Tag: Kids

The Ultimate Cake Wars Birthday Party for Your Itty Bitty Baker

When I say I love baking competition shows, I mean it. Around the time my oldest was preschool-aged and making her own friends to invite to parties, I was learning all about cake decorating from cake shows. I love learning by watching and it really helped that my mother already had all the tools ready for borrowing. Over the years, my middle girls have developed their love of them alongside me. When it came time to decide on a theme for Lily’s 9th birthday party, we landed smack dab on a cake wars theme. From there, it was all about the planning.

Some of my favorite cakes over the years!

Cake Wars Party Invitation

I’m a fan of including pictures of the birthday girl (and party guests like in my Detective Party) into the whole party planning process. For a true Food Network feel, I went the route of setting up the photo as you might see on a show billboard. With a few fun graphics, the picture was ready to be paired with a backing. Simply printing the party details on fun paper makes it an easy task.

Invitation Template

If you’d like an easy to update Canva Invitation Template (seen below) fill out the quick form.

The Ice Cream Round

Call me what you will (crazy, a glutton for punishment), but I love to amp up my party plans. Just doing cake seemed like a missed opportunity to throw in all the stops, so I decided to add an ice cream round. Be warned; when you peruse Pinterest enough, you may find you’re overly inspired and ambitious. So in much of the way of a Pinterest junky, I saw way too many easy ice cream recipes made in zip lock bags to not to give it a try. Little Sprouts Learning was the site that really inspired me, so I used the recipe there. My girls and I had already been accustomed to making our creamy desserts in the ice cream maker, so it really didn’t feel like that big of a leap to do it in a big instead.

Supplies

Spills, Messes, and More

There’s no getting around the fact that this Cake Wars Challenge was going to be a mess. It was a good thing my husband was not in the kitchen to see the milk spills and the candy scatters because he would have lost his gourd. I had set out the measuring cups and the bags and throw-ins all around the kitchen island. I wasn’t about to try to set up stations for each child with extract and all the things because I wanted them to choose their own versions of flavorings and throw-ins. The biggest problem with this process was that the little gals all needed help pouring the cream and milk into the bags, so with only my two hands to help combined with the impatience of the children, we had an island of mess to contend with.

ADVICE!!!

Do yourself a huge favor to avoid my experienced pitfalls. Provide each ‘competitor’ with a bowl or oatmeal container cut in half, etc, for them to use to hold the bag upright while they put in all the ingredients. This will save paper towels and mental angst.

My other piece of advice; buy a bag or two of ice. You’ll see that the recipes that say it’ll only take 5 minutes for the ice cream to start to solidify. It was really not working well for my party crew and I think it boils down to the girls not putting in enough ice and rock salt in their bags. I would recommend you divide the ice and rock salt into the galloon size bags ahead of time to store in the freezer in preparation for the girls to grab when they are ready.

Our Itty Bitty Judge

What’s a cake wars competition without a judge?! Our judge was our very own ice cream and cake-loving 6-year-old. As each child competitor finished their ice cream creation, they took their bowl over to the judge for a taste test. She would get one bite (with a clean spoon) to try it out before the competitor could eat the rest themselves. Most got an excited thumbs up from our little judge while others found they would prefer not to eat their creations. Let’s just say mixing extracts might not turn out to be so tasty! Lessons were learned.

This was the only photo I have of the round. Sadly, because of the developing mess and the fact that my camera card failed. 🙁

After they finished their cakes, it was time for a commercial break. The girls went downstairs to play together, while the cleaning crew (aka mom) went on set to clean and prep for next round.

The Cake Round

The only way I could imagine this round working was to bake a bunch of cake rounds beforehand. I made strawbridge, vanilla, and chocolate 4 inch round cakes ahead of the party. They were cooled and cut flat, so they would be ready for selecting and pairing with the icing and extras.

Supplies

  • Variety of Same Size Cake Rounds
  • Store bought Icing flavors
  • Icing Bags
  • Cake Decorting Icing Gels
  • Icing spreaders
  • Fruits
  • Fondant
  • Rolling Pins
  • Cookies
  • Paper Plates
  • Small Cake Boxes

Bakers At Work

Round 2 kicked off with excitment to get all the desired decorations and food additives. Quite thankfully, these gals weren’t hard set on perfection, so it wasn’t too long before their masterpieces were ready for judging on the basis of design and flavor.

Cake Wars Takeaway

With the judging complete, it was time only a matter of cleaning the aftermath while the girls played.

Cute little cake boxes housed the pretty cakes to take home as party gifts.

Clean once again.

Final Prize

To merge the ice cream round with the cake round, we had a homemade Neopolitan ice cream cake per the birthday girl’s wishes. While it was obviously messy, this Cake Wars-themed birthday party was a hit!

