It’s that time of year again! Halloween is over, Thanksgiving plans are well under way and all of the stores are decked out for the holidays…bring on the Christmas prep! For me that means lists – gift lists, shopping lists, projects lists, Christmas card lists, and lists of ideas for our Christmas elves.
Our elves always show up on the first of December and spend the month with us keeping an eye on the kiddos for Santa, as well as having a little fun themselves (sometimes too much fun!). The kids look forward to the visit from the elves and it adds a little daily fun and magic to the season for all of us.
Our elves have been making their appearance for almost 10 years now (yes, I looked it up 😉 I started this tradition in 2007), well before the Elf on the Shelf concept took on the recognition and popularity it has today. So our elves don’t look like all of the other elves and they don’t have quite the same rules as the official Elf on the Shelf. In fact, our elves love to get hugs from the kids and to play with them during the day.
To keep things fresh and fun year after year I do have to put in some planning time (thank goodness for Pinterest, right? I have tons of ideas on my Holiday Elf on the Shelf board) so I’ve been pulling together ideas and reviewing photos of our Elf Antics from years past and I thought I would share a sample year with you.
This is what our elves were up to every day in December a couple of years ago. (My kids were ages 11 and 8 at the time)
Day 2: found them in the storage room where they had pulled out most of Grandma’s games and toys. Photo is courtesy of Kaitlyn, who was quick to inform me when I got back from the gym that morning and found the kids playing Jenga that she knew I liked to take photos before we moved the Elves and had made sure to do so. (Isn’t she the greatest?!)
Day 3: in the bathroom, where Twinkle was tangled in Kaitlyn’s headbands and Tinsel had drawn a Rudolph head on the mirror.
Day 4: the elves had put up a “tent” using one of the pool towels so they could hide while they created Top Secret missions for the kids.
Wonder what’s in the envelope…. (printable found here. Awesome idea)
Day 5: was Tyler’s birthday so the elves had made an attempt to decorate with crepe paper but got distracted playing with the party games.
Day 6: the elves we cozily reading a book together in the rocking chair
Day 7: had decorated the photo wall in the office using dry erase markers
Day 8: Perler bead creations
Day 9: they got into all of the treats left over from the birthday party
Day 10: must have been taking inspiration from my (body builder) brother. Looks like Tinsel might benefit from a few personal trainer sessions.
Day 11: found the sled on top of the entertainment center in the living room. I’m told Twinkle almost met with a horrible accident when she toppled off and my brother’s pit bull picked her up. Luckily, the husband saw it and pried her out of his mouth before any damage was done.
Day 12: packed the kids’ lunchboxes
Day 13: changed out the light bulb in the hallway for a pretty stained-glass one. Tyler said it looked like they were having a dance party.
Day 14: climbing the Christmas tree. I’m afraid it looks like Tinsel must have taken a tumble or two.
Day 15: hot chocolate! They found a special Cookies and Cream version from Stephen’s – MMMMMM
Day 16: crepe paper Christmas tree
Day 17: time for a Nerf dart war
Day 18: the elves found the tablet and had used it to take photos of themselves (by the Christmas tree, posing by the dog, random selfies, etc) then used them as the desktop background photos on the tablet.
Day 19: Playing with Tyler’s Minecraft toys and even found a Santa Minecraft head for Steve. (The cardstock “Steve” is a printable I used for Tyler’s Minecraft Party. The Santa head is a printable found here that I just enlarged a bit before printing. It wasn’t quite big enough for one of our elves to wear, but it worked fine for Steve)
Day 20: The kids forgot to open their Advent treat box before bed so the Elves did it for them. Lucky for the kids, the elves didn’t get as far as opening any of the chocolate!
Day 21: found the elves fast asleep under the Christmas tree, using the kids’ stockings as sleeping bags.
Day 22: the elves were having fun with the camera last night and took all kinds of photos. (Printable photo props found here)
Day 23: this morning they attempted to hitch a ride to school in the kids’ backpacks. I think we are all excited for the last half-day of school before Christmas break!
