Tag Archive for christmas

Making Gifts Look Amazing

Inexpensive, adorable gift wrap ideas!

Gifts look so much more special with some personal touches and cute wrapping. I am not the queen of cuteness when it comes to wrapping, but I found some great things to help me win this year.

christmas candy gifts

I love giving!

I LOVE giving. I love to give any time of the year to everyone. Gifts are my favorite part of Christmas. I love to help make people’s lives easier and more blessed through something I could make or buy for them. Christmas is a super fun time of year. I used to stress out about it, but I have learned to let old feelings go and make new traditions. I’ve learned to focus on time spent with loved ones and making memories and not on the hustle and the bustle and the people fighting over sales at the store.


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Christmas is what you make it.

Christmas just like any other day is what you make it. You can have the feelings you want by just adjusting where your focus is. If the giving stresses you out, cut your list down and simplify. If the cooking stresses you out, order some pizzas the day before and heat them up on Christmas. It’s a time for love and joy not perfection and stress.

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I LOVE rustic wrapping. Brown paper, twine, mason jars, raffia and other things that look like Laura Ingalls would have received her gift in them are really my cup of tea. I love coming up with great vintage looking wrappings for my gifts.

I also love cute shaped boxes. I love giving treats like a cupcake or cookies in a cute container that shares the Christmas spirit. Festive wrappings are the bee’s knees.

homemade gifts

Wrap according to your style.

Oriental Trading has great prices on their tissue paper, wrappings, and ribbons. I love using curly ribbon. It has a hundred uses and one roll will last forever. These rolls they have are 500 feet. It’s good quality ribbon for adorning your holiday packages in a ton of cute ways. Making curly bows, tying up packages, and even making hair bows for little girls are all great ways to utilize this stuff.

Oriental Trading Company offered me some Christmas wrap in exchange for my honest opinion about them on the blog. All opinions on the wrap are completely my own.

oriental-trading-wrap

Tissue paper can make your gifts shine too. I love to get a big multi pack of tissue and use it throughout the year. You can stuff it in your gift bags to make them look more festive. You can fluff it up in a basket to make your basket items at the right height or to keep them in place and add a pop of color. You can wrap an article of clothing in it inside your gift box. It’s super versatile.

Buy wrapping that can be used for many seasons.

I prefer gift wrapping supplies that can be used any season. I love taking a festive black and white polka dot paper and tying it with a big red bow to make it look Christmassy. You can use the same paper and tie it with a white bow for a men’s birthday gift earlier in the year. You can use the polka dot paper to wrap a child’s toy gift and make a bow out of multi colored curly ribbon that a child would love.

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Check out Oriental and all of the affordable gift wrapping options they have. There is tons of cute stuff there that can make wrapping your gifts and making them look special so much easier.

My daughter makes bows for packages from wrapping paper or even brown paper sacks. They are so cute, here is one she made for fall gifts. I love it! Click here to check them out.

upcycling gift bows

I love to use peach baskets that I buy my peaches in to make my gifts look old fashioned. They look so adorable all full of love and joy.

packaging laundry gift

Make your Christmas packages look extra special. 

It just takes a few minutes to make a package look extra special. An extra ribbon, some cute containers, or a pretty bow make your gifts look thoughtful and personal. Click here to see some more gift-wrapping ideas.

Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.

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Inexpensive, adorable gift wrap ideas!

 

The Ultimate List of Christmas Gifts You Can Make Yourself

Do you love finding Christmas gifts you can make yourself? I do. I love the idea of giving something that I made with love. It’s a beautiful thing to put time and thought into your gift and your own energy from your own hands.

Here is a great list of things you can make yourself that your friends and family will love. 

Edible Gifts

Homemade Granola (kids can help with this one too!)


Soup Mixes in a Jar 

Monster Cookies

Cafe AuLait Mix

Cowboy Cookies in a Jar

Taco Seasoning Mix

Homemade Seasoning Mixes

Gifts You Can Sew (with free patterns)

Felt Christmas Tree Decorations

Bandana Bib

Poncho Shirt

Handmade gifts you can sew for Christmas

Espadrilles (Shoes!)

