I started a tradition a few years ago to make gifts for my nieces each Christmas. I love to craft and sew and, since I can never get organized enough to make them birthday gifts as well, it’s my mission to send them Christmas gifts that I’ve made my self.
This year, the project was Fleece Owl Pillows. My mom and I found a pattern at Jo-Ann Fabrics months ago, and when I told her a few weeks ago I wanted to make them for my nieces she said. “I was going to make Frances one for Christmas!”. It was destiny. So yesterday we got together and busted them out. They are so cute I should have made one for my self!
Ever since I read Joy’s post about DIY Fabric Gift Bags, I’ve been using more and more fabric bags. So of course the owls are going in their own re-usable fabric gift bag. They are especially great for over-sized or oddly shaped gifts.
If sewing isn’t your thing, there are a million other craft ideas. If you’d like to make your own holiday crafts, get thee to Pinterest now!
Are you making your own holiday gifts this year? I’m always looking for good ideas so please share!
The holidays are a magical time for children, and the temptations run high. The flickering candles on the table, the blinking lights everywhere, not to mention all the colorful ornaments and tasty looking tinsel. Or even the edible popcorn and cranberry garlands that are perfect for snacking.
Like my parents, I’m sure I will try my hardest to baby proof the house for the holidays, and then overlook one essential detail. I mean, there are just so many ways to be thwarted! Even if we erect a corral around the Christmas tree, there are still plenty of other decorations around the house. Aren’t poinsettias pretty poisonous?
How do you make sure your space is ready for your curious tots?
I’ve never been that interested in Black Friday, my self. I’ve been an off-peak shopper for years, since I have no patience for lines and I like to get my errands done as quickly as possible. I find the whole concept pretty fascinating, and I’d love to hear what you consider to be the pros and cons of Black Friday shopping.
How do you feel about Black Friday? Are you boycotting the stores or are you trying to be the first in line to get the best deals?
How can you make Father’s Day special for a new dad while you’re sleep-deprived and have no time to shop? Honestly, I don’t even really remember our first Father’s day celebration as a new family, but after consulting my husband, these are the things he was most wanting back in those early days of parenthood.
Framed photos. Snap a couple shots of baby with dad (and grandpa too, if he lives close), print them out, and slip them into frames for an easy, but special, gift. If you have more time on your hands, make a bound photo book online.
A personalized picnic. Whether it’s gourmet potato chips or homemade pasta salad, your fellow has a few special entrees that may not cross the dinner table on a regular basis. Pick them up, pack them up, and head out for a hike..or just an afternoon at the park.
A date. Every dad (and mom!) deserves some time off. Create a homemade gift certificate for an afternoon or evening out. Do a babysitting trade or perhaps leave your tot with family so the two of you can hit all of his favorite pre-baby hang-outs. (The picture above is of a special date we had six months ago. We hiked the same trail we took on our first date!)
An Ipad. My husband claims that this gizmo is extremely practical for fathers taking the 3-5am shift. Sitting in the rocking chair while watching sports highlights made those late nights infinitely more bearable. This seems to be the least sentimental and the most expensive item on my idea list, and yet it is the thing that my husband most adores.
Do you have special Father’s Day traditions in your family? Any glorious gift ideas to share with the rest of us?
This holiday season, I’ve been searching for the products that new parents are raving about in online reviews. It’s best to trust those currently in the trenches of early child-rearing for the gifts that children (and parents) will really love this holiday.
The Itzy Ritzy Snack Happened Snack Bag is an overwhelming favorite. Families love that it zips shut (unlike other reusable bags that seal with velcro), that it can easily contain an entire sandwich, and that it holds up well after several trips through the washing machine. The product would be perfect for baby finger foods and would easily transition to preschool within a few years. It’s a great stocking stuffer for a child too as parents are reporting that kids love the designs on the bags.
The Green Toys Fire Truck is another great value that parents rave about. It’s sturdy, adorable, made from recycled plastic and is currently on sale for just $20.22. (My son got the Green Toys Recycling Truck when he was two and is still playing with it as a six-year-old!)
The Melissa and Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit of Blocks is on sale for about $53, and is a great gift that will provide years of creative play for children. Parents recommend the product because of quality, durability, and the flexibility of the design options. These blocks are recommended for children above three years, but I can imagine my kids would have been chewing on them in their first year.
Chewbeads are a GENIUS gift for a new mother (and her baby!) The chic necklace is made from 100% silicone beads free from BPA, phthalates, cadmium, or any other scary stuff. The necklace can be tossed in the dishwasher to rinse off the baby drool and can be slipped over an adult’s head without having to deal with a clasp.
What gifts are you planning on buying for baby or other new parents this year? Help us share great products with our readers!
Somewhere in the midst of laundry, errands, and picky eaters, I have lost my love for preparing the family dinner. And yet I yearn for mealtime perfection…the image of my children eagerly crowding around steaming dishes of nourishment. Are simple, healthy family dinners even a possibility?
The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect with Your Kids, One Meal at a Time is on my Christmas list. It’s packed with tips, recipes, anecdotes and green tips for a better family dinner. Somehow the fact that Laurie David (producer of An Inconvenient Truth) manages to keep her teenage children at the dinner table is inspiration enough for me.
Dinner: A Love Story is a lovely combination of reality and ideology. Jenny Rosenstarch chronicles how her and her husband make dinner a priority, no matter how crazy their family life becomes. The recipes she shares are tried and true and her voice is like that of a good friend, full of encouragement and lacking in judgement.
My other favorite, simply because the humor and tone immediately seem to lessen my meal-making angst, is One Bite Won’t Kill You, By Ann Hodgman. The reviews are fantastic and seem to imply that both adults and children have enjoyed recipes in this book. It looks like it just might be a success with my picky crew!
