Christmas in July My $150 Shopping Plan

Here it is right smack in the middle of Summer and I am going to talk to you about Christmas. I know it’s 6 months away but as I mentioned last week, Christmas is one of my favorite holidays. It isn’t long after the smoke from the fireworks clears that my mind starts making Christmas plans. This week I am going to share with you how I made Christmas happen for $150. That’s not a typo. I only spent $150 on two kids for Christmas. We didn’t need to take cash from our household budget either. Find out how I make extra income without leaving for work.

Our Christmas haul
Our Christmas haul

First, start planning early (like July) and hit up the garage sales. Yes, I said garage sales. I was inspired by a friend of mine who shops garage sales for toys for Christmas gifts. At first it didn’t sound right to me, but then I realized I buy toys from garage sales all year long. My kids don’t seem to notice, or care where they come from. What makes Christmas different? And really isn’t it the same as re-gifting?

Now, let me clarify here  my kids did not get used junk for Christmas (leaky Jell-O mold anyone?). I was very selective about items I purchased.  The toys I picked out for them were either brand new in package  or were very gently used. My biggest score was two copy paper boxes filled with pristine condition children’s books  for only $8.00. That was more than enough to give each girl a wrapped book every night as part our Advent countdown.

A good book, cookies & milk makes a good countdown to Christmas
A good book, cookies & milk makes a good countdown to Christmas

Second, set your budget and stick to it. I thought $150 sounded reasonable, but you may want or need to go a little higher. once I reached $100 I felt like I had enough big stuff. I then set aside $20 for stocking stuffers and spent the remaining $30 on new pajamas and one new outfit for each kid. Of course shopping online for these items and avoiding any holiday traffic is what worked for me!

Alphie our talking robot has to be the kids' favorite gift
Alphie our talking robot is the kids’ favorite gift

Third, plan for a better tomorrow: buying second hand helps save the planet (you’re welcome); buying from local families helps them afford to buy for their little ones and by planning for savings you can afford to be generous with your favorite charity.

It might sound crazy to start planning this early since most of us can’t even think about what we are having for breakfast tomorrow. But the time I saved by getting things done early really paid off. I had all my shopping, gift wrapping and stockings stuffed before the Thanksgiving turkey hit the oven. My weekends in December were free for creating a fun old-fashioned family Christmas. We baked cookies for our local firemen; we watched Santa jump from a plane (our new favorite tradition); had our picture taken with Santa; decorated the tree; crafted a whole bunch of stuff; drove around to check out the Christmas lights and spent plenty a snowy day snuggling in our jammies.

Less time shopping = more time to bake!
Less time shopping = more time to bake!

By not focusing on what went under the tree, we were able to truly enjoy the season. My kids won’t remember what their favorite Christmas gift was when they were 3, or that mom only spent $150 on used gifts. But, my hope is that having the extra time to focus on the feeling of Christmas will instill a lifetime of warm memories for us. There is no price tag on memories.

When do you start planning for Christmas? Are you an early shopper, or are you just sliding in under the tree Christmas morning?

 

Watermelon Cupcakes Are a Great Summer Birthday Surprise!

Help me welcome Pamela from Creating Barefoot! Pamela is a busy mom, Barefoot Books Rep, Blogger, Painter and an all around super mom! She is sharing with us how to make watermelon cupcakes. Curious? Read on! Oh and there’s a giveaway too! Read through to the end for details!

Pamela from Creating Barefoot
Pamela from Creating Barefoot

I am beyond thrilled to be a guest blogger for The Whatever Mom! I have followed her blog since day one; and I have loved and related to each and every post. Before kids I was a complete planner, over-achiever and detailed person. Now that I have 2 very different boys constantly running in different directions, with different wants, and likes and tastes I have certainly come to take on the “whatever” mantra myself.

My older son, completely unlike his mother, will not put a piece of chocolate to his mouth. No ice cream, no cake, no frosting, no candy bars. But put a bowl of fruit in front of him and he will devour it and ask for more. Of course not something I mind, though hard to lure him with bribes of sweet treats when I need to give him a little extra incentive.

Like any new, over- achiever mom I slaved over his first birthday cake. A beautiful sesame street chocolate cake covered in yummy butter cream and sweet fondant Elmo faces. He wouldn’t touch it, let alone try a piece. I thought great, I won’t have to worry about the sugar high later.

