Starting THE ELF ON THE SHELF – Everything You Need to Know

Every year I am bombarded with questions on how to “do” the Elf on The Shelf.  It is such a hard question to answer as their is no “right” way to enjoy the Elf On The Shelf.  But to get you  started and get your own ideas in motion everything you need to know is right here! In ONE post!  Follow these 6 Steps to begin your ELf On The Shelf memory making!

 

1. WHAT IS THE ELF ON THE SHELF

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.33.21 AM

What is this crazy thing I keep hearing about? A Joyful Christmas Tradition

 

2. WHERE TO BUY AN ELF ON THE SHELF?

Our favourite place is The Book Depository.  Mainly because they almost always have stock and quick and affordable shipping.

 

3. WHAT DOES HE DO?

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.30.06 AM

Get some inspiration and see how other people use the Elf on The Shelf. The Elf On The Shelf in Our House, The Elf on The Shelf In Real Homes

 

4. GET ORGANISED!  

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.32.13 AM

Be organised! It’s a busy 25 days!  Plan ahead using a FREE PRINTABLE ANTIC PLANNER 

 

5. WELCOME YOUR ELF!

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 6.29.17 AM

 So now you are ready to start, how ill the Elf Arrive?  Some ideas on introducing him to your children and a free printable letter from Santa to help you on your way. IDEAS on How to Introduce The Elf, FREE PRINTABLE Letter of Introduction From Santa

 

6. LET THE GAMES BEGIN

 Use the Search Bar >>>> to search Elf On The Shelf and My Christmas Elf

and uncover photos, FREE printables, educational activities, clue cards and 

LET THE MEMORIES BEGIN! 

 

How to Make White Dough Ornaments

As a special end of year celebratory treat we like to make a little Christmas gift to share with our classmates.  Last year we made White Dough Star Ornaments.  This was by far the cheapest and my favourite gift we have ever made!  Judging by the popularity of this blog post, I am guessing lots of other people loved it too!

So I wanted to give you an update.  An after the fact recount AKA what I learnt and a quick HOW TO.

Traditionally dough ornaments are made using a “Salt Dough” recipe.  This is an easy way to make the ornaments and you get a very natural appearance as a result.  But I wanted WHITE!!!!  After some research on google, and advice from the ever helpful “The Organised Nest” Facebook flock.  I found a new recipe! I have adapted it slightly for Australians and this will create enough dough for about 16 small ornaments.

Screen Shot 2014-11-22 at 6.04.01 AM

Dough Ornaments
Yields 16
A WHITE glistening dough mixture great for making ornaments and keepsakes.
Write a review
Print
Prep Time
30 min
Prep Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 Cup of Corn Flour
  2. 2 Cups of BiCarb Soda (the same as Baking Soda)
  3. 1 1/4 Cups Cool Water
Instructions
  1. Mix Cornflour and BiCarb Soda in bowl.
  2. Add Cool water and stir.
  3. Once ingredients are combined place over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  4. The mixture will bubble first and then begin to combine.
  5. Once the dough mixture has formed one large ball in the pan, remove and place in a bowl to cool.
  6. Cover the dough with a wet cloth as it cools.
  7. Once cool, knead the dough with your hands. (this should only take a minute or two!)
  8. It quickly comes a beautiful smooth dough.
  9. Sprinkle a little extra cornflour on the bench and roll it out into 1cm high sections.
  10. Cut it out into whatever shapes your heart desires!
  11. Use a straw to press out a hole in the top of the ornaments (to allow for hanging)
  12. If you want to stamp or carve pictures into your dough now is the time to do it!
  13. Place each shape onto Baking paper and leave to air dry for at least 24 hours.
  14. Admire your handy work!
Notes
  1. You can bake these ornaments, but it will give them a golden baked appearance.
  2. Like any dough, once hard they are quite fragile so be careful!
  3. Use some ribbon or twine to create a hanging ornament.
  4. These make great gifts!
  5. * I used a "Cookie Stamp" to create personalised messages. These are available from kitchen stores and even large department stores.
The Organised Nest http://theorganisednest.com/

 THE INGREDIENTS

These ingredients are cheap, cheap, cheap!  After some trial and error I found that the Wooloworths Homebrand ingredients work just as well and are literally half the price.   BUY the Homebrand Ingredients from Woolworths and this recipe costs you less than $2!!! I mistakenly bought the branded items and it cost me about $6 which still isn’t too bad! Win Win!

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.44.21 PMScreen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.45.02 PM

 

 

PERSONALISING

Nothing says thoughtful like a personalised gift.  We stamped each classmates name on the ornament using a Wiltshire “Cookie Stamp” Kit from Big W.  

