Puppy Puppet Loot Bag

Who doesn't love an easy, inexpensive, and unique loot bag / party favour? I am so excited to share this fun puppy puppet kit idea with you today. I got the idea from my 12 year old son who started his own business selling these for $6 (with $1 going to charity). The "jar" packaging makes it the perfect party takeaway!

Each jar contains everything necessary to make an adorable sock puppet: 

  • a sock (with a piece of cardstock inside to make the puppet stiff and easy to use... and to prevent the sock from sticking together when the pieces are glued on)
  • a pom pom for the nose
  • brown felt ears
  • red felt tongue

Then, you print a cute tag like the one below, and attach it to jar with some twine.

Here is an example of the ones my son assembled and sold. Cute, right?

Then, to make it a loot bag, you can just attach another festive tag that says, "Thanks for coming to my party!"

Isn't this a unique and fun loot bag / goodie bag idea? I love a good, old fashioned craft, and every kid should make at least one sock puppet during his/ her lifetime, don't you think?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS - You can find MANY more easy and inexpensive party favor ideas here.

Advice for NEW and NEWish hockey moms {from a mom that has been there}

As a mom who has had kids in hockey for several years now, I have learned a lot of things. Now that my boys are heading into Bantam, PeeWee and Atom, I realize that there are a few things (that I know now) that I wish I had known when my boys were starting out. Today I am sharing my best advice for NEW and NEWish hockey moms.

1) All children develop at different rates... and being a star when you are 6 is not a sign that you should get ready for the draft. Encourage your son/daughter to work hard, do their best and be a good teammate. Odds are that your child will not be going to the NHL, so have fun and enjoy the ride.

2) Your child can carry or wheel their own hockey bag in Novice... and they should.

3) Success should not be measured by the number of goals scored. Don't ask your child, "How many goals did you score?" every time they get off the ice. Kids that aren't scoring goals are deflated by this question, and scoring goals isn't the only thing that matters. Great hockey players block shots, get assists, and make good passes. 

4) Winning isn't everything. Kids learn a lot of great life lessons from losing.

5) Coaches give a lot to our kids (and volunteer a lot of time), so respect them and let them do their job.

6) Learning to be part of a team is invaluable. A child that learns to work well with others grows up to be a kinder, more employable adult.

7) Everyone will have more fun if parents are supportive of ALL the kids... including the kids playing on the other team. Please don't yell out negative things about someone else's child.

8) The other hockey parents will become your family... and they are awesome!

9) Enjoy this time watching your young hockey player learn, grow, and have fun playing a game he/she loves. The time passes quickly... and your hockey player will be hanging up his/her skates before you know it.

Do you have a child in a higher level of hockey or are you just starting out? Do you have any advice you would add to my list?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

**** If you are a hockey mom or dad, you might also be interested in:

                          Simple shared hockey bedroom

First Day of School 2018... it's all about continuing our back to school traditions

There is something very comforting about traditions, don't you think? Knowing what to expect, and having things "the same" is a wonderful way to reduce anxiety on the first day of school. I also believe that traditions provide the foundation for lasting childhood memories. Today, my three boys went back to school (grades 4, 6 & 8), and we continued all our simple first day of school traditions. Here is how our morning went...

As always, we started our day with a special breakfast. I made (not perfect but still fun) pancakes in the shape of the kids' grades, and they all drank milk from wine glasses.

Then (like all annoying parents do), I subjected the kids to a few first day of school pictures. My favourite pictures are the ones I take of the kids holding a picture from the first day of school the previous year. I love this tradition, and it is fun to see how the kids change from year to year.

The younger boys also took a little gift for their teachers and small treats for their new classmates. This year, they are took crayon vases full of chocolate bars (with "First Day of School Survival Kit" tags), pencils, and packs of gum.

