Preschool Halloween Party on a Budget

In August of this year, I attended a blogging workshop.  While there, I met a fellow mommy blogger named Kyla (she blogs over at Ford-ology) who lives about 15 minutes away from me and has two kids the same ages as mine but opposite genders.  It was like a match made in heaven!  That night, she and I got to talking and decided that we definitely needed to collaborate on a post in the near future.

One day Kyla and I ran into each other at Hobby Lobby with our kids, who immediately started talking and playing with each other like they were already friends.  As Kyla and I were talking about activities our kids could do together for a playdate, it slowly evolved into a preschool/toddler Halloween party on a budget.  (Funny how things work huh?)  The more she and I talked, the more it all came together.  So today we are each sharing how you can host a fun, simple and entertaining Halloween party for your kids and their friends without breaking the bank.

We blocked out a two hour period of time to do everything which included prep time for each activity.  You could easily choose any one of these activities and do them with your child(ren) or for a playdate.  There is enough here that if you decided not to do an actual Halloween party, you could have some type of Halloween activity for almost every day of the week!  Some take a little more prep time, while others are fairly simple.  But the main thing is that all of them are budget friendly.

To start out with, we had the kids dress up because what’s a Halloween party without costumes?  We just used some dress ups we had at home rather than their real Halloween costumes.  When we got to Kyla’s house, we found that our girls had both chosen to dress as Sleeping Beauty/Aurora and our boys were both dressed as superheros: Spiderman and Superman!  So if our kids look like they are dressed the same, they pretty much are, but it was totally a coincidence.  (A very cute coincidence.)

While the kids played together, Kyla and I finished some of the prep work.  She already had a cute little table all decked out in Halloween decor with a tablecloth, fake spiderwebs and spiders (total cost: $4).  Each place was set with a cute paper pumpkin with each child’s name on it, a pumpkin and the paper goods we were going to use for lunch time.

Our first activity was a photobooth.  Kyla had found some cute monster props for the kids to use for $3 from Target and the Happy Halloween banner for $1 (also from Target).

We also used some darling little tissue paper tassels from my friends Etsy shop, Eve’s Party Market, to add a little extra Halloween fun. 

The kids thought using the props was hilarious and Kyla and I even got in on the fun, using our kids as stand-in photographers. *wink* (The tassels were kindly provided at no cost by Creative Juice Cafe.  The retail price is $4 for a pack of 5 tassels.)

Decorating Pumpkins
The next activity was decorating pumpkins.  We gave the kids some stickers, pompoms, googly eyes and paint and let them go to town.  (I already had the pompoms, paint and glue and Kyla spent $2 on stickers and $4 for the four pumpkins.)

It was so fun to watch them each create their own little masterpiece!  When the pumpkins didn’t have anywhere left to decorate, we set them aside to dry.

Pumpkin Toss
While the kids took a little break to get out some energy, we set up the next activity which we called the Pumpkin Toss.  I bought 3 buckets from the Dollar Tree for $3 and I made six beanbags using some leftover material and plastic pellets (purchased from Hobby Lobby for $3).

Since the kids are all fairly little, we just told them the rules were to try and get one beanbag in each bucket.  My daughter and her son (both 4 years old) accomplished this pretty easily, while the 2 year olds weren’t quite coordinated enough to aim accurately.  But they all had fun and wanted to try multiple times.  (I’m thinking this will be a fun game for my kids during the cold winter months when we’re stuck inside.)  If you have older kids, you could label each bucket with a point value and then tally up points for prizes.

Putting together the kids’ lunch was so fun!

We made PB and J sandwiches and then cut them out into ghosts and pumpkins using cookie cutters.

The mummy juice boxes were made by ripping up white fabric I had in my scrap pile and wrapping it around the boxes and gluing some googly eyes on.

The string cheese ghosts and mandarin orange fruit cup pumpkins were made using a sharpie to draw the faces on.

Lastly, we gave the kids some yummy Jell-O popcorn in individual popcorn buckets, also from Eve’s Party Market.  They were the perfect size to portion out the popcorn.  (The popcorn buckets were kindly provided at no cost by Eve’s Party Market.  The retail price starts at $1 for 1 with bulk discounts available.)

