Posted tagged ‘party bags’

2013 homeadekids in review

December 31, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 8,100 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 7 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.


Are you doing spiders for Halloween?

October 11, 2012

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post has a close look at the spider in the party bag. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

Gorgeous home made spider for a party bag.

For about six weeks before Halloween there’s a lot of earnest discussions at home about what to wear at Halloween, and where to trick or treat.

When Nell, 11, and her friend Anna, also 11, came back from a younger friend’s trampoline party with this gorgeous spider as a party bag gift I thought it would be parked to gather dust, but it seemed to inspire them to make up all sorts of spidery games, and gave both girls an idea for Halloween.

Make a party bag spider
Now I didn’t make this spider (and it is definitely creative rather than eco-friendly), but my guess is that if you want to make your own eight-legged friend, then you go to a pound shop and find a ready made spider (see pic) or a light-up ball. If you end up with a ball, then glue on four halved pipe cleaners on either side (to make eight legs); add a dollop of glue for felt eyes and a nose/mouth and then your spider is good to go. 

Play with your light-up spider
Anna and Nell took their spiders on the bus and to a large heath. There they climbed loads of trees and generally gave the spiders plenty of “exercise”.

Enlarge your spider family
Games Nell recommends – you can draw a family of spiders. This is fun (and reasonably easy). “We made the Glasswats spider family. Use different colours, different faces, different sizes and different features so you can identify the spiders. We kind of based it on Sylvanians, but we didn’t make any twins. I just made five babies.”

Use your spider at Halloween
“Say if I was a Mummy I could stick my spider to the bandages, and then it would look like I was really old and decaying,” says Nell. “If I were a ghost this would work as well…” I just hope she means an Egyptian Mummy.

Read more of my posts on party bags here.

Over to you
What’s a quick way to make a Halloween outfit that your kids want to wear this year?

Life on the ocean wave

June 27, 2012

That’s my boat. We call it Oliver, Oliver Reed. LOL.

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post shows you how to make a mini-mini reed boat. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

When a wetsuit doesn’t fit the results are hilarious – the poor victim (child) is zipped up into a bent banana shape and usually can barely shout for help because they are laughing so hard about being locked into such a strange shape. But the way kids grow, and the way the UK weather prevents some of us lightweights from going regularly to sailing or canoe club, such growing pains are inevitable.

There’s an escape clause: make your own boat. Not the sort that no doubt anyone in Swallows & Amazons could whip up, or even Dame Ellen McArthur – no, the sort that requires you to find a few reeds, pick one and knot it into shape. I think it would make a lovely activity at a party – or offer a bit of pleasure if made for a party bag.

How to make your own reed boat
Remember: sedges have edges and reeds are round.

  • Pick one reed (ideally find someone who knows how to do this, to do it with you as it’s much easier demonstrated).
  • Make a base by coiling a 5mm portion around itself two or three times.
  • Secure the long end around this flat mat two times and finally slither the  long bit left over from the bottom to the top to create a mast. Invariably this is too long, so cut it to size to prevent your boat listing drastically.

Nell and I sailed our boat on a puddle in Hampstead Heath. It’s not glam our life in London! But it was fun and the boat is still drying out well in the kitchen, two weeks on.

Over to you
Have you ever made a boat with the kids? What did you use? I’m interested in all sizes.

Let them decorate straws

June 22, 2012

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post suggests some creative uses for drinking straws. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

My children take turns to lay the table for dinner. If their friends are guests, then those friends get to lay the table too. However sometimes there are just too many children in the house to share the job. If the kids aren’t making food with you, then another task they can do – unspupervised – is a seating plan using decorated straws.

Over-controlling as this sounds, it’s also quite fun to find a nice magazine pic, cut it out and stick it and their friend-visitor’s name on to a drinking straw (and a good lesson in the need to check how to spell every name, Evo (see pic above) is infact an understandably indignant Ivo, oops).