By his second birthday I felt bad he wouldn’t eat his own birthday cake. I knew I had to come up with something different and carved his cake out of a watermelon instead. He ate a great big juicy slice and loved every last bite of it.

Watermelon carved cake
Watermelon carved cake

The first “cake” went over so well, the following year I made this for his Mickey Mouse Train Party. (We had a joint party so the cake on the bottom was for his cake- loving little brother).

Watermelon Mickey Train
Watermelon Mickey Train

And that brings us to this year and my dilemma with sending in a healthy, child friendly snack for his birthday celebration at school. I wanted to make sure it was something he would eat and per the school guidelines it had to be healthy. Following my watermelon cake tradition I figured I could pretty easily make them into cupcakes!

Watermelon cupcakes with banana frosting and blueberry topper
Watermelon cupcakes with banana frosting and blueberry topper

Here is what you need:

  • 1 Watermelon sliced into 1 inch slices
  • 3-4 Bananas
  • A Circle shaped cookie cutter (be sure it is small enough to fit inside your cupcake liners)
  • Blueberries for topping
  • Decorative sprinkles

STEP 1: Cut watermelon into 1 inch slices.

STEP 2: Use cookie cutter to cut out each circle and place inside cupcake liners.

STEP 3:  Cut two small slices of banana per watermelon slice. Mash them up a little to look more like frosting and place on top.

STEP 4: Top with blueberry as the “cherry topper” and add a generous amount of sprinkles.

melon cakes edit

The teachers raved about the “cupcakes” and the kids ate them all up! It is a super healthy and adorable summer birthday treat!

And now for the Giveaway! ONE lucky reader will win a FREE book from Barefoot Books!

This giveaway is only open for 24 HOURS! Click the link below and follow directions in the box! Don’t forget to share!

Enter to win THIS book!
Enter to win THIS book!

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e032391/

*This giveaway is now CLOSED*

Make Paper Pinwheels for your next Summer Party

Final product
Final product

It was such a gorgeous day today, the girls and I spent most of it outside. We played with the water table, ran around flying kites, kicked a ball and even enjoyed our lunch outside. Then someone said, “Let’s make a craft.” I didn’t feel like making a huge mess with paint and no one was biting the line for crayons and coloring books. Quickly, I remembered I have this fun book I picked up from a retired teacher selling her 20 year collection of classroom books! I scored 2 big boxes of pristine kids books for $8.00!

There were a few different crafting books in the collection and I nearly forgot about this one. But, my girls pulled it out recently and asked to make a craft. I guess I couldn’t put it off any longer.

 

Original print date 1979
Original print date 1978

I love that it felt like I was opening a time capsule from the 1970’s when I opened this “How-to” book!

 

Easy to follow pictures in a book is easier for little ones to see and read.
Easy to follow pictures in a book is easier for little ones to see and read.

You can certainly find instructions on how to make pinwheels on Pintrest. But I love that the instructions are in pictures and simply laid out in this book. It is a much easier way for little ones to follow without the annoyance of scrolling and dropping WiFi signals. Plus, there’s a lot less pressure for perfection. (For me).

Here are the materials you need:

Materials for pinwheels
Materials for pinwheels
  • Scrap book paper (double sided has a great effect).
  • Scissors
  • Wooden dowels (I used wooden skewers).
  • A pencil
  • Thumb tacks
  • A ruler
  • A 1-2 inch circle to trace

 

Snag your kids toys for projects
Snag your kids toys for projects

STEP 1: Measure an 8×8 square on paper. (I cheated and traced the instruction book to create my square page).

STEP 2: Cut out square.

STEP 3: Fold your square corner to corner and crease. Unfold and refold to opposite corners and crease.

STEP 4: Draw a circle in the center point. (I found this easier to do after I made the creases).

STEP 5: Cut along the fold lines and stop at the circle.

STEP 6: Lift every other corner of each triangle and pull to the center circle.

STEP 7: Push a thumb tack through the center of paper and then through the wooden dowel (or skewer).

Ta-da!
Ta-da!

The pinwheels really turned out better than I expected (since I didn’t use any actual tools to measure).

We did this just for fun, but it would make a brilliant party decoration! I inserted the stems of the finished pinwheels into colorful drinking mason jars. I removed the straws and pushed in the skewers. The points on the skewers makes it easy to poke into potted plants around a deck, or push into the ground to line a walk way. You can even fill up buckets with fun treats with a pinwheel poking out. Or just make it a fun way to pass the time on a sunny day!

