We have a had a great homeschool year. My kindergartener is reading very well and he is obsessed with spelling at the moment. I’m so glad that we have managed to keep their interest in school even though we aren’t getting out much. I am so grateful that we had a wonderful and productive Fall. That said, I am so glad that we are taking some time off in December. We will be taking a whole two weeks off and just focusing on fun activities and play, so I’ll be sharing some of our fun activities here on the blog.
Printable Christmas I Spy
To Christmas off, I’m sharing a printable Christmas I Spy that I’ve made for my kindergartener. I think that children under five might struggle with it. I purposely made it a little challenging by using similar objects. Therefore, it is better suited for ages five and up. You can download it here and print it out at home. Feel free to share this post with others.
You can download some of my other FREE games and activities for other holidays
And coming soon this month, I’ll be doing a printable Christmas Memory Game! Stay tuned or subscribe to the blog to be notified.
As with all my printables on the blog, you can print them without an email sign up, although I”d love it if you subscribed.
You can use the following for your I spy game:
There is an answer key at the bottom of the page that states the objects to find as well as how many of the items there are in the maze. I suggest having your child count and color them as they find them. I’ve included lots of objects that are similar and objects that are not in the key to make it more challenging.
Snowy Village Christmas Game Bundle
Whether you are taking your Christmas Party to the next level or just want some fun holiday-themed activities with your family, this bundle of ten printable Christmas games are sure to delight everyone!
It is sweater weather! Today on My Beautiful Mess, I’m sharing a family favorite. Authentic Mexican Champurrado is a thick, earthy, Mexican hot chocolate, perfect for those crisp, Autumn nights.
Fall is my favorite season. I love all things Fall. The bonfires and chilly nights, pumpkins and falling leaves. It’s heaven. I am definitely a pumpkin spice girl and if you haven’t checked out my Pumpkin latte recipe, you don’t know what you are missing! It’s the best ever and uses fresh pumpkin instead of artificial flavors. But I don’t just enjoy pumpkin lattes in the fall. I also love hot apple cider and hot chocolate. Since I’m Latina, I also love Mexican versions of this chocolatey drink.
Mexican hot chocolates have a unique flavor to them. Instead of strait chocolate, sugar and milk, they are made with aromatic spices. Like many Mexican desserts, they are also less sweet than American varieties. Traditional Mexican hot chocolate has bittersweet chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, cayenne pepper and/or chili powder. The pepper and chili powder added is only a small amount. In fact, you’d probably never know those spices are in there. Today, I’m sharing another special hot chocolate variety. Authentic Mexican Champurrado.
A Quick History Trip
Hot chocolate actually originated in Mexico, and Central and South America. Cocoa beans are indigenous to this area. The Aztecs and Mayans made hot chocolate before the European old world. The Spanish explorers would eventually bring it back to Europe. Because sugarcane was native to Asia, the original versions of this drink were very bitter and an acquired taste as the chocolate was drunk in its pure form.
When Spanish colonists began drinking it they added sugar, sweetening it to the yummy drink we know today. But back then in the sixteenth century, cocoa beans were such a commodity that only the rich and aristocrats could afford it. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine a life without chocolate!
Making Authentic Mexican Champurrado
Mexican Champurrado is a warm hot chocolate drink, but it has a slightly different spice palette than traditional Mexican hot chocolate. Instead of chili powders, the drink is made with vanilla, star anise, cinnamon, and piloncillo (Mexican brown sugar). But the biggest difference is that corn masa is added to thicken the drink. This changes the texture quite a bit from traditional hot chocolate drinks. First, it is fairly thick and the texture will be different because of the grain that is in it. When I was a child it reminded me of a chocolate cream of wheat. If it is too thick, you can add some more milk to thin the consistency. As you bring it to a boil, the starches in the masa will break down and act as a thickener. You will need to stir and whisk constantly with a molinillo to avoid any lumps. It should not be grainy or gritty. If it is, you haven’t boiled it long enough.
For the chocolate, you can use Abuelita Mexican Hot Chocolate tablets. Incidentally, if you want to make traditional Mexican hot chocolate, just use these tablets with milk as I find they are the perfect blend of cocoa, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon which gives it that authentic flavor.
