Posted 06-22-2017 at 09:52 AM by Jessica
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a successful and fun birthday party! Here are 10 tips for planning a party on the cheap…
1. Set a budget: The most important thing about starting a party is your budget. Set the maximum limit of your budget and do not spend more than budgeted.
2. Guest list: The amount of money you spend can vary greatly depending on the number of guests. If you do it only for a small group of children your expenses will be much lower and if you consider that there will be adults, obviously the expense will be greater.
3. Date and time: The schedule is very important, plan it after lunch or after dinnertime so you can prepare only snacks, appetizers and other light foods. That way you can leave more free room in your budget for other things.
4. Location: The cheapest option is your house or in the house of a family member or friend – or if weather-permits at an outdoor park. If you choose to rent a place like a club house or a party room do it during the week and at earlier hours, as that will also reduce rental costs.
5. Using disposables: If you want to use disposable items for cups, plates, utensils, and tablecloths try to buy them at your local dollar store, or buy with coupons during a sale. And don’t throw out the extras, save them for the next time.
6. Food options: If you decide to have a lunch or dinner party ask your close family or friends to help you by bringing a favorite dish or snack. That way you aren’t spending as much and you will have a larger variety of foods. Plus, the dishes can be a great conversation-starter!
7. Drinks: Do not consume soda if you have the option of preparing fresh waters with flavors. Aside from being healthier, it can also be less expensive. Also, put names on the cups so the children and adults will keep their own, and prepare ahead of time to make your own ice.
8. Cake: Instead of shelling out a fortune on a cake from a bakery, try your hand at making your own! You can snag a box of cake mix for a couple bucks and whip up your own frosting from ingredients in your pantry. A couple dollars worth of sprinkles and fun candles will be all you need to make a cute cake.
9. Invitations: Do not spend money on paper invitations. Instead, use social networks like Facebook to create your own event with all of the details on your party. It’s easier to see who can attend this way, and all without spending a single dollar.
10. Decorations: Get creative with finding decorations for your theme. Balloons are fairly inexpensive, and can make a room feel very festive. You can also use decorations from a previous holiday or party, or ask to borrow decorations from a friend or family member. Remember not everything has to be of excellent quality; if your budget is limited there are always good options that don’t break the bank.
Posted 06-14-2017 at 10:00 PM by Jessica
Summer is officially HERE! Well, in terms of school being out it is. The first official day of summer according to the calendar is the June 20th, so we’ve got just a bit longer to go. As soon as the weather gets warm enough I transition from my boots, flats and sneakers to nothing but flip-flops. I’m honestly a very lazy person. So much so that even the thought of taking a few extra seconds to strap on sandals is enough to keep me wholeheartedly addicted to flip-flops.
Even if you aren’t a huge flip-flop wearer like I am, I doubt you’ll be able to resist how cute these flip-flop wreaths I’ve found are! They are the perfect symbol of summer, and you can usually score them for super cheap at Walmart or during a sale at Old Navy! Take a second to look through the following tutorials – then get crafting!
A few of my favorite flip-flop wreaths…
You can make this fun flip-flop “wreath” welcome sign in under 30 minutes! Now that’s my kind of craft! Head here for detailed instructions.
Head here for a tutorial on this style of flip-flop wreath. There are 6 different flip-flop wreath themes that A Day in the Life with TJ has crafted, from Patriotic to Wild Colors!
This last wreath is also super inexpensive to make, and has a cute flower in the middle! Check it out here.
Posted 11-12-2015 at 04:40 PM by Jessica
Growing up we always had a “kids table” on Thanksgiving. Being the youngest of 9 kids, I was always at the kids table, so I consider myself an expert. I’ve learned how to make the kids table, the most fun spot in the house on Thanksgiving Day. Here are a few ideas I’d like to share:
Make your own place mat:
Have a canister of crayons in the middle of the table. have a large rectangle sheet of paper under each plate. Let the kids make their own place mat. They can decorate it with their name, make a hand turkey, and more. More ideas for decorating: stickers, stamps, markers!
I am thankful for…
Have each child write a few sentences about the items they are thankful for.
Have a hand-turkey drawing contest. Have paper and crayons available. Have the kids trace each others hands (or their own if they can) and decorate their “hand turkey”. Put names on the BACK of the turkey. Let the adults choose their favorite!
Have a few crafts on hand. Beaded necklaces with Fall colors (beware of any choking hazards for the younger kids), pilgrim hats, and more.
We always used a white paper table cloth so the kids could doodle on the table. The younger kids loved tracing their plate and utensils right onto the tablecloth.
Have small books and toys readily available to squash boredom when the kids are done eating.
Waffle cone cornucopia:
Let each child have a waffle cone. Set candy corn (with pumpkins!) in the middle of the table and let them create their very own “cornucopia”
Posted 10-10-2015 at 12:33 AM by Jessica
Halloween Candy and Treats are delicious. I am not going to lie and tell you that I don’t look forward to a good handful of candy corn. But, all that sugar!!! I am not a huge fan of giving processed sugary foods to the kids. Halloween is one of those days that kids can get overloaded with junk. There are alternatives to sugar laden candy and treats. You can still celebrate with fun activities and fun healthy treats.
