Letter Writing to Santa Party

As you may recall, my oldest son came up with the idea of hosting a "Letter Writing to Santa Party" fundraiser, as a way to help others this holiday season.  The party took place last Friday night, and it was a huge success.  (We raised $140.50 for the children's hospital.)  I am so grateful to all the "elves" that supported us through their attendance and donations.  THANK YOU!

My awesome six year old working the door.

Would you like to throw your own "Letter Writing to Santa Party"?  Here is a little peek at what we did:

While enjoying cookies and juice, the guests were given all the supplies they needed to write their letters to Santa. 

We also had fun "Santa beards" (on popsicle sticks) for the guests.  They were a big hit!  I was inspired by I Heart Naptime, but you can find a template for my version here.

After the letters were finished, each child was given a "kit" with all the supplies they needed to make a reindeer ornament for their tree.  (The kit included a candy cane, a circle of red craft foam for the nose, two googly eyes, one long piece of pipe cleaner, two shorter pieces of pipe cleaner, and a ribbon for hanging.)

Finally, each guest made a bag of reindeer food to take home.  You can find the template for the reindeer food tags here(We used Oats, Cheerios, and Magic Glitter... aka Red Sugar Sprinkles.)

Here are a few more pics of the party's handsome hosts.

My middle son testing out our photo booth.

My three boys... waiting for their guests to arrive.

Delivering their letters at the Santa Claus parade.

We had a great time, and the boys learned a lot about "giving back".  I am thinking that this is going to be a wonderful annual tradition for our family.  :-)

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Circus Party... with easy and inexpensive DIY details

A couple of weeks ago my son turned six, and he requested a Circus party... and I love a good DIY birthday party! Today I am sharing all the easy and inexpensive DIY details that made the party special.

We had 20 kids, and a ton of fun.  My birthday boy started the day with a special pancake breakfast, and then it was on to the party.

The Cake is one of my favorite parts of any birthday party.  The one I made was super easy -- using straws, a paper carousal top, and some animal cracker cookies.  I also made some fun, colorful "balloon" cupcakes.

And... what is Circus/Carnival party without a table of treats.  Check out the Concessions Table we had.  Not surprisingly, it was a big hit with the kids!  {I probably should have put tooth brushes in their loot bags.}

Of course... we had a few Party Favors -- Clown Noses and Ring Master Mustaches {cut from black paper and taped onto popsicle sticks}.

And... finally, we had the Midway.  You can find a full list of the games here, but I have included a few highlights below.

I think that paying attention to the details is more important than spending a lot of money.  Every aspect of this party is something that truly is DIY.  I hope it inspires you to throw a circus party for your little clown.  :-)

My boys and their friends had a fantastic time at this Circus party. It's a super-fun (and easy) party that is fun for kids of all ages.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Looking for more DIY party inspiration? Check out my super fun carnival party here.

DIY Circus Party {Midway Games}

When I sat down to write a post about my oldest son's sixth birthday party, I realized I had way too many pictures to fit into one post.  So {instead of overwhelming you}, I decided to list all the Circus/Carnival Games in a separate post.  The games were simple and inexpensive, and the kids had a ton of fun.  You can't ask for more than that.  :-)

Here's what we did:

Tattoo Parlor

Face Painting

Homemade Bean Bag Toss


Photo Booth

Penny Pitch

Ring Toss
Can Knock Down

I used stuff we had around the house for a lot of the games, and I covered TV trays with stripped wrapping paper for a "circus feel".  Fun, right?  You can find the rest of the party here.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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Felt Stocking Ornaments

When I was in high school , I started making Christmas ornaments for my girlfriends. Over time, I started making them for over 40 family and friends. I like to make a simple ornament that can be slipped in with a Christmas card. Here is the "quick and easy" Christmas ornament I am making this year.

I just love these little felt stockings because they are so simple and inexpensive to make.

Here is what you'll need: scrap white felt, scrap red felt, two red buttons, a piece of ribbon, some red and white embroidery floss, a needle, and a template that you can find here.