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Ultimate Carnival Theme Party Ideas for Fun Lovers

With the anticipation of spring weather, it’s thankfully time to think about all the outdoor possibilities. For me, what comes to mind are ways to reconnect with people. Essentially, I’m kind of pandemic’ed’ out at this point after the last two years and all the winter spikes in cases. With outdoor being a ‘safer’ place, my mind is teeming with ways to utilize my larger outdoor space. This anticipation also reminds me of one of favorite birthday parties for my oldest daughter. So if you’re looking for an all-out fun party theme, follow along for some carnival theme party ideas.

Carnival Theme Food Ideas

You can’t think of a carnival and not think about all the delicious food options. An at-home carnival wouldn’t be the same without it, so it’s definitely an important checklist item.

My parents helped supply this party with pretty much all the fanfare from popcorn and sno kones makers to my mom’s carefully crafted carnival games. Let’s just say they are still kids at heart and have collected all the things to share fun with others. My mom in particular was a huge help with these carnival theme party ideas.

Our snacks included:

  • Popcorn with authentic popcorn bags
  • Cotton candy in clown bags
  • Funnel cake
  • Soft pretzels
  • Carousel Cake
  • Candy!!

Carnival Theme Party Game Ideas

The games are a combination of purchases and crafts, which can go in either direction depending on the amount of effort desired.

Fish Bowl Toss & Lucky Duck

Baby pools are a super easy and cheap way to accomplish this game. You can find clearance pools at the end of the summer season. The prize for the fish bowl toss was a sandwich bag filled with water and a fake fish.

Spill the Milk and Down a Clown

Spill the milk has a wooden stand built from a 3/4″ thick board, a round wooden disk and a 4×4. The metal bottles are going to a bit hard to find. Any bottles with flat bottoms and tops will work. The Down a Clown frame is built from wood, hinges and purchased from a toy show. If you really want to be authentic, the best place to look would be antique fairs or toy shows. My mom touched these up with paint.

Ring the Bell

Now this next one isn’t going to be an easy to find item. It reiterates that my parents have it all. They also have a larger version in their backyard that doesn’t travel as well as this smaller version. It was certainly a hit with our little carnival goers!

Ring a Bottle & Bucket Toss

The Ring a Bottle game is constructed with antique bottle crates, so you may have to do a bit of searching to find that exact thing. Otherwise, some crates, and glass bottles should work okay. The bucket toss is another easy find incorporating like size buckets and ping pong balls.

Bullseye Toss, Pin the Tail on the Donkey & Raise the bottle

These targets were purchased but could also be made from poster board for those who enjoy the opportunity to make their own. The bottle stand is also an easy project using a 2×4 and square wood panels. One of the long sides should be shorter in height from the other side. This can be accomplished easily with a table saw or saw with a guide. Nail or screw it all together and you have the stand! The fishing rods are long dowels with a small hole drilled into the end. Then string can be tied to it without slipping off and connected to the ring.

Face Painting

I personally love face painting so my carnival party wouldn’t have been complete without it. I was pretty tickled that my husband did several of the paintings. The easiest way to go about it is to have a selection of face paintings you can feasibly do for the kids to pick from.

Prize Table

With each game, the carnival goers won tickets. At the end, everyone was able to cash in their tickets for prizes from the prize buckets. We had pencils, clackers, yo-yo’s, candy, etc. Party City is an excellent place to check for inexpensive prizes. All they need is a paper bag to put their prize selections into for safe keeping. Our party rounded out with lollipops from the lollipop peg box. This can be constructed with a box, peg board or wood/cardboard with holes drilled into it.

Pandemic effects on mental health

As I said at the beginning, I’m mentally exhausted from the length of the pandemic and itching to engage more with friends near and far. We were able to get together with friends last summer, but it still wasn’t the same as before. In the article Seven Ways the Pandemic is Affecting Our Mental Health, it notes,

“And, indeed, nearly 1 in 7 U.S. adults said they were often or always lonely in April 2020, up over 25 percent from 2018. But another study in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. found that people’s feelings of connection to others didn’t change much from before to during the pandemic. When one group of researchers surveyed over 1,500 people in the U.S. from January to April, they were surprised to find “remarkable resilience.” ……”one study in the U.S. in April and May (before any restrictions were lifted) found that almost two thirds of people under 30 had high levels of loneliness, and 37 percent felt they had low support from their family.”

Seven Ways the Pandemic Is Affecting Our Mental Health

So now’s the time to find safe ways to engage with others, to take care of yourselves, and to find a way back to some normalcy. As with anything, the affects of the pandemic really depend on your outlook and resilience.

This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

20 Lovely and Crafty Valentines Decor Ideas to Make Today

In general, any holiday can evoke feelings of stress and anxiety, from the anticipation of interactions, the glaring absence of relationships, and/or the added list of tasks the holiday brings with it. I’d venture to say Valentine’s Day is the least favorite holiday for some. Way back before my husband and I got together (in high school), I saw it as a holiday pointing out the absence of love as it’s traditionally celebrated in a relationship. I was definitely young and tunnel visioned in that way, but as a teenager it’s what glared out at me. Currently, as a married adult, my husband and I still don’t celebrate it to any large degree, mostly because he hates the ‘hallmark’ holiday idea. To brighten the day up, I think the best way to celebrate the idea of love, is to craft your way into a Valentines decor infused space.