Packaged Healthy Treats
If you’re handing out Halloween goodies at your door, and want to steer clear of the heavy sugar candies, stop by big box stores for prepackaged healthier foods. Head to the aisle that you buy lunch box snacks. Options are endless. individual bags of popcorn, pretzels, goldfish, raisins, and more. You may want to steer clear of nuts if you’re handing out to other children.
I have found great deals on Halloween and Fall themed pencils at our local drugstores. And, pencils encourage writing, which is important for kids!
Another great inexpensive and educational item to hand out to kids on Halloween.
Most kids, even as young as toddlers, enjoy stickers. Have fun with them by choosing Halloween themed stickers that the kids will love.
Growing up, we had neighbors that would hand out quarters! It doesn’t have to be quarters, consider dimes or nickels too!
Many party stores offer toys for as little as 10¢ each if you buy a large lot. This is a great alternative to candy. And, they can keep it much longer as well!
Do you have any other ideas on alternatives to Halloween Candy?
Posted 09-14-2015 at 06:41 PM by admin
Over the years we have accumulated thousands of photos, souvenirs, trophies, awards, favorite clothes, stuffed animals, and more. I have boxes upon boxes of items to go through. I never knew how much a child could have….times four! Below are my 3 favorite ways to keep those memories organized and even on display!
Create a shadowbox: There are so many great themes for shadowboxes. One idea is to make one with all the items from the hospital. The hospital bracelet (moms and baby’s), first outfit, hospital hat, and fingerprint card! Shadowboxes can be hung on the wall or placed on a shelf. And, if they are preserved correctly, they can be given to the child when they have their first baby!
Scrapbooks: Scrapbooking has come a LONG way over the years. There are so many options and digital scrapbooking has become very popular. Scrapbooks can be made for each year of your child’s life. Or, make one for each month until they are one, and then one per year. Once your child is old enough, he or she can help create them!
Memory Quilts: Head on up to the attic and grab that box (or boxes) of baby clothes that you can’t bear to throw away and turn it into a beautiful and useful quilt! You can do this yourself or if you’re like me, head to a crafty friend’s home for some help.
Do you have a favorite way to save memories?
Posted 08-7-2015 at 06:19 PM by admin
Tips On Choosing A Day Care For Your Child
Choosing a day care for your children can be hard. This is a very important choice for you and your child, so don’t take it lightly. Be prepared. Have a list of questions. Open communication is the key!
Schedule a visit – This may be obvious. But, be sure to schedule a visit to the center during the day when there are kids there. This way you can see exactly what goes on and you can see if the kids are happy and engaged. Keep your eyes, ears, and even nose open – see how the caregivers interact with the kids, listen to how they speak to the children. Do you smell multiple dirty diapers or other bad smells? Sanitation is important!
Adult to child ratio – Ask about the adult to child ratio. This varies on the age of the children. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers all require different supervision.
Qualifications/Accreditation – Ask for qualifications, accreditation, inspection reports, etc. Were they ever given warnings? Don’t be shy. You have every right to these answers.
Turnover rate – What is their turnover rate. Kids get attached to their caregivers. You don’t want your child upset if employees are constantly coming and going. Will you be told when new employees are hired?
Daily Schedule – Ask about the daily schedule. Are the kids given plenty of play time, outside sunshine, and exercise? What about naptime and snack time?
Education and skills – Is there an educational plan in place? What about learning their ABC’s? Are their skills like tying shoes or buttoning their shirt, that are taught/encouraged?
Potty training – Is potty training encouraged?
Emergency Procedure – Get a copy of their emergency procedures and medical plans. If your child gets hurt or sick, what steps are taken?
These are just a few of the top questions to ask. You know your child best, so you may have specific questions to ask. I highly encourage you to speak up and inquire. Don’t be shy!
Posted 08-5-2015 at 10:02 PM by Agla
Once again, it is the time of year where moms are hitting the stores, searching everywhere for back to school deals. One of the biggest expenses is the inevitable money that needs to be spent on clothing, after the growth spurts that take place in the summer. Here are just a few ideas on how to make your back to school clothing budget stretch:
Buy in the Previous Season
One of the best ways to save is to plan in advance. Many basics can be purchased for great prices during clearance sales and then put aside for future use.
A few years ago, I found basic navy hooded sweatshirts for $3 a piece during a clearance event. I purchased the sweatshirt in a couple of sizes and stored them. The sweatshirts have gotten lots of use and since it was a basic non-trendy item my kids will be wearing those sweatshirts for years to come.
Familiarize Yourself with Your Local Thrift and Consignment Stores
I happen to have several thrift and consignment stores in driving distance. I have seen the traffic in these stores rise exponentially as living costs have increased. Unfortunately, prices at these type of stores have also risen but they still beat traditional stores for some items. However, you have to be familiar with the cost of quality items because in some instances it is more cost-effective to buy new.
