Do you play April Fool’s Day pranks on anyone in your family? We don’t usually but I wanted to check in with you to see what you thought. Do your kids think it’s fun or do the pranks upset them?
Grandpa used to do some fun pranks for his kids and the grandkids but on all of the other Holidays – not necessarily April Fool’s Day. He would put rocks in some of the hidden Easter Eggs. He put grass or vegetables in the Easter Eggs. (Boy, the kids faces are priceless with that one.) He would wrap a can of corn for a kid’s Christmas gift. He put shaving cream on the phone receiver and handed someone the phone and said it was for them. Yuck! He woke his kids up on Saturday morning to hurry and get ready for school. While these pranks are annoying at the time, each of the kids and grandkids talk about these pranks fondly. Grandpa passed away before my kids were born but they love listening to the “Grandpa prank stories”.
So, are the pranks themselves fun or is it the person doing the pranks that makes it good fun? What do you think? I’d love to hear about some pranks in your family.
Here’s an awesome April Fool’s Day food prank from Bakerella – meatloaf “cupcakes” with mashed potato frosting.
If you need some inspiration to pull some pranks on your kids or friends, TipJunkie.com has some awesome April Fool’s Day pranks and food prank ideas. Martha Stewart has some great ideas for practical jokes and pranks. Parenting.com has some Family-Friendly April Fool’s Day pranks as well.
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There is nothing more fun than a tea party! Dressing up, pouring “tea”, serving cookies, and inviting your favorite friends – real or imaginary – is one of childhood’s greatest pleasures. At least, I think so! Even as an adult one of my favorite things to do is have tea with my BFFs.
If you know a little girl who would love to host her own tea party, then she needs a tea set. There are so many options and sometimes it’s hard to choose the right tea set for a child.
Tea sets come in a variety of materials, sizes and shapes. Porcelain, ceramic, tin, and plastic are the most common. While the first two are breakable, they are also more “dainty” or feminine in design which appeals to a lot of little girls. They are also more like “grown-up” tea sets and little girls definitely want their pretend play to be as realistic as possible. Here are some considerations to hopefully make it easier for you to choose the perfect set.
Toy vs. Heirloom
Here’s my take on this debate. I think buying a beautiful tea set that your daughter or granddaughter can keep as an heirloom to remind them of you is wonderful. However, if the child is young, don’t give it to them until they are older. Or, have Mom or Grandma keep the tea set and host special tea parties for the child when they are younger and then give them the set when they are older. It will be so much more special if they remember using it with you once they get it as their very own.
Giving a young girl a beautiful, expensive tea set that she can’t touch or play with is cruel. She either won’t be allowed to touch it, which then in their eyes they are denied something fun or they will play with it anyway and feel terrible if it does break. Make a tea set gift fun for them! It is the experience of having tea with you or their friends, that they will remember.
The Age Appropriate Myth
First, of all, how old is your tea party cutie? In general, the younger the child, the more durable the tea set should be. Younger kids may not be as dexterous and need a larger tea cup. Even though they have little fingers, it might be harder for them to grab tiny cups.
Most toys give an age appropriate guideline on the box. Keep in mind this is a guide. The manufacturer is afraid you are going to break it and accuse them of not warning you, so they err on the cautious side. You are going to have to gauge whether your daughter or granddaughter can handle a breakable tea set. My son is almost 11 years old but I cringe any time he goes near glass. After all, he is officially the sworn enemy to all snow globes. If he even looks at one, it breaks. My daughter on the other hand has had a ceramic and a porcelain tea set since she was 3 years old and hasn’t chipped or broken a cup yet. She treats her tea set like gold and is dexterous enough to handle it carefully.
So look at the age guidelines on the tea sets, which are usually set for a worst case scenario and make a judgment call on whether she can handle a more fragile set. What’s the worst case scenario? She breaks a cup and you need to buy a new one. I’d rather see my kids playing and enjoying their tea set than worrying about breaking it. If you find a tea set you love and are worried it might get broken, buy 2 sets. That way you always have a back-up and no one has to worry.
Size Does Matter
Tea sets come in different sizes. There are mini tea sets which really are more collectible items or doll-size so your dolls can pretend to have tea. Your child will not be able to drink out of these. We sell this Mini Crown Tea Set which is perfect for a doll tea party. If you are buying the tea set online, it should say the size in the product description. If not, don’t hesitate to email or call, to get a better sense of the size of the tea set.
Who’s invited to the party? Believe it or not, it’s hard to find kids’ porcelain tea sets that have 4 cups. Most only have 2. We only carry one porcelain set that has 4 cups. Our plastic and tin tea sets do include 4 cups so you might want to look at tea sets in other materials, if you need more than 2 cups.
