Experience the the magic of Christmas with your children by preparing for Santa's Reindeer. They will love helping to make reindeer food and sprinkling it on the ground outside.
All you need is some oats or oatmeal and glitter. If you have access to oats that you would feed to horses you can mix it with glitter otherwise oatmeal works too. Just mix the oats or uncooked oatmeal with glitter and put in a container or small bag. Then let your little ones sprinkle it outside on Christmas Eve. Younger children love this. I found a picture of my oldest sprinkling magic reindeer food seven years ago. Such great memories.
I made these as party favors for a Mom's group children's Christmas party several years ago so I attached labels with a little poem and tied a bell to each one.
The poem reads: On Christmas Eve, sprinkle the magic reindeer food on the lawn. The magic glitter sparkling in the moonlight and the smell of the oats will guide Rudolph right to your house.
I was not the creative thinker behind Magic Reindeer Food. My department made this as a favor to send home with children who attended a Christmas party we threw every year at my old school where I taught Family and Consumer Science.
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Since I have three boys, I thought I would share my thoughts on the best gifts for boys. Our boys ages range from 4 to 8 years old so this is where I will focus. This is an update on a post I wrote last year when our youngest was 3 so it is still relevant for 3 year olds too. I will share our most played with toys over the years and any additional thoughts I have. We really try to limit screen time in our day to day life, so I won't be sharing any videos or movies. I'm also not a huge fan of toys with lots of bells and whistles. Simple is good. I want toys that inspire imaginative play and creativity.
Also, gift giving does not have to be expensive. I have purchased lots of gifts over the years (especially for kids) at thrift stores, garage sales and consignment stores. I have even made a few homemade gifts too. I also keep my eye out for clearance deals and buy gifts all year long and store them away for Christmas and birthdays. These are some of our favorites.
Magna Tiles are by far the most played with toy in our house. We have had them for years and the boys still play with them. They are an investment, but one of the few toys that are worth their expensive price tag. My parents bought the boys a large set years ago for Christmas and they still play with them every day. If you can find them used, buy them. I found a bin of magna tiles at a yard sale for $1 and added to the collection. I have never seen them at a yard sale, thrift store, or consignment store since. I don't have much experience with Magformers (similar to Magna Tiles), but my nieces and nephews love them. They are pricey too, but a toy that will last and entertain for years to come.
Since Magna Tiles are our most played with toy, we are adding to our collection this year (thanks to generous grandparents). We are adding a Magna Tiles Grand Prix set which includes two wheeled chassis. The boys will love the new set. I found them at my local Target, but they are now on sale and the set I want is sold out at the moment so if you know where I can find the Grand Prix set, please let me know. As of this week, all the magna tile sets are on sale at Target.
A classic choice is Lego. Lego is always a favorite toy. We even had a Lego birthday party a couple of years ago. You can sometimes find used lego at Kids consignment shops for a fraction of the price new. Lego are usually pricey new, but look for sales and clearance. I have seen nice sets for half price (which is still expensive, but a nice gift). The younger kids love Duplo. Our boys, especially our 4 year old still play with our bin of Duplo which were mostly purchased at a church yard sale. Our 6 year old received a Star Wars Lego set for his birthday this fall and he thought it was the most exciting gift ever.
If you have boys, you probably have some dinosaurs, but they are always great gifts, especially for 3 to 5 year olds. As you can see they make great dinosaur prints in homemade play-dough too. Dinosaur books are also an excellent choice.
We received our first Switch & Go Dino from a review I wrote a year ago, and it is still a well loved toy. We actually bought a second one at a kids consignment shop for Christmas last year. One turns into a plane and the other turns into race car.
Transforming toys are much sought after in our house. The boys put Transformers on every birthday and Christmas wish list. They have several transformers who are consistently involved in elaborate battles with dinosaurs usually centered around this large castle.
One of the boys received this castle for his birthday a few years ago from some very generous friends. It is a large footprint, but a much used and entertaining toy. If you have the space, this is great backdrop for all kinds of imaginative play. I think it's made by Fisher Price.
This is more for the younger kids, but trains have been a big part of our lives for years. We have quite a collection of wooden trains and tracks. We have a mix of several different brands and they all seem compatible with each other. (I just realized the train in the picture is not a wooden one, there are great plastic trains too.) Wooden trains can get expensive, but if you check kids consignment stores they often have nice sets for a fraction of the price. We have a lot of wooden trains and tracks, but it is from years of birthday parties and thrift store finds. If you have the space for it, a train table is a good investment. Some friends gave us ours when they were done with it and it has been used for all kinds of play. Train tables are common in kids consignment shops too.
Boys love bugs, at least mine do. They spend their entire summer outside climbing trees, playing tag, and yes collecting bugs. We actually have a real wooden insect collection box that the boys were given by an entomology professor when their father took them to visit the entomology department at the University. They learned how to correctly preserve and label insects and their interest grew like crazy. These are some of the boys favorite things. They love collecting and identifying insects. If your child has any interest in science and nature, he will probably love insect related gifts.
