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Do-It-Yourself Leaf Crafts

Arts and crafts projects are great activities for parents to do with children. It’s a great way for parents to spend quality time with kids while teaching them developmental skills like concentration and much more. With Thanksgiving right around the corner, why not create craft projects that can double as decorations? Here are some easy and creative ideas for making art pieces with fall leaves!

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Credit: DIY & Crafts

–       Mason Jar Lantern: Create a table lantern with some mason jars, mod podge and fall leaves. You can either choose from leaves in your yard or purchase some from the local craft store. It’s as easy as simply painting the leaves onto the jar with mod podge and leaving it to dry. Then, place a small candle inside and light it for a beautiful glowing lantern. This would add a nice subtle touch to any Thanksgiving dinner table!

–       Wreath: Make an autumn wreath for your front door with just cardboard, glue and leaves! Cut out a large “O” for your children to use as a template for gluing all the leaves. For more creativity, have kids add some acorns, pinecones and other fall materials. There are many different types of crafting glue to choose from but hot glue guns will help secure heavier pieces best. Last, tie a ribbon to the top of the wreath and hang on your front door with a hook. What a beautiful entrance for your guest to be greeted with!

Clay Bowls: Have your kids make festive bowls for table décor. Purchase some molding craft clay and gather a few leaves from the yard for this very simple project. Roll out your clay on a flat surface, then imprint the leaves’ designs into the clay by pressing them into the clay and then peel them off. Once this is done, place the clay inside a bowl and leave it overnight to dry. When the clay is hardened, remove from the bowl and paint with any kind of craft paint. Use the bowl for mints or other candy and leave it on a table for guests.

Recycling Halloween Candy

Halloween is a long anticipated celebration for many children. Some wait all year for the exciting night to stock up on loads and loads of candy. Now that Halloween weekend is over, it’s time to enjoy all your sweet treats, right? For some people, this is nearly impossible with the excessive amounts of candy they may have collected, or even left overs from lack of trick-or-treaters. Don’t worry, we’ve found some great tips on how to recycle your Halloween candy so none goes to waste!

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Credit: Instructables

–       Step 1: Separate your candy. There are 5 categories that you should divide your sweets into: hard candy, chocolate, chewy, gummy, miscellaneous.

–       Hard Candy: The best way to recycle hard candy is to crush it into powder form. After this, you can mix the powder into melted chocolate and/or drinks to add extra flavor. For example, add a fruitful twist to your Coca Cola or Dr. Pepper by sprinkling in powdered watermelon jolly rancher. And for the upcoming winter season, add some powdered cinnamon or peppermint to hot chocolate or coffee.

–       Chocolate: A great way to recycle chocolate is for dessert purposes. One way is to melt your chocolate into syrup form. Use it for drizzling on other treats or fondu dip. Another idea is to crush Reese’s, Snickers, Almond Joys and other chocolate candy bars into small pieces. This is a perfect activity for children’s sundae parties!

–       Chewy and Gummy: These types of candy are the most difficult to preserve because they often get too hard very quickly. Use gummy worms for fun children’s activities like making “dirt” with Oreos and adding the worms. Also, you can make chocolate covered gummies with the melted chocolate as we previously discussed.

Check out Instructables for more ideas on recycling left over candy.

Tools for Making Kid-Friendly Halloween Treats

A great way to bond with your kids this Halloween is to spend a little time in the kitchen. Conjuring up some tasty treats can be a fun activity for the whole family. Looking for some appetizing inspiration? LA Times put together this great list of 24 exciting, but simple recipes that will be perfect to make with your chef-in-training. In order to make these recipes you might need a few of these basic tools:

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Halloween Cookie Cutters: Fall brings a lot of fun flavors to the kitchen, especially when it comes to baked goods, but why not take it up another notch? Turn your cookies into spooky creatures with Halloween Cookie Cutters. There are tons of shapes to choose from; we’re talking ghosts, bats, witches and all the rest of your favorite Halloween icons.

Popcorn Maker: Another yummy snack that you can tailor to fit the Halloween spirit is a witch’s blend of spiced popcorn. To make this, you’ll need to pop your own fresh batch of popcorn. There is a large assortment of Popcorn Makers to choose from, simple stove-top poppers to elaborate machines that simulate an old timey popcorn stand. Splurge on one of those and it can also become a hit at your Halloween party.

