Dancing Rain

My Life Inspired by My Loves

DIY Lei for Kids

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This is a great summer craft for the kids and nearly mess-free! Would be a great kid-friendly activity for a summer luau, pool party or family BBQ. My daughter made this at her daycare for a luau-themed party.

All you need are some colorful plastic straws cut into 1-inch pieces, green (or any color!) yarn cut to fit your child’s neck and colorful paper cut into flowers. If your kids are able, they could do the cutting as part of the craft.

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Pin the Candle on the Cupcake Party Game

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For my daughter’s birthday party last year, we did a Sugar Rush (Wreck-it Ralph) theme — more on that later! — and wanted to to incorporate the theme into the games and activities.

My husband and I — yes, you read that right — created this easy DIY Pin the Candle on the Cupcake game to tie in to the theme. We thought it would be fun for kids and adults alike to take part in this one, so we made sure to have lots of extra candles on hand.

My husband was in charge of making the cupcake. He cut out the cupcake holder and cupcake top using gold and white poster board, and then he glued them onto a pink poster board. He glued small scraps of various colored paper to the cupcake top to make sprinkles.

I was in charge of the candles. To make them, I got various solid and patterned paper scraps from my stash and cut them in 4 in. x 1 in. rectangles. Then I used my scraps of gold and yellow to cut the flames. I drew a flame shape on one sheet and cut multiple sheets at once to help save time. I used a glue stick to affix the flames to the candlesticks.

There you have it: A fun, easy game for a sweets-themed party or any birthday party! It was a hit at my daughter’s party, and even the adults wanted to have a round trying it!

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DIY Personalized Water Bottle Labels for a Special Party

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My grandmother turned 90 recently and the family had a big party to celebrate. We are all about going big on a small budget so I decided to make — rather than buy — water bottle labels. They were fairly simple to make, just a bit time consuming. With a family party though, there are usually always people willing to help. Surprisingly my husband was into helping on this one!

We started by removing the existing labels from the water bottles. Then I measured the width onto scrapbook paper in various patterns/colors that match the party theme. I cut the strips using my paper cutter.

Next I typed and printed the circular tags. (I would have preferred to use circular white labels to print on, but I didn’t think about that in time.) I handcut/punched each circle — very tedious — but it didn’t take too much time once I got in the rhythm. I then glued the circle tags onto the paper strips, placing them in the center of each strip.

My husband helped affix the completed labels to the water bottles using a hot glue gun. With two people, this worked out well and cut down the time it would’ve taken for me to do it alone! He put the glue onto the bottle, starting the label on one end. Then he passed it to me to wrap the rest of the label around the bottle and make sure it was properly in place before the glue dried.

The water bottles turned out nice and were a subtle touch for the party, showing that each detail was carefully considered in our decoations for such a special day. With this DIY method, we were not able to put the bottles in coolers due to the paper but no one complained!

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File for Next Year: Family Halloween Arts & Crafts

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It’s never too early to plan for next year’s Halloween! Gathering your ideas now will help when it comes to planning and prepping later. For this post, I am sharing some fun kid-friendly activities. These are good for family time fun or Halloween party arts and crafts.

Monster Cupcakes
Whip up a batch of your favorite flavor cupcakes, and then let the kids decorate them like monsters. Get a couple tubs of white/vanilla frosting and use food coloring to create the desired colors. I suggest green, purple and orange at a minimum. Use candy eyes, candy and black decorating gel to create the perfect cupcake monsters!

No-carve Jack-o-lanterns
Avoid the mess of carving pumpkins and decorate them instead! They will last longer uncarved so this is a great family activity to do early in the month so you have more time to admire your creations. Pick out a variety of small pumpkins when you visit the pumpkin patch (or buy fake pumpkins at your local craft store), then decorate with foam cutouts, paper, pipe cleaners, cotton puffs or pretty much any craft scraps you have on hand.

Milk Carton Ghosts
This is a good activity to plan a bit in advance, as it might take a few weeks or more to collect some empty milk or water jugs. Clean them and dry thoroughly. Then use black permanent markers or paint to draw the ghostly faces. Vary the faces for a fun variety. For added excitement, line up the ghost cartons, insert a strand of white lights and set them out at night for a homemade light-up decoration.

Marshmallow Ghosts
This one is very easy and cheap to make! All you need is a package of mini mallows, some glue and black paper. Use the glue to make a ghost design on the paper, then cover the outline with mallows. Reapply glue if it dries before you can place the mallows. And voila, a cute decoration! Just make sure to let it dry before displaying.