My boys are currently safely at school, and I am now at home with my messy kitchen, piles of laundry, stacks of paperwork, and calendar full of after school activities and freelance work deadlines. It's tough to say goodbye to summer. 😢

I can't wait for my boys to get home from school so we can share a special after-school snack and chat about their first day of school adventures.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Back to School Organizing Ideas

With the arrival of a new school year, I always feel the need to get organized, don't you? There is something fantastic about  making the chaos of "back to school" a little less chaotic. Today, I am sharing a few of my favourite back to school organizing ideas. They are easy, inexpensive, and guaranteed to bring a little order to your home.

*Note: This post contains a few affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of these links, I will get a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Use clear shoe racks - Clear shoe racks are perfect for organizing because they utilize the unused space behind a door, and the clear pockets make it easy for kids and adults to easily find the item they are looking for. You can use them for school / homework supplies, water bottles / school lunch containers, and clothing (hats, mitts, socks, underwear, etc...).

Create a homework area - An organized space to do homework is important, and what could be cuter than making your own colourful pencil holder for all your homework supplies? Simply cover a dollar store pencil holder with crayons using a glue gun. You can find the full tutorial here.

Organize the kids' clothes - Back to school is the perfect time to organize clothes. First, get rid of everything that is out of season or doesn't fit. Then, fold everything like the picture below... clothing folded into thirds and placed in the drawer so everything can be viewed at a glance. It is life-changing. The kids will no longer have to dig through their drawer to find their favourite t-shirt!

Label everything - You work hard to get kids the things they need, so don't let them lose all their clothes and school supplies. I label everything... and I can't tell you how many items (including expensive hoodies and jackets) that have found their way back home. You can check out the labels I order here.

Stock the pantry - Make snacks accessible and minimize the time needed to make lunches by stocking and organizing the pantry. Save time and money by buying in bulk, getting rid of boxes, and storing snacks in easy to access containers.

Get the backpack off the floor - If you don't have a mudroom full of lockers, you can still easily create a space for backpacks. Using hooks to get them off the floor is key. We have door hooks that can support the weight of backpacks full of books. When the backpacks come home, sort through them, do the homework, and then hang them up on the hooks. They will be ready to grab on the way out the door the following day.

Create a space for artwork - All parents struggle with all the artwork that comes home from school. The key is to not let it pile up. When it comes home, display it proudly. (We use decorated clipboards to allow the artwork to be changed easily and frequently.) Then, when new masterpieces come home, get rid of the old stuff. Special pieces can be saved, but the rest should go in the recycling bin.

Aren't these back to school organizing ideas great? How do you organize your home for a new school year? The shoe rack is key for us, but all these ideas help us control the chaos. Please share your best tips and tricks in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

First Day of School Class Treats

The first day of school is a big deal for kids, and it is an occasion that deserves to be celebrated. For this reason, I have always loved sending my boys back to school with treats for their teachers and classmates. Today, I am sharing some of our favourite ideas for first day of school class treats (for both classmates and teachers).

When it comes to treats for classmates, I like to find something that is simple and inexpensive. Then, I "up" the cute factor by adding a funny tag. Here are some of the trinkets and treats my boys' have shared:

Dollar store glasses - These colourful classes are super-cute, and I love the "I am really LOOKING forward to having you in my class!" tag that you can download for free here

Colourful pencils, pens, or markers - Something bright and cheerful to write with makes a practical first day of school treat. Just attach it to the "Let's start the year off WRITE!" tag that you can download for free here

"excel" gum - Gum is a great treat for older children to share with their friends. I love the idea of attaching a punny note that says, "We are going to have an 'EXCEL'lent year!" You can download the gift tags I designed (for free) here.  

Cookies - If school nutrition policies are not a concern, these packages of peanut-free cookies make a sweet treat. You can make it extra special by stapling "Happy first day of school to one smart COOKIE!!" tags to the tops of the bags. Get your FREE printable tags here

Goldfish - Little bags of crackers are inexpensive and easy to share, and they become a fun treat if you add a cute "o-FISH-ally wishing you a fantastic first day of school!" tag that you can download for free here.

