Fall Appreciation Gifts

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This year I am serving on our MOPs leadership team and my primary job is to create appreciation gifts for the wonderful ladies that love on our children during our MOPs meetings. I’ve had so much fun scouring Pinterest and coming up with creative yet inexpensive ideas to say thanks each month. This is what I came up with for fall appreciation gifts.

These gifts were created for our nursery workers, but they would be perfect as teacher gifts, gifts for Sunday School teachers, classroom snacks, Halloween gifts, etc.

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This was our September gift. I found individual cartons of caramel dip and added an apple as a fun, healthy, and delicious treat! I was able to make 25 of these for less than $25, and that included the bag, ribbon, apples, and caramel.

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These were fun but were a little more labor intensive. I found Hershey bars (full size bars) on clearance at Walmart (check Sams and Costco as well!). You will need one roll of white streamer, googly eyes, black construction paper, and glue in addition to the candy bars. I used THIS template for the bats. For the mummies, I would tear off a strip, cut it in half lengthwise, and wrap messily around the candy bar. Cooper was able to help me with these! These mummies and bats would make great class treats. I made 24 treats for less than $20.

Are you sending in any special gifts or treats to your child’s classroom or teacher?

 

Halloween Themed Food

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As I said in yesterday’s post, I really can’t turn down an opportunity to turn an everyday occasion into a special occasion. I’ve learned with my family that it doesn’t have to be perfect or expensive to make something ordinary extraordinary! Themed food is an easy way to make a weeknight or weekend dinner fun.

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For our Boo To You Halloween Dinner, I made quite a few Halloween themed food items.

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Zombie meatballs – I used frozen meatballs and placed them in the slow cooker with a bottle of grape jelly and a bottle of chili sauce. These were delicious, and they were not spicy at all.

Pumpkins – these were just peeled mandarin oranges with celery sticks stuck in the center.

I made boxed mac and cheese and served them in clear cups with jack o lantern faces.

Monster rice crispy treats – I made rice crispy treats, and cut them out into rectangle shapes. I dipped the tops into colored chocolate and stuck on edible eyeballs.

Mummy dogs – These were made using crescent rolls. Roll out the crescent rolls so that it is a solid sheet (or buy the full sheet crescent rolls). I used a pizza cutter to cut the crescents into strips and just wrapped around the hot dogs. Create eyes with ketchup.

I also served my Copycat Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice.

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Another night we had mummy pizzas – these are super easy as well! I use french bread as the dough, and I top with pizza sauce and whatever toppings my family desires. Instead of using shredded cheese, I used mozzarella slices that I again cut into strips with a pizza cutter. Black olives make great eyes.

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Last year I made these fun pudding cups. I used clear cups and filled with chocolate pudding. Then I topped the pudding with crushed oreos, a tombstone peep, and gummy worms. If you cant find the tombstone peeps, you can make a tombstone using Milano cookies and icing.

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Don’t forget school lunches can be themed too! I have a pumpkin, bat, and ghost cookie cutter that get heavy rotation during October.

For Halloween night, I always serve Buffalo Chicken Chili and cornbread, and I made this pumpkin cake that is to die for.

What have you been cooking this October?

Boo To You Halloween Dinner

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If you know me well, you know it is no secret that I love celebrations. I love taking seemingly ordinary days and turning them into special parties for my kids. Life is too short not to grab a little fun when and where you can. Cooper in particular gets so excited about our celebrations which is why I continue to do it.

This year was our first annual Boo To You Halloween Dinner and I wanted to share in case you wanted to plan a Halloween dinner for your family! It isn’t too late and you probably have most of what you need already on hand.

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First – decorations! I can’t throw any party without fun decorations. Thank goodness for Target’s one dollar spot, right?! The tablecloth, spiderweb chargers, tree and ornaments, pumpkins, and aliens are from Target. The plates are from Kroger.

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Each child got a Halloween pajamas (except Cooper – he’s unfortunately out of child pajamas and into the big boy sizes now) and a Halloween book.

I themed our food as well.

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We had pumpkin oranges, mac and cheese in jack o lantern cups, vampire doughnuts, monster rice crispy treats, zombie brains (meatballs), and mummy dogs. I also served my Copycat Starbucks Caramel Apple Spice to drink.

Do you do any special themed meals to celebrate Halloween? Share your ideas in the comments.

Check back tomorrow for recipes and more ideas for Halloween food!

How to Make a Spiral Mesh Wreath

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I’m absolutely obsessed with mesh wreaths. I like big wreaths and I cannot lie; what can I say? I think mesh wreaths make such an impact on your door. I want people to see my wreath as they drive by my house!