Day 24: elf zip line! And of course they also wrote up a farewell letter since Santa will be picking them up tonight.
And that, my friends, is an entire month of Elf on the Shelf ideas for you. They’re my favorite kind too – quick and easy. Easy enough to implement at 3AM when you suddenly wake up with that feeling that you forgot to do something… 😉
What have your elves been up to? Any great ideas you would like to share? I would love to add a few to my list for this year!
Linking to: Wow Me Wednesday,
Summer is in full swing! With the Summer Solstice/First Day of Summer this past week I think we can declare it official – as if we hadn’t already.
The kids and I have spent the past couple of weeks getting into our daily summer routine, which includes spending the mornings at the pool for swim team and a lot of lazy afternoons. It feels very easy to just drift along and let that be all we worry about and that’s been great so far but I’m afraid that too much down time leads to sibling arguments and mommy crankiness (and maybe a bit of jealousy when we see everyone else’s vacation photos). So it has become our tradition to sit down as a family at the beginning of summer and make a list of all the things we each want to include in our summer – a Summer Bucket List.
You know the tradition is a good one when the kids ask “Mom, when are we going to ____?” and that’s exactly what happened this year. A week or so before school let out my little guy was asking when we were going to make our summer list and that weekend we sat down to compile ideas. The husband even contributed a couple via chat (though mostly his big goal was to finish this deployment). We try to come up with a combination of ideas – some easy, some that require more planning, a few goals (last year we wanted to hike to the top of Timpanogos), some that are fun and some that might require a little work.
This year’s list includes:
-lots of playdates/friend time
-family game of Monopoly (Tyler is obsessed)
-Kaitlyn: babysitting, swim camp, get a state swim time, YW camp, be in the parade, build muscle
-Tyler: new tricks on skateboard/scooter/bike, 4H Arts and Crafts Camp, Scout badges, change bedtime to 9 PM (his biggest request)
-sleep under the stars
-make a list of things to do on rainy summer days
-parties: water fights, treasure/scavenger hunt, end of school party
-Do/see something new
-play baseball with Bambi (the dog)
-regular exercise for all, especially Bambi
-try out a new restaurant
-kids learn to cook a few things
Once our list is compiled I like to put it on display in a frame where we can easily refer to it and cross things off (dry erase markers work great on glass). True to form, it took me a while after our family pow-wow to type it and get it up on display. I suppose that works in my favor since this week I’ve felt like we needed to give ourselves a bit more direction and now all we have to do is pick something from the list and go do it.
My biggest take-away from my chat with the kids was that they wanted to spend a lot more time with friends. I get that. During the school year we have very little time between school, homework, and activities and they were feeling socially deprived. No one wants to be bored or lonely or to feel like our friends might be out having fun while we sit at home, especially during the summer. But it does take some effort to turn that Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) into Getting Out More Often (GOMO), doesn’t it? I’ve found, however, that the effort and planning is worth it. And once I get past some of the roadblocks like trying to coordinate with friends with busy schedules and that whole Jungle-Book-esque mind-set of “What do you want to do?” “I dunno, what do you want to do?” (don’t tell me I’m the only one that pictures those buzzards every time we have a hard time coming up with a plan?!), it’s really not that hard to get out and have fun.
Still need a bit more inspiration or ideas for things to do? Check out websites like Eventbrite – it’s like TicketMaster but for smaller events, and can be used to coordinate your own events like a local 5K. I hadn’t heard of this website until a few weeks ago, then coincidentally a few days later my son brought home a note from school about 4H opportunities this summer and wouldn’t you know it – online sign ups were available through Eventbrite. Tyler was excited about the Arts and Crafts workshop so I had my first experience personally using the website and it was pretty easy and user-friendly. I could see this being a great resource since you can search for events by area or even create your own events (oh how great would that have been when we were putting together our own version of Paint Night?! Oh wait – I haven’t blogged about that one yet. Remind me to do that soon – it was awesome! 😉 )
Other great resources include your local community events (4th of July plans, anyone?), summer workshops (Kaitlyn just had a blast at swim camp at a somewhat-nearby university), outdoor concerts and plays (we gave my mom tickets to Peter Pan for Mother’s Day and the play was on Tuesday. It was so much fun – one of my favorite plays to date and I’ve seen quite a few), and so on.
