Free Printable Valentine’s Day Game: Pin the Heart on the Robot

Posted by Carly Morgan

I’m helping out with Eva’s little Kindergarten party this year for the out-of-home program she attends for part of the day. My task was to come up with some sort of game that 5 and 6 year olds could play without making a huge mess or getting into a giant kid brawl so I created this easy pin-the-tail game using an engineer print and a pack of heart-shaped Post-It notes. We tried it out at home and I think it’s going to be a hit!

Valentine's Day game for the class party

Pin the heart on the robot party game for Valentine's Day

This was a pretty cheap game, coming in at about ten dollars total. I paid $7 something to print this image at Staples as a 36×48″ black and white engineering print and then the pack of heart-shaped Post-It notes was $3 something. Word of warning: it took four different office supply stores before I could find heart-shaped notes so if you have time you might want to just order them on Amazon!!

Heart shaped Post It notes for Valentine's Day party game

Engineering print used for pin the tail party game for Valentine's Day

We used a dishcloth as a blindfold, spun each kid once, and then let them try to get their Post-It note heart on the right spot. I think for the actual class party I’m going to use a sleep mask for a blindfold to save time tying knots and I might write their names on the hearts and have them reuse them because it got hard to keep track of whose heart was where.

Note: if you haven’t used engineering prints before, the paper is a little thin so I was worried that excited hands might tear it but we didn’t have any problems like that.

Pin the heart on the robot party game

Valentine's Day party game for little kids

Valentine's Day class free printable party game

Here is the image for the engineering print. To get it printed, just check your local office supply store to make sure they do engineering prints in the 36×48″ size and then email them or take the file in on a flash drive. Staples lets you upload the file from home and then they call/email you when it’s done so we usually use them. Warning – this is a huge file because it needs to print up nice and large!

{Download the robot image here}

Let me know if you try it out! If you Instagram photos, tag me at @everclevermom so I can see the fun.

Game for Valentine's Day

Robot game for Valentine's Day party

Free printable for a cute Valentine's Day game that would be perfect for a class party activity

Valentines Day Pin the Heart on the Robot Game

Retro Holiday: Simple Midcentury Christmas Party for Kids

Posted by Carly Morgan

Disclaimer: I received the HP Invitation Kit and HP Sprocket Photo Printer for free as part of a review partnership with HP. The thoughts and opinions below are my own. 

Midcentury Christmas party decorations

We had a fun holiday meetup with a couple of friends this morning to exchange Christmas gifts and catch up over a plate of cookies. Even though it was a casual playdate, I wanted to make it a little festive since we won’t see them until after the holiday. Plus, Kyle brought home these amazing vintage school lunch trays a couple of weeks ago and they were begging for a craft project. (You can probably find some for sale from your local school districts if you look on PublicSurplus.com.)

Kids vintage Christmas party

The vintage school trays made me think about vintage Christmas fun so we went a little retro with this party and decided to go with a midcentury theme for the decor and the food. The fun thing about midcentury parties was that they were always so colorful – perfect for kids’ events! Just look at these Shirley Temples, all dressed up for Christmas with a little green sugar around the rim.

Shirley Temples at a Christmas party

Knowing how colorful the party was going to be, I picked a bright non-holiday theme for our invitations using the HP Cards app. The Christmas designs were lovely but I thought these multicolored triangles really fit the mood:

Print at home Christmas party invitation

The app makes it easy to create invitations on your phone by adding text and photos to preset designs that print out with no hassle about resizing or formatting. I used my HP Card and Invitation Kit to print it out (on my HP printer which I use all the time because I have a HP ink subscription…seeing a pattern here?) and we slipped the invite into our holiday cards. Even though it was a casual meetup, it’s always fun to do “real” invitations so there’s something to post on the fridge and look forward to.

The actual party decorations were super easy this time. I pulled out our small pink Christmas tree from the kids’ room (already decorated with a lot of kitsch) and used a storebought tablecloth to liven up the table. For the background, I cut tree shapes out of patterned tissue paper to create a bright forest on the window behind the party. Fun fact: use a washable school glue stick to stick tissue paper to your windows and you can just peel the paper away and wipe the windows down with water when you’re done, no matter how long the decorations are up.

Tissue paper Christmas trees on the window

Midcentury Pink Christmas tree

I was going to make a ton of cookies from the Betty Crocker vintage cookbooks but the first recipe turned out less than stellar so I decided classic sugar cookies were the way to go. As for food – the guest list was two Kindergarteners and a Preschooler so simple was the way to: crackers, vegetables, and rolled ham was plenty. I wanted to do fancier themed finger foods, but I’ll wait until the kids are a little less picky.

