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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Things to Try - Advent Countdowns

Oh I love love love this time of year!  I've been wanting to start an Advent Calendar tradition with my boys and would like nothing better than to make my own.  I'm already up to my eyeballs in Christmas projects though, so I'll probably have to put this one on the back burner till next year.  Here are some wonderful inspirations that have been simmering in my crafty brain...

This is the one we've done the past few years, that my boys brought home from preschool.  It's just a printable Santa head, and the kids glue on a cotton ball each day, filling up the beard.  My boys loved this one, but...I wanted something more special.

My sister-in-law told me about this Christmas Book Advent idea a few years ago and said it went over wonderfully with her children.  You collect a Christmas book for each day of December, wrap them all up and put them in a basket.  Then each night, the kids take turns choosing one to unwrap and you read it together at bedtime.  LOVED this idea.  I even went through Amazon that year and started compiling a list of best-loved children's Christmas books.  The price tag on that shopping cart was getting waaay out of control.  If I'm going to do this one, I need to build a collection over a few years, by buying the books on sale after Christmas ; )

A very creative version that I fell in love with in craft-blog-land was this one by Chris at Pickup Some Creativity.  It's the first one I've seen where you button something on.  Oh this gives me so many ideas!!  I also love the fact that she used the Bible verse "For we have seen his star in the East" Matthew 2:2 as her design inspiration.

I saw this cute magnetic Advent Countdown using a muffin tin! and filed that ingenious idea away in my brain as well.  Thanks to Pat at Frosted Designs for sharing this one!

This is a beautiful, quilted, pocket wall-hanging version,
by Elizabeth, as featured on Sew, Mama, Sew!

Here's another quilted wall hanging, where each day you loop a small "ornament" over a button on the tree above.  This is so sweet and modern.  Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio sure has some talent!

I also ran across several envelope-types with activities inside for each day, like this from Blue Cricket Design
Or the same project, displayed banner style like Stevi did at Live, Love, Craft

And check out these cutie garland-style ones...
Of course Martha did this one with baby socks.  Love this idea!!

Here's a tutorial to make little burlap stockings from Tiffany at Making the World Cuter
Wouldn't this be cute with these tiny fleece mittens, too??
I love this felt stocking version from Cindy at Skip to My Lou, too
Or how 'bout this garland using toilet paper tubes?  From maya*made 

And if that's not enough inspiration, go browse this list of
like these fabric cones...

or 24 more at Tip Junkie
I love the mini buckets!  And magnets on a painted cookie sheet!

I'm telling you, the ideas are end.less.
I'll leave you with a free advent tag printable from Skip to My Lou to get you started ; )

Click here for more Advent Countdown Ideas posted in 2011

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thanksgiving Kid's Table

Just thought I would post pics of my finished Thanksgiving Kid's table.  I did the Mayflower Snack Boats, the Pilgrim Hat Crayon Holders, and the Turkey Napkin Rings (all have tutorials here on my blog).

Then I printed off color-your-own place mats (two halves that I taped together on the back), and set those on top of one side of a paper bag cut with pinking shears.  The kids didn't end up drawing on these, but it made a nice, layered look anyway.  The paper bag was the perfect size for a place mat!

For the centerpiece, I wrapped a large cookie sheet with foil to become a "platter" and put on this the paper bag turkey that I listed in my Great Thanksgiving Ideas post.  I put it on a bed of lettuce with some raw baby carrots around as additional munchies.  I'm so glad I tried this one!!  It came out so cute and the kids (and grown-ups) loved it.  The turkey ended up taking a few extra hours to cook, so we were glad to snack on the popcorn : )

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Toilet Paper Tube Napkin Rings

After going all out for the kids table this year for Thanksgiving, I wanted to add a few touches for the grown-ups, too.  Since I was low on time, and supplies, I decided to make simple napkin rings.

I used: toilet paper roll tubes, yarn, ric-rac, stapler, glue gun.

I first snipped the cardboard tube into three sections.  I just eyeballed it.  Then I stapled a long piece of cream-colored yarn to the tube and started wrapping.

When I got to the end of my yarn, I tied on another and kept going, making sure the knot was on the inside of the tube.  I wrapped a few turns loosely, then tightened them up together so that the yarn was packed side-by-side and covering all the cardboard.

