10 Fun & Frugal Christmas Activities

Around here we are all about fun and all about frugal. They go well together, don't they? I'm always on the lookout for activities that can be made quickly with items we already have on hand. Here are 10 of my favorite Fun & Frugal Christmas Activities.

from left to right: #7, #5, #3 and #1

1. Felt Rudolph, Rudolph Game: Made with felt scraps and handprints. The antlers can be updated each year with new handprints or reused from the year before. Fun for ages 2-4. Cost: less than .50

2. Felt Gingerbread Dress-Up Doll: Created with one sheet of brown felt and felt scraps. This has been played with at our house multiple times over the past two years. I only made one Gingerbread body, but making 2 could double the fun! Fun for ages 2-8. Cost: less than .50

3. DIY Cardboard Toy Gingerbread House from Inner Child Fun: Made out of a cereal/cardboard box and velcro. Such a brilliant idea I had to make it for Sweet P as soon as I saw it. Fun for ages
3-8ish. Cost: .75 for the velcro, I had cardboard on hand

Candy Cane Christmas paint recipe
4. Candy Cane Bath Paint from Bath Activities for Kids: A holiday twist on a bathtime favorite! Adding peppermint extract to bath paint adds a whole new sensory experience! Cost: depends on whether or not you own any of the items previously. Peppermint extract: less than $4 (can be used for various activities and baking), shaving cream: $1 at DollarTree

5. Gingerbread Play Dough from The Imagination Tree: Smells AMAZING and takes less than 5 minutes to make. Great for pretend play. Cost: free, if you have everything on hand. Cream of tartar: less than $4 (will make several batches of play dough)

300 x 250 truth in the tinsel banner
6. Truth in the Tinsel: An Advent Experience for Little Hands: 24 Days of Ornament making while talking to your children about the birth of Christ. Cost: $7.99 for the eBook + supplies (can be modified to use what you have on hand)

7. Craft Stick Ornaments from Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas: So many different ways to create ornaments using craft sticks! Make them for your own tree or make some for a friend(s)! Cost: Crafts sticks: $2.49, Glue: .50, Paint: $3-10 depending on the brand (can be used for MANY more projects)

8. Lid Ornaments: Use jingle bells, pompoms, tinsel, sequins, stickers or other small bits of holiday materials to create ornaments using a lid and glue. Lids of jars work best (my mom just so happens to have a can opener that leaves smooth edges around the can lid. Cost: free if you own glue and holiday materials, Glue: .50, Holiday bits: $1-3

9. Kid-Friendly Felt Christmas Tree by I Can Teach My Child: It's no surprise I love this because it's made out of FELT! Decorate the tree over and over and over again. Cost: depends on materials on hand, Felt by the yard: $2.50-$5 + cost of scraps

10. Holiday Mail for Heroes: Such a simple activity that allows children (and you!) to thank those who serve our country. Cost: free if you own holiday cards, Cards: $1-3

What Fun & Frugal Activities are part of your Christmas?

Find more ideas on my Christmas Pinterest board.

**This post contains affiliate links.

The Sunday Showcase: Gratitude

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving! And if you don't live in America, then I hope you had a fabulous week and are gearing up for the Christmas holiday!

This week I found 2 fabulous Gratitude posts and want to share them with you! I can't wait to see what you've got to share with us this week!

1. Reading Confetti shared this great round-up of ways to teach your children gratitude. 
2. The Educators' Spin On It had a great post on teaching gratitude in the home with every day chores and activities. 

What We've Been Up To:
Pop over to check out my post on Christmas in Brazil as part of the Christmas Around the World series hosted by Living Life Intentionally!

Were you featured today? Don't forget to grab a button!

Now it's your turn to link-up! If this is your first time, please read this informational post for details.

This is a fun and relaxed linky with a few guidelines:
  • You can link as many kid friendly or child-centered posts as you'd like, however, links for giveaways, shops, or downloads for purchase, etc. will be deleted. 
  • Please try to visit a few other posts if you are linking up. Everyone loves comments, feed-back, pins and shares!
  • I'll share some posts via Facebook, Twitter and Google +, while commenting on and pinning others.
Please NOTE: By linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section! If you prefer not to be featured comment below or e-mail me.

