DIY Christmas Monogram

I love having something unique and handmade on my front door at Christmas, don't you? Wreaths are wonderful, but a fun and festive DIY creation is a fantastic way to great guests during the holidays. Today, I am sharing my simple Christmas monogram. It is easy and inexpensive to make, and totally cute!

I made my Christmas monogram with red glittery wire ribbon, thick red yarn, and a handmade felt flower with a bell in the middle.

In the past, I have made monograms with twine, but I love the warmth of the thick red yarn for the holidays. You can find the full tutorial for making a monogram here. (Just substitute thick red yarn for twine.)

I'm so pleased with how cute this Christmas monogram turned out. It's a fun contrast to the greenery around my door.

Happy Christmas crafting!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Non-toy Gifts That Kids Will Love

As the holidays approach, let's get real... our kids do not need more "stuff". When my kids need something, I buy it for them, so showering them with toys and gifts on their birthdays and at Christmas makes no sense to me. Today, I am sharing some great "non toy" gifts that kids will love!

1) Money - Since my kids have been little, they have been having "toonie" parties. Instead of gifts, we ask guests to give the birthday boy a two dollar coin. The guests spend less on a gift, we don't end up with more toys, and the birthday boy can use his birthday money to purchase something he really wants. 

Money in an education fund or foreign currency for an upcoming trip are great ideas too!

2) Amusement park tickets - My kids love our local amusement park where they can drive go carts, play mini golf, and grab an ice cream. A gift certificate to pay for an afternoon of fun is a wonderful gift idea!

3) Tickets to a live event - Tickets to concerts, sporting events, and live theatre make wonderful gifts... and wonderful memories. Take a look at upcoming events in your area, purchase tickets, and wrap them up. Event tickets make fantastic gifts!

4) An ice cream date - An ice cream date involves a sweet treat and time spent together. I love the idea of giving kids gift cards to their favourite ice cream restaurant or stand with a promise to take them out on a special date. It's inexpensive and fun!

5) A movie date - Who doesn't love a great movie with someone special? Movie gift cards attached to a box of popcorn make a simple and fantastic gift.

I love all these non-toy gift ideas, don't you? What's your favourite? This holiday season, consider gifting experiences. Kids (and parents) love it!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Halloween 2019

Halloween 2019 was bitter sweet for me, as this is the first year my oldest didn't go trick or treating. However, my younger two are still "all in" when it comes to dressing up and collecting candy. 😁

My youngest decided to go as a Minion, so I turned a candy bowl, a laundry basket, and a pop up hamper into the costume of his dreams.

My middle son couldn't decide what he wanted to be, so while he was at school today, I pulled this secret agent costume together using stuff we had lying around the house. He was pretty happy with it, and I think he looked pretty cute. 

We also managed to get a couple of pumpkins carved in between hockey practices. (Life of a hockey mom!)

The boys traveled the neighborhood with their friends and came home with too much candy! lol

They are currently sitting on the floor of my kitchen trading candy with their friends. Candy trading is pretty serious business in our house.

Happy Halloween from my family to yours!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Magic Potion Caldron Cakes... recipe and free printable tags

If you are looking for a fun activity, and a tasty Halloween treat, you are going to love the recipe I am sharing today. With only two ingredients, and less than a minute, you can create wickedly good (and super-simple) caldron cakes. I've even designed some fun tags so that you can share the treats with your kids, friends, classmates and trick-or-treaters. You are going to love these easy caldron cakes!

To make caldron cakes, you'll just need a high quality cake mix and chocolate chips.

Every caldron cake mix contains 3 tablespoons of cake mix and 1 tablespoon of chocolate chips. I packaged my mixes in cellophane bags with curling ribbon and the tags I designed. 

When ready to enjoy the caldron cake: dump the contents into a microwave safe mug, add 2 tablespoons of water, stir, microwave for 50 seconds, and enjoy! (The portion size is small because of the richness of the cake... but you could double or triple the recipe if you want more.)

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

I love the idea of gifting the mixes in black mugs.

And the little packages would be perfect to share with a class or trick-or-treaters.

The caldron cakes are delicious "as is", but they are even better topped with whipped cream and sprinkles.

