Gift Guide : Games for Preschoolers

Today we’re sharing some of our favorite games for preschoolers. I’m on a mission to start family or family+friends game nights in our house. It hasn’t happened yet, mainly because I’m (almost) all talk and no game (hah!). I haven’t invited anyone over, and I haven’t opened an adult game box in years. But behind the scenes, I’m cultivating a few young game-lovers and am slowly building my game-night momentum.

With a 4yo and 2yo in the house, we’re still slightly new to the kids’ game section. Fortunately, I think we’ve already found some great ones. Sometimes we play in the evenings as a family, and I love the together time. But the mom in me also loves that playing games can be used to reinforce other skills that they’re learning. Read on to see what I’m talking about.

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This guide contains a few games that we’ve played and liked. If you’re looking for a last-minute gift for a 3-5 yo, I really don’t think you can go wrong with anything on our list. A few are card games, making them perfect stocking stuffers.

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Welcome December

Near the beginning of each month we like to pause and take a look at what’s going on in the world around us. Over time, these posts have transformed into a little op-ed about what’s going on with us each month.

We’re only five days into December, and I feel like it’s been here for ever. It must be the Christmas invasion.

December can create such a mix of emotions in us. There’s the obvious joy and celebration of the holidays, but there’s also the hustle and bustle leading up to Christmas and New Years. There’s the cozy feeling of evenings in front of the fire, but also the pent up energy and angst from short days and not enough time spent outside.

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Just reading that probably gave someone the shivers. Sorry.

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DIY Christmas Crafts

This post was originally published in 2015, we’re re-posting it again today to give you a few ideas to jump-start your holiday crafting.

Today we’re rounding up past Christmas crafts. While Sarah was busy ordering gifts yesterday, I was finishing up the decorating. I love to get everything up as soon as possible so that there’s plenty of time to enjoy it (plus, I need the decorating out of the way so that I have every extra moment left to think about gift shopping!). If you’re taking your time and in need of decorations, we put together a list of past DIY projects that we made, love, and were excited to put out again this year.

This list provides a range of projects from those that can be finished in 30 minutes to others that may take a few hours, and the skill-level required varies from the simple to the more complex. In addition to decorating your house, some of these projects like the felt and cinnamon ornaments make great gift tags. What we have here is a little bit of something for everyone.

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Gift Guide : Play Kitchen

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the KitchenHeard You Like Cats, Ice & Drink Pairings, and DIY Edible Gifts.

**Quick note – all of the items below include an additional 15% off coupon on Amazon, but we’re not sure how long it will last.**

Last Christmas the boys received a play kitchen, and it’s become one of the most-used toys in the house.

Kitchens are such a great toy for creative and make-believe play. Sometimes our boys are making us coffee and toast for breakfast. Other times they are serving me ice cream cones for an afternoon treat or acting as waiters and chefs in their own restaurant.
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I love big ticket toys like this kitchen because it’s a themed toy that you can slowly can add to over time. For us, this meant buying a few items to play with Christmas morning, and then letting our family give them additional kitchen elements on Christmas and again at their birthday.

The slow giving method is also a great plan if you’re not sure about how much your kiddos will love the big toy. For us, the kitchen’s a winner, and we’ve been happy to buy them quality items for it.

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Below is a list of the exact items in our play kitchen with info about why we like them. *Notice that our list contains more items than are pictured above. It’s all so good!

  • kitchen (pictured above) : this retro blue kitchen is the exact one we have. We picked it because of looks and also because it seemed to have slightly more storage than others (key for all of the awesome accessories below!). The one downside to this kitchen is that it comes with a million pieces and takes a billion hours to put together. Keep that in mind when on Christmas Eve and pour yourself a big glass of eggnog before starting.
  • broom & mop set (pictured above) : the boys love this set and use it often. Almost never for cleaning, but always for sweeping out the marbles that roll under the couch. Patting myself on the back for encouraging them to be self-reliant.
  • cut-apart fruit (pictured above) : our boys love cutting apart this fruit. We also have this cut-apart food set.
  • espresso machine (pictured above) : if your kids love to help make your morning coffee, then they will love this! And you’ll always be caffeinated.
  • mixer (pictured above) : so cute and comes with a few cake-baking accessories. Our kids are always mixing up mini dinos. #boys
  • toaster (pictured above) : comes with bread and butter. A complete meal!
  • ice cream (not pictured) : BUY THESE! Even if you don’t buy the kitchen, this set is so much fun. They ice cream, spoons, and cones are magnetic, creating a bit of magical fun and driving the kids crazy as the ice cream tumbles when they try to make a four-scoop cone.
  • cookies (not pictured) : so cute and creative. The only bummer is that the tray is too long to fit in the oven (they’re different brands). Our boys don’t seem to mind, but some might.
  • canned food (not pictured) : a great food filler for the fridge, and all of the cardboard cans can be opened again and again, letting them do double duty as little storage containers.
  • tea set (not pictured) : comes with cups, wooden tea bags, kettle, etc.
  • pots & pans (not pictured ) : all metal and awesome
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Gift Guide : Ice Cubes

