Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Free Printable Gingerbread Gift Kit to #LIGHTtheWORLD

I have the CUTEST free Christmas printables for you!  This is a gingerbread service kit created by Maria from Designed by Maria, as a part of the mormon.org campaign to #LIGHTtheWORLD.  The idea is to spread love and kindness during the holidays by serving anyone you want in any way you want, starting with the Worldwide Day of Service on December 1st.  With this cute little gift kit, you can join the fun by making service easy!  These FREE gingerbread printables and delicious gingerbread cookie recipe are just adorable.  (You're going to die of the cuteness!!!) All you have to do is print out the printables, whip up some cookies, and drop them off to your neighbors! This gingerbread kit includes a printable gingerbread house, gingerbread garland, and more.  You can find more printable goodness at The Red Headed Hostess too.









Here's a short video explaining the Light the World Campaign





Use the Activity Outline for a family-friendly discussion and service activity. It doesn't take a lot of time, just pick one evening in the month of December to spend time together serving.  Let the spirit of Christmas fill your home.






After you discuss how Jesus served his loved ones, each family member can share ideas of how they can serve. As they share, invite them to choose a gingerbread person to represent them or create their own. Attach the gingerbread people's hands together to create a gingerbread garland.  





Next, make a treat together, using this gingerbread recipe which is included with the printables.)  These are so fun to make and decorate. They're super soft and yummy, especially with your favorite frosting! Encourage your family to make a cookie for someone else too.




Here's how you assemble the gingerbread box.  This printable gingerbread house could be used for many things. 







Now, it's time to serve! Choose someone who would enjoy a little treat. Create this adorable cookie box! Put your gingerbread people inside.  Then, deliver your goodies, as a family, and brighten someone's day.







Pick one of these cute tags to add to your cookie box. If you want to have each family member deliver the special cookie they made, put the cookie in a sandwich bag and add a tag to the bag. 





CLICK BELOW FOR YOUR FREE PRINTABLE KIT:





For every person you serve, add another gingerbread person to your garland. Watch your garland grow as you do your part to LIGHT THE WORLD through service!  I hope this helps your family spread some kindness and love.



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Merry Christmas my blissful friends!

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Monday, November 28, 2016

#LIGHTtheWORLD: Dinner on Your Doorstep Printables

#LIGHTtheWORLD: Dinner on your Doorstep Printables and recipe cards
The holiday season is fast approaching with so much fun and excitement sometimes the meaning of the
season can be forgotten. Are you looking for a way to create a special holiday season? Mormon.org has
the best message of the season! “Light the World” and with this message they are also having a
Worldwide Day of Service. Make sure to watch the amazing video for this campaign! What better way to
remember the Saviors birth than to provide service? If you love to cook and enjoy cooking with your kids
this “Dinner on your Doorstep” printable kit is a great way to give ser
Now that Thanksgiving is over, Christmas has officially begun and the calendar is filling up quickly with concerts, parties, and stuff to do.  It's easy to run out of time to help someone else, which is really what Christmas is about, right? (just go watch a good Hallmark Christmas movie and you'll know what I mean).  So this year I'm trying to help us all (including myself) focus on some kindness this holiday season by joining in the mormon.org campaign to light the world with love and kindness (#LIGHTtheWORLD).  It's all about finding simple ways to help another person.  Anyone you want.  Any way you want.  In order to help us do this with ease, but still with some thought I'm providing you with a some free printables to bring dinner to someone's doorstep.  What a fun surprise for a neighbor or friend to get a delicious dinner, or even just a yummy treat, on their doorstep.  These printables are courtesy of Laura at Pink Cake Plate.  You can also find more ideas at Sugardoodle.net






Aren't these cute?  You can print these for free and add them to you dinner surprise for someone else! SEE BELOW FOR THESE FREE PRINTABLES . . .


Gather the family together and cook a simple dinner.  Go ahead and cook your family's dinner at the same time, just double the recipes to make enough for you secret dinner recipient.   Download and print the free labels.  Cut them out and adhere them to your containers filled with food.  Deliver them either secretly or openly as you wish.









If you don't have time for a whole dinner, how about delivering a sweet treat instead?   Remember to get everyone involved.







