Friday, October 24, 2014

Kids Halloween: Monster Paper Bags

When I am searching for crafts for class parties, I want them to have a purpose. The hand print bats from a couple days ago help the kids practice their scissor skills. Today's craft is less about practicing a certain skill and more about being practical. The kids need a place to take home their goodies from the party, and a boring paper bag is just that, boring.

You will need:

  • paper bags
  • stickers, pom poms, foam, googly eyes
  • glue
  • scissors
  • crayons

 I try to have as many different things for the kids to glue on as possible, so they can really make it their own. The thing I have noticed that kids love the most is the googly eyes, so I usually plan on at least a few sets per kid. If you are worried about having enough, make sure you have crayons and markers on hand so that they can decorate, even without lots of extra items.
The wonderful thing about this simple craft is that you can stretch or shrink the time it takes to fit your timetable. Do you need it to take up more time? Tell them to color the whole bag? Running short on time? Glue the eyes on and call it good. These little goody bags are perfect for taking home those decorated sugar cookies with gobs of frosting, or whatever else you have going on at your party. 

How about you? Do you help with the parties at your child's school?
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Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Kids Halloween: Witch Hat Ring Toss

What Kindergarten class party would be complete without games? For a class party, I look for games that are easy to set up and take down and don't require a full time adult, just someone who can keep an eye on the game while helping with a craft. In my experience, you usually only end up with a few adults for a whole classroom of children, so games that the kids can manage are a must. 

You will need: 
  • witch hats
  • glow bracelets, with bracelet connectors

I found these cute little hat decorations at the dollar store, but you could easily use witch hats stuffed with newspaper. Glow sticks make the perfect tossing rings. For these smaller hats, we used the little plastic connectors to create one larger ring with two bracelets. If you used full sized hats, you would probably need to use three.  
We tested this game out at a party my daughter had this week and it was a smash hit. The kids loved tossing the rings onto witches hats. I think it would have kept them busy for a long time if I had let them keep playing. 
I did buy a bag of glow in the dark bouncy balls for prizes for playing the game. They were really reasonably priced and I thought it was fun to get a little prize for making the ring onto the hats. 

What games are you playing at your classroom Halloween party this year?
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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Kids Halloween: Handprint Bats

Right now, I am gearing up for the Kindergarten Halloween Party for my daughter's class. I am in charge of the crafts and the games and I have been working to make them fun projects for each of the kids, that practice the skills they have been working on.

 When I am looking for crafts for the kids to do, I look for something that will take a little bit of time without being overwhelming. I also look for projects that don't need adult help for every step. There are too many kids in a Kindergarten class to have them need help every step of the way. 

These Handprint Bats are one of my favorite simple Halloween crafts for kids. It takes up enough of the time at the party to be worth the effort of making them and the kids love them because they are personalized with their hands. 

You will need:
  • black construction paper
  • google eyes
  • white crayons
  • scissors
  • glue

 Trace both of the kids hands on black construction paper with a white crayon. You can even have the kids trace their own hands or trace each other's hands.
 Have the kids cut out their own handprints. This allows adults to help other kids and helps the kids practice their scissors skills. Who says a party can't be a little educational?
 Cut black circles that are about the size of a large bowl. I like to trace these circles before hand and then just let the kids cut out their own.
Have the kids glue the hands onto the back of the bat, and the eyes on the front. Then let them personalize it with a white crayon.
The perfect craft to practice scissor skills and celebrate Halloween! What about you? Are you helping with your child's Halloween party this year? 
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Monday, October 20, 2014

Princess Peach Mario Kart Costume

The costume in this post came from BuyCostumes
My daughter is always really specific with her costume choices. When she dresses up from movies, she dresses like the character from this specific scene and the accessories have to be just right. When she asked for a Princess Peach dress, I wasn't too surprised when she started asking for a Mario Kart car right after. She didn't just want to be Peach, she wanted to be Mario Kart Peach. Luckily it was an easy costume to pull together. 