At a national chain children’s consignment shop I found a pair of boys dress shoes that retail for $75 or above. The shoes looked as though they had never been worn, and they cost only $8. I also found a brand new, with tag, Janie and Jack boys shirt for $4. The full retail price for the shirt was $34.
There are many stores that specialize in selling off season clothing. Sometimes the only reason an item is considered off season is because full price retailers have introduced the items in different colors for the new season. The older colors are then moved to discounters.
Recently, I purchased a pair of men’s pants at a department store. I bought the pants while they were on sale and I applied a coupon I found online. Later that day I found the same pair of pants at Marshall’s in a slightly darker khaki color for a few dollars less than the price I paid without the hassle of waiting for a sale or coupon.
Watch for Sales and Coupons
There are coupon experts out there that can make a “dollar out of fifteen cents.” I am not one of those people, but I do search out coupons and sales before going out to make any purchases.
Many retailers mail out or email coupons periodically and waiting for those coupons can make the difference between saving money and overspending. Combine your coupon with sales or by buying items that are on clearance to extend your back to school budget.
Despite my planning ahead I sometimes find that I have to purchase a last minute clothing item. I recently needed to buy shorts for my son before a trip. I walked into the store and immediately suffered from sticker shock. I looked around some more and I found shorts that were actually closer to my price range. Once we figured that the shorts were a good fit and decent quality I calculated that the sale price combined with a store coupon. The combination of the sale and coupon bought the shorts down to exactly the amount I had budgeted to spend.
Use the Diaperswappers FSOT Forum
The Diaperswappers forum has a section of the sale and trade forum dedicated to children’s clothing. Members will often list clothing that their child has outgrown that is good quality and a good price point.
For example, there is currently a pair of Mini Boden lined cargo pants listed in our forum for $15. These pants retail for $54 new.
Back to school clothing shopping does not have to break the bank. By planning your purchases carefully, and familiarizing yourself with the various ways that clothing costs can be reduced, you will be able to hopefully enjoy your back to school shopping instead of worrying about your budget.
Posted 08-3-2015 at 09:05 AM by admin
Easy arts and crafts for toddlers and preschoolers
Are you looking for easy and inexpensive crafts to do with the kids? Below are a few that our family have enjoyed over the years. They are great for toddlers and preschoolers, and a few of these are still enjoyed by my 2nd and 4th graders!
Pasta Necklaces – Pasta comes in all shapes and sizes. Wheels and tubes are two pasta shapes that make amazing necklaces (or bracelets). This teaches great motor skills and is easy for toddlers and preschool age kids.
Paint with water – Out of paint? Grab a big paint brush and bucket of water and let the kids paint the driveway with water. If you’re in Florida or other very hot states, it may evaporate before you can paint a picture, so consider doing this before the sun is at it’s hottest. Best part – no cleanup!
Finger paints – This can be messy but so much fun for the kids. As toddlers, I would put my kids in their diaper only and we’d head outside with finger paints, newspaper, construction paper, and our folding table. Cover the table with newspaper (tape it down). Set out pieces of construction paper, and let them go wild with the paint!
Rock painting – grab the paint and a few brushes and head outside to find some rocks. The kids will have a blast painting rocks and once they dry they can make great decorations in their room.
Cereal bracelets – Very similar to pasta necklaces, but much tastier. Have the kids string Cheerios or Froot Loops to make delicious necklaces and bracelets they can wear and then snack on. Fun!
Paper Bag Puppets – This is another inexpensive craft. Grab a pack of paper bags for around $2. Washable markers, yarn, glue, construction paper, child scissors, and anything else around the house that will help make faces. The kids can make multiple “puppets” and put on their own puppet show. This will work with socks as well. Sock puppets are so much fun.
Babies are often cute no matter what they are doing, but toddlers can often get on our nerves doing the exact same things we used to think were cute. Here are three habits I used to encourage in my child, that I now wish I hadn’t.
When your child was first starting to communicate, raspberries were cute. It was even cute when they blew mushed up peas out with their raspberry. Times have changed, and it’s not cute anymore. Raspberries are now reserved for being disrespectful to mom and end with spit trickling down your little one’s chin. They have become gross and a reason for time out.
Prefolds have been around for quite some time. Before prefolds, flat diapers—squares of cotton that were folded and pinned onto baby—were the most common way of diapering in Europe and the United States. However, one issue with flats was the time needed to fold them into the proper shape and thickness for baby. Folding one flat is fast. Having to fold six to a dozen flats or more a day, every single day, for every diaper change for a year or more, easily tired out families who were already swamped with cooking every meal from scratch and hand washing the laundry.
In the 1950s, the prefold was invented when someone had the bright idea to pre-fold and sew together a flat diaper. The prefold still had to be pinned into place, but the more time-consuming part of folding all the layers together was no longer an issue. Although cloth diapers have gone through many more innovations in the last sixty-five years, prefolds are still extremely popular. Part of the reason is that they are still fairly cheap compared to other cloth diapers—really, only flat diapers are generally less expensive than cotton prefolds—and the traditional cotton prefold tends to last forever. Ok, not really forever, since cotton is a natural material that breaks down organically, but they tend to last far beyond their uses as diapers.