Here's what you do:

Step 1: Cut two stocking shapes from the white felt and cut one rectangle (for the top of the stocking) from the red felt.

Step 2: Using red embroidery thread, stitch the bottom of the rectangle to one of the white stocking shapes. This will be the front of the ornament. (Just stitch the bottom of the rectangle. The rest will be attached when you stitch the front piece to the back piece.)

Step 3: Sew two red buttons onto the piece that has the red felt stitched to the top.

Step 4: Stitch a piece of ribbon to the other white stocking shape. This will be the back of the stocking. (I used white thread so that you wouldn't be able to see it on the back of the ornament.)

Step 5: Stitch the front and back pieces together using red embroidery thread. That's it!

Easy, right? I can't wait to see these little felt stockings hanging on the trees of my loved ones. 

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Gift Tags from Recycled Cardboard

Looking for a use for all the cardboard boxes you have sitting in your recycling bin?  Why not make some cute gift tags?

Here is a tutorial for a charming Christmas tag {and I have also included a template for an adorable Birthday tag}.

You'll need:  a cardboard box (like a cereal box or granola bar box), yarn or ribbon, scraps of paper in different colors/patterns, scissors, and glue.

 Here's what you need to do:

1)  Use the templates found here to cut two gift tag shapes -- one from the decorative paper and one from the cardboard.  Also, cut out the tree shape in a contrasting paper color.

2)  Glue the decorative paper to the colorful side of the cardboard (so that the blank side of the cardboard is on the back of the tag)  Then, glue the tree to the top of the decorative paper.

3)  Punch a hole at the top of the tag, and loop a piece of thread or ribbon through the hole.

Easy, cute, and made with stuff you have lying around the house.  Use your imagination to decorate the tags any way you want... and let the kids try too.  The tree and cupcake templates are just to get you started.  :-)

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Happy 6th Birthday (Birthday Letter)

My oldest "baby" turns six today.  Why does six seem so much older than five?  It hurts my heart a little to see him getting so grown up, but I am so proud of the little boy he is growing up to be. 

Earlier this year, I came up with the idea of writing letters to my boys each year on their birthdays.  Here is my birthday letter to my darling first born son:

You are such a special boy.... my little angel.  Here are just a few of the things that make you my favorite six year old in the whole wide world.  :-)
  • You have a kind heart, and you always want to help others. 
  • You are an awesome big brother.  You are patient and kind, and your little brothers love you very much... and they love all the adventures you take them on.
  • Your little boy laugh (especially when Daddy tickles you) makes me smile.
  • You always try your best and give 100% when trying anything new.
  • You love to draw (and you are great with detail).  Every day when you get home from school, you ask me for a piece of paper and a peanut butter sandwich.
  • Your favorite movie is The Fox and the Hound, your favorite food is a peanut butter sandwich, and your favorite sport is Hockey. 
  • You have lots of friends, and you love when the girls chase you at recess.
  • You still let me kiss and hug you when I drop you off at school.  I know it won't last forever, but I cherish every one I am getting now.
Happy Birthday, Sweetheart!  You may be six, but you will always be my first baby.

Lots of Love,

Mommy  xoxo

    Magic Elf Key - for our "Elf on the Shelf"... including a free printable

    Do you have an Elf on the Shelf at your house?  He arrives at our house on December 1, and it is one of our favorite Christmas traditions.  

    I recently posted about a Magic Santa key, and I thought it would be fun to give our elf {"Elfie"} his own magic key.  I was totally excited when I found a tiny key, which was meant to be a necklace pendant.

    (This tag is intended for personal use only.  Copyright belongs to East Coast Mommy.  Thanks!)

    Cute, right?  I wrote a short poem and designed a sweet little key tag.  I have made it into a free printable that you can find here.  Just print it out and attach a split ring and a key.   (Feel free to use this printable and share it with friends, but I wrote this poem, so the copyright belongs to me.  Please don't reprint it without permission, and please don't link directly to the download.  Thank you!)