We’re sharing a variety of themed gift guides this year. Check out Dinos in the Kitchen, Heard You Like Cats, and DIY Edible Gifts.

 

I know, who gives ice? We don’t.

BUT we do like a clever ice cube in our drinks, and so, we have a few ice cube tray + drink pairings that are perfect for that last minute gift or that dad mom that really doesn’t need anything other than a good drink.
ice_cubesice shot glass : perfect for your nephew going off to college. You are the cool uncle after all. Maybe don’t include the alcohol with this gift. Just get some gatorade for the morning after.

buddha : looks wise sitting in a good whisky

gin and titonic : Why don’t I own these yet? Pair it with a good gin, obvs.

polar bear and penguins : pair them with Kahlua because these would look awesome floating on a White Russian.

diamonds : champagne with the suggestion to make OJ ice cubes for a classy mimosa

The awesome thing about many of these molds is that they could easily do double-duty for someone that likes to experiment in the kitchen. Imagine juice-colored jewels for a summer day, chocolate shot glasses filled with a dessert, chocolate buddhas with gold leaf… talking myself into a few trays right now.

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Gift Guide : Cats

This year we’re doing a few gift guides that blur the line between whimsical and practical. See our Dinos in the Kitchen guide for further evidence. But if prefer making over buying, check out our ideas for edible gifts.

Do you know someone who likes cats? We do. (like ’em and know ’em)

You know how when you know that someone likes a “thing” then sometimes whenever you see something with that “thing”, then you have the urge to get it for them? Hold back.

But just a little, because if that “thing” is cats, then we have a few gifts that are totally worth giving this year.

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cat umbrella : because sometimes it’s raining cats and dogs!

candle : this thing burns down to unveil a metal cat skeleton… not sure if you’re supposed to buy it for the cat lovers or haters?

cat ring : subtle bling

mug : perfect for so many reasons.

paperclips : a stocking stuffer that will make them smile when they return to that boring cubicle

I’m proud of this list because we tried to go for some of the more tasteful cat gifts out there. We spared you guys the cat sweaters (for your cat, not you, silly), but can’t make any promises about what’ll happen next year.

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DIY Edible Gifts

Do you need a reminder that the holidays are right around the corner? We don’t! WE CAN’T WAIT. too much?

Today we’ve rounded up a few ideas that make perfect edible DIY gifts. There’s a range of options on this list, from nuts in solid and liquid form to citrus peels and marshmallow. Some take a bit more preparation than others (some are so easy you’ll have all of your teacher gifts done in an afternoon). But I may be a bit biased when I say that possibly the best gift on this list is the one that takes the longest to make.

And, as we all know, the best part about giving receiving an edible gift is that you don’t have to remember to put out that neon light up statue of Mt. Rushmore every time Aunt Peggy comes to visit. So get on with it.

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Spiced Mixed Nuts : a truly perfect blend of sweet and spicy. These are super easy to make with basic ingredients (think nuts, honey, cayenne pepper). Just make sure you share more than you eat!

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Hazelnut Liqueur : give this and you will be loved by all. Especially if you pass along a few key serving suggestions, such as mixing a shot into a cup of hot chocolate or a vanilla milkshake. BUT start making this one ASAP, because you need about three weeks of steeping time.

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Marshmallows! : There are so many perks to making your own marshmallows. You can personalize the color and flavor. Cut them out with cute cookie cutter shapes. Pair them with hot co for a real treat. And we aren’t kidding when we claim that these are easy to make.

