The Perfect Handmade Gift For Anyone On Your Christmas List!

Handmade Christmas CoatersMadeline is only in her first year of preschool, so I am still a total rookie when it comes to parenting a school-aged child. It’s December, and I’m still calling it a win if we’re in the car at 8:40AM with shoes and coats on. So when the “Teacher Profile” notice was sent home in Maddie’s cubby a week ago, I paused. “Teacher profile?” I wondered aloud. I read on, “Likes purple. Loves dark chocolate. Has too many mugs. Monogram initials are…” We’re really getting personal now! ::lightbulb:: Oh, this is about Christmas gifting… This could be a whole other post in itself — Teacher Profiles: Tacky or Helpful? But I digress. Message received, Class Mom (at least I’m hoping it was the class mom who distributed this). It’s time to start thinking about ways to show our gratitude to the wonderful people in our lives.

The next day, as I sat in the parking lot of the school waiting for pick-up, I beat my head against the steering wheel for a few minutes before heading to the land of “I thought of it first and perfected it so you don’t have to waste your time.” Say it with me…PINTEREST!! And I found what I think is quite the clever little Christmas gift.

This year (and maybe every year from now on?!?) Madeline will be gifting her teachers handmade Christmas coasters — fun and festive, sweet and simple! I followed this perfect tutorial and finished four sets of coasters over the course of three nap times. It is such a low maintenance project — all you really need is time to let the mod podge, sealer and glue dry! But what I really love about the project is that it can be repeated for all seasons/occasions for DIRT CHEAP, now that I’ve got everything I need. Tiles are just 16 cents at Home Depot! A sheet of stiff felt is 99 cents at the Hob Lob! And who doesn’t have a lifetime supply of scrapbook paper at the ready?
DIY Christmas Coasters

Pair your coasters with a Starbucks gift card and you’ve got the gift for the person on your list who already has everything! Pair them with a bottle of wine and you’ve got a great hostess gift! Pair them with some customized photo mugs and you’ve got a lovely gift for the grandparents! Or pair coasters with handmade hand warmers and you’ve got Madeline’s teacher gifts (Surprise, Mrs. O and Ms. H!).
Festive DIY Holiday Coasters

There are only 11 days left until Christmas. I think you’d best get to crafting!

Baby’s First Birthday: Throwing An Epic I Am A Bunny Party

Nicholas the Bunny
In my experience, one year olds don’t have a lot of “favorite things” yet, but the book I Am A Bunny is definitely at the top of the list for Benjamin. Following in the footsteps of his older sister, Benjamin loves to find Nicholas on each page of this classic children’s book. So as his first birthday crept up (much more quickly than I would have liked) and after search on Pinterest, I knew there was no other party to throw him but an I Am A Bunny Birthday!

Invitations:
I had our themed invitations printed by Erin at LEX Designs Co. They were precious and set the tone for the entire party.
I Am A Bunny Birthday Invitation

Decorations:
I wanted it to feel like you’d stepped into the forest, so, with the help of my brother-in-law, I hung a dome of green crepe paper — the tree — along with leaves, birds and butterflies from the ceiling. There were a bunch of green balloons to kick around on the forest floor. And a “Happy Birthday Benjamin!” banner (also by LEX Designs) of leaves and acorns was strung up with twine.Woodland Party DecorationsI had my daughter and niece put butterfly stickers onto craft paper, creating a mural –a nod to the “I chase the butterflies and the butterflies chase me” page of the book– which ended up being the perfect backdrop for Benjamin’s cupcake smash.
"I chase the butterflies" mural

Food:
I Am A Bunny Food PlaqueIn my opinion a party is only as good as it’s food. Since I planned the bash for 3:30PM, after nap but before dinnertime, I served up heavy snacks (making sure to include some of Benjamin’s favorites) and drinks on thrifted serving dishes.

I Am A Bunny Food Display

The snack buffet, in all its glory.

Woodland Party Snacks

Twigs and Cheddar Bunnies

Toadstool Woodland Party Snacks

Toadstools – string cheese and grape tomatoes, speared with a toothpick rested in a bog of pesto.

Woodland Party Snack Ideas

Rabbit Food – carrots and celery sticks with hummus.

Squirrel Nibbles

Acorns – Nutter Butters and a Hershey’s Kiss topped with a peanut butter chip.

Wild Berries

Fresh “wild” strawberries.

Woodland Party Snack Display

An owl watched over the snacks, ready to swoop!

Mason Jar Drinks

Birthday tags (by LEX Design Co) made our drinking glasses much more festive!

Cake:
Benjamin is a lover of all the foods, so I knew he’d be totally into his first bite of cake. He didn’t just smash his first “toadstool” cupcake –a nod to the “When it rains I keep dry under a toadstool” page of the book– he devoured it!

Toadstool Cupcakes on Wooden Cake Stand

Toadstool cupcakes on a wooden cake stand, hand crafted by my husband!

Toadstool Cupcakes

White cupcakes, red frosting and white MnM’s made the perfect toadstool cupcakes!

I Am A Bunny Birthday

Benjamin, dressed as Nicholas the Bunny (all eBay finds), with his very first birthday candle!

Nicholas The Bunny

Benjamin’s first bite of cake!

Activities:
Benjamin’s buddies ranged from age one to five, so we kept the party activities fairly simple — a scavenger hunt outside to collect woodsy items for a collage and a painting project. The kids had a blast!

Woodland Party Craft - Collage Making!

The craft table, set up with supplemental woodsy collage supplies and a Nicholas the Bunny cut-out for each child.

I Am A Bunny Birthday Collage

Crafting their collages!

Painting Wood Stepping Stones at Woodland Birthday Party

My husband cut thin stepping stones from a log that I procured from a tree being cut down near our house (SO THRIFTY). The kids painted their hearts out — even Benjamin!

Favors:
Each child took home a bundle of kindling aka twig colored pencils.I Am A Bunny Woodland Party Favors

The party went off without a hitch. Benjamin had about as much fun as any one year old could have! Really everyone had such a good time that we ended up ordering pizza, laying a sheet down on the floor and setting up an impromptu “movie night” for the kids to keep the festivities going. We made wonderful memories with our family and closest friends celebrating the birth of our beautiful baby boy, Benjamin Andrew. Happy Birthday, Grizzy! We love you so much!

How To Make It Through Dinnertime With Two Toddlers Unscathed

Things were spiraling fast – food was being thrown on the floor (Benji), people were refusing to eat (Maddie) and everyone was on the verge of mania. A particularly rambunctious dinner time in the Wilhelm household, it was time to pull out my tricks. I sang all of our songs. I promised a fun tubby time. I pitted their eating skills against each other (Benjamin was winning). Finally, I broke out the big guns – a new book!

Daddy FliesDaddy Flies is the sweet story of Katie, a military brat, and her quest to figure out just what her daddy, an airman, does at work all day. Katie wonders across the pages with a darling sense of humor, one that my daughter Maddie (three years old) easily related to. The rhyming prose is effortless, without being too mature. The illustrations are simple but captivating. And when we reached the final page, as she swallowed her final bite of chili, Maddie shouted, “NOW AGAIN!” #winning

Thank you, Brye Butler Steeves, for giving our family a patriotic children’s book that hits close to home without being confusing or hokey (and that gets us through dinner time unscathed)! I can only hope that you make it a series covering all of the military bases (see what I did there)! Daddy Jumps: The story of a proud paratrooper papa, Brye?? Take it and run!!

*A copy of Daddy Flies was provided by the author for review purposes.