Valentine's Day Fortune Cookies... with free printable tags

I love a unique DIY gift, and these simple sweet treats are perfect for Valentine's Day. With some store bought fortune cookies, dollar store packaging, and the free downloadable tags I designed... you'll have everything you need to let your sweethearts know how FORTUNATE you are to have them in your life.

Start out with some store bought fortune cookies. You can package them "as is", or you can "fancy them up" with some melted chocolate and sprinkles.

To make "fancy" fortune cookies: melt chocolate, dip the fortune cookies in the chocolate, and dip the fortune cookies in sprinkles.

Lay the cookies on wax paper, and allow the chocolate to harden. Cute, right?

Then, package the cookies with tags that say how "fortunate" you are.

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

You can package the fortune cookies in clear plastic bags, or you can put them cute containers. I found these adorable Chinese Food containers at the dollar store, and they are absolutely perfect!

Don't you just love these Valentine's Day treats? They are perfect to share with kids AND friends. I like them as a Valentine's Day party favor too. Happy Valentine's Day!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Hockey Mom HACKS (decor, parties, crafts, advice, and more!)

As a mom to three boys that eat, sleep, and breath hockey, I have learned a couple of useful hockey tips and tricks over the years. Today, I am sharing some of my favourite hockey mom HACKS.

1) Hockey Decor - If you have hockey fans living in your home, they are going to want to fill their spaces with hockey decor. Check out my boys shared hockey room here. I love that it reflects my boys and their love for hockey, but it's still stylish and not overdone.

2) DIY Hockey Artwork - I love the idea of creating DIY artwork, and I have created a few DIY hockey projects over the years. Check out the hockey stick name art, jersey canvas paintings, hockey card quote artwork, and hockey prints that my boys and I have made. Pretty special, right?

3) Hockey Advice - I'm not an expert, but I have had three boys in hockey for many years... and I've learned a few lessons along the way. Click the links to check out my tips for new hockey moms and my "perspective" advice for hockey parents.

4) Hockey FoodI'm not a nutritionist or an expert on feeding high performance athletes, but I am a mom of three very active boys who are always moving and constantly hungry. Generally, I try to feed my boys a healthy and balanced diet, and on game days we stay away from high fat and fried foods. This often means having "easy to grab" snacks in the fridge and packing a cooler when we are on the road. 

You can find a few of our favourite lunch and snack ideas here. I also highly recommend buying a few banana cases. Bananas are a great nutritious and inexpensive pre-game snack, and they travel really well in these plastic cases. I love them!

5) Hockey Travel Tips - When travelling, always pack a cooler.  It will save you money, and it will help you to eat better too. Other fantastic items to pack are: 

  • babywipes (great for cleaning up on the go)
  • ziploc bags (perfect for packing snacks, separating wet clothes, and filling with ice for makeshift ice packs)
  • laundry dryer sheets or air freshener (which is wonderful for combating hockey stink in the hotel room)
  • clothespins (for closing hotel room curtains and keeping the light out at the crack of dawn)
  • cards (useful for occupying kids between games when they need a little downtime)

6) Hockey Parties - If you have a hockey fan, the odds are good that at some point you will be hosting a hockey party. I have some fantastic ideas for DIY hockey food, decor, activities, and more here. I also have a fun idea for hockey party favors or team treats (with free printable tags) here.

Are you a hockey mom or dad? What is best / most useful tip? I'd love a few new ideas!

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Indoor Winter Fun... hot chocolate and new product taste testing

We recently had a couple of snow days (days off from school due to a winter storm). When the snow flies, my boys love playing outside, but when temperatures get really low, there comes a point when they come inside to warm up... and it's always fun to have a fun activity and treat waiting for them. I love the idea of setting up a hot chocolate and cookie testing station, don't you?

While the kids were out sledding, I set up a little hot chocolate bar using mason jars. I had hot chocolate, marshmallows, a kettle of hot water, and some Hershey kisses to add a little more chocolaty goodness. I also laid out a few NEW products I found at the grocery store earlier in the week. (Any new and interesting products would work, but these are the ones that caught my eye.)

When the kids came inside, they set to work making their own hot chocolates. Everyone customized their beverage to their liking. 

Then, we got to work trying the new cookies I bought.

Each new product got a thumbs up or a thumbs down... and then they picked a winner.

Fun, right? 

Check out this little video we made.

I love the idea of "taste testing" as a fun indoor winter activity. It would be fun to use healthy food too. I might even work in a cooking lesson with our "tasting party" some day soon. What do you think?

 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Note: This is NOT a sponsored post. These are just a couple of new products I picked up for my kids and their friend to try... and they were a hit. 😄

5 Appetizers that are Perfect for any Party

I'm a huge fan of appetizers... especially at parties. What's more fun than sitting around with friends sampling lots of tasty bites? Today, I am sharing 5 recipes for appetizers that are delicious and easy to make. 

Nacho Dip - I love this nacho dip because it doesn't require any cooking. It's simple to throw together and bring to a friend's house. Trust me... the platter will be clean when you leave the party! (Find the recipe here.)

