Around my house, Chloe can't get enough of making her own little story books. The creative folks at Wee Society have a great DIY project for your budding writer. Just download the fill-in-the-blanks story worksheet which includes instructions for DIY stamps and ideas for illustrations (inspired by Ed Amberley).
I also love their alternative to candy on Halloween night like little toys, stickers or temporary tattoos to pass out. These super cute Spooky Spider or Boo Crew Tattlys are designed by Wee Society.
Finally, if you still are looking for costume ideas, check out their paper bag DIY costumes from last year here.
For the holiday season, I'll be rounding up lots of creative gift ideas for the little ones. To kick it off, Wee Society has the perfect holiday gift for creative little geniuses-to-be. Through Dec. 7, Wee You-Things Blocks ($65) are $15 off (with promo code BLOCKS15). The blocks are a Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner and were designed to spark creativity and promote problem-solving. Each set includes three puzzles and lots of stackable characters. It's an heirloom toy that's built to last – made in the USA with replenish able basswood and non-toxic inks.
To give your gift a touch of handmade receive one-of-a-kind hand-drawing/lettering on gift-wrapped packages for all Wee Society Shop orders made by December 19.
If you are looking for fun, creative things to do with kids this winter break, check out all of the free downloadable activities from the Wee Workshop.
Don't miss the unveiling of the largest holiday sugar castle on Wednesday, November 27th at the Westin St. Francis in Union Square, San Francisco. The festivities start at 9am and will run throughout the day where you can enjoy live holiday music plus complimentary hot chocolate and cookies.
I can't wait to see it with Chloe as the Sugar Castile is modeled after a French Chateau in the Bordeaux region where my husband is from. Jean-François Houdré the Executive Pastry Chef at the Westin St. Francis has been working day and night to create this 12 foot rotating Sugar Castle that features more than 20 grand circular towers, approximately 30 rooms with illuminated windows surrounded by a small village and a running train.
More fun facts about the Sugar Castle's ingredients:
90 pounds of gingerbread
160 pounds of pastillage (powdered sugar, egg whites and gelatin dough)
30 pounds of pulled and bubble sugar
Royal icing made of 400 pounds of sugar and egg whites
50 pounds of molasses
80 pounds of flour
60 pounds of assorted Christmas candy
Make it a fun trip with the kids to Union Square to see the Sugar Castle, ice skate at the Union Square rink and do some holiday shopping!
As visions of December come dancing ever so closely now, my little ballerina gets excited for our visit to see the SF Ballet's Nutcracker in a matter of weeks. She is obsessed with the lovely story thanks to this gorgeous book, The Nutcracker: A Magic Theater Book ($14.76 on Amazon) by Geraldine McCaughrean, illustrated by Kristina Swarner (published by Chronicle Books).
The pages of this book come to life with beautiful paper animations that cleverly stay in their own "windows" so there's no fear of ripping as things don't pop out. McCaughrean is my hero because her prose is sophisticated and poetic for kids, making it a joy to read aloud to Chloe. Also keep in mind the book has the young heroine as the original "Marie" and not "Clara" which it was later changed to by Alexandre Dumas.
Watch the video of The Nutcracker above to see the pages move!
Also available from Chronicle Books is a personalized version of the Night Before Christmas. Only $34.99, this book puts your child into the magical tale. Order it now so it arrives in time for the holidays!
Disclaimer: Review book was provided by Chronicle Books.
An awesome book is one that you turn to again and again for reference and inspiration. I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Anna Getty (published by Chronicle Books) is just that kind of book for me for the upcoming holidays. (Don't miss that Truffled Mac n' Cheese recipe!) I initially received this book during Christmas 2009 to review for CRAFT. It's a staple now in my craft library and I turn to it constantly during the holidays for recipes as well as craft projects to do with my three year old Chloe. Now that she is on vacation from preschool, I love spending these last few days before Christmas doing crafts or baking. This project is perfect for kids to make with all those online shipping boxes filling up your recycling bin. It's also a wonderful way for them to be creative and to start creating new holiday ornaments you can look back on each year as they grow up.
Why send that cardboard box to the recycling bin when it can be transformed into a beautiful ornament for the tree or holiday window? This is a wonderful project to do with kids on a cold winter day (just help the younger kids with the needle and thread). The customized results are sturdy enough to survive storage for many years and many trees to come.
Christmas-themed cookie cutters
Scraps of cardboard
Vintage beads, buttons, glitter, and other found objects
Yarn, ribbon, or cotton thread
Using the pencil, trace the cookie cutter shapes onto the cardboard pieces.
Cut out the shapes and paint designs on them. Allow the paint to dry.
Glue the beads, buttons, glitter, and found objects to the ornaments.
For each ornament, cut a 6- to 7-inch (15- to 17-cm) piece of yarn, thin piece of ribbon, or thread.
Poke a hole in the top of the ornament with the needle and string the thread through the hole to hang it.
Even though Chloe's still relatively young, I'm looking forward to her enjoying all the cuteness of Easter. I ordered her one of these Puffy Easter Baskets ($12 at Pottery Barn Kids, $6.50 monogram optional). I chose the bunny for her as she loves bunny rabbits, although the little chick is pretty freaking cute too. Order it now if you want something personalized in time before Easter. I like the idea of straying away from the traditional wicker baskets for something more modern and different. Plus, I know she'll love playing with her bunny basket long after the Easter holiday.
Here are some of my favorite Easter baskets:
Fabric Easter Baskets ($12.95 at Personal Creations)
Choose from Blue Bunny, Pink Bunny, Lamb, Chick, Frog, and Bee
My friend Dawn just showed me this cute Soft My First Christmas Tree set ($29.95 + $5 personalization at One Step Ahead). It's a perfect little toy to get the little one excited to decorate and play with their own plush tree. We all played around with it this afternoon and I have to say it's really well-made. The ornaments stick on with one side of velcro backing easily on to the tree and the kiddies love it! All of can be put away in a cute plush gift box that can be personalized if you like. For ages 6 months and up.