Treasure Hunt/Goody Bags
The last activity was a treasure hunt that led the kids to some goody bags.  Because the clues were hidden around Kyla’s house, her kids led the way to most of the clues but all the kids had fun running from room to room to find the next clue.

When the kids found their bags, they immediately sat down to find out what was inside: pumpkin bubble necklaces, spider rings, vampire teeth, pencils, small notebooks, coloring pages and a little bag of candy corn.

All of the items for the goody bags were found at Target in the dollar section and cost $6 to fill 4 bags.

I found the treasure hunt printout on Imagination Soup and just printed it off at home.  The coloring sheets are from Honey & Lime.  Kyla put two on each page and then cut them down and stapled the corner to make a little coloring book.

Like I mentioned at the beginning, our whole goal with this party was to make it budget friendly and have activities that anyone can put together.  Even if you don’t consider yourself crafty, you can take any one of these activities and tailor it to your kids.  Kids aren’t going to care if everything is fancy or picture perfect.  All they want is to enjoy the activities and spend some time with you and their friends.

Total cost out of pocket: $29

Honestly, I had so much fun putting this whole little party together for the kids!  Each activity kept their attention for just long enough to complete it and they were able to get their excess energy out while Kyla and I set up the next activity.  As Kyla’s son said at the end, “It was the best morning ever!”  I think we can definitely count that as a success!

If you’d like to read Kyla’s post about the party, click HERE.

What are you favorite Halloween-themed activities to do with your kids?

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season {FREE} Printable

Fall is officially here!  It’s time to bust out all the pumpkin recipes you’ve been drooling over and pinning if you haven’t done so already.  As for me, I actually made some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies last week and they were so good!  Once I feel the change in the air, I can’t help myself.

In the spirit of the fall season, I’ve taken it upon myself to declare this time of year “Pumpkin Spice Season” due to all the pumpkin spice recipes and smells and drinks going around.

Furthermore, I’ve created a fun little printable for you to put up in your kitchen as you whip up all the pumpkin recipes you want.  Don’t like cooking?  That’s okay!  Go buy some pumpkin bread or pumpkin cookies or pumpkin muffins and then come home and enjoy your new printable.  *wink*

To print, click on the photo for a 5×7 print.

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season {FREE} Printable

Also, double check your printer settings so that it shows a 5×7 size on the preview instead of an 8.5×11.  (See image below.)

Happy Pumpkin Spice Season {FREE} Printable


Happy {Day After} Thanksgiving

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday!  I know we sure did.  I loved starting new traditions this year and we will definitely be continuing them for years to come.  One thing I especially love about these new traditions is that they can be used in any situation or circumstance and they can be adapted to your own family and resources.  You don’t need money or time to share what you’re thankful for.

My daughter has really enjoyed doing her “thankful leaves” every day and she has been a great reminder to me and my husband to do ours.  It was so neat to be able to hear what/who she was thankful for.  Our thankful tree really filled up fast, even with just three people to add to it, and seeing it each day in our front room filled me with happiness.

Our Book of Thanks turned out even better than I had imagined.  Everyone there was able to take a little bit of time throughout the day and write as few or as many words as they wanted about what they were thankful for.  I really enjoyed looking through it at the end of the day and I know it will be a treasure now and in the years ahead.  As I was putting it together, I decided to include the coloring pages my son, daughter and I did at the end of everything else.  I think it will be fun to see how their coloring skills change over the years.

Did you do a Thankful Tree or Book of Thanks this year?  What was your favorite part of your Thanksgiving celebration?

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities Round-Up

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner

One of the hardest things about Thanksgiving is the waiting.  Waiting for everyone to arrive.  Waiting for the food to cook.  Waiting for everyone to gather and get settled at the table.  And as hard as it is to wait as an adult, it’s even harder for kids!  So to help keep everyone happy, I’ve done a round-up of free Thanksgiving coloring and activity pages for all ages so you don’t have to do anything except print them out.  Just remember to bring the crayons.

