather that add a little warmth without busting the budget!

Vest

There are those great Fall “in-between” days where the air is crisp in the morning and then by noon it is in the high 70’s.  No need to make them grab that bulky coat when slipping a vest on them will look adorable and let you feel secure that the kids are warm enough.  Plus there is the added benefit that they look like a little fashionista stepping off the pages of a magazine…there is just something about a vest!

Scarf/gaiter

Truth be told I have been looking forward to scarf weather, so I don’t need to remember where I left my mask!  While I love a scarf and my oldest is now good with wearing one, for the little ones scarfs can be a little nerve wracking.  This is because I always worry they will get snagged and ending up choking my little one or the scarf is a constant plaything that is so distracting it is better off on the floor of the car then around my kids neck!  So, for age 5 and up I recommend going for the scarf, if you think they will keep it on, below 5 I suggest a gaiter instead.  (a lot of people call these buffs but I was raised on gaiter so there you have it.)  I recommend turtle fur.  Their product is so soft and you can find it in a ton of different colors.  Pro tip: get 2, kids tend to chew on things that are right in front of their mouths so if you are outside for an extended period you may want to swap on a new one to avoid rash.  I do this with the kids masks too, my son has 3 in his backpack every day just in case.

Lightweight gloves

These come in handy these days, not just for warmth but when running into a store as well.  If the kids have to come with you, best to cover their hands.  My little girl’s hands are always cold so I tend to keep an extra set in my purse just to have with us if I feel she is getting chilly.

Thick socks/Tights

I can not think of anything snugglier than a thick pair of socks.  For my daughter I have a few pairs of tights and a few  thick knee highs, that or both super cute, and super functional.  They keep her legs warmer when I pull them up over her leggings and add an extra layer of protection when she is chasing her older brother around and inevitably takes a tumble…little sister problems!

Chunky Sweaters

There are some adorable sweaters out there for little ones and I guess my preppy side is coming out in this post with the Vest and the cable knit sweater recommendations but what can I say it works, and there are some really affordable brands to choose from.

Sun glasses

Even though it is fall the sun has no lost its intensity.  If you are getting the kids out to go on a walk or to a farm to go apple or pumpkin picking don’t forget eye protection!

Ear Bands

This may just be me, (I have big ears that stick out) but my ears get cold on a windy fall day.  My kids have my genes so they also have this affliction. I recommend ear bands.  Hats can wait until winter but we can usually get a little extra time outside if I have these with me!

NUMBER 1 ACCESSORY of the Fall is the ….. MASK!!
Buy Any Face Mask Set + Mask Straps, Get 10% OFF with code SMPBUY2SAVE10 at schoomaskpack.com! Available for Kids and Adults/Teens

We recently partnered with School Mask Pack and they have some really great deals on Kids masks and mask lanyards…like the gaiters they can’t loose the mask if it is attached to them!

For the house we recommend Fall Window Clings

The kids have a blast putting them on and they are an easy item to pitch at the end of the season!  I usually pick them up at my local stop and shop when I am grocery shopping but you can get them by clicking the image above too!

However you deck yourself out this fall from my family to yours, may this fall season come with many delightful moments, after this year we have earned it!

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Budget Friendly Fall Accessories for Kids

How to Wrap a Gift

gift with bow

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Let’s face it the kids are going to rip through the gift wrapping at warp speed to reveal the gift within however for a few minutes (okay maybe seconds) before the demolition begins it is so delightful to see all those beautifully adorned presents.

I was once the queen of the gift bag, easy peasy, throw the gift in with some tissue paper. Job done!  No judgement here it is a valid way to give a gift, and there are some super cute gift bags out there.  As I have become more fluent in gift wrapping I have started to enjoy it more.  Now I try to be super impressive by putting a wrapped present inside a gift bag, it is like letting the kid open two things!!

So here we go, how do I wrap this thing?

Step one, define your gift in space.  That sounds so silly but not everything comes in a square box.  If your present has rounded edges or slopes you need to go in prepared

Step two, measure twice-cut once, you don’t really need to measure but check twice to make sure you have enough paper to get the job done!