No excuses, right? I’m off to call a friend and make plans for a picnic at the park for next week. Or research a nearby hiking trail the kids and I haven’t had a chance to explore yet. So tell me, what’s on your Summer Bucket List?
Linking to: Home Matters Party, BFF Open House,
Well, almost summer here. The kids still have one more week left of school but the countdown has certainly begun and I’m nearly as excited for the change in routine as the kids are. Oh how great to get a later start on the mornings, and to not have to wait until the kids are out the door in order to get a chance to take a shower! (someone remind me of this feeling on one of those long summer afternoons when the kids are “bored” or constantly bickering!)
This past weekend the kids and I sat down to work on our Summer Bucket List – which has become one of our yearly traditions. (you can see last year’s list HERE and I will post this year’s soon!) As we were talking I noticed a theme emerging from their suggestions – fun time with friends. I wondered for a second if my kids have been feeling…socially deprived…? (and if so, do I lose Mom Points for that? 😉 ) but quickly realized it was just a manifestation of their fun-loving, outgoing sides which I would like to help them nurture. Being a bit of an introvert myself, I admire that side of their personalities while at the same time I have to subvert my own desire for calm and quiet in order to give them the chance to explore that. So we made a list of things they wanted to do with friends and party ideas and I agreed to let them host something on a regular basis.
First up on their list – a party for the last day of school! This is something we did a few times in our old neighorhood but didn’t follow through with last year and Kaitlyn, in particular, was very excited about hosting something. She quickly decided on a water theme (after seeing an idea on Pinterest for SlipNSlide baseball a few days before) and in less than 30 minutes we not only had a plan and menu ideas, but had created and printed out the invitations too.
I found the Splash clip art on the internet then simply added the wording over the top and printed everything onto cardstock (4 to a page). The back side of the invitation holds all the details: time, date, location, etc.
We checked the weather forecast and so far it looks like we will have sunshine and decent temperatures – yay! That means we can go ahead with our ideas for SlipNSlide kickball, water gun target shooting and Splash Ball lacrosse. (actually we don’t know how to play lacrosse but we do have a couple of sticks and they can play catch) Kaitlyn helped me pick up supplies and snacks last night so we’re all set to party. Bring on the last day of school and bring on SUMMER!
I’ll be sure to post party details after the event – check back soon! Or check out some of our other Last Day of School Traditions, End of the Year gifts for teachers and kids (Buckets of Fun idea or Teacher Gifts in a Cup ideas) or Summer Fun Ideas that Won’t Break the Bank.
I didn’t intend to take a three week break from blogging – it just kind of happened and I suppose it was a natural break. Once again we are in a transition phase, kind of closing up a chapter of our lives and starting in on a new one and it works out nicely that it coincides with the new year. My husband will be leaving on a military deployment SOON so I will be shifting into “single parent” mode and all that goes along with it (as well as putting together some AWESOME care package ideas so stay tuned!). Since the husband was my carpenter for the laundry drying racks we are also putting the Etsy shop into hibernation. I’m not sure yet if that is temporary or permanent, but I do know that it is a relief to be able to put my concentration and energies more fully into everything else right now. In November we did a massive build with the rest of our supplies and I am happy to report that as of last night the last lonely drying rack in our inventory is SOLD.
My husband was out of town for training most of December so when he got home a couple of days before Christmas we enthusiastically jumped into Family Time mode and have been having a blast. If we had a Winter Bucket List we probably would have checked off most of it in the last few weeks. We did all the Christmas festivities and parties, took the kids snowmobiling, had sledding parties, ice skating, tubing, enjoyed many cups of hot cocoa and learned the importance of wearing ski masks in subzero weather, saw the much-anticipated new Star Wars movie, have had more than our share of yummy meals out, shopping, date nights, and even ran away for a night for some extended one on one time with the husband. It’s been fun and wonderful and…exhausting. We have another four day weekend coming up (geesh, already?!) and I have no idea what’s left on the list of family fun and entertainment ideas but I suppose we will figure something out. Then I’m pretty sure I will willingly and happily jump into our “new normal” routine.