I’ve been making traditional mesh wreaths for about 2 years, but recently I took a class at Carolina Pottery to learn how to make a spiral mesh wreath. It was so much easier than I thought, and I’m going to share a step by step tutorial with you today!

(In case you are a more visual person, I’ve got a quick video tutorial at the bottom of this post.)

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Step One: Gather your supplies. You’ll need mesh, a wreath form, and embellishments if you chose to add them. I added ribbon and some patriotic accessories to my wreath.

You can just do one color wreath, but you’ll need to make some adjustments in your technique if you choose just one color. I talk about this in the video.

All the supplies for this wreath were $60;however , you can make two wreaths out of what you see above. The ribbon was what really made my total so expensive. The burlap ribbon was $10!

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Step Two: Prepare your wreath form. Each grouping of wire is two pieces (keep that in mind for later). Right now you want to pinch the two pieces together and pull them straight up. Then, go around your wreath and count how many groups of wire you have. Most wreath forms have about 18 groups of wire.

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Step Three: Arrange your mesh for cutting. To make this much easier, you will want to layer your mesh on top of one another. The white is on the bottom, then the red, and then the blue. Just make sure they line up at the very end.

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Step Four: Cut your mesh. I use a piece of computer paper as my guide. Cut lengthwise. You can cut along the lines of the mesh if you are a perfectionist.

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Step Five: Once you finish cutting, the mesh will curl up naturally. Set it to the side and cut 18 more times – one strip of mesh for every grouping of wire on your wreath form.

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Step Six: Once you have all your strips of mesh cut, it is time to start putting your wreath together. Take one strip of mesh and fold it in half so that the ends meet. Cut the strip of mesh in half. Now you have two strips of mesh.

Step Seven: Take apart the three individual colors of mesh. Fold the mesh into a cylinder shape. Do this for all three colors.

Step Eight: Stack the three colors mesh on top of one another and pinch in the middle.

Step Nine: Remember how I told you to remember that each grouping of mesh was made up of two pieces of wire? Here’s where that comes into play. The mesh you have pinched together in Step Eight now will get secured on the wreath form with one piece of wire. Pull apart the two pieces of wire on the wreath form and secure the mesh using one piece of wire. Then you will go back and grab the other group of mesh – from the one strip you cut in half – and secure to the other piece of wire.

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Step Ten: Pull apart the wire and fluff. Continue this process with all the strips of mesh, moving around the wreath until you have used all the mesh and all the wire on the wreath form.

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Step Eleven: Here is your finished product, pre-embellishment! The whole process, from cutting to placing the mesh on the wreath, took about 2 hours.

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Here is the wreath after I added my embellishments. I talk a little more about how to cut the ribbon and add the accessories in the video.

Here’s the video! I look a hot mess since I filmed at the end of the day. I had dinner on the stove and the kids were fussing, so excuse my appearance and the mess of my kitchen.

Tips:

  • Wear casual clothes when you make the wreath. The mesh catches on your clothes.
  • Place a tablecloth or sheet on your table if it scratches easily.
  • This is a messy process! Do it somewhere that is easy to vacuum or sweep.
  • When you secure your mesh to your wreath, only wrap the wire one time. Leave the excess wire in case you want to add ribbon or accessories. You can use the excess wire for that purpose.

If you have any questions, please let me know!

Patriotic Crafts for Kids

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Yesterday Cooper followed me around the house for the better part of an hour while I was cleaning. “I’m bored!” he chanted over and over. Bored? The kid has a playroom full of toys, for pete’s sake! While the baby was napping, I quickly consulted Pinterest and came up with some patriotic crafts we could do before lunch. Both of these are quick, easy, and you probably have most of the materials on hand.

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Cooper is still too young to take part in our annual fireworks explosion on the 4th of July. I thought these Fireworks in a Bottle were a cute substitute. He and Sullivan can shake them to their hearts content while the adults handle the explosives!

Directions: Remove the label from an empty water bottle. Fill the bottle with whatever red, white, and blue you have on hand. I used curling ribbon, red and white glitter, and buttons. You can also use pom poms, pipe cleaners, beans, rocks… be creative and see what you have on hand! Fill the bottle with water and secure the top with hot glue. You could also use baby oil (which will help the glitter stay suspended longer than the water will) but to me that was just a disaster waiting to happen.

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For the next craft, I taped down some craft paper and let Cooper paint some blue construction paper with red and white paint.

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Once the paint dried, I secured the paper into a cylinder shape with adhesive. I used streamers on the bottom, and the loop to secure the windsock is made from streamers as well. This Patriotic Wind Sock was super easy and my son was super excited to see it blowing in the wind all day!

