Scooter Tips & Tricks Infographic

If your small people will be finding a scooter under the Christmas tree this festive season, Halfords have put together a fantastic tips and tricks infographic that would look great printed out and included with the gift (print it at 5 pages x 5 pages, trust me!)

The infographic has nine tricks that kids can learn and master, then there’s also a bit on what to wear and where to ride your scooter safely.

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Our Disney Frozen Party

Everyone has a Frozen birthday party story these days. According to our local soft play ‘party hosts’, 9 out of every 10 parties they host these days are Frozen themed, and if you search for Frozen party on Pinterest you’ll have no end of Frozen party ideas, many of them versions on the same thing.

Well, my 2 year old has Frozen fever, and since we’ve just moved, I decided we’d not have a party for her this year, but she had other ideas and since mid-January has been going on about her ‘Elsa’ party. So, pretty last minute, I had to come up with a Disney Frozen party! Here are some of our ideas – hopefully you can use them to make your party as much fun for your Frozen fan as it was for my now 3 year old.

I always tend to plan a party in three parts – the decor, the food and the entertainment and try to make everything link, even tenuously, to the theme. Fortunately Frozen is so huge that you can get pretty much anything to fit any budget. (As compared to say, a Peter Pan party – there’s nothing commercially available for that!)

Frozen Party Decor

Frozen Party Decor

I haven’t seen this done by anyone else, but I liked the idea of ‘Family Portraits’ around the food table, and luckily found a bunch of blue photo frames at a jumble table. You can of course use any frames, but I was happy to find blue ones for free. The images in the frames were from a Frozen Activity Book and I found miacat7 among many others at Deviantart, and hope they didn’t mind me printing their images as ‘family portraits’. I thought the young Elsa doing ballet was particularly ‘family life’.

Frozen Decor

The beauty of a Disney Frozen party is that you can use a lot of your Christmas decorations – like my glass snowflakes mixed in with cotton wool balls for ‘snow’. My husband was sceptical at first, but would you believe it, it worked out quite well. I bought this bargain backdrop*, which makes a good photo prop, and we used the smaller images for party games.  I also have a snowflake table runner* that added a nice bit of detail, as does “Frozen” Snowflake confetti.

Frozen Party Food

Frozen Food

As for food, I went with a plain cake decorated with these cutouts* – not particularly original, but easy, and easy won the day! I used straight pretzel sticks* for ‘shipwreck driftwood’ – an homage to the parents, lost at sea. I bought jelly fish and labelled them as ‘Lutefisk’ from Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna* (remember when Oaken offers some to Anna to forget about the unpleasantness with Kristof?) and of course, sandwiches, because – and I quote – “we finish each other’s sandwiches”.

I meant to have crown shaped sandwiches – I have three types of crown cutters after all, but I couldn’t find them on the day, so we went for love, and filled them with Coronation Chicken sandwiches. I like to play on words 😉 I made this stained glass window jelly desert too, and called it ‘ice & snow’.

And then, for the masterpiece, really, we had a chocolate fondue, because we know from the movie that the sisters loved chocolate. And because of that we made some white hot chocolate to drink too.

Finally, since our party was also on Mothering Sunday here in the UK, I made a platter of afternoon tea sandwiches for the adults.

For the name cards for the food, I used these free printables which added perfectly to the theme.

Frozen Party Games

Frozen Party Games

Speaking of party games, the pics above are: a wall of activity sheets and paper based games from a Frozen magazine – I find having ‘quiet games’ really useful for those kids who don’t like the crazy sugar fuelled games, and it’s good to have a ‘breather’ corner where anyone who wants a rest can go, but still feel part of the activities.

We also used an Olaf bath sponge puzzle with pieces scattered across the room. The children ran around collecting these, and on the back a clue was written that led them to a treasure chest – a pot of Frozen themed rings*.

The children were invited to attend a “Royal Ball” where we played musical statues listening to a Frozen movie sound track. The winner won a bottle of Frozen Bubblebath*.

Pin the tail on the donkey became Pin the Brooch on Anna – with the brooches printed from an image on Google and laminated.

From the beginning Aviya wanted Pass the Parcel – honestly, we could probably have forgone the party and just played Pass the Parcel and she’d have been happy! But since we had plenty of sugary chocolate, I didn’t want to put extra candy in the pass the parcel, so instead we used Frozen heart shaped erasers as gifts, and a bottle of Frozen themed shampoo* as the main prize.

