Keeping House with Little Ones!

You know those picture perfect homes where there isn't a single item out of place, or a spec of dust in sight? Well, I don't know about you, but I have never been able to keep that look up; and with kids the task seems impossible. It's not only difficult to keep a tidy home with kids living there, but it can be challenging to find ways to get little ones involved in tidying up (as opposed to their normal role of home-destruction). 

However, we do have a few neatness tricks up our sleeves here at CIF, and we want to share them with you! We can't promise that following these tips will give you that picture perfect home from a catalog, but they will help keep your house cleaner and a bit more organized. You might even have a little fun while you're at it! 

Declutter

Decluttering your space can seem like a daunting task, but trust us; you CAN do it and you'll feel so much better once you're through! Make a plan to tackle one space at a time, or even one drawer at a time, and work your way through your home. Then, donate all those no-longer-useful items to someone else who really needs them. For more tips on process, we really liked this recent article by Apartment Therapy: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/pro-organizer-tips-what-not-to-do-when-decluttering-your-home-168836

It's also a great idea to get your kids involved in this process.  Ask them to really think about which items they want to keep, and what toys they are willing to give away to a child in need. This can be a great lesson in service, charity, and gratitude. 

Separation

Now it's time to commit to keeping the kids things in their rooms; this leaves the family room, kitchen, dining area all toy-free. It'll help teach your little ones to be responsible for their items and to enjoy having a space of their own that is just theirs.

If your kiddos rooms are a little too small to fit all of their toys, we love the idea of implementing a toy rotation. The concept is easy; leave out a selection of toys, store the rest in bins elsewhere, and when the kids get bored with that selection box it up, pull out a new bin, and it's like Christmas all over again!

 

A Lesson in Cleaning

Make it a rule that your kids help clean up. This may sound like a no-brainer, but sometimes we forget that our little ones can do a decent job of cleaning up after themselves! Start teaching them where things go at a young age, and even at two years old they can begin to help out around the house.

Make it fun! Sing a clean up song to cue that it's time to tidy up, or turn it into a race to see who can clean up the fastest. I used to work at a preschool and our kids absolutely loved this clean up song; maybe yours will, too!

Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
Clean up, clean up, put your things away.
(repeat 3x)
Clean up, Clean up, put your things away!
Pick up your toys.
Pick up your shoes.
Pick up your clothes.
Put your things away
(change it up and list off things that need to be put away like Legos or Mr. Fluffy)
Clean up, clean up, everybody clean up!
Clean up, clean up, put your things away.
(repeat 3x)

Hopefully, by the end of the song, your kids room will be nice and clean! This song can also be used in race-style game for the little ones. Once they know and recognize the song, and the length, you can tell them that in order to win the game the entire room needs to be cleaned before you finish the song. 

Tips: While you're organizing the kids rooms and all of their toys, you can make the cleaning process easier by creating separate containers for the different types of toys. It's also a great way to teach your children how to identify common characteristics like color, shape, use, etc. One month you may choose to separate the toys by color and then make it a little harder the following month by choosing categories like hard, soft, squishy, plastic, fuzzy, or bouncy. Put labels on the containers and depending on their age either use images, word, or both.

 

What tips do you have for keep your house tidy and organized? We'd love to hear!

xo Kerisa Ward


 

Snowday Funday

For all of those rainy days and snow days ahead of you this winter, we thought we would do you all a solid and create the ultimate list of fun indoor activities to do with your little ones. Nothing can a drive parent crazier than a bored child stuck inside with nothing to do. So, let's turn off the TV and make rainy days and snow days memorable!

Indoor Camping

Turn on the fireplace, hitch a tent or create a fort out of some bed sheets, grab the marshmallows and tell ghost stories all day long. The kids will get a kick out of you turning off all the lights in the house and busting out those handy-dandy flashlights for an extra level of fun.

Wish Upon a Star

Take some time to teach your kids all about stars and constellations. Here are a few of our favorite fun facts to share with your kiddos (facts from KidsKonnect):

  • A star is a massive ball of plasma (very hot gas) held together by gravity. It radiates energy because of the nuclear reactions inside it. A constellation is a group of stars, usually in a recognizable shape or pattern. Together, the stars look like a picture.
  • The star that is closest to the Earth is the sun.
  • A Star is a gigantic, glowing ball of plasma.
  • Stars are first formed as clouds of dust and gas.
  • Stars give off a tremendous amount of energy in the form of light and heat.
  • Most stars are between 1 billion and 10 billion years old.