The last couple of years, I’ve been keeping one or two of each kids pictures they color and saving them in our Book of Thanks as a fun way to see how their coloring and writing improves each year.  (Don’t have a Book of Thanks yet?  Check out my tutorial and make one for this year!)

*Note: All coloring pages can be printed out and given to children (or adults) but some may be better geared towards certain ages/interests.  I have included age groups for each coloring/activity page to help you decide which may be best for your family.  Just click on the link and it will take you to the site where you can print off your coloring and activity pages.

Coloring Pages
Thanksgiving Coloring Pages : 1+1+1=1 (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Thanksgiving Doodle Coloring Page from 1+1+1=1

Thanksgiving Doodle Coloring Pages : 1+1+1=1 (older kids)
Pilgrim and Turkey Coloring Pages :  Nest of Posies (younger kids)
Fall Turkey Coloring Page : U-Create (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving from Disney Family

Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving : Disney Family (younger/older kids)
Thanksgiving Color-by-Number (Toddler through 1st Grade) : 123 Homeschool 4 Me/Free Homeschool Deals (younger kids)
Pilgrim Color-by-Number : Teachers Pay Teachers (younger kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Turkey Color-by-Number from Simple Living Mama

Simple Turkey Color-by-Number : Simple Living Mama (younger kids)Turkey, Indians and Pilgrims Coloring Pages : Homemade Preschool (younger kids/older kids)
Turkey Color-by-Number : Nicole’s Free Coloring Pages (younger/older kids)
Cornucopia Color-by-Number : Nicole’s Free Coloring Pages (younger/older kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Harvest Pumpkin Coloring Page from Homeschool Encouragement

Harvest Pumpkin Coloring Page : Homeschool Encouragement (older kids/adults)
Leaf Mandala and Turkey Coloring Pages : Red Ted Art (older kids/adults)
Fall Leaves : Alisa Burke (older kids/adults)

Activity Pages
Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Thankful For List : Lil’ Luna (all ages)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Thanksgiving Cootie Catcher from Bren Did

Thanksgiving Cootie Catcher : Bren Did (all ages)
ABC Thankful For List : Written Reality (older kids/adults)
Thanksgiving Mad Libs for Kids : My Sister’s Suitcase (all ages)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Word Search and Maze from Reading with Kids

Word Search, Cross Word and Coloring Pages : Reading With Kids (all ages)
Coloring Page, Word Search and Thankful For List : I Should Be Mopping the Floor (all ages)
Mickey and Friends Activity Pages : Disney Family (younger/older kids)

23 Free Thanksgiving Coloring Pages and Activities--a great round up of coloring pages and activities to keep the kids (and adults) busy until dinner
Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving Placemat from Disney Family

Mickey and Friends Thanksgiving Placemat to Color : Disney Family (younger/older kids)
Thanksgiving Turkey Feathers Activity : Smarty Pants Fun (younger/older kids)

Happy Thanksgiving!

Book of Thanks Tutorial

Book of Thanks--quick and simple tutorial on how to make a Book of Thanks for commemorating Thanksgiving each year!

Last week I posted about new traditions I’m going to be starting this Thanksgiving.  One of the traditions is a Book of Thanks, which is basically a journal or binder that you can bring with you each Thanksgiving, wherever you are, and have everyone write what they are thankful for (or draw a picture) in it.  (You can read more about it here in the original post.)  Today I am sharing a tutorial on how I created my Book of Thanks.  Hopefully it will give you some ideas about creating your own.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I will received a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thank you for your support!

One of my favorite crafting tools is my Silhouette Cameo, which is a multi-functional, electronic cutting machine.  It has computer software that allows me to create pretty much anything I want and then I plug my computer into the Silhouette and it cuts it out for me using a small and very precise blade.  You can also swap out the blade for a pen and it will draw/sketch whatever design you created.  Honestly, I use my machine all the time for scrapbooking, vinyl, cards, fabric, etc.  (I know I sound like an advertisement, but I am not getting paid to say this.  I just really love it!)

