Tag: Kids

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 the 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 and 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 bunny hoping, fairies, dragons, and some backgrounds. 

 

Adding Magic

The girls’ chosen powers were the power of freezing objects, the power of control water, 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 prepandemic 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

 

*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!

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!

Image of Macrame Stuffed Toy Hanger

 

 

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. 

Stuffed Animal Corner Cage

 

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.

Stuffed Animal Storage

 

 

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. 

These Stuffed Animal Toy Storage Baskets are a creative and fun way to store your children's stuffed animals. Perfect for small spaces, it gets all of the toys off of beds and the floor.

 

 

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. 

pull out toy organizers

 

6. Chair Plushes by Rafa Kids

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

 

7. Stuffed Animal Shelf by Futurist Architecture

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

Creative Stuffed Animals Storage Idea (73)

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!

11. 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! 

Crafting a Calming Corner to Assuage Parent and Child

Anyone out there have perfect emotionally balanced children? I’m definitely not raising my hand to that one. In fact, we have nicknamed my daughter’s alter ego as “the hulk” because, while she’s normally such a docile sweet child, you better watch out when something gets to her. When she gets angry, you can hear the stomping and huffing from the other side of the house. Given my human service field, I’ve always talked to my girls about their emotions. Even so, my little hulk really struggled with controlling herself when she became escalated. There came a day when she actually asked if we could create a calming corner for her to fight off her anger. I was all for it because it would be a great way to help her learn the important skill of self-regulation.

Calming Corner Benefits

Self-Awareness and Self-Management: Calm down corners help children to practice identifying feelings and emotions to better manage stress, self-regulate and control their impulses. Having a space designed to support them emotionally and physically helps them feel safe and comfortable, allowing them to let down their guard to process different feelings.

Relationship Skills: Learning how to communicate one’s feelings and emotions can be difficult, but calming spaces such as this help children practice mindfulness and develop skills they need to identify their emotions and communicate them when necessary. Stronger communication skills help them form stronger relationships with others and develop skills in empathy.

Action for Healthy Kids

Calming Corner Seating Choice

First things first, seating. You could obviously choose a regular chair if that’s what you have on hand. I think a calming corner needs something soft and cushioning. I opted to knock out three birds with this one stone. We had stuffed animals galore and were running out of space, so it was a perfect time to use a Pinterest pin I’d saved long ago. I used Googie Momma’s via Thread Riding Hood pattern for a stuffed animal chair. I’m a true lover of budget-friendly projects, so I chose to use material from some curtains I’d made for our previous house. (This is exactly why I find it so hard to get rid of anything, you never know when you might come up with a way to repurpose it.)

I was able to dive into my creative mental space (check out Crafting my Mental Health Regimen), make a stuffed animal storage space saver, and a chair for the calming corner all in one go! I couldn’t believe how many stuffed animals this chair housed. Such a win!

Other DIY Options

Here are some other easy DIY Bean bag chairs to try: 

DIY: Sew a Kids Bean Bag Chair in 30 Minutes

DIY Bean Bag Chair

Child Size Bean Bag Chair -DIY Video Tutorial

Curtain to Limit Stimulation

I happened to have a bed curtain, so I used it as the curtain for this space. I considered making one (of course), but my daughter said she liked this see-through one.

There are other ways to make a private space. Here’s one from She Builds Her Home using a curved shower curtain rod.

Stocking Your Calming Corner

A calming corner isn’t much of a space with out something to distract them from the emotional overload. Thankfully, with all the recent trends, we had a good stock of fidgets, squishies, spinners, etc. to stock her little shelf of distractions. She also put a whiteboard and marker for drawing. Check out Mindful Amazing for some great printables to stock in the calming corner. A weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal would be a great add as well. How about some simple craft kits?! 

We didn’t go much beyond that but depending on the child, you might consider all the other senses. Noise-canceling headphones or a soothing sound machine for the child who tends to overload on auditory stimulation. A visual distraction, like a light machine or glitter bottle, would be another great option. For olfactory, an oil diffuser or scented lotions would work. There are really so many possibilities. To garner buy-in from a resistant child, let them decide what to put there.