Have you been doing any patriotic crafts to prepare for the 4th of July?

Red, White, & Blue Sangria

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Thank you, everyone, for your understanding about my unexpected absence from the blog last week. My grandmother passed away a little over a week ago and I just wanted to take some time away to spend time with my family.

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The winner of the It Works! giveaway is Mary Ellen Satori!

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This week I have a whole series of posts related to the Fourth of July! This was supposed to post last week, but… we will just forge ahead and talk about all things patriotic this week!

First, let’s talk decorations. I’m absolutely crazy about decorating for the holidays. There is just something about a fun tablescape (I’m channeling my inner Sandra Lee) to set the patriotic mood. I decorate for almost every holiday (and a few non-holidays as well) and I’m always on the hunt for inexpensive decor. My go-to shops are Walmart, Target’s dollar spot and holiday aisles, Hobby Lobby, and Party City. I save everything I use and then re-purpose it in some way the next year.

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For example, most of the decor above came from Hobby Lobby: the balloons, the bunting, the fabric, the napkins and hats, and the mini-lanterns. I’ll reuse everything for Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and of course the 4th of July.

I also made some fun treats to enjoy while we watch fireworks.

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The cones are just waffle cones that I dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles. The strawberries  were cleaned then dipped in white chocolate and then in blue sprinkles. Super easy and a big hit with the 4 year old!

Lastly I want to leave you with the perfect drink recipe for your festivities. Make it the night before and then sit it out for your guests to enjoy all day or night long!

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Red, White, & Blue Sangria

Ingredients:

  • One bottle white moscato
  • One bottle sweet red wine
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla
  • Apples
  • Berries: raspberries or strawberries and blackberries or blueberries. Or all!

Sangria could not be easier to make. The best part of it is that you can really customize it and add whatever you want.

Directions:

  1. Add both bottles of wine to a pitcher. This makes a large pitcher but if you are making this for a crowd you’ll want to double the recipe. I never use expensive wine – I almost always choose Cupcake, Barefoot, or Yellowtail brand. You just want a moscato and a sweet red wine.
  2. Make your simple syrup. You can skip this step if you find the wine is sweet enough on its own. Simply add 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup water to a saucepan. For this recipe I added a splash of vanilla and brought the mixture to a boil. Turn to simmer and let the syrup thicken. I let this sit for 30 minutes and then poured into the pitcher with the wine.
  3. Add your fruit. You’ll want something red, white, and blue to match the theme. I used apples as the white, strawberries as the red, and blueberries as the blue. You could use raspberries, blackberries, cherries… make it your own!
  4. **Optional: add liquor to make it a little stronger. Flavored or plain vodka would be a good match. I’d start with 1/2 cup and increase if you are doubling the recipe.
  5. Let the sangria cool in the fridge 2 hour to overnight.

See? Easy peasy right?

Come back tomorrow for Delish Delights – I’ll be sharing the recipe for my famous grits n’ greens casserole!

Kid-Made Father’s Day Gifts

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Today’s post could be alternately titled Pinterest Fail. Or When Kids Make Something It Doesn’t Look Perfect. In truth I debated whether or not to post my own kid-made gifts, mainly because it didn’t look exactly like the Pinterest perfect images that I got inspiration from. Then I realized how hypocritical that would truly be. Listen, my life is not perfect. My house is not always clean and my kids are not always well behaved. I’d be doing a great disservice to my readers if the only thing I ever showed you was my so-called “perfect” life. Life isn’t perfect. It’s messy and chaotic and CRAZY.

Something I’m really trying to focus on is that true joy comes from finding beauty in imperfection. I hope that is one thing you take away from my posts… I’m am imperfect. I am flawed. I cannot do it all. But I love my kids and I try my hardest and in the end that is enough. These Father’s Day gifts? They may not be pinned a million times. You may look at them and think “Wow… that is not cute.” But my husband will love them because they were made in love, and that’s what matters.

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This apron was a fun project, and wasn’t too difficult or expensive to make. All of the supplies were purchased from Michael’s (and I used a coupon). You’ll need an apron, paint, paintbrush, and possibly a stencil or paint pen if you want to include some sort of phrase or message.

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The apron could have turned out so much cuter, but the mistakes were all user error (i.e. mine). I made a stencil using Microsoft Word and card stock for the lettering. I laid down the stencil on the apron and filled in with paint (puff paint, remember that?!). The problem is that I got distracted by a wildebeest running around with an open container of paint in my house, and by the time I wrestled back control of the paint and cleaned up the ensuing mess the paint had dried… with the stencil still on top. The white you see if little bits of paper that stuck as I pulled off the stencil. I’m hoping it will come off when I wash it. I was also cheap and bought $1 clearance paint for the hand prints and the paint was very liquid-y. I had to get the preschooler to stamp his hand twice for the color to show up. I didn’t even attempt this with the baby because…. well, I already needed a Xanax and I didn’t want to torture myself more.