CLICK BELOW FOR DINNER ON YOUR DOORSTEP FREE PRINTABLES:










I hope this helps you enjoy doing service for someone else!  


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Wednesday, November 23, 2016

You Are Loved Free Printables & Gift Tags: #LIGHTtheWORLD

Oh my heavens, have I got some cuteness for you!  And it's cuteness with a purpose which makes it even better.  I've been taking part in the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign this holiday season which is an effort created by mormon.org to spread kindness and love all around the world.  It starts with a Worldwide Service Day on December 1, 2016.  You may have read my recent article about what 10 little girls taught me about helping others, and since then I've been really trying to bring the light of good to my corner of the world.  So I've teamed up with SugarDoodle and Polka Dot Poplars to bring you some free printables to aid in serving others.  This "brown paper packages" printable will really help cheer up someone who is having a hard time.  GET YOUR FREE PRINTABLES at the end of this post . . . 




The ladies at Polka Dot Poplars have created a bunch of free printables for me to share with you.  They centered their printables around a paper bag theme.  Gifts do not have to by flashy.  These brown paper packages represent the humble gifts the Savior Jesus Christ has given us. And it is reminiscent of the whimsical song from The Sound of Music called "My Favorite Things" which we now often hear at Christmastime.    

This is a wonderful way to support the #LIGHTtheWORLD campaign to bring kindness to the world starting with a Worldwide Day of Service on December 1st.  It's all about finding little ways to serve.  See the video below for more info on the awesome idea:








I love how they changed to words on the printable to say that "you are one of HIS favorite things" reminding us that God loves us more than anything.  This is a wonderful way to cheer someone up and bring light to them.





My family and I decided to use these printables to create little paper sack packages to leave on the doorsteps of neighbors and friends.  We made bigger ones with just a regular lunch bag and filled it with treats.







We put a mini nativity inside some of them and used the printable gift tags.  For these I just cut up a brown lunch bag into 2 pieces and wrapped each nativity like I would with wrapping paper--making sure to tie it with string for an added touch.  I could wrap 2 nativities with one bag.  All these things I already had at my house making it an easy project. 





There are also printables to make these paper bag luminaries!






{Brown Paper Packages & You Are Loved Printables CLICK BELOW}:












I hope these printables and ideas help you and your family find a way to light the world with kindness.  Try to do something nice for someone else as part of Worldwide Service Day on Dec. 1st.  Be sure to spread the word on social media and use the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD to inspire others to give kindness.  Won't it be wonderful to have people all over the world helping each other?





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Thursday, November 17, 2016

10 Fun Items to Donate to a Children's Hospital

I've been feeling lately that I really want to focus on the important things of Christmas and the holidays this year.  I don't want to look back on these years and have my holiday memories be mostly about the hubbub of the season.  I want our holidays to be about caring.  I want them to be about love. So we as a family decided that we would donate to our local children's hospital.  Last year my son did a scout project to help them out by making craft kits.  This year I wanted each child to be in charge of something and find a way to help the hospital on their own.  We put together a simple project to do as a family that I want to share with you, including a list of fun items to donate to your local children's hospital or children in need.  Hopefully, this will get your wheels turning for a way you can help your own community.

* Oriental Trading Company sent me some of their products to try.  I chose items that I thought would be good to donate to our service project.  All opinions are my own.






Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with the "Black Friday-ness" of it all.  Don't get me wrong, I love a good holiday deal and the gifts too, but I want my family to focus on more than that.  I want to step outside myself a little and help someone else.  I've been inspired by the holiday campaign called Light The World (#LIGHTtheWORLD).  It's all about finding little things to help others.  It doesn't have to be big and crazy.  It's just finding little ways to share your love (or light) with someone else.  There is an awesome free calendar of service ideas with little ways to get involved on lds.org AND there's a WORLDWIDE DAY OF SERVICE on December 1, 2016.  If you can find a small way to help another that day it would be awesome to have the whole world being filled with service and love that day!


So we chose to help our local children's hospital called Primary Children's Medical Center.  It's a hospital that deals with all kinds of pediatric issues.  My husband is a physician and has seen suffering in children, and so it's near to our hearts.  I still remember the day he came home from a long day during residency and told me how his heart was aching for a small 4 year old who was dying in the hospital.  My children also feel very sympathetic towards children in the hospital.  I think it's a need and a hurt that most children can understand.  They know that many kids are stuck in there for months undergoing hard treatments such as cancer.  They know that those kids would rather be at home having fun.  They want to cheer them up and bring some hope.