Christmas party sugar cookies

Fifties retro Christmas party food

Retro Christmas sugar cookies

In addition to the snacks, I used the vintage lunch trays to make each kid a craft station. I added pipe cleaners and beads so they could string candy canes and divided up a craft kit so they could all make foam ornaments in vintage shapes. I also added a glue stick and a little glitter to give them more options. Their ornaments ended up being so lovely!

Vintage lunch trays to hold Christmas crafts for a party

Overall, one of the easiest (if not THE easiest) holiday events I’ve ever hosted and we had a great time just relaxing and chatting. So nice to catch up with friends this time of year!

Glitter poinsettia at a Christmas party

Midcentury Christmas window decoration using patterned tissue paper

Easy Christmas window decoration for kids

Kids food at a Christmas party

Fifties themed kids Christmas party

Holiday party for kids

Tissue paper Christmas trees

Christmas window using tissue paper and a washable glue stick

Kids activity at a Christmas party

Crafts at a Christmas party

Kids holiday party

Christmas pajama party

Calvin at the midcentury Christmas party

In addition to sending our guest home with a plate of cookies and her finished crafts, I used my HP Sprocket Photo Printer to print little photos from the party on special sticky-backed paper. It’s so funny how excited the kids get about “real” prints – makes you appreciate how trapped our photos are on our phones! The Sprocket is idiot-proof and prints out photos very quickly so it was a fun treat to sneak in at the end. Sidenote: this is a great holiday gift, especially for parents, older kids, and teens! You can check it out here.

Print photos at a kids party

Allergy-Safe Holiday Party: Make Toys for the Animal Shelter

Posted by Carly Morgan

Make animal toys for the animal shelterEvery year my parents have a holiday open house. Traditionally, they’ve provided blank cookies and decorating materials and everyone has decorated cookies to take home while also bringing cookies to trade. It’s a big fun cookie extravaganza and we used to really enjoy it before Eva was diagnosed, but since we found out about her allergies it’s turned into a bit of a stressful event where we usually just pop our heads in and then leave.

This year, my stepmom changed things up a bit and made it allergy-friendly, which was awesome. Instead of decorating cookies, she set up two different stations where people could make cat and dog toys to be donated to the animal shelter. Isn’t that a great idea?

allergy safe holiday party

One station had fabric, stuffing, and catnip to be easily turned into cat toys and the other station had towels to be cut up and braided for dog toys. There was also a hot cocoa bar and some wine and cookies, but the allergy risk was way down compared to prior years so we were able to hang out for a long time stress-free and chat with people while we worked on our toys. And yes, Calvin is holding pinking shears but I swear we had our eye on him!

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I love this idea for an allergy-safe holiday party! If you want to do something similar, here are some links to tutorials for easy and inexpensive animal toys:

Three Easy DIY Cat Toys
4 Do-It-Yourself Cat Toys You Can Make for Cheap
44 Really Cool Homemade DIY Dog Toys Your Dog Will Love
DIY dog toy: three ways
37 Homemade Dog Toys Made by DIY Pet Owners

A $20 Tea Party in 20 Minutes

Posted by Carly Morgan

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We had the cousins over for a casual tea party last weekend and had so much fun. Tea parties really are the best, but I think many people don’t have them because they seem like a lot of work. So, I thought I’d highlight how easy it is to throw together a low budget tea party that doesn’t take a lot of time to prepare.

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One of the keys to being able to quickly throw together a tea party is to have a tea service on hand. Everything that we use for our tea parties was purchased last year at TJ Maxx and it’s a hodgepodge collection of items that weren’t designed to go together, but which work perfectly for our purposes. The key is to have some common element that ties everything together and in our case that means a focus on white pieces with gold accents. I also use blank white dishes that come in handy no matter what meal we’re enjoying. Most of the pieces were about $5 (although I think the tea pot itself might have been $15) and the good news is that it’s pretty easy to find white and gold pieces year-round so it’s not a big deal to replace a cup if it gets cracked. The white tablecloth is also from TJ Maxx and it’s a simple cotton one that washes easily.

If you’re nervous about little hands using glass tea cups, you can sub in plastic mugs, but you’d be surprised at how early and how gently most kids can use a proper tea service. Of course, that depends on the kid. Eva has been using one forever, but Calvin is still using a Disneyland mug because he can’t quite master not slamming the cup back into the saucer.

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As for the menu, most of the things we ate at this tea party were either ready-made (fresh fruit and circus cookies) or easy to make from mixes (sugar cookies and blueberry muffins).