That being said, I knew that using my Silhouette would be the easiest way for me to create a fun cover page for my Book of Thanks.  If you don’t have a Silhouette or other cutting machine (like a Cricut), you could also create a cover page in a word program and print it out, or use your own scrapbooking/crafting materials.

I designed my cover page using the computer software and a combination of sketch pens and cut outs for the final product.

Book of Thanks--quick and simple tutorial on how to make a Book of Thanks for commemorating Thanksgiving each year!

Book of Thanks--quick and simple tutorial on how to make a Book of Thanks for commemorating Thanksgiving each year!

Since I paid for the images I used, I can’t offer my design as a file, but you can click on the links below if you’d like to get the files for yourself to use with your Silhouette.

Images used in Silhouette Studio:

Font used: Copperplate Gothic Bold (free from Fonts Geek)

I already had a 3-ring binder so I slipped it in the front, then grabbed a small stack of white printer paper and stuck it inside to have ready for Thanksgiving day.  I also got a small zipper pouch and put a couple of scrapbooking pens inside (the ink is archival safe and won’t fade or bleed over time compared to regular ball-point pens).  Once the papers have been written on, I’ll put them in protective sleeves and then clip them inside the binder.

Book of Thanks--quick and simple tutorial on how to make a Book of Thanks for commemorating Thanksgiving each year!

I really am so excited for this new tradition!  It will be so much fun to look back on past years and see who was with us and what they wrote.

If you want to know more about what I’m including in my Book of Thanks, check out the original post, comment below or email me!

Book of Thanks--quick and simple tutorial on how to make a Book of Thanks for commemorating Thanksgiving each year!

How do you commemorate your Thanksgiving?

Traditions I’m Starting This Thanksgiving

Traditions I'm Starting This Thanksgiving--New traditions to start this year that remind us to be thankful.

Family.  Food.  Football.  The three F’s of Thanksgiving.  In three weeks, families all over the U.S. will be indulging in these activities in abundance.  Homes will become full of the smells of turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, warm rolls and three different kinds of jello salad.  Growing up, I attended Thanksgiving dinners with family and friends in their homes, apartments and camping trailers, with no two years being the same.  Each year holds special memories of talking and laughing over food, napping in the afternoon and, of course, football, both on the TV and out in the yard.  And with Halloween past and Christmas coming up, there’s Thanksgiving–tucked right in between the two.  I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a forgotten holiday.  I think that pretty much everyone celebrates it in some form or another.  But I do think that it gets overshadowed by Christmas and that has always bothered me.

I grew up in a family where traditions were a big deal and we had at least a few for each holiday (Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s, Easter, and so on.)  But I’ve been thinking a lot about traditions lately and I realized that I don’t have any non-food, non-sports related traditions for Thanksgiving and that makes me sad.  I take full responsibility for this and I haven’t really felt the need to start any until recently now that my daughter is getting old enough to understand the reasons we celebrate certain events.  Many traditions at Thanksgiving deal with food or football and while those are both fun things, they are not the reason we even celebrate Thanksgiving in the first place.  There’s nothing wrong with having those traditions but I want to make sure that the element of ‘thanks’ isn’t forgotten among everything else.  So this year I am going to be implementing two new traditions into our family.

Get this free printable at Remodelaholic!

Book of Thanks 
I know a lot of families who go around the table before Thanksgiving dinner starts and say something(s) they are thankful for.  I don’t find any fault in this in and of itself, but when you’re having dinner with 20+ people, it can take a while to go around the table!  And it can be hard to say what you want when you’re in a group and put on the spot like that.  I also feel like not everyone can participate, especially the little kids.  Which is how I came to the conclusion that I wanted to create a way for everyone to share what they are grateful for through what I’m going to call The Book of Thanks.  (My Book of Thanks tutorial can be found here.) 

Here is what I’d like to do:

  • For the adults, they can take a minute at any time during the day to write as much or as little as they want.  
  • For the kids, they can draw a picture or write what they are grateful for.  
  • Take a group picture of everyone who was there.
  • Include the menu and location.
  • Have a place to write down memories of Thanksgiving past and present.