 

What’s your on-the-fly/go-to craft? Feel free to share pictures or comments below!

 

Disclaimer: Clearly in 1978 kids were allowed to play with thumb tacks. Most likely while sliding down a hot aluminum slide over top of loose gravel. If you make this craft, please be sure you take precautions for little ones who still like to explore by putting things in their mouth.

 

Family Savings Jars – Dimes for Disney

Most of my crafty ideas start with me rummaging through the house to find whatever items I already have on hand.  I found these awesome mason jars (which held our store bought pasta sauce) and knew I needed to use them for something! Disney jars it is! I think my girls are still a little too young to appreciate the magic of Disney World. I really want them to experience it while they are young enough to believe in magic, but old enough to remember taking it all in. So the goal is to save up our dimes and celebrate their 5th birthday in Disney!

Here’s how I made the jars:

I chose glass jars so we can watch the money add up each week! They’re also small enough to carry to the bank when we are ready to deposit. (No thanks water cooler jug). Removing the labels is easy; just soak for 10 min. in hot soapy water.

Materials I found
Materials I rummaged

I found this great site that allows me to print Mickey ears with my kids’ initials in the Disney font. I cut and paste into a Word document and re-sized them to what I need.

Print on card stock, cut and apply
Print on card stock, cut and apply

It would have been awesome if I had thought to print on card stock (and checked my ink levels). Since I did not, I used them as templates to make these:

If you did not print on card stock use printed ears as template on actual card stock
If you did not print on card stock use printed ears as template for actual card stock

I found some pink polka dot ribbon to match the pink letters. I simply taped one edge to the glass and wrapped the ribbon tightly around the jar and used a glue gun to secure it. (Glue guns scare the heck out of me so I only use very sparingly).

Fold one end of ribbon over to create a clean fold before securing to other end of ribbon
Fold one end of ribbon over to create a clean fold before securing to other end of ribbon

I painted the lids to the jars last. I didn’t have any spray paint on hand, but I did have a pint of latex paint from a project I never completed. So, I just brushed some of that on. In hindsight spray paint might have been quicker, and I totally regret not using glitter.

Use spray paint for quicker application and clean up
Use spray paint for quicker application and clean up
Presto change-o!
Presto change-o!

Now how will we fill these wonderful Disney jars? With the blood, sweat and tears of toddlers of course! How else do toddlers earn a little extra pocket money? Yep! Chores! I am putting my 3 1/2 year-olds to work and using a Disney chore chart! I feel your concern regarding child labor laws, but let me assure you we keep the toddler chores pretty simple around here. The girls chore list includes picking up their own shoes, toys and dishes; which they do already. Only now we reward them with stickers and pennies. This is a great way to introduce the concept of rewards and consequences. Mwahahaha!

Finished jars
Finished jars

Maybe you’re not saving for Disney, but it might be fun to start a family fun jar to pay for a pizza night, movie tickets, or entrance to a water park. Whatever your goal is get the kids excited. Help them decorate a jar and decide on ways they can earn money to deposit. Drop in coins when you can, or let them deposit their allowance. It’s whatever you make of it!

 

 

Introducing Phase 2

We interrupt this regularly scheduled crafty blog to focus a moment on Phase 2 of my frumpy to fabulous plan. Remember my post about how to spring clean your look? Well that was Phase 1 of my plan. I decided to add Phase 2, Healthy Eating and Exercise, after my daughter caught me getting out of the shower. Her exact words were, “Mama, you’re floppy!” (She used to be my favorite).

Before kids, getting out of the house was so much easier. I could be out the door in 15 minutes or less. Now it takes an hour. The breakdown of that hour looks like this: 20 minutes discussing pants (actual topic); 10 minutes spinning in circles before putting on socks; 10 minutes answering questions about socks; 5 minutes wrestling shoes onto toddlers; 10 minutes countering complaints about having to leave the house; 3 minutes 30 seconds just to cross over the threshold to the outside world; and 1 minute 30 seconds to count every single flower on the way to the car.

All that spinning and wrestling might sound like a work out, but it sadly isn’t helping any with the aforementioned floppiness. As a mom with twins glued to my hip I don’t get much time to myself. I don’t have babysitters or money for the gym

But, with recent news of my floppiness, I went in search of what could possibly work for a mom in my situation. I found an at-home solution through Great Expectings.  Christine McCracken, owner of Great Expectings, is also a nurse, a mom and fitness enthusiast. She has made it her goal to help women (and moms like me) with limited time and access to a gym get fit. (Is that a choir of angels I hear?)

