Celebrate Christmas with the Magic of Northpole by Hallmark

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Hallmark North Pole Collection

the holidays are quickly approaching, and in the blink of an eye, they will be here. for our family, we have Christmas traditions that we begin as early as the 1st of December. so i am feeling like it is already time to get prepared.  some of the current traditions our family has for the Christmas holiday season are…

getting the house decorated for Christmas the weekend after Thanksgiving…

Christmas Decoratingbaking Christmas cookies….Baking Christmas Cookiesworking at local charities to make Christmas happen for children in our community….

Los Angeles Charities

 and getting the boys Christmas pajamas at the beginning of the month so that they can enjoy them all month long.

Christmas Pajamas

of course we love to also do activities such as looking at Christmas lights, getting hot cocoa and riding the Christmas Train. i don’t do the elf thing like many families do, i find it difficult to have to come up with something creative every day during the busy holiday season. but i do love the idea of doing something special like an advent calendar or reading a Christmas book each night. so this year we are going to start the tradition with the new Northpole Line by Hallmark, a keepsake line of holiday toys based on the new NORTHPOLE movie coming out on the Hallmark channel.

one of our favorite items in the Northpole line is the Northpole Communicator. each night from December 1st through December 24th, push the button and turn the knob to have a conversation with Santa, the elves and some of his Northpole friends. it’s a fun way for your family to connect with Santa and Northpole.

Hallmark Northpole Traditions
North Pole Communicator plus we received the book “Once Upon a Northpole Christmas” with the special “Find me Santa! Snowflake”, a story that peeks into the secrets of Northpole magic.Once Upon a Northpole Christmas Book by Hallmark

Once Upon a Northpole Christmas

if you add your name and hang this lighted snowflake in a window, on a doorknob, or wherever you like,  to ensure that Santa finds you—no matter where you are. on Christmas Eve, the snowflake will glow for four hours until the jolly guy arrives.
Christmas Decorating with Hallmark Northpoleplus there are other fun Northpole items to make the holidays more magical!

Hallmark Northpole toys

these special Northpole by Hallmark items and more, can be found online, the special book and ornament gift pack will be sold exclusively at Walmart, and will be available beginning November 1st. the boys are really excited to start new traditions with the Northpole items, and so am i! i love the holiday season, and anything that makes it more magical. to find out more about the new Northpole line from Hallmark, click here.



How to Tie Bows for Presents

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every year i host a Wrapping Party for some of my close friends were we get together and wrap our Christmas gifts. it is one thing i look forward to every year. i like to make a nice dinner, we sit and chat for a bit and then get to wrapping…helping each other get all our gifts ready for giving. i usually end up with the task of the bows, i love making large pretty bows…i also think that gifts that look prettier are more fun to open.

to get ready for my party, i went over to Walgreens to stock up on wrapping supplies. i love having all the presents under my tree match, so each year i pick out a color scheme and buy 4-5 wrapping papers, ribbons, and tags that all match. Walgreens had all sorts of great items to create some beautiful and creative gifts. lots of wrapping paper choices…and they weren’t those cheesy grandma prints either.

i was able to find 4 different but matching wrapping papers, coordinating ribbon and tags…plus i found some great novelty items to top my gifts.

let me show you some of my finished gifts. for this one, i used sparkly fabric ribbon and red snowflake wrapping paper. to add a little bit of excitement, i attached this Santa hat ornament i found at Walgreens for just $1. it really made to present look festive.


then i found this great polka dot wrapping paper and some red wrapping yarn. i also loved this “no peeking” gift tag.  adding a small novelty item on top of your presents can really make them stand out. when i saw these holiday gum balls, i knew they would look great with the polka dots. i really love how this present turned out.


if you don’t want to spend a lot of time wrapping, Walgreens has these great large stick-on bows that are 7″ round. so much better than the little ones (however they have those too). i decided to use a hologram candy cane striped wrapping paper. i topped it off with this gigantic 12″ candy cane i found for just $1. perfect combo.


using a red and green striped paper, i used one of those large stick on bows and a Santa tag for this present. i also added this cute mini stocking i found for a $1 and placed a gift card in it. i am really not a fan of gift cards because i like to spend the time finding the perfect gift, but adding a gift card to a gift is great. and the stocking made a great holder for it.


these are just some of the many options i found at Walgreens. there was so much more….like this Hallmark line of holiday bags, wrapping papers and pre-tied ribbons.


and it was even better that some Walgreens are opened 24-hours a day. i did all my shopping at 12 am.  i had a little too much fun…cheek it out.