If you’re with me, follow along for a collection of lovely and crafty ideas you could do with or without your loved ones. If may just provide you with some meditative moments and a boost of confidence at seeing what you are able to create!  

Valentines Decor Collection

  1. Cupid’s Arrow Valentine’s Day Wall Hanging by Charleston Crafted 

I’ll happily admit I’m partial to arrow decor, so this Cupid’s arrow wall hanging hits me in just the right spot. One of the best parts is the simplicity and ease to create it. I also just saw Joann Fabrics has felt on sale right now, so it’s a match made in heaven. 


2. DIY Dollar Store Heart Wreath by South Lumina Style

This homemade wreath definitely comes off as having store bought quality and would look great with lots of different decor.  

Valentines decor heart wreath

And then there’s this other version of a heart wreath using the same wire frame but with material scraps. Totally farmhouse chic and a great way to use up any scraps you might have. 

3. Rag Heart Wreath by Simple Simon and Co.

Valentines decor rag heart wreath

4. Thumbprint Heart Glass Gem Magnets by Rhythms of Play

I’m smitten with this idea as a way to capture the kids’ fingerprint sizes for years to come, because the kids are only small for so long. A reality I’ve been living as my oldest is now taller than I. I could also use some more magnets to hold up pictures on the fridge, so that’s a win in my book. 

valentines decor thumbprints

5. Heart Garland by My Sanity Project 

After having posted about my Christmas mitten garland, I couldn’t pass up on this heart garland. It’s equally as cute as the mittens. 

valentines decor heart garland

6. Valentine’s Day Trail Sign by Stow and Tell U

Which path would you choose on this Valentine’s day hike? I’m partial to Cupid’s Arrow Peak myself.


7. Valentine’s Table Runner by H20 Bungalow

While perusing ideas, I liked how unique this concept was among the bunch of wreaths and wall decor. There weren’t any other table runner ideas I saw and burlap gives it the added farmhouse look. I ‘love’ it!

Valentines decor table runner

8. DIY Farmhouse Garland by Refresh Living

Sometimes, you just can’t beat a little simplicity. The toned down color and ease of this garland is oh so lovely. Stringing beads definitely provides an opportunity to meditate as well!


9. Canvas Heart Art by Design Improvised

I couldn’t go without including some canvas wall decor. My girls love painting on canvas, so the image really sparked a fire in my to break out the paint and glitter. The variety in texture definitely adds a nice dimension to the collection. 


10. Lavender Sachets by Beauty for Ashes 

Given that smells can be a great way to ease stress and recall memories, I thought this heart sachet idea was superb. If you’re planning a lovely night or holiday season, give your olfactory sense something to spark memories in the years to come. 


11. Yarn Wrapped Hearts by Fynes Designs

Simple yarn can come pretty cheap, so this idea also stood out to me as affordable and a nice kid friendly idea. It’s also a nice pairing to idea 8 in this list. 


12. Valentine’s Gnomes by Follow the Yellow Brick Home

Gnomes seem to be all the rage these days. These Valentine gnomes look easy enough for anyone to accomplish and add a cute gnome splash to a Valentine decor vignette. 


13. No Sew Valentine Pillows by Moms and Crafters

I could spend forever rooting through fabrics to find just the right pattern and feel for these cute pillows. Personally, I would go bigger than these appear to be and save money by stuffing them with the cruddy looking cotton snow left over from Christmas. Who doesn’t love a good repurpose?


14. Kissing Booth 

The dollar tree can supply all the materials to create this absolutely adorable kissing booth. Big tongue depressors could also be an alternate option for material. It definitely provides a way to add your own creative flare. 


15. Heart Envelopes by I Heart Crafty Things

I’m pretty sure most folks have extra paper lying around whether decorative or not. Here’s an easy peazy way to make a folded heart into the actual envelope! Write your message and fold away!


16. Heart Frame by Fluster Buster

In my previous house, I had wanted to make a similar year round wall hanging with braches in a large frame. I never did end up doing it but still love this Valentines decor version. There are plenty of frames ready for repurposing at Goodwill for just such a purpose. 


17. Tissue Paper Rosette Ball by the Idea Room

I tend to have left over streamers from my girls’ birthday morning ‘surprise’ decorations. When I saw this idea, I couldn’t get over how simple of an idea it was using something I already had. I can’t wait to make my own!


18. Valentines Day Table Decorations by Cathartic Crafting 

Create some Valentine’s Day table decorations with materials you can likely find around your house, like acorns and wine bottles. I know I enjoyed it!


19. Bead Board Heart Vase by Simply Country Life

Here’s another idea I’ve done something similar with to hold my paint brushes, mason jar wall hangings. Most of the work lies in going to the store for supplies. 