In among all of that I really have been putting a lot of thought into shifting gears and doing some of my typical end of the year introspection. I realized I had hit the end of my 101 in 1001 List time frame (wow time flies!), and will be posting a new list soon. And, of course, I have chosen my Word for 2016 and signed up for another round of Ali Edwards One Little Word workshop (the One Little Word concept is something I’ve been doing for quite a few years now. For those of you not familiar with it, as opposed to setting goals or resolutions, it is simply selecting a word for the year that resonates with you and using that to focus and explore in your life) and have put a lot of thought into where I am heading this year. I know 2016 is going to be a big one for personal endurance with Sam being deployed for at least the first half of the year and really wanting to get the approvals for the new house going (all by myself). I foresee plenty of work, plenty of frustrations, and I want to be able to stay centered and calm – and happy and peaceful despite anything I may be dealing with. The giant list of To Dos will get done (mostly) and the time will pass, but I want my efforts to be not on making it to some sort of finish line but on my state of mind. To not spend my time wishing for something different. To not be overwhelmed with the big picture but to know that I only have to take it one step at a time and I can handle that. I also know that I really want to focus on the people in my life. To give them more of what they may be needing – love, kindness, attention, time.
The word I have chosen for this year is
I want to give love, give kindness, give joy, to actively decide that whatever I am doing with my time and energy at any particular moment is something I am giving freely, willingly, and happily.
I love that the word give can be used in so many ways – give it all you’ve got, give it a chance, give yourself a break – and that all of them are positive. I also love that it can be applied to the physical as in actually giving gifts (and I have oh-so-many ideas for that already from Rand Acts of Kindess to big guestures) and to the less tangible things like time and acceptance. It’s a big concept and I’m looking forward to exploring it this year.
What’s even more fun is that my 12 year old is really into the concept this year too. She has chosen her own word and already made a magnet for the fridge as well as led a conversation with the rest of the family and insisted they all choose words. It’s fun to see her take some initiative an to see her enthusiasm, no matter how much or how little time she spends exploring her word later on.
Do you have a word for this year? A goal or list of goals? I would love to hear more about it – please share! And feel free to check out the Pinterest board where I will be saving all my quotes and ideas for Giving this year. (Who doesn’t love Pinterest right?!)
And as always, have a Happy Wednesday! 😉
Linking to: Lou Lou Girls,
Yay! We’ve almost made it to the big day! I’m almost as excited as the kids – though probably for different reasons. After all this preparation and planning, now that I have everything all set to go I’m anxious to get the party started! And I must admit that I’m a little exhausted by the need to keep staying on top of things day after day, especially when it comes to those silly elves (#elfontheshelf). The husband has been in Texas for military training all month and while I’m mostly excited to see him because we missed him, part of me would be relieved to turn over the nightly Elf Duties to him for a couple of days.
Here is what our elves have been up to lately:
*I have been sharing all the Elf Antics daily on my Instagram feed – be sure to check that out!
–Day 15: The elves found the DIY Lego Advent I started (and gave up on). Tyler thought the designs were pretty cool. Maybe between all of them they will get finished.
–Day 16: I think the elves must have heard about Kaitlyn’s field trip to the Discovery Space Center. We found them busily painting balls of newspaper and making a sign that read “Our Solar System”
–Day 17: Guess who else is excited for the new Star Wars movie! Glow stick light sabers and all – though Tyler was quick to inform Twinkle that “Storm Troopers carry guns not light sabers.” (Printable masks found HERE)
–Day 18: The elves wanted the kids to have something special in their lunchboxes for the last day of school before Christmas break so they dressed up pudding cups to look like reindeer.
–Day 19: 6 day’s til Christmas! First day of Christmas Vacation!
