Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone we turn our attention to the winter holidays. That means lots of cooking, baking, cleaning, decorating, and shopping going on. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukka, or other winter holiday you’re probably wondering how you’re going to fit in all the seasonal activities.
One way to reduce your seasonal cookie baking is to host a cookie exchange and swap baked goods with friends and relatives. It may take a bit of planning, but at least you’ll only have to bake one type of cookie and still have a variety to enjoy or gift over the holidays. It’s also a good excuse for a girls day or night out!
Hosting a cookie exchange doesn’t have to be a big fancy affair nor does it have to cost a fortune.
You can easily host one with just your close friends and family on a tight budget.
Here’s a few tips to help you plan your cookie exchange!
1. Decide who you want to invite.
You may want to keep the party small and intimate to keep it manageable. It’s probably not the right time to throw a party with 50 of your friends and their families.
2. Set your date and time.
Send out invitations. Ideally cookie swap invitations should be sent out a month before, but if you haven’t already done so, you should schedule it as soon as possible so guests can plan to attend. Everyone is busy during the holidays, if your guests are able to attend weekday events it may be easier to have your cookie exchange during the week, otherwise you can schedule a weekend day at least a week before the holiday.
I like to send written invitations, but if you’re pressed for time invitations sent via email or text will do. How ever you decide to send invitations always request guest to RSVP and if possible let you know what type of cookie they will be bringing. This will help avoid duplicates and you can gently suggest an alternative before the cookie exchange.
Tell guests they must bring a dozen cookies per guest plus an extra dozen for tasting. Suggest that the cookies they bring should be easy to pack and store. You can also ask them to write down the cookie recipe on a recipe card if they want to share it. Recipe cards can double as table cards and guests can help themselves to a card as well as the cookies.
3. Bake your cookies.
You can make them well in advance and store baked cookies in the freezer. Cookie bars freeze and pack well as do chocolate chip, peanut butter, oatmeal, sugar, and snickerdoodles. For a list of cookies that freeze well check out this article from aboutfood.com.
To learn how to freeze cookies click here!
4. Purchase packing supplies.
You can use boxes, tins, or even ziplock bags. You may want to provide ribbons, tissue paper, tags, and other supplies so guests can pack up cookies for gift giving.
You may also want to have small party favors for each guests. Nicely wrapped oven mitts, kitchen towels, cookie cutters, and wooden spoons are all inexpensive and useful items that would make cute favors.
5. Decorate your house, cookie and packing table.
Set out platters and stands for the cookies. To make your own tiered stands click here!
You may want to set up a table or counter to pack cookies aside from the table or tables for the cookies.
Table cards with cookie type is a nice touch, or if guests are bringing recipe cards to share they can double as table cards. Here’s a cute and festive way to set up table cards, otherwise tent style folding cards work just as well.
Glue 3 candy canes together to form a tripod. Place table card on the hook part.
6. Offer guests coffee, tea, hot cocoa, or even wine.
You should also set out a few savory tidbits for guests to snack on. Finger sandwiches, dips, and other bite sized savories are ideal and will ward off the sugar rush from sampling all those cookies.
7. The star of the show are the cookies and the main event is the exchange.
Decide how you’re going to work the exchange to allow guests to choose the cookies they want. You can have a couple of guests at a time choose all their cookies or you can have rounds with each guest choosing a dozen cookies at a time. Guests can choose the same amount of cookies as they brought.
Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks, that means the kids will be out of school for the very long weekend. Keep them busy making fun inexpensive Thanksgiving crafts while you’re busy in the the kitchen preparing that delicious Thanksgiving Day meal. You can also set a kids’ Thanksgiving table for your little guests and keep them entertained making their own craft projects to take home.
Many of these kid’s crafts are made using things you have at home or inexpensive supplies you can pick up at any discount or dollar store. Recycle toilet paper and paper towel rolls, paper plates, baby food jars, and bottle caps for these crafts.
Paper Roll Turkey from Arstsy-Farsty Mama is a great way to recycle toilet paper and paper towel rolls.