You can always buy mismatched porcelain tea cups at estate sales, flea markets, or second hand stores to add more cups to your set. I know I needed to invite ALL of my stuffed animals to the tea party or they would get upset.
Here’s the million dollar question. Is your child going to drink out of the tea set? When your child is younger, they have no problem pretending. They don’t need liquid in the cup to have a good time. When your child hits 5 years old or older, they might want to be a little more “grown-up” and serve the tea at their party, drinking water, ginger ale, root beer, or juice out of the tea cups. It’s as much fun to pour as it is to drink. If that is the case, you need to make sure that the tea set is food safe, FDA-approved, and water resistant. If the set is plastic, make sure it meets all BPA, phthalate, and lead safety standards. Basically, it needs to be non-toxic. While a tin tea set may be non-toxic, once you add liquid to it some tea sets start to leak or rust.
If she wants to drink out of the tea set, look for a cup size that is at least 2” in diameter. You won’t get a lot of liquid in these cups, about 2 ounces, but it’s enough. The porcelain tea sets we sell at Chocolate Cake Club, like our Daisy Tea Set, fit this bill.
If you really want to put a “drink” in the cups, at least 4 ounces, then our Green Porcelain Tea Set or our Green Toys Eco-Friendly Tea Sets are a better bet.
I hope these considerations have helped you to choose the perfect kids tea set for your little girl’s first or next tea party. We’ll be adding a post on How to Host the Perfect Tea Party next week so come back for tips on how to make your kids’ tea parties even more fun and unique.
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Mom’s Night Out – Holiday Tea
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I have asked some friends and family to tell me about their Holiday Traditions or their favorite memories of the Holidays. This first post is from my mother, Roberta, and her Holiday Tradition of Tinsel on the Tree.
We had 4 children in our family and always spent Christmas Eve with my maternal grandparents and all our cousins. My grandparents lived in Oak Park, IL. in a big house or so I thought at the time. They had a side driveway and portico. When you entered on Christmas Eve the dining room glass doors were shut with a drape on them. In the living room in front of the fireplace, was a very tall unadorned Christmas tree and a ladder.
My grandfather would call each of his grandchildren to help him decorate the tree. Depending on your age, dexterity and patience, you either placed an ornament on the tree or an icicle one by one. No throwing or bunching of the icicles. This whole project could take quite some time and get very boring but I loved the tinsel. That was my job and I thought I did it the best. When we were finished, the dining room doors were opened for food and drink. My parents, aunts and uncles were starving by this time but my grandfather didn’t care. The tree was important. It reminded him of Germany.
To this day more than 50 years later, we put tinsel or some type of “one by one” shimmer on the tree.
I do remember that we always had tinsel on our tree growing up. Gold, it had to be gold. I tried to continue the tradition in my house but sadly we have cats. You know, they eat the tinsel and you find it later in a very unsavory state.
So, friends, please send me your favorite Holiday traditions and photos. I would love to start a collection of memories.
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Looking for some fun ideas to do with the family around Thanksgiving? Here are a few of my favorites as well as some great ideas from other Mom bloggers.
Get Active! Our town hosts a Turkey Trot 1 Mile and 5K race every Thanksgiving morning. While we usually travel out of town to visit family on Thanksgiving so we have never been in town to participate, several of our neighbors run as a family every year. It’s a great way to burn the calories before you pack in the carbs!
Bake Up Memories. We have a family tradition on Thanksgiving Day. After we gorge ourselves and the boys go watch football or take a nap on the couch, the women folk go back in the kitchen and make our favorite Holiday cookies. Each person brings their favorite recipe and we bake, bake, bake. (It keeps us awake and standing so we’re burning the Turkey dinner calories, right?)
When we started this tradition it was fun to see what Grandma’s favorite cookie recipe was when she was a kid. Now that she is gone, we still make those cookies to remember her by. The other benefits of this tradition are that everyone goes home with a plate of assorted cookies. Freeze them and pull them out for your Holiday parties. If that’s not a stress-bustin’ tip, I don’t know what is.
Here’s a post I wish I had written! Check out the great A to Z Thanksgiving Family Fun Ideas from Cindy Bultema at the SheSparkles Blog.
Marie at MakeandTakes.com offers some fun ideas for Turkey Bowling and Turkey Bingo.
TheMotherHuddle.com also had some very cute ideas for Thanksgiving family activities. I love the Ornament Exchange idea!
What fun activities does your family do on or around Thanksgiving?