We spoke over the phone for an initial consultation. I shared all my injuries and postpartum issues and she went right to work creating work outs I can do at home. Each week she emails me a daily workout schedule to complete. Each day I log my food and exercise choices at myfitnesspal (she can see what I eat- ack!). I have access to her every day via email, text or phone. It feels like having an exercise buddy cheering me on and it motivates me to stay accountable.

On the healthy eating front I have my groceries delivered each week. This saves me from the candy aisle and impulse buying (yes, I meant to buy a Kit-Kat, 2 bouncy balls and a new hammock). I try to incorporate Christine’s tips for healthy eating into my meal plan. Like drinking water and including extra veggies at each meal. Outsourcing my workout planning and having my food delivered, I’m feeling pretty fabulous already!

Readers, I think you know by now The Whatever Mom Credo is to simplify and to do “whatever it takes to get through the day.” Well, that includes fitting in exercise and time to take care of our health. This is one area it is not safe to say, “Whatever.” You don’t have to join a gym, or do what I do. Just find what works for you!

 

Recipe Round Up!

Some of you have requested recipes for my sneaky sweet treats. You can Download your FREE copies using the links below.

All recipes have been toddler tested and hubby approved! Hope you enjoy!

 

avocado pudding Chocolate Avocado Pudding

My kids LOVE this recipe! I won’t name names, but one very picky eater won’t even touch an avocado. But, you mix it with dark chocolate cocoa powder and a some honey she’s all over it! We may have also enjoyed this as a lunch option once or twice.

 

Cookie snack Peanut Butter Chickpea Cookies

This twist on a traditional chocolate chip cookie goes completely undetected! The only difference is the texture. It doesn’t get crispy like a thin cookie, but remains doughy (will firm up once cool).

 

 

Banana ice cream Banana Ice Cream Sandwiches

This is a great dairy alternative for those with sensitivities! It takes a little longer with freeze time. My kids thought it was a fun “experiment.” Hey, whatever gets them to eat it! You can skip the crackers and eat the banana ice cream straight from the bowl! The flavor combinations are endless. Add in peanut butter, frozen berries, chocolate. Get creative!

 

 

Hummus Sweet potato hummus

Picky eater says what? This homemade hummus made with chickpeas and sweet potatoes has a slight sweetness. It pairs well with apples, carrots, purple grapes and the toddler staple: Goldfish crackers. As a bonus, I used this hummus in place of oil in a boxed brownie mix. It made cake like, dense brownies. I am pretending the extra protein balanced out all the sugar in the mix.

 

2014 5 23 038

 

Please share any favorite ‘hidden’ recipes!

Backyard Pirate Adventure

I had been trapped for hours in the back yard. Forced to swashbuckle against my will. Someone put a twig in my hand and made me sword fight before I was told to walk the plank. This is not a bad dream. This is my children’s obsession with all things Pirate. Yes, friends my girls love pirates. The bad boys of the high seas. So, when a friend of mine hand delivered an invitation to her son’s pirate themed birthday party, I had no choice. I had to make them their own treasure maps. Mostly because I had two kids fighting over one treasure map. (Thanks G!)

Start by brewing some tea. Not to relax with, but to paint with! Be sure to allow the tea to steep long enough to make a dark brown color. The tea stains make the paper look like aged parchment paper.

Brew regular or decaf tea
Brew regular or decaf tea

Pour a small amount into a bowl, or cup.

Pour small amount into bowl. Small amount = smaller spill.
Small amount = smaller spill.

Use whatever paper you have on hand. (We used regular drawing paper pulled from the tablet). Next, give your kid their favorite paint brush and let the painting begin. Or, you can place smaller pieces of paper on a tray with edges (baking sheet works too) and let them pour the tea over them. Hang it up to dry.

The color on our paper came out lighter than I wanted. After it dried I poured more tea over it and allowed to dry. This made a wonderful layered color effect.

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Use paint brush to apply tea to paper

Since the pages were too wet to draw our maps on we left them in the sun to dry while we searched for treasure. The girls sorted their glass gems and gathered their “booty” from their dress up jewelry collection.

Panning for golden treasure
Panning for golden treasure

Once the pages were dry I tore them in half to give the edges a more weathered look. This also gave each kid two maps of their very own.  I used our markers to add colorful nautical art to each map. In true pirate fashion, the girls dictated what they wanted me to draw on their maps.