T-shirt Scarf

Gift Bag

Gifts for the Home

Repurposed Retro Office Chair

beforeandafter-, handmade Christmas gifts

Peppermint Candles

Birdseed Ornaments

Mason Jar Candles

Grapevine Wreath

Windowsill Herb Garden

homemade Christmas gifts

Cinnamon Scented Ornaments

Texture Painted Magnets (kids can make)

Wrapping Paper

Fabric Mache Bowl

Upcycled Hose Wreath

hose wreath for Gift

Mason Jar Gifts (Spice Jars, Lamps, Soap Pumps, etc)

Almond Extract

Vanilla Extract

Coiled Rope Baskets

Wooden Dominoes

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Beeswax Candles

Christmas Ornaments

wonder woman ornaments

Cookbook

Personal Gifts

Gift vouchers (with free printables)

Peppermint Winter Snow Body Scrub

Lip Balm

Honey and Oat Soap

Clay Essential Oil Diffuser Necklaces

diy-clay-essential-oil-necklaces-pin

Soap Pouch

Lemon Lime Bath Salts

Gilded Holiday Mug

Warm Vanilla Sugar Scrub

Personalized Books

Dotty Tote Bag

Infinity Scarf

Healing Salve

For the Kids

Story Blocks

Stilts

All Natural Playdough

natural-playdough-recipe

Take Along Finger Puppets with Stage

Velcro Dot Craft Sticks

Quiet Book

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Homemade Coloring Book

There are so many things you can make for others that show you love and care about them. Putting thought into homemade gifts you can make yourself makes the Christmas season or any time of giving a whole lot more personal and fun!

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Over 50 Christmas Gifts Kids Can Make

Finding gifts kids can make can be a challenge sometimes. Gift kids can make instead of the provider can sometimes be hard to find. Making gifts for parents is a fun way for parents to interact with the daycare program and it’s a fun way to teach kids to be givers. Kids LOVE making something special for mom and dad. It’s tough for providers sometimes to find gifts kids can make on their own that look like something cool that mom or dad would enjoy. 

Receiving a gift from your child that is 100% made by the provider is less memorable than getting something your child really worked hard on. I like to help my kids make their creations into something parents would think is cool, but I also like for them to be involved in it. I have compiled a great list of things that kids can make with minimal help from you that will still turn out great and parents will love. Each one is linked to a how to with all the instructions.

If you don’t have a daycare, your own kids would love to make gifts for grandparents, teachers, or other special people in their lives. Give them some supplies and let them go at it. Just click on the title to see a how to for each activity. 

Hand foot or foot print Christmas gifts


There are tons of things kids can make with their hand print or foot print. Using their hands or feet makes the gift very personal just from that child. I love keeping things like that because you can compare later and see how much that hand or foot has grown. I love to watch kids be so excited to present their parents with what they made.

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Ornaments

Ornaments are a wonderful gift for parents because they can be cherished and re visited every year. I LOVE getting out ornaments my 24-year-old daughter made throughout her life. They also don’t take a whole lot of room to store, so you can easily keep them forever.

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Gifts with photos

Kids can make some really cool gifts out of photo of themselves. I also LOVE getting photo gifts. They are treasured memories


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Other Christmas Gift Ideas

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Gather up your kids and put out some things to help them make a great gift for their parents. If you don’t have a daycare, your kids will love to make things for loved ones, this is a great idea for you as well. 

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over-50-christmas-gifts-kids-can-make

What do I get my Daycare Kids for Christmas?

Every year we face the age old question in childcare, what do I get my daycare kids for Christmas? Some providers give their families gifts, some just the kids, and some don’t choose to do that. It’s all relative to your budget, beliefs, and feelings about what is best for the kids. In today’s society, kids are very overindulged in most cases. Most kids don’t NEED anything else. Hopefully this post can help you solve the dilemma and you can refer back to it year after year.

I love to give my kids something unique that won’t get lost or broken along with all the other toys they get. I usually never give them any kind of toys. I also love for my gifts to be educational. That’s another way to make gifts more valuable for your children.

Do you have to give gifts to your daycare kids for Christmas? No, you absolutely don’t. It’s okay if you don’t think that’s the right thing to do. When polling other providers, many of them don’t. It’s a personal decision based on what you believe.

Set Your Budget.


First, you need to decide how much you want to spend on each child. I usually set my budget at about $20 per person. If you have 7 or 12 daycare kids, when you multiply that by 20, that’s quite a bit of money. Daycare is not a lucrative career, so we need to be careful with our spending. Twenty dollars is not a lot of money, and it can be tough to find really special gifts for that price.

Make it Personal.

