Cookie Christmas Ornaments

MF Cookies as Ornaments
Do you ever make a batch of cookies so beautiful, it almost seems a shame to eat them? These holiday cookie ornaments are so pretty, they belong on your Christmas tree! Plus, they smell amazing. This is a fabulous holiday craft to do with the kids, and an extremely budget-friendly way to decorate the tree. (Yes, they look good enough to eat, but they’re actually non-edible. So keep the kids from snacking!)

Cinnamon Cookie Ornaments
adapted from Martha Stewart

1 1/2 cups ground cinnamon
1/4 cup applesauce
8 oz. (one large bottle) white school glue
cookie cutters
drinking straw
glitter, confetti, or sprinkles for decoration

Directions
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup cinnamon with the applesauce. Once you have a mealy texture, pour in 1/2 cup of white school glue and mix until well combined. Allow dough to sit 1 hour. Sprinkle a thin layer of cinnamon on a clean surface and roll out dough to 1/8 inch thickness. (If dough is sticky, add cinnamon. If dough is too dry, spritz with water.) Cut out desired shapes with cookie cutters, then cut out a small hole for ribbon or wire with the drinking straw. Bake for 2 hours, turning cookies over halfway through.

Once cool and dry, use glue and glitter or sprinkles to decorate cookies. Allow to dry thoroughly before wiring. Cookies will last several years if stored in tissue and bubble wrap.

Creative Christmas Countdowns

MF Advent 1

MF Advent 2

MF Advent 3

One of my favorite holiday traditions is a Christmas countdown. I tell myself it’s for the kids, but the truth is that I get just as excited about  I gathered some of my favorite ideas for inspiration and wanted to share them with you.

1. A variety of holiday envelopes arranged into the shape of a tree is too cute for words.

2. Paper cones create a forest of Christmas trees. Tiny surprises can hide underneath.

3. Tiny buckets, twine, and twigs create this darling display.

4. Trim Santa’s beard day by day until Christmas Eve.

5. Decorated clothespins hold brown paper packages tied up with string.

6. A simple paper chain contains holiday activities to share together.

The problem now is deciding my favorite. What about you? Do you have a favorite Christmas countdown idea?

How To: Create a Thankful Tree

This idea is equal parts simple craft project, entertainment for kids, Thanksgiving centerpiece, and feel-good activity. With a few simple items, you can create this Thanksgiving Thankful Tree and fill it with all the things you and your guests are grateful for this year. It’s a perfect gathering activity as your guests arrive, and simple enough that you can put the kids in charge of putting it together while you’re taking care of last-minute details for dinner. You’ll need the following items:

  • One sturdy branch from outside, about 3 or 4 feet tall
  • One vase, preferably tall and narrow
  • Whole nuts or smooth pebbles to secure the branch
  • Leaves cut out from colored paper (find a free template here)
  • Twine to secure leaves to tree
  • Pens, pencils, markers, or crayons for guests to use to write

If you’re feeling ambitious, you can spray paint the tree branch in advance to create more of a contrast. Otherwise, hold the branch in the center of the vase and fill the sides in with nuts or pebbles to secure it and keep it straight. Cut strips of twine just long enough to tie leaves to branches. Cut out multiple leaves, at least one per guest. Each guest can write his or her name on a leaf, along with what they are thankful for this year, before securing it to the tree. Once complete, place the tree in the center of the table for everyone to enjoy.

My favorite part of the Thankful Tree? It can be used again and again each year, and the leaves become a sweet way to remember Thanksgivings past!

One more thing—don’t forget to enter our 3rd Annual “Give Thanks with the Gift of Cookies” Giveaway! Entries accepted until midnight Sunday!

(Image via BHG.)

5 Easy Ways to Haunt Your Porch

Looking for some last-minute ideas to dress up your porch tonight? These ideas are so simple, yet pull off a big wow-factor. You probably have many of the supplies around the house.

DIY Glow Jars

DIY Glow Jars

1. These Glow Jars are sensational and so easy to make with mason jars and glow sticks. Line your walkway with them for an eerie display that will lead trick-or-treaters to your door.

Hanging Bats

Hanging Bats

2. A pair of scissors, thick place paper, painters tape, and some fishing wire are all you need to create these fantastic hanging bats. Find the templates and tutorial here.

Dry Ice

Dry Ice

3. Fog machines are pricey, but you can bring spooky, fog to your porch with some simple dry ice and water in a cauldron (or even a bucket). Use this dry ice directory to find retailers near you who sell dry ice.

