Halloween 2013

Just a quick post to say, "Happy Halloween!"  And, of course, I couldn't resist sharing a picture of my adorable boys in their Halloween costumes.

Last night, we carved our pumpkins, and planted our magic pumpkin seeds.  Both activities were a success!

Then, this morning, my boys headed to school in their Halloween shirts. 

And after hockey practice, we headed out into the neighbourhood to trick-or treat.  Isn't Halloween a fun holiday for little ones?  I hope you all had a very Happy Halloween with your little pumpkins!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Ways to Control the Halloween Candy

I love Halloween, but I do not love the insane amount of chocolate, chips and candy that comes into my house.  So, today I thought I would share 5 ideas for controlling the candy.

1)  The Book Fairy - In our house, we have a system we have been using for years. First, as soon as my boys get home, they empty their three bags of loot into one big pile, and each boy is given a large Ziploc bag. Then, they take turns picking their favorites from the pile and putting them in their bags. They have a lot of fun trying to choose their candy wisely and trading with each other. The “candy draft” is one of our favorite Halloween traditions.

After all the boys have filled their bags, the rest of the candy is taken away. The next evening, we put the bag beside the front door for the Book Fairy. While the boys are sleeping, the Book Fairy takes the bag of candy and leaves each boy a new book. The Book Fairy has also been known to leave new costumes for our dress up box. I think she must get good deals on costumes when they are marked down by 75% after Halloween. (Book Fairies love bargains!)

2)  Bake with it - Add Smarties or chopped up chocolate bars to your favorite chocolate chip cookiebanana bread, or brownie recipe to create an extra special treat.

3)  Share it - Donate it to a children’s hospital or food bank, or bring it to work.

4)  Ration it - Putting it away and taking it out a little at a time is also an excellent option. If you have a family birthday coming up, the candy can be used for a party Pinata or loot bags. Halloween candy is also great for family movie nights, or making an edible Christmas advent countdown.

5)  Eat it - I confess... sometimes my husband and I snack on the kids candy after they have gone to bed. (Shhh… don’t tell my boys!)

Halloween is an exciting time for little ones, and it can still be fun without sending everyone into a sugar-induced coma.  What's your favorite way to deal with the mountain of Halloween candy?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Teacher Treat for Halloween

When you are putting together Halloween treats for your child's class, don't forget to include a special treat for the teacher.  Here's a "quick treat" you can put together in a few minutes.

Cute, right?

1) Start with a king size chocolate bar.
2) Wrap the bar in gauze or strips of cheese cloth... securing with tape or glue as you wrap it.
3) Use glue to attach two googly eyes.
4) Add a cute tag.

Putting some treats in an inexpensive Halloween wine glass is easy and fun too!

I'm sure your favorite teacher would love a little chocolate to help get through the afternoon. It's not a lot of effort, so why not take a few minutes to show a hard-working teacher that you appreciate all they do for your little one? Happy Halloween!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

5 Ways to Encourage Imaginative Play

Recently, Fisher Price sent me 5 of their new Little People® characters, and it got me thinking about how important it is for kids to use their imaginations when they play.  In an age of technology, I worry that my boys aren't going to benefit from play as much as my generation did.  So, today I am sharing 5 ways to encourage imaginative play:

1) Get crafting - Always have an array of craft supplies available.  Kids love to create, and crafting is a great way for little ones to express themselves.

2) Have a dress up box - Dressing up is a great way for kids to play and use their imaginations.  You'll be amazed by the adventures they go on when they put on a hat or costume.

3) Limit screen time - TVs and computers are fine in moderation, but young kids need lots of time to play, read, and use their imaginations.

4) Get outside - Remember when we were kids, and we spent a lot of time (outside) coming up with ways to amuse ourselves?  Little ones need to get outside, run around, build forts, and dig in the dirt. 

5) Provide the right toys - Toys that offer children the ability to use their imaginations and make up their own stories are fantastic.  I love our Little People®, toy kitchen, cash register, farm stuff, and cars.