Also, you will see that the recipe calls for simmering whole spices in water and then using that fragrant water to add to your chocolate mixture. I highly recommend using this method over ground spices. You will know your water is reading when the water is brown and fragrant. Strain the cinnamon, cloves and star anise out and add the spiced water to your Champurrado mix.
If you plan on making this often, I recommend buying a molinillo. A molinillo is a wooden Mexican whisk. It helps to froth the milk manually and breakdown the chocolate while blending the spices. The one in my kitchen is well-loved as it has been passed down to me. To use the molinillo, place the whisk head in the hot chocolate pan and roll the handle in the palms of your hands. Other than that all you really need is a large saucepan and of course your favorite mugs for serving. If you don’t have a molinillo you can use a regular whisk, it just won’t froth the milk as well as the molinillo. I find using a whisk doesn’t really alter the taste in any noticeable way.
Hot Chocolate Bar Printable – Red Buffalo Plaid
Every year I set up a hot chocolate bar for the Holidays. Its a great way to get your guests to serve themselves and be happy about it! A hot chocolate bar is fun for kids and adults alike. It’s a great addition to playdates, parties and get togethers. This is a hit at all my parties! I put the toppings in mason jars for easy storage when not in use. Here is a hot chocolate bar printable you ca…
Champuraddo is very popular on Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) which is the same week as our American Halloween and during Las Posadas during December. We often enjoy it fireside. I love serving authentic Mexican Champurrado with some Mexican desserts like homemade churros or conchas (pan dulce).
Just like American hot chocolate, you can serve it with whipped cream or marshmallows and a cinnamon stick, but it isn’t necessary. I personally think everything is better with whipped cream. If you want, you can also add alcohol or liqueur to it and turn it into an adult hot chocolate. Champurrado does not store well, so drink it up while it is fresh and piping hot.
Authentic Mexican Champurrado
This Mexican style hot chocolate is thick and earthy with aromatic spices like cinnamon, vanilla, star anise, cloves, and piloncillo
In a small saucepan, add water and cinnamon stick, clove, and star anise. If you are using a vanilla pod instead of vanilla extract, add it to the water with the other spices. Boil the water and spices until the water is fragrant (about 10 mins). Then allow it to steep for an additional 2-3 minutes. Strain and reserve spiced water.
In another saucepan over medium heat add milk. Add the Mexican chocolate drink tablets and the pinole. Using a molinillo, roll the handle in the palms of your hand to froth the milk and dissolve the pinole and chocolate tablets. If you don't have a molinillo, you can use a whisk. Continue until fully dissolved and chocolate mixture is thickened (about 10 minutes).
Remove from heat. Add piloncillo. Let rest until sugar is dissolved (about 5 minutes)
Add the fragrant water. Stir well and serve.
Keyword atole, champurrado, chocolate, hot chocolate, mexican hot chocolate, milk
Thanks for reading, Before you go, don’t forget to subscribe to the blog for future posts and free goodies. Happy November!
I’ve got a Christmas gift for you. Download your FREE printable Christmas Movie Quote Gift Tags
One of my most favorite things to do during the holidays to curl up by the fire or in our media room with some steaming hot cocoa (I make an amazing one, get the recipe here) and a favorite holiday flick. This year, my kids are totally mesmerized by the Polar Express. Of course, I grew up in the Home Alone era, so that one will always be close to my heart as is the tear-jerking It’s A Wonderful Life.
Today, I’m sharing a FREE printable! Yay! I love wrapping gifts at Christmas. I know, I’m totally a weirdo. Don’t care. While many people dread gift wrapping as a chore, I love it! I throw some fun holiday tunes, bring out my huge collection of gift wrap and revel in making pretty packages with big, beautiful bows!
So this year, I created a cute printable with my two favorite holiday things to help you through the holiday season. I’ve made some Christmas movie quote gift tags. Just print them out and put on your Christmas packages. No need to run to the store and buy gift tags. Or you can save them for if you run out and need some in a pinch. No problem. Print, cut, hole punch and attach with your favorite string or ribbon.