Now that they have learned all about stars, it's time for the Constellation Flashlight Game from Paging Supermom! All you'll need are some cupcake liners, flashlights, scissors, glue, string, and a mini hole punch (or the tip of a pencil). Print out this Flashlight Constellations Template and have some fun with your kids inside your indoor tent as you all learn about the stories behind each constellation.

Tip: Ask your little ones to come up with their own stories about each constellation, and quiz them to see if they can identify them all.

 

Play Restaurant

Have a fun filled day of creating your very own restaurant; right at your dinner room table!

Menu: Have your kids decide what they'll be serving, then help them create their very own menu with some paper & art supplies. Encourage them to spell out each item on their own and draw a picture to go with it.

Cook: Now that you have decided what's on the menu it's time to get your kids involved in the cooking. Have them help you wash the vegetables, learn to safely use a knife, mix ingredients together, and whatever else is age appropriate.

Set the table: The little ones will have a blast decorating the room to look like the restaurant of their dreams. Have them create works of art to hang on the wall, create their own paper flowers, design some place mats, and set the table.

Play Waiter/Waitress: This is both mine and the kids favorite part! Have the kids play waiter or waitress by dressing them up in an apron, and equipping them with a pad of paper and pen. Relax at the table as the guest at your child's restaurant, and your adorable little servers will have tons of fun asking you for your drink and food order. Watch their faces light up as they bring you your meal, and give you your bill at the end.

It's loads of fun and a great all day activity that you will want to cherish forever.

Indoor Obstacle Course

There are plenty of different ways to go about creating an obstacle course; whether you put out pillows to jump over, chairs to crawl under, or bins to jump on there is no wrong way to go about this activity! Some other fun ideas include putting down a strip of painters tape on the floor to challenge to kiddos to walk in a straight line, creating a string maze for them the carefully walk through, and creating a mound of couch pillows to crawl over. Get creative, have fun, and get ready for lots of laughs!

Tip: Time the little ones as they run the course to see if they get faster after a few runs. Make one round into a relay race with a baton of your choice.

Paper Airplane Contest

Do your kids love making paper airplanes? Well, if so, here are a few great ways to take that fun activity into a game that will last for hours.

Practice Your Aim: The first is to create a hanging target with various sized goals and points to make it competitive for the little ones and strengthen their aiming skills.

Fly The Furthest: The second game is to make a numbered landing strip to test whose airplanes can fly the furthest. Using painters tape on the floor is an easy way to set up the game, and is even easier to clean up.

Tip: Fold a few different types of planes and test to see how the length of the wings or different folds will make a difference in the how well the planes fly. Don't forget to make sure your kids decorate their planes, and keep track of the points they rally up throughout each competition.

Tea Party

Throw a fancy tea party with your kids for all of their favorite stuffed animal friends. Introduce them to different tea flavors and see which ones they love the most; experiment by adding honey, sugar, and/or lemon. Spend the day baking fancy scones, cupcakes, and yummy cookies to snack on and cut out cute little finger sandwiches for the main course.

If you have little girls, they will love dressing up in their fanciest dresses, putting on jewelry, and strutting in Mom's over sized high heels.

 

Mini Day Spa

Have a spa day with your little ones and relax all day while you lounge around in comfy robes. Start with giving one another mani and pedis and laugh in delight as your little ones try their hardest not get the polish all over your hands. You can even get fancy and fill large bowls or tubs with warm water to soak your feet in. 

Then move onto DIY face masks, mix up some fresh strawberries and yogurt for a pretty in pink mask. Cut up some cucumbers for your eyes and sit and relax as you spend some quality time talking with your little ones. 

 

What do you and your little ones love to do on rainy days? We would love to hear!

XOXO Kerisa Ward

New Years Resolutions for Parents

Let's ring in the New Year by making commitments to become a better parent, spouse, and person! Often, resolutions only last a few days or weeks after January 1, but these goals are simple to achieve and will make an importance difference in your family life.


