One of the groups I’m really happy to be a part of is our local Moms club. It has evolved over the years and so has my interaction with it. At one point I was ‘that mom’ with 3 kids under 5 and now I’m a different ‘that mom’ with 3 small people I keep track of but don’t have to manually operate (much). Regardless, if you are home with kids and need some friends to talk diapers with, or, your kids are in school and you need a reason to have coffee with friends – look into a MOMS club near you.
The current president had a fabulous idea for getting the word out locally. She got our club a booth at one of the Art in the Park farmer’s markets. We didn’t sell anything, we actually made our space into a mini kid zone because markets can be really frustrating with kids in tow. For one of the dates I was able to ask our favorite internet source for crafts and fun stuff; Oriental Trading, to provide some activities. In return, they get this lovely post and our honest playtesting results.
I let the Prez go crazy with the catalog and she choose the theme of superhero (that is one of the pregrouped themes on the site for). Once you pick a theme things are so easy to pull together and with one hand feeding a toddler, she clicked and clicked a cart full of superhero items in no time.
The day of the event was perfect. I stopped by to help and kids were decorating masks and playing superhero. She made use of the bookmarks in a rather unique way – she printed out the club info onto cardstock the same size and shape and tied them together to hand out to moms. I know at least 2 ladies joined and plenty of fun was had by all.
Thank you, Oriental Trading Company for partnering with kids and parents and bloggers like me!
When we started this semi-impulsive move I looked ahead and saw that there were absolutely 2 birthday’s that would be quite in the thick of things and decided I HAD to give myself a break from doing ‘too much’ for the birthdays. However, Fiona and Zoe’s birthday shouldn’t really suffer too much from our move so I tried to find a compromise. Here is what I did.
#1. Since their birthdays are just 2 weeks apart, we found a weekend (the only free weekend day) in between and put their party on ONE day.
#2. We decided to use our new YMCA as the venue since they offered decent party packages and did have our date available so in a nod to the two kids, we actually booked 2 parties
- Zoe turning 7 had more options based on age so we booked her a 3 hour party that included 1h of swimming, 1h of the bounce house, and 1h in the party room.
- Fiona turning 5 had fewer options and to stagger the starts we just booked her a 2 hour party with 1h in the bounce house and 1h in the party room.
- The staggered start meant we could greet each party of kids independently and they moved together as a group and we finished all together in the party room for 2 cakes.
#3. I gave myself a ‘pass’ on making all my decorations and running around to 3 different stores went to Oriental Trading and just clicked around until I had a party in a box. *because of my ongoing relationship with them, Oriental Trading treated me to this build your own birthday party in a box and in return I’m telling you all about it!
- The girls agreed on the emoji theme and that is pretty in right now so it was an easy enough shopping trip. There is even an emoji category at Oriental Trading in the party theme section. I had to cover the standards;
- Table wear; plates, cups, napkins
- treat bag and filling
- some decor to fill up the impersonal (yet nice) room
- a craft to have something to do while food is served etc
I had to be a little creative in some ways and in others there was a super obvious and easy choice but here is the party fresh out of the shipping box (a box I have reused and packed a bunch of family pictures in);
The EASY part was treat bag! First I saw the cellophane bags (bottom right) and then I found the face bag (top right) and I just got both. I hedged my bets about size and quality and in the end I actually used both. The face bags have a narrow top but are otherwise really cute and easy to fill. I put Boom Chicka Pop, the most awesome popcorn, into the cellophane bags and that gave me some nice bulk. The other goodie bag fillings were also pretty easy to hunt up – the emoji stickers, stampers, and pins were all on the theme and good value.
Second most easy were the craft. There are emoji scratch off crafts front and center on the site. They really don’t create anything grand but kids really love scratching off the black to make the design and each packet comes complete for the craft so it was just hand one per kid and let them do what they do.
The Harder part was table wear. Napkins and cups, no problem. No easy options for plates? I searched emoji and smile and nada in the plate family but then I saw these ninja plates and figured they would work just fine. I ended up just using some leftover paper plates for the dinner plate so it was all fine and looked festive. **going back today for links I see they have a dinner plate now! Must have been sold out, but no cake plate so my ninja pick is still a good tip if you are doing an emoji them birthday**
The Hardest part was decor. I didn’t need balloons because filling a balloon you purchase elsewhere is nearly impossible so I just buy them here. In the end, I got the plain yellow pennant banner and my sharpie and I decorated while we watched some TV the night before. Let me tell you, a 200f banner is REALLY long. It did make the room look emoji theme with only 1 decoration so that is a big impact. I ended up cutting it so I had a big one on the wall and a small one to decorate the serving table.
Overall a party in a box + a venue I didn’t need to clean made it a very fun and pretty easy party. There were questions of service and organization on the part of the Y, but, I’m working on that. Let’s just say you can’t expect much from teen party assistants….
It is not a secret that Oriental Trading is an easy one stop party shop but now there is proof that in 20min of shopping and a few minutes of assembly you can have a nearly Pinterest worthy party with nearly no effort.
I’m not sure I’ll be stacking parties like this again, it was a whirlwind, but give the time we have it was the best we could do and everyone had a good time so that is what counts.
In my family and friends group, there are quite a few teachers. Miss Math and I talk regularly and I get the teacher POV on things and I routinely go to the school board and PTO meeting. My grandfather was a teacher for 30 years in some of the rough inner city areas (by choice) and my aunt is a teacher for the deaf. The college I attended had a teaching specialty so countless friends were studying education all around me constantly. Can’t help but pick up a little second-hand teacher from all that exposure..
Before I had kids I basically had teacher side knowledge of the ‘job’ of teaching. However, I did not know just how much each teacher really does for each child until I was on the parent side of things. I know how my 3 can be learning a new things or just managing them all day from activity to activity. The fact that teachers do that x20 or more is amazing, fantastic, unimaginable!