Molded Cake Pan: If baking a cake is your treat of choice, you might want to consider a Halloween-themed Cake Pan. A circular or rectangular cake just won’t cut it for those in the spooky spirit, but a Jack-o-lantern will certainly do the trick. And you don’t have to stop at full-sized cakes, there are plenty of cupcake molds to choose from as well.

Halloween 2014 Q&A: Real Simple’s Home Director Betsy Goldberg

Get some expert advice on Halloween crafts, costumes, décor and much more from TheFind’s Q&A series with Real Simple’s Home Director, Betsy Goldberg. 

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What are some of the ideas on your kids’ Halloween costume list?

I have two girls ages 9 and 5, and they usually go for the costumes with some kind of special little accessory. Last year my older one was a police officer because of the cute aviator sunglasses, and my younger one was a devil, with a little horned headband. This year my 9-year-old is going to be a Grecian goddess, with one of those gold braided bands you wear around your head. My little one wants to be “a scary witch, not a cute witch” so I have to figure out some clever face painting to make that happen.

What suggestions do you have for parents shopping for hard-to-find items?

Besides the biggies like orientaltrading.com and Halloweenexpress.com, we’ve found great items on trendyhalloween.com, hauntedprops.com, and frightcatalog.com. It can also help to ask for ideas on mom message boards like Baby Center—moms are pretty resourceful! Pinterest searches with varied phrasing (i.e. “Greek goddess costume for girls,” “Grecian goddess kid costume,”) can turn up a ton of options too, including DIY versions to try.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on Halloween costumes?

Swap with friends. Most of the time they’re keeping costumes their kids have worn just once so they’re in great condition. And check your closets—you might be able to put together a costume without buying anything. Real Simple staffers demonstrated this for adult costumes.

Any tips for parents who have very young trick or treaters?
Don’t pick a costume that relies on a big accessory like a witch’s broom or an uncomfortable mask—your kid will abandon it in the first 10 minutes of trick or treating, and then it’s disheartening for them to keep getting the question, “Oh and what are you?” Bring an extra bag, a Ziploc or shopping bag, so that you can siphon out some of the collected candy as you’re trick- or-treating—those pumpkin buckets can get really heavy for kids! Also, before Halloween, it’s a good idea to recap how it works: You’ll ring the door, say “Trick or Treat?” and someone will open the door and hand you candy or offer you a bowl of it. This way, you get a chance to remind them not to grab fistfuls of candy and to remember to say thank you! Another good tip: know your kids and how long they’ll last walking around the neighborhood.  That way you can plan accordingly to avoid meltdowns. But no matter how late you get home, let your kids have a chance to spread out their candy, count it, categorize it, trade—it’s often more fun and memorable than eating it.

What are your must-have Halloween décor items?

You really don’t have to go all out and decorate the whole house. In the Halloween feature in the October issue of Real Simple, we show how to make a big impact by decorating just the foyer, since that’s where you’re handing out candy. Hang a colorful garland above your console, fill a big glass jar with a bunch of fake bones, put creepy eyeball chocolates in a bowl, or scatter plastic spiders across the table—just a little something to set a spooky vibe.

Are there any DIY crafts that you recommend parents create with their kids?

It’s really easy to “mummify” juice boxes or big candy bars by wrapping with white crepe paper and adding googly eyes. I also love a twist on the traditional carved pumpkin. In Real Simple’s Halloween feature, we show a rainbow pumpkin made by sticking in colorful map pins, in evenly spaced rows, and a “bloody” pumpkin made by melting unwrapped red crayons over the top of a white pumpkin. And your kids can even make their own trick-or-treating bags—we show 5 cute, super-easy ideas on realsimple.com.

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Betsy Goldberg was named Home Director of Real Simple in December 2013. In this role, Goldberg oversees the award-winning lifestyle brand’s home content, which includes conceptualizing and shaping the magazine’s monthly decorating, cleaning, and organizing stories and overseeing features across the brand’s multimedia platforms.

Before joining Real Simple, Goldberg served as Deputy Editor of HGTV Magazine, where she oversaw decorating, organizing, and home improvement content and was the liaison to HGTV Network starsPreviously, Goldberg was a Senior Editor at Us Weekly and the Deputy Editor at Modern Bride, where she worked for six years. She has also worked as a Reporter at New York Magazine and as an associate editor at the luxury-lifestyle glossy CS. In addition, Goldberg has written for Glamour, Health, Coastal Living, Martha Stewart Weddings, Money, AOL, and Time Out.

