Leprechaun Paper Doll {free template}

I am so excited about today's post.  I designed an adorable leprechaun paper doll, and I am sharing it with you for free! It's an adorable craft, and it's perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

To make your own leprechaun paper doll (with changeable shirts):

1) Download the printable template here, and print it onto white card stock.

2) Cut out all the pieces (being careful not to cut off the "tabs" on the shirts).

3) Decorate the leprechaun and shirts.

3) Tape a popsicle to the back if you want your leprechaun to be a puppet.

That's it!  Isn't this leprechaun paper doll puppet adorable? The fact that you can change the shirts really ups the "cute factor", don't you think?  Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (You can find 10 more EASY and INEXPENSIVE St. Patrick's Day ideas here.)

Homemade "Instant" Oatmeal

My youngest son likes oatmeal, but I don't like giving him the "just add water" packages, so recently, I have started making this homemade "instant" oatmeal in the microwave.  It literally only takes a couple minutes to make.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup quick oats
3/4 cup 1% milk
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt (optional)
1/2 tsp cinnamon


1) Mix oats and milk in a bowl, and microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
2) Remove from microwave, add brown sugar and cinnamon, and stir.

That's it!  I cool mine down by adding a little milk, and sometimes I sprinkle a little more brown sugar  or a drizzle of real maple syrup on top, but these are both optional.  

This homemade oatmeal is perfect for busy mornings, and it is a favorite of my 5 year old. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Indoor Snowball Fight

My boys are pretty active, so when the weather keeps us indoors for long periods of time, we need to get creative.  Recently, when the temperature dropped dramatically, we entertained ourselves with an indoor snowball fight.

My boys and I had a fantastic indoor snowball fight with homemade shooters and cotton balls, and you can find all the fun details at CBC Parents here.

How do you keep your little ones entertained when you are stuck indoors?


Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Hockey Party Games

Every birthday party needs fun games for the kids to play, so today I am sharing the fantastic DIY hockey party games our party guests played at my son's 9th birthday.

The best part about these games is that they are easy, inexpensive, and really fun.  They are guaranteed to add a special touch to any hockey themed party.

My son really wanted to play floor hockey with his friends, so I used a cardboard tri-fold make an easy and inexpensive scoreboard.  I even used some chalkboard stickers so that they could change the periods and scores with chalk.  The kids had a lot of fun with it.

I also made a "prize punch" using foam core and plastic cups from the dollar store.  The kids were able to choose a cup containing hockey cards, and then they were able to trade them with each other.  You can find the full tutorial for the DIY prize punch here.

Finally, I used a piece of bristol board to make a hockey version of "pin the tail on the donkey".  Our game was called "pin the puck on the ice".  I drew a rink on a piece of bristol board and added a team sticker to centre ice.  Then, I made some black circle "pucks" from a piece of construction paper. 

I believe that DIY elements make a party special, and these DIY hockey party games are easy and inexpensive to put together.  Of course, these games are great for a child's birthday, but they would also be fun at a year end team party, don't you think?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Last Minute Teacher Valentines {with free printable tags}

My boys and I love their teachers, so this year we made them special Valentines.  I designed some simple tags, and used tape to attach them to the top of boxes of chocolates.  Aren't these simple teacher Valentines adorable?

To download one of the free tags: right click on one of the tags (below), save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

What teacher wouldn't like to receive one of these sweet Valentines?  I love how easy and inexpensive they are, don't you?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Simple DIY Hockey Cakes

I am not a professional cake decorator, but I love making simple cakes for my boys' birthdays.  Today, I am sharing the secrets behind the two easy hockey cakes I made for my oldest son's 9th birthday.

I made both of these cakes with cake mixes in 9X13 pans.  I greased the pans well to make sure they came out in one piece.  Also, I did a crumb coats, refrigerated the cakes, and then did final layers of icing.

For the first cake, I did a full ice surface, and I used the figures off my boys' tabletop hockey table (after washing them thoroughly, of course).

For the second cake, I did a partial ice surface, and I used some cake toppers I purchased from the bakery department at my local supermarket.

