You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Store bought fun’ category.

Easy Easter Basket Ideas

It’s that time of year where everyone wants to know what’s in everyone else’s Easter basket. Moms wonder if they are giving enough, or too much, and what items are age appropriate. Some families celebrate with big gifts and some celebrate with just a few chocolate eggs. However you decide to celebrate is totally up to you!

When I was a little kid, my three siblings and I each received our own baskets. They were usually stocked with the same candies year after year. But that’s OK because we knew what to look forward to every year. We could count on each of us getting our own coveted Cadbury egg. By the time we were teenagers my mom focused on one family basket instead of four individual baskets. I think it was easier for her, but I also think she just wanted in on the candy haul without having to bargain with each of us for it. She filled one giant basket with all our favorite candies and no gifts. She also added in real eggs that had been dyed, and individual loaves of Italian Easter bread made from scratch. If you have not had Italian Easter bread Google it now and get to baking! Or find a bakery near you that makes them! So delicious!

For my kids, we have done something different every year. We usually include “gifts” in their baskets simply because kids never stop needing things. We use this as a great excuse to include whatever items they need at the moment, like a new pair of spring pajamas, swim gear, art supplies and rain gear. The kids think it’s the most amazing thing ever that the Easter Bunny knew they were running out of underwear. I didn’t say these were all extravagant gifts, but gifts none-the-less.

This year they have all the swim suits and underwear they need. So what’s next? Well, this Easter season has us smack dab in the middle of a new lifestyle challenge in our house. We are working hard to eliminate as much unnecessary plastic and packaging as we can. And let’s face it, every holiday comes prepackaged these days. I had to really think about this to find something new the girls will find exciting!

Here is what will be in our Easter baskets this year:

Rain boots- my kids are coincidentally in need of new rubber rain boots. These are something we need as we simply cannot pass up a good puddle to jump around in.

Chocolates- I know real original. But, we buy from a local store where we can get individual favorites packaged together in a recyclable paper box, and chocolate bunnies in a paper bag. Due to food allergies we can’t have Cadbury eggs in our house. But that means we get spoiled with some really good chocolate!

Gift Cards- This is my new favorite item to give for every holiday! So much less packaging and nothing left to clutter up my house! It’s also like prepaying for our fun! We are adding gift cards to the local ice cream shop, Target, museum passes, even our favorite salon. Yes, I said salon. Kids need hair cuts and it’s like a fun day out for us girls!

T-shirts- not just any t-shirts! We bought the T-shirts from their favorite bounce place which will give us $4 off every return trip. You bundle that with a gift card to the ice cream shop and you have a really fun day out!

Summer shoes- They have also outgrown their summer shoes. Even though it is practical and it’s something I would have bought them anyway, I am turning it into a gifting opportunity. Also, I got them on a really great clearance sale last year. Ha!

Other fun things we’ve included in the past:

  • New umbrella decorated with their favorite character
  • Art supplies
  • Garden tools with matching apron and gloves
  • Bubbles and sidewalk chalk
  • Beach towels
  • Bikes (only because we got them free with credit card points and they arrived two days before Easter)
  • Bike helmets
  • Beach toys
  • Books
  • Swim suit and goggles
  • Summer pajamas

Now I know, most people eschew actual gift giving at Easter. However, I’ve never been one to really care what other people do with their money or holidays. I just try to stay in my own lane. So, whether throwing some candy in a basket and leaving on the kitchen table is more your thing, or hand stitching bunny costumes for every member of your family, no one here will be judging. Or nosing around your basket sneaking Cadbury eggs.

What’s in your Easter basket?

The Whatever Mom is a full-time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here. You can also find her musings and popular shares on Facebook and Twitter. Stay up to date with her creative ideas and outings on Pinterest. 



Birthday Swag Party

This week the girls and I set aside the crafts to work on a unique service project! We are collecting birthday swag to deliver to the People’s Place Thrift Store & Food Pantry in Kingston. The Birthday Booth started in May 2015 when participants began asking for help providing birthday cakes for their children. Since then Christine Hein and her amazing staff have collected unwrapped toys, party supplies and cake donations for local families. I met with Christine hoping to get more details about how I can donate some birthday swag, but I walked away with a greater understanding of the People’s Place mission. (More about that below!).

