Saturday, November 26, 2016

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Easy DIY Advent Calendar to Make with Your Kids!

Fun and easy DIY advent calendar craft  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Thank you to Oriental Trading Company for sending us everything we needed to create this fun and easy-to-make hanging DIY advent calendar for the holidays.  All opinions expressed are my own. 

I am a huge fan of having reusable advent calendars.  There are some really nicely crafted hand painted wooden ones out there, but most of them are out of my budget.  I've made several different kinds of DIY advent calendars over the years, and I adjust each one to suit my family's changing needs.  With 3 children who are now almost 10, 10, and 13, what we fill the advent calendar with has changed.  I've included a list of fun and creative ideas for filling your advent calendar at the bottom.  Be sure to check it out!

Since we now have two dogs, we try to have hanging advent calendars, so our dogs can't get to the treats (often chocolate) inside.  This advent calendar craft was super-easy to make, and I was able to enlist my daughter to help with the artwork.  She happily obliged, of course.  This turned out to be a very fun holiday craft to make together. I love how this advent calendar turned out to have sort of a rustic, Americana style to it. Check out the short list of supplies needed below, all of which I found in Oriental Trading Company's Christmas crafts, stocking stuffers, and Christmas decorations sections.


DIY Hanging Advent Calendar Craft . . . 

SUPPLIES NEEDED:
(2) Dozen Mini Stitched Christmas Stockings
(4) 6pc Burlap & Jute Gift Tags
Fabric Markers (Red, green, black)
(2) Poinsettia Garlands (optional)
Large Colored Candy Canes (optional)

Fun and easy DIY advent calendar craft tutorial  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 1.  With a black fabric marker, write one number (from 1 to 24) on each burlap tag.
TIP #1:  It might be a good idea to order one additional set of 6 burlap tags in case you make any errors.
Fun and easy DIY advent calendar craft how-to  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 2.  Using your fabric markers, decorate each tag with a festive and colorful design.  We stuck with red, green, and black (and occasionally yellow).  Invite your children (school-age and older) to help you!

TIP #2:  Although fabric markers usually require to be set by heat, we skipped this step since our advent calendar would not likely be getting wet, nor will it be handled extensively.
Fun to make easy DIY advent calendar craft  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Here is a sample of what my daughter and I came up with.  We are quite proud of ourselves for coming up with 24 different designs.
Easy DIY advent calendar craft to make with your kids  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 3.  Tie each burlap tag onto one stocking, creating a neat bow with the twine ties.
TIP #3:  If you are using stockings in different colors or designs like I did, then it will be worth it to take a couple of minutes to plan ahead by stacking the stockings in the order in which you would like them to appear.  This is a great way to avoid having two of the same color or design next to each other.
Easy to make DIY advent calendar craft  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 4.  It's time to hang your advent calendar up!  We chose to hang each stock on a separate nail, which are hidden under the poinsettia garland, but you could tie each stocking (evenly spaced apart) to one long length of sturdy twine.  Then you could hang the twine up like you would a garland.  I personally think it's more fun to be able to take one stocking down at a time to hand to the children to discover the contents.

Easy to make hanging DIY advent calendar craft  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 5.  Fill your advent calendar!  As far as candy goes, I like to vary what I put in there from day to day.  Some days will have something chocolaty, and other days will have a surprise, like these flavored candy canes.  But, what about the non-candy treats?  Check out some of the fun and creative ideas I've listed below for filling your advent calendar . . .
Fun and creative ideas for filling your advent calendar  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

5 fun ideas for filling your advent calendar . . .

  1. Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces - Choose a jigsaw puzzle that fits your child's skill level.  Then assemble the puzzle, so that you can disassemble it in an orderly fashion.  Place a handful of puzzle pieces in each day's advent calendar so that your child will have completed the puzzle by Christmas Eve.
  2. Lego Mini Figures - Instead of putting whole Mini Figures in each day of the advent calendar, only put one or two parts (hat/hair, head, body, legs, or accessory).  Then, as each day goes by, your child will be able to mix and match the pieces to build some cool figures.
  3. Fun Coupons - Print or hand write a fun perk on a coupon for each day, such as a trip to the mall or the ice cream shop, having mom do your nails, getting to choose the restaurant next to the family eats out, etc . . . 
  4. Collectibles - For a young collector of anything, it would be fun and exciting to receive a new item to add to his or her collection each day.  Some examples might be die cast cars, marbles, buttons, seashells, or stamps.
  5. Beads - Include a handful of beads in the advent calendar each day.  By the 24th day, your child will have enough beads to make a necklace or a couple of bracelets.  If needed, be sure to include nylon thread to string the beads on, on the last day of the advent calendar.
What fun ideas do you have for filling an advent calendar? 
Share them with us in a comment here.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

3G2S posts may contain commission-yielding affiliate links.

Doodle | Magic Joy . . . an Awesome Free Android Drawing App for Any Age

Doodle | Magic Joy . . . a fun, free, and easy to use Android doodling app  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
I rarely blog about apps, but I always make an exception when I come across one that I find to be outstanding.  This free app (with ads) is called Doodle | Magic Joy and has me and my children hooked.

I first discovered this app by seeing an ad for it on a mobile game I was playing on my Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge.   Then I let my 9 year old daughter try it on my phone and she didn't want to give my phone back.  Luckily, I was able to put this app on both her and her twin brother's android tablets.  YAY for getting my phone back!  Not too long after that, our 12 year old son wanted this app for his Android phone too.