Christmas evokes a a wealth of emotions. Today, I’m sharing 25 Christmas Journal Prompts to discover how you feel about the holiday season
Christmas is a special time of year. But for many people, it brings a myriad of emotions – some happy and some not so happy. The holiday blues is a real thing and they can leave us pining for those we’ve lost in death. We may mourn old traditions that are no longer continued. Or we may have a renewed love for the season as we watch Christmas magic overtake our children’s hearts. Sometimes you may feel all the above. Today, I encourage you to go through the list of 25 Christmas journal prompts and discover how you feel about the holiday season.
25 Christmas Journal Prompts
What is your favorite childhood memory about Christmas?
Did you believe in Santa? Was that a good or bad experience?
What does Christmas mean to you?
What does your ideal/perfect Christmas look like?
If money were no object, what would you want for Christmas?
What is the most special Christmas gift someone has given you?
Create a special family tradition when you learn how to make a Christmas Eve box to usher in the Christmas spirit for your child.
Christmas is such a magical time for both children and parents. As parents we get to experience the magic and wonder of Christmas through the eyes of our innocent babes. This year, we are starting a new tradition, we’re making Christmas Eve boxes for our little ones. This tradition stems from a German tradition of opening presents on Christmas Eve.
I’ve heard a few families say they do this instead of hanging and filling stockings, but it’s up to you. Personally, I decided to do it because I was already going to buy and do these things for Christmas anyway. Putting it together like a gift, just makes it more special. The idea is that you create a box filled with Christmas goodies. Traditionally, you would give your child this box on Christmas Eve, but I know some families instead give this box the day after Thanksgiving to enjoy the holiday season. There are no rules. I, however, am giving this to my little guys on Christmas Eve. It will have their pajamas, a movie we’ll watch, a Christmas bedtime story and snacks. I’m hoping it gets them excited about going to bed early on Christmas Eve!
How to Make a Christmas Eve Box
Get Your Box
You can use any box you wish. Some families simply use a large gift box. Others use a wooden crate, available for purchase at any craft store. Etsy has some amazing sellers who make personalized boxes to be used year after year. Really you can use any container, so long that it’s big enough. The buffalo plaid one I’m using in my picture was purchased at Hobby Lobby. It comes with a lid. If you are doing it on a budget, you can cover a shoe box with festive wrapping paper.
Ideas for Your Christmas Eve Box
Obviously you can put anything you want in the boxes. In fact, I encourage you to make it your own. However, if you are looking for some suggestions here are a few.
Snacks (Candy, Popcorn, Cookies, etc)
A Christmas movie
Christmas socks / slippers
Reindeer Food (see “recipe” below)
Snowman Soup (see recipe below)
Christmas coloring book
A small toy
Christmas mug (for snowman soup)
You can add any combination of items to your box. This year, I’m adding Christmas themed pajamas, a story book, a Christmas movie and some homemade bunuelos, some reindeer food and snowman soup.
Snowman soup is just hot chocolate mix presented in a cute way. Reindeer food is a cute idea. It’s just oats and glitter. Have your little ones sprinkle the mixture on your lawn to feed Santa’s reindeers when they land. Cookies for Santa; Reindeer food for the Reindeers. It’s just another way to make it more magical for the kids. See below for exact instructions. However, you can also use bird seed instead of oats. I’ve made some cute printable bag toppers. I recommend printing them out on white card stock. You can download them below.
Also, while we’re at it, there is no reason why this has to be only for children. You can tailor it for adults. You can even add some grown up additions like mini liquor bottles and liqueur flavored chocolates.
How to Make Snowman Soup
Time needed: 10 minutes.
How to Make Snowman Soup
Gather the following ingredients
Packet of instant hot chocolate, mini marshmallows, candy cane, and a zip lock bag (sandwich size)
Pour ingredients into bag
Open the packet of instant hot chocolate. Add marshmallows and candy cane. Seal bag.
Print printable bag topper
Print the bag topper or make your own and staple to the top of the zip lock bag.
With all the online shopping mail carriers are busier than ever. Today, I’ll show you how to put together a Thank a mail carrier basket full of snacks, water and goodies to let them know you appreciate them and their hard work.