Spooky Silhouettes

Spooky Silhouettes

4. A roll of black craft paper can transform your windows with these Spooky Silhoueetes. Find a variety of creepy downloads here and light up the night.

Wheelbarrow of Bones

Wheelbarrow of Bones

5. A Wheelbarrow of Bones is an easy, creepy way to greet Halloween guests at your door. Answer the door with a shovel and a ghoulish grin for added effect.

Do you have any other simple decorating ideas for Halloween? Share them in the comments section!

Creepy Treats to Make with Kids

Chances are you’ve got a Halloween party or two to attend this weekend. And chances are also that your kids are bouncing off the walls, eager for Halloween to get here already! Put that energy to use and invite the kids into the kitchen to whip up some of these frightfully easy treats to share. I’ll be doing the same!

Ritzy Halloween Spiders

Ritzy Halloween Spiders

These Ritzy Halloween Spiders are sweet and salty, peanut buttery, and so fun to make. You’ll need a few simple ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry. Find complete instructions here.

Ogre Eyes Hot Cocoa

Ogre Eyes Hot Cocoa

There’s a chill in the air and everybody is ready to stare down a cup of hot cocoa. Why not make a minty cup that can stare back? Find the directions here.

Googly Eyed Veggies

Googly Eyed Veggies

Just because it’s Halloween, doesn’t mean you can’t get your veggies in. The kids will love these Googly Eyed Veggies and will barely even notice that they’re healthy! Find directions here.

Zombie Marshmallows

Zombie Marshmallows

These Zombie Marshmallows are killing me with cuteness! Use edible marking pens to draw your own versions of these adorable living dead! Find complete instructions here.

Have a wonderful weekend getting your Halloween on!

How To: Make a Personalized Pencil Case

MF Pencil Case
Here’s a fun activity for the kids that will get them excited for the upcoming school year: personalized pencil cases! You only need a few simple supplies, a quiet summer afternoon, and a reluctant back-to-schooler to get started.

Personalized Pencil Cases

Pencil case
newspaper or magazine
colored paper
scissors
Modge Podge
sponge brush

Directions
Cut out strips of newspaper or magazine to cover the top of your pencil case. Cut out block letters from colored paper (or cut out large, block letters from your newspaper or magazine). Lay out your design and trim as needed to fit.

Paint a thin layer of Modge Podge over the surface of the pencil case. Lay each strip down and paint a thin layer of Modge Podge on top of it before adding the next strip of paper. Once the surface is covered, add your block letters in the same manner, painting Modge Podge on top. Once completed, allow your pencil case to thoroughly dry before handling.

Stuff with pencils (or cookies).

TIP: No need to stick to print, have kids cut out their favorite pictures from magazines or use printed photos from their summer vacation to create a collage.

How To: Make Confetti Eggs

MF Surprise Eggs Instead of making traditional dyed eggs this year for the Easter baskets, why not try these fun confetti-filled eggs? These eggs (sometimes called cascarpones) are so fun to make and very easy! Here’s what you’ll need:

eggs
push pins
egg carton
tissue paper, cut into small 1-3 inch pieces
Modge Podge
sponge brushes

Start by poking tiny holes in the top of each egg with a push pin to create a hole just big enough to blow air through, about this big:
MF Top HOle

Then create a larger hole in the bottom of the egg in the same way. You can determine the size you want depending on what you want to put inside of it (small toys, money, or confetti.) This is just about the right size for confetti, but even a little bigger makes it easier, especially for kids.
MF Bottom Hole

Standing over the sink or a large bowl, blow a long, steady breath through the top of the egg. The white membrane and yolk will soon come shooting out. (The kids love this part.) If you want, you can save the yolks and whites and cook with them, although I’ve found too many tiny shell particles in mine, so I usually toss them out. Rinse the outside of the egg if needed.

Set your eggs in the paper carton, bottom side down, to drain and dry several hours or overnight. Once they are dry, insert your confetti or toys or money in the larger hole. I create a simple funnel using a piece of paper to pour the confetti in. Remember, a little confetti goes a long way—no need to fill it full.

Using the sponge brush and Modge Podge, put a thin layer over and all around the opening. Top it with a piece of tissue paper and coat it all again with Modge Podge. Add more pieces of tissue paper to cover the entire egg, patchwork style. Once covered, return the egg to dry in the carton or another clean surface. When you’re ready, hide them, share them, crack them, and enjoy them! They will likely become an Easter tradition for you and your family.
MF Finished Eggs

HINT: Make reusable Easter decorations by leaving the  hollow eggs empty. The shellacking will preserve the shells, making them last for years and years!

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