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We were visiting my parents in Austin, TX last week and we stopped in to visit a wonderful kids cooking shop called Batter Up Kids Cooking Shop. I am passionate about how cooking with your kids is not only essential for teaching them a life skill but it is one of the best ways I know to share a “Chocolate Cake Moment” together, bonding as a family.
The owner of the shop is Barbara Beery, successful author of several of our favorite kids cooking books like the Spa Princess Cookbook, Pink Princess Tea Parties cookbook, and Fairies Cookbook.
Barbara and her daughter were so gracious when my daughter, Mom and I cruised into the shop. (Three generations of food lovers, oh boy!) You can certainly buy kids cooking kits in the store and they host kids cooking parties and classes, but more importantly you can just walk in and make something. The recipes change every week. My daughter was thrilled. She got to choose to make either a Flowerpot Ice Cream or Groovy Grasshopper Vegetable Dip. (I loved that Barbara had a healthy alternative, even if my daughter didn’t choose it.)
Before she got down to business making her ice cream treat, my daughter got to decorate a cooking apron with markers and stickers. Barbara mentioned that several kids save their aprons and bring them back to the store to add new decorations as they continue to take classes.
Check out some of Barbara’s fun recipes at her blog site.
If you are in the Austin area and looking for something fun to do with your kids or grandkids, the Batter Up Kids Cooking Shop is a delightful way to have some fun.
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We’re back from our fun family vacation (we’ll share our travel tips next week) and we’re back on track for our 30 Day Summer Family Fun Challenge. If anyone has any photos of the fun they have been having this summer and you are willing to share, please send them in to sue (at) chocolatecakeclub.com. I’d like to post a bunch of photos of readers having a blast with their families.
Seed a Love of Nature
Kids love digging in the dirt. It’s a primal joy. So, why not take a trip to a nursery and let them pick out flowers, vegetables, or herbs for their own Kids-Only garden.
If you have a green thumb, this is the perfect opportunity to share your knowledge and enthusiasm with your kids or grandkids and teach them how to care for their plants. They’ll love watching their gardens grow throughout the summer, and it might even encourage them to eat their veggies!
If they are more artsy than dirtsy, have them paint their own flower pots, stepping stones, or Garden Gnomes to contribute to the family garden.
Click here to read more about Gardening with Kids.
Need some kid-sized gardening tools? Check out our popular Kids Gardening Kit.
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Looking for some inspiration on Halloween crafts or activities to have fun with the kids this weekend? We’ve got a few ideas for you. First, how about making some mummies?
Mummy vase Halloween decoration
Cut some muslin cloth (or an old white pillowcase) into 1” strips and wrap it around objects in your house to make them look like a mummies. Use double sided tape to secure the ends. Vases, tall candlesticks, and plant bases are all great objects to wrap. Have the kids add googly eyes or draw eyes with a marker and it’s a wrap! (Corny yes, but made you smile.)
You can also cut a mask out of black construction paper, attach a string or elastic thread to the two sides and tie it around a pillar candle to make it look like there are bandits or evil spirits in the house.
Decorate a Witches Hat
Think Bling, yo! Check the discount or craft stores for some inexpensive witches hats or make them out of black construction paper. We like these instructions on how to make a witches hat, if you want to do it yourself. For little kids, give them neon markers and foam sticky shapes to decorate and customize their hat. For older kids, give them glitter, feathers, jewels, pom pom balls, and beads. (Actually whatever you can find between the couch cushions would be good as well. Cleaning and decorating, bonus!) This is a great activity and party favor to take home if you are throwing a kids Halloween party.
Here’s a cool idea from our Cub Scout Master for a Hairy Spider. Take a Black Knee High and fill it will potting soil and grass seed. Tie the end to make as close to a ball shape as you can. Glue on some googly eyes and stick in pipe cleaners for legs and antennas. Place your spider on a pie tin or glass dish, water it, set in sun and eventually you’ll have a Hairy Spider. Start this weekend and you might have some “hair” by Halloween.
This skeleton is so cute! Robert Mahar from the Junior Society Blog was recently on the Martha Stewart show demonstrating how to make this very funny skeleton out of an old athletic sock. You can download the template and watch the video on the Martha Stewart site. My daughter and I will be attempting to make one this weekend.
Do you have any ideas for some fun family Halloween activities?
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This Sunday is Grandparent’s Day, so what are you going to do to have fun? I’ve seen some posts lately about ways to honor your grandparents by videotaping their stories about growing up or tagging old pictures together, which are all nice activities, but shouldn’t Grandparent’s Day be about having fun and making new “Chocolate Cake Moment” memories with the grandkids. As my Grandmother used to say, “All that talk about the past makes me feel old. What fun is that?” So, here are some ideas on how the grandkids and grandparents can have some fun and create new memories. Parents, it’s up to you whether you tag along or just let the Grandparents and Grandkids go on their own. But this day is about the Grand Connection between them.