–Day 20: the kids have had a few days of extra good behavior and the elves wanted them to know how happy they were about that. The elves brought fun new Glow in the Dark markers with a note that said “Write on! Your good behavior is not overlooked.”
–Day 21: Found the elves “sledding” down the stairs, using my shoes as sleds.
–Day 22: We’ve had non-stop snow for a few days in a row and this morning we found the elves having some indoor “snow” fun of their own building snow forts and igloos out of cotton balls.
–Day 23: The husband has been out of town all month but finally made it back last night. The elves were nice enough to make him a giant “Welcome Home” banner.
–Day 24: As usual, on Christmas Eve the elves will be waiting for the kids with a Goodbye Letter until next year.
Wow. It just really hit me that we are finally here at the Eve of Christmas Eve. All the planning and prep for the holidays is done (or if it isn’t, it won’t be) and for the next couple of days we just settle in to enjoy the holiday and the time together. Sounds great, doesn’t it?
*For more Elf Antics and great Elf on the Shelf Ideas check out this year’s Week 1 and Week 2 on the blog. Or follow my Instagram feed for daily updates. There are also tons of great ideas on my Pinterest Board.
Here we are finishing up another week with those crazy elves. This is what they’ve been up to lately.
–Day 8: found the elves in the bathroom where Twinkle had build a “snowman” out of toilet paper (printable Olaf found HERE) and Tinsel was trapped in the basket where we keep the extra TP.
–Day 9: the elves brought a candy cane bouquet for the kids
–Day 10: Elf Antics in the pantry. I guess the elves were disappointed with our lack of Christmas cereal as they decided to create some Elf Breakfast Cereal of their own
–Day 11: Twinkle tried her hand at barrel racing using one of the Barbie horses while Tinsel cheered her on from the “stands” with the rest of the Barbie and Skylander audience.
–Day 12: we actually got some snow yesterday (strange it waited this long to stick) and the elves were excited. We found them all bundled up in the kids’ winter clothing ready to go out and have a snowball fight
–Day 13: pretending they were at the beach suntanning and snorkeling
–Day 14: The elves decorated the washer and dryer to look like snowmen. How did they know it would snow on laundry day?
15 days ’til Christmas! And yes the title DID say GIVEAWAY! Keep reading ’til the end to not only see what my Silhouette Challenge buddies and I have been up to, but to get a chance to win some Silhouette goodies of your own! (Giveaway is now closed)
I have spent a lot of my free time the last week or so writing lists, double checking lists, running errands and shopping, and rewriting lists…that’s how the holiday season goes, right? When December hit I was feeling pretty behind on things but the more I cross off the list the better I feel and the more excited I get for Christmas.
This year my son’s classroom is doing the 12 Days of Christmas, so each of the children are assigned a specific day to bring in their classroom gifts and my son was assigned one of the first of the twelve days. It just happened to be the day before his birthday and I was neck deep in party prep, so I knew that I needed something that didn’t require a lot of time or effort to put together. But fankly, it’s me and we all know that even when I want things simple and inexpensive I also strive for a bit of creativity and cuteness.
It took a bit of thought, but I finally settled on snack-size bags of microwave popcorn. My kids are HUGE popcorn fans (and kept trying to steal the bags while we were assembling the gifts!) and I figure the popcorn is a nice change from the typical candy canes and Christmas pencils my kids usually bring home. And dressing them up was a snap – with a little help from my Silhouette (die cutting) machine and my kiddos.
So there is a look at the supplies I used for decorating the popcorn bags. We dressed half the bags up as reindeer and half as Santa. This is the point to which I prepped the supplies before enlisting the help of the munchkins.
–snack-size microwave popcorn
–preprinted adhesive labels: Mine say “Here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Poppin’ New Year, Love, Tyler” and are printed onto a sheet of Avery address labels. You could substitute any kind of tag you want to use.