I think my boys' appreciate the time I spend making their cakes special, and I enjoy it too.  Do you prefer homemade or professional cakes for your children's cakes?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Prize Punch

When it comes to children's parties, the little "DIY" details are what make the event special. For my son's 9th birthday, I made this simple (and totally fun) DIY prize punch.  It was a big hit with the party guests. It is easy to make, and it uses supplies that you can buy inexpensively at the dollar store. 

To make your own DIY prize punch, you'll need:  

  • a piece of foam core 
  • tissue paper 
  • plastic glasses
  • tissue paper
  • scissors
  • a glue gun


1) Fill each cup with a little prize.  (My son's party had a hockey theme, so our cups contained hockey cards.) Any prize will work as long as it fits in the cups.

2) Cover each cup with two squares of tissue paper, and secure in place with hot glue. (I glued one on, secured it in place, and then glued on the second one.)

3) Use hot glue to secure the cups to the foam core.

That's it!  You can use a piece of ribbon to hang the board, or you can lean it against a wall.

You can use different colour cups and tissue paper to match the colours scheme of your party too.

I absolutely LOVE this idea, don't you?

With a small amount of effort, you will have a board full of prizes that can be claimed by choosing a cup and "poking" through the tissue paper.

Here's a fun carnival game prize punch I made for a carnival themed birthday party.

It would be fun for a Christmas countdown too.

Aren't these inexpensive DIY prize punches adorable?  I love that the prizes and colours can be customized to any party theme.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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PS - If you are looking for some easy carnival games, you might want to check out this fantastic post (with tons of DIY carnival games made from recycled materials and dollar store supplies): 

10 Candy Free Valentine Ideas

My boys love Valentine's Day, and they enjoy giving unique valentines to their friends. However, due to the nutrition policy at my boys' school, I prefer to have them share cute, candy-free Valentine's Day treats with their classmates.  Today, I am sharing 10 candy free valentine ideas that kids will love! 

Click on the links for all the DIY details and free printables.

1) Teddy Bear Valentine - Everyone loves a tiny teddy, and this one I found at the dollar store is totally adorable and makes a sweet little valentine.  You can download the adorable free printable tags here.

2) Bubbles Valentine - Bubbles are inexpensive and fun... and perfect for sharing with friends.  You can download the adorable free printable tags here.

3) Super Hero Mask Valentine - Every child likes to play dress up, and that is why this easy and inexpensive valentine is such a "super" idea.  You can download the free mask template and free printable tags here.

4) Airplane Valentine - This valentine is guaranteed to be a "soaring" success. You can download the free printable tags here.

5) Crayon Valentine - These simple valentines made from recycled crayons are sure to "brighten up" a child's day.  You can download the step-by-step tutorial for making crayon valentines here.

6) Bookmark Valentine - This bookmark is really cute, and it will be useful long after other valentines end up in the recycling bin.  You can find the full step-by-step tutorial for making this book Valentine here.

7) Glow Stick Valentine - Glow sticks are always a hit... especially when they are given out as part of these adorable character valentines.  We have done two versions of glow stick Valentines.  You can find the details on the Star Wars glow stick valentine here, and you can find the info on the Harry Potter glow stick Valentine here.

8) Punny Valentine - Kids love jokes and puns, and these "punny" photo valentines will not disappoint.  You can find all the details you need to make these 3 "punny" Valentines here.

9) Cookie Cutter Valentine - Cookie cutters make fantastic valentines... especially if you pair them with a fun and easy play dough recipe. You can find my favourite no-cook play dough recipe here.

10) Book Valentine - Books are one of my favorite gifts to give and receive, so I love the idea of books as valentines.  You can download the free printable tags here.

I think all of these Valentine's are adorable candy free options, don't you?  Which one is your favourite?  I don't think I could pick just one because I love them all!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Bonus: This "I hope you have a BALL" Valentine is simple and cute... and you can find FREE printable tags here.

Super Hero Valentine {with free printable template and tags}

Who doesn't love pretending to be a Super Hero?  So, for Valentine's Day, my oldest son made these wearable Super Hero Masks for all his classmates.  Don't you just love this Super Hero Valentine?

To download the tags I designed, right-click on one of the pictures below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

You can download the template (and full tutorial) for the foam Super Hero mask here.

My 9 year old is "super" excited to share this unique Valentine with his friends.  Are you making homemade Valentine's this year, or are you going with a store bought version?

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

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