Finally, I printed a picture of cupcake toppers* onto Shrinkles paper*, then cut them out and shrunk them down to thumbnail size. I put those with hairclips and glue on a table for the kids to make their own hair clips. (Next time I’ll use a glue gun since the glue we used wasn’t overly effective.)

Oh, and not pictured here was a selection of Frozen ‘tattoos* – they were much smaller than I anticipated, but the children were happy enough.

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden Adventure

I wrote a post last week about Twinkl, the educational resource where I download a lot of the printable activity sheets that I use with my girls, and the different ways that I use them.

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden AdventureOne of the things I love about using online resources is that it saves me a lot of time and effort in turning a simple gift – while nice enough – into an adventure, something I know my own girls would love.

For a birthday party this weekend, I bought a gardening kit for the birthday girl – a spade, fork and shovel, as well as twin planters and a little watering can, ideal for indoor planting. With that, I bought a little sunflower seed pot and a runner bean seed pot, so the recipient could get planting straight away. All of this came to about £12, which I thought was pretty good value for money.

How To Turn A Garden Gift Into A Garden Adventure

But, much like the bug hunter kit, I wanted it to be an experience rather than just a gift, so I headed over to Twinkl and printed off a few different worksheets: Flower Display Bunting, the Bean Life Cycle and the Sunflower Writing Paper.

The flower display bunting I put in the gift for her to make, and the sunflower writing paper – for making notes or writing letters. For the bean life cycle I got to use my laminatorI printed out the life cycle, cut out the cards and laminated them so that they can be part of the growing experience.

My girls and I did a fabulous fun experiment with beans, so this is a wonderful learning experience and one I hope our recipient will enjoy too!

So, that’s how we turn a basic garden gift into a garden adventure, complete with bunting, and letter writing.

Octopus Gift Box Craft

Octopus Gift Box My girls climbed in a box a few weeks ago, and asked me to ship them to their Oupa – my dad, in Australia. I didn’t do it, because that would be illegal I would miss them too much, but I did think that it would be a good idea to send my dad a parcel with little bits and pieces made by them, which we’ve been working on.

One of the goodies we made was octopuses from toilet rolls, which we then filled with sweets.

You will need:

  • Toilet roll
  • Googly Eyes
  • Paint
  • Sparkly stickers
  • A small bag
  • Sweets

How To Make An Octopus Gift Box:

To start with, cut 8 ‘tentacles’ out of about a third of the toilet roll by cutting up in towards the centre of the toilet roll.

Think about how you’re going to do it first. The keen among you may have spotted that our octopus has 10 tentacles. It’s a GMO Octopus.

Next, paint the octopus, making sure to paint the top and the bottom of the tentacles, before ‘curling’ them up by gently pressing them upwards.

Once the paint has dried, decorate the octopus, so we can turn it into a gift box.

We used jelly beans and stuffed them inside organza bags.

Glue the bag gently to the inside of the toilet roll. I used a glue gun and just made two glue dots.

Finally, trace the outline of the top of the octopus, and cut a circle with two ‘tabs’ on either side so that you can fold them over and glue them to the inside of the toilet roll, creating a ‘lid’ for the octopus’ head, and a cover for the sweets. In the picture I haven’t glued it in yet, so you can see the tabs.

With the organza bag, the string looks like further tentacles… because eight are clearly not enough!

How To: Make An Outdoor Chalkboard

Outdoor ChalkboardMy children never owned a cot. In fact, I wanted to buy Ameli a gorgeous sleigh cot at great expense, but from an hour after her birth, Ameli (and later Aviya) slept in my bed with me, so a cot never became a necessity, and I’m glad in retrospect that we never bought one ready for her arrival. As such, I’ve never paid much attention to the repurposed cots and cribs on Pinterest, but recently I was looking for a piece of outdoor-primed wood to turn into an outdoor chalkboard.

I was collecting a wooden pallet for the garden when I noticed the owner of the pallet had an dismantled cot lying by their skip. I had a lightbulb moment about our outdoor chalkboard, and asked if I could perhaps have it.

So, now we are proud owners of someone else’s discarded crib, and I can’t wait to put it to good use. I bought chalkboard paint some time ago, so all I had to do was the DIY – something I’m not normally great at. I’m the queen of Pinterest Fails. None the less, I set out to create our own chalkboard.

How To Make An Outdoor Chalkboard

I used masking tape along the outsides of the crib head board to create a frame, although I don’t suppose this was necessary, really. I could just as easily have left it and painted the whole thing, but I wanted the frame. Next I took one of the children’s thicker paint brushes, and painted the paint onto the board.

It was quite streaky, which concerned me, but it dried perfectly smoothly within half an hour.

