Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Thanksgiving Family Traditions

Looking for some fun ideas to do with the family around Thanksgiving? Our family has three Holiday traditions that we look forward to every year. I hope sharing them inspires you to start some of your own Thanksgiving family traditions and start racking up those fun memories.

Giving Back

With Thanksgiving coming up, a lot of talk at our dinner table has centered around helping others and being grateful for what we have. My husband and I frequently talk to the kids about giving back but we wanted to find ways to get the kids more involved in activities that help others. So we have started a Pre-Thanksgiving tradition where we do one activity as a family to help others.

In the past we have helped various local charities through my son’s Boy Scout troop or through the YMCA. This year we are going to spend a few hours hand-packing meals at Feed My Starving Children, a charity that provides meals specifically formulated for malnourished children to nearly 70 countries around the world. This is a great activity to do as a family because even young kids can pitch in and help. Here are more ideas on how to give back as a family.

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Tags: Holiday Traditions · Thanksgiving

8 Easy Valentine’s Day Kids Party Ideas

Valentine’s Day is coming up! Are you hosting a Valentine’s Day party at home or for your child’s classroom? You probably need some party activities and snack ideas, right? I’m here to help with some fun and easy ideas.

Valentine’s Day kid parties are tough because you need to come up with games and activities that boys will like also. But I think I found some that will appeal to both boys and girls.

Get ready to be Mom or Room Mom of the year.

Decorate Valentine’s Day Brownies
I’ve been to a lot of kids parties where they have the kids decorate cookies as an activity and treat combined, but Valentine’s Day is all about chocolate. So, bring in a sheet pan of chocolate brownies and let the kids cut out a heart-shaped piece of brownie to frost and decorate instead. Here’s how easy it is to make Valentine’s Day brownies and the supplies you’ll need for the party.

Mustache and Lip Sucker Valentines Party Favors
Erin from the Strawberry Mommycakes blog created the cutest Mustache and Lip Sucker Valentines for that are fun party favors but also make for some adorable party photos, as well. Download the printables for free and grab some suckers. The kids could help make these at the party too.

Valentine’s Day Word Scramble
Here’s an activity perfect for a class room party, write Valentine’s Day on the board and have the kids try to create as many new words as they can from the letters.

Marshmallow Art
Using edible markers and extra large marshmallows kids can make a tasty Valentine for a friend or Mom. Kids can draw hearts, flowers, and loving sentiments on their marshmallow then gift it to their Valentine. You can buy edible markers at craft stores or online at You can see a sample where the kids and I used the decorated marshmallows to top off a Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse for Dad. You can make Chocolate Pudding for the kids and decorate the pudding cups with the decorated marshmallows.

Valentine's Day super hero
Make a Super Hero Valentine Pop
Head over to the Zakka Life blog and use the free templates to print capes and masks to make this super duper cute Valentine that boys will love.

Valentine’s Day Heart Stacking Game
Here’s a super fun idea from TinyTiaraParties. Have the kids grab chopsticks and see how many candy hearts they can pick up and stack in 60 seconds.

Popcorn Treats
Download the free template to make these Valentine’s Day popcorn boxes for a non-sweet party snack.

Valentine’s Day Photo Shoot
Get crazy and creative taking photos of the kids using these Valentine’s Day photo props courtesy of Grab some extra hats, boas, gloves, and anything else you think would add to a funny photo shoot of the kids at the party.

Have a wonderful party!

You Might Also Like:

15 Little Ways to Tell Your Family “I Love You” on Valentine’s Day

Easy Valentine’s Day Decorations to Make with the Kids

Valentine’s Day Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

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Tags: Valentine's Day Family Fun Ideas

A Valentine’s Day Twist on a Classic Cookie

My husband and kids LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Peanut Butter Kiss cookies. I make them for birthdays, Christmas and other special occasions to show my family that I love them. And these cookies truly are an act of love because I hate peanut butter! So, I don’t even get to engage in my favorite cookie baking activity – licking the batter. What’s the point of baking cookies if you don’t get to lick the spoon, right? But that’s OK. It’s their favorite cookie and it’s an easy way to make them lip-smacking happy.

For Valentine’s Day this year though, I tried to shake it up a little. I wanted the cookies to fit in with the theme of the Holiday. So I made them pink and used Dove chocolate hearts instead of Hershey kisses.

I love baking these cookies with the kids because they can help out at almost any age. When they are little they can unwrap the chocolates and roll the dough balls in sugar. As they get a little older than can roll the balls themselves. Finally, now that my kids are tweens and teens, they know how to make them all by themselves and don’t need my help at all. How awesome is that!

Here’s the recipe:

Valentine’s Day Pink Peanut Butter Chocolate Cookies

1/2 c. butter (or we use Smart Balance spread and it works fine)
1/2 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 3/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Pink food coloring paste
Dove Chocolate Hearts (milk or dark)

1. In a large bowl, cream together the shortening, peanut butter and sugars. Add the egg and vanilla.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Add to the creamed butter mixture. Add pink food coloring paste. I start with about a 1/4 tsp. of the paste and keep adding until I get the color I want.

3. Shape dough into balls the size of a quarter or walnut. (My husband likes a less cookie, more chocolate ratio so we make our cookies small.)