  • Technology Detox

I'm not sure about you, but I can't help but feel like technology has taken over our lives. As a parent I'm guilty of it, and our kids are following in our footsteps. Whether it's the constant need to update my news feed, or snap that perfect Instagram photo to share with the world, my phone has taken over my daily activities. But now, with 2016 in front of us, I hope that all of you will join me in committing to reducing the use of technology in your household.

(We'll be dedicating a full blog post on how to gradually detox technology out of your life so keep an eye for that! Trust us, you wont want to miss it!)


  • Team Super Parents

Let's face it, sometimes making decisions are a couple can be hard... add kids to that equation and it's even more complicated. Not only are you having to choose what's for dinner, private versus public school, budgets, and discipline styles, but you have to make all of these important decisions together as a team. We know it may seem impossible, but this year we are determined to up our parenting game and talk about decisions like this to ensure that we are on the same page! Because like Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand."

So, this year lets go on date nights more! But instead of promising not to talk about the kids (which never worked anyway), let's talk ALL ABOUT the kids; because, let's face it, they are a HUGE part of our lives and there's really no escaping it. Fill up your belly with delicious meals (that you didn't cook), reconnect with your spouse, and talk about how you want to raise your children. Whatever big decisions are ahead of you, make those decisions together as a team & we promise it'll be well worth it.


  • Boost Your Child's Confidence

Low self esteem is something that we all go through; and if you're anything like me you're still struggling with it, even as an adult. Let's do our kids a favor and make an effort to boost their self esteem with these simple steps:

Wording is everything. Instead of making comments like "you're not good at math" changing your phrasing to something like "math is something that we are going to have to work extra hard on" can make all the difference.

Stop comparisons. None of us mean to do, but sometimes it just slips and we become guilty of comparing siblings. Nothing is worse than feeling like you're not good enough, or that your parents favor one of your siblings over you. So let's stop the comparison game and instead make your child feel like their differences are what makes them special.

We all love compliments! Brag about your kids to friends and family in front of them, let them eavesdrop and hear all about how proud you are of them. Nothing will fill them joy like knowing that you have noticed something that they have done or excel in.

Ask for a helping hand. Trusting that your kids are old enough to take on more responsibility makes them more confident that you believe that they are capable. When you're a child you want nothing more than to be treated like a grown up, so asking them to help with "adult" tasks will do just that.


  • More Family Time

Spending more time together as a family is something that I really want to focus on this year. Between work obligations, the kid's play dates, and making time for friends, creating family time tends to get pushed to the side. Here are some ways I'll be dedicating more time to my loved ones this year:

Family Dinners. I plan to make time for a homemade family dinner at least five days a week, and spend this time catching up with my kids and spouse. I'll concentrate on creating conversations where stories are shared and an even greater family bond is created. 

Game/Movie Nights. I will now "pencil in" one night a week where we either choose a movie to watch together, or pick a few fun family games to play all night long. It'll be a fun and non-stressful way to spend time together. 

Family Fun Day. Once a month our goal is to have a fun family outing together. This could anything from a zoo trip, a nature hike, exploring a new museum, or visiting a new city. Keep it simple so that it is something that doesn't overwhelm you and deter you from keeping this resolution all year long.


What are your New Year's Resolutions? Any tips for how to keep up with them all year through? If so, we would love to hear! Remember that this is your year and it is your time to sparkle!

XOXO Kerisa

Winter Treats

What better time to indulge in some yummy sweets than during the holidays! The CIF team has collected a few of our favorite winter dessert treats to share with all of you. Trust us you wont be disappointing, these treats include Christmas favorites like cranberries, gingerbread, and candy canes.

 

Candy Cane Brownie Trifle

Ingredients

1 9x13 inch pan of baked brownies
6 ounces (1 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tablespoons butter
1 and 1/4 cup half and half or cream
3/4 sugar
3 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 cups whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 cup crushed candy canes (about 12 candy canes)

