Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Elf on the Shelf Good-Bye Poem

Christmas Eve is tomorrow, which means everyone's favorite little elves are getting ready to leave.

I thought I'd quickly stop in to leave you all with a good-bye letter you can use for your elf's last day!

No fancy downloading needed :)  Just right click and save to your desktop!

Merry Christmas from my family to yours!


Our Family's December Acts of Christmas Kindness

For a kid, Christmas is the most magical day of the year.  Surrounded by family, opening presents, staying up late, and the sheer joy of lying in your bed with your mind racing a mile a minute thinking what could possibly be in those gifts that are piled under the tree.

We wanted, this year, to take some focus off the amount of gifts they'd be getting or what they wanted this year for Christmas and focus more on what Christmas SHOULD be about.

I saw the idea floating around Pinterest about doing random acts of kindness and I thought it was a fabulous idea.

I wanted to incorporate an act of kindness each day leading up to Christmas that my kids could do that would help them appreciate all they have and to be lucky enough to see how good it feels to help others and not only worry about themselves.

I wanted to make this an enjoyable experience for the entire family and get everyone involved.  And we did.

There were no fancy printables (except for my kindness calendar which I'll link below).  We hand wrote each card, picture, or note.  We wanted it to be special and personalized from us.  :)

Some days, because of school schedules or because there was something else going on, we did miss the opportunity here and there to do one act of kindness each day.  We did make it up either the following day or on the weekend by doing more than one on that day.  There were days we actually did 3 or 4 acts.  But it all got done and we learned so much from this experience.

I wanted my kids to learn that it doesn't take much to help someone or to brighten someone's day.

We did most of our acts anonymously because I wanted them to know that doing something kind for someone or helping someone should go without recognition.  It's not about getting a thank you or for getting praise.  It's simply about being kind to others.

Here are the acts we did for the month of December.......

  • We hid a dollar in the toy section of the dollar store.

  •  We donated new coloring books and crayons to the emergency room waiting room.

  • Left some popcorn at a Redbox.

  • Paid for someone's vacuum at the car wash.

  • Donated clothes and diapers to our local pregnancy center.

  • The kids took their own money to donate to the salvation army.  I was so proud of them for choosing their dollar bills to give.  As a kid, parting with dollars doesn't come easy.  It made my heart happy!

  • They hand delivered a Christmas card to their school nurse.

  • My husband knew a woman who had just lost her father and couldn't afford presents for her two kids.  We wanted to help make their Christmas special.  My husband and my son shopped for her 7 year old son, while me and the girls shopped for her 2 year old daughter.  The feeling of being able to bless someone and taking some worry off of her was the most rewarding feeling.  My kids were so excited to be able to make those kids' Christmas a little brighter.

  • We donated food to a food pantry.

  • We left some diapers and a pack of wipes on a changing table in the restroom at Walmart.

  • We left a little treat for our mail carrier.  It was so nice to open the mailbox the next day and see a thank you card from her!

  • We had planned on bringing candy to our local police officers.  I took the picture before we realized that all the doors were locked and there was no one there.  So we ended up bringing the candy to the forestry department.  It worked out better though because those men were so excited to see the kids!  They said they never get visitors.  They gave all the kids coloring books as a thank you.

  • A holiday scratch off ticket left at the ATM

  • We took donuts to our local fire station.  The firemen gave the kids a tour of all the trucks! They had such a great time!

Next year I plan on starting this a little earlier in the month.  It was such a rewarding experience for all of us.  It filled our hearts with joy and helped us better understand the meaning of Christmas.

Seeing the smiles on their faces and talking amongst themselves in the back seat wondering who would find the dollar, or who would come across the lottery ticket, it was so nice to see excitement on their faces knowing they made someone's day a little brighter or put a smile on someone's face.

We're always told to be more like Jesus.  We always long to be more like Him.  And I believe teaching our children to be kind, generous, and giving without expecting anything in return is a step in the right direction.

"He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked."  - 1 John 2:6

I'm hoping this post inspired someone to try this some time.  The rewards are priceless.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!


Right click and Save-As, print out the calendar, fill in each day with an act of kindness, and bless someone today!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Our Buddy the Elf Themed Dinner

Every year I always try and make some type of Christmas themed dinner.  Last year, we had a snowman dinner and the year before that, we had a Grinch dinner.

This year, we went with a dinner based around the movie Elf.  It's one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time!