now to show you how to make pretty bows for your presents. it’s pretty simple, and i am not an expert at it, but nevertheless, here is how i do it….


first, you are going to want to tie the ribbon around your gift with a simple knot.  then cut the ends leaving 6-8 inch tails.  you can use any type of ribbon to do this technique, but I love to use wide ribbon (with or without wired edges) to wrap my gifts with.  i purchased the sparkly wired ribbon at Walgreens. beside being my favorite color for the holidays, i also love the glitter and wired edges because they help the bow stay big and full.

second, make the first loop of your bow. hold the end of the ribbon and fold it over to make a loop.


next, continuing to hold the first loop, make more loops by folding up the ribbon back and forth and holding it in the center. you can make as many loops as you want or can hold. cut the ribbon after your last loop leaving an extra inch long tail. for this bow, i made eight loops….four loops on each side.


now, place your almost finished bow on the center of your package on top of the knot you created. continue to hold the center of the loops.


using the tails of the ribbon tied around your package, tie a knot around the center of your bow loops. your bow will now be attached to your package.


trim the tails to look nice…either at a slant or a “v” like the photo below. you now can fluff up your bow by opening and rounding out the loops. continue to do so until your bow looks pretty and polished.


i am thrilled with how my gifts turned out! thanks Walgreens for the great selections.


Christmas Countdown Blocks | Christmas Printable

here’s a quick and easy Christmas craft you could even get done this weekend.  i teamed up with Vanessa at the Crafty Nest to create these Christmas Countdown Blocks. head over to the Crafty Nest  for the DIY tutorial to create your own Christmas Countdown blocks with a free Christmas printable i designed!

Make Your Own Keepsake Santa Letter | Free Printable

Santa Letter Printable_1_Sandy Toes and Popsicles

Christmas is just around the corner, and that means that it is time to get some letters off to the man in red. if your kiddies are anything like mine, they are super excited for Santa to come, and have already decided what they wish for him to bring.

to make this time a little magical, i designed a keepsake Santa Claus Letter Template that you can download, print and put together for the children in your life. you can even mail it.

it’s pretty easy to make, here is how you do it….first, click here to download the Santa Letter printable and print it out on white paper. i chose to print the envelope on cardstock to give. then you will cut the letter and envelope out. next, you will score the 4 flaps so that the envelope is easy to fold up.

Santa Letter Printable_2_Sandy Toes and Popsiclesfinally, glue the envelope together as shown on the photo. this will complete your keepsake Santa Claus Letter.

Santa Letter Printable_3_Sandy Toes and Popsicles

here is the finished product. i love how festive and fun it turned out. i really like the idea of keeping my kids letters they write to Santa as keepsakes for when they grow older. it is fun to look back on your childhood and remember the magical moments of being a kid at Christmas.

Santa Letter Printable_4_Sandy Toes and Popsicles

click here to download the Santa Letter printable.


and check out my other fun Christmas ideas


Gingerbread Pancakes. Yummy.

today i made pancakes from scratch, which i have never done before. plus, they were Gingerbread Pancakes in the shape of gingerbread boys! i was surprised at how easy and delicious they turned out. not too sweet with the perfect amount of gingerbread flavor.

here was my inspiration.

a gingerbread boy shaped bottle of maple syrup that i picked up this weekend at Cost Plus World Market. they were so cute that i got a few that will be paired with cans of gingerbread pancake mix for teacher’s gifts this year.

i took a small measuring cup to carefully pour the batter in the shape of gingerbread boys on the griddle. it took a few times, a few oddly shaped gingerbread boy pancakes, and tries at turning them….but i got the shape and cooking time down. and i must say i improved my pancake making skills about 51%. it made a happy morning.

♥ Gingerbread Pancakes 

1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup molasses
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

♥ in a bowl, stir together dry ingredients. add the rest of the ingredients and stir just until combined.
♥ heat griddle on stove.
♥ pour onto griddle.
♥ cook on first side until puffed, full of bubbles and dry looking around edges.
♥ turn and cook until second side is browned.
(i found the first pancake was a bit difficult to pick up and turn. the rest worked out pretty good.)

 butter hearts 

if you thought i was crazy for cutting little butter pats into hearts well…..actually, it’s very easy. a few straight cuts off the edges of a slice of butter and then a smoothing of the edges and whala! butter hearts 


all gone. or as baby says “gone gone.”

 happy eating!
jill, jack, kyle & vann

{participating in vanessa’s crafty nest, creation corner & funky polkadot giraffe linky parties!}