Step three, position the seam on the bottom, nothing looks as clumsy as a hasty tape job on the top of a gift.

Step four, use tape sparingly, you want the kid to be able to get into it! One piece in the middle will hold the paper together so you can focus on the ends.  Tip add a small piece of tape at the end of the seams.  This will help you when you fold the edges down.

Step five, cut off the excess, you only need enough paper to cover the gift, get rid of the excess and save yourself the headache of extra tucking/taping at the end.

Step six, make triangles, as you fold the paper down over the edge make a triangle on each side that slopes towards you. Fold those inward toward the box and press down the seam, you should have what looks like a triangle with its top cut off at the base of the gift.

Step seven, Fold the end up and tape.  Tip if your cut was uneven fold the top down to cover that so none of the back of the paper is showing.

Step eight, repeat steps 5 & 6 on the opposite side.

Step nine, add any extra embellishments like a bow or a To/From Label, and you are all set.

Hope you enjoyed our gift wrap tutorial, happy wrapping!

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How to wrap a gift

Safe Trick-or-Treating, plus 3 COVID safe alternatives

Halloween Pumpkins

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Halloween – Safe Trick-or-Treating, plus 3 COVID-19 safe alternatives.

Who is with me here?  Seeing Halloween candy displays in the supermarket on August 27th is going too far!  I happen to be a big fan of Halloween, I love getting the kids costumes ready, organizing a group to trick-or-treat with and seeing all the festive decorations.  But gearing up for it two months in advance is pushing it for me.  Of course, that did not stop me from perusing the assortment of treats and salivating over the candy, whose beckoning call I am trying desperately not to succumb to…yet.

Many of you may remember from previous posts that candy and food in general around the holidays, and any celebration, can be difficult for our family as we have a serious peanut allergy in our household.  I have given tips before about bringing your own cupcake to birthday parties and making sure that your child remembers to ask before eating anything that they are not sure about.  Halloween is particularly troublesome with the ubiquitous temptations and treats that sometimes don’t have any information on the label!

Candy or Gift?

I will say that the advent of the turquoise basket/pumpkin has been a real gift for moms like me who constantly worry that a peanut will accidentally make its way into my child’s mouth.  If you put out a Turquoise basket or pumpkin it means that there are treats available from your house that are not food.  It could be anything from a small container of slime to a Halloween themed coloring book.  Don’t get me wrong as I mentioned before I love candy, although I try to consume it in moderation.  It just makes it so much more delightful, and less stressful when there are easily identifiable alternative options out there for allergy prone kiddos.

In our house we do not give out candy or food on our stoop, instead we leave a Turquoise basket full of small trinkets, stickers and slap bracelets.  I usually try to choose small favors that are Halloween themed but not too scary, our biggest hit last year was the glow stick bracelets we put out.  When buying I let the kids help because they “know what our friends would like.”  For us this helps make the process engaging for the kids and is an opportunity to remind my son that he will likely get candy that he will have to “trade” or get a few extra trinkets that were left in our basket, a process we have dubbed, treat trading.

Treat trading

If you do, like me, take your kids trick-or-treating it is not possible to guarantee that they will end the night with a peanut free bag of treats.  There is bound to be either a peanut or peanut butter candy in their bags, or a candy that was made in a factory with peanuts.  In our house we like to extend the fun by having the kids dump out their bags and sort through what we know is safe, and what we either have questions on or are sure would make us sick.  Once we have a pile of “unsafe candies” we can trade for safe ones, either by trading with someone who does not have an allergy, picking an extra non-food treat from our home basket, or we buy a stash of safe candies that can be traded for as well.

All the “unsafe candies” that are not traded to friends get put in a bag and disposed of.  The kids think I throw it away but really it lives in my bedside table, until it is gone…usually before Thanksgiving…Halloween confession time! 😛

COVID-19 Safe Trick-or-Treating alternatives

This year may be unlike any other in terms of Halloween, we may not be out in droves trick-or-treating the way we once were.  We have come up with a few fun alternatives that keep the fun while being socially distant.