A Thankless Job
Being a mail carrier is quite a thankless job. Especially around the holidays. I knew the same mail carrier Cliff who worked for UPS and was on my dad’s business route for many years. The holidays were always busy. He worked such long hours, often skipped lunch, and was always dealing with problems of missing and damaged packages. During the holidays it was stressful.
These days, so much of our Christmas shopping is done online and families are sending care packages and gifts across the country more than ever. Many employees from carrier companies and the postal service, work demanding schedules around the holidays to make sure our needs are met.
So my family decided to make them feel noticed and appreciated while they are busy on their route by offering them some snacks and drinks. It’s a small act of kindness, that hopefully brightens their day. We love doing acts of kindness around the holidays. We actually add it to our advent calendar (Christmas Bucket List) every year! If you are looking for more ideas, be sure to read my post, 50 Acts of Kindness for the Holidays.
How to Make Your “Thank A Mail Carrier” Basket
First, it doesn’t have to be a basket. You can use any container to pack with a few goodies. I use a wire basket with a Christmas bow. Next you’ll need a sign. You can make your own sign with a message. However, I’ve taken some of the work out for you by making a printable one. You can download it below. I recommend printing it on white cardstock.
Next, fill your container with whatever goodies you like. Here are a list of some of the things we put in ours.
Stumped on what to put in your child’s stocking? I’ve got a great list of stocking stuffers for babies & toddlers to take some of the guess work out of Christmas shopping!
Hey there, friend. Christmas time is here and you may be struggling on what to put in your child’s stocking. So I’ve put together a quick guide of stocking stuffers for babies & toddlers. In full disclosure, some of these may not fit in the actual stocking. These small, inexpensive gifts are some of my families favorites! We personally love all these items, which is why I am suggesting them.
As always, use your best judgement when it comes to age appropriateness. Just because something is marked for a certain age, doesn’t always mean it’s right for your little one. Mamas know best!
Under 6 Months
As a mom I know I always appreciated clothes as gifts because they go through them so quickly and clothes are surprisingly expensive. But I absolutely loved some of the items I’m sharing today.
It seems like when your child starts drooling and teething it seems like it happens before are fully able to grasp items well. That’s where some of these things really come in handy. Some of our favorites were drooling bandana bibs. They have an attached teether on them. This keeps it fairly clean since it isn’t falling on the floor all the time and it’s always handy. Same goes for the munch mitt. This was a favorite by both my boys. Its a mitten that is secured to their hand. They can munch away on it without it dropping to the floor all the time! If you haven’t tried Baltic Amber for teething, I highly recommend it. Amber (genuine) has natural healing properties and it is a great soother for sore gums.
Feeding spoons always come in handy and my boys loved wrist and foot rattles. This made floor play super fun and it was handy even when they were in the stroller. Both my boys were disenchanted with tummy time. I received the water pad / mat as a gift and it turned tummy time around for us. It is a non-messy sensory experience and the water is very soothing to babes.
When your baby is first born their retina isn’t fully developed and therefore their vision is also undeveloped. They see high contrast images better. Thats why high contrast books, like this one are a great choice for newborns and young babies.
6 to 12 Months
With a little one, I always felt like I never had enough bibs and socks. Socks always seem to disappear in the wash and between starting solids and the constant dribble of teething, I felt used bibs like they were going out of fashion!
Six to twelve months is a great time to start introducing spatial reasoning. This is an early math skill. Believe it or not, at six months, children begin to be curious about the relationship of objects’ size, distance, direction, and space. You’ll notice your little will try to stack objects which makes stacking rings, bowls, and cups an awesome toy. They’ll also start trying to fit objects inside another which is a great time to start introducing shape sorters. They’ll need your help with it for a while, but it’s a great time to introduce it. Additionally, babies enjoy feeling things with different textures, which is why sensory balls and toys make a great addition to your play area.
Ages 1 to 2 (12 to 24 months)
At about a year old, your child’s world becomes colorful! You’ll find they are now interested in objects that are bright in color. Brown Bear, Brown Bear is a great book for learning animals, colors, and the noises they make all in one easy board book. My boys learned all their animal sounds with this book by 18 months.