I wanted to keep everything very simple because over the years of hosting parties and holidays, I've learned that keeping clean up to a minimal is extremely important.  I want to enjoy making memories with my family, rather than spend my time washing dishes at the sink.

So first things first....

The Decorations:

I spent two days cutting strips of paper, making snowflakes, and making paper chains.

My kids helped make the snowflakes, which was such a nice time.  Listening to Christmas music and spending time on the floor cutting out all different snowflakes was a memory in itself.

Promising they can stay up late to help me was more of a reward for me rather then for them.  It was less snowflakes I had to make!!

"SANTA!! I know him!"

*I'll link up my printable for The Code of Elves at the end of this post*

The Food:

"Son of a nutcracker!"
Just a simple bowl of cashews.  Can't go wrong.

"You smell like beef and cheese"

I made some homemade cheeseburger sliders.  Always a hit with any kid!  (and adults!)

"Smiling's my favorite!"

Mashed potato smiles were the perfect addition to the menu!


For dessert we had spaghetti cupcakes.  I saw the idea on Pinterest and absolutely LOVED it. 

It's just cupcakes layered into the bowl.  I mixed white frosting with a little yellow and brown food coloring paste to make a "pasta colored" icing.  

I covered the cupcakes in a light layer and then piped on the spaghetti using a #20 icing tip and pastry bag.  

I topped the "spaghetti" with melted chocolate frosting, mini marshmallows, M&M's, and pieces of chocolate fudge poptarts.  Is the healthiest dessert?  I'm gonna say no.  But Buddy the elf doesn't do healthy.  After all, the four main food groups for elves are candy, candy corns, candy canes, and syrup!

"Congratulations!  World's best cup of coffee!"

I know I posted this picture above, but I didn't take a single picture of the world's best cup of coffee!  Which in actuality, was cups of hot chocolate.  I didn't think giving kids cups of coffee with their bowl of sugar spaghetti would have been a smart move. ;)

If you remember, Buddy drinks the whole bottle of coke.  We did too.  But they were MUCH smaller. :)

While we ate, I played a playlist of music I had created that had the soundtrack to the movie.  The dinner was a huge hit!  It was simple to make, easy preparations, and super easy clean up.  

We also had to dress the part.  Everyone got their own elf hat to wear, all the way from the North Pole.  Which in "Mom Land" is the dollar store! 

{  They're all ready to eat!  And of course, no picture (in this family at least) would be complete without one of my kids having their eyes closed.  }

We finished off the night sitting by the fire and watching the movie Elf together.  It was a special night full of laughter, fun, and memories we'll all remember.  And that's what Christmas is about to me.  

I love to create simple nights like these that we can look back on and remember in Christmas pasts that we spent this time together.  We laughed around good food.  We talked.  We loved.  

I hope I gave someone some inspiration to create their own themed dinner and try this out for their family!  You really should.  Come on!  Don't be a cotton headed ninny muggins.

Wishing you all a season full of love and memories of your own!


Grab your FREE printables below:

You can download my free Elf food labels HERE 

You can download my FREE Code of Elves printable  HERE

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Easy Sweet and Salty Christmas Bark

I was so excited this year to try my hand at making a new yummy Christmas treat.

I've never attempted to make candy or any type of bark, so I was curious to see how this would taste or how difficult it would be to make.

This is probably one of the easiest things I've ever made and is a HUGE hit with my kids.  Chocolate, candy, pretzels, peanuts?  What's not to love?

This is the perfect treat to make and wrap up with some cute holiday plastic wrap and tie it all together with a cute ribbon.  It makes a great gift!  And any leftovers you don't give away, well...ya know.

This is probably why I've gained 3 pounds so far.

*I have no exact measurements for the "toppings" of the bark because I just put what I thought looked good.*


  • 3 cups semi sweet chocolate chips ( around 1 1/2 bags)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • Pretzel sticks, broken into pieces
  • Red and green candies (I used M&M's)
  • Honey roasted peanuts
  • Sprinkles


-Line a cookie sheet with foil.

- Place toppings in separate bowls for easy access.

-Heat chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl for 1 minute intervals, stirring in between.  (My microwave took 2 1/2 minutes to melt the chocolate.)

-When chocolate is fully melted, stir in the tsp. of oil.

-Pour chocolate onto the lined cookie sheet.

-Sprinkle with toppings.  Press lightly into chocolate as you go.

-Refrigerate for 1-2 hours or until firm.

-Remove the chocolate from foil, break into pieces, and enjoy!