20. DIY Dollar Tree Sign Makeover Using Craft Sticks by Lizzy and Erin

This Valentines decor is true farmhouse magic in a wooden frame. The combination of all the different ribbon material is the star here.

So that’s it, that’s all I wrote. I truly hope you found a few must do ideas here from all these creative bloggers. Hopefully, it helps you to slow down and focus your mind, or maybe lets it wonder aimlessly, if that’s what you are needing. Holidays certainly seem to put the pressure on, but if we take a step back to allow for some ‘me’ time, all things can be manageable. Here’s to current and future love!

Valentine’s Day Table Decorations using Found Materials

At our new house this fall, we experienced an onslaught of acorns on our back porch from the nearby tree. Given that there were thousands of them, and more than the squirrels could handle, I felt like I needed to figure out some way to repurpose them. With all the baby and Christmas prep and festivities complete, it was time to refocus on the next holiday, Valentine’s Day. These thoughts boiled down to creating Valentine’s Day table decorations with the acorns and a collection of other materials I had on hand. It feels great to be able to repurpose items, especially to spruce up the living environment. 

Supplies

  • Acorns
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brushes
  • Craft Glue
  • Wine bottle (click the link for a wine company I love, Traveling Vineyard)
  • Contact Paper
  • Wood
  • Sand Paper
  • Spray Paint

Valentine’s Day Table Decorations Run Down

I don’t think many instructions need to be included here, except to say, go forth with creativity! One note on acrylic paint. I, generally, buy cheap acrylics, because my kids go crazy with it and waste it. This means the paint doesn’t always have great surface coverage and needed multiple layers of paint to cover the brown. If waste isn’t a concern, I suggest you choose your paints wisely. 

Using leftover 5/8″ x 2″ strips, I cut some rectangles to make into tiny envelopes. 

Wine Bottle Valentine’s Day Table Decoration

Whether you are drinking away your sorrows or celebrating with loved ones, save the empty wine bottle for an easy repurpose. A little trick I learned recently is to use WD-40 to get the sticky remnants off the surface. What I also learned in trying this method is the WD40 doesn’t get the heavier sticker off, so soak the label first to get off as much as you can. 

From there, I cut hearts from contact paper to use as a stencil on the wine bottle. I used the folding method to ensure it was equal on both sides. If I were to do it again, I would make the hearts a little smaller. This would allow for the viewer to see the whole heart when looking at the bottle from one spot rather than having to rotate it. 

Finished Valentine’s Day Table Decorations

Thankfully, I took these pictures prior to our Siberian Husky poaching them off of our entry table to chew on. She’s now chewed on my live edge coffee table, my resin coffee table, multiple shoes, and our new porch couch. I’m about ready to boot her out of the house! Anyway…….

Now it’s your turn to go ‘nuts’ crafting your own Valentine’s Day table decorations with whatever you have available. Have fun!

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

25 Hauntingly Outstanding DIY Halloween Decorations

 

If you aren’t one for cutesy Halloween decor, these 25 scary ideas are for you. These DIY Halloween decorations are hauntingly outstanding!  I hope they scare the pants off you and your visitors.

 

  1. Skeleton Entryway Pots by The Keeper of Cheerios

 

2. Dangling Spider Web by PBS

 


 

3. Zombie Barbies by Crafts by Amanda

 


 

4. Cardboard Tombstone by eHow

 


 

5. Halloween Spell Book by Pop Sugar

 


 

 

6. Packing Tape and Trash Bag Ghost by Monster Tutorials

 

DIY Halloween Decorations: Packing tape and trash bag ghost

 

7. Jack of Lanterns Tv by Crafts by Amanda

 

DIY Halloween Decorations Jack of Lanterns tv

 

8. Apothecary and Potion Bottles by Cathartic Crafting

DIY Halloween decorations: Apothecary jars

 

9. Ghostface Pictureframe by eHow

 

DIY Halloween Decorations : Ghostface Pictureframe

 

10. Paper Towel Candles by House of Dewberry

 

DIY Halloween Decorations Paper Towel Candles

 

11. Creepy Halloween Candles by Cheltenham Road

 


 

12. Life Size Spider Victim from Instructables

 


 

13. DIY Crystal Ball by Atta Girl Says

 


 

14. DIY Giant Spider by Dead and Daughter’s Paul Jones

 


 

15. Homemade Burlap Mask

 


 

16. Haunted Mirror by Life with Lorelai

 


 

16. DIY Spooky Crystal Ball Halloween Candlesticks by Flamingo Toes

 


 

17. Creepy Halloween Well from Halloween Forum

 


 

18. Spooky Book Covers by Cathartic Crafting

 


 

19. Man Eating Plant 


 

20. Floating Head Hanging Ghost by Simply Designing


 

21. Spooky Bat Chandelier by A Diamond in the Stuff

 


 

22. Skeleton Dish by Four Front Doors

 


 

23. Bubbling Witch Cauldron

 


 

24. Pallet Coffin 

 


 

25. Halloween Window Silhouettes by Laughing Squid

 

 

I hope some of those DIY Halloween Decoration ideas struck your scary bones. What’s the point of the holidays if you can’t use them as an excuse to craft!