 When the tube was completely covered around, I hot glued the end of the yarn down on the inside of the tube where it would be hidden.  I added wine-colored ric-rac, and then dark brown mini ric-rac on top of that.  Done!  They look like cozy little napkin sweaters.  Ha!

I also used my Cricut to cut out initial tags and tied them on the wine glasses with twine.  That way, as we are cooking and chatting it up, we can keep the glasses straight ; )

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Turkey Napkin Rings

To go along with the Mayflower Snack Boats and Pilgrim Hat Crayon Holders (see the bottom of the Mayflower Boat tutorial), I made Turkey Napkin Rings for the kid's table this Thanksgiving.

I used:  toilet paper rolls, scrapbook paper, craft foam, hot glue gun, and thin sharpie marker.

First I trimmed the toilet paper rolls in thirds.  I just eyeballed it.

I used one 12x12 piece of scrapbook paper, cut into 5 strips (because I was making 5 napkin rings and only had one piece of this paper).  I scalloped one long side with a fancy pair of scissors.
Fold the strip accordion-style along the scallops and staple at one end.
Fan it out and set aside till glue stage.  It will set in the top of your cardboard tube section.
I cut five peanut-y shapes out of light brown craft foam, for the turkey bodies.  Then five red wattles (in a small stocking shape), and five orange triangles for beaks.

 Next, get your glue gun on.  Attach the wattles and beaks to the turkey bodies with tiny dabs of hot glue.  Then put a big glob of glue on the bottom of your fan, where the staple is, and attach it to the cardboard tube.

Glue the turkeys on the front and add two black eyes with the sharpie marker.  
Finished!  Cute little gobblers : )

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Mayflower Snack Boats

I had been inspired by craft posts of great kid's tables and wanted to do something special for my boys this year.  We also have some friends coming to Thanksgiving at our house who have two kiddos as well.  I'm so excited to set up the kid's table!  Of course, because this is me, this project had to be squeezed into the chaos of daily life with three kids...and finished the day before Thanksgiving.  Nothing like waiting till the last minute!  I made a tutorial of my Mayflower Snack Boats for your viewing pleasure...

Start with one 8 1/2 x 11 piece of brown craft foam.  And cut it in half lengthwise.

Next, fold it loosely in half and staple four times toward the bottom opposite the fold.  Also four times bottom center, like so.  Note that the corners have no staples.
Next, get this, turn it inside out!  Then you will push in the bottom two corners so that the stapled edge becomes a forward angle (the front of the boat) and the fold corner goes in the opposite way.  One up and down, one side-to-side.  This is hard to explain.  Just look at the pic.  This is what it will look like from the bottom.
Next, squeeze it flat a little bit and trim a curved edge along the top to make a boat shape.
Next, get out your glue gun.  Turn your boat over and squeeze a dab of glue in the hole on the folded side.
Press it closed.
This creates a flat-ish part that helps the boat stand up on its own.  This is what it will look like now.

Next, I took bendy straws and bent them 90 degrees at the elbow.  Stick the short end between the two corners on the stapled end of the boat.  You can trim it a little so it doesn't poke out the front.

Put a dab of hot glue on the inside where the corners of the foam meet, to hold the straw in place.  You have to hold it for a sec till it holds.

Now you have a boat with a mast!  I took a piece of white printer paper, folded it in quarters, and cut out a sail shape.  Four sails at once.  Then use a hole punch to punch a hole in the center, top and bottom.
Slide the holes onto the straw so that your sail is billowing.  I later went back and took them off to write the kids' names on the sails.  The hole punch is the perfect size to slip onto a straw and stay in place!  Ignore that my sail is backward in this pic, I flipped it around.
I filled these snack boats with a mini box of raisins.  I had also previously purchased plastic condiment cups for making muffin tin meals for my boys, and I used these to fill with Reese's Pieces, wrapped with a piece of plastic wrap.
Finished!  Can't wait to see the kids' faces when they find these at their places on the table : )

I also made these cute pilgrim hat crayon holders that I had seen here.  I painted 5oz dixie cups black, cut out the bottom with an exacto knife, hot glued it to a circle of black craft foam, and added a strip of scrapbook paper with a "buckle".  I dug out crayon favors from the Halloween stash and put five mini crayons in each hat.  I'm going to print this or this (left and right sides) to tape together on the back as a placemat that the kids can color.

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