You will need:
  • Cardboard Box
  • Knife or Scissors
  • Pink, Yellow and White Construction Paper
  • Marker 
  • Peach Costume 

 Cut the bottom flaps and front top flap off your car. This is will give your child a place for their legs to go. I leave the top flaps besides the front flap to give her a place to hold on to and to give the box some more stability. Cover the box in the construction paper color of your choice. In this case, pink for Peach. Add construction paper headlights and the M for Mario Kart and you have a little pink car.
 She has LOVED this costume. She drives the Mario Kart car around the kitchen even when she isn't in costume and has personalized it with some stickers.
 The Peach Costume is absolutely perfect. It really looks like Peach's dress and it even has a petticoat skirt to give the dress more fullness. We ordered a size bigger than we needed, to have room to grow into, but also because my daughter wanted the dress to come all the way to the floor instead of midcalf like it does in pictures. The crown came attached to a clear headband, so she could wear it in her hair like Peach does without having to secure it with an ugly chin strap or bobby pins. It has been hard to get her to take the dress off, she loves it so much.
What are your kids dressing up like this year? 
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Easy DIY Dollar Store Jumbo Googly Eyes

Few things are more fun than googly eyes. Go ahead, name three craft supplies that can make you smile more than googly eyes. ... Wait, that's probably not fair. Because ANY new craft supplies are worth smiling over. But anyway, googly eyes are just plain fun and if I've learned anything from my years of life, it's how to make a fun thing even funner: make it JUMBO!

Really, my mantel has never had so much fun. The giant googly eyes might just have to stay up year-round because I'm not sure I can ever "blind" my awesome bookcase mantel and take away all the personality that these cute eyes give him. (Yes, it's a him. Don't ask how I know.) And just think how adorable these would be on a Christmas tree or even just stuck on a door or wall or a TV or.... you get the idea.

You can buy a set of giant googly eyes for around $10 a pair. Or, you could take that same $10 and make approximately 20 pairs. Or you can spend $1 and some spare craft supplies and make 2-4 pairs. The math is all the same -- DIY jumbo googly eyes are super cheap, super easy. These will take you less than 10 minutes. Probably waaay less if you can do it when you don't have little "helpers" hovering. And I have two methods for you, depending on what supplies you can wrangle at your local dollar store.

How to Make Giant Googly Eyes

  • clear plastic or white paper/plastic plates (mine are from Dollar Tree - the clear ones are dessert plates in a pack of 8 and the white ones are larger plates in a pack of 8)
  • black cardstock or craft foam
  • white cardstock (for option 1)
  • a clear plastic sheet protector (for option 2)
  • glue stick and/or hot glue gun
  • magnets or sticky tack to hang the eyes with

Jumbo Googly Eyes, Option 1:

  1. Trace the inside circle of your clear plastic plate (or something else that is the same size, much easier to trace) on the white cardstock. 
  2. Cut out the circle and glue it on the inside of the plate. 
  3. Trace and cut out a smaller circle from the black cardstock or foam and place it in the eye. 
  4. Use a thin line of hot glue around the outside rim of the plate and glue another clear plastic plate on top. Work quickly so the glue doesn't cool before you get the second plate on, and try to keep the hot glue strings out of the inside of the eye!
  5. Repeat for the second eye. 
  6. Hang! I hung the smaller eyes on my mantel using the blue sticky tack poster hanging adhesive. 

Jumbo Googly Eyes, Option 2

  1. Grab a white plastic/paper plate, black cardstock/foam, and a clear sheet protector. 
  2. Trace the inner rim of the plate onto the sheet protector and cut it out. (I held the sheet protector on top and traced the circle using a dry erase marker.)
  3. Cut out a smaller black circle and place it inside the plate. 
  4. Use hot glue to stick the clear circle, cut from the sheet protector, to the upper inside rim of the plate. The best method for me seemed to be to affix it at one point, and then pull the plastic taut and glue it directly across from that, and then repeat for the other sides. 

To hang the larger plastic plate eyes on my entry door, I glued a thin sheet magnet (rescued from the phone book before it was tossed in the recycling) to the back of the plate. The dollar store plastic plates are very thin, so I doubled up the plates and also glued a square of white cardstock to the back of the plate before I glued the magnet on, to hide the outline of the magnet and the printing on the magnet. 

If you're wondering, our door mummy was made using strips of dollar store plastic tablecloth. I loved that the thick strips were cheap and easy to put up, but I needed to use a stronger adhesive than just one piece of tape on each end, because most of our "bandages" have already fallen down with regular use of the door for a couple of days. But the eyes are staying up great!

And because I am kinda proud of my mantel (which doesn't normally get decorated unless I'm hosting a party!), a couple of pictures...