You’ll also notice your little one loves bath time and this is actually another play time for her. This is where bath toys like squirters and stick-on-the wall pipes become super fun. I also used bath time as an opportunity to teach colors. I used color drops (below) and I would put toys that coordinated with that color (e.g. green water, green toys). Finger paints are great for both a sensory experience and learning colors. If you are worried about a mess, take it outside or you can do what I did – we did it in the bathtub! It’s easy to hose them down afterwards and the mess is contained. Palm crayons are awesome for kids of this age that might get frustrated with traditional crayons.
Also, your little one will be very interested in things that make noise like play phones and musical instruments. This is also a great time to read as your babies language is starting to develop at rapid speed. Board books are great at this age because they can’t destroy them.
Ages 2 to 3 (24-36 months)
Congratulations, you have a busy bee who wants to copy everything you do! This is a great age to start introducing play kitchens, household sets, play food, and other pretend toys are always loved items.
Kids love to play outside in the dirt. My son loved having his own little garden tool set where he could play in our garden bed. Kids of this age also are interested in fine motor activities which is an early writing skill. Fishing toys, lacing toys, dot markers, even wooden puzzles are great for this.
This is also a great time to work on the alphabet and counting. All kids are different, but my oldest was able to count to ten and knew his alphabet by 36 months.
Around this time, I started to introduce a rimmed sippy cup to my toddler to help transition him to a normal cup. Also the Munchkin snack catcher is one of favorites! It’s great for holding puffs, goldfish and other toddler snacks without crazy spills. Stuff can still fall out, but it certainly mitigates messes.
Ages 3 to 4
As you start approaching preschool age, fine motor activities will be a forerunner to writing. We loved using fine motor tools in our sensory bins.
Pattern blocks and counters are great teaching tools and it feels like play time to them. These are great for developing early math skills with patterns, shape, and color recognition. This is also a great time for them to start learning their name and a name puzzle is a great fun way to do that before learning to write it. Magnetic writing boards and mess free painting like Water Wow are fun pre-writing activities.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of stocking stuffers for babies & toddlers. Hopefully, it will take some of the headache out of Christmas shopping. Don’t forget to PIN this post for later. Also, be sure to take a look at how to make Christmas special with a Hot Chocolate Bar.
This post, Magic Painting Christmas Cards, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this post, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.
If you’re looking for a fun, relatively mess free craft to do with your child, I highly recommend this Magic Painting Christmas activity from Usborne Books.
This year, we were looking for a quick and easy Christmas themed activity to do with my three year old. It’s really hard to do crafts the way we used to with my infant son. Mommy suddenly doesn’t have enough hands! I also have a need to contain as much mess as possible.
A good friend of mine sells for Usborne books and I so excited to see Magic Painting Christmas Cards as new item and boy was it a great time killer for my little one. We painted all ten designs and then we picked the family members we would send them to. I had my son put on the postage stamps and I addressed the envelopes. Then all three of us walked them to the mailbox (ours is at the entrance of our neighborhood). My son felt so proud mailing his little cards and he loved getting calls later from the people who received them!
About the Magic Painting Christmas Card Set
The pack comes with 10 cards in two designs and includes envelopes. It also includes a paint brush. The only thing you’ll need for this activity is a cup or bowl with water.
My son is 3 years old and he had a great time painting. I love these Magic painting books and activities from Usborne. They aren’t nearly as messy as traditional watercolors and we can take them anywhere. The paper appears white. However, there is hidden water color paint in it that is activated by water.
Recently, we went to Houston because my husband had a business trip and we did a magic painting activity on a table in our hotel suite! That’s how awesomely mess free they are. If anything spills, it’s just water!
Our Story with Usborne
Usborne is a children’s book company that is sold through distributors. I actually have four mom friends who sell them! So I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding them. I have to tell you though, I’m glad I found them. If you don’t know anyone who sells them, I’ve provided a link below where you can purchase it through Amazon (see my affiliate disclosure at the top of the page).