Making these cakes is a great way to get kids cooking too. Here's a video showing how easy it was for my 10 year to cook his own caldron cake.

If you are looking for a fun activity / treat this Halloween, I highly recommend giving these magic potion caldron cakes a try!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

         Find MORE ideas for easy and inexpensive Halloween fun here.

Halloween Family Movie Night... with skeleton party tray and family friendly Halloween movie suggestions

I love a themed movie night, don't you? You can put up elaborate decoration and make a bunch of fancy snacks, or you can keep it simple with a Halloween snack tray, some popcorn and a great Halloween movie. Today, I am sharing everything you need to plan an easy, inexpensive and fun Halloween family movie night.

When it comes to movie night, you need a variety of fun snacks. I love the idea of creating a simple Halloween snack tray, don't you? I picked up this silver tray at the dollar store, I laid out a skeleton (that I also found at the dollar store), and covered it all with Halloween candy. Fun, right?

And you'll need a family friend movie too, right? Of course, different movies are appropriate for different ages, so you'll need to do some research, but here are a few fun, family-friendly Halloween movie options.

Note: I have included some links that will allow you to purchase these movies easily at a great price. These are affiliate links, so if you use them, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you!

1) Hocus Pocus

2) Halloweentown (and its sequel)

3) Hotel Transylvania (and its sequels)

4) Casper

5) Beetlejuice

Do you have a favourite Halloween movie? Did it make my list? I hope you take the time to make a simple Halloween snack tray and watch a family friendly Halloween movie with your friends and family this year. Happy Halloween!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find more ideas for easy and inexpensive Halloween fun here.

A Simplified Version of BOOing The Neighbours

My boys have been "Booing" our neighbours since 2011, and although they are getting older, it's still a tradition they enjoy. If you have never "Boo'ed" the neighbours on Halloween, you should give it a try. It's simple and a lot of fun!

Basically, you bag up treats, add a sheet of instructions, and "secretly" deliver treats to neighbours. (i.e. You ring the doorbell, leave the treats, and run away.)

To download the sign that you include with the treats: click on the image below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8X10 photo.

Pretty simple, right?

You only need to leave treats for two neighbours, but you can deliver more treats if you like. My boys always like to leave treats for several of their friends. Here are the treat packages they will be delivering this year...

If you have any questions about "Booing", let me know. It really is a fun Halloween activity. Kids love it, but there is no reason adults couldn't do it too. People of ALL ages like treats, right?!?

Happy Halloween!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS... Check out this adorable picture of the first year that my boys went "Booing". Pretty cute... if I do say so myself! 😀

How to Save Money on Halloween Costumes

Kids love dressing up, and they often have very specific ideas of what they want to wear for Halloween. Over the years, I have loved helping my kids fulfill their visions, but I have never wanted to break the bank on something they are only going to wear once. Today, I am sharing my best tips for saving money on Halloween costumes.

1) Get crafty - Making costumes yourself is awesome because it saves money AND you end up with unique creations. The best thing is... you do NOT need to be super crafty. I have OVER 20 ideas (that require NO sewing) on my blog here. (e.g. I made this Ninja costume using black shirts and red duct tape!)

2) Buy second hand - Search "buy and sell" sites, ask friends, and visit second hand stores. There are a lot of fantastic deals to be had!

3) Shop at the Dollar Store - The dollar store has tons of masks, wigs, accessories, etc... It's a fantastic (and inexpensive) place to get inspiration and purchase what you need to pull together a wonderful costume on a budget.

4) Use what you have - Sometime you don't need to spend ANY money on a costume. With a little imagination, you can create a costume using what you already have in your home. For example, my son used a t-shirt he had to create this simple Clark Kent costume. We grabbed glasses, a dress shirt, and a tie from his closet, and we were good to go! You can also recycle old t shirts into costumes. You can find "use what you have" inspiration here.

5) Take advantage of "after Halloween" discount - If you really plan ahead, you can stock up on "after Halloween" clearance items and save them for the next year. 

How do you save money on Halloween costumes? Have your kids picked their outfits yet? I love these ideas for saving money on Halloween costumes, don't you?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find more easy and inexpensive Halloween ideas here.

Don't miss any of the fun....