Creating the calming corner together doesn’t mean they are automatically going to choose to go there when it becomes necessary, so be prepared to reinforce using it when needed. My hulk was super resistant when using the corner was necessary. Take one tantrum at a time to stay sane. 

For more resources on self-regulation, check out Child Mind Institute’s “How Can We Help Kids with Self-Regulation?

How to Throw a Magical Harry Potter Party


My oldest and I were (and still are) true Harry Potter fans, so we planned years ahead that she would have a Harry Potter Party theme for her 11th birthday. I was beyond excited about the idea. I started my Pinterest board and made it my mission to create a fantastical version for my daughter. With her birthday being in mid-September, I started with preparations in July with the wands. My husband may have asked a few times how long I would be working on making wands, but you can’t mess with the artist’s methods and desires. Below is the full rundown on our Harry Potter Party. 

We blew up white balloons and drew owls on them with Sharpies. We attached an owl balloon to each invitation and hand-delivered it to each house for a truly authentic experience.

Harry Potter Party: The Journey begins with Platform 9 3/4

“For in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own.”

Albus Dumbledore

Diagon Alley

I used the same technique for both Platform 9 3/4 and Diagon Alley. This involved shades of brown and shades of red, a paper plate, water, and a sponge cut to brick size. I put a mix of the cheap acrylic paint shades on a plate and thinned them with water in a syringe. The sponge would absorb the color before I stamped it onto the curtain. I used a curtain panel I found at Goodwill for Platform 9 3/4 and butcher paper for Diagon Alley. 

Using cardstock in shades of red, clear fishing wire, and hot glue I made the rotating ‘bricks’ to keep with the authentic Harry Potter Party feel. This may well have been my favorite part of the whole party.

Quick Stop at Gringotts Bank for some Spending Gold

Each wizarding student received a gold coin from Gringotts Bank. On the back of the coin was a unique Harry Potter image. I had printed off images onto one piece of paper and taped them to the back of the coins. This was intentional so there wouldn’t be fighting at Eeylops Owl Emporium.

Eeylops Owl Emporium & Magical Menagerie

In order to keep party costs as low as I could, I asked family to help me check out Goodwill stores for good condition cats, owls and frogs to stock the menagerie. Now here is where the coins came into play. I picked a pet out of the stock and would call out the Harry Potter image I’d placed on it. This matched with the coin. I knew that kids would likely like specific animals and didn’t want to have them fighting over the same one. This pet was one of their party favors as well.  

Monster Book of Monsters at Flourish and Botts

For the full tutorial on my DIY Monster Book of Monsters, check out the instructions here.

Ollivander’s Wand Shop

There are definitely lots of options for you to pick from when it comes to wands. Premade is always an option, but if you’re like me, you enjoy the opportunity to express your creativity and save some money at the same time. I used Long Cooking Chopsticks as the base of the wand. From there, I used a variety of clay, hot glue, spray paint, and paint to create my own wands. The only one I made true to Harry Potter was the elder wand.

My mother in law happened to have a tall wide vase for me to use for the wand to choose the wizard. I used some purchased fairy lights inside the vase and left the on/off switch outside of it for me to be able to control the light. Each little wizard came up to pick a wand. They would continue to touch different wands until the lights lit up to indicate the wand had chosen. It was great fun. 

On to Hogwarts and the Sorting Hat

I seemed to do a fair bit of paper Mache these days. My sorting hat may very well have been the kick-off to that trend. Cardboard served for the brim, butcher paper to shape the point, then newspaper and flour-water mixture as the glue. I rejected not looking at a picture of a sorting hat while doing the face, but it is what it is. It also ended up being slightly small but worked out. 

The Great Hall

I bought battery-powered candles to hang from the ceiling with fishing line and tape.

I called each wizard to the chair and place the hat on their hat. There was a blue tooth speaker behind the chair connected to my phone. Based on the birthday girl’s list of picks, I played the particular Youtube bite on the Wizarding house selection. 

