Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Box Tops for Your School

With a new school year starting, it's a great time to help your child's school.  A great way to earn money for your school is to collect Box Tops!  There are a lot of great brands that participate with Box Tops:  Cheerios, Ziploc, etc. 

Visit the Box Tops website for lots of great ways to help your school earn money to help fund for your school's needs.  You can also earn eBox Tops buy shopping online at great stores like GAP, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy and Land's End.  So, while doing your back-to-school shopping, think about Box Tops!  Gather them to send to school with your child. 

You can view Box Top Success Stories online for motivation.  Also, "Like" Box Tops on FACEBOOK for events and information to help your school collect Box Tops. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Mario Kart Wii Birthday Party

I threw my son a Mario Kart Wii Birthday Party.  And as usually with the themes my kids pick, there weren't many options at our local stores.  So, I made almost everything for the party myself.  Click on the links below to find out how you can make them too:

Invitations & Gift Bags
Games & Activities
I also bought Mario Kart Wii Wall Stickers, since I didn't have time to make them myself.  =)  We had a great time and best of all, my son was over the moon! 

Mario Star Sandwiches

For fun themed snacks, my husband helped me make Mario Star Sandwiches.  We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cut the centers of them with a star-shaped cookie cutter.  Then we buttered the back of two raisins and pressed them on the front of the sandwiches for the eyes of the Mario Star.  They turned out really cute and the kids loved them!  We were lucky not to have anyone with a peanut allergy but you could do this with any type sandwich.

I also had Mario Brothers fruit snacks to add to our theme.  We had my son's other favorite foods too: chips & dip and a meat and cheese platter.  It was super simple but still tied into the party theme.  Perfect!

Mario Kart Wii Wall Stickers

Every birthday party I throw for my kids, I try to find wall stickers/clings to match the theme.  Then I decorate the dining room (aka party central) with the wall stickers.  When the party is over, I move them to the birthday boy's/girl's room for them to enjoy for the rest of the year.  For my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party, I found great Mario Kart Wii Removable Wall Decorations on BirthdayExpress.com for $14.99.  They were the perfect touch for our party decorations!

Mario Boo Ghost Balloons

While doing research for decorating ideas for my son's Mario Kart Wii birthday party, I came across a blog called Corner House.  She had a post about a Mario party she threw for her son.  And one of the decorations she used were Boo Ghost Balloons.  She used white balloons, white paper cones and a sharpie.  Well, I didn't use the paper cones, I stuck with the white balloons and sharpie.  I used scotch tape and white thread to hang them from the ceiling. 

My son got a kick out of seeing them flying throughout the house when he woke up the morning of his party.  All the guests loved them!  They asked if they could each take one home.   

Mario Mushroom Cupcakes

My son had a last minute change of heart for his cupcakes.  He decided to have Mario Mushroom cupcakes instead of using the Mario Kart Wii Cupcake Toppers.  His favorite Mario Mushrooms are the Mega Mushroom (yellow with red dots) and the Mini Mushrooms (blue with white dots). 

So, I used a normal muffin tin for the Mega Mushrooms, yellow icing and red M&M's.  For the Mini Mushrooms, I used a mini muffin tin, white icing and blue M&M's.  (I know I have the colors reversed with the Mini Mushrooms but, it was easier and my son didn't mind.) 

I used white muffin cups for all the muffins.  And I drew the eyes on the outside of the muffin cups with a non-toxic magic marker.  Then, I lined a cookie sheet with foil and arranged the Mega Mushroom cupcakes in the middle and made a border with the Mini Mushroom cupcakes.  I topped it off with a number candle.  My son and all his friends loved it! 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Homemade Mario Kart Wii Standups

While searching for Mario Kart Wii party supplies, I stumbled upon a cardboard Mario Kart Wii Standup at birthdayexpress.com.  It is 6 feet high and cost $40 with a $10 additional shipping fee for an over sized item.  So, needless to say, I didn't get it!  But, it did give me an idea.  I decided to make my own Mario Kart Wii standups but smaller. 

So, I had the birthday boy pick his three favorite characters from Mario Kart and I searched the Internet for an image of each of them.  Once I found large enough images, I copy and pasted them onto a word document.  I minimized the margins and blew up the image as big as I could to fit on one page without going outside of the printing margins.  Then I printed them on white card stock.  I trimmed the pictures down but, I made sure to keep a flat edge on the bottom for better stability.  Then I used the excess card stock that I cut off and glued it to the back of each image to make the pictures stand up (like a support on a table top picture frame).  It was super simple and they came out great!  I sat the standups next to the Mario Star Giftbags, as part of the pary decorations. 

You can do this with virtually any party them.  You just have to find the pictures online.  And after the party, you can trim off the flat bottom, glue the standup to another colorful piece of card stock and frame it!  It's a great way to decorate a room!  I plan to do this for our toy room.  Be creative and have fun!