4. Roll balls in sugar.

5. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes. While they are cooking, unwrap the chocolate hearts.

6. Top each cookie with one chocolate heart, pressing firmly into the center of the cookie. The cookies will crack and that is fine.

7. Bake for 2 to 5 minutes longer to soften the chocolate.

Makes about 36 cookies.

For more easy Valentine’s Day Treats that you and the kids can make for Dad, check out:

Cooking with the Kids: Valentine’s Day Chocolate Mousse

Valentine’s Day Heart Shaped Brownies

Chocolate Strawberry Pound Cake Hearts

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Tags: Cooking with the Kids · Valentine's Day Family Fun Ideas

Cute Homemade Kids Halloween Costume – Gingerbread Cookie

Two years ago, my daughter and I decided to make her Halloween costume since she didn’t like any of the costumes we saw in the stores. She’s very creative and she wanted to be something really unique. We saw an idea in Family Fun magazine for a Gingerbread Cookie and of course we felt the need to add our own flair to make it funnier and cuter than the one in the magazine. (You didn’t know crafting was a competitive sport, did you?)

We liked the idea of the cookie on the baking sheet but she didn’t want just her face sticking out. She wanted her whole body to be the cookie so that if she took off the cookie sheet part of the costume, she would still have a full cookie costume on. Even though I’m not that talented with a needle, we went for it.

Cookie Costume:

We started by shopping for a brown outfit. We had to hit two different stores but we found a plain, long-sleeve brown shirt and brown sweatpants. We happened to have a brown knit hat and gloves at home which worked perfectly into our plans.

I couldn’t find anything three dimensional that would be easy to attach to the costume to serve as gum drop buttons so I chose large candy colored buttons instead. I purchased some wide rick rack ribbon to look like icing. I’m not great at sewing. I can sew on buttons and baste stitch but that is about it. So I sewed the rick rack ribbon on to each pants leg and shirt sleeve to look like icing. I sewed three large colorful buttons down the middle of the shirt to look like gum drop buttons. Voila, that was done!

Cookie Sheet:

I took a large cardboard box and flattened it out so that I had a large rectangle shape to work with. I used packing tape to tape the two long sides together so it would stay flat. Then I just started wrapping the box with aluminum foil and scotch tape until every part of the box was covered. I left about half an inch of aluminum foil over the side of the box so that I could wrap it around to cover the sides of the box so no cardboard was showing. Now for the slightly more difficult part. We needed to add straps so that she could slide her arms in to hold the cookie sheet on her back. We used twine as our arm straps. My husband measured out the length of the twine based on how much was needed for her to get her arms through but not leave too much gap so that the cookie sheet hung down too low on her back. Once we had the length, he measured where to drill two holes so that the cookie sheet stayed high enough over her head. We drilled the holes instead of using scissors or cutting a slit because we wanted a clean hole that wouldn’t wrinkle or tear the aluminum foil too much. We threaded the twine through the hole and tied a big knot in the back so it couldn’t pull through.

For the final touch, I took pink lipstick and made a round rosy mark on each cheek, for extra cuteness. When we walked around to trick or treat, I dressed up like Suzie Homemaker with my rolling pin to match her outfit.

Not only was it a cute, unique and easy costume to make, my daughter and I had fun creating it together. If that’s not a Chocolate Cake Moment (or a warm gingerbread cookie moment) I don’t know what is.

Are you making a costume this year? What is it?

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Tags: Halloween Family Fun Ideas

DIY Painted Vase for Fourth of July Party

I was in a crafty mood this weekend and wanted to make something for a Fourth of July party. A simple decoration for the table. So I knew this was a great opportunity to build on an idea I saw on Pinterest to make a painted vase.

It ended up being so easy that we used this as the craft idea at my daughter’s birthday party. The girls all made a painted vase to take home.

To get started, I bought a glass candle holder to paint it red, white and blue. Once it was done, I thought it would look good with some flowers “exploding” out of the top which reminded me of fireworks.

Want to make one, too? It’s easy. Here’s what you need:

  • A glass vase or candle jar
  • Gloss Acrylic Paint that can be used to paint on glass (Following Chloe’s instructions, I found mine at Michaels.)
  • A paintbrush
  • Either a candle or flowers (I used fake flowers that reminded me of fireworks exploding)

That’s it! Now let’s get started.

    1. If you are messy like I am or your making this with kids, I would recommend putting down newspaper before getting started.

    2. Hold the glass vase or jar on your hand so you can twirl it. It’s really easy to smudge the paint dots if you are holding it on the outside.

    3. Take your brush and start making dots. Play around with the size of the dots that you like. Some can be larger, smaller, thicker, or thinner to vary the color pattern. I started with blue dots, then added red and then white. I waited 5 minutes in between each color to let it dry a little. White was actually the most dominant color so after it was dry I then went back and filled in the holes with more blue and red dots until I liked the amount of color coverage on the glass.

    4. Let it dry and add some flowers or put a candle in for a pretty nighttime table decoration.

What do you think? How did I do? Are you working on any craft ideas for the Fourth of July? If so, please share. I’d love to hear about it.

For more Fourth of July celebration ideas, check out my board on Pinterest.

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7 Fourth of July Party Games & Activities

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Tags: Family Fun Ideas · Summer Family Activities

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