I hope you enjoy these and the many other Halloween activities out there. There is so much fun to be had by kids of all ages!

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Kid-friendly Halloween Party Food

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Our Halloween party this year featured a variety of adult- and kid-friendly treats. I have to give big props to my mom and sister for their creative spirit in helping to make our great treat spread happen!

Here’s the breakdown of what’s pictured above:

  • Jack-o-lantern puffs: Great as party treats or take-home favors (see the how-to here)
  • Pb&j Halloween cutout sandwiches: A loaf of white bread and a loaf of wheat bread, strawberry and seedless boysenberry jam, reduced fat peanut butter and a selection of Halloween cookie cutters were all it took to whip up 20 kid-friendly snacks
  • Spider cookies: Make these simple adorable cookies with a peanut butter cookie box mix, chocolate candy balls, candy eyes and black icing gel
  • Character cookies: If you are feeling adventurous, make and decorate some cutout sugar cookies with the kids, or find a great local bakery and buy some festively decorated cookies like we did
  • Halloween brownies: Bake your favorite box mix and decorate with orange frosting and Halloween sprinkles

I also recommend our Halloween seven-layer dip that was featured separately (see “Halloween Twist on 7 Layer Dip“).

This selection of treats combines simple homemade, semi-homemade and store-bought goodies to make your Halloween party prep manageable while creating a memorable spread for your adult and kid party guests alike.

Time to start planning for next Halloween!

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Jack-o-lantern Puffs for Kids’ Halloween Party Favors

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Looking for a simple, last-minute kid-friendly treat for a party or classroom treat? This is a great option to consider! I saw this adorable idea on Pinterest and decided to try it. All it took was 20 sandwich bags, a roll or two of Halloween ribbon, a black permanent marker and your choice of orange-colored snack treats.

I drew the Jack-o-lantern faces on the bags and then filled some with Cheezits and some with mini cheese puff balls. I liked the puffs best because of the round shape to make a nice little pumpkin. You could also use goldfish crackers, Cheetos or anything else orange! I filled each bag with enough treats so that they were approximately 100 calories each. I then tied with the ribbon and taped back the bottom corners to help shape the pumpkin.

These were great snacks for the kids at our Halloween party and made good favors as well for those who wanted to take them home for later. Either way, they will decorate the table nicely and are a simple, DIY festive treat!

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Halloween Twist on 7 Layer Dip

Looking for a festive appetizer for an upcoming Halloween party or work potluck? Try putting a Halloween twist on an old favorite: 7 layer dip.

Seven layer dip is a classic party dip in my family; in fact, my mom is a pro at it! I’ve found that it’s pretty easy — and actually not very expensive — to make, despite all the ingredients and steps involved. I got the spider web design inspiration from Pinterest (of course) and put my own spin on it. In all, I spent about $15 and 20 minutes to make a delicious dip for my Halloween party guests to enjoy! Check it out.

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What You Need:
Items are listed in order used, from bottom up
Oval or round serving dish (mine is plastic with spider decorations on it, $1 at Dollar Tree)
2- Roma tomatoes, sliced ($1)
1- 15oz can Refried beans ($1.25)
1- Roma tomato, diced ($.50)
1- 8oz pkg shredded cheese ($2.50)
2- Hass avocados, mashed ($2.50)
1- small can large pitted olives, diced ($1)
1- 16oz tub of reduced fat sour cream ($1.50)
1- plastic bag (sandwich or zip ok)
Plastic spiders (pack of bugs, $1 at Dollar Tree)
1- large bag of your choice tortilla chips ($3.50)

How To Make It:
1. Prep your ingredients as specified above.
2. Start layering, starting with the tomato slices for your bottom layer border.
3. Spread the beans, then diced tomatoes, cheese and mashed avocado.
4. Sprinkle olives on top.
5. To add the sour cream layer in the spider web design, I used a plastic bag as a piping tool. Scoop about 3/4 of the sour cream into the bag and twist the top closed, letting out all air. Snip one of the bottom corners of the bag and begin piping your spider web, just like you would with frosting.
6. Place one or more creepy plastic spiders decoratively on the plate.
7. Serve with chips and enjoy!