Thanks for joining us and I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week! Don't forget to visit my co-hosts for additional features this week!

Christmas Around the World: Brazil

I'm so glad you're joining us as we start our journey, celebrating Christmas Around the World! If you missed Living Life Intentionally's introduction post, you can pop on over now (she's got some spectacular printables to go alongside our series!). 

I'm delighted to begin the series with Brazil. We chose Brazil because it's always intrigued me and honestly, because Brazil loves soccer. We've never been to Brazil, but the Farmer does have a Brazil beanie from a player who visited Brazil and brought him a souvenir. 

When I started this journey, I couldn't find much about Christmas in Brazil so I dug deeper and deeper until I found some pretty awesome stuff that I'm delighted to share with you! 


Each year Rio de Janeiro celebrates the lighting of the Lagoa Christmas tree, a floating Christmas tree that stands 279 ft tall. The celebration includes fireworks, ballet performances and a symphonic orchestra (this may vary from year to year). Sweet P and I found a few videos online and watched the lighting of this amazing Christmas tree!

How awesome would that be LIVE?!


When I first started looking for recipes, I thought I'd make a Brazilian meal, but then I found these Brazilian cookies and was sold. 

I had everything I needed in the house and we set to work on Saturday morning. I'll just fill you in on what occurred. While watching the first batch spin in the mixer, I saw something black. I stopped the mixer, scooped it out and scrutinized it. Yep. A black beetle. Tiny. Disgusting. Totally in the corn starch. 

So I dumped out the first batch into the garbage and started over with a fresh box of corn starch (luckily I had that too). By that time Sweet P lost interest and went off to play as I finished the dough. It sat for the required 20 minutes and then I rolled the cookies into balls, giving Sweet P the job of flattening them with a fork (an unnecessary step if you ask me). 

I really wanted to love these cookies. But. I didn't. Sweet P did (because that kid loves anything with sugar), but I was not impressed. Maybe it's because corn starch reminds me of Goop and nails on a chalk board, I don't know. I do love that they are gluten-free and Brazilian, but they didn't win me over. 

{What you need}
2 cups corn starch
1 cup sugar
3/4 c butter (at room temp)
1 tsp vanilla (the recipe called for real vanilla, but I only had imitation)
1 egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients on low in a mixer. Scrape down sides with a spatula until all is combined. Set aside for 15 to 20 minutes. Roll into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 mins until edges are a bit browned (not much!). 

*Cookies will be EXTREMELY crumbly while hot, wait until they've cooled to remove them from the cookie sheet. Store in an airtight container. 

Brazilian Flag Ornament

When I was looking through Brazilian Christmas ideas, I came across several ornaments with the Brazilian flag and thought that would be a great learning tool for Sweet P. 

I cut out the pieces for her and showed her a picture of the flag online. She assembled the ornament and stuck on the star pieces (rhinestones) while we talked about what ORDEM E PROGRESSO meant. She kept saying "Order and Progress, Order and Progress!"

{What you need}
blue, yellow and green cardstock
stickable rhinestones, a white crayon, silver star stickers, etc.
embroidery floss or string for hanging

Cut out the shapes of the Brazilian flag in the appropriate colors, with the exception of green. Cut a large circle for the green. Assemble flag on green circle. Write ORDEM E PROGRESSO with a black sharpie on the white portion of the flag. Stick on rhinestones, stars or color with a white crayon where the stars should be. 

Punch a hole in the top of the circle, thread string or floss and hang! 

Each star represents a certain state, but our ornament has a few less due to the size of the rhinestones. 


A common tradition in Brazil during Christmas involves creating or setting up a Nativity scene. A variety of Nativity sets and scenes can be found throughout Rio de Janeiro during the month of December. Many are made from recycled materials, including this one made from the bottom of plastic pop bottles! 
Picture 19

In Brazil, the Nativity is also called Presepio, from the word "presepium," which refers to the bed of straw Jesus slept on when He was born. I loved the idea of creating a bed of straw, so I set up an invitation to play for Sweet P with a manger, yarn straw and glue for her to find when she woke up in the morning. 