What is birthday swag? Well to many of us it might look like goody bags, big bright decorations, balloons and favors, etc. We don’t think too much about giving our kids a big party with their friends. But, to families who are struggling to put food on the table it may be difficult to even provide the simple birthday essentials like a coordinated set of napkins, plates and birthday candles. It may even be a challenge to pay for a birthday cake to celebrate the day.

How to Host a Birthday Swag Party:

Birthday swag bags

  1. Announce your party! Send an Evite, or create an event page on Facebook asking friends and family to donate at least one party supply item. Example: mom can donate one package of blue napkins, cousin Sarah can donate one package of blue plates and uncle John can donate a package of blue cups. Everyone can donate one item until you have a full set, or ask for complete coordinated character sets from each participant.
  2. Schedule pick up! Round up all the items by having everyone drop off to you, or you can travel to them. Collecting during your Thanksgiving, or holiday get together is a great way to gather everything in one place, and do something good as a family.
  3. Drop off! No need to sort the items, but do put them neatly in a box or bag to drop off to People’s Place in Kingston Monday – Friday 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or Wednesday 5:30-7:30 p.m.
  4. YOU’RE DONE!! How easy is that?

Birthday Swag items can include, cake plates, napkins, cups, table cloth, crepe paper, birthday sign, birthday candles, balloons. All the simple elements a family can use to celebrate together at home. You can also donate cash, or gift cards to cover the cost of a birthday cake ($12-$15).

Birthday Swag Items

Collecting birthday party supplies may not seem like an essential need, but to a kid living with food insecurity facing a birthday without a celebration can be devastating- and to a parent heart breaking. If you would like to contribute to the Birthday Booth, volunteer or donate your good quality clothing and home goods; or if you live in Ulster County and need help providing essentials please call (845) 338-4030, or email

People's Place Kingston

Since 1972 the mission of People’s Place has been to feed and clothe the unemployed, the physically and mentally challenged, working poor, youth, and elderly in Ulster County. Please visit their website or follow them on Facebook to learn more.  The 4,500 square foot thrift store financially supports the food pantry and other programs provided by this valuable organization. In 2014 they provided over 190,000 meals, over 8,000 articles of clothing and over 50,000 household items- all FREE to Ulster County residents in need. It is non-denominational and non-government funded. They are completely not-for-profit and serve the most essential needs of the community.  They are always looking for volunteers!

Other programs offered through People’s Place: Summer Bookworm Program, Back to School Smart Starts, It’s a Thanksgiving Feast, Warm Coats from Warm Hearts, Jolly Holiday Toy Give-A-Way, Your Choice Food Pantry, The Personal Care Closet, Dress for Dignity, Farm Stand, Bag Summer Hunger. 



The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the BIG potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

Each week the girls and I try to create our own projects. I scour Pinterest, or Facebook for ideas and we make them our own. I like to keep things simple. This week is so busy we are taking some help from the store. Well, more specifically a generous gift giver. The girls are using the gem mining kit by Wonderology they got as a birthday gift. I was reluctant to pull this out because of the mess factor. But, I can’t hold them off any longer, so now we are sharing with you!

Gem mining kit Wonderology

The age recommendation on the box says age 8+ but my 5-year olds love it! (I later found these available at Target). The kit comes complete with little plastic excavation tools and promises there are 8 gems inside.

Gem mining Wonderology

I placed the plaster cast inside a large disposable aluminum food pan to keep the excavation tidy.

Disposable food tray keeps crafting neat

It was a challenge to unearth these little gems as they were really hidden! It was big work for little hands so I stepped in to help by breaking the cast into smaller pieces to make chiseling easier.

Gem stones Wonderology

After we uncovered all of the gems I gave the girls the extra step of cleaning them. I emptied the plaster rubble into the garbage and filled our tray with clean, clear water. They enjoyed the water play as much as the mining activity.

Water play

Now that my girls are a little older and moving way from some of the younger preschool activities I often find myself challenged by what to do next. They don’t know it, but I stashed away all the arts and crafts gift sets they got for their birthday and I’ll bring those out on those less inspired days. Sometimes it’s OK to follow a boxed craft.

What are some of your favorite kids craft kits?

The Whatever Mom is a full time wife and twin mama living on coffee and wine. She enjoys the pure rush of cleaning the potty between loads of laundry. It is her dream that moms everywhere accept and embrace the Whatever Mom philosophy which can be found here.

About Me!

This blog is where we comment on the issues and topics Hudson Valley parents deal with every day. We invite you to join us! Please leave us your comments.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 60 other followers