All three of my boys played with the Fisher Price Little People®.  They are a great tool for imaginative play, and there are now FIVE new characters with their own characteristics (Eddie, Mia, Sofie, Tessa, and Koby) that you can read about here.  My boys love "Eddy" because he is an active boy (with lots of energy) who likes to go-go-go.  He also likes sports, running, jumping, and anything with a ball.  My boys are non-stop, and they love sports.  I think if I had a fourth son, his name would have to be Eddy.  :-)

You might also be interested to know that in October and November, Treehouse will hold the Little People, Big Discoveries contest.  Contestants will be able to play a hide and seek game to find new characters on playsets, watch the videos and be entered to win 1 of 5 $265 Little People Prize packs.  You can find all the details here.

There is nothing I love more than seeing my boys using their imaginations, making up stories, and pretending.  How do you encourage imaginative play in your house?

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

“Disclosure: I am part of the Fisher-Price Blogger Campaign with Mom Central Canada and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this group; however, the opinions on this blog are 100% my own.”

Simple Halloween Cupcakes

When it comes to decorating cupcakes with my boys, I like to keep things simple.  I set everything out, I give them some options, and then I let them get to work.  Here is what they came up with yesterday:

For their creations, they used:  cupcakes, icing, Oreo cookie crumbs, candy corn, tombstone cookies, and gummy fingers.  

This was my favorite -- a simple tombstone cupcake.

To make tombstone cupcakes, we started by using icing to write "RIP" on some rectangle-shaped cookies.  Then, we frosted cupcakes, dipped them in Oreo cookie crumbs (dirt), and inserted tombstone cookies.  Cute, right?

My boys love decorating Halloween cupcakes.  Do you have a favorite Halloween treat that you make each year with your little ones?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

7 Fantastic DIY Halloween Decor Ideas

When it comes to decorating, Halloween is a really great holiday.  I like to keep my decorations easy, inexpensive and fun... nothing too scary.  Here is a collection of 7 fantastic DIY Halloween decorating ideas that are guaranteed to make your home SPOOKTACULAR!

1) Pool noodle wreath - This yarn-wrapped pool noodle wreath (with dollar store embellishments) is perfect to hang on your front door for Halloween.  All your trick-or-treaters will be impressed with your style and creativity.  You can find the full tutorial for this dollar store wreath here.

2) Candy corn vases - Add a little candy corn to a vase you already have.  There isn't an easier way to create  fun and festive Halloween decor. 

3) Toilet Paper Holder - This simple Halloween decor project transforms dollar store gloves into a frightfully funny toilet paper holder.  You can find the tutorial for this dollar store glove toilet paper holder here.

4) Water jug pumpkin - Recycle old water jugs into adorable glowing jack-o-lanterns with the help of a marker and some orange glow sticks.  You can find the instructions for making this water jug pumpkin here.

5) Framed spider - Take an 8X10 dollar store frame, add some scrapbook paper and mod podge, and glue on a glittery purple spider.  Easy peasy!  You can find the full step by step tutorial here.

6) Mod Podge signs - Create festive Halloween signs out of dollar store wooden plaques and Mod Podge.  Use your imagination to come up with something unique and fabulous.  You can find the directions for my signs here and here.

7) Spooky pictures and fun frames - Transform your little ones' pictures using Picmonkey.com, and they are sure to be amazed by your creativity.  Then, frame the pictures in cheap frames embellished with glittery dollar store spiders.  You can find the full instructions here

Bonus: Pool noodle witch legs -With a few supplies from the dollar store, you can make this adorable and whimsical piece of Halloween decor.  You can find the full instructions here.

I love to decorate with dollar store finds mixed with DIY projects, don't you?

What is your favorite Halloween decor color combination?  As you can tell, I have a weakness for all things glittery and purple.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

10 Halloween Traditions for Kids

Holiday traditions are such an important part of childhood.  The things you do every year as a child are often the things you remember as an adult.  So, today I am sharing 10 of my family's favorite Halloween traditions.

1) Pumpkin Patch - Our annual trip to the pumpkin patch is something my boys really enjoy.  It is always lots of fun to watch the boys pick out the perfect pumpkins... and it's always a great photo op.  You can read about our pumpkin patch adventures here.