I also had pieces of a Nativity set out for her (they were stickers she put on paper last year and I just cut around them so they were flat playing pieces) and made a tiny baby Jesus out of a wooden bead, some pompoms and scrap fabric. While she was playing with and arranging the Nativity pieces she asked, "Where's Jesus?" I pointed to the baby and said, "He's right here. This is when He was a baby." And in true 3 year old fashion she asked, "Why?"

As she made the manger, we talked about what "presepium" means and when I asked her later she said, "A bed made of yarn." Which in her manger's case was correct! 

How amazing is it that our Savior, our KING, slept on a bed of straw? This was by far MY favorite part of our Brazilian Christmas study: making the manger and talking about our King.

I wasn't sure Sweet P understood what we were doing, then on Saturday night (movie night), she told me "I'm going downstairs to see if we have a Brazilian Christmas movie!" Ha. So something was working around in that sweet little head of hers!

I hope you enjoyed learning about Christmas in Brazil as much as we did! Be sure to check out tomorrow's post by Sun Scholars on Christmas in China

21 Days Gratitude: Day 21 - Thanksgiving


I hope you and yours are having/had a delightful celebration of Thanks today. On this last day of 21 Days of Gratitude, I'd like to take a moment to answer the list of things to be thankful for on Inspired By Family's introduction post. Lots of stuff on there to be thankful for so here we go!

1. A friend: this was hard because I'm thankful for all of my friends old and new, near and far, but I'm so very thankful for my friend Kate. We are so blessed to have met your sweet family and I'm so grateful for your friendship and family. Thank you for being willing to send Dustin to Wal-Mart at 2am for me (I promise I'll call next time!) and for being our back up to our back up when Sprout was born. You have no idea how grateful I am that you all took care of Sweet P while we welcomed Sprout into our lives. Thank you.

2. Physical Health: I'm so grateful for my health and that of my children. Even though we've battled a variety of illnesses since Sprout was born, we are an all around healthy family. 

3. A Family Member: Just one?! Argh. I'm going to go ahead and pick Auntie Rosita and TK (and mom you get a spot at the end). 
Auntie Rosita: We talk almost every single day (usually multiple times a day) and I can honestly say she is my confidante, my counselor, my big sister and my biggest fan (I'm hers too!). It helps me immensely knowing she's praying for me and cheering me along each day. I'm so thankful for her and the words she sends/says to me on a daily basis. RoRo is my twin who just happened to be born 5 years before me.

TK: I'm so grateful for TK and all she's taught me (even though she's 9 years younger!). What that girl wants, she gets! I've always looked up to her despite the fact she's the baby and I admire the way she sets something in her sights and achieves it. TK is a natural with kids, including mine and she has found her calling in teaching. I'm so grateful for her and all she's doing to help educate our future.

4. A Teacher: I'd have to say Mrs. Luck from 3rd grade. She very much instilled a love of learning and reading in me, and I'm so grateful for that. 

5. A Time of Day: 6am-7am - it's my quiet time with God and has quickly become the most important part of my day. It allows me to gather my thoughts, be with my Father and pray for others before I hit the ground running each day. 

6. An emotion: Joy. It's my favorite emotion and my middle name. There's something fascinating about Joy. It's happiness sprinkled with excitement, love and delight. It's holding your newborn baby, kissing your groom, visiting loved ones, dancing around the room. 

7. A Freedom you have: Staying home with my kids. I'm so grateful that I have that privilege. 

8. A Skill/Talent you possess: Cooking. I'm beyond grateful that I can cook and bake and prepare meals that don't taste like cardboard!

9. Co-worker/classmate: Hmmm, I'm going to say the Farmer since he's the closest co-worker I've got. I'm so thankful for my helpmate and all he does to help me power through parenting. I couldn't have asked for a better partner to grow old with.

10. A restaurant: We don't eat out much these days, but I suppose if I had to choose it would be Gateway Market. I absolutely love that place and grateful they have a healthy selection of food.

11. Physical Activity you can do: I'm grateful that I can walk, run and jump with my kids. I'm also thankful I can dance and wish I did it more often.

12. An experience you had: I'm so thankful for the events that led me to move back to my hometown. It wasn't a good experience, but it led me to the Farmer and for that, I'll be eternally grateful.

13. Something in your room: My comfy bed. I'm so grateful that I have a bed and blankets to sleep on when so many in the world do not.