Brunch – Everyone loves Brunch. It’s not just for Mother’s Day, anymore. Take Grandma and Grandpa out for a big stack of flapjacks and get extra whip cream on the side.
Movie time – Pick a family friendly movie and go see it together. Go for ice cream afterwards. Or, ask your Grandma or Grandpa what their favorite movie is. Go rent it and set up your family room like a movie theater. Your kids could make tickets, usher Grandma and Grandpa to their “seats” and serve them popcorn.
Cook Together – Invite Grandma and Grandpa over to show the kids how to bake their favorite meal or something they loved as kids. Everyone will spend time in the kitchen “tasting” and sharing stories. Or, have everyone bake their favorite cookies and then share them for an assortment of sweet treats.
Share Their Hobby – If your grandparents have a big hobby – ours is photography – plan a day to share it with them. Give the kids disposable cameras or have them bring their own and go out and shoot photos of the grandparents and kids together in fun locations – local Museum, botanical garden, or forest preserve. If they like gardening, plan a visit to the local Arboretum, park, or Botanical Garden. If they like to travel, pick a nearby destination for a day trip. If they like to cook, see if you can take a cooking class together. If they love to read, find a unique, independent bookstore to explore. Share the day together doing something that Grandma and Grandpa are passionate about. They’ll love sharing that passion with the kids.
Craft time! – Get everyone to work on a craft together. Make a scrapbook of last Christmas together with everyone designing a page, build birdhouses to put in Grandma’s garden, or create coupon books where the kids make coupons for hugs, kisses, chores, or day trips with Grandma and Grandpa, while they make coupons for the kids to redeem for lunch outings, movie nights, or other fun activities together.
Still at a loss for ideas? Go to www.grandparents.com and download their free report on “100 Free Things to Do with Your Grandkids.”
If you have any other ideas we’d love to hear them. Please share with us how you plan to have fun on Grandparent’s Day.
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Grandparents.com has created the ultimate list of 97 ideas to have fun outside with your kids or grandkids this summer. Grandparents and parents alike can download the free Go Play Outside activity guide and start the fun. You can even join up and log in the amount of hours you spend playing outside with your grandkids. For every hour logged, Grandparents.com will donate to KaBOOM! — a national non-profit organization dedicated to bringing play into the lives of children. Their goal is to have 1 million hours logged this summer and donate up to $10,000. So, go play!
So, which of the 97 ideas in the guide are you going to try first?
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Kids can have green thumbs, too!
Gardening for me is a great way to relax, de-clutter my busy mind, and reconnect with nature. I get a good workout, plenty of sunshine, a pretty yard, and plenty of basil for my summer bruchetta. But mostly I do it because we entertain a lot in the summer – neighborhood fire pit parties or BBQs – and we want the house to look smashing.
When my kids expressed an interest in gardening – or rather, when I discovered my daughter attempting to transfer a pretty yellow flower (aka dandelion) into my bed of begonias – I decided to create a designated “Kids Only” garden where they could cultivate their budding green thumbs safely away from my begonias and rose bushes. They get to pick what they want to plant, which makes it exciting for them. (Although when we went to the local nursery to get flowers, my son only seemed to want to buy the container of preying mantises. Hmm!)
If you want to share your love of gardening with your kids, teach them about how plants grow. You can find some great advice on Kids Gardening here. Or, if you simply want to get them out of the house for a few hours, here are some great gardening tools for kids – so you won’t have to hand over your own trowel and spade.
Kids Gardening Kit by Sassafras Enterprises includes a nylon gardening bag, three garden tools, two brightly-colored, plastic flower pots, a sprayer, and their very own apron and gardening gloves. This kit has everything you need to get started this summer. It was the winner of MomCentral.com’s Best Gardening Toys for Kids.
The Ladybug Garden Apron Set is super cute! Your little girl will love digging alongside you in the garden with her out gardening “outfit” and tools. It includes an embroidered ladybug apron, a pair of embroidered garden gloves, and two wooden handled, painted garden tools. See the review of this set on Droolicious!
For rainy days, or those without the yard space, there’s the Paint Your Own Flower Pot Kids Craft Kit and Paint Your Own Garden Gnome Kit. (For your kids who are more into art than gardening, this is a great way for them to contribute to the outdoor decorating.) After they’ve created their own flower pot or garden gnome, they can plant a flower or pick out a perfect spot in the garden or the patio for the gnome. I am a firm believer in the fact that every garden needs a gnome.