After testing it and seeing the chalk created a few ‘scratches’ as it wrote, I decided to paint a second layer.

Chalk Board

Once that had dried, I pulled off the masking tape – pull away from the direction of the paint, so that if it does create any ‘chips’ it doesn’t pull the ends of the paint off, negating having created a border in the first place. If it does, just touch those up.

Being a cot, it already had holes drilled into it for the sides to slot into, so I just threaded some string through those to tie it to the fence.

And there we have a lovely DIY outdoor chalkboard for the children… and I’m quite pleased with myself!

 

LEGO Party Plans And Ideas

I seem to be pretty consistent in running a good six months behind on birthday party photos when it comes to blogging them, and Ameli’s fourth birthday photos from October last year are no exception! But, as they say, better late than never, so here are 12 ideas for your very own LEGO (Duplo) Party. Ameli’s favourite LEGO are the Friends range, which she’s been playing with since just after her second birthday. She loves them. But since she’s one of the oldest in her friendship group, we decided that a DUPLO party might be more appropriate for our little friends.

The first thing I did for our LEGO party was our photo frame – this is our tradition now, to have this wooden frame decorated for photo opportunities at parties. The guests loved it and almost half our friends used the photos from their LEGO frame for their Facebook profile picture for a while, which thrilled me no end.

It was actually just wooden skirting board that we cut up, hammered together, and used Velcro sticky tabs to stick the LEGO pieces on. This was quite a fun way to do it as people customised the frame a little bit each time.

lego4

The biggest tip I can give anyone organising a LEGO Duplo Party is this LEGO Duplo Sticker Book. It comes with hundreds of stickers that can be customised for anything. We decorated our party bags with them. We played four different party games with them. I cut some pages out and put a few stickers in each child’s goody bag. The options are limitless, and there are so many of them, that we didn’t even run out.

I also managed to get hold of two LEGO Duplo height charts, but unfortunately can’t find them online now. There are two different ones available, one in the UK and one in the US. With these we played two games:

1) Our Tribe

Every child had a turn to measure themselves – some with a bit of help – on the chart, and compare themselves with their friends (fun? well, the 2 – 4 year old’s thought so!)

2) Who Are You?

For this one I stuck a bunch of the aforementioned stickers on the chart, from the bottom up. Each child could then check to see which Duploville character they are, by measuring up to the same character.  If they were the same height as the princess, they were a princess in Duploville. If they were the same height as a penguin, ditto.

lego6

Before the guests arrived, my husband and I walked around the forest area and hung about 100 stickers (from the book!) in little baggies all around the forest and orchard, so that the children had to go out and find five little bags each – this was our sort of treasure hunt. It was such a glorious day, it was wonderful to have them running around outside.

lego12

They then brought their found treasures into the hall, and matched each sticker to it’s spot on the sticker wall – pages torn from… you guessed it: the sticker book!  In this book there are tons of different themes, as represented by real Duplo: farmers, circus, zoo, princess, construction and more. So the children – and parents – had to find the right sticker and fill up the pages. A really simple activity that kept them busy for ages. lego10

In our friendship group we have quite a few babies at the moment, so while it’s not actually LEGO, we bought a bag of large bricks for the little ones, and as it turns out some of the dads, to play with while the party was going on. lego11

The games and foods were all sign-posted with card I’d cut out to (sort of!) look like LEGO bricks, and the stickers were used to decorate all of those.

We used Duplo bricks for place card holders on the food table.

LEGO Party Games

I also incorporated the LEGO Duplo toys we have into the table decorations and serving dishes. This orange version isn’t available anymore, but there’s a blue garbage truck out now, and it makes a great M&M or small sweet holder. LEGO Party Food

The number train is great for carting around edible LEGO Bricks. (I bought these here in the UK, but they’re available in the US too. Unless you’re awesome, I wouldn’t bother buying the silicone shapes to make your own – aside from the fact that you can only make about 8 at a time, I couldn’t get any of the recipes I tried in them [cake, candy and jelly] to come out without breaking off the little circle bits. I even tried different ways of freezing/icing/buttering them before. In the end, I bought the candy.) It’s stackable, which was quite fun to play with too.

As you can vaguely see in the back, I made a square out of Duplo and used it to hold the cutlery.

lego7

The LEGO Cake was really special, and nerve racking. I made a yellow cake layer, a red and a green one, the cut three sizes out of each cake, swapped them around and iced them all together. I had no idea how it had or would have worked, as I couldn’t cut it open to check! It worked out pretty cool, and looked like a LEGO wall, although I think the yellow layer could have cooked a little longer.