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Candied Citrus Rinds : Again, another super easy treat. I added chocolate to these, but you can totally skip that. And as a bonus – we shared our orange marshmallows at the bottom of that post.

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Use this post as an excuse to get a jump start on the eating, drinking, and merriment! xo

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Winter Break Snapshots

What a winter break we’ve had! We have one more day left tomorrow, and we’re going to do what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks – spend it outside. It seems like we’ve really hit our stride this year when it comes to embracing the winter. Of course, it’s all about good clothes, a good spirit, and just doing it, but I’ll talk about that in another post. Today, I’m sharing just a glimpse of what we’ve been up to these past few weeks.

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We started our break in Steamboat Springs, CO (one of our favorite ski towns in the state!). We arrived at the start of a snowstorm that lasted well into the next day and maybe the day after? I can’t remember. But we still had a great time skiing and snowshoeing all over the mountain.

On our third, and final, day in town, we visited Strawberry Park Hot Springs before driving home. We had been here once last winter, and it was just as magical as I remembered.

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We arrived home the same day that Sarah and our family flew into town, and then every pitched in and helped us prepare to host a big party for C’s office. There was definitely a moment of “what are we doing?!” the night before, but in the end, the party was awesome, the food delicious, the company amazing, and the music pumping.
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The party was followed by a day of rest and then it was off to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad with Santa! We did this last year and I was really excited to do it again. When you arrive at the station, there’s hot chocolate and roasted chestnuts to munch on. Then you board the train and start riding with the excitement of knowing that Santa’s going to come and sit with you to say hi. It’s such a nice way to visit Santa, because there are no lines – you just wait in your seat on the train until Santa gets to you, meanwhile, the train’s moving through the beautiful Colorado mountains.
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Back in Boulder, we did more hiking. christmas_break2016_12

And snowball throwing. christmas_break2016_13 christmas_break2016_14

And then it was off to the mountains again for more skiing and snowshoeing!
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Home for more hiking…christmas_break2016_24 christmas_break2016_25

And here we are, relaxing, making our list of resolutions, and preparing for one more day on the slopes before we’re back to a regularly scheduled week.

I hope your break was full of warmth, family, food, and all of that holiday magic. xo

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Last Minute Gift for Pre-schoolers

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It’s Christmas week!!! We’ve been having so much fun with Alex this year since he really understands that Christmas is something special, but he’s still asking a lot of questions and trying to make sense of what’s going on around him. “When can we open the presents?” “We get to put the tree in our house?!” “It’s Christmas season, but not Christmas day, right?”

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Merry Christmas Everyone!

Somehow it’s turned into a busy week around here, but some people have more on their to-do lists than others. I mean, Calder’s laughing at us because he hasn’t even started his Christmas shopping yet! How does he do it?

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Boulder got hit with a big snowstorm today and I was totally unprepared. I should have bought that molasses yesterday so we could be making ginger cookies today. Or ran to the craft store so I could put together some other little gifts. Instead, we’re just playing with play dough and eating leftover tortellini. #lifeishard

So, while the boys nap I’m working on a plan for the next few days.

  • We’ll make those ginger cookies.
  • I want to make some of this English toffee (scroll down).
  • I’m waiting for our Christmas cards to come and hoping to pop those in the mail.
  • We don’t include a letter with our cards, but Plum Organic’s holiday letter template has me cracking up. Ours is above. You just answer a few quick questions and the letter is made for you.
  • I just burned some Palo Santo because it makes the fire in our gas fireplace seem a bit more real and rustic.
  • I’m almost done with Luc’s stocking and then I want to start new winter hats for Alex and Luc. While working on this year’s design, I came across Tricksy and think it could be really helpful for future colorwork projects.
  • I’m now in the last-minute personalized gift stage of my shopping, so I’m spending quite a bit of time here and here. How about you?
  • Yesterday I reserved tickets for our first Christmas ride on the Georgetown Loop RR. Santa’s going to be there! I asked Alex what he’ll say when he sees Santa. “I’ll say ‘ho ho ho’ back to him.” Fair enough…. and yesterday he was going around saying “Merry Christmas Everyone!” to everyone. <3

And that’s our snow day, a whole lot of scheming going on over here.

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