Instructions

  1. Start by making the brownies. A box mix is fine. Make sure not to over bake them. Remove brownies from the oven and cool completely (if you are in a hurry stick them in the freezer).  Cut brownies into bite-size chunks and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan combine chocolate chips and 3 tablespoons of butter. Cook and stir over low heat until melted. 
  3. Stir in 1 and 1/4 cups half and half or cream, 3/4 cup sugar, and corn syrup.  Bring to a gentle boil over medium heat.  Boil over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes (set a timer!) or until sauce is reduced to about 2 1/3 cups.  Remove from heat. Let cool for a minute or two, until it stops bubbling. 
  4. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract.  Cool to room temperature; mixture thickens as it cools. (Freezer or fridge also helps here).
  5. For the whipped cream, in a chilled mixing bowl combine 2 cups cream, powdered sugar, and 1/4 or 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract.  Beat with the chilled beaters of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form.
  6. In 16 small dessert cups, alternately layer brownie chunks, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and crushed candy canes, ending with whipped cream and candy canes.  Serve immediately.
  7. If you want to do this all in one trifle bowl, place 1/3 of the brownie chunks in a 3-quart bowl or trifle dish.  Drizzle with 1/4 of the chocolate sauce.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of the candy canes.  Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Repeat layers twice more.  Drizzle with remaining chocolate sauce; sprinkle with remaining candy canes.  Serve immediately.

Recipe from The Food Charlatan

 

Gingerbread Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Sugared Cranberries

Gingerbread spice mix
4 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tsp ground ginger
3 tsp freshly ground cardamom
3 tsp freshly ground cloves

Soft gingerbread cake
270 g all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
4 tsp gingerbread spice mix
1/2 tsp ground bitter orange peel (can be omitted)
2 large eggs
100 g light muscovado sugar
100 ml* cane syrup
125 g butter
100 ml heavy cream
150 ml* milk


Sugared cranberries
Fresh cranberries, a couple of large handfuls
1 egg white
Granulated sugar, for rolling

Cream cheese frosting
150 g butter, softened
180 - 210 g (1 1/4 - 1 1/2 cups) powdered sugar
200 g cream cheese, cold

Instructions
Soft gingerbread cake
1. Heat oven to 175°C (350F). Butter and flour three 15 cm (6 inch) baking pans. Set aside.
2. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, gingerbread spices and ground bitter orange peel in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Beat eggs and sugar until fluffy and lighter in color, about 3-4 minutes. Add cane syrup and beat until smooth.
4. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add cream and milk.
5. Add dry ingredients and butter mixture to the egg mixture in additions.
6. Divide batter between prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then unmold onto a wire cooling rack.

Sugared cranberries
1. Dip cranberries in egg white and put them on a piece of kitchen paper so they're not soaking wet when rolling them in sugar (this will make the sugar lumpy).
2. Roll in sugar and leave to dry for 30 minutes or so. Make the frosting while you wait.

Cream cheese frosting
1. Beat butter until pale, about 2 minutes.
2. Add powdered sugar and continue beating until frosting is very pale and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.
3. If you want the frosting to be as white as possible, add just a tiny bit (start off with a super small amount, like the tip of a toothpick and then add more if needed) of purple/royal blue icing color.
4. Add cream cheese and beat until just smooth.

Assembling the cake
1. If cake layers are domed on top, even them out just slightly using a serrated knife (you can correct this with an even layer of frosting instead).
2. Put the first cake layer on a cake stand or plate and spread a fairly thick layer of frosting on it using an offset spatula.
3. Keep doing this until you've used all three cake layers. End with a layer of frosting on top of the last layer.
4. Spread a thin layer of frosting all over the cake and put it in the fridge to set for a 10-20 minutes if needed.
5. Decorate with sugared cranberries and a sprig of spruce if desired.

Recipe From Call Me Cupcake

 

Gingerbread Cake with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting

For the gingerbread cake
350g | 12.3oz plain flour
330g | 11.6oz dark brown sugar
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2 tbsp treacle (molasses)
200g | 7oz cold unsalted butter, cubed
200ml | 7fl oz whole milk + 1 tbsp fresh orange or lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 orange
3 tbsp very finely diced candied (crystallized) ginger

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C (350F). Grease and line three cake tins - or spray with cake release.
  2. Sift all the dry ingredients and add them to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed to combine.
  3. Add the cubed butter and mix for a couple of minutes until the mixture resembles sand.
  4. Add the eggs, one by one, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the treacle.
  5. Add the milk, vanilla extract and zest and beat together. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the mixing bowl. Continue mixing for a couple of minutes until batter is smooth.
  6. Fold the chopped ginger into the batter and divide between the prepared cake tins.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

