New Year's Eve Countdown Activities for kids

New Year's Eve with the kids can be a lot of fun... especially if you are prepared.  So, this year, I put together 8 countdown bags filled with fun surprises for the kids.


The plan is to let the kids open a bag every hour as we count down to midnight.  To make the bags, I used: regular brown lunch bags, colored cardstock, and a Sharpie.  I taped the clocks to the front of the bags, filled them with goodies, and stapled them shut.  Easy, right?

All the contents are inexpensive, but the boys will have a lot of fun opening each bag.  Here is what I used:


5:00pm - "Year in review" questionnaires, which you can find here.

6:00pm - Supplies to make New Year's Eve party hats.  {You can find the ones we are making here.}

7:00pm - Balloons from the Dollar Store... to decorate for the big countdown.

8:00pm - Cars from the Dollar Store. 

9:00pm - A little snack.

10:00pm - Noisemakers.

11:00pm - More noisemakers.

12:00am - Cookies and milk for a midnight toast.

We may actually start earlier than 5pm... as I doubt the kids will make it to midnight.  We'll see how things go!

Happy New Year!

♥ 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

2012 Year in Review {Free Printable}

*2013 version available here.

New Year's Eve is a time for reflecting on the past year and looking forward to the new one -- not just for adults, but for kids too.  So... I put together a 2012 Year in Review questionnaire for my boys to fill out on New Year's Eve.


It is a pretty simple questionnaire, and you can download the free printable here{I printed mine on yellow paper, but you could use any color you like.}

My seven year old will fill it out by himself, and I will help the younger boys.  I can't wait to see what they come up with.  I plan on having them answer the same questions each year, and maybe I will make a book for each of my boys when they are older.  :-)

Happy New Year, everybody!

♥ 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

Christmas Eve Traditions

Christmas Eve is my favorite day of the year, and I always try to make it special for my boys.  Here is a collection of our "must do" Christmas Eve Traditions.


1)  Special Christmas PJs - My boys always get new Christmas PJs to wear on Christmas Eve... and they always look so cute in the Christmas morning pictures.


2)  Cookies for Santa and Reindeer Food on the Lawn - We always bake cookies for Santa, and we leave them on our kitchen table with a big glass of milk.  And of course, we don't forget about the reindeer.  We always sprinkle reindeer food on the lawn before heading to bed.  It is made from Cheerios, oats, and magic sprinkles {colored sugar crystals}.  If you want to package it ahead of time, you can find a cute tag here.




3)  Magic Santa Key - We don't have a chimney, so we always leave Santa a magic key to make sure he is able to get into our house without any problems.  {You can find a free Santa Key Tag printable here.}


4)  Saying Goodbye to Elfie - Before heading to bed, we always say goodbye to our Elf on the Shelf.  {Then, in the morning, the boys are always happy to see he has left a note and a new Christmas movie.}


5)  Reading "The Night Before Christmas"- The last thing we do, before heading to bed, is read "The Night Before Christmas".  {I love this part!}


I am a firm believer that traditions bond a family together.  Does your family have any special Christmas Eve traditions?

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

My Version of The Polar Express

My son just did a "Polar Express" re-creation at school, and I saw a fun "mini van" version on Pinterest {which you can see here}.  It is such a fun idea, and I knew we had to have our own Polar Express adventureSo... after baths, PJs and a story, the boys headed to bed... and guess what they found on their pillows?


That's right!  They found golden tickets to The Polar Express. 


They quickly put on their coats and headed out to our van where I was waiting {in a train conductor's hat} to punch their tickets.

When they got in their seats, they found hot chocolate, popcorn, and candy canes.  They were soooo excited!


We had Christmas carols playing and we drove all around town looking at Christmas lights.

When we got home, the boys headed to bed... where they found a bell from Santa's sleigh on their pillows.  {I think this was my favorite part.}  :-)


My boys even went to sleep with their tickets and bells.  Seriously cute, right? 


This is definitely going to be an annual tradition for us.

♥ 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

Elf on the Shelf Sugar Cone Trees and More

Do you have an Elf on the Shelf?  Our "Elfie" has been very busy lately, so I thought I would share some of what he has been up to.  Last night, he brought some special treats and a letter from Santa.



The letter explained that the boys were supposed to decorate the sugar cones to look like trees.  They had a lot of fun with Elfie's little project.  



Here are a few more things Elfie has been doing. 

Elfie brings a letter from Santa

Elfie takes a marshmallow bath

Elfie brings a Santa sucker

Elfie makes a special snack

Elfie hides in the Christmas tree

Elfie hangs from the cupboard doors

Elfie makes a chair out of Lego

Isn't he a fun little Elf on the Shelf?  We sure are going to miss him when he flies back to the North Pole.  :-)

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Last Minute Neighbour Gifts

There are only a few days left before Christmas, so I thought I would share a couple of options for "last minute" neighbour gifts.  Who wouldn't want to receive one of these three "WARM WISHES" packages?

Hot chocolate in a cute container from the dollar store.  Add a chocolate spoon and a "warm wishes" tag.