Because the inside was so colourful, we kept the outside a deceptively plain white.

lego3

On top of the cake, I used Ameli’s very first ever DUPLO set, a 13-month present from her daddy, to decorate. There were probably ‘cooler’ sets we could have used to decorate, but this one had significance to us. lego2

For the brownies we used more M&M – the LEGO colours, having used the non-LEGO colours in the garbage truck – despite my … interesting colouring skills, they were delicious vegan brownies. lego

Another LEGO themed food were the coloured, layered jellies, made with the LEGO Brick sweets layered throughout. The jello/ jelly made them quite soft, so they were a lot easier to eat than the rest of the bag!. lego8

Finally, the LEGO Party Bags.

As I said earlier, these contained a page of stickers each, and some edible brick in a the same organza bags (US) as above, Lego Pencils (aside from these generic wooden ones, in the US you also have to options of Chima pencils, and Friends pencils), Lego City notebooks (US), bubbles and crayons. I also made ‘LEGO bubblebath’ by decanting bottles of Earth Friendly Baby wash into spherical bottles, and dropping LEGO bricks into the mixture.

LEGO Party Goodie Bag

So that was our fourth LEGO Party for Ameli, and she loved it so much, when she saw me writing this post, she asked if we could have the same party again!

Here are a few more LEGO Duplo books that we have – they could make great ‘quiet corner’ activities for your party, or goody bag fillers if you have the budget:

Product DetailsProduct Details

PIN THIS POST: LEGO Party Ideas

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10-Minute Motherhood Affirmations Gift Idea

A group of friends and I had an informal Christmas party today and at the time of arranging it, I’d suggested a Secret Santa £5 gift idea. I didn’t realise just how hard it would be to buy something that wasn’t plastic or junk food that would make a nice enough gift for a friend!

I was racking my brain trying to think of a gift idea when it came to me. One of the mamas is having a hard time dealing with her son, and the other is about to have a new baby, so what they could both use is some old fashioned down time, with a little encouragement.

I had very little time available too, so I didn’t put effort into fineries like pretty tags, or even lid covers for the jars, but I’m sure if you take a little more time you could make something really very pretty.

To make the Motherhood Affirmation Tea Jars you will need:

Motherhood AffirmationsOne of the friends is religious, and the other isn’t at all, so for one I did a printout that included scripture verses and for one a printout with just positive affirmations. You’re welcome to print them and use them yourself.

Cut out the printed affirmations, and fold the cards in half. Glue a piece of string into the card, leaving the string long enough to dangle, then staple the string to the tea bag.

Put the teabags into a jar with the tags hanging out and screw the lid on. If you have time, decorate the lid or cover it with something pretty.

Obviously there are a hundred different ways to do this to make it pretty. For example shaped scissors would have been nice on the labels, or gluing labels to teabags that already have a string. Whatever works for you.

I was worried that it was a bit of a silly gift, but one of the mamas (the pregnant one, no surprises 😉 ) actually had tears, so I’m really pleased with how it turned out!

Under The Sea Birthday Party

Aviya’s 1st birthday is just over a week away, and while knee-deep in preparations for it, I realised that with the mayhem and madness of visas and flying to Australia in October, I never posted the photos from Ameli’s 3rd birthday party. For her party we had an Under The Sea party at a Puck’s Oak Barn in Compton. It’s an absolutely stunning venue and it happened to be one of the rare beautiful days of last year, weather wise. It didn’t rain, and in fact the sun came out and cast that golden hue around the orchard. It was simply breathtaking, even though it was still a little cold.Under the Sea

We didn’t have entertainment, because we were in an orchard, and while it took everyone a little while to ‘warm up’ to the venue, once they did I think everyone enjoyed just being outdoors. The kids made up a treasure hunt with pretend maps and it was – to me, at least, – an idyllic afternoon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (10)[pinit] The barn is attached to an orchid with a great play area, wild forest bit and a stream. It’s the most perfect place for outdoor play.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (9)

As guests arrived they walked through the door with hanging fish garlands* (US Link) meant to represent the ocean, like they were ‘swimming’ through a school of fish. I had some of these same fish on the floor inside the hall.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (1)

There were also “bubbles” – aka clear balloons (US Link)– strewn across the floor. This provided great entertainment for the little ones. Here’s Aviya crawling after a balloon.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (2)We had a great big blue sandpit shell that we borrowed from a friend. I set up balloons around it – they’re missing in this picture – and put a white blanket inside and set up a camera on a tripod so people could take photos of themselves in the shell, like perfect little pearls.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (6)

I spent a lot of the days leading up to the party planning and preparing food for it. There were octopus red peppers on the home made hummus, and a platter of vegetables to choose from. I had a treasure chest – far right- with Starfish Haribo (US Link) pouring from it like treasure, and kiwifruit lollipops covered in dairy free chocolate with edible fishy printed ricepaper. Under the Sea Birthday Party (4)These icecream cones are an unhealthy favourite in our house, originated from the icecream week we did for Andrea’s Summer Camp At Home. Not quite under the sea, but close enough to the sea to be welcome.