I will have blank printer paper for everyone to write/draw on and then I’ll put it in a plastic sleeve in a binder.  I think this will be a great way for everyone to share their thanks with others as well as a fun way to be able to look back at previous years and remember who was there and the memories that will be shared with each other.

Thankful Tree 
I love this idea.  I’ve seen it around on Pinterest and have been waiting to start it until this year.  My daughter is old enough now that we can ask her what she is grateful for and she can tell us.  So what better way to put us in the thankful spirit than to have each family member take a moment each day to write a few words about what they are grateful for?  It’s not going to be anything fancy: a construction paper tree with construction paper leaves.  We are a few days late starting and while I’d love to do something a little more crafty, it’s more about the purpose than the prettiness.  There are some really cute ones though like this and this if you are feeling like you want to do something more.  (You can see how ours turned out on my Thanksgiving Day 2015 overview.)

What are your favorite family traditions for Thanksgiving?

6 Simple Ways to "Halloween-ify" Your Home {plus a FREE printable}

So…Halloween is next week and you might be like me and realize that there’s not much Halloween-ish-ness going on at your house.  While I do like to decorate during the holidays, I generally just have a few places in the main living area that I put up decorations.  (I’ve also got littles in my house who like to play with the decor if it’s not out of reach.)  I’m not into creepy or spooky so my Halloween decor leans more towards pumpkins and witches, rather than skulls and zombies.  But whatever your Halloween decorating style is, there are a few staples that you can’t go wrong with.

Chalkboards:  Chalkboards are a great year-round decor piece because they are so easy to change.  I feel like chalkboards are especially fun in the fall.  Depending on the size of yours, you can put a simple “Happy Halloween” or something a little longer like “Something wicked this way comes…”.  I have a couple of chalkboards in different sizes and shapes that I change out.  I found a cute one at Hobby Lobby the other day for $4 and used my 40% off coupon.  Talk about inexpensive!

Pumpkins:  Maybe this one goes without saying, but I love to decorate with pumpkins in the fall.  Halloween is the obvious time of year with all the jack-o-lanterns popping up everywhere.  Real or fake, carved or not, putting a couple pumpkins on the front porch or on a table will instantly Halloween-ify your home.

Balloon spiders:  My kids love the balloon spider we have up in our front room!  It’s so easy to make and inexpensive too.  You could put multiple ones around the house or on your front porch.  Just pick up a bag of balloons and some crepe paper at the dollar store next time you go.  Unless you’re planning on using black balloons and crepe paper at some other time during the year, you’ll have supplies left over for next year which is that much less that you have to spend on decor.

Spider webs:  There are two different kinds of spider webs you can do: the white polyester kind or black yarn webs.  I usually do the polyester kind but this year I did the black yarn webs and they look so fun around the house!  If you’d like to do some too, check out this tutorial.  Either type of web would look awesome with the balloon spiders (or any spiders).  You can put these webs almost anywhere, including outside on your porch.  Plus, neither one cost much to buy.

image via design.wash.rinse.repeat

Apothecary Jars:  These jars come in all different shapes and sizes, so feel free to mix and match to create interest.  I bought a couple at Hobby Lobby last year when they were running a sale on their glass items and they only cost me $3-$4.  To make it more Halloween-ish, you just fill them with water and food coloring and finish them off with a label.  I used a chalkboard label and chalk pencils to label my “contents”.  If you don’t want to deal with chalkboard labels, there are lots of free printables available.  I like these labels from Lia Griffith.  If you like the labels from the above picture, click on the link in the caption.

Printables: Speaking of printables, they are easily one of the least expensive ways to change up your decor any time of the year and there are endless possibilities and styles to fit everyone’s preferences.  I have a couple of frames that I cycle through depending on the color scheme I’m using.  And if you like printables, or just need a new one, I’ve created a fun FREE 5×7 printable for you to print out and pop in a frame of your choice.  Put a couple pumpkins next to it and voila!  Instant Halloween-ification!

*Note: Due to differences in monitor colors and printer profiles, there may be some variation with the printed product.

I hope you found some fun ideas to Halloween-ify your home!  What other easy ways do you decorate for Halloween?