14. Something in your kitchen: My kitchen table. A lot of creation, love and inspiration happens there. It's messy on a daily basis, but I'm so grateful that we have one.

15. Something in your home: My family. Anything else is just material and can be replaced. So grateful for the 3 loves of my life.

16. A gift you received: This is silly, but TK's iPhone. I don't use it as a phone, but I use it to capture pictures and video that I wasn't able to do before without lugging around my big camera. I love the moments I get to save!

17. A defeat that made you stronger: Losing out as Class President my senior year of high school changed my entire life, and honestly I'm grateful for that.

18. The one thing you can't part with: A pair of jeans I've had since college. I haven't worn them in years, but I can't bring myself to give them away! 

19. An animal: Hmm, this is tough. I'm grateful for our old cat Grayson. He died when I was in high school, but he was such an important part of our lives.

20. A trait the person you're closest to possesses: Strength. She doesn't think so, but she's got strength to move mountains. And I'm so grateful for her strength because it's powered me through so many difficult situations and it's what keeps her going each day.

21. Creation, nature: I'm SO grateful for the unobstructed view across the street from our house. Seeing the trees, the flowers, the leaves, the sunrise, it all reminds me of how awesome our God is.

22. A book that has been meaningful in your life: Hands down, the Bible.

23. The one thing you love most about you: Hmmm, I'm grateful that I can fall asleep anywhere! I'm also grateful that I don't currently have trouble sleeping.

24. My mom and dad: I'm so grateful for my parents. Thanks for bringing me into the world! 

My mom is one of the strongest people I know and is also one of the stubbornest! She has done so many great things and I'm extremely proud of her. I'm grateful for her honesty, her giving us the freedom and room to fly, and for her going to bat for me at least 100 times in my life. 

Dad thanks for all your hard work and discipline. As weird as that might sound, I'm grateful that we had rules and structure growing up. Thanks for all you do for my kiddos.

Did you participate in the 21 Days of Gratitude? I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! 
Happy Thanksgiving! Enjoy your families and remember to tell them you love them. 

Baby Bear Preschool: Thanksgiving Activities


NOTE: Letters V-Z coming soon!

We were super busy last week with Thanksgiving Activities at Baby Bear Preschool! 

Word of the Week: Gratitude
Verse: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only son." ~John 3:16
Song: Cartoon Hallelujah

I've started using our AWANA verses instead of going with the theme/letter so she's not confused and this has worked really well so far.

Sweet P is reeeeeeally into coloring right now. I mean like, really into it. It's her absolute favorite activity and she asks to color any chance she gets. When choosing activities I kept that in mind and had plenty of stuff for her to color using markets, dot markers or crayons. She loved it!

We used 3 Dinosaurs Thanksgiving pack for the majority of our activities this week!

Preschool Trays

Clockwise from top (picture below):
Dot Cornucopia: She used corresponding DO-A-DOT MARKERS (Google Affiliate Ad) to dot the missing colors on this Cornucopia. For veggies that didn't have a color we own (like the onion), she chose her own. 

Patterning: This was pretty hard for her since they were missing 2 spots, but she still enjoyed gluing and trying to figure out where each piece went.

Coloring Pie Fractions: I put a dot of color in each pie so she understood the key and she set to work. When she was finished she said, "Oops, I colored the wrong ones!" And self-corrected.

Count the Food: 3 Dinosaurs has numbers you can print and cut out to go with this activity, but I have wooden letters from a perpetual calendar that work really well. We did several different variations: putting a number up and placing that amount of food, placing food and counting to find the number. I would also put a number out (i.e. 10) and then say "Ok, we need 2 pies, 2 squash, 2 ciders, 2 salads and 2 rolls to make 10." Then she'd find what we needed and count them to make sure we had the right amount.

Following Directions: Sweet P loved this! There were a few short directions and then I made up a few more before I said, "Ok, the rest is up to you!" 

Counting Food (explained above):

Clockwise from top left: 
Thanksgiving Counting Sheet: The directions say to write the numbers, but we used the perpetual numbers again. She'd count each item and then put the corresponding tile on the picture. 

Dot Turkey: Instead of dot markers, I put a sheet of smiley face stickers on her tray with this sticker. She matched the color of the turkey feather to the colored smiley face stickers.

