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If there’s anything I’ve learned in parenthood, it’s that some days and seasons you have it together and some you don’t! I too have been there where even the simplest of to-do’s is overwhelming and the thought of doing all the “extra” stuff around the holidays feels defeating. SO, with that, for those of you finding yourself in that season…I see YOU! And it’s ok. The good news, as my kids have gotten older, A) holiday decor and games are easier to execute and B) they’re so rewarding and joyful to do for and with your kids. Point is : this parenting gig does get easier (and for me, lots more fun) in some ways as your kids get older! And I too have learned what works for us and what doesn’t during certain points, so for now, the holidays in our home are all about creating that childhood joy and wonder, easy to execute and simple to store (again we’re living small). That’s why this season I love these little wooden Halloween Figurine Sets. The kids have had a blast creating mini haunted house vignettes around our house. We used the dollar spot houses so many of you also own (and in case you’re looking for more white ceramic ones, I just eyed these new ones for the holidays! ~ LOVE them!) Paired with a spooky tree or two, covered in spider webs, this has been just the right amount of “decorations” for us inside this season. And for those flying ghosts….paper plates taped to the wall! It’s my simplest, most affordable holiday hack. Let’s call it “Tape a Plate”. hahahahaha. No seriously, it really is a very simple thing that the kids always get a kick out of! Use masking tape to ensure no damage to your walls, put up in groupings for big impact with little effort!
(Insider Tip: I also do this at Christmas and adore any and all of these designs! Sometimes I can even score them at TJMaxx & HomeGoods for a steal).
Another thing I totally allow my kids to indulge in during the Holidays is the candy and treats (yes, with moderation and yes I let them help themselves…trying to instill healthy consumption…also, they eat all their veggies, which I will not take credit for…not sure how, but they’re super healthy eaters normally). Sooooooo, I say let them live a little in childhood. Not gonna lie, once a week they talk me into a treat or two during breakfast, insert shrug emoji here. In parenthood, I say break the rules from time to time, it shows your kids you still know how to have fun (plus this “breaking” of the rules somehow has them eat all their egg and spinach during the morning, so I’d say it all balances out). At Christmas we have a make your own hot chocolate station with all the fixings…marshmallows, sprinkles in lots of colors. The kids always love it, so this year I extended the indulgence early and bought these candy dispensers size Large, from Container Store and this round container in small (which by the way these round ones are the boss at keeping food fresh! The boss I tell you! I have them in the pantry and I LOVE them!). Back to the candy station, the kids LOVE it…and 30 days in and they still haven’t consumed the whole lot (bit surprised by that one, but hey, I guess allowing them to make some choices is working).
Now on to the fun. I’ve learned that my kids LOVE a surprise! And having some simple, holiday themed activity set up that they’re “surprised” to come home to, not only MAKES THEIR DAY, it also gives me time to get dinner prepared or any of the other one million things us parents need to juggle. So, below are some easy, toddler / preschool friendly carnival / fall games that are always a hit here, either just for my kids, or with a group of friends on the weekend.
Always a fall hit with my kids…Gourd Bowling! Use painters tape and spray paint to decorate each gourd (or skip the paint for simplicity). To create the lane, we used a piece of plywood with leftover wood attached to make the bumpers (not necessary, grass will work). A round pumpkin acts as a bowling ball.
Tic Tac Toe
Grab the pumpkins, make a grid, and show your kids what a real tic tac toe champion looks like :)
A classic carnival game. To make use recycled tin cans, I took the liberty to sand down any sharp edges, then paint or cover with paper. Provide a ball and let the kiddos knock 'em down!
Decorate a Pumpkin
What kid doesn’t LOVE stickers? Perfect for the toddler age, a stack of stickers and small pumpkins is the perfect craft for the holiday.
This is a favorite with the 3/4 year old crowd. So simple to make, I hot glued paper cups from Target's $1 section to a leftover piece of plywood. Filled half the cups with these animal bath toys and left the other half empty. You cover each with tissue paper, attaching with a rubberband. Then your party goers 'punch', we asked our young crowd to 'poke', a cup until they found a prize! Or place Halloween candy inside for the perfect fall party game!