I mentioned that I go to our local school board meetings, I have gone to nearly everyone for a year, and I see that we have a real situation in our town with money. One may think that there is fluff in the budget, that there are fat administration salaries or waste somewhere… From what I have observed in ours there really really isn’t but every year there are cuts that have to be made. This year 10 teachers lost their job as well as quite a few support jobs because the budget just didn’t stretch. This is why I personally went to the legislature to talk about why we need more funding. Despite all that, it is a high achieving, high test score area and that is mostly because the teachers are really dedicated.
This is a long way to go to say that when Oriental Trading Company offered me product credit in return for a post about Teacher Appreciation Week I could not say yes fast enough. I asked at our last PTO what teachers would want and the #1 thing I heard was “fidgets”.
What is a fidget? Well, according to my kids, they are a small thing you can hold and move around in your hands (not play with) so you are not tempted to touch other people and are able to focus on the teacher. According to the teacher, it is a tool that some kids need all the time but most kids need some of the time and having a supply of little things would make their life easier.
Say no more, to Oriental Trading Company I go! I was quite surprised when they actually had a section dedicated to fidgets already. The other thing the teacher asked was that it not be ‘annoying’ so I reviewed the list with a critical eye and took some of their suggestions but also went out on my own a bit. I got stress balls, large braided beads (very tactile and not bouncy), erasers shaped like brains, bean bags… I used every cent to the best of my ability. I must have done it right because when I got the box and asked my kids what they thought I got for the teachers they yelled “Fidgets!!!” (and then all picked one to keep and they really do love them)
These are things that are useful but not in any budget at all. They come out of teachers pockets most of the time and I am very glad that I could facilitate this gift to my teachers and hopefully inspire you to do something similar for yours. We have all read the ‘please don’t give us mugs’ lists by teachers around the holiday/end of year gift giving season so if you ARE looking for something to give your elementary school teacher, I have it on good authority that fidgets are a good option. When I brought them into school it was a happy day and I’m glad to be a part of it.
Thank you, Oriental Trading Company for helping me show our teachers that they are appreciated!
And… because that box was free in return for this post (that I’m sure you can tell is full of only my own opinions) I will also be participating in the teacher breakfast next week too!
Oriental Trading is known for many things, but, for me, there will ALWAYS be rubber ducks. When Niamh was a little little girl and I had night classes a friend watched her, to ‘pay’ I sent a duck with Niamh every week to give to her daughter who was 2.5 and not into sharing her mom. That started my duck collection because I couldn’t just send the same duck each week, I needed variety!
Then I had friends with kids with allergies and I learned that there are more options than candy on Halloween. I got ‘spooky’ ducks and they went first, everyone wanted a duck more than candy.
When I found out there was actually a HOLIDAY for rubber ducks I could not let it pass. Oriental Trading partners with bloggers and I’m lucky enough to be one of them and they gave me ducks in return for this post. (fair trade, I’ve already given them tons of money for ducks).
I decided that for duck day, I would share the love of ducks. I ordered 11 dozen ducks with the goal to give them all away. Ok, I’m keeping some, there are some cute ones. So I’m giving away 10 dozen ducks! This is easier said than done and it is going to take a while but since I got them last Friday;
Sunday we went to the MN Science museum and I handed out ducks to any kid I saw being nice. I also sent the kids out to hand out ducks too, nice lesson in random kindness.
Tuesday I saw an acquaintance in the grocery store, I handed him a duck and while I said it was for his baby, you know who is going to be playing with that duck.
Yesterday and today I didn’t actually leave the house much other than the gym so operation #ducktheworld was on hold and since tomorrow is the day I thought I should get this posted so if you feel so inclined to celebrate tomorrow, you have adequate warning.
My pocketbook is stocked with ducks and my plan is to give them away to good kids (or sad kids). I like to reward good behavior and now I have stock to do so.
If you have any cool rubber ducks, post them tomorrow #ducktheworld and I’ll be joining you too. If you don’t think you need any, consider adding them to your holiday table or basically any occasion since there is a duck for just about everything.
Edit to add- I just got an awesome direct link to some coupons. Enjoy!
Today’s post is based on product given to me by Oriental Trading company in return for a post. I almost feel bad because they are so fast and shipping and I’m comparably slow at posting.
*in my defense, they just pull from a warehouse and ship the next day, I have to wait for my heard of cats to be in a crafting mood. * Lucky for me, they inherited my love for crafting gene so far 🙂
I got quite a few things this order but my first goal was to get things that the kids could create gifts with. There is a TON of jewelry options but I settled on 2 kits and then some charms and cute lampwork beads, one that looked like apples and another set that were just pretty. I also got a few basic supplies like wine charm wire loops and necklace chords.
The older two were enchanted with the box of what can only be described as treasure. Both dove in to create teacher gifts and with zero guidance from me created wine charms with bits and parts I was not expecting them to use. It was ABSOLUTELY within their level (of age 6 and 8) to not just manually make it happen but to put together something pretty.
The Santa kit from the picture is actually too hard for them. I plan on doing them myself and they will find their way to some lucky family members. (here is where I hope my sisters are too busy to read my blog)
The final thing that I want to highlight is, according to Oriental Trading, another Christmas craft, but, I’m planning on wearing it year round. The safety pin in this picture actually also comes with a tiny nativity scene but for me, this is going to indicate my willingness to help anyone who needs it so I’m going to use that charm elsewhere. The safety pin symbol , I think, is a great idea in its simplicity.
I was very impressed with the overall quality. Makes me wish I had time to just sit and play with beads all day. I will settle for the time I have and I’m double grateful for the fact that I can put a pile of supplies in the hands of my kids and let them create.