I know Deceptively Delicious is quite popular, but I didn’t have tremendous success with the recipes. The garbanzo bean chocolate chip cookies were a whole lot of work, and were rejected by everyone, including me. If you have younger children and are pureeing foods anyway for the baby, it might be worth the effort. Otherwise the pre-blending of cooked veggies seems unrealistic.
What is your go-to family cookbook? Thanks for your ideas!
For awhile my daughter was quite content to play on her adorable little Alex Wooden Cook Top Playstove. It was a great value at about $30 and also took up just a small corner of her room. Glorious! Now she’s dreaming of a bigger, more luxurious environment in which to whip up imaginary cupcakes. Have you invested in a wooden play kitchen? Was it worth the money and space in your home?
I like the simplicity of the Melissa and Doug Cook’s Corner Wooden Kitchen. It’s smaller than some and costs under $100, but I wonder if its size would limit the span of years she’d be interested in it. Have you tried this one?
Kidkraft’s Red Retro Kitchen seems like it might hold her interest for a few more years and it’s still under $150. It’s not exactly simple, but perhaps the details would lead to more options for play.
My absolute favorite kitchen, is the Camden Rose Childs Cherry Wood Play Kitchen. It’s a heirloom piece of furniture that would surely last for several generations, but it is quite a bit more at about $350.
What has your experience been with toy kitchens. Did they hold your child’s attention? Did you find a glorious deal on Craigslist? Thanks for your advice!
The pregnant skeleton maternity costume is one of my favorites, showing the skeleton of the fetus tucked inside of the mother. My friend made her own a few years ago, but Amazon is selling these Halloween Non-Maternity Pullover Hoodie Costumes for just 34.50. Since they aren’t specifically made to accomodate pregnant women, you’ll have to be early enough in your pregnancy for these to fit well.
If you’re showing a bit more, you can go for the maternity-sized skeleton and baby t-shirt, which is equally clever and a bit roomier in the belly region.
Of course thrift shops have incredible options beyond just the costume section. Rebecca scored this “Pregnant Eighties Lady” item in the dollar bin of her local secondhand store. Doesn’t she look dashing?
Some women paint their pregnant bellies as basketballs or pumpkins, but I happen to love these t-shirts by Cafe Press. They don’t require preparation of any kind, and you still come off as rather clever. I suppose that instead of buying anything you could just write any of these slogans on a white t-shirt with a sharpie or maybe make an iron-on decal. It will just get used once, right? The one below reads, “I’m dressed up as my mom.”
I love the dark humor of this last maternity t-shirt. It reflects how I felt about anything festive in those last grueling months of pregnancy. It reads, “I don’t do costumes. (now step aside, you’re standing on my invisible dog.)”
Do you have any creative costume plans that involve your pregnancy? We’d love to hear them!
I’ve been seeing babies around town sporting floral and sailboat prints–and it’s well after Labor Day. That’s just embarrassing. Everyone knows that October is the month to dress your little monster in orange and black. Let’s get started:
Planetwise Hanging Wet/Dry Bag Orange Woods ($29.99). It’s orange and festooned with cute little trees.
Planetwise Wet/Dry Bag with Carnival Skulls ($24.95) Spooky!
Rockabilly Mom Punk Rock Skull Tattoo Design Diaper Bag ($39.99). Most diaper bags just aren’t cool enough, amirite? You definitely need the Rockabilly Punkrock diaper bag.
Dadgear Backpack Diaper Bag (on sale for $88). I’m not sure this qualifies as an eco-friendly product, but how could I exclude an orange and black diaper bag in this round-up?
Belvah Quilted Damask Diaper Bag ($19.95). It’s one of the most affordable Halloween-themed diaper bags I found—yet so fancy!
JJ Cole Diapers and Wipes Pod ($34.49). This BPA-free, phthalate-free tote attaches to your stroller or car seat.
Ghost onesie ($21.00). Your baby really needs this organic ghost onesie.
Green pirate princess design baby one piece bodysuit ($10.99). Printed with “eco-friendly ink”!
Happy Heinys one for all one size cloth diaper black ($18.95). Basic black diaper, suitable for Halloween and black tie formal events.
Blueberry by Swaddlebees 6 piece baby cloth wipes orange ($12.95). If you don’t have orange cloth wipes, you won’t match your new Halloween-themed diaper bags!
Motherease duo all-in-two cloth diaper cover ($18.75). Not a Halloween print, but it is orange. Close enough!
Now you and your little goblin are ready to parade around town with pride. Happy haunting!
This is our third holiday season here at Greenbabyguide.com. Our first Christmas posts had a following of a dozen readers, most of them family members. Since then we’ve published our book, The Eco-nomical Baby Guide, and increased our web traffic to about 50,000 unique users each month. Whew!
Despite our modest fame, nothing much has changed for our families. This morning we finished untying our fabric gift bags and have spent the day playing, snacking and reading.
After the crush of preparation and anxiety, there is such relief in just sitting in our toy-strewn living room and enjoying the kids. They aren’t sporting BPA-free bibs or chubby cloth diaper bums this year, but are rapidly leaving babyhood behind at 5 years and 2 years old.
For all of you today, I hope that you have the chance to smell the top of your baby’s head, to get a nap, and to maybe just enjoy this incredibly fleeting (and grueling) era of parenthood. May your milk supply be incredible, your cloth diapers be absorbent, your laundry be minimal, and your sleep tonight be long and luxurious. Most of all, I hope you celebrate yourself as a hard working, green-minded parent!