Crafting a One of a Kind Storybook

Years ago, I had dreams of writing children’s books. Storybooks of whimsy intertwined with educational tidbits. Although that dream has not yet been realized, I have held on to my half-drafted ideas and write-ups waiting for a possible revival. While that may or may not still happen, I shifted gears a bit in that same vein to complete a project with my girls. It was a perfect marriage of creative thinking and enjoyment of photographs and editing. Follow along as we crafted our one-of-a-kind storybook. I hope you’ll be inspired to create one of your own!

Storybook Start

I don’t know about you, but my inspiration can come from a variety of places. For this particular project, I was jump-started into action while my husband was away in training for 3 months. I wanted a way for my three girls to feel connected to him while he was away. That desire morphed into a mother-daughter(s) project. We worked together to write a story centered around them and their dad that we then crafted into a keepsake storybook. Trying to write a story with an 8, a 6, and 3-year-old could have been quite the task. To prevent utter madness, I provided my own structure by creating a base for the story. From there, I asked them questions about what they wanted for different components, like for their special power, the name of the dragon, the obstacles they would encounter, etc. I’d liken it to more of a mad-libs session than unbridled creativity. I’d learned my lesson after developing a previous story with my oldest that became a bit difficult to tie into pictures with the level of creativity in the storylines. 

Planning makes the project

I drafted it in Microsoft Word to fit the pages and then made a list of photo options that could fit with the content on the page. Things like… 

  • girls excited to find dad in dungeon cell
  • hugging dad
  • telling dad about their adventure to save him
  • walking back through woods with dragon
  • handing dragon to fairy in woods
  • returning to winster kingdom holding hands

This stage is all about proper planning.

Actresses at the Ready

After the story and plans were drafted, it was time to trek into the woods. This was by far the most difficult part of the whole project. My chosen locale was a heavily wooded spot that included some thorny patches leading to my go-to spot; a log spanning some shallow water. As any parent might imagine, there was whining about the walk, about the thorns, sisters being mean, tears, and pouting. It was all I could do to keep my sanity during the hour we were there. By the end of this outing, we had a solid set of photos ready for editing.

The second space was natural without the thorns or walking, so the second photo session was much easier. At the end of the day, it’s all about those lessons learned, isn’t it?!

Photoshop Time

After the story writing, planning, and picture taking, this storybook was ready for the photoshop fun. I’ve used a fair variety of photoshop programs from free to paid. My favorite has been Adobe Photoshop which was what I used for this project. I had to scour the internet for photos I pair with my photos for the extra fun factor. These searches included tree roots, a hoping bunny, fairies, dragons, and some backgrounds.

Adding Magic

The girls’ chosen powers were the power of freezing objects, the power of water control, and powerful strength.  

Shutterfly Storybook End

The final step was to put it together with Shutterfly. It’s my most frequently used photo product company. I live for good deals and Shutterfly constantly provides in that arena. It’s also user-friendly and allows manipulation of the templates, which is super important to me. 

Pandemic Mental Health Check

The pandemic has had a variety of effects from physical to mental.  I came across an article,

that defined a new feeling people have been experiencing since the start of the pandemic. If you’re feeling joyless and aimless, you may be experiencing languishing.

His research suggests that the people most likely to experience major depression and anxiety disorders in the next decade aren’t the ones with those symptoms today. They’re the people who are languishing right now. And new evidence from pandemic health care workers in Italy shows that those who were languishing in the spring of 2020 were three times more likely than their peers to be diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The good news is, “People who became more immersed in their projects managed to avoid languishing and maintained their pre-pandemic happiness.” So with that thought in mind, starting a project like this storybook today will definitely serve your mental health in the long run. 

Outstanding Popcorn Garland and Gobstoppers for Candyland Christmas

After creating my giant lollipops and tootsie roll string lights in the first Candyland Christmas rendition, I knew I wanted to get moving on some Candyland Christmas additions. My priorities continued to be keeping supply costs low (most items were on hand), fun in creating, and trying to be set apart from the rest of the neighborhood.

Candyland Christmas Popcorn Garland

Supplies: 

While going through bins of old toys to sell, I was inspired by the ball pit balls we hadn’t used in forever. Those balls gave me the rather brilliant idea to make little wrapped “candies”. I’m thinking of the ones you get from some Asian restaurants in the metallic wrapping. It was a great pairing to the “popcorn” I was already planning to do. For some reason, I didn’t take pictures, but the task is super easy. Cut the tissue paper to a good size to fit around your ball, leaving a good 3 inches on each end. I taped the seam over the ball to keep the paper sealed. Then, it’s just a matter of pinching the tissue paper on either side of the ball and twisting the tie around it. It’s perfect for kids of all ages!