Final maps
Our maps next to the inspiration map

After everything had completely dried we took the maps outside to walk a treasure trail in our yard.We took turns hiding and finding our treasures. Of course I had to walk the plank AGAIN. It’s not my fault I’m an awesome treasure hunter! Best part of the project is it didn’t cost me a single doubloon.

 

What ‘argh’ ya planning for your back yard adventures? ‘Shiver me timbers’ I need to get out more!

 

How I Became Friends With the TV

“I’m saving up to be a stay at home mom because I want to be around to limit screen time and make sure my kids are eating only healthy food,” said the young single girl I was chatting with. I thought to myself, “Oh sweetie, let me tell you how I became friends with the TV.”

Don’t get me wrong I don’t think TV is evil, and I don’t judge moms who eliminate it or put limits on it. What happens in your household is your business. As a first time mom I really had this fantasy that my children would be capable of entertaining themselves at some point, and before that we’d have beautiful days filled with learning opportunities. We would follow a routine with structure and make arts and crafts, take nature walks and have sensory activities. What I did not picture in this fantasy was the complete physical, emotional and mental exhaustion I’d feel nearly every single day. I did not factor in my children would have their own minds and express their desires so deeply and passionately (by passionate I mean full blown tantrum). Never had I ever imagined a typical day would include being taken down by a toddler tag team. One distracts me with a poopy diaper while the other climbs to the top of my head, and in a choke hold pulls me to the ground. Then it all turns Wild Kingdom. Two raving chimps begin ceaselessly jumping on me (one without pants because she was just getting a change) and they screech with laughter. Oh, also I did not account for having twins. Whoops!

As soon as my kids could walk and run in opposite directions it has been a struggle to find peace and to finish tasks. By the time the terrible two’s settled in I gave up trying to keep the TV off. My kids were up by 6:30 and finally asleep by 9:00-ish. Did I mention they gave up naps? Those two and a half glorious hours I had to myself each day. The only hours where I could finish the dishes, laundry, eat my own lunch and enjoy a solo phone conversation. Gone.

It was around this time I had my first anxiety attack ever and landed in the ER. It took a brilliant neurologist to tell me there’s nothing wrong with you. “You just need a Xanax and a good therapist.” At first I thought she MUST be getting a kick back from big Pharma! What she continued to say was, “you are trying to do too much all alone. Gone is the day we raised our kids in a village. If you want to be healthy learn to manage your stress better.” So began my journey of learning to let things go.

The first thing I let go of? Mom guilt. Then I grabbed the remote. My girls watch very limited programing in small doses. We started with Blue’s Clues then branched out to Dora the Explorer and it was just downhill from there. If I want to finish cleaning up from lunch and start dinner they watch TV. If I need to just take a mental health day (yes even SAHM’s need those!) I turn to Disney Jr. Some days I can feel my brain shaking trying to make room for any singular thought amongst the loud screeching and whining of my children. That’s when I turn on Little Einsteins.

My reality is I am outnumbered. I have limited day care options. There are two human beings suction cupped to my body 90% of the day. It’s stressful. It’s difficult to get through when I don’t have time to decompress from that stress.  How do most adults decompress at the end of the day? In front of the TV with their spouse!   So, how do my girls and I decompress during the day? Sheriff Cali.

Let’s just take a collective sigh here. Give ourselves a break from the mommy guilt and understand that even Harvard graduates probably watched hours upon hours of TV before their 1st birthday. So, my dear young, single friend, when you’re ready to take a break I’ll be happy to bring you a hot fresh coffee and the TV Guide. Then I’ll share with you the magic of bribing your kids with Goldfish crackers and juice boxes.

Make a Summer Bucket List!

Dare I say the winter that would never die has finally passed and we can FINALLY, FINALLY (no for real this time) enjoy some summer time activities? Woo hoo!

For us, summer begins a flurry of travel plans, exciting adventures and new places to see.  I feel like our social calendar fills up so quickly it’s easy to lose track of the simple things summertime offers. My girls are 3 ½ this summer which means they can enjoy a greater variety of activities this year. This age is when those warm memories start to really take hold. I want to share the lazy parts of summer with my kids as well as the excitement of big adventures.

This year we are making a Summer Bucket List!