My Halloween village, watched over by a cheesecloth ghost, who is miraculous still standing after two years of being smashed flat for off-season storage. These are just pieces from the Dollar Tree Christmas village that I spray painted black (like Debra's here), but they have a whole Halloween village set now that is super cute and has skeletons and gargoyles and whatnot. I use candlesticks and upside down shot glasses (my husband had a collection as a kid, not sure why!) to add some height variance. 
DIY Halloween Village for Mantel

And then in terms of super-easy Halloween mantel decorations, this takes the cake. The taller jar is an old pickle jar that my mother saved for years and finally passed on to me to find a use for it. I mostly stuff it full of random colorful things to decorate -- in this case, Halloween candy! Which did not last long before it was all eaten :)
Super Easy Halloween Mantel Decorations

The other jar is just an old pickle jar that I put a bunch of orange and black little items in -- some of my kids' toys, a couple of markers, some washi tape, and yes, that is a silicone baking cup (aka a snack cup, at my house) in there as well. Such an easy way to add holiday colors!

Happy Halloween! Can't wait to see what you'll give the googly-eyed treatment now that it's so darn CHEAP! :) And while you're at the dollar store, check out these other easy Halloween projects and mantel decor you could grab the supplies for -- quick and inexpensive holiday decor is the best!

Lu (or Lorene if you prefer) is the mom of 3 kids and wife of a singing and dancing elementary teacher. She happily shows up here at Housewife Eclectic a few times a month, when the creative bug strikes in between projects at her awesome job as a virtual assistant. You can check out her other projects here on Housewife Eclectic, or her former blogger life over at just Lu.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Sweet Chili Pita Pizza

I have an addiction. It's not drugs, gambling or chocolate. It's Dr. Pepper. But, to be fair, that's pretty much a standard addiction.

Truthfully though, I am addicted to sweet chili sauce. I love the stuff. I'll put it on pretty much anything. And for good reason too: it's delicious. It's the perfect blend of sweet and spicy and takes regular food to the next level.

One of the best things about sweet chili sauce is its versatility. It's especially useful when you only have a few ingredients on hand, but still want to make something delicious. This was the exact scenario I ran into a few weeks ago. It was the end of the week, and I was low on ingredients and meal ideas. So naturally I decided to pretend like I was on Chopped (even though I'm pretty sure I'd get chopped after the first round in real life). The result? These delicious sweet chili pita pizzas.

1 pita per person
1 lb. chicken breast, shredded
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, diced
1 can diced pineapple
Mozzarella cheese
Sweet chili sauce

  1. Boil the chicken until cooked through. Remove and place in a Kitchen Aid. Use the paddle on high speed to shred the chicken.
  2. Add enough sweet chili sauce so the chicken is evenly coated, but not swimming in sauce.
  3. Prepare each pizza by spreading a layer of sweet chili sauce on one side of the pita. Add mozzarella cheese, chicken, green onions, red bell pepper and pineapple. Top with a sprinkling of dried basil and oregano.
  4. Bake on a pizza pan or cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the edges of the pita start to firm up with a nice crisp.
This pizza is a fun combination of Hawaiian pizza and Asian flavors. It may seem like one pita pizza won't be enough per person, especially if you have big eaters, but even with my big eyes I can never eat more than one. The pizzas are definitely filling. The pita crust keeps the pizza light, which only adds to the overall effect of this fun, light meal.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

$3 Pumpkin Centerpieces

 With every party I throw, I find myself always stressing about the centerpieces. I want the tables to look amazing, but I want to be able to spend the majority of my budget on the food and entertainment, not the centerpieces. These simple centerpieces were a smash hit at my last get together, and they came together for about $3 each.

You will need:

  • Small carvable pumpkins (available at dollar stores)
  • Bunches of leafs, I found it was way easier to buy the sprigs of leaves than strands
  • wire cutters or scissors

I started to carve my first pumpkin, when I realized that since they are hollow Styrofoam, I could push the leaves through them without any carving. I bought two separate springs of leaves and then separated them into two bunch each. I used a wire cutter to separate mine, but strong scissors would work too. Bend the stems of the leaves in half, this will help the leaves stay inside the pumpkin instead of slipping out. Push the leaves through the pumpkin at the bent point.

I ended up using three of the four sprigs, in a triangle around the top of the pumpkin and it seemed to work perfectly, enough foliage without overwhelming the pumpkins!
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