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The Next Step: DIY Storage Ideas

Just survived another Christmas season! Life was good, and the house was rich with the smell of both the new spiced cranberry Scentsy candle and the fresh oven pancakes being taken out in the neighboring kitchen. My brief moment of peace was rudely interrupted when I realized that with lots of new memories came lots of new toys, new pajamas from Old Faithful (i.e. my awesome mom), and new everything else. Then came the inevitable dreaded question, “Where am I going to put all of this?”

Whether it be massive clutter, overcrowded closets, or perpetual state of losing everything important, everyone has had to deal with storage problems that sadly don’t fix themselves. If you haven’t experienced this, wow (seriously that’s all I have to say). For the rest of us HUMAN BEINGS, we have to deal with finding a miracle solution to store all of our stuff. This is why we (here at Sprout-Kids) are creating this blog series for DIY storage ideas, to help us all find answers and storage tips we all desperately need!

Stay tuned for our upcoming blog posts!

DIY Nativity Scene: Minimal Clear Creche

When I was younger, my church and surrounding congregations held a Creche Festival. They opened invitations for everyone to bring a nativity scene. Some people brought purchased creches but many were hand made. I took this as an opportunity to experiment with new media and contributed several creches. This was a fun opportunity to make something, but also an opportunity to spend time building something with my family. My family still uses some of them to decorate at christmas time. In this post, I will share how you my method for a super cool minimal DIY nativity scene.

The Minimal Creche

At its most basic, a nativity only needs to include the Christ child. This creche has three simple figures, baby Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. I will tell you the basic method that you can use to make these figures and any others that you decide to create.

Making your own DIY Nativity Scene

 

Tools and Supplies:

 

  • Acrylic (Plexiglass) sheet, 1/8” thick, 12” x 12” minimum Similar to this one on Amazon
  • Heat source such as a heat gun. You may be able to do it with an electric stove burner
  • Holding instruments such as pliers. If your pliers have teeth, you may want to tape the teeth with masking tape to prevent marring
  • Coping Saw similar to this one. Little teeth will help more
  • C-Clamp to hold the plexiglass when cutting
  • Pencil or colored Pencil
  • Sand Paper and a block

Process:

  1. Mark pattern onto the plexiglass with a pencil
  2. Clamp the plexiglass and cut out the pattern. Start with a rough outline, then move then clean up corners
  3. Sand edges. This may be done best by wrapping the sandpaper around a block of wood.
  4. Determine where you want the bends to be. Clamp one side to a table or other solid surface. Slowly heat this area. If you heat it too fast, it may bubble. Use the pliers to bend the plexiglass as it softens
  5. Make all the bends your need and you're done

There it is, a simple DIY nativity scene that will impress your friends and look great on your mantel. Enjoy!

3 Holiday Anti-Traditions Your Family Will Love

It’s the holiday season, so something something and dum dum de dum, and don’t forget to put up the sock… Chimney… Santa.

I can’t remember the words. But if you really pay attention to any holiday song you will get a healthy dose of some of the universal Christmas traditions that are a part of most people’s holiday - seeing Santa, decorating a tree, driving around and looking at lights, etc.

Even though we do many things the same, we all have our own unique twist on holiday celebration.

When I was a kid my mom made us special pillowcases that we could only use on Christmas Eve to help us sleep. While that was mostly wishful thinking on her part - we didn’t sleep very much - it was a fun tradition. I still have my pillowcase and I still put it on my pillow on Christmas Eve.

But sometimes our traditions can get in the way of our holiday, whether they distract us from the true meaning of the season or take up all our time so we don’t get to enjoy it.

Here are a few anti-traditions that turn more conventional traditions on their heads and might be just what you need to breathe life into your holiday.

The Tradition: Christmas Dinner

With a turkey, eh! Mashed potatoes eh! And we we we are gonna have a good time.

Right? What better formula for holiday joyousness then a full stomach and a long winter’s nap.

Sadly it doesn’t work that way for everyone. Somebody has to make all the food and someone is going to have to do the dishes and clean up after it is all eaten. Add to that all the normal holiday pressures - relatives in town, an overcrowded house, last minute shopping - and your formula for joyousness has turned into one for ulcer inducing holiday stress.