Honestly, this craft couldn’t be any simpler, so here we go with the popcorn instructions. Spray the Great Foam onto something you don’t care about having some stuck on foam remnants. Spray the foam into a lopsided shape, you know, like popcorn. I wouldn’t say mine are a great popcorn shape, so if you can do better, then I applaud you. This stuff grows quite a bit so definitely make it undersized to what you think you want it to be after it expands. It’s always a good idea to try one first to see how big it gets.

And here they are after hardening. A scraper will help you get them off cleanly from the surface. I didn’t think about it until after I’d already strung my popcorn up, but it’d be a great idea to turn the popcorn over and spray a bit more Great Foam on the flat rough side for a better shape. I’m pretty tempted to spray mine even while they are currently hung up because I dislike that flat side so much.

DIY Giant Needle

Time to sew! I had to run through ideas in my head on how I could get a string through the popcorn. With our pending move, I had already packed up some of the things I would have considered. After taking a look in my knife and skewer drawer, I was elated to find a lone wooden skewer. I drilled a tiny hole at the end, making it a perfect giant needle. It felt like a huge win! I used some heavy sewing thread to feel confident the string wouldn’t break. 

From there, it was just a matter of man powering the skewer through the foam. Just kidding, it’s really quite easy! My pattern was two popcorns, then one candy. I tied the string around one side of the candy. After the assortment was all threaded onto the string, I basically wrapped it around the string of lights. And with that, this craft for Candyland Christmas is finished. 

Gobstoppers

I was beyond tickled when the Gobstopper idea hit me. It was such a SIMPLE idea. I already had clear cellophane on hand. I cut a strip of it to fit the circumference of the balls. Then with the balls in the middle of the cellophane strip, I taped the seam together. I held one end together to use the clear packing tape to ‘seal’ it similarly to what an actual gobstopper strip looks like. Then I did the same to the other side before cutting it off. Now, if you want to go the extra mile, you could use a Cricut to create the label to stick on. I, unfortunately, don’t currently have the means, otherwise, I probably would. 

Mints

Here’s another “what do I have sitting around” idea. Foil pie pans had been sitting in wait in my cabinet for quite some time. I decided to use those to make a mint. I cut the perimeter about 6 times to the crease. This was to allow the border to fold into more of a 90-degree angle. Surprise surprise, craft glue doesn’t work so well on foil, so I taped the overlapping seam together.

Then, it was just a matter of folding the selected tissue paper into the empty center. Cutting the clear cellophane to the right size and tying off the ends with the twist ties. Literally, a two minute effort you can hand off to your kiddos to get them involved. Cheap and easy is the continued name of the game with this Candyland Christmas theme.

Presenting: Candyland Christmas!!!

Here is it all together!

If I weren’t in the process of selling a house, I would definitely continue to up the ante. It looks much to bear for my tastes. I unfortunately just don’t have the time to be able to continue on my Candyland Christmas journey, but there’s always next year…

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

The Ultimate Cardboard Gingerbread House for Christmas Crazed Kids

As some of my other posts show, I have a strong love for cardboard. It’s easy to find, it’s free, it’s got a nice balance of flexibility and strength, fairly easy to manipulate, and it’s recyclable. I mean, with all those great characteristics, who wouldn’t love it?! I started just as many other parents, by providing the big box to the child, allowing their imagination to run wild. Since I love allowing my imagination to go wild, that only lasted so long for me. When we moved into our current house, I finally had the open space to run a little wild.
I made my first cardboard gingerbread house about 5 years ago. It stayed up well over a year before we took it down. My youngest spent many hours playing in that little house and why I recommend you make one of your very own if you’ve got the space. I hope my ideas help to inspire your own!

Now onto the Build

Materials:

  • Big and small cardboard boxes
  • Paper towel rolls or wrapping paper rolls
  • Contact paper
  • Toilet paper roll
  • Egg
  • Sticks
  • Scissors and/or razor
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (check out this link for a cordless hot glue gun, I know what I’m putting on my Christmas wish list!!!)
  • Paint and paintbrushes
  • Fake snow or whatever Christmas element you’d like to add

To start, it’s really up to the boxes you have on hand to determine your eventual house shape. Hot glue is a wonderfully quick and sturdy option to glue your pieces together. Thankfully, I had huge boxes from a refrigerator, a washer, dryer, and couches. I’ve found it’s quite easy to cut at the corners by running a razor down through it. 

I painted the wrapping paper rolls with the candy cane strips before cutting them open in one straight line. This was to open them up for gluing on the corners of the house/box. I truly loved the effect. We made some peppermints out of other bits of cardboard and hot glued them onto the front. From there, it was just a matter of painting the house front as we desired. 

The Front Door: the magical entrance to an imagination space

For the door, I cut out an open panel to let the girls have a spot to look through while in the house. To give it a personalized touch, I used contact paper so my girls could create a little winter scene. I sealed it with a backside of contact paper and glued it to the back of the door. 