Mario Kart Wii Homemade Gift Bags

I like to make homemade gift bags whenever I get the chance and it was super simple with a Mario Kart Wii party theme.  I just used white paper lunch bags and traced a star in the center with a star template using a black marker.  I printed a clipart image of a Mario star (to the right) and cut it out to make my template.  You can also use a star-shaped cookie cutter.  Then I colored in the star with a yellow marker and drew on eyes with a black marker.

Then I packed each back with a small activity book (8 for $1, Walmart), a toy car (3 for $1, Dollar Tree), a small pack of crayons (8 for $1, Dollar Tree), Mario Kart Wii tattoos I ordered online (8 for $4, BirthdayExpress.com) and a Mario Bros fruit snack (10 for $3, Walmart).  You could also print out coloring sheets from my Mario Kart Wii Coloring Pages post, roll them up and put them in the gift bags.

I folded over the top of each bag, lined them up and put my Homemade Mario Kart Wii Standups next to them.  I used them as part of the birthday party decorations.  They were a big hit!  Here is the end result:

You can use this idea with any theme really.  Get creative and have fun!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Filling Your Child's Lunchbox

I'm trying to convince my boys to take lunch to school this year.  We picked up an inexpensive lunchbox at Walmart, a "cool" Camelbak kids bottle from Target (which hasn't leaked once!) and I have found some great homemade school lunch ideas online.  Hopefully they will think it's fun to take their lunch and have something healthy to eat.
Lunch Ideas
Don't forget a nice note to help keep your little ones going for the rest of the day. Or try the printable Lunchbox Jokes on Kraft Foods Lunchbox Ideas link. If they can't read yet, draw pictures they will understand. 

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Healthy School Snacks

My niece is starting Preschool this fall and my sister called me asking for a list of ideas for school snacks.  She would like to pack her healthy snacks.  So, I put together a list of healthy snacks, with help from a list sent home from my son's Elementary school a couple of years ago.  This is what I've come up with:

Snack Ideas
  • Apple Slices
  • Plums
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Oranges/Orange Slices
  • Fruit Cups
  • Dried Fruit, ex: Raisins, Apricots, Craisins, etc.
  • Carrots
  • Celery Sticks
  • Cucumber Slices
  • Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Cheese Cubes
  • Goldfish CrackersCereal
  • Graham Crackers/Teddy Grahams
  • Saltines
  • Animal Crackers
  • Wheat Crackers
  • Granola Bars
  • Pretzels
  • Jello Cups
  • Trail Mix
  • Nuts
Save money by buying in bulk and sending snacks to school in reusable containers.  For example:  instead of buying fruit cups, buy the large can and divide into your own containers.  You could also make your own trail mix with raisins, goldfish and pretzels or anything else you choose.

Going Back-to-School with Ease

My kids start school in just a few weeks.  School preparations are in full-swing.  From buying school supplies to figuring out what to pack for lunches and snacks, it can all be overwhelming at times.  So, I searched from some tips on how to make the transition from summer to school easier on everyone.

On these sites, you can find helpful tips on how to communicate with your child's teacher, the brands to buy for school supplies, lunch ideas and more.  I hope you and your kids have a terrific school year!

Mario Kart Wii Coloring Pages

Another activity to do at a Mario Kart Wii party, is coloring!  Here are a few links with free, printable Mario Kart Wii coloring pages:

Coloring Pages

Mario Kart Wii Party Games

Every birthday party needs games.  We will be making Yoshi Eggs for the Yoshi Egg Race that is suggested on this site.  I chose this game because it's something the kids can help me with in advance and it should be a lot of fun!

Yoshi Egg Race
  1. Hard boil eggs and let cool.
  2. Using food coloring, add green dots to the eggs with a cotton swab.  Allow to dry.  (You could also use a green permanent marker.)
  3. Give each child a spoon and an egg to carry in the spoon.
  4. Have all the kids line up and give them a finish line to race to.
  5. The children must carry the Yoshi Eggs on the their spoon to the finish line.  If they drop their egg they must go back to the starting line and begin again.
  6. The winner gets a reward.  I plan to use gold chocolate coins or Hershey kisses.
Another game I plan for us to play is Mario Kart Wii Bingo.  I couldn't find anything online for this so, I made my own bingo cards. 

Mario Kart Wii Bingo
  1. Click here to download and print twelve Mario Kart Wii Bingo Cards.  (Print on card stock to make more durable.)
  2. Print out a Mario Kart Wii Bingo Call Sheet and cut out each picture.
  3. Play Bingo
    1. Give each party guest a bingo card and markers.  We're using Hershey kisses.
    2. Put the cut-out pictures into a bag and shake them up.
    3. Pull one picture out at a time and show it to the children.
    4. If the children have the picture on their card, they cover it with a bingo marker/Hershey kiss.
    5. When a child gets 4 in a row (vertical, horizontal or diagonal) they call out "MARIO"!
    6. The winners get a prize.  I like to use $1 coloring books, crayons, small party favor, etc.
To make your own personalized vof Bingo, visit DLTK Custom Bingo Cards.  They also have premade bingo cards with characters like Pokemon and Veggie Tales.  They also have bingo cards for holidays, baby showers and more.