Monday, November 30, 2015

Christmas Countdown 2015 and Advent

(above: previous years' activities)

That time of year again....where I scavenge the internet and local events for ideas to keep us engaged and having fun together as a family in December.  With Christmas parties and out of town visitors, Christmas concerts and all the rest, it's easy to forget what we're really celebrating.  

That's why the backbone of our Christmas countdown comes from reading from this amazing book I purchased last year:
But if you're looking for some other good ideas I hear many great things about this program
There's still time to purchase the online book!
or there are plenty of these scripture read-alongs you can follow with your family.
Like this:

With that being our focus, I still love to fill little advent boxes with a few little treats, a few little trinkets (for days I'm working especially) and fun activities for our Christmas season.  There's some local events we'll attend, some acts of generosity, and some ideas to fill our days.  Here's our Christmas Countdown List:

Check it out (and join us for any if you wish!)

1st: Set up our nativity set and finish decorating our Christmas tree
2nd: Make snowman pancakes and later in the day head to Port Kell's Nursery (if you're never been there at Christmas time, it's free and decorated beautifully!)
3rd. Panting project to send in packages in the mail
4th Christmas music dance party
5th: Parade (there one in Maple Ridge or Lynden, Washington)
6th: Christmas parties with friends
7th: Make snow play doh (white with glitter in it) and make snowmen
8th Make homemade marshmallows, have hot chocolate, and read stories by the fire
9th: Decorate Gingerbread Houses
10th: Stanley Park Christmas train (If you've never been, it's amazing!  Van Dusen is also a favourite although both are a bit pricey).
11th: Christmas ornament making day
12th: Ice skating or heading to the Winter Wonderland Festival in Vancouver (or to see the Festival of Trees Downtown)
13th: Snowman pizza and Christmas movie night
14th: Making gifts for teachers and babysitters
15th: More crafting! Beads, paper, popsicle sticks and more. Most to give away to friends and family.
16th: Decorating Christmas cookies and Toby's Christmas concert (hoping to make gingerbread nativity characters this year from last year's gifted cookie set)
17th: Involve the kids in decorating all our christmas cards and letters we mail out and a fun trip (free!) to Burnaby Village Museum for their Heritage Christmas
18th: Send packages in the mail and do a random act of kindness for a stranger.
19th: Wintery bath (think: hidden toys in homemade bath bombs, blue water, bubbles, and foam soap)
20th: Snow Tubing! Let's hope Hemlock opens up this year!
21st: Cookie making to give to neighbors, and maybe hit up the Winter Soltice Lantern Festival in Vancouver
22nd: Snow sensory bin day
23rd : Drive around and look at Christmas lights with hot chocolate (christmas light scavenger hunt!)
24th: Fondu with friends, maybe Christmas Eve service and family!

Some other favourites at Christmas for our family:
-cutting down our own Christmas tree
-new Christmas jammies
-lots of stocking stuffers!
-getting lots of Christmas books from the library to read
-we might also squeeze in a Christmas performance: Making Spirits Bright or the best Christmas Pageant Ever

If you have some other local suggestions, send them my way!
What we did in previous years for more ideas: 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Airplane Birthday

I had decided I was going to take a break from themed birthdays this year...but then my 3 old decided he wanted a plane birthday.  How could I NOT want to create a fun occasion for a 4 year old birthday party around that kind of theme?  It turns out that I really enjoy planning these parties and it just had to happen.

One thing I love about crafty home birthdays is that you reap the benefits of your hard work for months to come.  Example: last november Toby had a frog birthday and I made a frog sensory bin made with coloured rice, gems, frogs and other pond finds.  Well...I bagged that sensory bin up and pulled it out at different times throughout the winter and then it became our outdoor summer sensory bin and it was still kicking around in early september when I just threw it out (the rice part).  It may have taken some time, effort, and a little bit of cash in the beginning, but it's a new toy!

Same thing this year- some of the activities we made like a runway- we can store and pull out all winter, or the target we made for paper airplanes?  We can throw other things through those holes all winter.  Win for me and win for long winter days at home indoors with 3 young kids.

In case you need ideas for a plane party, take these:

I sent out invitations that looked like plane tickets to send by e-mail to each child (although it would have been nice to print them and hand deliver them)

I was kind of sticking to the Planes movie colours- orange, blue and white.  I bought a bunch of planes from a kid's swap event (so for only a couple dollars) which I kept aside to decorate with on the table and in the air...and loved the idea of puffy while clouds and a cloud mobile, so I did both!  Hard to get a good picture into the light...

Made cloud table place settings out of posterboard and also made additional planes to decorate the table with out of clothes pins, cololured popsicle sticks, and hot glue gun.

I loved making this paper airplane wall- it had a cool effect coming up the stairs (and was super easy to do)

My crafty 5 year old had to get into the action too and decorated the table with all his plane creations:

We chose this to be an all boy party just because and decided to max out at 8 kids.  This was our itinerary:

Paratrooper Training:
While kids arrived, we decided to throw little parachute men over the stairwell and have the boys try and get them through the crepe paper:

Next up: In Flight Snacks
Snack time.  Cause kids needs snacks.  Kept it simple and relatively unthemed.  (Fruit, crackers) but couldn't resist making cloud cheese (cause it's so darn cute!)

Flight School
Next activity we did (which we didn't take a picture of) was make some pretty cool paper airplanes (we made them ahead of time) which we had them try and fly through holes we made in a large piece of cardboard.  Each hole was worth different points.  They loved this game!

Build-A-Plane & Wings Across the Globe Race
I found these great foam planes (big ones) from the dollar store for $2 each kid.  We had them all make them and then made an obstacle course in our basement to go through (avoid the balloon clouds, go through a tunnel, go through our closets etc).   However, because we had a bunch of boys, we eventually ended up throwing the big foam planes around the backyard and off our deck

Free play:
We made a fun runway and let the boys have some time to just get creative.  They built lego airports, played with their planes on the runway, and made lego planes to fly.

In Flight Service:
Dinner was just homemade pizza, veggies

Plane Cakes:
For his party I just made cupcakes with white fluffy cloud icing topped with a chocolate plane...but I also did this:

In Flight Entertainment:
We watched some of the Planes movie while we waited for parents to pick up and to allow for me to do some cleanup!

Goodie Bags:
(and they got to take home their fun foam fliers and our homemade popsicle stick planes)
Made to look like suitcases out of paper bags:

Included propeller pop suckers:

Jets and Propeller planes made out of a chocolate mould and melted chocolate:

Plane stickers:

Glider plane and toy plane:

So fun to plan and the kids had a blast!  If you ever need tips, ideas, or want me to plan your party- I would totally do it just for fun!

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