Classes Begin

 

With the wizards sorting into their houses, it was time for classes to begin…

I bought this Marauder’s Map for my daughter. If you really want to up your game though, check out this one: 

Herbology

For Herbology, I bought clay and tiny pots for the wizards to make their own mandrakes. They did a great job with them. I baked them in the oven while we completed the other classes. 

Live Portraits

We were cleaning out a storage room at work which had started to mold. It was just my luck that one of those items that had significant mold was a large painted picture with a magnificent frame. They were going to toss it, so instead, I took it home to take the painting out and repurposed it. It was a perfect set up for some live motion photos of each youth. It’s one of my signature party favors to include a photo of each youth with the theme. Just like in my detective party with the arrest photo.

I did a photo and a boomerang photo as they finished up with their mandrakes, which helped fill in time during the transition to Potions class.

Potions Class

This was supposed to be a growing snake, aka Basilisk, but I can’t say that it really worked very well. I was fairly worried I would set off the sprinklers.

Professor Flitwick’s Charms class

Wingardium Leviosa

Using their wands, they have to say “Wingardium Leviosa” and keep the balloons up as long as they could. The wizard who was able to keep it up the longest was the winner. 

We rounded out the classes with a games tournament. They sorted into their houses and played board games until their was only one winner for each house. Then the house winners, played against each other to get to win the house championship. With classes complete, it was time for a trip to Hogsmeade.

Day Pass to Hogsmeade

Honeydukes

I used Muggle Magic’s Honeydukes Chocolate Frog Box design for these boxes. For the frogs, I used Nerdy with Children’s recipe and tutorial. I ordered the Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans and the frog mold from Amazon.

Harry Potter Party Must Have: Butter Beer at the Leaky Cauldron

For adult and youth wizards alike, I used this Butterbeer recipe that includes Schnapps. For youth, I obviously took out the schnapps. They weren’t much fans of it, so I had a fair amount left after the party. I will have to use the ice cream version next time.

Next time I do this party (for the next two girls). I may opt for some premade options like Flying Cauldrons Butterscotch Beer.

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

I borrowed this Pensieve idea from Raegun Ramblings. It did not turn out that great, because I was rushing to get it done between getting home from work and the party starting.

To top off the sweets, I made a chocolate book cake to fulfill my cake decorating hobby needs. 

So that’s the rundown, I truly hope you enjoyed it and are able to grab some ideas for your very own Harry Potter Party.

*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!

Haunted Cardboard House for your Kids who Love a Little Scare

Those who know me, know my love of cardboard. It’s such a versatile and cheap product to craft with, which leads me to have stockpiles of it at times. My youngest daughter’s birthday is October 29th, so while brainstorming ideas for her birthday party, we thought about how we could make it a true Halloween birthday party. I’d previously done an indoor cardboard gingerbread house that my girls loved. It seemed perfectly logical to do a Haunted cardboard house for her spooky birthday party. She had grand ideas for how she would make it haunted and couldn’t wait to have her friends over.

Starting a Haunted Cardboard House

The request from my daughter for this haunted cardboard house was that it be bigger than the gingerbread house. We have quite a bit of free space in our basement, so I was okay with accomodating that request. 

For these larger-scale houses, larger boxes make things a lot easier than piecing together smaller ones. The size and shape of the house can really depend on what you have to work. I didn’t have a plan going into making this and allowed the box shape and size dictate how it would work best.

My neighbor had large furniture boxes out for recycling, which I happily took off their hands to get moving on the wall frames. I typically use hot glue to glue the pieces together because it dries quickly and works well with the paper surface. Sometimes, it doesn’t hold together well enough if I’m not quick to get it together. For those times when it wasn’t holding together, I used some wood glue and weights while it dried.

 

In order to set the frame, I decided to utilize some small clamps to hold it while I moved things around to find the right shape and size. I was able to do a fair bit of gluing in the garage to remove the fear of getting hot glue on our basement carpet. Folks, hot glue can only really be cut out of carpet (from previous experience). While in this planning phase, I was also able to cut the door out with a razor and a square on the cement floor.

Time to Move to the Final Destination

With the plan in place, it was time to move all those cardboard pieces to the basement to get this Haunted Cardboard House structure together. With the pieces standing, it was a bit like a maze down there. The girls loved it.