This Pilgrim Hat crayon holder by The Moody Fashionista would look great on the Kids’ Thanksgiving table. Make one for each place setting and add a blank rectangular piece of brown Kraft paper. Kids can make their own placemat!
Instructions here![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Take a tip from Martha Stewart. Kraft paper placemats on the children’s Thanksgiving table will keep your little guests entertained. Add the Pilgrim Hat crayon holder and you’ve got a cute and practical table setting. Kids can take home their crayons and palcemats as party favors!
I love this idea from Alittletipsy.com! Handprint trees! My grandson made me one for mother’s day using different colors. My daughter added a poem and had it framed. It proudly hangs in my family room!
The Thanksgiving table can get very crowded. What with the turkey, side dishes, gravy, and sauces, there’s no place for anyone to actually sit down and eat! I solved this problem long ago by setting up a Thanksgiving Buffet Table for all the food and having an adult table as well as a kids’ table.
Depending on the space you have and the number of guests you are expecting this could take some doing. You might consider setting up different stations or bars; appetizer, sides, desserts, and drinks; or any combination there of. If you’re limited on space your stations may have to do double duty after dinner; appetizer station can be converted to dessert bar.
You may have to think out of the box and re-purpose furniture pieces to hold food and tableware. You will more than likely have to rearrange furniture to accomplish your goal. However you decide to set up the meal it will require advance planning, so much easier to move furniture without a ton of guests milling around.
Here are a few tips to help you set up a Thanksgiving Buffet Table.
1. Plan your serveware. Know ahead of time what dishes you will be using. I usually do this as soon as I’ve planned my menu, making a note beside each dish what I will be serving it in. Be creative, make your buffet interesting by adding height, this also creates space.
I love tiered stands and racks, but you don’t have to spend a fortune buying them. Stands can easily be made from dollar store items with very little time and effort. Check out Savvy Nana’s DIY Hurricane Vases & Lamps to learn how to make your own tiered stands.
You can also stack platters on upside down stemware or bowls to create height. Or use books or boxes wrapped in pretty paper. If you don’t have time to wrap books or boxes, just place them where you want them on the table and cover everything with a large tablecloth. You can even set Plates on pumpkins to create varying heights
For some great ideas on how to set a buffet table watch Kid’s Smart Living‘s video tutorial
A table in the middle of the room allows several guest access to the table at the same time, in this case taller dishes should be placed in the middle of the table. If the table needs to be set up against the wall meaning it will be front serving then taller dishes should be in the back.
2. Once you know which serving pieces you will be using you need to decide what you’re going to put them on. Breakfast tables, sideboards, baking racks, kitchen islands and counters work well as long as at least 2 people can serve themselves at the same time without blocking the way for everyone else. You may have to move furniture to accommodate the this traffic and arrange your serving ware accordingly.
Consider setting out trays of appetizers on coffee tables and end tables in the living or family rooms. This frees up space on the buffet table for the main event.
If you don’t have enough room on the table for plates and eating utensils consider setting up another table, shelf or rack to place them on.
Dinner plates stacked neatly on a chair will work![spacer height=”-100px” id=”8″]
Make use of all the flat surfaces in your house. Setting up a bar on the mantle works well![spacer height=”20px” id=”2″]
3. Keep eating utensils neat and within reach by placing them in mason or apothecary jars, or on trays.
4. Decorate your buffet or bar with centerpieces and even a backdrop. You don’t need table cards but they’re a nice touch as is a framed photo or sign. You can hand write your own on card stock or use one of these printable.
I guess it’s that time of year again! We’ve already started the countdown for Halloween at our house. I’ve been busy making costumes for the grands, Halloween cards and decorations. We’re also starting to plan this year’s Halloween party for my grandson Jett. It’s supposed to be a small one, but we’ll see. Our parties tend to grow as we plan.
One of the activities we love during the Halloween season, in our family that’s pretty much the whole month of October, is the neighborhood game “You’ve Been Booed!”. We play it in our neighborhood every year. It’s a great way to get to know some of your neighbors and a good way to teach kids about sharing and giving.