Wiltshire - Sweet Messages Cookie Kit - From Big W

Wiltshire – Sweet Messages Cookie Kit – From Big W

Last year this Kit was found in Big W  in the Cooking/Kitchen Utensil aisles, it retails for about $18.

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.49.57 PM

The kit contained some predesigned messages (Thank You, I Love You etc) and then a whole heap of individual letters for you to design your own messages. This is seriously one of my favourite purchases and I have already used it over and over again!

LONGEVITY

The ornaments once dry are ready to go but personally I like to lacquer the finished product. For longevity and to hopefully make them look even better! You can find a simple spray on lacquer at Masters/Bunnings/Spotlight.

PACKAGING


Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.49.12 PMI usually buy the bulk lots of resealable clear bags from the dollar stores but then I stumbled across these beauties.  In the Party aisle of Woolworths and they are the PERFECT fit. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.51.19 PM

I wrote a little poem and turned it into a bag topper just using some cardboard. 

DELIVERY
Screen Shot 2014-11-13 at 1.50.46 PM

Now they are ready to deliver!  Made easier if you have an extra cute delivery elf like this one! Oh I hope this Christmas dress still fits her this year.

There you have it.  A cheap, easy, thoughtful gift for any occasion really but especially nice to spread some joy this Christmas. 

 

 

 

I got married before Pinterest

Once upon a time, a long time ago, in a land before wifi and iphones, there was no Pinterest.  In fact in this primitive time there was also no Facebook or Instagram or even sending pictures via mobile phones.  It was in this time that we planned a wedding the old fashioned way.  Using bridal magazines, glue and a big old scrapbook divided into categories. Well if you are OCD like me you did.

At the time, I was living in Ingham, North Queensland.  Without so much as a Target or Big W, let alone a bridal store, my nights were spent pouring through the pages of Bridal magazines.  Page by page I added a post it here, a snip of the scissors there and with each little piece of magazine created an image of how I wanted our wedding to be.  In all honesty, it worked out quite well.  With limited options, comes limited decision making.  I made a lot of things myself, like place cards (individual candles in glass jars with the guests name on them) and hade a lot of other things made for us, my wedding dress included.  But boy did that scrapbook come in handy.

This year we celebrate our 10th Wedding Anniversary and although I wouldn’t change a thing about that marvellous night and the ten years that have followed, I do often wonder if my tastes have now changed and would I choose a different dress or theme? 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.19.04 AM

Our Wedding Cake

 

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.19.36 AM

My Wedding Dress and Bouquet

We were married in a very old church, with an ivory and pink colour palette and roses for the bouquets and centrepieces.  I loved my dress at the time.  Strapless with a tight beaded bodice and a huge box pleated skirt.  But would I still choose it today?

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.33.34 AM

Would I have chosen something a little fancier, lacier?

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.35.17 AM

A dress with darling little beaded cap sleeves?

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.36.12 AM

I can assure you my colour tastes have changed!  Anyone for Mint or tiffany blue?

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 6.38.22 AM

 Oh and some more personal touches of course with a little DIY throw in.

That day, ten years ago, seems like yesterday and yet it flew by like no other.  Thank goodness we have the photos to capture the memories.  They are like little snapshots of  time.  It may have been a time before Pinterest, but it was a time we will never forget. 

So would you change anything about your wedding?

This is a sponsored post thanks to bride.com.au All images (except of our own wedding) are taken form there website and there amazing Pinterest albums.

We are back!

What A Christmas!

On the 21st of December my little sister welcomed her first child into the world, baby Charlotte.  Thankfully we were already on the long 2 day drive up north and I got to meet and hold Charlotte when she was only one day old.  She is such a cute little bundle of pink perfection and I made sure to get my cuddles in!

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 5.09.48 AM

The obligatory in front of the tree photo.

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 5.10.04 AM

Not so scared now!

 

Screen Shot 2013-12-30 at 5.10.25 AM

Ready for Christmas day!

 

Christmas was how it always is in North Queensland!  Full of family, copious amount of food, traditions and SWIMMING!   The kids lived in the pool and it was simply amazing to see Little Miss A who has a fear of water on her face JUMPING into the pool!

I survived the week without being sick and more importantly survived a total of four days in the car without losing my sanity or the contents of my stomach (there were a few close calls)

So here we are.  27+ Weeks pregnant, 2 very sun kissed and tired kids and a whole lot of Christmas mess to clean up, oh the toys!!!!