-brown for the reindeer and red for Santa, cut into strips (construction paper is 9″ x 12″ and I found that cutting it into three 4″ wide strips was a perfect fit)
-also a piece of black paper cut into 1/2″ wide strips (by 9″ long)
-white paper cut into squares (1″ x 1″) with two cut lines in the center for Santa’s belt. I used the Silhouette to do this and it saved a lot of quality time spent with an Xacto knife, but that’s certainly an option. I was planning to have the kids thread them onto the black “belts” but quickly found that I had cut them to fit pretty tightly and my 8 year old was likely to tear half of them trying to put them on so I did it myself. So when cutting yours out you may want the cuts to be a full 5/8″ to allow the 1/2″ black pieces to slide through more easily.
-dark brown paper (I used cardstock as I’ve found the thicker texture cuts better for projects like this) cut into cute little reindeer antlers. These are approx 2 1/2″ high. I’m sure you can find a cut file somewhere but I decided to create my own using some antler clip art (just google it) and the trace feature in the Silhouette studio. You could also just hand-cut them, though I was happy to not have to do that particular step.
-oh! And don’t forget some red circles for the reindeer noses!
Assembly went pretty quickly and the kids were easily able to do it all themselves. They just wrapped the larger strips of paper around the popcorn bags and secured it on the back with tape (I had them tape one side directly to the bags so they wouldn’t slide out of the wrappers), then added the embellishments and stuck the address label “tags” on the back.
We made sure to attach the antlers to the back of the brown strips before wrapping them around the popcorn bags for the reindeer, but other than that the assembly is much the same. Add the google eyes (we used glue dots for that), the noses, and the sticky “tag” on back and you’re done!
While I was at it, I put together the gifts for the kids’ teachers as well. I found these adorable mason jar shaped drinking cups on clearance at the craft store after Thanksgiving and knew I just had to do something with them for Christmas.
I rounded up some red and green colored Sharpies, green post-its and some great hot chocolate mix (looking at the photo I’m wondering why oh why I didn’t get a few extra so I could try out the toasted marshmallow flavor?!) to put inside the cup. And I wanted a bit of customization (when in doubt – customize, right?!) so I fired up the Silhouette machine again and did some cute labels using the teacher’s names.
Done deal! The kids are now all set for Christmas festivities at school, which is great since we are down to only ONE more week before Christmas vacation! (oh boy!)
My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I are all sharing projects on our blogs today, so peruse the projects below for a wealth of Silhouette inspiration!
1. Beauty in the Mess // 2. JustTyra // 3. Dream a Little Bigger // 4. Simply Kelly Designs // 5. The Stamp Doc // 6. From Wine to Whine // 7. TheKimSixFix // 8. unOriginal Mom // 9. HaberdasheryFun // 10. Tastefully Frugal // 11. Sisters, What! // 12. Small Stuff Counts // 13. Where The Smiles Have Been // 14. Whatcha Workin’ On? // 15. Designed Decor // 16. Architecture of a Mom // 17. Decor Adventures // 18. Create & Babble // 19. Tori Grant Designs // 20. Tried & True // 21. The Thinking Closet // 22. Creative Ramblings // 23. Get Silvered // 24. McCall Manor // 25. Cutesy Crafts // 26. Ginger Snap Crafts // 27. My Favorite Finds // 28. Cupcakes&Crowbars // 29. Pineapples & Pinecones // 30. The Crafting Nook // 31. It Happens in a Blink // 32. Alayna’s Creations
And I’ve saved the best for last. My Silhouette Challenge buddies and I in partnership with Silhouette America are hosting a mega-huge giveaway …. Giveaway is now CLOSED.
We now interrupt our scheduled holiday programming…
That’s kind of how it feels to have a son with a birthday in December. My brain is set to be all gung-ho with Christmas but I have to back off and plan a party instead. Not that I want my little guy to feel like his birthday gets rushed or glossed over in any way – I try hard for that not to happen. So of course he got exactly what he wanted for his birthday – an Avengers Superhero Training party. It was actually a lot of fun to plan and fairly easy to execute. I will share all the details soon, but thought I’d start out with the invitation.
As with all parties lately, I started with a Pinterest Board for inspiration and went from there. Tyler really liked the one with the Top Secret file folder and though I tried to convince him a manila envelope would work just as well, I ended up figuring out how to make mini-sized file folders for his invites.
