TOP 10 Winter Activities for the WHOLE Family to Enjoy

When the snow starts to fall and the temperatures start to drop, I tend to look ahead to spring and start counting down to summer. However, although I love the lazy days of summer, I remind myself that there is lots of winter fun to be had. Today, I'm sharing 10 winter activities for the whole family to enjoy.

1) Get Crafty - Some days require a fun indoor activity, and crafts are always fun. Younger kids can make paper snowflake garlands and spare sock snowmen. Older kids and adults can make a fun wreath for the front door. Or perhaps everyone could try a family paint night. Crafting is a fun way to get creative and relieve stress... and it's a lot of fun.

2) Get outside and play - Bundle up and get outside and enjoy all the traditional winter activities. Build a snowman, go skating, play hockey, hit the slopes, build a fort, or grab some sleds. Playing in the snow (during the day... and at night) is fun for all ages.

3) Set up a hot chocolate bar - There is nothing better in cold weather than a warm drink. Set up a dollar store hot chocolate stand, a simple hot chocolate bar, or serve the treat outside with a portable hot chocolate basket. There are so many ways to enjoy this delicious treat.

4) Have a new product tasting party - This is a simple way to spend an afternoon at home. Choose some fun new products at the grocery store and have a tasting party. Check out the "how to" here, or check out this quick little video.

5) Make snow ice cream - This is one of my family's favourite winter activities, and if you have never made snow ice cream, you need to put it on your "to do" list. It's easy, delicious, and fun. Find the full instructions here.

6) Build a fort in the living room or have an indoor picnic - Sometimes the only thing you need on a cold winter day is a blanket and a little imagination.

7) Have a movie night - Nothing says "cozy" more than cuddling up to watch a movie. Consider setting up a little concession stand to add to the fun. You could also choose a movie with a winter theme, like "Cool Runnings", "Jack Frost" or "Frozen".

8) Have an indoor snowball fight - If it's too cold and wet to be outside, try an indoor snowball fight. Make pom poms to throw, or try the fun cottonball throwers here.

9) Bake something - Baking with kids is both educational and fun... and there is nothing like the smell of freshly baked cookies on a cold winter day. You can find the recipe for our favourite chocolate chip cookies here.

10) Have a campfire - Fires aren't just for summer, so get outside and gather around the fire pit. I love the idea of cooking hot dogs over the fire for supper... and don't forget to make s'mores for dessert!

What's your family's favourite winter activity? I absolutely love all these ideas, don't you? 

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

If you are looking for more Valentine's Day inspiration, check out more than 30 Valentine's Day ideas here.

Top 10 Things to Buy at Dollarama NOW

I love a good deal, so I regularly frequent my local dollar store to buy things for my home. Recently, I found some fantastic items at Dollarama, and I thought I share my top ten with you today. Here they are... in no particular order.

1) Cleaning products - I love buying cleaning products at the dollar store, and this week I found these wipes at a great price. Each container contains 75 wipes... and I got all four containers for only $4. Great, right?!?

2) Toys - My kids are getting a little old for dollar store toys, but they still love these fun snow items I found. The snow ball maker and snow brick makers are perfect for winter. I love the brick makers for building forts. So much fun!

3) Storage bins - Storage bins are great for organizing, but they can be really pricey. However, the dollar store has tons of fantastic options. I like these medium-sized bins with lids. They hold lots of items, they fit on a book shelf, and they stack really well.

4) Wooden decor items - The dollar store has tons of wooden decor items that can be used "as is" or can be used to DIY something even better. These two wooden items caught my eye this week, and I can't wait to turn them into something great!

5) Glass containers - Dollar store glass containers and jars are perfect for a bunch of uses. I love this pretty jar with a great seal. I'm going to use it for storing my homemade chocolate mix. I also love gettting mason jars at the dollar store for storing my pantry pancake mix. The possibilities are endless!

6) Hooks - These brand name hooks are inexpensive and have a bunch of uses. They can stick to walls or to furniture, and they are great for organizing small spaces. 

7) Picture frames - Dollar store picture frames are awesome. They are great for displaying photos, but they are fun to use for DIYing too. For example, I have used recently used dollar store frames to create a decorative tray and a festive wreath. They have tons of options, but I am loving this square one I purchased yesterday.

