Category: holiday

Easy Last Minute Frugal Valentine’s Day Gifts


Do you have a Valentine’s Day gift for your sweetie yet?

Nope, me either.

Our gift budget is tight right now and I am the queen of procrastinators.  There are a million things I’d love to buy for Jed, but unfortunately they all cost money.  The Cirque du Soleil tickets I’d really love to get him are WAY over our budget.  He doesn’t really care about Valentine’s Day, but I want him to feel loved.  I’ve rounded up a few fun ideas for last minute Valentine’s Day gifts from blogger friends to share with you with permission from the creators.  Feel free to pin this post for the round up but always pin individual projects from their blog of origin through the links below.  I hope your Valentine’s Day is filled with love.  Check out my frugal date night ideas here for a little more V-day inspiration.


DIY Baby’s First Christmas Footprint Ornament {For Under $2}

Teeny tiny baby footprints are one of my favorite ways to preserve a snapshot of a child’s growth.  I made a sweet and simple ornament for our Pearl girl’s first Christmas using one of her newborn footprints.  It was so easy to make and really inexpensive. Make your own Christmas footprint ornament to celebrate your baby’s first Christmas with the instructions below.


Entertain the Whole Family with Merry Christmas Loteria {Bingo Style Game} with **Free Printables**

The weather outside is indeed frightful, and cabin fever may be setting in among your family members. Today I’m sharing my own version of Loteria, the Mexican Bingo style game, perfect for entertaining the whole family.  My mom is a Spanish teacher, so she taught me how to play the original Loteria as a kid and I’m starting a new tradition this year with my family.  If you’ve never played Loteria before, the game is incredibly easy to learn and can be played by anyone ages 2 and up, and even younger with help. Toddlers and adults alike can get in to it and it would be a great game night tradition to start during the holidays.   I’ve created a set of twelve cards for you to print free of charge, as well as a call sheet.  This game is perfect for family night, long days during school break, and to teach matching skills with preschoolers.  Everybody loves bingo! 
Everyone gets a Loteria sheet and a handful of beans or candy to mark the objects called.  As the caller shouts out the object drawn, the player placed their bean on top of the matching picture on their card.  The goal is to get four in a row in any direction, much like Bingo.  You can also play cover all, four corners, and 4 square to mix it up. Beans are traditionally used, but I like to use little candies like chocolate chips or M-n-Ms, and eat them at the end of the game.  You could have a big game with prizes for the whole family or use it as a teaching tool with your preschooler.  
Click the link below each image to head to the file in Google Drive. Each image contains two playing cards.  Print each sheet and cut in half to create two cards.  You can leave the call sheet whole and just call objects out at random (marking them with a bean after they’ve been called), or cut it in to pieces and draw each object out of a bowl.  When a player gets four in a row they yell, “Merry Christmas!” and win that round.  I hope your family enjoys this fun little game and starts a new holiday tradition.      
Click here to open and print page 1.
Click here to open and print page 2.

Click here to open and print page 3.

Click here to open and print page 4.

Click here to open and print page 5.

Click here to open and print page 6

Click here to open and print the call sheet
How do you keep your family entertained during the holiday season?
If you like this post, please share it with your friends on Pinterest or Facebook.
My free printables are for personal use only.
Please let me know if you have any questions. 

Why I’m NOT Dreaming of a White Christmas {And Never Will Again} ~ A NickMom Inspired Story #Motherfunny

I am most definitely NOT dreaming of a white Christmas, and I never will again.  Sure, the idea of a snowy holiday season is romantic, but the reality was just a little too much for us last year and I hope we never have a repeat.  For those of you from the northern latitudes, this tale of woe will seem ridiculous.  My sisters from the warmer regions of the world will most likely empathize with our story of Snowmageddon 2012.  You should know that I am one who takes the holidays a little too seriously and longs for a picture perfect celebration that never quite comes to fruition.  If you fall short of the Martha Stewart mark like me, take a minute and head over NickMom and you’re guaranteed to laugh and realize you’re not alone.

Last year, there was a lot of anticipation as Christmas approached.  I’m the oldest of four kids and all of us were finally going to share a holiday celebration after living spread across the country.  We all arrived in Arkansas at our parents’ house with our kids and dogs and spouses and presents and suitcases and got seriously amped up to celebrate. We glanced at the forecast, which was calling for snow, but dismissed it thinking it probably wouldn’t happen.  When you are from a mostly mild climate, everyone panics whenever snow is predicted and raids the grocery store buying all the things and then we get two minutes of flakes.  It is such a letdown every time.  So, you learn not to get your hopes up.  After all, it was in the 60s outside will full sunshine.  We hoped to wake up to a white Christmas, but just knew it wouldn’t happen.