But I am already thinking ahead and heres what’s on the agenda for

The Organised Nest;

  • How we created a Family Launch Pad
  • How we use a family Calendar and Planner to stay organised
  • Plans for our School Storage Station
  • Teaching your child to recognise and write their name
  • Organising and Buying School Name Labels
  • What to look for in School Shoes
  • Creating Organised Routines and Systems for the School Morning Routine
  • Creating Organised Routines and Systems for the School Evening Routine
  • Back To School Teacher Gifts
  • Beginners Guide to Bento Lunch Boxes
  • Beginners Guide to Bento Lunch Box Accessories
  • Storing Hair Brushes/Sprays/Accessories

and so much more!!!!

Which topic are you most interested in??

Decorating for Christmas

Each year I take decorating for Christmas a little further.  Another little niche in the house gets a little Christmas flair.  This year as I unloaded the decorations from their storage boxes I couldn’t help but wish I had of taken more photos of our decorating from last year!  

Although I started with full force, and even attempted to make my own Christmas bunting this year, it took a delivery of fresh flowers from fresh flowers.com.au to really get me motivated to make a start!

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.40.49 AM

 Aren’t they divine.  As much as I love fresh flowers they are a rarity in this house.  Take one unromantic husband add the inability for us to grow our own and having no florist within 30kms and you get a flower less home.  This coming year I am going to unashamedly buy flowers for MYSELF!!!!

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.32.03 AM

The first area I started with was our buffet unit.  This is the one piece of furniture I am still undecided about so I thought by decorating it I might just learn to love it.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.21.02 AM 

  • A simple red table runner (Kmart $8)
  • A gorgeous potted Poinsettia wrapped in hessian and a green satin ribbon (freshflowers.com.au)
  • A white ceramic reindeer (Reject Shop $2)
  • A printed plate repurposed for display in a recipe book stand! (Kmart)
  • and the Noel sign, which was given to me by a student a few christmases ago! 

Above the buffet unit, hangs or advent calendar.  It’s a series of miniature numbered stockings in red, white and green fabric that I bought from Lime Tree Kids a few years ago.  Our picture shelf remains the same all year with the addition of a few lonely Christmas cards and tree decorations that have somehow made their way up there!

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.21.27 AM

The dining table was the next area to get Christmafied! Ok so this area is a little OVERWHELMING.  I searched every where for a simple white linen table runner.  The search continues.  White would be able to used all year round, but if you going to go overboard with the red and green why not do it for Christmas! This years Christmas Table centrepiece is a box of blooms for Freshflowers.com.au  

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.21.17 AM

They are just gorgeous and when this picture was taken they were already a week old!  I can’t believe how well they have lasted! I only wish Christmas was at our place this year so I could share them with our family.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.22.03 AMOver the years we have sourced and collected these “Royal Doulton” Christmas Plates.  It all started in an antique store in Boonah where my husband discovered a Christmas Plate with his year of birth on it!  Knowing I love things like that he bought it.  What I didn’t realise is that this would turn into an endless quest for the rest of the set.

Screen Shot 2013-12-19 at 6.21.50 AM

 Finally just before last Christmas we had managed to accumulate a set of six!  They are actually quite high once they are on their stands and I have struggled to find the right place for them, when this year it dawned on me, on top of the piano!

Of course we have also decorated the tree, our wall unit and entry table!  Can anyone say OVERBOARD!  Well actually I don’t care what anyone say’s I hope one day my kids will remember me as the mother who went crazy at Christmas filling the house with festive cheer. 

 

Thank you to freshflowers.com.au for the beautiful box of flowers and inspiring me to get started on my decorating! You can order online and have fresh flowers delivered the same day!  Perfect! 

Best Books for 7 – 12 Year Olds

By now you will know that I am passionate about the joys and benefits of children reading.  Every Day, Every Where, Every Thing.  

Christmas is the perfect opportunity to stock up on books for the year ahead.  For me growing up Christmas holiday’s meant uninterrupted reading time!  EVERY Christmas I asked for books and then later on Magazines.  The Baby Sitters Club (or anything by Ann M Martin) Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and then later the Bronte Sisters.  Oh how I hope my children love books as much as I do!!!

I must admit, in this technological age, finding books that children love, and getting them to read them is getting harder.  I strongly believe it doesn’t matter what they are reading as long as they are reading!!!!  Especially for boys, find a topic that interests them and find any book you can on the topic and suddenly you will find them immersed in books! 

So here are some of my favourite for that tricky 7 – 12 Year old group we suddenly find ourselves entering!

