Thursday, December 20, 2012

Our Elf on the Shelf - {Real Ideas}

Our Elf on the Shelf came to us 3 years ago.  The kids affectionately and creatively named him Elfie.  He came long before the cute skirts hit the shelves to create a female version, long before the movie and long before the website, "Elf on the Shelf" gone bad.

Elfie's arrival was pretty exciting.  The kids would wake up eagerly each morning to find his whereabouts.  His first two years of visiting us were pretty mundane.  Elfie would find inconspicuous spots to hide in the house to watch Grace and Ethan during the day and fly off to Santa at night.  No antics, no hoopla, just hiding.

Then this year, Elfie returned - with an attitude and spunk.  It seems Elfie was just satisfied hiding around the house.  Elfie comes to visit on St. Nicholas night (December 5th.)  For you non-Catholics out there, here is some background on the celebration of St. Nicholas.

Here are some snapshots of Elfie's antics.  With only a few nights left with us, we are looking forward to what Elfie will surprise us with next :)

Elfie's arrival - roasting marshmallows and a note from Santa.

Fishing for some good kids.

Learning the fine art of toilet papering trees.

All tied up by the Army Men
Taking Rudolph for a little ride.
Just hanging around.
Zip lining across the dining room.

Doing a little reading of Jingle Bells.

Getting an "elficure."

Praying with the Holy Family for the lives lost in Newtown Connecticut.

Protecting and Serving.

Getting a good night's rest.

Pumping some iron.

All set for the Midwest Blizzard - snow spoon in hand and snowman built!

Elfie sure has a great personality.  We will miss him when he flies home with Santa in a few days.  Enjoy these last few days prepping for the holidays.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gingerbread Party Sweets

I'm back sharing some of the sweets from out Gingerbread Party with you.  These treats are not just for Gingerbread parties but would make great sweat treats for any holiday party.  And to make it even "sweeter," they are really simple to make! 
First, here are some pictures of the sweets display - no sweets table.  I just used my ladder shelf I have in my dining room.


Up first, these adorable Santa Hat chocolate cake bites.

These were so simple to make!  I simply made mini chocolate cake cupcakes and topped them with cream cheese frosting.  I then added a strawberry to the top of the frosting and piped on a little cream cheese frosting for the top of the hat.  They were little bites of heaven!

When time and budgets are tight, I am a huge fan of store bought treats!  These Santa face treats were store bought pre-packaged brownie treats.  I am mourning the loss of Hostess, but there are still several alternatives out there.  I simply unwrapped these faces and stuck them on a stick.  Easy peasy!

And finally, a little more intricate, my hot chocolate cupcakes.  Here was my inspiration from Hoosier Homemade.  See her site for the amazing recipe :)  I made mine using Betty Crocker Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Mix.

Pinned Image

Here was my interpretation:

 I made all these treats the night before the party and they kept amazingly well.  However, candy canes do not do well in the refrigerator.  I'd wait to add those to the end.

By the way - did you notice all my white Christmas village houses?  I purchased the houses from the Dollar Store and spray painted them white and then added a little spray glitter.  It took SEVERAL coats of white paint - I didn't think they'd ever cover.  But in the end, they turned out pretty cute.  I'm going to use them in my Christmas decorating :)

Thanks for taking a look at our sweets.  I'll be back to share some more DIY tips from our Gingerbread party!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Gingerbread party with a Hot Chocolate Bar

Hello!  It's been quite a while.  Lots going on here at Buckets of Grace.  Holidays + New Job the First of the Year + Busy Kids + Crazy Busy Current Job = No Blogging.  But alas, I'm back to share a sneak peak of our Gingerbread Party.  This year, we had a Hot Chocolate Bar to add fun to the festivities.  Let's just say the kiddos left full of sugar.

I'm going to be at Maddycakes Muse sharing our party.  But here is a sneak peak :)  No professional photographs. Fair warning - the lighting was really bad in our house as it was very dark outside.
I tried to tie in a "Santa Hat" theme to the party. Most of the decorations I reused from our party last year. You can see that here. I added some Santa hats to our decor from last year to tie the gingerbread and Santa hat theme together. The new decorations I found at Target last year the day after Christmas on clearance. The printables are from Anders Ruff.


I made the Santa hat topiaries using the honeycomb Santa hats from Target. I put a dowel in the middle of the hat that I had wrapped with ribbon. I put a small hole in the top of the gift box to put the dowel through. To secure the dowel in the box, I hot glued a piece of foam to the top of the cover of the box. So simple to make and they turned out really cute!

I attempted to make my own hot chocolate on a stick. Unfortunately, mine did not turn out as cute as the others I was inspired by. Fortunately, it tasted great! I would highly recommend making hot chocolate this way. All you need is warm milk and pop the hot chocolate on a stick in the mug and it melts to hot chocolate goodness!

I made these chocolate spoons by dipping wooden spoons in melted white chocolate chips and then sprinkled crushed peppermint on them. I used Washi Tape to decorate the spoon handles.


I made these favors using containers from the Target dollar aisle. In total, the cost about $2.75 to put together. You can find these pre-assembled at many stores for triple the price. They were so easy to do and made a great favor!

(Yes, it was a Packer game today - Sorry Bear fans :)

Come visit me at Maddycakes Muse for more pics of our party and lots of fun tips!

Monday, October 15, 2012

{Giveaway} Belly Feather's Eerie & Cheery Halloween Printables

I love, love, love Halloween!  And I love, love, love me a great Halloween party for the kids.  We hosted a party a few year's back for our friends and family that was too much fun!  Too bad I did not have these great printables from Belly Feather's to use for our sweet party!

Halloween Printable Party Collection - Eerie & Cheery
Halloween Printable Party Collection - Eerie & Cheery Halloween Printable Party Collection - Eerie & Cheery
Betsy from Belly Feathers is one of my nearest and dearest party gals.  She befriended me when I was just starting out this blog.  Her party goods are phenomenal!  This collection is no different.  Not only do I LOVE the black and grey houndstooth print, but they are editable!  That means even novices like me can edit the printables to customize for your needs.  Here is how I used mine so far for the kids' Halloween class treats:
Grace's Bucket of "Boos"

Ethan's "candy corn"

Candy (Pop)corn for the Teachers

Wouldn't you love these printables to use for your treats and fun Halloween activities?  You are in luck!  Betsy has graciously agreed to give away one set of her printables to a lucky Buckets of Grace follower.  All you need to do is follow my blog and leave me a comment below and I will randomly select a winner on Friday, October 19, 2012.  The giveaway closes at 5:00 central time.  I'd love to hear how you'd use these printables.  For those of you who aren't selected, the printables can be purchased here for a steal of a deal, $10!  Good luck!