Santa came and delivered in a major way.  Toys and boxes and wrapping paper littered the living room.  We ate a glorious lunch and then packed up two members of the family to make their flights.  The airport car returned and the storm rolled in, out of nowhere.  All of a sudden, it was raining, then sleeting, then snowing.  The sleet stuck to the tree branches and the snow stuck to it.  Branches started to fall, and the transformer in our neighborhood blew, knocking out the power.  Nobody panic, I’m sure it will be on again soon.  Little did we know, it was going out all over the state.  Craziness was about to let loose.

We gathered candles and made it a fun game at first.  Then it started to get cold.  Really cold, really fast.  We added layers and figured out dinner, thinking surely the power would come on soon.  The snow kept coming.  This type of weather is normal in Minnesota, but not down south.  Most towns in Arkansas don’t have sand trucks and most southern people wouldn’t know what to do with snow chains.  We just stay inside and huddle up.

What you need to know about a power outage, is that the first day is pretty fun.  You feel like you’re on a camping trip and the kids feel like everything’s a big adventure.  I pretended I was a character in a Jane Austen novel carrying my candle around and blowing it out before bed.  The FIVE dogs we had in the house where an asset, really, because they provided warmth.

A white Christmas may make you feel like this.  Be careful what you ask for.

Day 2 of a power outage, the fun quotient goes out the window.  Survival mode sets in and everyone is in a bad mood.  The carnage of our Christmas feast mocked us.  The dishes were unwashed and we were too cold to deal with them.  The toys sat abandoned as our children shivered and asked when the lights would come back on.  It was a Christmas disaster.

Did I mention the trees? Not the beautiful Christmas tree my mother painstakingly decorated.  Oh no, I’m talking about the trees in the backyard.  In the middle of the night, we woke to a huge crack.  It wasn’t a return visit from Santa’s sleigh, but a giant pine tree careening towards the house.  The fall was broken by smaller trees, and we all ran downstairs in a panic because my brother was asleep in the den directly in the tree’s path.  All of the adults stared out the glass door awestruck.  We woke my brother and told him the tree was coming for him.  He sat up, looked out the window, and then said, “Nope, it’s not going to hit me.” Then he went back to sleep.  Seriously, dude?  He is a decorated war veteran who lost a leg in Afghanistan, so his reaction to danger is a little different than your average person.  He’s not one to panic.  He was right, too.  The tree didn’t hit our house, but instead took out the neighbor’s fence.  And several other trees.  Good times.  

Branches in the backyard at the beginning of the storm.

By the afternoon of Day 2 we knew we had to get out of there.  Miraculously, we discovered the power was on at my great aunt’s house.  We loaded all of our stuff up, with 6 adults, 3 kids, and the 5 dogs.  We picked up my grandmother and headed over to camp at Aunt Freda’s.  Let me set the scene.  Freda has lived alone for the last 50 years since her parents died, and was in a rehab facility because of a recent stroke.  She was thrilled to help, but to move 10 people and 5 dogs in to a house where one person has lived alone doesn’t always work well.  We learned a lot about Aunt Freda that week.  For instance, the only things in her cupboard were 24 boxes of waffle cones.  And in the fridge… you guessed it, lots of ice cream and not much else.  Perfect for a snow storm {sarcasm font}.  The alarm system went haywire and Freda couldn’t remember the codes.  Jed had to get creative to get the endless beeping to stop before we all lost it.  The plumbing in the kitchen backed up because it was used more than it could handle.  My brother showed up after a grocery store run with a super intoxicated friend he didn’t want driving.  The Bear stepped in a pile of dog poop from one of the FIVE dogs we had in the house, and he FREAKED out.  It was an adventure.  

The power was out for about 10 days, but we all cleared out as soon as the roads did leaving my parents to deal with the aftermath.  We’re jerks, I know.  Most of the state of Arkansas was without power for a week and the destruction was epic.  Lots of folks were in the same boat as we were, and I’ve heard many hilarious stories from friends whose holidays were affected by Snowmageddon 2012.