For the handle, I knew I wanted to make it able to turn and “lock” into position. Below is what I came up with based on what I had on hand. My motto is generally to use what I have rather than look to buy something. I used a toilet paper roll and two wooden dowels I had for cake stability or some other craft project. It was easy enough to cut the hole for the toilet paper roll and holes for the sticks that would keep the door in place. The problem was that the toilet paper roll wasn’t strong enough on the edge now to be crushed.

A bit of ingenuity

I came up with using an egg out of my fridge. I blew out the innards and then coated it in Mod Podge to seal it and give it some added strength. After that, I stuck the egg into the end of the toilet paper roll. Looking back, I admit it does seem rather odd, but it worked perfectly and lasted a really really long time. It wasn’t until we had some little boys over to play that one egg ended up crushed, cause, you know, BOYS. 

For the chimney, I used a white square cardboard box. It was easy to cut the bottom at the angle of the roof. Then, my oldest daughter helped me to paint the stone look of it. I used some super hard corner cardboard pieces (the kind that comes with appliances or furniture) as the roof seam. 

“He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

Stepping inside this Cardboard Gingerbread House

Obviously, a cozy Cardboard Gingerbread house isn’t much without a roaring stone fireplace. Using another super-stiff box, I cut it in half and then cut the front down the middle to be able to bend back for the fireplace shape. My oldest was then 7 and really enjoyed helping paint the stones. You can really see the concentration on her face here. Did you know crafting with kids can build their confidence? As they start to see the results of their work, it proves how much they can do just by trying. 

With the fireplace in place, it was only a matter of rolling up some brown cardstock into sticks and cutting and gluing some tissue paper together to create the roaring fire. There were cut off corner pieces needing to be repurposed, so I glued them to the corners as shelves. In the below photo, you can hopefully see I used some bent cardboard as roof supports to keep it solidly in place. It was easy enough to then tuck the light strings into the open spots. 

Just a few hours of crafting and engineering precision, created years of enjoyment for my three girls!

Upping the ante with Cardboard Gingerbread House #2

For my daughter’s 6th birthday, I made a Haunted Cardboard house for the birthday party. Since I’d put so much work into it, we weren’t about to take it down right afterward. Together, we spruced it up to turn it into another cardboard gingerbread house. Because I’m a bit of a hoarder, not really, just an avid “repurposer”, we were able to use the chimney and fireplace we’d created the first time around.

Join me on the Inside

Obviously, the square footage of this house was a great deal more than the previous one. The girls were able to go full-on Christmas on the inside. It was such a fun Christmas activity to get us in the spirit!

“Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there…”

Clement Clarke Moore, The Night Before Christmas

 

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Charming Candyland Christmas Projects for the Novice Crafter

As I started to think about Christmas and the same old outdoor decorations I’ve been using for years, I had the strong desire to mix things up. I had a plastic playhouse that my daughters had outgrown and needed to be repurposed or handing to someone else. That fact pushed me to think about turning it into a gingerbread house. Thinking of a gingerbread house made me think of candy and candy made me think of a Candyland Christmas theme. (Do you know the “If you Give a Moose a Muffin” books? I feel like that is how my brain works all the time and I think it drives my husband crazy.) From there, my girls and I were super excited to start with some mommy-daughter Christmas crafting!

Lollipops for Candyland Christmas

Materials:

  • Pool Noodle
  • Hot Glue Gun and Glue sticks
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Newspaper
  • Spray Paint
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Clear
  • Ribbon and/or Twist Ties
  • Dowel
  • Drill

We are currently preparing to move 45 minutes south in a month, so it was perfect timing to use these old pool noodles for a new project. It’s so much better than throwing them out! 

To start, grab your warmed up glue gun and start gluing the side of the end of the noodle and bending a small portion. As you continue to add glue to the outside edge, start to wrap the extra noodle length around the middle bend. I decided to use two noodles for each lollipop, but it could be fine with one. With the pandemic pushing people to get pools, the clearance pool noodle supply was nonexistent.

Creating the Lollipop Covering

If your pool noodles look good, you could bypass this step, given mine were different colors, I wanted to be able to spray paint them. I mixed enough flour and water together to get a cream-based soup consistency. Next, I dipped my newspaper into the mixture. Then I wiped off the excess before smoothing it onto the pool noodles. This dries much quicker in warm temperatures, so I used a small heater to dry them quickly. 

Then I set about with spray painting the dried paper Mache coating with a Rustoleum white I had on hand. 

I hand-painted red and white stripes with cheap acrylic paint. From there, I use a 1/2″ drill bit to drill a hole for the stick. I happened to have some wood posts from tree plantings in the backyard needing to be repurposed. Instead of painting white, I left them as is to save the spray paint. All there was left to do was to tie on the Cello wrapping paper I got from the Dollar Tree. It was a little too narrow for the diameter of my lollipop, so I used clear packing tape to tape the side flaps down.