If that sounds like you maybe it’s time to try an alternative.

The Anti-Tradition: Christmas Takeout

Sing fa ra ra ra ra all the way to the nearest Chinese restaurant and get some sweet and sour chicken in a box. Bring it home and have everyone sit around in comfy seats and stuff their faces while enjoying each others company.

Your kids will love it because they get to spend more time with you. You will love it because you don’t have to cook or clean up.

The Tradition: Buy Presents for the Kids

As an adult, half the magic of Christmas is lost for me because I already know most of the stuff I’m getting. I either picked it out myself or accidently found out what it was because I happened to check our bank statement or opened the wrong closet while looking for my favorite winter gloves that have been missing since last year.

Even though the joy of receiving is not what it once was, I still take a lot of pleasure in giving gifts. Seeing my son’s face light up after tearing open a present almost makes the other 364 days of whining worth it. Just kidding. Kids are great. Love you Henry.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, bringing the excitement back. Every kid loves Christmas because they get stuff. But most kids don’t really get into the giving.

Hmm. There must be a way to solve both of these problems at the same time.

The Anti-Tradition: Let Your Kids Buy You Presents

Give them a 10 or 20 dollar budget and send them off with Grandma and Grandpa, a friend, a neighbor, or some other responsible person. Don’t tell them what you want and give specific direction to your supervising adults to refrain from influencing them. Make sure that you aren’t around so they can sneak it into the house, wrap up their gift, and put it under the tree.

On Christmas day you will be genuinely surprised by whatever your child got for you. Your kids will love it because they get to experience some of the joy of giving. Plus they get the satisfaction of knowing that they picked it out all by themselves.

The Tradition: Go to the Movies

The Christmas holiday means big bucks for Hollywood because there is no better way to spend time with your family then sitting in a dark room not talking to each other. Okay, I’m being a little facetious.

When it comes to holiday movie going I’m as guilty as the rest. I’ll probably sneak out for a flick or two. But how much more fun would you have if you spent that time at home with the family doing something else.

The Anti-Tradition: Make a Movie

All you need is a smart phone with a decent battery and the ability to shoot and export video. Get all the family together and give yourselves some guidelines. Set a time limit for writing the script and a limit for the length of the video and then let the creative juices flow.

Your whole family will have a blast coming up with crazy ideas and testing out your acting skills. Once it’s all done, sit down with some Christmas popcorn and watch it together.

Not only will it bring you closer together as a family, it’s guaranteed to give you laughs for years to come.

So that’s it. Start something new and unusual this Christmas. Turn tradition on its head and get back to the true roots of the season.

What’s your anti-tradition?

Is there something that you do differently for the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

Image Credit: Flickr

Good Parenting - Child's Safety

There comes a time when everyone feels helpless and lost. For me, that came when I realized I was going to be a new parent. Without making any conscience effort to change who I was I now became the very kind of guy I made fun of as a clueless outsider. I now felt over protective, I was already stressing myself out (and anyone unfortunate enough to be around me) about all the things I would do to have to make my child’s life perfect. At times I felt like I would make or break my son’s life if I chose to name him something girly like Grayson, or something awesome like LeBron.

It became very clear to me that above all else I wanted to make sure my kids are safe. I put on my super hero suit and vowed that I would protect my child from all the villains like Dr. Sharp Korner, and The Choke HaZERD.

Once I was realistic, I found that being a parent won’t be as scary and dangerous as I had concocted it out to be in my head. There are very simple things like making sure the furniture is secured and sturdy, and not leaving out anything that could be sharp or dangerous. There are some things that are clearly not made for kids, but at the same time there are companies that specifically cater their products towards young kids: Kid Friendly Toys, Modern Kids Furniture, and Gerber Baby Food, and Little Tykes.

children's safety village

Stressing was so overrated. The most comforting thing I’ve heard is your kid has no one else to compare parenting to, you are a hero in their eyes. Simply be responsible and avoid obvious dangerous situations and being a parent will be the best experience of your life!

 

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