LEGO crayons - Recycle last year's broken crayons, and make a unique gift to share with classmates. It's a great way for kids to "BUILD" new friendships. Read more here

Don't forget to bring a first day of school gift for the teacher too. Here are a couple of inexpensive gifts that my boys' have shared:

First day of school survival kit - Fill a fun container with chocolate, advil, coffee gift cards, hand sanitizer, etc... It's a cute gift that is useful too! Download the free printable tags here

Handmade pencil holder - I love the idea of a child crafting a gift for their teacher. You can give it on its own, or you can fill it with chocolate or markers. You can find the instructions for making this cute gift here.

You can download "A SWEET treat for a SWEET teacher!" tags here.

And, you can download, "MARK my words, we are going to have a great year!" tags here.

Sharing inexpensive treats on the first day of school is a wonderful way to start a new. Happy "back to school" everyone!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

My NEW ally in my battle with my son's airborne allergies

*sponsored post*

I have never suffered with allergies, so it is not something I have ever given much thought to. I have heard people talking about allergy symptoms, and I have seen TV commercials about allergy medications, but allergies were never something that concerned me... that is, until my youngest son started coughing at night and complaining about having itchy eyes. So, when Philips* approached me recently about trying out the Philips 2000i Air Purifier, I jumped at the chance to test it out in my son's bedroom.

My lack of experience regarding airborne allergies is tough for me as a mother because I want to do everything I can to keep my children healthy and happy. I love the idea of cleaning the air in my son's room. I can't control the allergens he comes into contact with outside our home, but I am hoping that reducing airborne allergens in his bedroom will help his dry, itchy eyes... and allow him to get the sleep he needs to succeed as we move into another busy school year (and hockey season). (Note: While in night mode, the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier stays quiet and turns off all the lights so that your child can have a restful sleep.)

I have never used an air purifier, so I didn't know what to expect. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to set up and operate. I basically took the plastic off the three filters (the washable pre-filter, the active carbon filter, and the true HEPA filter) and plugged in the machine. It was super easy.

There is even a simple app that you can download that helps you analyze the air quality outside and in the room. The app makes it really easy to easily see air quality... it makes the invisible, visible!

The Philips Air purifier senses, reacts, and visibly works to reduce allergens, odours, volatile organic compounds and even certain bacteria. It automatically monitors and purifies the air, and it gives you a visual cue that your air is cleaner.

Are you interested in learning more about the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier? Do you want to reduce the allergens, gases and odors in your house? 

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing some of the product's features with you, and I will be letting you know how we are liking it. In the meantime, you can find the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier at Canadian Tire, Hudson's Bay Company, Amazon, and specialty appliance retails. Or you can just purchase it online here.

Do you have an air purifier? Do you like it? Got any tips for me? Feel free to leave any advice or questions in the comments below.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with Philips Canada and have received compensation for this post. However, as always, all opinions expressed on this blog are my own.

Crayon Holder Teacher Gift

I love the idea of kids making simple gifts for their teacher on the first day of school, don't you? It really is a nice way to start a new school year. Today, I am sharing a few options for easy and inexpensive handmade gifts children can make for their teachers. I'm even including some adorable (and FREE) printable gift tags.

The base of the gifts is this colourful crayon wrapped pencil holder. I purchased a pencil holder from the dollar store for $1.50 and a box of 64 crayons at Walmart for $2.97 (and didn't use the whole box). Then, my son use hot glue to attach the crayons (one-by-one) to the outside of the container.

The glue is hot, so adult supervision is definitely required. For younger children, adults can do the gluing, and the kids can just pick out which crayon should be attached next.

Then, you can fill the container with tasty treats or a gift card for coffee. You can wrap the container and add a card that says, "Wishing you a SWEET start to the school year!" or "First Day of School Survival Kit".

To download the tags below: click on the desired picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

You could also fill the container with Sharpie markers and add a tag that says, "MARK my words. We are going to have a fun year!" or "A little something to keep you SHARP on the first day of school."

To download the tags below: click on the desired picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

All of these first day of school teacher gifts are easy to make, and the supplies are inexpensive to purchase. Heading back to school with a handmade teacher appreciation gift really is a wonderful way to start the year off right.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (You may also want to check out this Facebook Live we did showing how to make this gift. We also shared some of our other favourite first day of school traditions.)