2) Booing - "Booing" involves leaving secret treats for the neighbours.  It is a fun tradition that my boys love!  You can download the free signs and instructions here.

3) Carving pumpkins and planting magic pumpkin seeds - Carving pumpkins is always a fun Halloween activity, and planting the "magic" seeds is something my boys have been doing for a couple of years.  You can read all about the magic here.

4) Halloween crafts - My boys love making seasonal crafts, and Halloween is no exception.  You can find tutorials for:  my Countdown to Halloween here and my ghost puppet here.

5) Halloween treats - My boys love to bake... and every year they love making yummy Halloween treats.  You can find 5 ideas for easy Halloween treats here.

6) Decorating for Halloween - Every year, the boys and I dig out our Halloween decorations and make our house spooktacular!  I let the boys pick out a few new things from the dollar store and they make a couple of things too.  If you are looking for a simple decoration for the kids to make, you can find the tutorial for this googly eye vase here.

7) Treats for classmates - Every year, my boys like to bring a special treat to school to share with their friends.  You can find a collection of 10 of our favorite Halloween class treats here.

8) Special lunches - I always pack a special school lunch on Halloween.  I add some cheesecloth and googly eye treats and include fun lunch box notes.  You can download some Halloween joke lunchbox notes here.

These pretzel brooms are cute too!

9) Book fairy - After trick-or-treating, the boys have a "candy draft", and then leave the remaining treats for the "book fairy".  You can read all about it here.

10) Pumpkin pizza for supper - The boys are always in a hurry to get in their costumes and head out the door, so a quick Halloween supper is a must.  This pumpkin pizza is easy... and lots of fun!

These are our 10 favorite Halloween Traditions.  I'd love to hear how you celebrate with your little ones.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

10 Halloween Class Party Treats

My boys love bringing treats for their classmates.  Sometimes the treats are edible, and sometimes they aren't, but they are always easy, inexpensive and fun.  Here are 10 of our favorite Halloween Class Party Treats.

1)  Mummy wrapped treats - Use cheese cloth and googly eyes to transform boring treats into something spooky and special.

2)  Graham cracker bandaids - Cut up some graham crackers, add some white frosting for gauze, and finished with a smear of red gel icing blood. Simple, fun... and a little gross!

3)  Treat bags with special tags - Make traditional treat bags extra special by adding a customized tag.  Click here to find out how I transformed pictures of my boys to make these tags.

4)  Googly eye glasses - These googly eye glasses make great alternatives to candy.  You can find the full "how to" and a free downloadable bag topper here.

5)  Cookies with candy corn or candy eyeballs - For a simple treat, make your favorite cookie recipe, and add a piece of candy corn to the top.  It doesn't get any easier than this! You can find the recipe for our favorite Halloween cookie here.

6)  Photos with treats - For another candy free treat, try pairing pictures with little toys or pencils.  You can find the full tutorial here.

7)  Ghost Pops - Ghosts are always fun for Halloween, and we have two favorite ghost treats.  To learn how to make our Oreo Ghost Pops, click here.  To make the sucker ghosts: cover a sucker with a piece of tissue paper, secure with an elastic, and add a face with googly eyes and a marker.

8)  Cupcakes with rings - To make these simple cupcakes, just bake mini cupcakes and insert a plastic ring (after washing, of course).

9)  Wormy cupcakes - These are an annual favorite around here.  Bake cupcakes, frost with chocolate icing, dip in dirt (Oreo cookie crumbs), and insert some gummy worms.

10) Cookie pops - To make super-easy cookie pops, just add some sticks to some "ready to bake" cookies.  Isn't everything more fun on a stick?

Bonus.... How about a few "eyeball" treats?  You can find the full instructions for this eyeball cake here and the Halloween candy bark here.

What is your favorite class party treat?  Did it make my list?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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PS... Don't forget the teacher.  Click HERE for all the cute DIY details of this cute teacher treat!

AND... you can find OVER 50 more Halloween ideas here. I LOVE the mummy door and the pumpkin prize punch!

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