Elf Shopping List (free printable list included)

Who knew Elves made shopping lists?!? Yesterday, we woke up to find our Elf on the Shelf holding a pen next to a shopping list he made. Apparently he likes sugar because his list included: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and maple syrup.

To print off a copy of the this Elf on the Shelf shopping list: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 8x10 photo. (I printed mine at my local copy store for less than $1.)

Cute, right? And if you are looking for more Elf on the Shelf inspiration, you can find tons of easy and inexpensive Elf on the Shelf ideas here.

What are some of your favourite Elf on the Shelf antics? My boys love searching for our Elf each morning and seeing what silly thing he has done.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

The BEST Christmas Cookie Recipes

Baking (and eating!) Christmas cookies is one of my favourite holiday traditions. I love spending time in the kitchen with my boys this time of year, and the promise of cookies helps convince them to join me. Today I am sharing my favourite holiday cookie recipes. They are all unique and fun... and totally delicious!

My favourite Christmas cookie recipes (in no particular order) are:

1) Soft and chewy ginger cookies - These are my youngest son's favorite cookies, and he likes to help make them because he can roll the dough into balls and dip it in sugar. I love these cookies because they taste delicious and they make the whole house smell like Christmas. Click here for the recipe.

2) Red and Green M&M cookies - These cookies are festive, and super-simple to make. They are basically a soft and chewy chocolate chip cookie with M&Ms instead of chocolate chips. If you give these a try, they will become a holiday staple. You can find the cookie recipe here, and you can find instructions for making a "cookies for Santa" cookie mix jar here.

3) Make-ahead gingerbread cookies - These traditional cookies are soft and full of flavor, and they make your house smell like Christmas. Kids have fun rolling out the easy-to-work-with dough and cutting out all their favorite cookie shapes. Click here for the recipe.

4) Butter cut out cookies - Orange juice is the secret ingredient in these wonderful holiday cookies. They taste delicious, and the dough is easy to work with. Kids will love cutting out all their favourite cookie shapes. Click here for the recipe.

5) Shortbread cookies with buttercream icing - Nothing says "Christmas cookies" like a tray full of light and fluffy shortbread cookies topped with rich and delicious buttercream icing. You can find my recipe for classic shortbread cookies here.

6) Peanut butter reindeer cookies - With a few simple decorative touches, a plain soft and chewy peanut butter cookie can be transformed into a darling reindeer cookie. Find the recipe and the "how to" here.

7) Chocolate and peanut butter "kiss" cookies - If you love the combination of chocolate and peanut butter, these little "kiss" cookies are for you. They are fantastic for baking with kids too. Little ones will love unwrapping the kisses and pressing them into the tops of the warm cookies. Click here to find the recipe for these little gems.

8) Reindeer Poop Cookies - These are simple to make, kids find them hilarious, and they are delicious! I even designed a sign and tags you can download for free here.

All of these cookies are perfect for Christmas. Which one looks best to you? What's the #1 cookie on your Christmas baking list?

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

"Cookies for Santa" Jars... with free printable tags

Today I am sharing a "sweet" Christmas idea... jars of cookies for Santa. I have the best recipe for delicious cookies and adorable (and FREE) printable gift tags. These cookies jars make great gifts, and they are perfect for baking on Christmas Eve.

Isn't this mason jar filled with cookie ingredients adorable?!?

To make this "Cookies for Santa" jar:

1) Start with a clean 1L mason jar.

2) Layer the ingredients below (patting down each layer before adding the next one):

First layer: 1 3/4 cups flour, 3/4 tsp baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt
Second layer: 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
Third layer: 1/2 white sugar
Fourth layer: a 200g bag of red and green M&Ms

To make the process easy: use a wide-mouthed funnel to fill the jars, and make a tool to press down the layers. I attached a round piece of cardboard to the end of skewer and covered it all with tin foil.

3) Print off the cookie tag below, cut it to look like a tag, and attach it to the cookie jar with twine or ribbon. 

To download the tag: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print.

To bake the cookies: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Then, beat 3/4 cup softened butter, 1 large egg, and 3/4 teaspoon vanilla in a large mixing bowl until well blended. Add the jar of cookie mix, and stir with a wooden spoon until fully combined. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-12 minutes.

Isn't this an adorable Christmas DIY? It's a fantastic Christmas cookie recipe, and it's an easy, inexpensive and adorable homemade gift. If you give it a try, let me know what you think.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

Snowy Day SNOWMAN Felt Ornament

Every year I make felt ornaments for my family and close friends. I choose simple designs because I don't have a lot of time, and I like to make quite a few ornaments. This year, I made adorable "snowy day SNOWMEN" felt ornaments... and I absolutely love them!

To make a felt snowman ornament:

1) Cut two felt circles from red felt. (One is the front and one is the back.)

2) Cut a "hanger" from a piece of yarn. Tie a knot in the end.

3) Cut a snowman shape from white felt and an a nose from orange felt. Sew both pieces to the front piece.

4) Cut three pieces of "scarf" from green felt, and sew onto the snowman.