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 7.36.19 PM

 

1.  Dork Diaries.  This is currently an International Bestseller.  A series of chapter books that is so relatable it’s got that tween market captured.  They are a classic coming of age series dealing with not fitting in, feeling like a dork, heartbreak and embarrassing moments.  This is like a “girlier” version of Diary of A Wimpy Kid.  These are flying off the shelves and I would personally invest in a book set.  I would have loved this series as a child! 

2. Hey Jack.  This is where Master O is at.  Perfect for early readers the contexts are age appropriate and appealing to 6-9 year olds and the large print and simple vocabulary make them a great series of first chapter books.  Jack is a character from the hugely popular Billie B Brown series. He has made the transition over to a more boyish series and the stories are full of grossness, pranks and friendship dilemmas   We went with the box set as part of our “Something to read” Christmas gift giving.

3. Skylanders.  Remember what I said about finding an interest?  Master O Loves Skylanders as do most children in the 7-12 age bracket.  There are numerous books that give great insight into the lands, characters and strategies of Skylanders.  These books contain great facts about each character and my two love to look at the pictures and have Master O read out all the information.

4. Boy Vs Beast.  These are a step up in difficulty and context from Hey Jack.  The monster/alien/robot/beast theme is extremely appealing to the 7-9 year olds.  These books are a hit in the Grade 1/2/3 classroom and have a line up at the library.  The story lines are surreal and supernatural but have kids, especially boys hooked on this popular series.

5.  The Magic Faraway Tree or anything by Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl. These are the children’s classics. The characters and story lines are as appealing now as they were 30 years ago.  These make for great bedtime read aloud stories or perfect to set the imagination running wild of more independent readers.  Do not rely on the movies to tell these stories.  They really are at their best when read!

6. The Baby Sitters Club.  Well just BECAUSE!!!  Oh how I loved this series!  I was slightly obsessed and even had a small collection of related paraphernalia   Not sure that many 11 year olds actually baby sit in this age but the friendships and new story lines in each book have you dying for the next one! I still have a few oldies in my collection but will definitely be buying THE WHOLE SERIES for Little Miss A.

So they are my hot book tips for this Christmas.

 Books immerse your child in  another world, introduce new vocabulary and concept, strengthen reading skills and strategies and give them some valuable SCREEN FREE TIME!!!  

A perfect gift for your child at any time of year. 

 

This post was sponsored by Dymocks.  I was paid to give my opinion as a Mum and Teacher on some of the best book buys this Christmas!  All books mentioned above are currently available at Dymocks. 

2013 – My Christmas Elf – Day 13 – Carols and Candles

I must admit we have never gone to a community carols night before!   Between the school carols night and Christmas parties we always have something on.  But this year with a little help form our elves we were all ready to go! 

Screen Shot 2013-12-15 at 7.13.32 AM

 

A Carols Goodie Box with a blanket, chips, pretzels, lollies and of course glow sticks! 

The glow sticks were the hit of the night!  They each had a glow necklace (which came in handy trying to identify your child in the dark!) and either a Glow Tree stick or a glow Stick santa!

To be honest, the carols night wasn’t our thing.  Be warned slight rant ahead.  We came a little late so all the spots at the front were full so we couldn’t see a thing.  WE only had a blanket and everyone else had chairs! The music was all very slow and religious.  We had expected a fun, family night of singing and entertainment with a great mix of music so we could all join in.  There was no dancing, or bands or choirs or school groups just soloists, singing religious/slow music.  Besides the 15 minutes that Santa was on stage, the kids were not interested in what was happening and didn’t know any of the songs.  It was a community carols night, but run by a local church.  Don’t get me wrong….We are religious.  We believe that Christmas is about CHRIST, but it is a time for families and friends to enjoy time together.  A time to sing loudly and badly, to do the actions to songs with your children, to dance and be joyous.  It felt more like we were watching a Religious version of Australian Idol where each soloist was trying to out do each other with there operatic technique.  

BUT…..the upside, the kids played with glowsticks……outside…….. at night.

Seriously they could have been anywhere.  Those three simple things provided all the entertainment they needed!

 

Lesson learnt and next year we might try and find one of the council run carols nights or even just stick to the school ones.  

But we went, we ate together, spent time talking as family and we watched two excitable children run, jump, dance and play whilst glowing like Christmas Trees.   

THE JOY IN A GLOW STICK!

10 Elf On The Shelf Antics From Real Homes

Right about now is when you start to run out of Elf On The Shelf Antic ideas.  Wither that or you are just so worn out by all these Elf Antic shenanigans every night, you now lack motivation!  Our elves were hanging out on that Chandelier for more than two nights!  I just couldn’t have been bothered to get them down!