The older kids love helping prepare the gift baskets, but the highlight is really dropping them off without being seen!
If you’re not familiar with the game I’ll explain. The object of the game is to anonymously drop off a Halloween treat to 2 of your neighbors without being seen. You must include a copy of the poem and game instructions with your treat, as well as a sign that let’s everyone know that house has been booed.
The treat recipient hangs the we’ve been booed somewhere visible so everyone knows that house has gotten a treat. Then each recipient will continue the game by giving treats to 2 other neighbors who haven’t been booed yet.
I know I said it’s a neighborhood game, but really you can play it in school or at the office too!
By the way the treat doesn’t have to be just candy, you can include stickers, decor, and other fun Halloween stuff. You can be as creative as you want!
To help you get started we’re sharing 2 new designs for Halloween 2016! Each design has the instructions and the sign hung by the recipient. You have a choice of “I’ve been booed” or “We’ve been booed” . If you’re playing in school or at the office you may want to display the I’ve been booed sign.
Just click on the link, download and print! Enjoy!
Should your baby shower have a theme? Here we’ll help you find the perfect theme to kick off your new life with your baby as you explore dozens of creative baby shower theme ideas.
Picking a baby shower theme should reflect the personality and interests of the parents, but narrowing down all of the options can be a hassle. Depending on if your shower is a neighborhood potluck, a gender reveal or a simple Sunday brunch, we’ve gathered hundreds of baby shower theme ideas that will delight any parent-to-be.
This gender neutral baby shower theme features vintage toys, sweet baby’s breath flowers, and white decorations.
Elephants make great baby shower themes for girls that your guests will never forget!
Your favorite iconic children’s toy is great inspiration for a baby boy shower theme, like the classic sock monkey.
Skulls and cactii from the desert are the ultimate decor for a modern chic themed baby shower right now.
An amazing boy baby shower always includes adorable decorations, sweet printable details, a delicious assortment of desserts (cake, cookies, and candy) and charming details. This yellow vintage baby shower features the cutest duck printables, old children’s books, gingham checks and vintage glassware. You will be smiling over all of the bright, cheerful details.
A new baby definitely calls for tossing some confetti in celebration! This confetti baby shower is a unique theme and fun way to honor an expectant mother. Recreate the look by incorporating plenty of confetti inspired dots throughout the decorations and treats. You can DIY paper circle garlands by punching circles of varying sizes in party colors and sewing them into strings for hanging. Wrap boxes in polka dot paper to display a variety of delicious treats like cookies, cupcakes and cake pops.
Mother’s Day is fast approaching, this year it’s Sunday, May 12th. If you’re planning to take mom out for breakfast, lunch, or dinner you should make reservations now if you haven’t made them already; Mother’s Day is one of the busiest days for restaurants and reservations fill up fast.
Along with taking mom out for a meal the kids like to give her a gift as well, and what better gift to give mom than something made lovingly for her. Here are some really unique ideas that kids can make with just a bit of help from dad, aunties, or older siblings. Moms can make them too for grandmas, friends, and aunties!
This is one of my favorite gifts, my grandson Devon made it for me a few years ago.
His mom, my daughter, helped him make the hand print tree and write the poem. She then had it framed and Devon presented it to me on Mother’s Day. It proudly hangs in our family room. Here’s the poem, feel free to use it for your projects.
I love this idea of taking a picture in a frame, my daughter did this with her kids last fall!
This pic was done by Moose Photography, professional photographers and posted by Cool Mom Picks But you can DIY it!
You’ll need the same frame in 3-4 sizes depending on how many generations you want to include. Take a photo of the smallest member, the baby, frame that. Take a photo of the next, mom, holding the framed picture of the baby, frame that.
Continue with each generation, grandma, great-grandma, etc.
Be sure the pictures are all taken using the same background.
This is too cute!
This idea came from Tips from a Typical Mom.
Just take photos of your child in 5 different poses, each pose holding a letter to spell “Mommy”. Mat and from the photos. Easy peasy! Great gift for Moms and Grandmas!
These photo flowers in a card stand are adorable and easy to make.