I like for my gifts to be personalized. When I do that, I feel like it makes it that much more special. I love things that are monogrammed or personalized in some way. Check out Etsy for some great personalized gifts. I also love that Etsy products are homemade by someone and my purchase is helping them do life for their family.

Make it Unique.

Don’t just get the latest toy. Their parents, friends, grandparents and so many other people are buying them fun toys to play with. Most kids have so many toys, they can’t even play with all of them. Try to think of something out of the box. Click on the pictures to go to the products. 

Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.

gifts-for-preschool

Some of the things I’ve bought for my daycare kids over the years include:

  • Children’s Bible-This is a great one if you run a faith based program.
  • Monogrammed blankets
  • Monogrammed pillows
  • Monogrammed duffel bags
  • Monogrammed back packs
  • Piggy banks and rolls of pennies to feed in them

  • Monogrammed aprons
  • Personalized puzzles (Melissa and Doug will add names on puzzles)
  • Garden tools and seeds (we garden at daycare, so it’s cool to think they could take that home with them too) Click on the picture to view a set. 

 

    • Board Games (education and encourages screen free family time)

  • Books

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I asked a bunch of my friends what they give their daycare kids and I got a lot of really cool and unique ideas. I love polling providers; they are a great group of folks. Here is a list of what they said:

  • Books was the most popular answer and I absolutely LOVE that. It makes me happy to think of all those kids getting books! Click here to see why reading to kids is one of the most important things you can do. 
  • Homemade PJ Pants (I wish I could sew)
  • Homemade Hats and Gloves (I wish I could knit)
  • Knitted Dolls (so cool)
  • Stockings Full of Toys
  • Mugs with Hot Chocolate
  • Christmas Outfit
  • Homemade Ornaments
  • Homemade Aprons
  • Monogrammed Stuffed Animals
  • PJ’s
  • Homemade Cookies
  • Fischer Price Toys
  • Coloring Book with Crayons, you can even make your own personalized coloring books. Click here to see how. 
  • Gift Cards
  • Hair Barrettes and Keychains
  • Match Box Cars
  • Personalized Books
  • Hats, Scarves and Gloves
  • Homemade Playdough
  • PJ’s and a book
  • Pencils

christmas-gifts-for-your-daycare-kidsSeems like there is something to fit pretty much any budget, and so many of these are super ideas.

I like to give to my families as well and usually do some sort of homemade cookies, pies, or breads. I always make the families a personalized cookbook of the children cooking as gifts to go with whatever food I make. Click here to see how we make our cookbooks.

What great ideas do you have for great gifts for your daycare kids or families?

For more great Christmas ideas, click on the links to check out my friend’s posts below. 

Stress Free Holidays 

DIY Decorations, Picture Perfect Wreath

Good Deeds Your Kids Will Cherish During the Holidays

 
 
 
 
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Give FABULOUS Handmade Gifts and Support Small Businesses

I think it’s so awesome to give or receive personally handmade gifts. Anyone can get mass produced junk from wally world but it’s so thoughtful to get a gift that someone actually spent time designing and creating for your loved one. There are many great gifts that come from the store, for sure. I appreciate any gift someone gives me. I just appreciate people loving me and don’t really need gifts anyway. But there is something super special about receiving something that is one a kind and unique.

Many handmade things can make great gifts. A book from a small author just getting started, and hand painted piece of art, some fun children’s products that would make any little girl sing, or some yummy smelling soaps made from pure, natural ingredients are fun ideas for super personal and thoughtful gifts.

Have a handmade Christmas!

When I purchase something handmade from someone, I like to think about all the time and effort that went into making that item. I love making things for people, but my skill set is limited. I can forge something like a blacksmith or crochet someone a hat. I love being able to find something unique that is from another skill set I don’t have such as sewing or woodworking.


I know when I make something unique as a gift for someone, I really think about that person as I’m spending time creating their gift. I know people who sell on etsy, or Facebook or other online sites or even people who bring their wares to craft shows and venues make a special effort to make each of their handmade items top quality and unique.

I love trying to find gifts on etsy first. There is so much beauty and talent represented there. I asked in a few Facebook groups and found out there is SO much more out there than just etsy though. You won’t believe some of the awesome products I found. Click on the red links to go straight to the products.

Quality Handmade Gifts

Check out these gorgeous hand forged items I found from a blacksmith online!

Hand forged metal and wood products

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Do you have any animals in your life? I found pet supplies and even goat supplies online. Amazing!

