Creative Play Ideas: Without Toys!

Walking through the baby aisle in through any big box store, you’d think tots require blinking plastic playthings for constant entertainment.  As we point out in The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, parents need far less than they’re pressured to buy in those months leading up to baby’s arrival.  Plus, everyone knows the story of the child who receives a brand new gift only to end up playing with the ribbon and cardboard box.

So what do you have around the house that might fascinate your baby and toddler?

Cereal boxes, egg cartons, and toilet paper tubes. Young children bat them around and sit on them while older kids can use them to construct castles, caterpillars and many other three dimensional art projects.
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Easy DIY Paper Heart Valentines from Recycled Materials

I made these easy DIY Valentines with my five-year-old daughter using wrapping paper scraps. Magazine pages would work just as well. I simply cut out a heart from the patterned paper. Then, I cut out a larger paper heart from colored paper.  Glue the smaller heart onto the larger one, and use scissors to create scalloped or spiky edges. My daughter then used glitter glue to decorate around the edges–that part is optional.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Our Best Green Valentine Ideas

Here at Greenbabyguide.com, we’re celebrating our fourth Valentine’s Day and we have a wealth of vintage posts to help you celebrate love with a green tinge.  DIY Paper Heart Valentines are simple and lovely and our Eco-friendly Valentine Baby Gift Ideas would be great picks for any tiny bundle of love.

If you’re short on time, consider Last Minute Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards for your preschooler’s class.  Those who are willing to have fun making a huge mess will enjoy having baby make Potato Print Valentines.

Indulge your sweet tooth by making Nutritious Valentine’s Day Brownies or try mixing some of your homemade sweet potato purees into some Baby Food Brownies.  (Don’t worry!  They’re for you, not the baby.)
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Never Buy Wrapping Paper Again! Reusable Gift Wrap Ideas

Blast from the past! This was our very first post on the Green Baby Guide. It ran almost three years ago today!

What would Christmas morning be without festive wrapping paper and fancy bows? (“It’s about peace and love and the birth of our Savior!” you answer.) Okay, but stick with me here. I’m talking about every kid’s much-awaited vision of Christmas morning. Will my daughter grow up deprived if I deny her the tearing-up-the-gift-wrap experience that is every American child’s birthright? Oh, she’ll have Christmas gifts aplenty—but this year, I’ve devised some eco-friendly alternatives to disposable gift wrap. If I start this practice before she’s speaking in full sentences, it should be easy, and she’ll never know what she’s missing.
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DIY Last Minute Holiday Gifts

If you’re in a last minute panic and can’t imagine lugging your children through crowded shops, our vintage posts can save the day!

These fast and easy gingerbread cookies taste great and handle beautifully.  Although people always seem to be impressed by the mysterious qualities of gingerbread, you’ll have a batch whipped up in no time flat.  (There’s no refrigeration required.)

You can involve your children with making DIY: salt dough ornaments.  You can also use the dough for their little handprints if you want a great gift idea for grandparents.

Simple homemade play-dough is a great stocking stuffer or holiday craft to keep your kids busy while you tuck presents under the tree.
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What are Your Favorite Holiday Crafts for Kids?

Joy went over our top holiday crafts for kids a couple weeks ago. That post contains classics like how to make a proper paper snowflake and homemade baked Christmas ornaments. Yesterday Audrey and I spent a couple hours decorating construction paper trees and gingerbread men—a highly recommended activity for the preschool set. We also gathered branches and leaves and tied them onto a paper plate ring to make a simple wreath. Even really young children could enjoy gathering the supplies for that one, though I suppose if you live in a snow-encrusted area, that might prove difficult.
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Creative Indoor Play for Kids–Including Holiday Crafts!

When the rain hits around here, cabin fever quickly descends unless we seek creative indoor entertainment.  Luckily we have a huge supply of cozy kid-friendly fall activities for those chilly afternoons indoors.

If you’re still waiting for that first baby to arrive, you can while away the time with our DIY baby mobile made of beautiful paper birds.  Or, you can whip up a few homemade hemp diaper liners to fill out your cloth diaper layette.  Don’t forget to buy or use your library for free access to books! Check out our practical little publication, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide for some entertaining and eco-friendly reading.
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DIY Holiday Cards or Otherwise Green Greeting Ideas

On Tuesday we revealed our top picks for eco-friendly holiday cards. But buying a box of recycled cards and sending them far and wide isn’t the only way—or even the best way—to green your greetings. Here are some other ideas:

Don’t send a paper card at all! Electronic greeting cards save on paper and shipping. Check out Bluemountain.com, hallmark.com, and 123greetings.com.

Go for greener photo cards. Photo cards and foil-lined envelopes cannot be recycled. Check out Peartreegreetings.com for photo cards that are recycled and recyclable.

This homemade Christmas card was easy to mass produce. I simply cut out the snowy house scene, glued it on thick blue paper, and wrote “Merry Christmas” coming out of the chimney with a silver pen.
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Baby Dresser Decorating: Transforming an Old Dresser into an Artistic Family Heirloom

I am extremely thrifty and eco-friendly, but not aesthetically gifted. My friend Loreen, on the other hand, brings an artistic talent to frugal green living that makes it seem like a rich and tasteful adventure. When I saw what Loreen did with what she already had (an old used dresser, a used storybook, and Mod Podge) and a six dollar roll of shelf paper, I was in awe. The best news is that you could also create a gorgeous one of a kind dresser for your baby’s nursery in just a few hours!

In the before pictures you can see that the secondhand dresser didn’t seem to have much potential for becoming the centerpiece of a green nursery. But Loreen, the Martha Stewart of eco-friendly, budget-friendly living, had a vision. She took a much-used copy of Where the Wild Things Are and cut out illustrations and text, adhering them to the dresser with Mod Podge.
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Last Minute Green Halloween Tips

If you’re like most of us, you’re scrambling to handle those last minute Halloween decorating and costume creation challenges.  We’ve put together a quick list of some great green Halloween tips for your festivities that are easy and cheap!

If you’re hosting a Halloween party this year, Rebecca has a lineup of simple and elegant Halloween crafts.  You may want to cut out a DIY Halloween spiderweb, or if you’re feeling less ambitious, you can make a DIY Paper Jack-O-Lantern with your little one in a matter of minutes.  There’s nothing quite as simple and spooky as the vintage DIY simple paper spider in its web from last year’s post.
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