8) Wreath forms - Craft supplies can be costly, but the dollar stores has a variety of inexpensive options right now. I'm currently loving these wire frames -- especially the 18" one. I just used one to make a "winter" wreath for my front door, and it turned out fantastic! You can check it out here.

9) Organizers - It's always hard to organize the odds and ends that end up sitting on counters or being crammed into drawers, but the dollar store has many inexpensive items that can help. Look in the "bin" section, but also check out the hardware and craft supply sections. I recently purchased this little craft organizer to organize my earrings, and it's perfect. Think about the items you need to organize, and then check out the dollar store for a system that will work for you.

10) Craft supplies - I love seasonal crafting, and the dollar store always has a bunch of wonderful supplies at fantastic prices. But remember -- don't limit yourself to the "craft supply" aisle. The wedding section, hardware section, and candy aisle have fun options too. Check out some of my favourite Valentine's Day crafting supplies below. I'll be sharing the fun projects I use them for very soon!

Want a closer peek at my favourite Dollarama finds? Check out this short video.

Are you a dollar store fan? Have you found anything great lately? Share your Dollarama finds in the comments. I'm always looking for new inspiration.

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

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FIVE High End DIYs for Winter... that you can make for a couple of dollars

My house always feels bare and sad after all the Christmas decorations have been put away. That's why I love making a few simple winter decor items to display in my home this time of year. Today, I am sharing 5 budget friendly winter DIYs that are easy, inexpensive, and fun!

1) EASY Winter Wreath made using an 18" dollar store wire wreath frame - I love this wreath because it is soooo easy to make. You literally wrap yarn around a dollar store wire wreath frame, and add a few embellishments to the centre of the wreath. It's that easy! You can find the full step by step instructions here.

2) Cardboard Tri-fold Hot Chocolate Stand - This hot chocolate stand is made from a cheap cardboard tri-fold from the dollar store. It's covered with dollar store contact paper, and embellished with other dollar store items. It's inexpensive, and a lot of fun! Find all the instructions here.

3) Winter Tiered Tray - Tiered trays are perfect for displaying seasonal decor, and it's simple to put one together for winter. I used a few of my neutral coloured Christmas decorations, some dollar store trinkets, a few pine cones and wooden beads. You just need to keep the colour scheme neutral and natural. Check out my tiered tray here.

4) Re-purposed Christmas Decor - I love this simple wreath I made using a neutral coloured Christmas wreath that was marked down after the holidays -- 70% off. I found a silver and white gnome at the dollar store, and I attached it to the centre of the wreath with some hot glue. That's it! It doesn't get much easier than this project. 

You can check out a video about the first four projects here:

5) Pom pom Winter Wreath - I made this wreath several years ago, and it's still one of my favourite DIYs. If you can wrap yarn around your hand, you can make the pom poms for this wreath. Then, the pom poms can be attached to an inexpensive styroform wreath form. Find the full step by step instructions here.

What do you think of these five DIY projects?  Which one is your favourite?

My boys and I are loving the hot chocolate stand right now, but I honestly love all these budget-friendly winter DIYs.

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

GENIUS Hot Chocolate Stand... made using a dollar store cardboard tri-fold

I love a good dollar store HACK, and this homemade hot chocolate stand is the perfect DIY for this time of year. Winter is the best time for hot chocolate, and this hot chocolate stand (made of cheap dollar store supplies) is easy to make, inexpensive, and super-cute. Check out the step by step instructions below.

I started with a cheap cardboard tri-fold from the dollar store, and I covered it with patterned contact paper.

Then, I cut square "windows"  in each of the side panels and taped parchment paper to the backs.

I used black electrical tape to add trim and details to the windows.

After the tri-fold was completed, I made a sign for the top. I took a scrap piece of dollar store foam core, and I covered it with contact paper. 

I trimmed the sign with black electrical tape, and added words I cut out with my Cricut. (If you don't have a cricut, you could you dollar store stickers.)

Finally, to attach the sign to the tri-fold, I cut slits in the bottom of the sign, and slid it into place.

Did it turn out cute? I think it is absolutely adorable, and I love that it only cost a few dollars.

Do you think you'll make a hot chocolate stand for your home this winter? It's a wonderful, fun backdrop for mugs and hot chocolate ingredients.

Gina Bell (aka East Coast Mommy)

You might also be interested in these fun ideas for hot chocolate bars.

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