Goat supplies and products

Quality pet supplies and products

Goat treats

Is there anything more amazing than high quality body products? I have made some homemade salves that totally blow store bought products away! You can get some great quality body products online as well. I can’t wait to order some of these things for the people on my shopping list!

Natural bath and beauty products

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Salves, teas, and other wonderful products  

Wonderful, homemade, one of a kind soaps 

Botanically inspired products and 100% organic apparel (site goes live 11/15!)

There are great products for your home and personal life available on the internet as well. I love looking through all of these amazing home, essential oil, books, baby products, and other supplies that I’m not sure I can live without. Check them out, you’ll love what you get from these artisan makers.

An online gardening course would make an AWESOME Christmas gift or for any other time of the year! Check out these classes you can get at a discount right now by using my affiliate links here.

Growing Tomato Heaven

Vegetable Gardening Basics

PVC Drip Irrigation 

Seed Starting Simplified

Year Round Gardening

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Home Goods, Essential Oil Supplies

Book: “Colors of Joy”: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss

Books, Products and Tote Bags

Baby Bling, Tutus and Bows

Handmade Hairbows and Accessories

Wildcrafted Products from Farm and Forest

Handmade Jewelry and Crocheted Items

Handmade Candles

Handmade Crocheted Products and Soap

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Soaps and Herbal Products

Love goes into each and every product that is made for sale online. I hope you will consider buying local, buying homemade, and buying direct from the creators of as many things as you can this year! Even if you decide to purchase a product that’s not handmade, please consider buying local and buying from small business owners.

Small business owners of every kind are paying for dance lessons, their child’s school lunches, food for family and those types of things rather than vacation homes and fancy cars. It makes a big difference to the person you chose to shop from when they are the little guy. Please consider shopping from some of these websites.

Support Small Businesses

Curbside Overhaul-Amy Howard paint products for all of your paint and brush needs

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Pantry Paratus-Equipping and teaching pantry preparedness

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DoTerra Essential Oils

Gorgeous Hair Accessories

Books

More DoTerra Oils

Garden/Farm/Wildlife Apparel and Merchandise

Young Living Essential Oils

Any post on this blog may contain affiliate links which pay me a very small commission for items you purchase using the links but costs you nothing extra. I can help defray a small percentage of the cost of producing the blog to share information with you.

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give-fabulous-handmade-gifts-and-support-small-businesses

 

Simply Natural Saturday

What Christmas Really Means…

 

Christmas is this week and my mind is on how my heart is feeling. So often we get so wrapped up in gifts and making everything perfect, we lose sight of why we are really celebrating. It’s Jesus’ birthday. It’s time for loving and giving. It doesn’t matter if it’s the exact day Jesus was born, but it is the day we celebrate it. 

As I reflect on the past year and all the heartache and joy that has come with it, I am reminded of the great blessings I have in my life. I am reminded of the great sorrow I have felt. I am reminded of the joy and peace that I have gained.

What Christmas really means.

Family Vacations are a must for continuing to love your job year after year. Family time is important, especially when you live at your job!

Christmas is about love.


Within the past two months I have lost two people who were very dear to my heart. Both were very young, within just 4 years younger or older than my age of 43. Both were not ill or expected to be lost so soon. There was shock. There was disappointment. There was great sorrow for those they left behind and how their lives would change. There was anger at the unfairness of it all. There was joy at the amazing and special ways they touched the lives of others. They were loved….deeply.

This year my only child graduated from college and moved away. I think about the great excitement I felt as I was moving out on my own for the first time. I think about the satisfaction of being on your own and taking care of yourself. I wonder what she is eating…or how she deals with washing her own clothes and stuff. I know she is determined and can do anything, but she’s my baby, I want to do it for her. I am more proud of her than I could ever put into words. She amazes me endlessly…

Christmas is about joy.

This year we fulfilled a lifelong dream of seeing Niagara Falls. We took our daughter there for a graduation celebration. It was amazing, and the time spent together was irreplaceable.

This year was full of blessings in our garden. The kids and I learned so many valuable lessons and were blessed to be able to eat some healthy and delicious food. I learned to like a lot more healthy foods and taught some children and some adults to do the same. We gained so much health, physically and mentally from the experience of building and tending that little piece of heaven. I cannot even tell you what the garden does for my mental health!

