Mini (Light-Up!) Christmas House Ornaments Made From Recycled Boxes

I made some teeny Christmas-y house ornaments out of recycled boxes for Bluprint and we shot this fun video together! Recycled materials are my FAVORITE craft material for many reasons. Keeping things out of landfills is great, of course. But I also love when making stuff teaches kids to look at everything around them differently, to see all the possibilities of what boxes and bottle caps and newspaper can become! (Ps- Isn’t this little pink tinsel tree so cute?!)

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Toothpaste and spaghetti boxes make especially good tall buildings! Watch the video to see all the steps. The houses are illuminated with small LED balloon lights! (TIP: save the little tabs if you want to turn them on and off. But they last forever….weeks and weeks! Striped paper straws and metallic silver pipe cleaners serve as house trimmings. To make the wreaths, I wound pipe cleaners around a pen and snipped it into tiny rings.

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Here are some larger recycled carton buildings I made for Flow Magazine! The trees are made from water balloons (inflated with air) resting on toilet tube trunks!

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I lined these with wax paper just like the mini house ornaments. These can also be lit from within using battery-operated tea lights.

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And here are some recycled carton houses that I made with my boys when they were little. These were lit with a string of lights. I cut out a notch on the bottom back sides of the houses to allow for the wire and tucked a few twinkle lights inside each house. Place some bottle brush trees in front of the wire to hide it!
I hope you’ll try this fun craft. Happy Holidays!

Cute and Creepy Halloween Cupcakes Galore!

Cute and Creepy Halloween Cupcakes Galore!

As the title of my blog exclaims, may favorite crafts (edible and not) are made from easy-to-find supermarket or recycled items. These creepy cupcakes are decorated with cookies, sprinkles and candy, most of which can be found at the supermarket!
Like the cotton candy monsters in my last post, these were tests for a story for a beloved magazine that, sadly, folded before these could run. Sigh... On a brighter note...Milano cookies! They make perfect ghosts and gravestones, after a quick dip in melted white chocolate.
ingredients

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Cotton Candy Monsters!

Cotton Candy Monsters!

Boo! These sweet cupcake toppers are easy to make and a fun project to do with your kids. They’re a prep-and-eat-soon kind of treat…especially if it’s humid! Dry conditions are optimal for cotton candy crafting! Simply pull off a wad and twist to make the nose or horns! This guy has nonpareil eyes and licorice shoestring mouth. They stick right on! By the way, I bought this purply cotton candy here!

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Kid-Friendly Casino Night Birthday Party!

Kid-Friendly Casino Night Birthday Party!

Birthday party ideas for older kids can be difficult to come up with, so when my younger son requested a casino night for his 11th birthday party, we were really excited! We love playing cards and thought a game night was a great idea, but at the same time had some reservations about introducing kids to the concept of gambling or glamorizing it. My husband, a psychologist and addiction specialist, decided he wanted to write up custom "cautionary tales" for each kid to put in their favor bag where the character had to overcome a difficult struggle with gambling after being lured by the rush of an early win. The kids played with chips but there was no prizes or money to be won. (Do we know how to party or what?)

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Fun-To-Make Balloon Birds!

Fun-To-Make Balloon Birds!

These little balloon birds are from our book, Paper Goods Projects, and are so much fun to make! Water balloons and cupcake papers are the main materials, so you may even have these on hand! (Tissue paper or another lightweight paper for the wings would work too if you don't have cupcake papers.) They're perfect for a birthday party or shower decoration. We hung them from helium balloon "clouds" with a little adhesive dot, so easy! 

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Recycled Cardboard Zoo Animals!

Recycled Cardboard Zoo Animals!

Oh, the many uses of cardboard! Thanks to online shopping, we often have several flattened boxes in our recycle bin. Sturdy corrugated cardboard it is one of my favorite materials! It can be turned into a box town, a lemonade stand sign, a candy ATM, or these colorful zoo animals that I made for Family Fun magazine. They're easy to make (using the templates, below) and fun to paint and play with!

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Veggies Taste Even Better When They Look Like Trains!

Veggies Taste Even Better When They Look Like Trains!