Drinking straws are flim-flam – made to be chucked out – but I always try to wash them after use, so that they get a few appearances at the table, and then join the craft box. We probably wouldn’t even have them if they hadn’t been given to Nell as a 9th birthday present.

Other good uses for drinking straws
Great for science
1) What can you vaccum up and hold with your breath on the end of the straw (without choking!) Peas? sweet corn? loganberries?
2) How many drinks go bubbly if you blow down the straw (tip try turning milk into babycinno)?

Useful for craft
1) Adapt and use as fencing for model zoo/farm animals
2) Weave them into mini mats, mobiles
3) Glue together to make models, eg, Iron Giants.

Grand designs
1) Pile up like spilikins and see if you can reduce the pile one straw at a time without dislodging any of the other straws.
2) Challenge party goers to think what they could build with the straws – if everyone’s flailing, use some inspirational words like “Big Bang”, “Battles” or just suggest there’s no way they could make something like the Olympic Park’s Arcelor Mittal tower by Anish Kapoor, or is there. See this time-lapse reconstruction here.

Over to you
Any ideas for re-using drinking straws?

NEWS: Competition winner of Weaving Hope’s fab fair trade cloth cooking set was Green Mummy. Lucky blogger. Her plan is to give the prize to her little daughter as a reward for getting out of nappies and on to the potty!

Let them throw seed bombs

May 29, 2012

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post introduces you to a seed bomb. For more info about my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting click here.

Near where I live there’s a network of streets that have plants around the trees, topiary-shaped hedges, vegetables growing in bags/containers and a community noticeboard. Last weekend the organisers were one of 90 London areas to hold a Chelsea Fringe event. The aim at the Blackstock Triangle was to share plant knowledge and enjoy a good gossip over a cup of tea and homemade cakes.  One of the newest bits of gardening gossip turned out to be how to make your own seed bomb filled with wild flower seeds.

It’s so easy and such a good idea I recommend you nick it and do something similar – maybe at your child’s nursery or school fete, or make them yourself and send the kids home with them as a party bag treat (pop into a paper bag or if you fear crumbly disasters then a small plastic sandwich bag). Even very little children are enthusiastic seed bomb makers. Bigger ones will enthusiastically take over running a stall (see pic above).

Love your street
To make it safer, the street was closed to traffic and decorated with bunting made by a collective of neighbours. There were free seeds and a chance to enter the vegetable Olympics. Guess the races? Olympic flame (using a cucumber) parade; potato basketball (rather like a potato race) and cauliflower dressage – just tuck the veg between your knees and ride to the end and back as fast as you can. More info on what was done at organiser Naomi’s informative how to garden blog, outofmyshed.

Here’s how to make your own seed bomb:

1 Mix together one part wild meadow seeds, with three parts compost and five parts dry clay. Then add a little water. (Seed bomb making is an art, not a science, so measurements can be varied. Use less compost if it’s hard to find, eg, 1:1:5 or 1:3:5 – think of it as seeds/minerals/mud or seeds/compost/clay).

2 Mix well then take a mean handful and squish and press into a ball (a bit bigger than a squash ball).

3 Leave to dry in a sunny spot. We left ours over night too (approx 24 hours).

Here’s a short video from the original guerrilla gardener if you need some reassurance and pix on what to do.


4 The next time you go out on your usual journey – to nursery/school/the shops/office – take your seed bomb with you and lob into any unloved area of land.

Even though you planted it, bet you get a surprise in a few months time when lovely flowers start to grow there causing “havoc in the urban wilderness”.

Over to you
What would you put in your seed bomb? We had cornflower, scented mayweed (camomile), vetches, sunflowers, poppies and many others which you could just buy in a meadow seed mix. More to the point where would you throw a seed bomb?

5 ideas for party bags please!

February 2, 2012

How about a lucky feather as your party bag gift? Yes? No?