For the frosting
10.5oz full-fat cream cheese
1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon (or vanilla paste)
7oz double cream, whipped to soft peaks
7oz icing (powdered) sugar

Method

  1. First, whip the double cream and icing sugar (using your stand mixer) till you have soft peaks. Transfer to another bowl.
  2. Place the cream cheese and ground cinnamon in the bowl of your stand mixer and whip until soft and fluffy. Slowly add the whipped cream and whip together briefly until combined. Don't whip for too long.
  3. Add a generous amount of frosting on your bottom cake layer and smooth. Top with the second layer and repeat. Add the third layer and then smooth some frosting over the top and sides of the cake. You can leave the cake showing through to achieve the 'naked' cake look or do a crumb coat then chill the cake. Add another layer of frosting and smooth over the cake.
  4. Top with meringue kisses or gingerbread cookies.

Recipe From

 

What are your favorite winter treats? We would love to hear and try our hand at baking them!

XOXO, Kerisa Ward

Giving With Grace

Teaching children about giving instead of receiving during the holidays usually comes with a debate from various parents and their ideals on what giving means. Whatever your families beliefs are on giving we are just happy to hear that you are putting forth an effort to teach your little ones about this very important life lesson.

Donate Toys

Whether you are encouraging your kids to donate a few of their gently used toys or are purchasing new toys and treats for those who need them most this is a great way to get your little ones into the holiday spirit of giving. Here is a list of a few great charities that accept toy donations:

Toys For Tots: With tons of donation location options this organization makes giving easy. You can even host an event or volunteer. Plus they accept other types of donations like cars, money, or Ebay sales. Another unique and awesome donation option is their In Memory or In Honor of an individual anytime throughout the year.

Second Chance Toys: The goal of this charity is to save old toys from being thrown out into dumpsters or landfills and instead find a new home with a disadvantaged child. Finding a donation site is as easy as entering your zipcode.

Donation Town: Not able to drop off the toys at a certain location? Well this organization makes it easy by picking your donations right from your doorstep!

Gifting love

We love the idea of talking to your kids about giving the gift of kindness for Christmas. These acts of kindness can be something like committing to making mommy's packed lunch everyday or helping with a certain chore around the house. Teaching children that not every gift needs to be a tangible object and that sometimes the most special gifts are the things that you do for others to show them how much you care. And the best part is that you can easily do this too to show your little ones how easy and fun it is! Children learn best by mimicking their parents, so commit to reading a bedtime book with your kids every night or spend an hour of family time crafting from a CIF box.

Random acts of kindness

How fun would it be to spend the holiday season running around and doing random acts of kindness with your family? It is a great way for children to experience generosity in a way that inspires them and ignites the love for giving. The best part is that you can create a list of the best acts of kindness that work for you family, your children, their age, interests, and your community. Turn this into a fun game for your family! Do a countdown of acts of kindness starting from the first to Christmas day or create a jar full of different ideas to do throughout the year. Here are a few fun ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

  • Run around the neighborhood with some sidewalk chalk and leave kind messages on your neighbors doorstep.
  • Leave a handmade thank you note for your local mailman, teacher, or babysitter.
  • Make blankets and gift them to homeless around the community.
  • Deliver your CIF crafts and notes to your local children's hospital or senior center.
  • Send letters and gifts to soldiers over seas.
  • Visit a soup kitchen to volunteer.

As a family

Together as a family you can introduce the idea of sponsoring a child with an organization like World Vision. Talk to your kids about how there are other children around the world just like them who are less fortunate and need your help. Together as a family you can choose a child who you would like to sponsor and together as a family you can start to send letters and photos back and forth. Your children will learn about giving and make friends with a child from another country, making it a great opportunity to learn about another culture.



Christmas on a Budget

We understand the importance of Christmas budgets that fit our family's finances, and we are here to help with creative tips & tricks for cutting costs during the holidays!