A few months ago I made some veggie trains for a video for  Thomas & Friends! They're fun for any occasion, whether it's a train-themed birthday party treat to a playdate craft activity or an afterschool snack. As I usually work with candy it was so nice to have some healthy "craft materials" to share with my boys when they poked their heads into the kitchen to see what I was doing!
*IMPORTANT* In these photos I attached the wheels with toothpicks but in the video, I "glued" them on with cream cheese. Toothpicks are fine if the trains are for decorations only but if you're giving them to a child to eat, leave off the toothpicks. 

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Yummy (and Gluten-Free) Petit Four Treats for your Valentine

Yummy (and Gluten-Free) Petit Four Treats for your Valentine

Rice Krispie Treats are not only yummy but a good option for a dessert to serve to gluten-free friends. Making them into mini "cakes" is such a fun crafty food project! You can use square and round cookie cutters or hand-cut them. They work well if you cut into with a pretty thin layer, around 1", so spread them a little thinner than you usually do. (You might need to spread it into two baking dishes.) I use the classic recipe right off the box.

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Easy Cupcake Paper Valentines to Make with Your Kids

Easy Cupcake Paper Valentines to Make with Your Kids

Cupcake papers, which come in fun colors and patterns, make for a fun collage material. These little Valentines, party invites, and tags take advantage of their ruffled texture. After baking, I always seem to have a few stray cupcake papers left over from various packs, and this is a nice use for them!

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Best Use of a Cardboard Box Ever: Candy ATM!

Best Use of a Cardboard Box Ever: Candy ATM!

I recently had the pleasure of working with the super talented photographer, Lucy Schaeffer. We were shooting a craft story for Family Fun magazine involving large cardboard boxes (which I am excited to share as soon as it comes out!). Lucy told me about the candy ATM (Yes, a candy ATM!) that she and her two daughters made together using a giant cardboard box.
(All photos by Lucy)

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A Favorite Family Tradition: 'Elf' Viewing Party!

A Favorite Family Tradition: 'Elf' Viewing Party!

Elf is one of my family's favorite movies. We could watch it all the time, but, for the last few years, we established a policy to do so only once a year, with cousins, right before Christmas. When we finally do get to watch it, it feels really special event! Last year, a few nights before Christmas, we had an Elf Night with our extended family. My younger son and I made these cardstock invites together during a sick day.

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Fun Gingerbread House Kit Hack Videos!

Fun Gingerbread House Kit Hack Videos!

I recently worked with Bed, Bath & Beyond to make a series of gingerbread house kit hacks. We had so much fun coming up with different themes using the candy decorations from the kit and some easy-to-find extras like candy canes, pretzel rods, and marshmallows. I will update this post soon with the third video, a snowy palace!

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How to Make a TinkerToy Kid's Christmas Tree

How to Make a TinkerToy Kid's Christmas Tree

I love to have a little side Christmas tree for my kids to decorate with their own ornaments...the ones that don't really match with what I had in mind for our big tree. :) Sometimes they'll keep it in their room or we'll have it on a side table in the living room. This little Tinker Toy tree is easy and fun to make, never drops needles, and turns back into a toy after the holiday!

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Easy Activity Advent Calendar For The Most Fun Holiday Ever!

Easy Activity Advent Calendar For The Most Fun Holiday Ever!

Christmas is quickly approaching! What a better way to celebrate each day of Advent than with a fun handmade countdown. These paper bags double as cute decor and a functional Advent calendar. You could fill them with treats, small toys, or slips of paper with quotes, or fun family activity ideas! 

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Fun Last-Minute Thanksgiving Crafts You Can Make Together!

Fun Last-Minute Thanksgiving Crafts You Can Make Together!

A couple of Thanksgivings ago I teamed up with my friends at Marley Spoon to create an easy kid-friendly Thanksgiving craft and I came up with this turkey napkin ring. In my sketch, above, I used a dyed coffee filter and a toilet tube, two of my favorite materials!

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Easy Kid-Made Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Easy Kid-Made Thanksgiving Centerpiece

Thanksgiving is coming! I always want to use fall leaves for my decorations, but I find that they are usually dried up by the time the holiday comes around. This is a fun way to get fresh-looking leaves that don't crinkle or crumble and it gets your kids involved in decorating!

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