Our perfect Christmas went down in flames, or rather in a bank of snow.  We still had a great time together and spent more time talking and laughing than we would with the normal distractions that things like electricity bring.  I hope you enjoyed our snowy story.  If you’re looking for more holiday funnies, check out this post and this one as well on  You can also follow @NickMom on Twitter and on Facebook for more giggles during this crazy season.

For the Kids’ Table: 10 Last Minute Thanksgiving Creative Activities

Will you have a bunch of wee ones underfoot longing to “help” as you prep for Thanksgiving?  Check out these quick and easy kid friendly Thanksgiving and fall crafts to keep the kids’ table entertained while you prep and catch up with your Turkey day guests.  I’ve selected crafts that can be made with things you most likely already have on hand.  I’ve also added a few of my own free printables from Thanksgivings past and a bonus cookie recipe for the overachievers in the group.  Feel free to pin the round up as a whole from this page, but as always with round up posts head over to the original blogs to pin individual projects.

1. Fall Pumpkin Craft for Toddlers and Preschoolers

2. Thanksgiving Hand Print Craft for the Whole Family from Pounds 4 Pennies (We made this one today!)

3. Thankful Toilet Paper Roll Turkey from Staci at 7 on a Shoestring

4. Pumpkin Pie Play Dough from Giggles Galore

5. Thanksgiving Do-a-Dot Free Printables from Crystal and Co.

6. Easy Fall Leaf Garland from Crystal and Co.
7. Sugar and Spice Handprint Turkey Banner from Giggles Galore
8. Free Printables: I am thankful for you.
9. Thankful Prayer Quote with Free Printables
10. And for the overachievers out there: I’m Thankful For Cookies from The Nerd’s Wife

How do you keep little hands entertained during the holidays?

Fun and Frugal Fourth of July Inspiration Round Up

I love everything about the 4th of July, fireworks, bbqs, red/white/blue color palettes, and watermelon.  I also love an inspirational idea, don’t you? I found some super cute, fun, and frugal ideas to share with y’all inspire us for Independence Day.  Each of these projects is very cheap to make and all are pretty quick.  Check out the projects below, get inspired, and visit each blog for the full tutorial.  All photos are by the original bloggers and used with permission.  If you decide to pin an individual project (and I hope you do) please pin from the original poster.  Let’s get ready for the 4th!
Patriotic Ice Cream Sandwiches from Kleinworh & Co.
Genius, pure and simple.  

Star Garland from Crazy Little Projects
Super cute, and I think I could make it even with my limited sewing skills.

DIY Ric Rac Flag T-shirt or Onesie from Our Good Life
I’m a sucker for ric rac and grosgrain.
American Flag Yarn & Button Wreath from The Cellar Door Stories
This one is so clean and simple, but still festive.
Red, White, and Blue Tin Can Luminaries from Days of a Domestic Dad
Such a cute idea and a perfect project to do with your kiddos.
Festive Firecracker Bows from Craft Quickies
The cute is exploding all over her head, and I love it.
DIY Flag Tank Top from Naturally Nesters
Don’t have a 4th of July outfit? Make one in under an hour.  
What’s on your summer crafting list? 

Let’s Make an Easter Basket – A Tutorial

I love the joy of Easter and the new life it brings.  You can read some of my other Easter posts here.  Last year I looked long and hard to find the perfect Easter basket for the Bear, but all the options I loved were too pricey.  I had paint and ribbon on hand and decided to make a frugal, durable, cute Easter basket. I purchased a peck size basket at Hobby Lobby for about $4.  Here’s a crappy image of a peck basket from Amazon so you can see what it looked like before.  I totally forgot to take before pics.

I painted the basket using Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Satin in Heritage White and a sponge brush.  It took two coats to really cover the wood.

I used my glue gun to line the inside and outside with satin ribbon leftover from our wedding.  Yes, we’ve been married almost 5 years.  Yes, I probably over bought on wedding ribbon.  Oh well.  The ribbon serves two purposes.  It looks super cute and covers up the rough edges and staples that hold the peck basket together.

I tied satin ribbon into bows on each handle and glued them in place.  I’m sure these will have to be replaced someday but they are holding up well so far.

I painted the Bear’s name onto the basket using a navy blue paint pen.  I am not skilled in the handwriting department so it took a few tries and a few wipe off/repaints.  I finally went with dot letters because they are very forgiving and look super cute.  I highly recommend this method if you struggle with paint pen writing like I do.