Swiss Cheese Dip - My mom always made this tasty treat when I was little, and it was always a hit. Who doesn't love cheese dips?!?! (You can find the recipe for the warm and gooey cheese dip here.)

Sweet and Sour Meatballs - Meatballs are always a crowd-pleaser, and this sweet and sour version is simple to make and tastes delicious. (You can find the full recipe here.)

Strawberry and Goat Cheese Crostini with Balsamic Glaze - Adding a little fruit to an appetizer makes it lighter and healthier. I love the combination of the creamy goat cheese, the crunchy crostini, the sweet strawberry and the rich balsamic glaze. This appetizer is an explosion of flavors in your mouth. (You can find the full recipe here.)

Goat Cheese Stuffed Mushroom Caps - Stuffed mushroom caps are always a favourite of mine... and this recipe is simple and delicious. You won't believe how easy it is to make this fantastic appetizer. (Find the full recipe here.)

What's your favourite appetizer? I know you won't be disappointed by any of these easy and inexpensive appetizers at your next party.

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find more recipes here.

New Year's Eve Activity Bags

In 2012, I made activity bags for my boys as a way of entertaining them on New Year's Eve. Since then, I have been making them annually, and the contents of the bags have changed each year to reflect the fact that they are getting older. Today, I am sharing the contents of the New Year's Eve activity bags I put together this year.

I started with dollar store bags. Then, I cut circles from coloured paper and drew clocks on the circles. I did bags for 6pm, 7pm, 8pm, 9pm, 10pm, 11pm. and midnight. 

The idea is to have the party guests open a new bag every hour.

Here's what I put in our bags:

6pm - Year in review sheets and pens. You can download my 2019 version for free here.

7pm - Chocolates and popcorn.

8pm - A game and a prize. I used LCR with three cash prizes, but any game would work. Chocolate bar Bingo would be fun too. (Bingo with chocolate bar prizes.)

9pm - Candy rings with "Ring in the New Year!" tags. You can download the tags for free here.

10pm - Supplies for a New Year's Eve photo booth. I got a bunch of supplies at the dollar store, and I designed a few photo props (which you can download for free here).

11pm - Midnight Kisses (which are really chocolate kisses packaged in clear bags with free tags that you can download here).

Midnight - Noise makers, sparklers, and cookies. Everything you need to ring in and celebrate the new year!

Isn't this a fun idea? I do 7 bags, but you can do as many (or few) as you want... and if your kids are younger (and won't make it to midnight), you can open the bags earlier.

Have you ever done activity bags with your kids on New Year's Eve? It really is a wonderful idea for a party full of kids, and it works well for a quiet evening at home too. 

What are you going to put in your activity bags? I'm always looking for new ideas.

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Check out more New Year's Eve activities and ideas here.

2019 Year in Review... and FREE printable photo booth props

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. With this in mind, each year I put together a Year in Review Questionnaire for my boys and their friends to fill out on New Year's Eve. We always include the questionnaires in our New Year's Eve countdown activity bags. Here is the 2019 version I designed (that you can download for free). 

To print the "2019 Year in Review": click on the 8 1/2 x 11" photo above, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it. (I sent mine to my local copy store and printed them, and they look fantastic!)

I also have some fun photo props you can print, cut out, and attach sticks to. To print the props below: click on the 8 1/2 x 11" photos below, right-click, save them to your computer, and print them.

I love seeing what my boys come up with each year. Maybe someday I will make a book for each of my boys using all the questionnaires they have filled out over the years.
Happy New Year, everybody!

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Check out more New Year's Eve activities and ideas here.

Christmas Dice Game... a family Christmas gift exchange

Making gift giving into a game is a fun idea for Christmas parties and family gatherings too. This year, my extended family will be playing a “Christmas Dice Game” together on Christmas Eve. Keep reading for all the details on how to play this simple game (and get a free printable instruction sheet).

To play, all participants are asked to bring an inexpensive wrapped. For my family, we are doing a kid's exchange and an adult's exchange. The kids will each bring a $5 gift and the adults will each bring a $10 gift.

The game starts with every person choosing one wrapped gift. (I suggest letting people choose their original gift based on age... from youngest to oldest.) Then, everyone sits in one big circle and takes turns rolling a die and following the instructions for the roll. E.g. A one means “keep your gift”, two means “steal someone’s gift”, three means “everyone pass your gift to the left”, four means “everyone pass your gift to the right”, five means “keep your gift” and six means “steal someone’s gift”. Continue playing until every participant has rolled three times. At the end of the game, whatever gift you end up with is yours to keep! Fun, right?

To download the instructions: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8x10 photo.

Have you ever played a game like this? Did you have fun? I can't wait to play with my family on Christmas Eve. If you have any tips for me, let me know.

(aka East Coast Mommy)

Update: Our family played the Christmas Dice Game on Christmas Eve, and it was a huge success. This will definitely become an annual tradition for us.

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