Easy enough – I simply cut down some file folders I already had on hand, making sure to leave a tab on one side then completing the look by rounding off the corners. The overall size is 9″ high by 6 1/2″ wide (cut down to 6″ except for where I wanted the tab) because I wanted them to fit a half-sheet of paper but these would look absolutely adorable in a smaller size as well.
I knew I wanted to use a photo of Tyler in his Iron Man costume from Halloween for the inserts. Cute right? He’s quite a ham when he wants to be.
The rest of the inserts came together pretty easily with all the party details and a bit of clever wording. I wanted it to look like a “report” you might find inside a Top Secret folder, right? Then I simply printed them off two to a page.
The fonts used are Bernard MT Condensed and Baskerville Old Face. The Avenger logo is simply clip art I found online. And the fun Avengers clip art along the bottom was part of a printable pack I found HERE and turned to black and white in Photoshop. The printables are great – I used them again for a lot of the party supplies as well.
My 12 year old helped me assemble the invitations by stamping Top Secret on top of the folders and attaching the inserts inside the folders with paper clips (I didn’t want them to fall out!)
Tyler was happy and the whole thing probably took me an hour, tops, to pull together. Total win!
Now you’re excited to see the rest of the party details, right?! I’ll share them soon – promise! The kids had a blast and, like most of my parties, it was simple and inexpensive to put together. Stay tuned…
Hello December! (Have I said that already?) We are now one full week into the month and I already feel like I’ve fun a marathon – in a good way, of course. We have been having non-stop fun with Christmas outings and traditions, the little guy’s birthday, and I even slipped in some girls-night fun at Paint Nite last night after taking the kids to the town tree lighting to see Santa. Good thing I was ahead of orders for laundry drying racks because yesterday was the first chance I have had to paint racks this month. (we are having an inventory clear out and these are going fast so if you have been meaning to pick one up you might want to do it soon!)
One of our favorite traditions for the season is having our Christmas Elves come for a visit. This is my variation of the Elf on a Shelf that has been trendy for a few years now – and we’ve been doing it long enough that I have developed a few tips and tricks for hosting one (or two!) of your own HERE. The kids anticipate their return every year and really enjoy the search for the elves each morning. You know those elves – they are constantly up to something! I have been posting daily #elfantics photos on Instagram (so be sure to follow me!) but I thought I would share their adventures on the blog as well.
Day 1 – our elves arrived! The kids found them hanging from the clock with a note that said “Looks like we got her just in time. Happy December! We can’t wait to spend the month with you. And don’t forget we will be reporting back to Santa!”
Day 2 – found the elves in the kitchen making donut reindeer
Day 3 – We have been deep into prep for Tyler’s Avengers themed birthday party and after seeing all the plans the elves must have wanted to be in on the fun too. They found Tyler’s dress up box and pulled out the Iron Man and Captain America costumes. Tinsel even figured out how to “fly.”
Day 4 – Tyler had been reading his dinosaur book and before going to bed he instructed the elves to do something with the book (which I found amusing to watch and a bit puzzling since dinosaurs are not one of his current obsessions). The elves found a printable game from The Good Dinosaur movie and were partially through the process of setting it up when the kids woke up.
Day 5 – Happy Birthday to Tyler! The elves certainly couldn’t be left out of the festivities and decided to decorate the hallway with crete paper. The boys (Tyler had a friend sleep over the night before) though it looked like a great laser maze and wanted to use it as an activity for the party but the dog ran through the hall and accidentally pulled it all down before party time.
Day 6 – found the elves in Kaitlyn’s closet trying on her clothes. Twinkle was wearing Kaitlyn skirt for the band concert and trying to play her flute while Tinsel went the more manly route with jeans and Tyler’s cowboy hat.
Day 7 – We had finally managed to set up the tree on Sunday (I purposely waited until after the birthday party) and the elves were happy to build a “tree house” using the discarded boxes from birthday gifts Tyler had left laying around.