Organize a Halloween zoom – let the kids show off their costumes one at a time and say why they wanted to be that character.

Do some Halloween “Caroling” in your pod – have a group of people that your kids are still seeing on a regular basis, like close family or friends?  Drive the kids over and have them sing some Halloween songs such as 5 little pumpkins, or Old Clifford Skeleton outside the house.  Not seeing anyone these days?  Have the kids sing you a differenet song in each room of the house.  Give them a treat for their “scary” performances!

Halloween car parade/playdate – get a group of parents to park their cars face to face at the local park.  Kiddos can pop their heads out the sunroof and yell “boo!” to each other and show off their costumes in person.  Pro tip: Keep the child locks on so no one is tempted to exit the vehicle.

Hope you enjoyed my tips and tricks for a safe, healthy, and delightful Halloween!

How to Enjoy Halloween with a Food Allergy plus three socially distant ways to trick-or-treat!

30 FREE Family Activities to do on a FALL weekend

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As the weather gets cooler we all are looking for fun ways to entertain our little ones on the weekend.  Here is our list of 30 Free Family Activities to do on a FALL weekend.

1. Take a nature walk –  write a list of things to look, listen even smell for before you leave the house

2. Play I spy – with all the fall foliage there are sure to be a lot of colors all around!

3. Afternoon picnic in the park – bring some apple cider for a festive fall touch.

4. Movie Night – nothing is better than snuggling up as a family on a crisp fall night!

5. Family Game night – check out our post about cooperative games which will end the night with everyone being a winner!

6. Tea party – use apple juice or warm vanilla milk as a fun twist for the kids.  Pro tip, don’t fill the cups too much, and make sure it is cool enough to drink!

7. Have a family photo contest, who can take the best picture? Pro tip – also a great time to get your family holiday photo!

8. Family fashion show – this is a great way to get the summer stuff packed away. As the kids have fun showing their favorite outfits you can move them to the back of the drawer and bring the sweaters up front!

9. Meals for the week – let’s face it for most moms planning dinner can be the most stressful part of our day. Get the kids in on it and write it down, have them decorate the paper or chalkboard where you write it down, if they can’t read yet pictures are a great reminder of what they chose.

10. Dance Party – turn on some music and let the good times roll.

11. Virtual zoo or aquarium visit – there are a lot of zoos and aquariums with webcams these days, check them out for hours of entertainment.

12. Read together – story time is family time.

13. Write a letter to the grandparents – if the kids are too young to write, let them dictate and draw pictures to send with the letter.

14. Build a fort – bring out the bed sheets and extra pillows and turn your couch into home base.

15. Take a bike ride – let the kids ride their bikes or scooter beside you.

16. Visit a Farm/Apple picking – some farms let you pick for free, note: you will likely have to pay to take home any apples.

17. Fall foliage collage – collect some of the prettier leaves and glue them to a piece of paper.

18. Fill a donation bag – fall is a great time to remember there are people out there who won’t have a coat this winter, go through the kids old clothes with them and see what gently used items may make some families holidays a little more delightful this year.

19. Decorate for fall or Halloween – easy free Halloween decoration: the ghost, crunch up a tissue, cover it with and another tissue and tie it with dental floss or create a chain streamer by cutting up strips of construction paper, create circles by taping the ends of the strips and looping the next strip through before you tape it. Voila!

20. Chalk outside – let their imagination go wild as they chalk the driveway, front stoop, or sidewalk, make a few fall leaves for them to color in!

21. Stargaze –  let the kids stay up a little late on a clear night, maybe some cider or hot cocoa is in order?

22. Do a puzzle – a nice relaxing way to share an evening together.

23. Watch family videos/ look at pictures from when they were babies and from when you were babies –  super fun to reminisce and the kids will love to see themselves and especially to see you as a baby!