This year we felt great sorrow as our Pastor of the past 18 years left our church. Change is so hard. But God has great things in store for their family as well as ours. He is moving on with his life and he and his wife are working toward their new goals. Our church merged with another church and we are learning and changing as we get to know a lot of new ways and new people. We have a different place in the church body, which is strange and interesting. It’s been difficult to adjust but I do trust that God has a plan for me and when He reveals it to me, I will walk through the doors He opens.

This year I lost some children at the age of moving on and I gained some new ones. Getting to know new people and missing the old ones is part of what I do here, but it never gets any easier for me. I am very blessed to have a wonderful group of families to provide care for. This job can be very difficult when you have difficult families to deal with every day. Many times it’s difficult to find people to work with who are the right fit. I am blessed beyond measure. I love that I love what I do every day.

This year I have continued to grow closer to my husband and best friend. He has supported me, helped me and loved me whether I was lovable or not. He has helped me become the person I am today and he has stood beside me through all these changes.

This year I have felt the love of my family. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have a family like mine, but I am grateful. I have learned how to be a better daughter, sister, sister in law, niece, cousin, and aunt than I was before. I am loved and I am blessed.

This year I have felt the love of my Savior even more than ever. He loves me immeasurably. He holds me in the palm of His hand. He is my God, my friend, my confidant, and I couldn’t live one day without His love.

I have felt more peace this Christmas than ever before. I have felt more loved. I have felt more love for others. I have been calmer. I have struggled less to be perfect and accepted that things are ok. I have been working hard to focus on what matters. My God, my family, and helping others. Other concerns seem to melt away.

What Christmas Means to Me

So what Christmas means to me today is the love I feel. It’s not about presents or making the tree perfect. It’s not about planning everything to the t. It’s not about being perfect or outdoing someone else. It’s about the love of a Savior who died for us, it’s about being close to the ones we love and showing them we care. It’s about kindness to a stranger, or helping someone who needs a hand up.

What can we do to help others during this time?

How about instead of spoiling our own kids with a ton of toys they don’t need, we take a little time and give to someone who has nothing. How about we take a few minutes out of our day to reach out to someone who is hurting or lonely? How about we show kindness to someone who isn’t kind?

What are some things you can think of to do to make someone’s life better? Can you volunteer to serve Christmas dinner at the homeless shelter? Can you fill up someone’s car with gas? Can you help a single mom give Christmas to her kids? Can you adopt an angel off the angel tree? Can you knit a stocking cap or quilt a blanket for someone who is cold? What about giving someone who is lonely a smile or a hug? We have plans to do some of these things and we are so excited! Tell me something you have done or are planning to do to share some holiday spirit this week? I would LOVE to hear about it!

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How to Throw a Gingerbread Party

At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating.  I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate.  We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition.  We started this tradition about 18 years ago.  We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things.  We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy. 

Building gingerbread is so much fun.  If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it. 

The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build.  I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy.  I started by checking out library books with patterns.  You can even create your own.  I have done that a few times, but usually I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build.

Martha Stewart’s recipes


I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe.  It’s fool proof.  I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it.  I use her royal icing recipe as well.  Martha knows!  And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.

Start about a week before your party.  Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns.  I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines. 

gingerbread dough

Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly.  I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.

gingerbread cutouts

gingerbread house pieces

Putting the gingerbread together

Now it’s time to assemble.  I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry.  I remove them before the kids come for decorating.

gingerbread building

creating gingerbread

building gingerbread houses

I allow these to dry for about a week.  This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft.  Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together.  If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it.  I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that. 

Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on.  We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses.  We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city down town with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations.  Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.

gingerbread houses

gingerbread decorating

 

 


Get ready for your party guests

Before your guests arrive, lay out all the supplies.  This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea.  The families brought decorating candy and pizza money.  That made it easy for everyone.  Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.

gingerbread fun

gingerbread creating

creating gingerbread with kids

children creating gingerbread

After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.

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finished gingerbread creation

I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.

gingerbread garden attemptcloseup of gingerbread community garden

After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…

completed gingerbread creation with snow gingerbread party with kids

Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare.  I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents.  It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone.  I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones.  If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit.  Any way you do it, it’s awesome!  And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun! 

Christmas Surprises

A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident.  It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay.  Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking.  Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle.  But this year at the party, my sweet parents surprised me with a replacement camera.  It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it.  I was flabbergasted.  I couldn’t believe they did this for me.  I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry.  I hate crying in public.  Anyway, I am super excited about it.  I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman.  Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…

gingerbread party gift

Do you have any gingerbread memories to share?  I’d LOVE to hear them!

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