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 6.17.11 AM

So what better way to get re motivated then to check out some great ideas from REAL Homes! 

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.42.08 AM

Kirsten – Wally The Elf “Undecorated” the Tree!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.43.11 AM

Kate – Our Elf The Artist!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.43.44 AM

Susan – The Gift of Giving – A Great message from this elf!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.44.33 AM

Elissa – A Toy Convoy with the Elf at the lead!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.45.22 AM

Emma – Another “Elfy” Breakfast!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.45.48 AM

Emma – All Wrapped Up! The Elf is reading on his wrapped toilet!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.46.15 AM

Melissa – Elfred the Elf has had some fun making snowflakes!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.46.45 AM

Tara – Bon Bon Tug Of War with the Elf and his friends!


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.47.29 AM

Rachael – A very thoughtful Elf with a gorgeous Angel.


Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 5.48.11 AM

Melissa – A Sticky Situation! This Elf has missed his friend so much he has used his name stickers to decorate himself!

There are just so many wonderful Elf ideas out there that I could not include them all (although I may just have to do another post!)

 

ok so one more……

Screen Shot 2013-12-14 at 6.41.41 AM

Elvis The Elf, belongs to Luca and Evie! He needs a passport to get home but looks like a ship and stamps will have to do for now!

Check out The Organised Nest Facebook page for the most amazing photos from our readers! It is so inspiring to see how many mums and dads are going to great lengths to introduce the magic of the Elf into their homes this festive season!

So have you got some inspiration, a second wind, re-motivated? I certainly am and can’t wait to put these antics into practice! 

Thank you to all of our fabulous readers for sending us these great pics! 

 

2013 – My Christmas Elf – Day 12 – Beach Buddies

Did you know Elves travel at the speed of light?

We awoke to find our Elves were missing!  The kids searched the house but they were no where to be found! 

Oh well the day must go on and its a perfect day for the beach.

As the kids played in the waves their Elf friends appeared on the beach!

Screen Shot 2013-12-13 at 5.07.20 AM

 

The look on the kids faces was priceless!  The whole way home they discussed how they got there and how they would get home!

You could do this antic without leaving your home!  Perhaps the elves leave some sand and shells in your house or maybe a new pair of hats or sunglasses!

Love a SUMMER CHRISTMAS!  

Christmas Gift Ideas to Help Your Child Learn

Earlier in the week I shared our Guide to Gift Giving during Christmas

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 7.07.18 AM

One of the changes we have made this year is rather than something to wear we are going with something to LEARN!  After all LEARNING is way more fun than clothes!!!!

The Great Outdoors

Screen Shot 2013-12-12 at 6.17.13 AM

Teach your child to fish, to swim, to catch bugs or go camping as a family.  Fishing, Boating and Camping is not only a great way to spend quality time together but you learn many new skills and even make some new friends at the same time. 

Get Wheeling

 bikes

Learn to ride a bike, or a scooter or give roller blades a go.  Keep active and put those ever important gross motor skills to the test.  What an accomplishment it is when you can finally balance on the bike all by yourself!  It’s also a great way to keep fit as a family and enjoy the outdoors!  

Game of Life

 Board Games

Board games teach valuable skills for life.  Turn taking, counting, sharing, compromising and negotiating.  Look for games that involve counting (Monopoly, Snakes and Ladders) matching (Memory, Snap) and building (Jenga, Creationary)  They will be having so much fun they won’t realise the valuable lessons they are learning!

Craft and Colour

Craft 

Little fingers gain strength, control and flexibility through colouring.  Or even better look for craft activities that involve

  • squeezing and pinching (Tweezers to pick up beads, cutting)
  • lacing (threading a needle or using laces to go through holes in beads or buttons)
  • manipulating or rolling (play dough, clay, plasticine)

Especially for pre-school aged children, these are THE MOST VALUABLE skills to master and practice.

Still looking for some gift ideas to help your child LEARN?  

Try….

  • Learning a Magic Trick with a magic Kit
  • Planting a Garden
  • Having a game of Totem Tennis
  • Learning to knit or crochet
  • Learning to the tell time with a new watch or clock

Christmas gift giving doesn’t have to be all about toys!  In fact many of these non toy gifts will last way beyond the novelty value of the latest toy AND teach your child a valuable skills.  Your child will be entertained and be learning at the same time!  

Trust me, it will make gift buying easier and your child’s teacher will thank you for it! 

This is a sponsored post for Big W.  I have been paid for my time and to provide opinion on some great gifts for your family this Christmas.