We use ribbon as Easter grass after seeing the idea on Young House Love and not wanting to find the plastic stuff everywhere.  My dad hates the plastic Easter grass with a passion (4 kids = a ton of Easter grass clean up over the years) and loves this idea.  I used two rolls of green ribbon from the dollar store and just unrolled them completely and put them in the basket.  The clean up is incredibly easy.  You just pick up each long piece of ribbon and throw it back into the basket.  We’ve made a game out of tossing the ribbon and eggs back into the basket after Bear inevitably dumps them out.

The Bear loves his basket even more this year.  He has carried it all over the house and loves playing with the ribbon and plastic eggs.

What’s your favorite Easter candy?
I’m obsessed with Cadbury eggs.



Let’s Make an Easter Wreath

Easter is my favorite holiday.
Spring is my favorite season.
I really love the joy of Jesus risen and all of the bloom of new life.
I searched Pinterest for spring and Easter decorating inspiration and found this and this and decided to combine them using my interchangeable burlap wreath that I made here.
Here’s how it came about:
I stripped the Valentine’s Day stuff off the burlap wreath and wrapped the bottom of it in haute fur yarn, pinning the ends of it into the wreath with straight pins. Then I cut individual daisies off the daisy chain ribbon and pinned them into the “grass” using coordinating straight pins.  I arranged a few plastic Easter eggs in the grass using the straight pins and moved them until I was happy with their placement.
I created the words using dollar store pipe cleaners and ribbon leftover from the nursery decorating.
You can find the pipecleaner letter directions found here.
I couldn’t decide where to put my lil birdie.  I moved him around and took him off and put him back on.  He sticks in with yet another straight pin, so it was super easy to move him.  What do you think- bird or no bird?
He ended up here.
 I’m super happy with the way it turned out.
 The letters were WAY more difficult than I thought they would be.
Pipecleaner molding is not my best skill, apparently.
I also had a bit of a fiasco with the ribbon.  I ran out on the happy and had to go back and make it super tight so it would cover the whole thing.  In between I went to Hobby Lobby to find another spool of ribbon.  They were out.  They had just received a huge shipment of literally every other type of ribbon except the one I needed.  A craftastrophe! Oh well.  It all worked out in the end.
 Does the Easter Bunny visit your house?

Frugal Friday – A Burlap Wreath for All Seasons

Thanks to Pinterest, an interchangeable burlap wreath has been on my crafty to-do list for quite a while.  It seemed like the perfect solution to my insatiable need to decorate for holidays but stay within our teeny tiny budget.  I finally got around to it last week and dolled it up for Valentine’s Day without spending as extra dime.      

 I bought a straw wreath form at Hobby Lobby using their eternal 40% one item coupons.  I had a ton of burlap left over from other projects, so I cut it into 4-5 inch wide strips.  I kept the plastic on the wreath form after searching all over for tutorials.  I started gluing and wrapping the burlap strips, pulling them super tight to keep the wreath looking neat.  Every time I work with burlap I forget that it is super messy.  Seriously, consider yourself forewarned.  You will have burlap dust EVERYWHERE.  It is itchy and insidious.  Bring out the vacuum.

 After letting the burlap dry, I went through my scrap ribbon and pulled out all the reds and whites.  The big white poof in the middle was the bow on a Christmas gift I received.  I used straight pins to attach the poof to the wreath, then started pinning the looped ribbon to the wreath around the poof.

 I had a few fabric roses made from vintage fabrics lying around, so I pinned them on the wreath as well.  I cut scrap ribbon into workable lengths and looped each piece 3 times before pinning it to the wreath.  I kept pinning ribbon loops onto the wreath until it felt right.  I was inspired by lots of burlap wreaths and ribbon wreaths that I’ve seen around the internet on Tatertots and Jello, Pinterest, and other fabulous sites.

 You can see one of the pins I used in the photo above.  My plan is to remove all the ribbon and switch to a springy wreath this weekend.  I’ll toss the scrap ribbon back into my pile and start over.

 I couldn’t decide if I liked it better without the felt heart hanging in the middle (3 for .30 at Target after Christmas).  I took it down and liked it much better.

 I tied a loop of ribbon to the top so that I could change that out easily as well.  The whole thing will change to a new season with very little effort.

  Are you on Pinterest yet?  Let me know if you need an invite.
What’s on your crafty to-do list?  
I’m sharing this project at some fabulous parties.  Check them out on my right sidebar.