They have such a cute line of chilren’s books. My son, much my chigrin, was suddenly disinterested in books when he turned two. Honestly, it upset my husband and I who are both avid readers. My high-energy son just couldn’t stand sitting still to read. But Usborne has lot of options for children who need something to do while reading. They have Lift-the-flap books and my son’s favorite Shine-a-light books. These are books where you shine a light through the page and hidden images appear. If you have a child who is disinterested in reading, I suggest trying these kids of books. My son now enjoys reading and finds books fun! I’d love to hear what fun winter activities you are doing with your children!
Christmas decorations can be so expensive! Make your own with this quick 30 minute DIY Christmas Swag craft.
This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from this page, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.
I have a love-hate relationship with decorating. It’s true. I fret so much about what to put on my walls, that sometimes they end up blank. This year, I decided to do a little something different than my boring old Christmas wreaths on my french doors. So I decided to put up swags. I found some in a store, but they were $30 each! Instead, decided to make them myself. I made these DIY Christmas swags for $14.97 including the suction cup hanger!
The longest part of this DIY Christmas Swag was making the bow. I finished both swags within 30 minutes. If you are using a preformed bow, it will probably take you about 5 mins each!
Wreath hanger (suction cup hanger if hanging on mirror or glass)
2.5″ Wired Ribbon or Pre-made bow
Large floral spray (approx 10-12″)
Floral wire or twisty tie
Gather supplies. Using strong pliers, slowly bend the end of the floral spray to make a circle. This will allow you to hook it to a holder. Make sure it slips onto your holder and adjust as necessary.
2. Make a floral bow with 2.5″ wide wired ribbon. Wired ribbon holds the shape. I used buffalo plaid, but you can use any ribbon you’d like. If you aren’t comfortable making bows, you can simply purchase one at a local hobby or craft store.
3. Once you’ve made your bow (or even if you have purchased one). Make certain that you go through and puff out all your loops in order to make a full looking bow.
4. Attach floral wire or a twisty tie to the back of the bow. You’ll then attach it to the floral stem. Wrap it tightly and securely.
5. Once completed, attach your finished swag to your wreath hanger.
Learn how to make beautiful retro sequin ball ornaments in this DIY tutorial
Every year, our family makes ornaments as part of our Advent calendar. Our Advent calendar is filled with holiday centered activities that we do as a family. It’s a fun way to take time out of the busy holiday season and actually celebrate and experience Christmas. My family has grown to love it and each year we each choose our own ornament we’d like to make. This year, I choose retro sequin ball ornaments.
Making this ornament is fairly easy, just time-consuming. Surprisingly, I found it to be a relaxing exercise! I hadn’t made one of these in years, so I was a little rusty. So I’ll share how I made these and what I learned from the mistakes I made!
Wire, approx 3-4″
Styrofoam ball 2.8″
Ribbon / String / or Ornament Hook
Before you begin, take a wire (in a pinch you can use a large paper clip). Insert the wire in the top of the ball ornament. Push straight through the center. You can do this at any point. However, I’d recommend doing it before you put sequins on. If for some reason you don’t go strait on your first attempt, you may destroy the hard work you’ve done. Therefore, I recommend doing it before you begin decorating. This will create a way to attach an ornament hook or string for hanging.
2. Once through, trim wire on the top and bottom to about a centimeter.
3. Using pliers, curl each wire end into a loop. This stops the wire from sliding on either end and will allow you to hang it.
4. When it comes to sequins, you can choose any that you like. I choose silver and gold since one of my trees is themed that color. You can choose different size sequins as well. I recommend putting them in ziplock bags or containers to control the mess or if you may need to clean off you workspace before you’re finished.
5. You’ll need craft pins. Some come with a decorative head and others have a flat head. I used short pins, but I recommend using larger ones. I found that using short pins are easily pulled out. The longer the pin, the more reinforced it is.
6. You decide on the design and how many colors you use. I did opposing triangle shapes surrounded by gold. If you need to, you can draw an outline on the styrofoam it will eventually be obscured by the sequins.
7. If you’ve never used sequins before, you want the sequins to be placed with the facets facing upwards. This allows for maximum shine. You can choose to layer the sequins as I did. I put the smaller ones on top of the big ones for added interest and texture.
8. Next, add your sequins, making your way around the ball trying to close any gaps you see, to the best of your ability.
9. Once done, add your ribbon or ornament hook. It’s now ready for hanging!