Number Line: There were 4 little cut outs to use with this. I'd cover a number on the number line with one of the figures and she'd figure out which number was missing. We started with one, then moved up to 2 numbers and ended with 4 numbers covered. It was so fun to watch her figure this out. Some she knew right away, but others she had to count through to figure out.

More Following Directions: Same as above, but with female pilgrim and Wampanoag.

Turkey Spelling: This sheet is from Little Monkey Printables' Thanksgiving Pack (we used it last year). When she first picked up the tray she started putting the letters on out of order so I showed her how to start with the first letter and then find the 2nd, etc. We talked about each letter and then sounded out each word once she'd found all the letters. I used Bananagrams (Google Affiliate Ad) tiles for this.

Turkey Spelling: (explained above)

Turkey Craft from MOPS & Color by Number Turkey: Color by Number Turkey coloring sheet from Criss Cross Applesauce

P is for Pilgrim: Just a simple coloring sheet that Sweet P loved coloring.She was especially proud of the girl pilgrim's hair. Check out those highlights!

Thanksgiving Coloring by Directions: LOVED this. My favorite part was when I read to color the turkey in the oval white, I said, "How should we do that?!" And she said, "We leave it white!" 

ABC Path: Sweet P used dot markers to complete this. She got stuck on a few and really had to search for the next letter. 

Sensory Play

Playdough & Pipe Cleaner Turkey:


Pine Cone Turkey: (click link or picture for details!)

TP Roll Pilgrim & Wampanoag:

Foam Sticker Wreath: This was the kids' craft at the Indoor Farmer's Market last week!

Story Basket

Fall-themed Story Basket/Box: I made up a story to go along with this cute cut outs I found at the Target 1 Spot. It was a story about a squirrel named Nutter, a turkey named Tom and an owl named Hoot. They were in a pie baking contest and each went to the store to find the ingredients they needed.

Tom needed 1 apple, Hoot needed 2 pumpkins and Nutter needed 3 acorns (he was already holding one). Each contestant baked their pie and presented it to the judges (3 pine cones). The prize was a big red leaf. Tom wanted it to hang on the wall, Hoot wanted it to put in her nest and Nutter wanted to crunch it up and sprinkle it on her floor.

The judges couldn't make a decision so the awarded all 3 contestants with the leaf. Tom hung it on his wall for 3 weeks before passing it to Hoot, who used it in her nest for the winter. She then passed it to Nutter who crunched it up and sprinkled it on the floor. The End. 



*This post contains affiliate ads.

Pine Cone Turkey

This week was full of Thanksgiving activities and turkeys, turkeys, turkeys! We went to a playdate and did a paper plate turkey with some friends, made a pilgrim and a Wampanoag out of TP rolls and made a few turkeys.

Sweet P's pine cone turkey is my fav and I love the colors that she picked for the feathers. We used a glue gun, but it's Dollar Tree glue so it's actually not really hot. I'd squirt out the glue for her and she'd stick on the feathers because it wasn't hot to the touch. Please assist your child if you have a very hot glue gun.

{What you need}
1 pine cone
2 googly eyes
1 beak (orange foam)
red pipe cleaner for waddle
plastic bottle cap + orange foam for base
an abundance of feathers!
hot glue or white glue

Affix eyes, beak and waddle. Glue base of pine cone to plastic bottle cap and cover with orange foam. Pick out feathers and start gluing!

Isn't she beautiful?!

The Sunday Showcase: Turkey Activities

In case you aren't tired of them yet, here are a few more turkey crafts and activities. Quick! You only have 5 more days before Christmas activities explode all over the internet. Turkey it up while you can.

Here are 2 of my favorites from last week:

A fun round up of Thanksgiving Activities from The Educators' Spin on It. That finger puppet turkey is just TOO cute!

One Perfect Day had an awesome list of 40 Thanksgiving Activities for Kids! Pop over to check them out! 

What we've been up to:
Filling our Thankful Tree with leaves!

Were you featured today? Don't forget to grab a button!

Now it's your turn to link-up! If this is your first time, please read this informational post for details.