Creative Children’s Desserts

Have some fun with your kids and teach them a few creative skills in the kitchen! These desserts will definitely be exciting to prepare:

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Credit: The Stir, Martha Stewart, We’re Calling Shenanigans

–       Homemade Popsicles: Making your own popsicles is extremely easy to do. It does not require super intricate tasks so it’s a dessert that can be fun for children to participate in making. The necessary materials include popsicle molds, popsicle sticks and any ingredients you wish to use. Shown above are Gummy Bear Popsicles, which only require sprite and gummy bears! For more popsicle ideas, visit The Stir.

–       Rice Krispie Treats: Rice krispie treats are a classic children’s snack, but in honor of October, transform these goodies into fun Halloween icons. Shape the concoction into candy corn replicas with food coloring. For objects that may be more challenging to create with your hands, Halloween cookie cutters can be more precise and also save you a lot of time.

–       Mini Aquarium: Have a ton of fun with your kids by making mini aquariums out of jello! You can choose to buy little candy fish to put into jello mixtures, or make them yourselves using any type of fish shaped mold. Candy fish will save you a lot more time, but there is no harm spending extra time on this exciting project that you get to eat. Any kind of clear container, from plastic cups to fish bowls, works perfect for exposing fish under the sea!

 

Incorporating Strollers and Wagons Into Trick-or-Treating

Trick-or-treating with babies and toddlers often requires strollers and wagons because children get tired from walking. Get creative and incorporate your child’s stroller, wagon, or other transporting vehicle as a prop for their Halloween costume. Here are some ideas from Baby Gizmo.

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Credit: Baby Gizmo

–       Mousetrap Wagon: You can construct a mousetrap wagon with a variety of materials. The photo above uses plywood but you can also substitute it for cardboard, which is a lighter alternative. Replicate the trap’s coil with any sort of metal tubing material or even make your own tube with scraps and spray paint it silver. Dress your child up as a little mouse and you’re ready to go!

–       Doll Box Stroller: Transform your baby’s stroller into a doll display box with cardboard and paint. The picture above shows a baby girl as a Cabbage Patch Kid. From Barbie to American Girl, there are so many dolls to choose from. If the doll figure isn’t what you are aiming for, try dressing your kid as a toy train or car in a display box.

–       Ice Cream Truck Wheelchair: For children who may be disabled, utilize their devices for creative props. The image above shows a child in a wheelchair that was transformed into an ice cream truck. The wheelchair’s wheels function as the truck’s tires and adds to his costume. This idea of incorporation can be applied to other tools like walking sticks, crutches, etc. With some imagination and brainstorming, you can covert any transportation tool into a prop for your child’s costume.

Halloween 2014 Q&A: SHEfinds.com & MOMfinds.com’s Jeanine Edwards

Need some expert advice on shopping for children’s Halloween costumes? Take a look at TheFind’s Halloween shopping Q&A series with shopping and parenting expert Jeanine Edwards. Jeanine, Editorial Director at SHEfinds.com and MOMfinds.com shares her insight on Halloween shopping tips and trends.

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What costumes do you anticipate will be trendy this Halloween?

For girls, Frozen will obviously be huge. We’ve found that Elsa is slightly more popular than Anna, but we anticipate character costumes for both princesses to sell out.

For boys, Ninja Turtles will likely be very popular given the movie’s success this summer. Superheros like Captain America, Spiderman and Batman are also always popular.

Popular Halloween costumes are typically character driven, so think of the big movies this year (Guardians of the Galaxy, X-Men, Transformers, etc) and those are likely where you’ll find Halloween gold.

What are some of the ideas on your kids’ Halloween costume list?

My daughter is torn between dressing as Elsa this Halloween or dressing as Storm from X-Men. Because she gets invited to multiple Halloween parties, we typically decide on 3-4 costumes. I only purchase one–the rest we DIY with items we already have or using pieces from costumes we’ve had in years past.

What suggestions do you have for parents shopping for hard-to-find items?

Get creative! If you can’t find the ready-made costume your child wants, be resourceful and try to make the costume using things you already own. For example, all you really need for an Elsa costume is a glittery blue dress, blonde wig, tiara and wand. Chances are you can DIY a sparkly dress pretty easily and it will probably be less expensive than buy a pre-packaged costume.

