I am finally getting back on track after our special birthday weekend. We had a blast at Baby Babe’s party! We had two toddler friendly imaginative play areas for the kids: a Milk Jug Igloo and Squishy Snow Dough. I’d love to share how we created these special winter activities! I had so much fun thinking of these Winter Birthday Party Activities For a Toddler!
I wanted to do a wintery theme for the party and when my mom suggested the milk jug igloo I loved the idea! I ended up adding some penguins, snowflakes and an igloo cake and I think everything really came together!
penguins made of olives, cream cheese, carrots and roasted red pepper
a special cake for a special girl!
The kids just LOVED the squishy snow dough! I can’t wait to try it again. Baby Babe wanted to sit in the bin and taste the dough, but her older friends were absorbed in the dough all night!
Squishy Snow Dough:
9 cups of baking soda+ One 12 oz bottle of children’s conditioner. I used Suave brand that smelled like strawberries. Be sure to use white conditioner so it stays bright like snow! It will seem like a LOT of baking soda and not much conditioner but just keep mixing and squishing and you will see that it really comes together. I loved how it felt cool to the touch and the clean up was really not bad at all! It sweeps up daily and hand rinse clean and soft from the conditioner.
To let parents at the party know what the kids were squishing in I hung a little note stating the ingredients. On the note I included a simple poem to ask the kids to wash their hands first. I didn’t want anyone to be scared about germs in the Squishy Snow Dough!
“Please wash and dry before you try!” I thought that sounded sweeter than nagging the kids or just writing, “Wash your hands! No one wants to share germs!”
Milk Jug Igloo:
We began collecting milk jugs about 3 months before the party. We asked on our neighborhood website if anyone would be willing to save jugs for us. At first we got a few at a time, then my neighbor across the street starting bringing us about 20-30 per week. She brought them home from their work where they use gallons of milk at a time for their cappuccino machine! It sure was a lot of work to clean out all of the jugs, but soon enough we had saved up about 200 jugs! I unfortunately lost the lids to about 50 jugs and we were unable to use them. The lids provide extra support for the structure so be sure to save them!
Once we had our jugs clean, dry and capped we lined them up in a semi-circle shape and started gluing them together with a glue gun. We staggered the jugs on the second row (like building a pyramid with blocks) and continued adding levels while slightly moving each level a little bit toward the middle so that we would get a curve. For the roof we used 2 pieces of PVC pipe and cinderblocks to hold the pipes in place. A white bed sheet gave us a bright airy topping to the igloo. I love the way it turned out! It was a lot of fun to create a special fort for Baby Babe and her friends to play in!
Other fun decorations were Baby Babe’s highchair tutu, which I created just like I did her Thanksgiving turkey tutu. Instead of a headband I found crochet ribbon on a spool that is just like the head band. I measured it to be long enough to tie up as an actual tutu after the party was over.
Favors were sparkly snow dough and peppermint hot cocoa. I think they turned out super cute!
How can you possibly get any holiday cooking done with a toddler in the kitchen? One minute she’s clinging to your legs and whining, then she’s splashing in the dog bowl, touching the hot oven, more clinging followed by some lovely layin’ out on the floor tantrums, then on to pulling out plastic lids and containers making it look like a Gladware monster threw up on your kitchen floor…
I have rounded up 7 fun tips to help you and your little one survive the holiday season and actually get some cooking done!
1. Clean and prep before you start. It seems kind of silly to clean the kitchen before you make a big mess of it all but I really think it’s worth it! Make sure the dishwasher and the dish drying rack are empty, fill the sink with hot soapy water and set out your trash can. Place some fresh dishtowels on the counter and get out all of your ingredients before you start measuring and prepping. When you set yourself up for success and have all of the clutter out of your way you will be able to wrangle your little one and continue to have fun interactions while you are busy cooking.
2. Let your toddler help. Older toddlers can help stir, dump, pour and tear foods into small pieces. Younger tots can “help” as much as they want and this might end up more as exploring ingredients and listening to you talking about the ingredients and steps you’re taking to make a dish. Keep it short and sweet and don’t force them to help if they aren’t interested. Baby Babe “helped” for about 2 minutes. I think that’s a pretty good amount of time for an 11 month old to focus!
3. Squeeze in a snack time. To avoid meltdowns offer snacks and tastes of the ingredients that you are cooking with. I notice that when Baby Babe is whining and nothing is making her happy, she usually needs a little snack.
4. Provide fun play spaces in the kitchen. Instead of banishing your kiddo from the kitchen, invite them to join you in areas that are safe. Allowing them to play with pots and pans or the favorite plasticware cabinet will create a positive attitude about being in the kitchen. Any parent knows that pots and pans are way more interesting than the toy box, so let them have at it! It will buy you a lot of time. Baby Babe loves her window clings on the back door and she will stand there looking outside. The window clings provide a lot of fun conversation starters and learning lessons like colors, shapes and counting.
5. Do a special highchair activity. When things get crazy, buckle them up! I usually try to allow as much exploration as possible, but there are times that the highchair can provide an opportunity to focus on a fun activity and give you a break from chasing and redirecting. While we made our Overnight Blueberry Strata Baby Babe tried some coloring with markers. She really enjoyed coloring!
6. Have a dance party while you cook. Music can lighten the mood and keep your toddler entertained while they play independently. I love Raffi’s Christmas Album! It would be perfect for this time of the year.
7. Keep your to-do’s achievable. Set small goals that you can accomplish easily, then if you can do more that’s great! I used to make a lot more of my food from scratch but this year for my holiday cooking I’ll be taking some short cuts. I would rather set small goals and feel like a rock star when I over accomplish rather than having a huge to do list that I’ll never complete.
Baby Babe has been helping me in the kitchen with some freezer cooking and yesterday we made Overnight Blueberry Strata. This special breakfast treat is perfect for Christmas morning because you can throw it together the night before and pop it in the oven in the morning. It is delish!
Overnight Blueberry Strata
- 1 loaf of French Bread, torn into bite sized cubes
- 1 package of cream cheese, cut into bite sized cubes
- 1 carton of blueberries (frozen will work)
- One dozen eggs, beaten
- 2 cups of unsweetened almond milk
- 1 TBSP cinnamon
- 1/4 c maple syrup
Directions: Layer half of the bread in a large baking dish. Sprinkle the blueberries and cubed cream cheese on top. Add remaining bread cubes. Mix eggs with almond milk, cinnamon, and maple syrup then pour over the bread. Cover with cling wrap and refrigerate overnight. The next morning bake at 350 for about an hour or until golden on top and set.Share it!