 

I had to put a call out for more cardboard to the neighborhood and thankfully the call was answered. I was then able to construct the roof. That was the hardest part of the whole thing. The cardboard was heavy and shifted while I tried to glue it together by myself. I had to get my helpers on board to hold it while I glued it. For this part, the glue didn’t work as well. I ended up using a drill to make holes and piecing the heavy pieces together with screws, bolts, and washers. They made for a very sturdy structure. 

 

Safety Warning!!

Hot glue is, shall we say, Freakin’ HOT! It was about during this part of the build that I got myself with the glue while trying to get the heavy roof together. As I quickly tried to “stop the burn” (as we say in American Red Cross) by rubbing the glue off, it took a layer of skin with it. I’ve burned myself quite a number of times while working with hot glue, but this was by far the worst. We go through quite a lot of types of bandaids in this house. I’ve got to hand it to these NexCare waterproof bandaids. They maintained through a lot of movement. Investing in heat protection gloves is probably a good prevention idea though. 

  

The structure was thankfully set. My daughter said she had envisioned it being bigger than this, but I was unfortunately out of any larger pieces of cardboard. It would have to do.

Faux Scalloped Siding, Ghostly Windows and Shingles

Now was the fun part of adding the details for a haunted house. Using printer paper, a razor, and my circle cutter, I went about cutting a ton of circles to create a scalloped look on the front panel. I wanted to hide the seam that was there from joining separate pieces of cardboard. I used Loctite Spray Adhesive to make this quick work. That spray didn’t work so well with the cardboard to cardboard gluing but worked here. I spray painted them gray after that. 

 

For the windows and shingles, I cut cardboard to size and drew details or spray painted. If you haven’t tried spray painting cardboard, be warned. It takes a lot of spray paint to cover it. It felt like it would have been a better plan to paint the whole cardboard piece before cutting shingles. For the windows, I painted the cardboard with cheap acrylic paint before gluing on the frames and shutters.

After a quick google search, I found the images I wanted for the ghosts in the windows. I enlarged them and altered their colors in Microsoft Word. If you don’t have a picture editing program, Microsoft Word can be surprisingly handy for this kind of need.

With the addition of some Halloween decorations, spooky lights and sound, the outside of this Haunted Cardboard House was ready!

Stepping Inside

I put the big bubble wrap (the kind that comes in packaging) under the Frozen rug, so it would pop when the kids walked on it. I think this would have worked better if it had been a hardwood floor as opposed to carpet. It took a fair bit of jumping to get them to pop. I had a dollar store spider that drops every so often hanging from the ceiling to give a good scare. 

 

There were some body parts and skulls along with an electrolyzed skull and Frankenstein’s head. My main attraction was the spooky touch and feel center. I had a pumpkin bucket full of eyeballs (peeled grapes), a pumpkin bucket full of brains (cooked spaghetti), a box of witches fingers (carrot sticks), a witch’s tongue (sliced banana), and a box of teeth (popcorn kernels). 

When I brought the group of kindergartners down into the dark basement, they were already on edge. I took one little one into the house to have her do the feeling activity. As soon as the spider dropped, she ran out of the house scared to death. I ended up having to turn on the lights on and encourage my daughter to lead them through the houses. After that, they had a ton of fun! 

Party Fare

Of all the things I do, I think I find using candy melts and molds, one of the most difficult to get right. I’m not sure if it’s something I’m doing wrong or if it’s just tough in general. I made these little oozy cake pop brains as a party treat to be placed along side the Cauldron Cake. The design of the cake was all the birthday girl’s ideas. She was quite happy with the end result and the taste of the Oreo cookie cakey insides.

DIY Bakery and Lemonade Stand Charm for Entrepreneurial Kids

 

While under stay at home orders in Maryland, my two younger daughters took hold of a bakery and lemonade stand idea. They knew they wouldn’t be able to sell the goods at that time but were completely smitten with the idea of it. It just happened that while redoing my oldest’s daughter’s room, she had decided she no longer wanted this large composite bookcase. Inspiration hit after the initial request for the stand, so away we went with the creation of it. 