This blog post is by Nicola Baird sharing ideas about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to raise children. This post is asking for party bag tips. For more info about gifts – giving and receiving – see my book Homemade Kids, with lots of ideas about parenting, click here.

Looking at yesterday’s Evening Standard I noticed a photo of Gwyneth Paltrow walking out of an event with a goody bag. It made me think again about the sketchy plans for Nell’s big 11 birthday.

I’ve got a good track record of making interesting and good value party bags. But this weekend’s birthday is making me nervous: the other children will by now have expectations of originality or largesse. Actually, they probably won’t but that’s how the birthday child’s mum often feels. And then ends up swooping around the aisles spending more than they’d ever planned.



So here are five ideas that may be put to the test on Sunday:

  1. It’s a trampoline party – organised to ensure the kids all get a go at doing something fun, that’s sporty and is almost a skill – so surely leaving with memories, and maybe a photo of them in action. Plus a gummy snake or two (on special at a supermarket, but chosen because they will remind Nell of her 2011 antipodean travels).
  2. I’ve got enough paper bags stored up that can be emblazoned with the guest children’s name and then filled with spring bulbs. Lovely, but pricey.
  3. Organise a huge bunch of sweet-smelling narcissi and then divide between the guests. Brilliant if I’m still not sure who is coming. The only hitch is that I like to buy British grown flowers and I’ve left it a bit late this year.
  4. Go to a second hand book shop, or charity shop, and scoop up all the books I recognise that Nell has read and enjoyed – and then give each guest a goodbye gift of a recommended read. I love this idea, but fear that in my bit of London the books will be around £1 each. You could say it is going for a good cause, but with 16 children that’s out of my party bag budget.
  5. Thinking it through like this is working well! I’m going to put their name on a paper bag (easy to do for latecomers at the party) and then divide out the gummy snakes and add a fairy cake to enjoy on the way home. Sorted. Now, where’s the Domestic Goddess recipe book?

Over to you
Any ideas for simple, quick, fun party bags that everyone will enjoy? Remember to spell out what age you think it works for.

Party bags

September 11, 2011

This blog is about thrifty, creative and eco-friendly ways to bring up kids. It’s by Nicola Baird. See Info about all my books, including Homemade Kids, on Amazon here

I’m fired up I tell you. Just been cruising the stalls at our local festival, held in our local park. It was it’s 25th year and amazingly it’s never rained. Well not until 5pm today but that certainly didn’t seem to keep the crowds away. This year frog t-shirts were on sale, Somali ladies drummed and the church charged £4 for a plate of veggie curry and rice. Hundreds of local people attend – it’s become a real place to meet friends and acquaintances after the summer holidays.

Make your own wallet from a drinks carton
One stall, run by Hackney’s genius Eco-active team was showing kids how to fold up tetrapak cartons to make little wallets (sealed with a rubber band) or even to use as a bike puncture store kit. Oh it was genius and would be easy to do at a kids’ party. Here are some pix of things you can make from tetrapak on a fascinating website.

Make your own party bag from newspapers
Another great idea was to take a box (eg, a cereal box and to wrap it up, neatly, using two sheets of newspaper and then glue up. You may need some scissors to trim any over large pieces.

Leave one side open – extricate your box and then fold over the top rim about 1cm (or 2cm if you like) to provide a strong rim that you can punch holes into (using a hole puncher) on either side. Knot a piece of string and thread through to make a handle. Repeat on the other side. For tweenies the preferred length of handle allows them to hoik it over their shoulder so they are wearing their paper bag in a high fashion way.

You can make these paper bags look even more chic if you use a Hindi or Polish language newspaper.

There are more easy to run party activities for all ages of 11s and under are in my book Homemade Kids. But another great Eco-Active idea is to make insect finge rpuppets out of paper (just cut out a simple design like a butterfly, dragonfly or honey bee), get the kids to decorate and then fix to their finger with a paper ring.

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