This is a fun and relaxed linky with a few guidelines:
  • You can link as many kid friendly or child-centered posts as you'd like, however, links for giveaways, shops, or downloads for purchase, etc. will be deleted. 
  • Please try to visit a few other posts if you are linking up. Everyone loves comments, feed-back, pins and shares!
  • I'll share some posts via Facebook, Twitter and Google +, while commenting on and pinning others.
Please NOTE: By linking up you are giving us permission to use a photo (with proper link to you!) in our featured section! If you prefer not to be featured comment below or e-mail me.

Thanks for joining us and I look forward to seeing what you've been doing this week! Don't forget to visit my co-hosts for additional features this week!

21 Days of Gratitude: Day 14 - Finding Gratitude in the Day to Day

It's Day 14 of Inspired By Family's 21 Days of Gratitude and I can't believe we only have 8 days until Thanksgiving! Anyone else feel like this year has FLOWN by?

Today I'm grateful for things I usually take for granted, resources, if you will.

Last week while cleaning a 9x13 pan that held the remnants of an egg casserole I'd made for MOPS, I found my inner-self complaining about how much I loathed cleaning egg. When I realized how silly I sounded, I asked myself "How can I glorify God while cleaning this dish?" and began to thank Him.

I thanked Him for running water, hot water and soap to clean the dish; two hands to make the dish; the income that paid for the eggs, the soap, the dish and the sponge; a working oven that baked the casserole; a home to prepare the casserole; and great friends with whom I shared the casserole.

When I put it in perspective, I realized I had no business complaining about cleaning eggs out of a dish. Seriously?! Talk about 1st world problems.

Did you know 780 people lack access to clean drinking water? I have the privilege of filling 5 gallon jugs with it at the grocery store every week. And I'm COMPLAINING?!!

All day long I take these every day things for granted and so today, I'm extremely grateful for all of the resources that make my day to day routine doable:

  • clean drinking water
  • running water
  • hot water for cooking, cleaning and bathing
  • electricity 
  • heat and central air to heat and cool our home
  • shelter from the elements
  • a toilet
  • a shower with soap
  • clean clothing
  • a vacuum
  • beds
  • blankets
  • a refrigerator full of food
  • a car with gas in it
  • an oven, a microwave and a stove
  • cleaning supplies and towels
  • shoes
  • a jacket, multiple jackets
  • jobs
  • a toothbrush and toothpaste
  • a washer and dryer
  • tools
  • grocery stores
Honestly, I could go on and on about all the things I'm grateful for that make my day easier every day. 

So next time you find yourself tempted to complain about laundry, or cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming or cleaning an egg dish, take a minute and stop to count your blessings. Turn your complaint into a thank you and remember just how privileged we are.

Inspired by Family Magazine

Our Thankful Tree

Last year we hung a turkey in our kitchen and filled him with feathers of thanks throughout the month of November. We had such a great time counting our blessings with that turkey last year and he ended up looking pretty darn cool.

We wanted to do something different this year so I asked Sweet P what she wanted to put up instead of a turkey.

Sweet P: "A cat."
Me: "Umm."
Me: "How about a tree?"
Sweet P: "Yeah! A tree!"
Me: "We can do thankful leaves! And you can color them!" (because I could not think of anything we could add to a cat!)
Sweet P (upon hearing the words "you can color them"): "OK!"

I suppose we could have done whiskers or something, but I totally wasn't expecting cat. I wasn't expecting tree either, but hey. So our Thankful Tree came about. I found a leaf template online, arranged it in Word and printed it out. She colored 2 sheets and used water colors on the others (those are my favs!). I cut out the branches and she helped me assemble it with a glue stick.

Each day (at breakfast, lunch OR dinner), we each say something for which we are thankful (and sometimes we answer for Sprout).

Beary gets mentioned pretty much every day and each day I remind her that Beary's name is already on the tree, and she picks something/someone else.

My favorite moment from the tree was one morning when I asked what she was thankful for and she said, "Mama!" I told her I was thankful for her too, and then she added, "And Sprout!" I know I should have just written both on a leaf and been done with it, but I said, "Do you want to pick one for today and we can do the other tomorrow? Do you want to do mommy or Sprout today?" And much to my surprise and delight, she didn't pick me. She picked her brother.

Do you have a thankful tree, turkey or other blessing counter?