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. Adorable packaging will make your gifts look AWESOME!
Tag Archive for christmas
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 The Ultimate List of Christmas Gifts You Can Make Yourself.
Finding gifts kids can make can be a challenge sometimes. Gifts 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.
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 think it’s so awesome to give or receive personally handmade gifts. 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.
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.
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.
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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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 foolproof. 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.
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.
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.
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 downtown with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations. Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.
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.
After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.
I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.
After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…
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!
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…
Do you have any gingerbread memories to share? I’d LOVE to hear them!
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