    Now Elfie will have no trouble getting into our house after a long trip to the North Pole (where he reports to Santa on how "good" my boys have been that day.  :-)

    Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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    Recycled Matching Game

    Do you ever wonder what to do with all those milk/water jug caps?  I have a bunch of them in my "stuff to recycle into crafts" box.  I thought it would be fun to make a matching game for my boys.  It was so easy, fun, and absolutely free.

    Here's how we did it:

    1)  We decided to do a matching game with numbers from 1-10, so we counted out 20 bottle caps.  (You can do it for letters, colors, people in your family... whatever you want.)

    2)  We traced 20 circles onto a piece of paper, and my four year old printed the numbers in each circle.

    3)  I cut out all the circles (just inside the lines I had drawn) and put them in the caps.  You don't even need to use glue because the grooves in the lid keep the paper in place.  Easy, right?  :-)

    That's it!

    To play the game, simply flip over all the lids, and take turns trying to make matches.  If you get a match, you get another turn.  When all the lids are gone, the person who made the most matches wins.

    Happy Matching!
    Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

    Magic Santa Key (with free PRINTABLE)

    Have your kids ever asked you how Santa gets into your house on Christmas Eve?  We don't have a chimney, so it is always a question at our house.  So, when I saw a bunch of Magic Santa Keys on Pinterest, I knew we needed one.  Here is my version:

    Cute, right?  I wrote a short poem and designed a sweet little key tag.  I have made it into a free printable that you can find here.  Just print it out and attach a split ring and a key.  (Feel free to use this printable and share it with friends, but I wrote this poem, so the copyright belongs to me.  Please don't reprint it without permission, and please don't link directly to the download.  Thank you!)

    Leave your Magic Santa Key for Santa on Christmas Eve, and he will have no trouble getting in to fill those stockings.  :-)

    Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

    PS (One of my readers suggested giving the key to your child when they leave home -- to use as an ornament on his/her Christmas tree.  Brilliant!  Such clever people you all are!  :-) 

    **  If you liked this post, you might also be interested in my Magic Elf Key Free Printable.  You can find it here.

    You might also like the fantastic Christmas ideas here.


    This contest is now CLOSED.  The winner of the Avon FOOTWORKS products is Comment #4 (Dawn Oliver).

    No one warned me that becoming a mother would mean I would no longer have any time to properly look after myself.  Taking a shower has become somewhat of a luxury these days.  lol!

    So, when Tammie (from Pampered by Tammy) contacted me about reviewing (and giving away) some Avon foot products, I knew I had to say "yes".

    Lavender Comfort Foot Soak {my favorite}

    I was not disappointed.  I tried: FOOTWORKS Triple Smooth Foot Scrub, FOOTWORKS Lavender Comfort Foot Soak, FOOTWORKS Therapeutic Cracked Heel Relief Cream, FOOTWORKS Tropical Coconut Foot Lotion, and Avon's Nailwear Pro polish.

    I will spare you the before and after pictures, but take my word for it, my feet look and feel a hundred times better than they did a week ago.

    So... ready for some pampering???   

    Comment (below) letting me know which Avon product you would most like to try, and you will win ALL 5 of the products I tried.  Just leave your answer (and email address if you aren't logged in) before Saturday, November 13, 2011.

    You can visit Tammie's online store here.

    Good luck!

    Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

    Rules {I am a mom... I can't help it}:
    1. The winner of the contest will be chosen by the Random Number Generator.
    2. To enter the contest, you must leave me a comment telling me your favorite Avon product.  Contest is open to Canadian and US residents only.
    3. This contest is not being hosted or sanctioned in any way by facebook.
    4. Contest closes on November 13, 2011 at 11:59pm.
    5. Prize will be accepted as awarded.
    6. Winners will be contacted via email and will have 48 hours to respond.  After 48 hours the prize will be forfeited, and another winner will be selected.

    Please note:  I was provided with this product (free of charge) for reviewing purposes only.  No monetary compensation was received, and all opinions are 100% my own.

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