5) Use black fabric paint to draw a mouth and white fabric paint to draw snowflakes falling from the sky. (I actually used "glow in the dark" paint on mine for an added surprise.)

6) Sew the front and back pieces together.

Isn't the finished ornament sweet?

Sharing handmade felt ornaments with the people I love is an important Christmas tradition for me. Do you have a DIY gift that you like to share with family and friends during the holidays?

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

You can find more ideas for simple felt ornaments here.

9th Annual "Letter Writing to Santa" Kits Fundraiser (organized by my boys)

Every year, my boys raise money for charity as part of their Christmas celebrations. In fact, they have been hosting a "Letter Writing to Santa" Fundraiser annually since 2011. In the past, we have hosted a party, but the few years, we have sold "kits" instead of hosting an event. It's a great way for people to take part in our fundraiser at a time that is convenient for them. This year my three boys raised $315 for Cystic Fibrosis in honour of their 7 year old cousin who has the disease.

We posted the details on Facebook, and waited for people to place their orders.

Then, my boys got to work filling orders. Each kit contained supplies for writing a letter to Santa, magic reindeer food, supplies to make a Christmas ornament, a package of hot chocolate, and a homemade cookie. The boys worked hard putting all the elements of the kits together.

Look at these proud faces as they hold the $300 they raised. I couldn't be more proud at how kind my boys are, and I am super-grateful for the support they receive each year.

I love the idea of using the holidays as an excuse for charitable giving, and I love that my boys organize this fundraiser and do all the work required to assemble the kits. I hope my boys continue this tradition for many years to come!

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Gorgeous WINTER WREATH with Bottle Brush Tree Accents

I love hanging a homemade wreath on my front door. The best part about a DIY wreath is that you can create a unique piece of decor at a great price. Today, I am sharing my latest creation. It's a darling "super soft" DIY pom pom winter wreath (with bottle brush tree accents) that is surprisingly easy to make!

Isn't it gorgeous? And I swear, the picture doesn't do it justice. I totally wish you could touch it too. I made it with "velvet" yarn, and it is sooo soft. My kids touch it every time they walk by it. lol

I started with a styrofoam wreath form, and I wrapped it in yarn (securing it periodically with hot glue). Then I covered it in homemade pom poms.

To make simple pom poms. Wrap yarn around your fingers, slip the yarn off your fingers and tie it in the middle, cut the loops, and trim to shape. It's that easy! You can also check out the video here.


Then, you use the long ends of yarn (that you used to tie the middle of the pom pom) to secure the pom pom to the wreath. Just keep making and adding pom poms until you are happy with the look of the wreath.

I finished the wreath by using some hot glue to add three inexpensive bottle brush trees to the wreath. (I got my bottle brush trees at the dollar store, but you can get them at Walmart, Amazon, or a craft store.) Don't you love it?

This would be a great wreath for the holidays, but the "winter" feel would make it wonderful for after Christmas too. What do you think?

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

Dressing up your Doors for the Holidays

Disclosure: I received compensation from Schlage for including their lock in this post; however, I be assured that the opinions expressed in this blog are 100% my own.

What's better than a beautiful front door during the holidays? It's such a great way to greet guests and welcome them to your home this time of year. Today, I am sharing my holiday door... including a tutorial for a lovely, inexpensive DIY wreath and some info on my new front door hardware. And... as a bonus... I'm sharing a fun idea for interior doors too!

A few weeks ago, I received a beautiful new Schlage door handle and Schlage Encode™ Smart WiFi Deadbolt. This weekend, my husband installed them (in about 20 minutes), and we both LOVE how fantastic they look!

And, not only is our new handle beautiful, it is also functional. The smart, keyless entry is perfect for my busy family and my three boys (who are now sometimes coming home without a parent). 

No more worrying whether the front door is locked. With a Schlage smart lock, you can enjoy peace of mind and freedom from keys. And, with the Schlage Home App, I can even receive a notification once my boys get home from school. It's so easy!

Here's what our handle looks like on the inside of our door (left) and the outside of our door (right). (We went with the Schlage Encode in Camelot with Satin Nickel finish.)

Our new handle looked so beautiful that it inspired me to craft a simple "Jingle Bell" wreath for my front door. I started with a foam wreath form and wrapped it in red yarn (securing it with hot glue periodically). Then, I hung dollar store bells from pieces of twine and attached them to the wreath with hot glue. I finished with a piece of glittery gold ribbon tied in a bow. I love the simplicity of this wreath and the fun "jingle" sound it makes every time the front door opens.

With my new hardware, my Christmas garland, and my new wreath, my front door is looking fantastic... don't you think?

And don't forget about interior doors too. With a little bit of construction paper, painter's tape, cotton, and a red ball ornament, I created this adorable holiday vignette.

This Christmas, I highly recommend taking a little time to create a welcoming entrance to your home. Consider updating your hardware with a beautiful and functional handle from Schlage, and get a little creative with your DIY decor. Let me know if you have any questions. I'm so happy I decided to dress up my doors for the holidays, and I hope I inspired you to do it too!

(aka East Coast Mommy)

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