Wrapping Paper

  • Use old newspapers or magazines to wrap your gifts. Look for comic sections to add some laughs to Christmas morning!
  • Ask your kids create some artwork, and surprise them by using the art as wrapping paper!
  • Reuse old wrapping paper, tissue, and bows from older birthdays and holidays.
  • Kraft paper is affordable and so versatile. Keep simple it with a plain wrap and bow, or spruce it up with stamps, calligraphy, notes, games, or fun patterns... the possibilities are endless!
  • Make your own bows out of magazine strips, or even construction paper! Here is a fun and easy DIY guide from Whole Living on how to craft your very own bows.
 We love, love, love the idea of incorporating DIY activities on your kids wrapping paper! It's the perfect way to make them one-of-kind and entertain the little ones. All you need is some kraft paper, a sharpie, and imagination!  Image Source

We love, love, love the idea of incorporating DIY activities on your kids wrapping paper! It's the perfect way to make them one-of-kind and entertain the little ones. All you need is some kraft paper, a sharpie, and imagination! Image Source

Decorations

  • Go hiking with the family and spend some time collecting pinecones to decorate all around the house.  Don't forget the Christmas tree!

  • Save your children's artwork from their CIF boxes, and school, to hang up and show off as decor.

  • Craving family time? Create your own garlands out of popped popcorn, cranberries, play dough shapes, bells, and even the kids toys!

  • An oldie but a goodie: Help your kids to cut & create their own unique snowflakes to put up all around the house.

make it memorable

  • Christmas isn't all about gifts, but instead it's about the memories you make together. So instead of gifting a physical item, consider giving an activity that you can do together as a family . Sledding, local deals for zoo tickets or a local art class, or tickets to a theme park they've been dying to try are all great ways to make Christmas count for more this year. 

Gifting love

We talked about this concept in our blog post titled "Giving With Grace," but it is such a great way save money during the holidays that we just had to share it again:

We love the idea of showing your kids how to give the gift of kindness for Christmas. These acts of kindness can be something like making mommy's packed lunch everyday, or helping with a chore around the house. Teaching children that gifts aren't always tangible objects, and that sometimes the most special gifts are the things that you do for others to show them how much you care, is an amazing life lesson. 

And, if you are worried about not having anything to gift wrap for your loved one to open on Christmas day, creating a DIY coupon book is the perfect option! Help your child create one, or make one for your little one, by including fun tickets like a bedtime pass or movie night of their choice.

 

What are your secret tips and tricks to saving money over the holidays? We would love to hear!

XOXO, Kerisa Ward

Christmas Traditions To Start

Make Christmas magical for kids and the entire family with these new Christmas traditions that you should start this year.

Gift Wrap The Kids Doors

This is such a fun tradition! Gift wrap your little one's doorway with wrapping paper or crepe paper so that when they wake up on Christmas morning they have to break tear through the paper and burst into the family room full of excitement. You can even tell them that Santa did it to make sure that they stayed in their room all night and didn't sneak out!

Advent Calendar

This is a great way to keep the Christmas excitement up throughout the entire month of December. The kids will absolutely love counting down to Christmas Day with these fun advent calendar options:

  • Prize Surprise: This punch out advent calendar is a great way to add some fun surprise treats for the little ones, whimsy, and color to your Christmas count down.
  • Sock Stockings: Incorporate your kiddos socks into this fun DIY. Assemble all of those mixed matched socks that are missing their pair, some ribbon, clothes pins, add some numbers then stuff and count down.

Visit/Send Gifts To Senior Center or Children's Hospital

You probably already know and are hopefully already a part of Crafting It Forward's movement to create crafts as a family and teach children first hand the joy of giving by sending the craft to a senior center or children’s hospital all over the US. Well this holiday season lets take it a step further and take the family to visit either your local senior center or children's hospital in person to spread the holiday cheer to those who need it most.

Celebrate St. Nicholas Day

Even though this is mainly a European tradition, this is a fun and great way to teach your kids about the inspiration behind Santa Clause himself. Celebrated on December 6th, the tradition is that children leave their shoes outside on the doorstep and Old St. Nick fills them up with treats.

Magical Key

Live in an apartment or house without a fireplace? Leave a magic key for Santa Clause on the front porch that will let him get through the front door without a hitch.

Santa Footprints

Whether it's from the fireplace or front door adding the special touch of creating Santa's footprint throughout the house will bring so much magical excitement to your children's Christmas morning. Create a stencil and add some fake snow or flour onto the floor.