Doodle | Magic Joy . . . a fun, free, and easy to use Android doodling app  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

What's great about this app?
  1. It's free!
  2. After you've saved your drawing, you can click the play button and it will replay how your doodle was created from start to finish!
  3. It's extremely user-friendly.  Just drag your finger across the screen to draw.  A 2 year old could use it, as well as someone who is 90 years old.
  4. There's an 'undo' button that let's you go backwards as many steps as you would like.
  5. There are 10 different background colors.
  6. There are 6 different brushes.  You can change brushes anytime while drawing a picture.
  7. There are 16 different repetition patterns, including one that does not repeat at all, so you can draw free hand.
  8. The ink color changes whenever you lift your finger off the screen and start a new line.
  9. No two drawings have ever come out the same for me and it's so much fun to experiment with different ways of dragging your finger around on the screen.
  10. You can share your finished art on your social media channels, save it to your mobile device to use as a wallpaper, etc . . . 

Doodle | Magic Joy . . . a fun, free, and easy to use Android doodling app  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

I have to say that my 9 year old son does not usually enjoy drawing, but he very much enjoys this app.  It's a wonderful creative outlet for those who do not have a natural knack for drawing.  I can feel how proud my children are when they show me their finished works of art, which pleases me very much.

Doodle | Magic Joy . . . a fun, free, and easy to use Android doodling app  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Have you discovered any amazing free apps recently?  Share them with us in a comment here!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

3G2S posts may contain commission-yielding affiliate links.

How to Make an Easy Black Crow's Nest Centerpiece for Halloween

Easy Black Crow's Nest Halloween Candy Bowl Centerpiece  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires
Thank you to Oriental Trading Company for providing some of the supplies used to create our Halloween centerpiece.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Halloween is such a fun time of year to decorate.  I always try to find a good balance between cute and spooky.  My favorite part of Halloween is handing out candy to all the trick-or-treaters, so I would feel terrible if I ruined even one child's Halloween because something at my house was too scary.

This year, I saw some black feathered crows in Oriental Trading Company's Halloween Headquarters.  I showed them to my children, who thought they were pretty cool looking, so I felt inspired to come up with some easy crow-themed Halloween ideas.

How to Make a Crow's Nest Candy Bowl Centerpiece . . . 

SUPPLIES NEEDED:
1 clear round 5qt serving bowl
1 clear round 2qt serving bowl
1 pair decorative feathered crows
1 bag decorative fall leaves
1 bag black metallic shred (can also use matte)
2 or 3 small pumpkins (real or artificial)
1 bag bulk candy
Supplies for Making an Easy Black Crow's Nest Halloween Candy Bowl Centerpiece  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 1.  Separate your artificial leaves into two piles, one pile for crinkled leaves and another pile for flat.  Take the crinkled leaves and make a large bed of foliage at the center of the table.  Then scatter the flat leaves on and around the pile of crinkled leaves.
TIP 1:  Using flat leaves in the areas around the leaf pile will make it easier for you to place other decor items or serving bowls and platters on the table.
Add a touch of fall to your decor with fabric leaves  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 2.  Place the larger of the two clear round serving bowls in the center of the leaf pile.
How to Make a Fun Halloween Candy Bowl Centerpiece  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 3.  Place the black shred (black Easter grass) inside the large bowl.  Pull the shred apart until it is loosely intertwined and covers the bottom and sides of the bowl all the way to the brim.  Then nestle the smaller clear round serving bowl inside the bowl of black shred.
TIP #2: Although you want to have the shred to show above the rims of the bowls, you can pull out any long strands hanging down over the edges to neaten your nest a bit.
How to Make an Easy Halloween Candy Bowl Centerpiece  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 4.  Add the decorative black feathered crows to your centerpiece.  The pair of crows from Oriental Trading Company have wires at the bottom of their feet so I could bend the wires around the edge of a bowl or a pumpkin stem to help position the crows where I wanted them.
Black Crow Halloween Decorating Ideas  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Step 5.  Fill your crow's nest with the candy of your choice.  One bag of bulk candy should be enough to fill this candy bowl to the top.
TIP 3:  Want to use your crow's nest candy bowl for handing out candy? If you have a place to set your bowl down on your porch, then the crow's nest can be used as-is.  If you need to hold the candy bowl or carry it to and from the door, then simply remove the crow.
Step 6.  Add a few small pumpkins to complete your Halloween display.
Black Crow-Themed Halloween Decorating Ideas  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

More Black Crow-Themed Halloween Ideas . . .

I also found this cool Eyeball Feather Wreath at Oriental Trading Company.  This wireless wreath was perfect for our door and will surely delight trick-or-treaters.  It runs on 3 AA batteries (not included) and has an on/off switch on the back.  You could also place the smaller of the two crows in the center of the wreath.

I also thought it would be super-fun to have a crow on your forearm when you greet trick-or-treaters on Halloween night.  To do this, simply take a glove or gauntlet with buckles or fasteners on it and wrap the wires on the crow's feet around the buckles.  We used an Anakin Skywalker costume glove and it worked out perfectly.
Fun with Black Crow-Themed Halloween Ideas  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

How will you be decorating for Halloween this year?  Share your ideas with us in a comment here.

Remember to Pin these Crow-Themed Halloween Ideas for later!  Also, be sure to check out our Zombie Head Eyeball Centerpiece from last year . . . 
How to make a spooky Eyeballs & Zombie Head Halloween Centerpiece  |  3 Garnets & 2 Sapphires

Visit Oriental Trading Company for more fun Halloween ideas and supplies to inspire you!  Just having a quick look around always sparks new ideas for me.