24. Fly a kite – the days get a little blustery in fall, perfect kite flying weather!

25. Find a local farmers market – this time of year the booths are sure to be full of beautiful looking produce and fun fall themes.

26. Rake the yard / jump in leaves – 2 for 1 – chores done and fun had!

27. Play 20 questions – make it fall themed.

28. Paint / Color rocks.

29. Make Jello with only fall colors, you can even get fancy and use leaf shaped cookie cutters (if you have them) for some added fall ambiance to your wiggle!

30. Figure out your fall alter ego,  click here.

No matter how you spend it we hope you have a delightful weekend!

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30 FREE Fall Activities!

What’s Your Fall Alter Ego?

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Whats your fall alter ego

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Gift of Cooperation – 10 fun cooperative games

10 Fun Cooperative Games

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Have you ever played a game with a kid between the ages of 2 and 7? If there was a chance they may not win, was it any fun? I know from a LOT of first hand experience that it can be brutal. The child in question gets more and more upset or worried that they are not going to win and eventually the game ends abruptly because they don’t want to play anymore.  It is a truth universally recognized that if you don’t finish a game no one wins, right?

I have 2 little monkeys who prove this rule on an almost daily basis. And now that they can play each other it has become few and far between that a board game actually ends with a winner. Usually it ends with one, or both, walking away. Although my youngest tends to make up rules and not count accurately so she always claims victory but…we will never know.

We discovered cooperative board games as a family from a wonderful SEIT teacher and friend who faces the challenges of high anxiety and attention disorders every day. She gave my son a gift one year for his birthday, it was the game Hoot Owl Hoot, and it was amazing. The point of the game is for EVERYONE to get to the nest before the sun rises. So you have to encourage each other, dare I say root for one another, to win the game. Talk about a novel concept!  I still thank her for this gift.

There are a few other great cooperative games we have found, even for younger kids like my daughter, who is almost three.  One that she loves is a game called First Orchard. The game usually takes more time to set up than it does to play, but the set up also helps with color recognition. (you have to match the colors of the fruits to the right trees, which could be a game in and of itself) Once it is set up you role a die with colors and a few icons on it to collect all the fruit before a raven makes it to the orchard. It’s very straightforward and even when the raven wins no one is super upset…or trying to take a swing at another player.

Here are our top 10 cooperative board game recommendations.

1. Hoot Owl Hoot

2. First Orchard

3. Dinosaur escape

4. Monkey Around

5. Count your Chickens

6. Feed the Woozle

7. Outfoxed

8. Mermaid Island

9. Race to the Treasure

10. Stone soup

I am not suggesting these as the only games to play, we have had a lot of fun and good learning with some of the jr. series; monopoly jr. and scrabble  jr are a lot of fun but I’ll do another post on those.  At the end of the day I just enjoy ending each game night with a cooperative game to conclude on a positive note.

Moral of the story: Family game night is a lot more delightful when we can all win.

I want to hear from you! My favorite board game as a kid was monopoly, I have great memories of epic games spanning long evenings. What was your favorite childhood board game?


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10 Fun Cooperative Games

10 bath tub toys that don’t squirt!

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There can be many moments in life as a mom where you ask yourself, “why did I think this would be a good idea?”  For me one of those was when I bought a pack of bath tub toys for the kids and proceeded to spend the next three weeks getting soaked.  Here are my picks for the best bathtub toys that don’t squirt!  In no particular order:

1. Green Toys Ferry Boat with Mini Cars Bathtub Toy, Blue/White, Standard

2. Nuby Floating Purple Octopus with 3 Hoopla Rings Interactive Bath Toy

3. Basketball Hoop & Balls Playset

4. Magnet Boat Set

5. Skip Hop: Pull & Go Submarine Monkey

6. Swimming Turtle, Floating Wind-up Bathtub Toys

7. Nuby 36 Piece Bath Tub Alphabet Set

8. Spin N Sort Spout Pro- 3 Stackable Cups, Automated Spout, and Spinning Suction Cup

9. The Rainbow Fish Bath Book

10.Munchkin Float and Play Bubbles

Hope these make your baby’s bath time even more delightful!