Reindeer Food

This is a fun one that the kids will enjoy being a part of! Create a mix of oats, cheerios, carrots, sprinkles, or whatever else you think the reindeers will love. On Christmas Eve take the mix out and have the kids sprinkle it all over the font lawn or backyard. This will help the reindeers, and Santa, find your house and give them something yummy to snack on while Santa Clause is busy placing gifts underneath the tree.

Your Turn

We want to hear all about your family traditions! Whether it's Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, or whatever else you may celebrate. Comment below or tag us on Instagram with @CraftingItForward or#CraftingItForward, we would love to see, read, and share!

XOXO, Kerisa Ward

Stocking Stuffers For The Kids

Christmas is right around the corner and we know all to well how those holiday bills can start to add up quickly. So to help ease the stress of shopping on a budget we have rounded up a few of our favorite gifts and stocking stuffers categorized into different price points. We believe that the holidays should be all about spending time and appreciation with those you love most, without letting things like price tags get in the way.

$10 and under

We LOVE these adorable little knitted Love Handle Rattles from The Land Of Nod! It is the perfect mix of whimsical and age appropriate for the infants in your life who are little too prone to getting hurt. And for the families who celebrate Hanukkah we have found the cutest array of dreidels. Our tip for incorporating giving into the fun of playing dreidel is to use bet with money or old toys and donate your winnings to charity, tzedakah!

Here are some fun stocking stuffers that are sure to entertain the kids for hours on end. These activities are guaranteed to bring out the creativity and problem solving skills in your little ones, plus they are great for traveling.

$15 and under

Arts and crafts are our absolutely favorite things in the world, so it's no surprise that we are obsessing over these great crafty stocking stuffers. A printmaking kit, uhm yes please! And for the little boys who love superheroes this make your own comic book will be perfect.

Color wheelies and the most adorable fresh picked plush vegetables are calling our names. These stocking stuffer options are perfect for the toddlers on your Christmas shopping list.

$20 and under

Whimsy and adorable are all wrapped into one unforgettably cute gift that will make any little girl who loves unicorns glee in excitement. Plus imagine all of the amazing photo opportunities that are sure to come from this unicorn headband!

Looking for a family fun game for the kids on your list who are three years old and older? Well we have found the perfect stocking stuffer that is sure to bring memorable laughs to your holidays this year with this don't drop the blocks game.

Of course we had to include a few more crafty options that your kids are bound to love. Do you remember Shrinky Dinks? Well they are back and more magical than ever! Create your own charms and trinkets with your little ones for some fun family time.

For the kids who are eyeing your electronics on a daily basis this chalkboard resembles a real laptop and is powered by pure imagination. Watch your child's artistic skills sore with this on the go chalkboard.

The CIF Team wished you and your family a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday!

XOXO, Kerisa

Pumpkin Patch of Recipes

We've rounded up our favorite fall pumpkin inspired recipes that is sure to warm up your little one's bellies full of deliciousness. We all know that internal joy we feel when Starbucks announces the arrival of the much awaited pumpkin spice latte, but if you are searching for some other goodies to satisfy your pumpkin spice cravings try out one of these recipes below.

Pumpkin Doughnuts

We just couldn't help ourselves.. I mean pumpkins and doughnuts?! Who could ask for anything better? This recipe from King Arthur Flour is bound to become a family favorite.

Place the following in a mixing bowl:

1/2 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups pumpkin purée (canned pumpkin)
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon plus a heaping 1/4 teaspoon each ground nutmeg and ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

Beat everything together until smooth.

Add 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, stirring just until smooth.

Pour the batter into a doughnut pan, or muffin pan if you don't yet own a doughnut pan. Bake the doughnuts for 15 to 18 minutes, or 23 to 25 minutes if baking muffins, at 350 F.

While the doughnuts are cooling on the rack mix the topping together by adding pumpkin spice with cinnamon sugar in a bag, ask your little helpers to shake it all together in a ziplock bag, and then sprinkle on top. Once cool enough to eat, take a big bite and enjoy!