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Materials & Tools

Quite thankfully for our budget, I didn’t have to buy any materials for this project. I used items already sitting in wait for re-purposing. 

Materials

  • Composite Bookcase
  • Old Window
  • Scrapwood
  • Spraypaint
  • Screws
  • Cotton Material
  • Drawer liner

Tools

  • Square
  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Kreg Jig
  • Clamp

Getting to Work


I wanted this project to be as easy as possible. The easiest way I figured we could accomplish it was to cut the bookcase just above the secured shelf. This would allow for a small lip of the soon to be counter space. Rather than just drawing a cutting line, I used a square as my guide by clamping it on.


Safety Announcement!

Protect your hearing!! My girls have come to use their earmuffs to help quiet the noise of my saws. They also lovingly remind me to wear my safety ear muffs when they see I’m not wearing mine. I know from family experience that protecting your hearing now is important for the years to come. Be sure to wear those ear muffs when using any loud tools.


The girls in their PJ’s inspecting my work.

Here comes the Color!!!

This project was a great opportunity for the girls to join in the refinishing fun. Obviously, the blond wood color wouldn’t do for their personal bakery and lemonade stand.  They picked from my assortment of spray paint cans and got to work. I let them do what they could and filled in the light spots later.

Old Window Repurposing

Awhile back, I bought a stock of old windows for $20 and hosted a Window repurposing party. I had a few who weren’t able to make it so have been storing the windows every since and using them for as ideas spark. The girls set to work cleaning one of the windows. They cleaned the glass and scraped off some of the old paint before painting it white.

The width was just about perfect while the height was off by 3 or 4 inches. I found a spare board that worked to fill some of the difference. Using my handy kreg jig, I attached the board to the window and made pocket holes around the window to attach it to the bookcase. 

With the window on, it was just about complete. Drawer liner from my Antique Hutch Project served to spruce up the shelves. As you can see from the above, the girls were pleased with the results. All that remained for the bakery side of things was to hide that gap. 

Time to Bring Out the Sewing Machine

The girls picked out material from my stash to make a ruffle. I can still remember my mom teaching me how to make a ruffle as a kid. You need to cut a piece of material that is almost twice as long as what is needed and start by finishing off your edges. I’m not an expert sewer, so I’d recommend checking out some other great sites, like Treasurie, for how to best do that.

To make the bunching, you sew a loose straight stitch along the whole length without backstitching. 

Then pull one of the threads while pulling the material in the opposite direction. It may be necessary to start pulling on the opposite side when it starts to get hard to bunch. 

When it’s at the right length, backstitching and a shorter stitch along the length secure the ruffles. With the ruffle complete, I hot glued ruffles to both the bakery and lemonade stands.

Bakery and Lemonade Stand Wares

A lemonade stand is dependent on some beautiful lemons!

We were making the bakery and lemonade stand just after Easter, so we went ahead with baking some Easter Sugar Cookies with icing.

Store bought pizzelles dipped in chocolate with a smattering of sprinkles were next up on the menu list. The girls also chose to use the mini Easter desserts given to them by their grandmother.

A Quick Menu Sign

Every bakery needs a menu, so I selected this wood cut out from my stack. I used Martha Stewart Chalkboard Paint in purple and gray. 

Personalized Money

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my love of personalized items when creating for the kids. I thought it’d be fun to give them play money to use during quarantine in liue of doing a lemonade stand at the end of the driveway. www.PrintablePlayMoney.net had free templates which were exactly what I was looking for. The girls were crazy about the idea, so away we went. A quick photo and duplication in Word gave them a stack of bills ready to hand out for us to pay for the goods.

Bakery and Lemonade Stand Open for Business

To finish this project, the girls made their own cardboard sign and offered story books they wrote for the waiting customers. I used cardboard and acrylic paint to create lemons, cherries, and a cupcake for extra flare. 

The girls are ready and itching to get out to the end of driveway to put their stand to use with real customers. My ten year old wants to use the profits to donate to a charity cause she’s just that kind of girl. I hope you find some inspiration in our found objects project making lemons into lemonade. 

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