Bottom line: use a fabric paint pen instead of a stencil and buy better quality paint.

Source (this is one of those pins that leads nowhere, but I did get the inspiration from Pinterest)

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While I was browsing around Michael’s, I stumbled upon a stepping stone kit and thought that would be a fun project and gift for Dad. We’ve been doing a lot of work to our backyard and I thought it would be a meaningful present for Cooper to give to Jason. This is the kit I purchased and it makes 2 stones. It contains everything you need: mold, stone mix, tools, jewels, paint, etc. The decorations were easy and we completed the project in less than 20 minutes. The only tip I have is that the directions tell you to pour the mix and add the water directly in the mold – the mold is shallow and this makes a huge mess. I think if I did this again I would use a throwaway container and then pour into the mold.

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This is what Cooper will be giving his Papa, along with a ticket to a baseball game. My dad loves to snack on peanuts when he is watching sports, so I thought this would be a cute, easy, and inexpensive gift. The tag was downloaded from Don’t Waste The Crumbs.

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We will also be filling out this Father’s Day questionnaire from Family Spice. Click on the link for a downloadable PDF.

For more gift ideas, check out our Father’s Day Pinterest board!

Delish Delights: Cinnamon Roll Casserole

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It is Tuesday, and that means it is time for Delish Delights! This week’s recipe is Cinnamon Roll Casserole! This would be a perfect meal for Father’s Day breakfast or brunch.

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The recipe is courtesy of my friend Dana at The Dishy Decoraor. Thank you, Dana!

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter or baking spray
  • 2 cans refrigerated cinnamon rolls with icing
  • 4 eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2  teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2  teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 cup chopped Pecans
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Grease your baking pan with the melted butter (I sprayed with Pam.)
  2. Open your cans of cinnamon rolls and remove the icing. Cut each roll into half, and each half into fourths. Spread the rolls out evenly.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together your eggs, whipping cream, cinnamon, and vanilla. Pour over the cinnamon rolls.
  4. Drizzle maple syrup over the top of the casserole.
  5. Sprinkle the top with pecans.
  6. Bake for 20-30 minutes.
  7. Once your remove your casserole from the oven, heat the icing in the microwave until it is thin and easy to spread (15 seconds). Drizzle over the top of the casserole and serve!

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I served with fruit skewers and the boys just ate this up!

Tickled Peach’s Guide to the Perfect Gift for Dad

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Are you ready for Father’s Day? It is just around the corner! Mother’s Day snuck up on me, so I’m determined to plan ahead for Father’s Day. Make sure you place it on your calendar – Father’s Day is Sunday, June 15th, 2014. To help you out, I am dedicating the entire week to dads here on Tickled Peach! Here’s what you have to look forward to this week:

  • Monday: Tickled Peach’s Guide to the Perfect Gift for Dad
  • Tuesday: a special breakfast in bed edition of Delish Delights, perfect for Father’s Day morning or brunch
  • Wednesday: Tickled Peach’s Guide to Homemade Gifts for Dad from the Kids
  • Thursday: a new series called Serving Him – we’ll be talking about different ways to encourage and show appreciation to your spouse
  • Friday: a special edition of #tpconfessions – I’ll be having my husband weigh in on the things I do and say that drive him crazy.

Do you already have a Father’s Day gift picked out for your spouse? No worries if you do not – I’m here to help you out! I’ve scoured the web and polled my guy friends for gift ideas that your spouse will love.

To start off, I wanted to share what I’m getting my husband for Father’s Day. Just a little background: my husband doesn’t love gifts. He does appreciate a gift, but it doesn’t make him over the moon happy the way it makes me. (A key difference between my husband and I: if I said to my husband “don’t look in that closet, okay? Your gift is in there” he wouldn’t look. Me, I’d rip that door open as soon as he stepped into the bathroom.) I do love gift giving and I get especially excited about the receiver’s reaction to my gift, so my husband has always been a challenge. Football season tickets would be met with the same excitement as a boxed set of his favorite television show. Over the years I’ve learned that I need to think outside of the box and I need to keep it simple. My husband has never wanted super expensive or complicated gifts – it just isn’t who he is, and that’s okay.

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Keeping that in mind, I put together a bucket of some of his favorite things. I have several packages of beef jerky, several different types of nuts, his favorite candy, some juice that he loves to use to make mixed drinks, and beer. I also threw in two tickets to a baseball game for daddy & son. This cost less than $40 and everything was purchased at Target.