Do you have a Christmas Elf or Elf on the Shelf? What have your elves been up to? I would love to hear all about it!
Or if you need additional inpiration feel free to follow my elves antics on Instagram or check out my Pinterest Board when I am continually adding new ideas.
Have we hit the week of Thanksgiving already?! Yikes. It’s really time to start getting serious about prepping for Christmas isn’t it? Since I’ve been jotting down gift ideas as I go the last few weeks, what is actually topping my list of Things To Do for Christmas is make up my Elf List for the year.
Are you in on the Elf on the Shelf trend? I actually ran across the idea a year or two before they made the official kits and everything (awesome right? I’m a trend-setter! ha!) and we have had elves visit our house every December since then. I’ve found it to be a fun tradition and one the kids really look forward to but I also know that it’s a lot of work and I have found myself popping awake at 5AM thinking “oh no! I didn’t move the elves!” Thus the Elf List. I collect elf ideas whenever I run across them (yes even in July!) so I have quite a few on my Elf Pinterest Board – feel free to check them out if you need inspiration.
December is a chaotic time of the year with a lot of time spent trying to simplify without missing out on the magic of the season. Over the years I have developed a few tricks to make this Elf thing as easy as possible and thought I would share them with you.
1. Plan ahead. Collect ideas then make a list. I usually sit down a couple weeks before December starts with a paper numbered 1 through 24 and a calendar. Then I pencil in things I KNOW I want the elves to do on specific days. Our elves arrive on the first of December, always with a Hello letter and a few new stamps on their passports. The 24th is also a given as they need to bid the kiddos good-bye for the year. My son’s birthday is on the 5th so I always plan something related to that on that day.
Life is changeable so while I do schedule certain days, I don’t schedule something on all of them. I make a secondary list at the bottom of my paper with quick and easy ideas if I need to change something at the last minute.
2. Set a reminder on your phone. You DO NOT want to be scrambling to move the elves at 3AM when you wake up and remember you didn’t do it before you went to bed, or to have to try to come up with a reason they didn’t move when the kids discover it in the morning. So set that alarm on your phone and never forget the elves again. I usually set mine for about half an hour after we put the kids to bed so they have enough time to fall asleep but it’s still early enough that I am not too tired to make the effort.
3. Enlist help. Sometimes it’s as simple as telling the husband it’s his turn to move the elves. Or it could be that you have a friend that also has elves at their house and you coordinate a night or two with them. A couple years ago our elves had a Skype session with their friends at a neighbor’s house – we simply did a screen shot of them on Skype and emailed it to each other then it was a simple matter to put the photo on the screen and set the elves up in front of it.
And never underestimate the power of a brainstorming session with someone. If you don’t have a buddy doing Elf on the Shelf I do have a Facebook group set up for exchanging ideas.
4. Free printables. Love them! Elf on the Shelf is very popular and there are so many great blogs out there with ideas and even some with printables. I used THIS one and THIS one last year and am figuring out how to incorporate THESE this year.
5. Buy things when you see them. I always try to have a couple of things on hand that the elves can “give” the kids – a mini Christmas tree, a tiny craft kit, a puzzle, a new game. This is one of those cases where the fact that the stores start setting out Christmas stuff before Halloween works in our favor. I have found it’s easier to run across something cool and fun than to get an idea and then try to head out searching for it. So hit that dollar section in Target or the craft store or the dollar store itself and grab a couple of items.
6. Work with what you have. Our houses are stuffed with inspiration, we just have to be open to it. And the kids get a bigger kick out of personal things. So grab your daughter’s favorite doll and let the elf have a tea party. Pull out the Lego sets and have the elf build a Lego christmas tree. Have a pair of hand weights gathering dust in the closet? Maybe the elves need a workout.
7. HAVE FUN! This is supposed to be an enjoyable thing for you and your family so allow yourself to get carried away with it.
All right, everyone even more enthused for their elf visits this year? I know I am! I will be using the rest of this week to post some of my Elf Antics from Christmases past and will like those posts here soon! In the meantime, do you have some favorite Elf ideas you would like to share?!