Hot chocolate and marshmallows in a clear plastic icing bag with a "warm wishes" tag.

Hot chocolate, a mug, warm socks, and a Santa coat ornament with a "warm wishes" tag.

Or... get the kids involved, and have them make these cute reindeer gift bags.


Fill the bag with some yummy homemade treats, and you are "good to go"! 


Cute and easy, right?  What is your favorite neighbour gift to give?

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

ECM Kids' Craft Club - #10 {New Years Eve Party Favors}

Welcome to the 10th edition of the {East Coast Mommy} Kids' Craft Club {an easy and inexpensive way for kids to have fun crafting and to experience the excitement of getting their very own mail}.  If you want to join the club, you can find more info hereFor everyone who is already a member... this month, we are making super fun New Year's Eve party favors.


Are your supplies ready?



OK.  Let's get started....
1)  Color (and cut out) the "Happy New Year" and "2013" signs.


2)  Use tape or staples to attach the strips of cardstock together.  Fit to the child's head to form a headband.


3)  Using tape or staples, attach the "2013" to the front of the headband, and decorate the band with the foam star stickers.


3)  Using tape, attach the stir stick to the back of the "Happy New Year" sign to make a flag.


I hope you enjoyed making this craft and that you have a very HAPPY NEW YEAR.  {Don't forget to leave me a comment, or send me an email.  Your comments help me to improve the club, and I love hearing from you.} 
♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)


Don't forget... Assist young children when using scissors, and be careful of the small parts included with this kit, as they can be a choking hazard for children under three

5 Christmas Tree Traditions

In our house, putting up the tree is a very exciting part of the holidays.  So... I thought it would be fun to share our 5 Christmas Tree Traditions with you.  


Here they are:

1)  Picking out the tree -- We always go as a family to pick out the tree.  It is always fun to listen to everyone making a case for their favorite tree. 



2)  Hot Chocolate -- We always make a big batch of hot chocolate to drink while we decorate the tree.  The boys are allowed to add marshmallows, chocolate chips, and little bits of candy canes.


3)  Cookies -- While my husband puts the tree in the stand and puts on the lights, the boys and I make cookies.  With all the excitement of getting and decorating the tree, a "baking shortcut" {like using a cookie mix or ready-to-bake cookies} is always a good idea.


4)  Hanging the first ornaments - After we unpack all the ornaments, each boy takes a turn picking his favorite ornament and hanging it on the tree.


5)  Countdown to lighting -- After the tree is fully decorated, we do a "countdown from 10", and then my husband turns on the tree lights. 

Do you have any Christmas tree traditions in your family?

♥ 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* You can find me on facebook here.

Simple Felt {Christmas Tree} Ornament

Those of you that were reading my blog last year might remember that I make ornaments for my friends and family each year.  Last year I made little felt stockings, and this year I made simple felt Christmas trees.

 
The tradition started over 20 years ago, and it has become one of my favorite holiday traditions. Because I make so many, I try to keep the design simple. I also try to make ornaments that are flat and light so that they are easy and inexpensive to mail with Christmas cards.


Want to make one... or a bunch?  They are really quick and easy -- a perfect project for beginners.

Here's what you do:


1)  Cut out the felt pieces you will need:  2 red circles, 1 green triangle, and 1 small brown rectangle.
2)  Stitch the brown rectangle and green triangle onto one of the red circles.  Sew a small yellow button onto the top of the tree.  {Per the picture above.}
3)  Tie a piece of ribbon to form a "loop" and stitch to the other red circle.
4)  Stitch the two red circles together.

That's it!  Isn't it an adorable little felt ornament?  What are some of your treasured holiday traditions?


♥ 

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

* Don't miss out on any of the East Coast Mommy fun... follow me on facebook here.

Frugal and Festive {Holiday Decor}

I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that it's December, and Christmas is right around the corner.  Last weekend I did some decorating, and today I am sharing 5 ideas for simple and inexpensive holiday decorating.



1)  Gift Wrap Pictures - This idea is really easy, but it has a big impact -- gift wrap pictures that you already have hanging on the walls.  {I used some red, glittery wrapping paper and gold ribbon, and I LOVE the way the pictures/presents look above my hall table.}


2)  Vase Full of Bells - How easy is it to fill a vase {you already have} with gold bells?  Then, stick in some Christmas flowers or glittery bobbles, and you have an adorable piece with lots of "vertical" appeal.  Cute, right?


3)  Makeshift Mantel - Sadly, I don't have a fireplace, but that doesn't mean I can't "hang my stockings with care".  A window sill is a great place to showcase stockings.


4)  Garland and Lights - Nothing says Christmas like greenery and little white lights.  I run garland up my staircase, but doorframes and mantles make great places for this festive decor too.


5)  Outdoor Greenery - Outdoor flower pots are perfect candidates for a makeover at this time of year.  I used some pine boughs, some branches from a birch tree {that we cut down last spring}, and some red embellishments from the dollar store to create a beautiful, festive arrangement for just over $10.


See any ideas you like?  I would love to hear all about your frugal and festive decor ideas{Please share them in the comments below.}

♥ 
Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)
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