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Both the mini-muffins and the sugar cookies were baked in a mini-muffin pan using Betty Crocker mixes. I love their mixes because they’re safe for Eva’s allergies and they don’t require a lot of effort. I would recommend doing the muffins first, popping them out to cool, and adding a dollop of sugar cookie dough straight into the hot pan before baking. The result are little muffin-shaped cookies that are small and perfect for tea time.

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Small is key for tea parties. Full-size muffins aren’t nearly as enjoyable to nibble on as bite-sized ones are.

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Small is great for fruit as well. When I’m feeling fancy, I stuff strawberries with fresh whipped cream made with extra powdered sugar so it’s stiff. For our casual tea party, though, I went with whole strawberries that had whipped cream from the can sprayed right on top. We also served champagne grapes with some cubed cheese. The kids love champagne grapes because of the tininess and I love that they don’t fill up on grapes, which can be kind of acidic for their little tummies.

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I did do a little bit of “cooking”, if you consider spreading soft swiss wedges on Ritz crackers and topping them with cucumber cooking. I sliced the cucumber thick and then used a cookie cutter to make stars so they’d be more inviting for the kids. You can salt the cucumber a little if you’d like, but I personally think the crackers and cheese are salty enough to make it work.

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We also had non-caffeinated rose berry tea, lemon, milk, and sugar on the table. That was the sum of our tea party, but it was plenty and we had a very nice time chatting and relaxing while the kids munched and poured tea for each other. I’m telling you, it’s such a nice way to spend time. Tea time forever!

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Pin this tea party for later:

20-dollar-tea-party

Our Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Night #OwnTheGalaxy

Posted by Carly Morgan

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #OwnTheGalaxy #CollectiveBias

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Guardians of the Galaxy is out on DVD, just in time for the holidays!

Being huge Guardians of the Galaxy fans, we’ve been waiting and waiting for the chance to own this movie. Once the movie came out on December 9th, we had a big movie night with my family and I had the chance to brainstorm a fun way to create a heroes party that everyone would enjoy. I had all these fancypants recipes brewing and was going to go in an Oscars party direction, when I realized that the best part of Guardians of the Galaxy is how casual and fun it is. So, we did a “Best of the Eighties” movie snacks buffet!

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Shopping for this one was so much fun. Imagine a free pass to buy all of the stuff you would have bought at eight years old if you were in charge of grocery shopping. First, I picked up the movie and a bunch of Guardians of the Galaxy toys at Walmart. If you buy the Combo Pack (Blu-Ray/DVD/HD), it comes with an exclusive character O-sleeve, an exclusive music zinepack, and a 64 page magazine with cast and crew interviews plus exclusive behind-the-scenes photos and trivia. You also get a custom “cassette” laptop decal.

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Then, I went movie snack food crazy! I picked up mini cans of soda, cheese puffs, mint chocolate chip cookies, Twinkies, chips, tons of movie theater candy, and supplies to make chocolate pudding cups with cookie crumble topping. I also grabbed some foam core board and some gift wrap with a holographic print to set the mood. Remember when everything was holographic? The eighties were the best!

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Since the majority of our party guests were eighties kids, everyone was pretty excited to see the display (and excited to have a chance to indulge in all the things we’re supposed to be too grown up to eat these days). The kids were excited too, since we let them go to town and pick out whatever they wanted. Even my niece-on-the-way seemed to be a fan of the movie night buffet!

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As a game to play during the movie, I created some Guardians of the Galaxy Bingo cards featuring different moments of the movie like “Star-Lord dances” or “Gamora gets mad about something”. For prizes, I found a free printable online for boxes that look like Awesome Mix cassette tapes and I put different gifts cards in them ranging from $5-$15.

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We used Sour Patch Kids as game pieces (although I’m pretty sure they were mostly eaten) and it got pretty competitive. Dangle the promise of a gift card in front of my family and things heat up! You can download the free printable Guardians of the Galaxy Bingo cards here:

///  Four ready-to-print Guardians of the Galaxy Bingo cards

/// Four blank Guardians of the Galaxy Bingo cards with a game sheet so you can make as many as you’d like for your movie night 

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All in all, we had a great time watching the movie and it definitely brought me back to the days when we were all little and movie night was something I did with my siblings all the time. It was a lot of fun to do something together that everyone liked and after the movie even the adults started playing with the toys (to the dismay of the kidlets). Everyone was trying to sneak out with Star-Lord in their pocket, so I see some Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise in the future…perhaps with a Christmas bow on top?

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