Art supplies are always welcome in our house. I love consumable gifts because we all have too much stuff. Other great ideas are magazine subscriptions and fun activities. My son received golf camp for his birthday two summers from his grandparents. It was a great experience for him. There are a lot of great magazines for kids. We have received National Geographic Little Kids, Ranger Rick Jr., and Highlights.
Another idea is Origami. Our oldest is really into Origami right now. The boys learned it at Kung Fu camp two summers ago and make origami at least once a week. I found a box of origami books and paper at a thrift store a year ago and they have really used it. They still love origami and will be getting some special themed origami sets I found at a local kids consignment shop in their stockings this year.
A new favorite in our house are these Star Wars workbooks. The older boys received these as gifts this fall and we purchased some more for them because they love them so much. I love that they are learning and having fun at the same time. We need to get the preschool level books for our 4 year old who will be so excited to have his own. Our boys pretty much love anything Star Wars which is pretty easy to find right now with the new movie coming out.
If you are handy or crafty, homemade gifts are great too. When the boys were younger, they loved to play with geo boards at preschool. The older boys have sort of outgrown this, but it is great for younger kids. My husband made the boys a homemade geo board from supplies he already had in the garage.
My oldest got Travel Tangoes in his Christmas stocking a couple of years ago and he still carries it with him on trips. He loves this game. I need to find another one for my 5 year old's backpack.
Games are always great choices. As our boys get older, they are really getting into games. My husband is a huge board gamer too so he really encourages them by playing with them when he has free time. The two older boys are really into Tally Ho right now. They played for hours last weekend.
Other great games the boys love include Mastermind Jr., Labyrinth Jr., Zingo, and Whac-A-Mole (kind of silly, but fun). Another favorite game is King of Tokyo. My husband taught the boys to play and they could literally play for hours.
Last summer I walked into the living room to this scene. The boys had brought in a card table from the garage and were playing The Reef, all on their own. I was glad to see them getting along so well and playing happily together. My husband is the board game geek in our family and I am so glad he shares his love of gaming with the boys. It is a great way for them to bond and the boys learn a lot from playing board games.
Our 6 and 8 year old boys are really into Pokemon. They could spend hours looking at Pokemon cards and books. They have several friends who are also into Pokemon so it must be a popular thing in this age group. Pokemon cards are highly sought after and have been the reward of choice this year at Family Formation. They earn coins for learning their bible memory verses and get to spend them in the "store".
Other good ideas for boys are practical things like long underwear, pajamas, socks, gloves, hats. This doesn't have to be boring since there are lots of fun styles. Our boys love anything camouflage or Star Wars.
What are your favorite gifts for boys? Feel free to share.
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Updating this old post to make it a little more pinterest friendly. I originally published this in February 2012 which means that my now 8 year old was only 5 then. He looks so cute and little in the pictures. How do they grow up so fast?
The other day I noticed a draft by the front door so my oldest and I decided we would make a draft snake. We used materials we already had and recycled some of my husband's old jeans for fabric. I always save his old jeans when he is done with them so I can reuse the fabric for sewing projects. This was a fun project to complete with my son. He helped me measure the door and the fabric. He also helped fill the snake with beans and fabric scraps. Then my husband drew scale patterns on the snake's back and they both colored them in.
Small piece of felt for the tongue
Two buttons for eyes (I save the extra buttons that come with new clothes)
Long piece of fabric for snake body
Dry beans and fabric scraps for filling
T-shirt markers if you want to draw scale patterns
1. Measure your door to see how much fabric you will need. Then measure and cut the fabric adding a few inches. I measured my door at 32 inches and added 4 inches making my fabric legnth 36 inches. I did not measure the width of the fabric. I just cut as wide as I thought would work for the snake. You only need to cut one piece of fabric because you can fold it to make a tube for the snake's body.
2. Fold your cut fabric so that the wrong side is out and sew along the bottom and side. Then turn the fabric so that the right side is out and you have a tube with one open end. Trim the open end so that it has a curved shape like a snake's mouth.
3. Sew two buttons onto what will be the snake's head. Cut a tongue shape out of your felt and sew it into the bottom of what will be the snake's mouth.
4. Fill the snake with dry beans and fabric scraps. The more beans you use, the heavier it will be so add some fabric scraps unless you want a 10 pound snake.
5. Leave a little room at the top so that you can sew the mouth shut. You may need to have someone hold the snake for you if you sew this part on a sewing machine. I sewed the mouth shut with a zigzag stitch twice to make sure that it was very secure. You could also hand sew this part.
6. If you would like to make a scale pattern on the snake's back draw a simple pattern with t-shirt or other fabric markers. Color in the scales or let your children have fun coloring.
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Hi, I'm Faith, a former Family and Consumer Science (Home Economics) Teacher turned work at home Mom, bringing you family friendly, homemade recipes and homemaking tips to simplify your life. Join me on my homemaking and mothering journey.
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