Tips:
1. I suggest pre-mixing the avocado with 1 or 2 tsp of chicken bouillon for better flavoring. Try it!
2. You could add a layer of sour cream after the beans if you want more of it.
3. Substituting bean dip for the refried beans also works well, if you can find a good bean dip. Be careful, as some bean dips are spicy.
4. For a thinner web design, snip a smaller corner from your plastic bag. The bigger the opening, the thicker your web lines will be.
5. Keep the dip refrigerated if you won’t be serving it right away.

If you try it, please share your pics and let me know how it turned out!

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How-to: Easy Bat-themed Halloween Party Invitation

Halloween is quickly approaching and party planning is under way! Save money this year by creating a cute and simple bat-themed Halloween party invitation to announce your party and get guests in the festive mood from the moment they open it.

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For our Halloween party this year, my sister and I decided on a traditional Halloween theme, featuring all the usual favorites: pumpkins, bats, spiders, ghosts and mummies. I wanted to create a fun party invitation to highlight this theme. I had seen a bat cutout paired with a candy bar used as a Halloween gift, and thought I could adapt that for the invitation. My solution was to replace the candy bar with the party details. It worked perfectly, and I got numerous compliments on how cute it was!

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How to Make the Invitation:

Items needed: Black cardstock, white printer paper, computer with printer, black marker, pencil/pen, double-sided tape or glue stick, scissors, hole punch, paper cutter (optional).

1. Download and print this free printable bat template, created by Skip to My Lou.

2. Cut out the pattern and trace it onto black cardstock. I used 65# paper, purchased in a pack of 50 sheets from Michaels for a few dollars.

3. Put a couple of black papers together and cut out the traced bat. I usually try to save time by cutting a few at a time, as many as your scissors and hands can handle.

4. Type your party details and print on white paper. I recommend making two columns on your document, approximately 2 inches wide, so that you can easily fit your party details in the middle of the bat’s body when printed.

5. Cut out the party details, preferably using a paper cutter if you have a hard time making straight cuts with scissors like me. Tape or glue to the bat’s body, lining it up in between the wings.

6. Hole punch your white paper scraps to make eyes. Tape or glue eyes to the bat, placing just above the party details. Use a black marker to color in the pupils of the eyes.

7. Fold in the bat’s wings and deliver your cute invitation to your guests.

8. Take it a step further and cut out more bats to use as decorations or pair with candy bars to use as party favors.

Happy haunting!

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Halloween-themed Table Place Cards

It’s October, my favorite month! That means my Halloween prep is already in full swing! First up, table tents. These are super easy to make and can add character to any party setup. These are great to make for decoration around the house, as well as for food labels or name placecards at a party.

I made some Halloween-themed table tents using everyday supplies. You will need a computer with printer, patterned and solid color paper (cut in 5″
squares), scissors and double-sided tape or glue (spray would work best to avoid clumps). I also used some fancy edge scissors for added flair.

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One fun part of this project is it utilizes those unique fonts you have that you probably rarely get to use. Browse through the fonts on your word processing program to find ones that fit your theme. If needed, I recommend downloading free fonts. I found a collection of fun Halloween fonts here. It’s easy to download and install fonts (see these simple instructions) and next thing you know, they are ready to use in your document.

Next, type out some clever sayings, guest names or whatever it is you are printing. Be sure to leave enough space – about 2 inches – between each line to allow room to cut. Then cut around the text and place on the solid color paper. Cut the solid color paper, leaving a border around the text, and then place on to your patterned paper. Fold the patterned paper and trim the ends to the desired width.

You could also change up the paper colors and do something similar for any other holiday or party theme. The possibilities are endless. I plan to use these to label party favors at my upcoming Halloween party. More on that later…

Happy crafting!

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Sweet 1st Birthday Centerpieces

I am a huge fan of reusing and repurposing things as much as possible. There are so many everyday items that can be put to good use instead of thrown away or recycled.

For my daughter’s first birthday party, I needed a low-cost table centerpiece. What better thing to use than all those baby food jars we were going through!

This was a very simple centerpiece to make and only took a couple weeks of planning ahead to gather enough empty jars and to order the candy used to fill them.

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I cut strips of solid and patterned papers in two different widths using coordinating pinks, purples, yellows, blues and greens to match the party theme (more on that later!). Then I used double-sided tape to wrap the paper strips around the jar.

Colorful lollipops completed the look and made for sweet, tasty centerpieces at the party. The best part: the jars made great party favors for guests to take home to enjoy later!

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