Some other ideas:

  1. Power tools: This was the most suggested item when I polled my guy friends. One thing several guys mentioned was a chainsaw. This would come in very handy if we ever have another ice storm! How about a cordless drill, a new weed eater or blower, or a ladder?
  2. I like the idea of a spa day for Dad. Dads like massages, too! I highly recommend Retreat Salon and Spa in Evans, GA for local massages.
  3. Another frequently suggested item was a beer sampler and a round of golf. If you really want to make his day, buy a round for his buddies as well and send him on his way! This is the guy equivalent of “why don’t you go shopping, dear?”
  4. Does your husband love to fish? How about a hand stamped fishing lure and a gift card to Bass Pro Shop or Cabelas?
  5. For the grill enthusiasts, I think a grilling basket would be super fun to put together! Round up a bunch of different marinades and dry rubs, a new apron, and maybe an engraved spatula. I love the idea of this wooden Father’s Day card. You could have it laser engraved with a special messagefor your husband. Go one step further – go to a pottery painting shop and have your child make a grill platter for dad.
  6. Does your husband love to take pictures with your “fancy” camera and his iPhone? Then he needs the Eye-Fi Mobi Wireless Memory Card. Any picture you take with your “fancy” camera will be automatically transferred to your iPhone camera roll. Genius!
  7. Is your husband a workout enthusiast? Maybe he’d like some new tennis shoes, a heart rate monitor, or new workout gear. I know anything Under Armour is a huge hit with my brother.
  8. Is your husband a Star Wars fan? Last weekend I picked up the original trilogy at Costco for less than $40. I love the idea of pairing it with these Star Wars Chop Sabers – chopsticks that look and light up like light sabers!
  9. Lastly, don’t underestimate the significance of an act of service. Is there something your husband has been asking you to do for months or something that would ease his load? I know my husband would be over the moon if I cleaned out the garage – a task he’s been nagging me about for months but I keep putting it off. Maybe you could mow the lawn so that he can relax on his day off instead of doing yard work.

I hope you found these ideas helpful! What are your getting your husband for Father’s Day?

Welcome to Summer! Fun Ideas for the Kids

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Preschool ended for my three year old last Thursday, and if you are like me you are both excited and nervous regarding summer break. I’m excited that we don’t have a set schedule. We don’t have anywhere we absolutely must go and no time we must be there by. I’m looking forward to days at the pool, going for walks, picnics, and playtime outside.

However, I would be lying if I said I wasn’t the tiniest bit apprehensive about keeping my preschooler out of trouble. Cooper does not do downtime well. If he isn’t engaged, he’s getting himself into trouble. In fact, as I write this I am attempting to calm myself after finding that he decided to “experiment” and see what would happen when he poured nail polish remover on my hope chest. Deep breaths, deep breaths…. In case you are wondering the results of that experiment: nail polish eats away at the varnish on your furniture, leaving your treasured future hand-me-down in desperate need of refinishing.

Deep breaths, deep breaths….

Before all this happened, I decided to put together a “Welcome to Summer” basket for my boy. (I will be holding on to this basket until his behavior improves.) It is no secret that I love celebrations, and what better way to welcome summer than with a gift basket? I scoured dollar spots and clearance aisles for some fun summer gifts.

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The basket is from the Target Dollar Spot ($3), as are the shovels, water gun, water balloon, Jake & the Neverland Pirates puzzle, squishy critter, Crazy 8 card game, bath finger paints, and bug magnifying glass. I also purchased a beach towel, a pool toy (the Mickey weeble wobble thingamajig), and the Spiderman sprinkler.

If you decide to put together a basket, here are some other ideas of things you can include:

  • Water shoes
  • A new bathing suit or coverup
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses or a hat
  • Floaties or a life jacket
  • Pool toys, floats, or noodles
  • Water balloons
  • Water guns
  • Football or frisbee
  • Croquet set
  • Sand toys
  • Beach ball

One thing that I do for birthdays that would also be perfect for celebrating summer vacation is door streamers! How fun would it be for your child to wake up and see this when he or she opens their door?

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My child loves balloons – how about sneaking in their room with some helium balloons? You could also greet them at the car line or bus stop with a character balloon!

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My friend Rebecca from R We There Yet Mom? greets her kids with a special surprise when they get off the bus on the last day of school. One year it was a water gun fight, another a water balloon fight… Click on the picture to see Rebecca’s other ideas on how to welcome summer!

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How do you celebrate the end of the school year and the beginning of summer?