How early should parents start shopping / looking for costume additions for their kids? How late can they wait?

It depends whether or not your kids are diehard Halloween fans or have their hearts set on a specific costume. If your child wants to be one of the popular characters, better to get those costumes as early as possible. If your child really doesn’t care what his/her costume is, you can wait pretty late in the season and find something. Of course, there will be slim pickings, but I got my daughter a fairly decent Cleopatra costume the day before Halloween last year.

Also, there are some brand’s whose Halloween costumes are cult. Pottery Barn Kids is a perfect example because their costumes are very high quality. They recently released their Halloween collection, but they sell out super fast so it’s best to shop those earlier in the season as well.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on Halloween costumes?

For one, always save your costumes. Not only are they great for kids to play with during the year, but you can repurpose the items subsequent years to avoid having to buy a whole new costume every year.

Also, never underestimate the power of face paint. There isn’t a child out there that doesn’t love having his/her face painted and face paint is a heck of a lot cheaper than a name brand costume.

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Visit SHEfinds.com and MOMfinds.com for more tips and trends like these and for more updates from Jeanine, follow her on twitter at @momfinds.

Halloween Safety Tips

Halloween is an exciting time for children to dress up in fun costumes with friends and go trick-or-treating but it can be very stressful for parents. With so many people out in public to celebrate the holiday, there is potential for unfortunate accidents and events to occur. Help make your children’s Halloween experience fun and stress free with these safety tips!

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Credit: TheFind, Growing a Green Family, Stun-ning Sales

–       Reflective Tape: Neighborhood sidewalks tend to get busy with so many trick-or-treaters walking from door to door. Choosing costumes that are bright and reflective will help keep your children visible to vehicles. Reflective tape is a good option for children who may not be dressed in bright costumes. Applying a piece to their costume will make them easy to spot from the road.

–       Flashlights: As the night gets darker, it may be difficult to keep a close eye on your kids. Make sure to bring a flashlight to help guide your path. Provide your children with flashlights too so if they get lost they can still lead themselves. Flashlights will definitely help everyone trick or treat safely.

–       Face Paint/Make-Up: Substituting a facemask with face paint or make-up is a great option for everyone as masks can block your child’s peripheral vision. Using these products is a great alternative to a mask and will not impede their vision.

Halloween 2014 Q&A: SheScribes.com’s Kimberly Vetrano

There’s no better way to celebrate the beginning of fall than talking about everyone’s favorite spooky holiday. That’s right, we got in touch with Kimberly from SheScribes to bring you more advice on what to expect this Halloween. Check it out!

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What costumes do you anticipate will be trendy this Halloween?

– Anything and everything related to Disney’s Frozen, especially Elsa and Ana. I would love to see an Olaf costume.

What are some of the ideas on your kids’ Halloween costume list?

– Sadly my 15 year old son doesn’t have any interest in Halloween this year. My 17 year old daughter is still trying to decide what she wants to wear. As a senior in high school this year they are allowed the wear costumes to school (the 9th, 10th and 11th graders are not allowed to wear costumes to school – only the seniors). She was toying with the idea of a Police Officer.

What suggestions do you have for parents shopping for hard-to-find items?

– Get creative. See if you can make the item yourself rather than drive yourself crazy going all over town looking for it. Making the items yourself is also a fun activity you can do with your family.

One year my son went Trick-or-Treating as a dog. I wanted him to have a Trick-or-Treat bag that looked like dog food or dog treats. I couldn’t find anything so I made one. I took a large box of dog biscuits and glued a tote bag inside the box so that all you saw were the handles. It was the perfect accessory for his adorable costume and people gave me a lot of compliments for my creativity.

How early should parents start shopping / looking for costume additions for their kids? How late can they wait?

– We would start asking our kids when they went back to school in September what they wanted to be for Halloween – or what ideas they had – this way would could start looking around for a costume and/or have plenty of time to make it (or the accessories). I would recommend getting started as soon as you can and give yourself a few weeks, unless it’s a costume that is readily available every Halloween like a witch, Fireman or Policeman. Don’t wait too long for popular costumes because they might sell out.  The very latest we’d go costume shopping would be two weeks before Halloween.

What are your favorite tips and tricks for saving money on Halloween costumes?

– If we had Halloween costumes that were in great condition after Halloween we would hold on to them for younger siblings or we’d trade old costumes with family and friends, that way no one had to spend a dime on a new costume.