 

Get as fancy as you want when making your list
Get as fancy as you want when making your list

Making a summer bucket list is a fun way to add new adventures, make memories and keep traditions alive. We made our list by first checking out local sites we keep meaning to try. We added a few new hiking places, some old hiking places and parks/museums that offer free admission days.  I layered in a few summer staples I want to be a memorable part of my girls’ childhood- like making s’mores, snuggling by a camp fire, eating ice cream for dinner and watching fireworks. I didn’t forget about those rainy days that catch us by surprise. I sprinkled in a few rainy day activities to keep us busy and to make some memories with; like dancing in the rain, a puppet show, making a fort and a Disney movie marathon.  I am excited to wake up each day and choose our own adventure!

 

Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items
Display list in a frame and use dry erase marker to check off items

Here are some tips for making your own Summer Bucket List:

Keep it simple. If you put too many big adventures on your list that require a lot of planning, travel time and money it may feel more depleting than memorable.

Check your local resources. Are there free hiking trails, picnic areas, beach areas you can use? Many libraries have free museum passes to loan, and they offer free programs throughout the summer.

Set an intention for the season. Are you looking for more family time? Are you looking to slow down and enjoy the simple life? Do you want to start a family project, or get more involved in your community? Maybe take a “staycation” and explore what your local area has to offer.

Consider what stage your kids are in.  For the under 2 crowd maybe a simple list of things to accomplish with them. Like learn to blow a bubble, see grandma for the first time, or try a new park. If your little one is more mobile and ready for some action you can try group activities like a new story hour, make a new friend at play group, or try swimming in a pool.  Don’t forget about all the free sample classes at your local Little Gym/Gymboree, Music Together and other “mommy and me” type classes.

The fun part is getting the whole family involved! This way everyone has something to look forward to. Display your bucket list where everyone can see it and take turns checking off completed items.

 

Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket
Display your list or make an interactive list by using cards you pull out of a bucket

 

The completed list becomes a great keepsake for any scrap book. Hey make that one of your bucket list items- scrap booking your summer! Enjoy!

Get your FREE printable bucket list 2014 Summer Bucket List 2!

 

Kid’s Art Storage

During my last visit home my mother handed me this haphazardly filled box of some of my old artwork and collectibles. Not everything fit and it was spilling over the sides of the box. I dropped most of its contents on the way to the car. I was excited to see mementos of my childhood but overwhelmed by sorting through it.

My sad little box.
My sad little box.

This made me think about how to store my kid’s little creations. Now that they are in pre-school they bring home new art projects each week (times 2). I went in search of ways to organize and store their creations. I wanted something to last through their school years.

Some time ago I found a nifty and thrifty way to display our weekly creations. I fashioned a very simple and inexpensive hanging gallery using twine, 3M Command hooks and clothes pins. All stuff I already had on hand. This hangs close to our entry way so the girls can clip their art as soon as they walk in the door.

Our gallery line
Our gallery line

Simply apply the Command hooks according to directions and tie the ends of a piece of twine to each. Clip artwork to the line with a clothes pin. You can get as fancy as you’d like by using colored ribbon and colored clothes pins, or just keep it simple and use what you already have.

3M Command Hook

3M CommandHook

Artwork stays in the gallery for about a week (when the next round of art work starts coming in) before I sort through which pieces to keep and which pieces to toss. I am a ruthless chucker. I only keep the pieces that are really special. I’m a sucker for hand prints, projects made for mom and dad and anything that looks like more than practice scribbles. We haven’t had any over sized pieces yet, but I am already planning to toss those (unless my children are prodigies in that case I’ll keep them).

For storage, I purchased two plastic file bins at Walmart for less than $20.00. I re-purposed some file folders I already have and downloaded some free printables I found online. I like the simplicity of someone else doing the work and then downloading to print.

File storage bins
File storage bins

I don’t have enough storage for each child to have their own file bin, so I am doubling up. One bin is marked for preschool through sixth grade. The second bin is marked for seventh grade to twelfth grade. I will drop keepsakes for each child into one file folder and let them sort it out (10-20 years) later. Each folder is pre-labeled with the school year and inside each folder is a cover sheet to include school picture and school info. Since everything is labeled I can just drop kids’ keepsakes into appropriate school year and be done.

Pretty little tabs all in a row
Pretty little tabs all in a row

I save myself years of organizing time, and I save my kids the hassle of dragging toppling boxes to the car one day. The whole project took me less than 30 minutes. The most time consuming part is cutting out the labels and putting in the tabs. A project you can do easily in front of the TV.

How do you save your kids artwork? Are you a ruthless purger, or a keepsake queen?