All of these gardening and garden-inspired craft kits are great for having fun at Grandma and Grandpa’s house as well.
What are your kids planting this year?
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Not going anywhere for Spring Break this year? Don’t fret. Here are some fun kids crafts kits and games to keep the kids occupied while they are at home … and give Mom a chance to hang on to her sanity.
Get the kids started on some art projects. It gets their creative juices flowing and keeps them away from the TV for awhile. At the Chocolate Cake Club, we carry a few art kits that have a lot of craft materials and project ideas to keep kids busy for days, or at least hours. It will give you some kind of break, trust us.
The Giant Art Supply Jar is wonderful because it gives your kids so many different kinds of supplies in one compact, easy-to-put-away plastic jar. My daughter says she hates to do projects at home because all we have is paper and crayons. Well with the art jar, I astounded her with unique art supplies like multi-colored pom poms, glitter pom poms, pipe cleaners, fringed crepe paper, feathers and popsicle sticks. Let the imagination run wild. (Tell your kids to build a diarama and see the glazed look that comes across their face.)
If your kids can’t think of anything to make, then the Little Hands My Giant Busy Box is ideal. Included are 16 exciting arts & crafts projects for kids in one big box. You’ll have all the supplies needed to make dough animals, sticker art, a collage farm, paper bag puppets, and tissue art projects. This way they won’t be asking you to make one more trip to the craft store to get different supplies. The Busy Box Kit also includes 2 plastic frames, 4 animal punch outs, 10 colors of dough, 2 peel and stick tissue art pictures, tons of tissue paper, glue, and instructions. Whoo Hoo!
When your kids’ eyes start to glaze over from playing too much Wii, tell them to play a low-tech game. Here are some that kids like a lot, therefore, they will play them and amuse themselves.
The Monkey Hide ‘n Seek Safari Game is a lot of fun. You can hide the monkey somewhere inside or outside and then your child will use a “magic” wand to find it The wand lights up as your child gets “hotter” or “colder” to finding the monkey. If you have more than one child, have them take turns hiding and finding – letting you get some things done around the house. Older kids get a kick out of seeing who can find the most clever hiding place. It’s also available in a T-Rex Hide ‘n Seek Safari Game.
The Build a Robot Spinner Game is fun for those rowdy boys who need to slow down for a minute. They’ll have fun with this old-fashioned spinner game trying to get enough pieces to build a funky robot. If your child doesn’t have anyone to play with, he or she can use this game as a puzzle and just build cool looking robots on the floor. How’s that for cool – a game they can still play even if they are alone.
Kids Cooking Kits
We think cooking with your kids is one of the best ways to create Chocolate Cake Moments. Not only are you teaching your kids a life skill, but bonding while cooking up some delicious treats is a special time to be close to your kids. Whether you cook with your kids or have them cook with Grandma and Grandpa, they are going to have fun. Here are some kids cooking kits that we just love to heat up some family fun in the kitchen.
Take a tour of France in your kitchen with the Playful Chef Kids French Cooking Set. All of the tools and recipes you need to make some popular French-inspired dishes are included, as well as fun information about French history, vocabulary and geography. (So your kids minds’ won’t completely atrophy while on Spring Break.) Have fun making Quiche Lorraine for breakfast or Chocolate Mousse for dessert.
Have all of the kids cooking tools but short on inspiration? Check out the Playful Chef Kids Cookbook for some new recipes that are kid-friendly.
Baseball’s Spring Training has started so why not celebrate with your baseball-loving kids with the Play Ball Baseball Cookie Kit. Celebrate the beginning of a new Spring Season with some baseball cookies. You can even bake the cookies, while watching a game on TV. This Kids Cooking Kit includes: sugar cookie mix, decorating gel, icing, cutter, and a recipe with instructions.
So, whether you create fun works of art, play games, or cook up some fun, your kids are sure to be amused this Spring Break … giving us Moms a break as well.
Do you have any other ideas for Spring Break Boredom Busters? Please share.
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Family Fun Magazine Hot Chocolate Mug Cake
We just came across a cute (and more importantly easy) idea for a fun Chocolate Treat to help your family create or celebrate a Chocolate Cake Moment. In the February issue, Family Fun Magazine had a recipe for creating Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes. You just use your favorite Chocolate Cake mix and put the batter into an oven safe mug to bake. Put some kind of white topping on top and it looks just like a mug of hot chocolate. They suggest using Marshmallow Creme on top but you could also use Cool Whip or White Frosting. We preferred the Cool Whip. Here’s the recipe for the Hot Chocolate Mug Cakes from Family Fun Magazine’s website. This could be a fun thing to do over at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.
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