I put each child in charge of coming up with a way to help.  We looked at the hospital's website to get an idea of things they need.


Here's a list of fun items to donate:

handmade blankets or quilts
stress balls
puppets
coloring books (including adult coloring for teens)
stickers
window clings
popsicle stick craft kits and pipecleaner craft kits
foam sticker craft kits
sticker scenes
craft supplies like glue, crayons, markers, Play-dough, duct tape






Handmade Fleece Blankets.

I let each child choose what they wanted to do based on that list.  They could help make items from the list like blankets, quilts, sleep sacks, hats, monster toys, and dolls.  If they chose this, they needed to head up the project.  Help get material.  Learn how to do it and find people to help.  My youngest daughter chose this as her project and got her neighborhood friends to help her  {you can read about it here}.



They also had a huge list of items that needed to be donated.  My rule with that was they needed to earn the money themselves to purchase an item or they could find a way to get donations.  My son has chosen to do this.  He is doing extra chores to buy a Lego set for the hospital (those are in high demand).  Also, when the Oriental Trading Company contacted me to try some of their items, I decided to choose fun items that we could donate to the hospital.

Check with your local hospital first before donating any items and see what they specifically request.




Relaxable Balls (Stress Balls) and Christmas Finger Puppets from Oriental Trading Co.

I thought these were so cute and a perfect thing for bored little hands to play with in the hospital.  I love that everything at Oriental Trading Company comes in multi-packs (for a great price!) so there will be a lot to go around for all the kids.






Color Me Note Cards from Oriental Trading Company.

The hospital needs adult coloring for the teens that stay there.  These note cards serve two purposes.  They can color them and stay busy and then send a note to someone they miss.






Holiday Stickers from Dollar Tree.

These stickers are so cute and fun for kids. Dollar Tree often has packs of stickers like these.





Window Clings from Dollar Tree.  

Window clings are a fun way to decorate a sick child's room.






Popsicle Stick Airplane Craft Kits from supplies at local craft store.

There is also a need for craft kits so that the kids have something to do while they wait for treatments.  These craft stick airplane kits are what my son put together last year {read how to do it here}.


This year I decided to get supplies for more craft kits from Oriental Trading Company.  They have craft kit items ready to go.  Most of them were already divided up or just needed to be quickly separated.   They have made this project much less time-consuming and fun.  My oldest daughter is going to head this up and make a bunch of craft kits.




Beaded Snowflake Christmas Ornament Craft Kit from Oriental Trading Co.  

I was sent all the pieces for these beautiful snowflake ornaments.  There is enough to make 24.  We had to divide up the pieces in this one as it all came in one bag and put in zip top bags but this is the perfect craft for kids of all ages--easy, entertaining, and beautiful.





Silly Gingerbread Magnet Craft Kit from Oriental Trading Company


Foam sticker kits are a another great idea for hospitals and care centers.  It's a project that is durable and easy for little hands.  These ones are wonderful because they came separated and prepackaged for easy distribution.




Sticker Scenes Kits from Oriental Trading Company.

Oriental Trading Co. has tons of sticker scenes to choose from.  This is an easy craft for kids to do in their hospital beds or in a waiting room.  They come in multi-packs.





Decorative Duct Tape and other raft supplies for art projects from any store.

Our hospital was in need of craft supplies for many different art projects.  They need glue, tape, markers, crayons, and even decorative duct tape.  They use duct tape to make many crafts (like those cute duct tape wallets!)  I found these at Dollar Tree too.



I hope this gives you some ideas for what to donate to your local hospital.  I really found some quality items at Oriental Trading Company, Dollar Tree, and our local craft store.  But no matter what you do, I hope we can all find simple ways to help and serve in our community and find a way to #LIGHTtheWORLD!


Merry Christmas!