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10 Best Bathtub toys

Tooth Fairy Gifts!

tooth fairy is on her way

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Having a six year old it has become a regular topic of conversation to talk about the current going rate of the tooth fairy.  I wish we had started sooner and come to a consensus!  From what I can gather she has left anywhere from a quarter to a $20 bill (this was a child who lost his first tooth during quarantine and the tooth fairy only had what she could get from the ATM…. but now the precedent it set.

With my son we had an interesting time with the second tooth he lost.  It had been quite wiggly and at lunch I noticed I could not see it in his mouth anymore… let the meltdown commence, “MOM, the tooth fairy has to have a tooth, maybe it’s under the table, (starting to cry,) maybe it’s in the living room? MOOOOM, please find it.”

It was heartbreaking, and try as I might to calm him down and let him know she would find it even if it was not under his pillow (p.s. who thought that would be a great place for it?!?) he would not be satisfied until I had searched the house to see if I could locate the wayward tooth.

I knew he had swallowed it, and, by the way, that’s pretty common and not harmful at all (I googled it immediately) but in a lucky twist of fate, I had not decided if I wanted to throw out the first one he lost and it was still in a tooth treasure box in my medicine cabinet SO…Mom to the rescue!  I was able to “find” it.  Not sure why but this is one of my prouder Mom-for-the-win-moments. (just kidding, I do know why, my husband had told me it was gross to keep it and I needed to throw it out…oh yeah?!?)

My son is now working on tooth number 4 and he is wiggling it everyday because he “needs more money to buy toys.”

This is a challenging mom moment, he has his own money, albeit not much, about $15, and can spend it on whatever he wants.  Problem is he wants toys that are more expensive than his current funds allow, so he wants me or his Dad to anti-up the difference.  I refuse, I have decided this is start of my gifting him the understanding of the value of a dollar and of patience.  He will lose another tooth and then he will have enough to buy that Ferrari LEGO set, somewhat surprisingly it’s only $20.  I am trying very hard to give him the gift of insight but if my blog stops abruptly I may have collapsed under the weight of all the whining. 😉

With school back in swing, and kids getting more of the social chatter they have been missing, I recommend parents compare notes on what the going rate of the tooth fairy is these days!  It is so much more delightful when she is consistent.

What’s the going rate in your household?

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Free Party Planning Checklist

People are always asking what is the “recipe” to the perfect party?  We can’t guarantee perfection, but maybe we can ease the planning stress with our  Checklist.  Sign up below to receive the Keep It Delightful Party Planning Checklist and Activity Sheet.

 



Party Supplies and Décor, gifts they take for granted!

streamers and confetti

Most kids see their birthday as a wonderful day where they get to be the center of attention, see friends and family and get presents. For the parents out there is can be a different story, there is a bit (read: A LOT) of stress involved in the planning, buying, and prepping, not to mention the clean up of these once a year events. There are items that you can stock up on in advance to make the week of the celebration a little less frazzled! They may come in handy at other times of the year as well. Here are some of our favorite party items to have on hand all year round.

Wrapping paper – From Dinosaurs to mermaids the themes can get out of control! You will use this item not only for your kid’s gifts but also for the presents you get for all their little friends. We recommend purchasing some wrapping paper that will work for any occasion, check out some of the styles below.

Gift Bags and tissue paper – This one goes hand in hand with wrapping paper. Don’t have time to wrap? Who does? Get a few gift bags and some tissue paper for that gift you picked up in a hurry on the way to the party.

Table coverings – I once had to use a bed sheet at one of my kids parties because I forgot to get a table cloth…that was an expensive mistake, we had to throw it out and buy a new set of sheets when you can get a durable plastic cover for just over $2…take my advice, buy more than one and leave them in the cupboard!

Cups and Napkins – Again you may need these throughout the year so stock up now!

For all the parents out there, who want to give their kids the gift of a great party while simultaneously keeping stress low and an eye on the budget, sometimes it pays to plan ahead!

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