I used Christmas ribbon I had leftover from the year before. Such an easy and cheap project! I mean seriously, how cute are these?!

GumDrops for Candyland Christmas

Materials:

  • Plastic Bowls
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Glitter glue or glitter paint
  • String lights

Easy Steps:

  1. Paint the inside of each bowl. I got six bowls so did the six different colors of gumdrops; red, green, orange, white, yellow, and purple.

2. Coat the outside in the glitter of choice.  I used some Rust-oleum Glitter Paint I had on hand thanks to Walmart clearance and a previous bookcase refinish. 

3. Place over the string lights.

4. Light it up!

 

Fruit Chews

Materials

  • Plastic bottles
  • Tissue Paper
  • Cello wrap
  • Twist Ties
  • Light string
  • Razor
  • Tape

Steps

1. Cut the top and bottom off with the razor.

2. Thread the string lights through the bottle.

3. Cut rectangles of the cello wrap and tissue paper. 

4. Wrap the tissue and cello around the bottle. Then tape it together. 

5. Twist both ends and tie with the twist tie.

6. Repeat steps 1-5 until you cover the whole string.

Mental Health Benefits

With all this trash repurposing, it’s fitting to point out that being green conscience can also improve mental health. According to Dr. Brian Wind, a clinical psychologist,  

leading a sustainable lifestyle can improve mindfulness and aid in easing depression or anxiety.

Earth 911

So while you are repurposing that trash and getting into your crafting zone, you’re really amping up the mental health benefit while meeting your Christmas décor needs. Enjoy!

Successfully Controlling Stuffed Animal Clutter with a Craft

OH THE CLUTTER!!

I don’t know about your household but ours has often felt the stress of stuffed animal collections gone wild. We were getting by with stuffing them into cloth hampers, but it hit a point where it just wasn’t enough. With Christmas just around the corner, I’m going to go out on a limb to say you’re hoping to declutter before the extra “joy” enters the house for the holidays. Below is a list of some fairly simple projects that are functional and visually appealing.

Stuffed Animal Clutter Projects to Complete Today

  1. Macrame stuffed toy holder by Fiber Art Love

To start this list off right, check out this utterly adorable macrame stuffed toy holder. The add of the flowers is just right. I haven’t made it yet but it’s going on my list of projects!

2. Corner Animal Cage by Down Redbud Drive

This little corner stuffed animal cage makes for a simple woodworking project. This one is definitely the maximum storage capacity leader. 

3. Bungie Cord Box by  Shades of Blue Interiors

This bungie cord box is another take on the same technique but on an obviously much smaller scale. It looks super clean and accessible.

4. Toy Baskets by Mommity

I first saw this idea years ago and have loved it ever since. There’s something just simply charming about using these planters to hold all those lovies. 

5. Hidden Drawers by Sunny Side Up

Admittedly, this is not a simple project for everyone but isn’t it absolutely fantastic?! I’m about to move into a new house and I’m ‘toying’ with the idea of doing this somewhere. 

6. Chair Plushes by Rafa Kids

If you’re looking for something unique and cozy, this stuffed animal chair is it. 

7. Corner Rope Shelves by Honeybear Lane

Although inaccessible to little hands, this high shelf is cute and will definitely keep the floor clear of stuffed animal clutter.

corner rope shelves nursery

8. Stuffed animal chair by Googie Momma’s via Thread Riding Hood

After seeing this, I couldn’t wait to create this chair myself. I ended up using it for a Calming Corner and later for a reading nook. 

9. Crate Shelf Storage by Me

This six crate shelf can hold a ton of those squishy friends you tend to find on the floor. It came about from a crate coffee table that was just too small for the space. Check it out here. 

10. Hanging Toy Storage by Rain on a Tin Roof

A 5-minute project sounds like a gold mine with all the other to-dos on the list. This vertical storage is perfect for the circus theme room it was completed to compliment.

diy stuffed animal storage

11. Hanging Storage by It’s Always Autumn

If you love an ode to carnival rides, try this hanging toy storage. It reminds me of a Ferris wheel ride. 

 

Organize your stuffed animals with this easy to build hanging toy storage swing!

12. Hanging Cloth Bag

My youngest’s room is always a mess, so it became necessary to add MORE stuffed animal storage. I have lots of extra material, so she was able to pick out the material she wanted. She completed it by gluing some paper butterflies and flowers to make it her own. Crafting is always best when we can all play a part. 

Stuffed Animal Clutter Mental Health Side Effects

The possibilities are really endless. Hopefully, you found one (or a few) ideas to get your clutter control craft underway. Clutter can negatively affect mental health for many minds, so it’s important to get it under control when it becomes unwieldy. According to Prevagen

More mess means more stress. Clutter can affect your ability to focus, your sleep, and your anxiety level. It also triggers coping strategies that make you more likely to grab junk food. That mess may even make you less productive.

Prevagen: How Clutter Affects your brain

And with that, I bid you adieu to start on your crafting and clutter control! 

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