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Saturday, November 12, 2016

The Dos and Don'ts of Sending Christmas Cards

It's that time of year when we all start thinking (or maybe stressing) about sending Christmas cards.  I personally enjoy getting Christmas cards.  It truly brightens up my bill-filled mailbox and adds some sparkle to my day.  But at the same time I am not always perfect at sending my own Christmas cards and along the way (and with some help from my Facebook fans) I've learned a few dos and don'ts of sending Christmas cards.  And I am so thankful for help from CardsDirect.com this year for helping me actually get my Christmas cards out on time!

*This post is sponsored by CardsDirect.com.  All opinions and thoughts are my own.  This post may or may not contain affiliate links.






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The Dos and Don'ts of Sending Christmas Cards:


1.  DO send a picture

For me, and for many people I've talked to, the Christmas card is mostly about the picture. Friends and family love to see how everyone has grown.  But not only that, the picture is a visual reminder of that friend far away.  The pictures remind us of the fun times we had, or just to give that family member a call soon.



Nowadays there a tons of options for adding a picture to your holiday card.  This year I used CardsDirect.com and it literally took me 10 seconds to add our picture to our Christmas card.  It was so easy!  I have loved the quality of their cards.  Sturdy cards, beautiful color, and reliable service.

*By pure miracle, this is actually our first normal family  picture in a few years.  Family pictures are a struggle in our family and I could write a whole post on it.  But to make a long story short, basically we went out one fall day after church to take pictures in the leaves.  We set up our tripod and just snapped thousands of pictures much to the dismay of my teenagers.  Turns out the very best one was the VERY FIRST picture we took!!  Seriously!  Just gather your family, snap a picture, and go with it.  Ignore the grumblings of your kids.





2.  DON'T send a family picture to your office people or clients.

There is no reason to send a picture to people that don't know your family that well.  A simple greeting card with a kind message will suffice. Save the expense.




Look for a classy card to send to co-workers and clients like these at CardsDirect.com





3.  DO add a personal note.

It's easy during busy times to just sign the card and send.  But if you can, add a personal note for your friends and family.  Let them know you are thinking about them.  It can be handwritten or typed.




I had CardsDirect.com create a personal message for my cards.  I sat down and wrote out what I would love to wish everyone if I could see them in person.  Then I will add a little personal note with my signature.





4.  DON'T brag.

Sending a Christmas card is not about bragging.  The purpose for sending Christmas cards is to show you care about someone else.  It is a good time to update others on your family and let them know what good things are happening in your life, but don't make it all about the trophies.  Also, try to have a good attitude as you read the Christmas letters that come your way.  Don't compare your Christmas card life to their Christmas card life.  Try to see it as a kind gesture and that they want share things with you because you are important to them.








5.  DO keep it simple.

Find ways to simplify your card sending.  Use adhesive envelopes, so you don't have to lick a bunch.  Use address labels or an address stamp.  Have the picture printed on the card so you don't have to stuff extra items.  Keep a list of addresses throughout the year so you don't have to go searching for them all over the place (I hope to get to this point in my life someday!).




I use an address stamp like the ones they have at CardsDirect.com.  The stamps are so quick and they add some style to your envelope.  I also got self-adhesive envelopes from them.  Stick and go.  Anything to make it easier!  Oh, and notice that shimmer on the inside of my envelopes!




6.  DON'T do it all yourself.

Enlist your family members to help out.  Let the kids help write the personal messages.  Have your spouse stuff the envelopes.  Make it a family affair.  Also, find a card company that is easy to use and simplifies the steps for you.








7.  DON'T stress out if you can't send Christmas cards every year.

Sometimes I just don't get to my Christmas cards.  I always hope to, but often it gets set on the back burner during the busiest years.   I usually only get to them every other year.   I am more likely to get cards sent if I plan ahead in the autumn months.  So get started now!  I got my cards from CardsDirect.com within a few days.  But if you can't do it, don't feel guilty.  Just try again next year.







8.  DO stay in touch somehow.

Even if you don't get to sending holiday cards this year, try to stay in touch with your loved ones somehow.  Christmas cards are just ONE way of letting friends and family know that you are thinking about them.  It may not be your thing at all.  There are several ways to keep in contact now . . . email, text, phone call, an actual visit, a Facebook message, etc.  It's never too late to show someone that you care--just make sure that you do show it somehow.


Merry Christmas my blissful friends!





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