Easiest, Inexpensive Gift with Meaning: Personalized Coffee To-Go Cups

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Happy Monday–the first Monday in December which makes the edge of not-everyone’s-favorite day softened just a bit, right?

I have a quick and easy D.I.Y. post to start the week today. My love of doodling–on scrap paper, the back of bills, restaurant napkins, etc.–triggered an idea for an easy, inexpensive gift this year. Why not doodle on to-go coffee cups and package them up with a bag of french roast for coffee-loving friends who take their morning cup out the door?

I ordered this 50-pack white hot drink cups with lids and heat sleeves which has enough cups to make personalized coffee packs for several friends. Lainey wants to make some for her teacher now with compliments and the things she loves most about her written all over them.

All you need is cups and Sharpie markers. Doodle away…
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…and add a bag of coffee.

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We found the perfect coffee cup ornament at Target to tie on the outside of the package.

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Wrap up with some cellophane, tie your ornament to the outside, and there you have it…a merry little Christmas for coffee-loving friends.

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I love any opportunity to turn little ones’ artwork into gifts, so this works great for little preschool doodles too. Also…coffee. Coffee always wins.

Happy Monday!

Make It: Cozy Fall Campfire Night Light/Place Setting

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So, the girls have fall parties in their classes tomorrow and, like usual, I wait until a couple days before to plan a craft. I knock it out of the ballpark once it’s done, but I never can seem to get it together in life except for ONE DAY BEFORE. Thankfully, I always share room mom duty with a more responsible mom who remembers to e-mail the parents and take money for donations and doesn’t forget that there’s a party around the corner. I love when I find a good Excel spreadsheet-loving mom to join powers with my glue gun and felt love. So, where were we? Back to the craft. I had picked up a bunch of LED tealight candles on clearance a while ago, thinking I’d throw together some fall candle holder project for the Thanksgiving table. But I ended up updating an old campfire ornament craft I did a few years ago instead–this time to make a fall bedroom night light, and I love how it turned out. We’re calling these Fall Campfire Night Lights…

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Cozy, cozy, fall, fall, fall.

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They also look really adorable as a place setting for a campy fall dinner or party.

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They run a little over $1 a piece to make.

Here’s what you need:

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We did packaged wood disks for the class, but for a little more you can get these wood slices for a more natural look.

A glue gun will dry faster, but Tacky Glue works just fine as well and is better for students.

Glue a ring of pebbles along the edge of the wood disk.

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Place the tea light in the middle for placement reference, but don’t glue down. You’ll need to keep it free so you can lift it to switch the light off and on.

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Break sticks to size and layer around the tea light, making sure the tea light can freely be removed. Glue in place.

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Glue a small white pom pom to the end of a thin stick to create your marshmallow roasting stick.

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Secure to the bottom of disk/another fire stick with glue.

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Cut four “flames” out of the tissue paper–two red, two orange. Glue to the edge of the tea light.

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Turn tea light on and add flame to fire. Voila!

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When you want to turn your fire off, just lift tea light and flip the switch.

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Add to a bedroom night stand for a cozy glow.

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Or plan a campy dinner, give every plate their own campfire place setting, and turn down the lights to see a collective cozy flicker.

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Everything’s better in miniature!

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Now here’s hoping we get some cool weather this weekend for more real fires and marshmallow roasting.

PDA with Your Device? GET A ROOM. The Unplugged Hotel D.I.Y.

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So, about those New Year’s resolutions. There is one–but it’s really more of an every day resolution for the entire population in our ever evolving plugged-in world, and that is: REAL WORLD trumps online world. The people in front of you win over the people on your screen. The real life creative projects that are begging for your hands and attention win over the device that is competing for them.

I love the convenience, creative ideas and community that my phone connects me to, but I sure as hell don’t want my kids growing up with memories of a distracted mom. And as much as I love the quiet and space to get things done that handing my kids iPads grants me, I always want to challenge our family to maintain a healthy home environment with appropriate boundaries for time on devices. Let’s be honest, we’re facing major problems with device addiction in this country, and I’m guilty of it too. It’s a constant challenge, but one I whole-heartedly embrace. I love my phone but I love my family more. Balance, balance, balance.

A while ago, a family member mentioned that a friend they knew took everyone’s phones at a gathering once, demanding full connection, and assured everyone that their phones just needed to “check into the spa for a while.” I loved the reference, and it triggered an idea I’ve been wanting to do for our family–create a motel for devices in our home and a fun way  to encourage unplugged time. If anyone is showing too much PDA for their device, we keep them in line with requesting they GET A ROOM.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the newest lodging in Naples, Florida…The Unplugged Motel.

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A comfy 5-star resort for your devices to chill the eff out while you TALK TO EACH OTHER, LOOK EACH OTHER IN THE EYE, PRACTICE COMMUNICATION SKILLS.

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Not only is it easy to make, but we had a blast decorating it. I suppose any shoe box would work, but we used a heavy-duty photo storage box we picked up at Michael’s. It was already a nice Palm Springs pink, so we hardly had to do anything to jazz it up. What we used:

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I mounted the box to a cake board (baking aisle at any craft store) with a construction stapler to create a platform for our sign and palm trees. We made the sign by covering a flat wood oval (wood craft aisle, craft store) with some mint green scrapbook paper, cutting our “MOTEL” letters and arrow with pink glitter scrapbook paper and hot gluing pearls around it. The skinny dowel rods (wood craft aisle or bamboo sticks from baking aisle, craft store) can be poked into the cake board and hot glued in place. A little moss and some fun mosaic tiles (craft store) glued on to the platform completes the look along with a few miniature palm trees (craft store).

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Finally, we cut a hole in the back of the box for charger cords because everyone knows relaxing at a motel is the best way to recharge. Bonus? All your cord clutter gets hidden.

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I love that the motel creates a fun way to communicate device problems without nagging and can even be offered to guests or family members who seem to be distracted. “Mom, can I offer your phone a free guest suite at our motel for a little while? It has a pool! And plush linens!”

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I want our entire family to keep each other in check. I’ve told Brett to tell me “PDA, Get a room” if I’m not paying attention to the fact that maybe my phone needs to unwind at The Unplugged Motel. And the kids are on board (at least with the initial excitement–ha) with this fun new approach as well. “Your iPad looks tired. Let’s give him a vacation and check him into the motel for a while.”

And when all our devices are stacked up and checked in to the motel, that only means one thing: there’s more vacancy in our home for what matters most…us.

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Here’s to more balance in the new year.