Tip: Pair this delicious breakfast treat with Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Pumpkin Pie Pops

Looking for a cool treat but still craving the flavors of fall? Well we have the perfect solution, pumpkin pie pops! Your little ones will glee in delight over this sweet treat from The View From The Great Island.

pumppop.jpg

What You Will Need

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pie filling)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk (whole or low fat)
  • 1 box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding
  • 1/4 tsp each: nutmeg, cinnamon, allspice, cloves and cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ginger

Instructions

  1. Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth.
  2. Fill popsicle molds to the top, and rap the mold firmly on a hard surface to remove any air bubbles. I found the easiest way to do this was to spoon the mixture into a large baggie, cut off the tip, and squeeze it into the molds. You can also use small paper cups as molds.
  3. Position the popsicle sticks (they will stand up by themselves because the mixture is thick) and freeze at least several hours until solid. You will not need the lid for these pops.
  4. To remove the popsicles from the mold, fill the sink with hottest tap water and submerge the mold just up to, but not over, the top lip. Hold it in the water for several seconds, and then try to wiggle the popsicles out. If they don't budge, submerge the mold again briefly.

Tip: These pops are also dog friendly! Just be sure to remove the stick when you serve these as a treat for your four legged friend.

Pumpkin Pie Yogurt Parfait

Time to do the happy dance! This dessert is delicious and a great way to trick your kids into loving greek yogurt. Thank you The Art Of Moseying for this scrumptious recipe.

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup of canned pumpkin
  • ½ tsp of pumpkin pie spice
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ⅔ cup of greek yogurt
  • 10 gingersnap cookies, crumbled

Instructions

  1. Mix the pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and maple syrup together in a small bowl.
  2. Scoop the ⅔ cup of greek yogurt into another small bowl.
  3. Take out two small jars and layer the yogurt and pumpkin on top of each other, dividing the yogurt and pumpkin evenly between the two jars.
  4. Sprinkle each jar with the crumbled gingersnap cookies.

 

What is your favorite pumpkin inspired recipe?

xoxo, Kerisa Ward

Hip Fall Decor

Pumpkins, pumpkins, pumpkins! Oh how we swoon over pumpkins and everything about fall. We love taking advantage of using pumpkins in our decor throughout the months of September, October, and November. Oh and the best part is that all our adorably perfect DIY fall decor items will be able to be display all through Halloween and Thanksgiving.

The CIF Team is obsessed with anything bright, colorful, and playful! And fall time is no exception. So throw out those traditional oranges, browns, and earth tones to make room for some bright pastels, nontraditional patterns, and modern designs.

Painting your pumpkin is a quick and easy way to add some spunk to these glorious fall gourds. Whether it's ombre, unique patterns, or your favorite color palette these beauties are sure to stun your house guests the moment they walk through your door.

We love the idea of updating decor elements in your home that you already have up year round. Who doesn't love macrame? And pumpkins! We're in love with the idea of combining these two design elements together for a simple and hip fall update.

Don't have macrame in your house yet? Don't worry it's a simple DIY project that requires only a few supplies. All you need is some rope, a ring, and a hook. Plus the best part is that once fall is over you can replace the hanging pumpkins with mini Christmas trees or poinsettia in the winter time or simply hang your favorite house plants all year round. Click here to see a detailed tutorial guide!

Tip: Make the macrame your own and add some color to your rope or include some beautiful beading that fits your homes style.

Cactus has become the hippest trend in the design world and we couldn't be happier. The adorable color palette and fun addition of craft paper makes this pumpkin project a perfect family fun activity that kids of any age can be a part of. The little ones can practice their painting, tracing, and scissor skills all while having a beautiful display that they can be proud to show off.

Click here to see a full tutorial from AwwSam on how to recreate these cuties for your own home. She even includes printable stencils for the cacti arms and flowers.

Tip: Look for longer, skinnier pumpkins when creating the cactus with the arms. This craft does include the use of a hot glue gun so please be cautious when the kids are acting as your assistant.

 

Not feeling the whole pumpkin decor ideas? Well we have some fun alternative fall projects for you that are both unique and crafty. First up is a colorful walnut garland that is an easy craft where you can customize the color palette to perfectly match the rest of the decor in your home. Our other favorite fall decor element is a gorgeous paper leaf adorned table runner. This project is great for those with little ones who love to practice their writing skills. You can have your kids write all of their favorite things about fall or what they are thankful for Thanksgiving.

We hope you love all of these fall decor ideas as much as we do! We would love to see any of your fall DIY decor projects, so please tag and/or hashtag CraftingItForward on Instagram so we can take a peek and share!

xoxo, Kerisa Ward