I think it’s a lot of fun to create your own costume. You can re-purpose items from around your home. If you can sew (or know someone who can) even better! Why spend upwards of $50+ for a costume that will be worn for just a few hours when you can make your own costumes with items you already have for free or just a few dollars.There

Do you have any tips for parents who are chaperoning older kids while trick or treating?

– Always have your child go Trick-or-Treating with a large group of children.

- Depending on the age of the child/children there should be an adult chaperone – even if it’s an older sibling – who follows closely behind but without being a part of the group.

– Make sure the costumes are safe to wear (the child can easily see and won’t trip) and is wearing reflective tape and carrying a flashlight.

- Set ground rules and go over safety rules such as don’t eat any candy until an adult inspects it, look both ways before crossing the road, if they feel uncomfortable in a situation to run and get help…

- Have the child check in with you via a phone call or text.

- Know what roads or neighborhoods the child is going to and make sure they stick to those areas.

Any tips for parents who have very young trick or treaters?

- Don’t overdo it with little ones. They tire easily and the whole idea of Trick-or-Treating can be overwhelming.

- For the very young (toddler) I would recommend only a few houses – ideally neighbors or people they know so they are not scared by strangers. Not only that, toddlers don’t really need a lot of candy.

-  Go Trick-or-Treating early in the evening when it’s still light outside with little ones. As it gets dark the older children with scary costumes come out and that could frighten little ones.

- Make sure young children are well rested and well fed before heading out. A tired and/or hungry Trick-or-Treater can ruin an evening.

- If the young child is able to comprehend it I would explain to them what Trick-or-Treating is all about so that they are not scared.

- Allow your child to help you give out candy to other Trick-or-Treaters when they come to your door. Let your child remain in his/her costume too.

-  Stay away from houses that are decorated in a scary way or if there is a possibility of someone dressed in a scary costume to pop out at them. We had that happen not once but twice over the years where someone dressed up in a scary way jumped out at my kids. I think that might be why our son was never overly keen about going out Trick-or-Treating.

Do you have safety tips (any and all) for parents / trick or treaters?

- Make sure children (young and old) go Trick-or-Treating in known neighborhoods.

- Make sure the neighborhood is well lit (street lights) if not make sure your child has a flashlight and is wearing reflective tape.

- Don’t let little ones go Trick-or-Treating by themselves. They should have an adult chaperone at all times.

- Older children should go Trick-or-Treating in large groups.

- Always abide by the traffic rules and look both ways when crossing the street.

-  Make sure your child’s vision is not compromised in the costume and that that the can walk freely without anything dangling down that could trip them.

- Give older children a curfew and have them check in with you regularly via a phone call or text. Ask the older child to let you know what streets/neighborhoods they plan on visiting.

- Inspect ALL candy before allowing your child to eat it.

- Make sure your child knows to NEVER go inside someone’s home to get candy.  Sometimes people make you wait for candy because they are not prepared. If that is the case WAIT OUTSIDE. Do not wait inside the house even if the person tells you to.

-  Don’t let children have sharp or dangerous items as costume accessories to avoid accidents.

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Kimberly and her family, along with her “mini-zoo,” reside in the suburbs of New York City. On her blog, She Scribes, she loves to cover a variety of topics. Her tag line is “A little bit of this, a little bit of that.” When she’s not blogging Kimberly can usually be found spending time with her family, watching movies or simply hanging out at a local park. For more updates from Kimberly, follow her on TwitterInstagram or Pinterest or like She Scribes on Facebook.

 

DripDrop: Hydration for Fall Sports

Credit: Metamorfit

Credit: Metamorfit

Fall sports practices have already started which means kids are practicing in full heat of summer.  They probably need something a little more powerful than water to stay hydrated. DripDrop is a medical grade hydration powder that delivers 2-3 times the electrolytes of typical sports drinks and 25% more than pediatric products made for hydration during illness in kids.  DripDrop’s patented clinical formula was designed to treat and prevent dehydration from illness or strenuous physical activities and is currently being used by leading hospitals, physicians and even US Special Forces! It comes in a box of 4 packets that are pre-measured to add to a standard 16.9 oz bottle of water to make one serving.  It is available in natural Berry and Lemon flavors and retails for about $10 a box.  Make sure your kids are staying hydrated out there in the heat!