Under the Sea Birthday Party (7) These ice cream cones were gluten free, with cheese and chicken or ham, pressed out of bread with cookie cutters (US Link).
Under the Sea Birthday Party (8)
And there were white and brown bread fishy sandwiches (US Link) with Tuna and sweet corn and home made mayonnaise .
Under the Sea Birthday Party (3)

A lot of effort, but worth every second for this, my beautiful princess, my three year old.

I hope, my gorgeous child, that every year affords me the ability to make your birthday as special as your life has made mine.

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*If you purchase through any of these links, you will not be charged any extra, but Amazon will pay me around 5% of the purchase price. If buy without an affiliate link, Amazon just keeps the whole amount!

** You can find many more ideas on my Under The Sea Pinterest Board

How To: Make a Sensory Light

I’ve been working on a Sensory Tent for Ameli – somewhere for her to be calm and relaxed. Kind of like a chill out room. It’s just in the living room, since we don’t have space to make a whole room for her, though I wish we could.

One of the items in the tent is a sensory light. Well, that’s what I call it, anyway. It’s a light and it’s pretty and its something to look at. Read more: How To: Make a Sensory Light

How to: Host A Winnie The Pooh Birthday Party

Ameli is loving Winnie the Pooh, ever since we went to see the Winnie the Pooh movie in April this year. As a result, and since we live in a beautiful woodland area, we decided to have a 100 Acre Wood Party.  Here’s the low down on how we hosted a fab party:

Venue:

We were going to have the party in the woods, but a lot of factors combined and we ended up having it in our (rather overgrown) garden.

Guests:

Guests were a mix of our friends without children, and a few friends with children, so I had to try to balance the snacks to not just be kids food.

Time:

We had the party from 2 – 4 so that we didn’t have to provide lunch as such.

Decor:

I went a little over the top, I’ll admit, but I knew early in the year already what the theme would be, so over the course of months I was able to pick up bits and pieces at discount rates, sales and so on. We have a “present cupboard” where I put things I pick up throughout the year, ready to be presents for people, or in this case, party supplies.

We had a goody bag, with toys from eBay, a Winnie the Pooh themed purse for each child from a party shop in South Africa, crayons I found in a sale, and I separated the pages out of a couple of Winnie the Pooh sticker books and added a few pages to each goody bag. I found Winnie the Pooh badges in another shop somewhere, which we’ll be using to close the bags, ready to be given out when guests leave.

We had a few oversized characters for decoration (although these are part of Ameli’s toy collection anyway) and various other little bits and pieces collected over the last few months.

 

We had a selection of different Winnie The Pooh plates for the party, but these were my favourites.
Food:

Food, for me, is the central point of a party. It’s the thing that brings people together, and for me, good food makes the party.

For this occasion, I must admit I had very little time and very little energy, so I had to prepare most of my snacks in advance, or choose things that would be easy to make, and easy to eat.

Being all about Winnie the Pooh, and Winnie the Pooh being a lover of mainly honey, I themed the foods around honey. My selections for the children were:

And for the adults:

  • Basil, Tomato and Mozarella pies
  • Feta and Cheese Florentines
  • Proscuitto and Paremesan Florentines
  • Cheese and Pesto Florentines
  • Chocolate Cupcakes

For everyone

  • A selection of fresh fruits and berries
  • A Winnie the Pooh Tea-Party 2nd Birthday Cake
  • (And a Gluten free version)

 

Entertainment:

The party was only two hours, and most of the children were under 3, so I didn’t worry about party games – instead we just had all Ameli’s toys in the playroom available, and hired a bunch of large outdoor garden toys from our local Toy Library and let everyone play as they wished.

There was a lot of sugary food, but also plenty healthy options, the toys weren’t particularly eco, but at least we hired them and can return them, which I think is a great lesson in recycling and sustainability.

Overall, I’m really happy with the party, and if we were to do it again or with a bigger group I’d have some of the adults dressed in Winnie the Pooh character costumes, but as a small and intimate party I think it was great, and most importantly, Ameli had a wonderful time.