Puzzles for the Whole Family – A New Family Favorite

You know those hobbies from your childhood that you introduce to your kids and they aren’t interested? That’s how it went introducing my children to puzzles above 50 pieces. While they enjoyed the 24-48 piece puzzles as preschoolers, they did not have any sort of patience for larger puzzles. They had outgrown the smaller puzzles, so they were shelved.

I have several of those little puzzles that are still used because I still have a preschooler, but the larger ones remained largely untouched. Then on a whim the other day, I ordered this for myself:

It was a total impulse buy and one that was purely for fun. Just for me. It came Sunday afternoon and I couldn’t wait so I got right to work:

The puzzle is coming along nicely.

A photo posted by Vicki Arnold (@vicki_arnold) on

I spent the rest of my day working that puzzle and then the kids helped me finish it the next morning:

We finished it!!

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MY KIDS ARE HOOKED! They wanted to do all the puzzles and were sad when we couldn’t keep going. They also all put 1000 piece puzzles on their wishlists for this Christmas. This is one request I am more than happy to oblige.

I spent hours putting together puzzles as a teenager. I know, wild child, right? There was a favorite 750 piece one that I am hoping we can find at my parents’ house in storage. It was a picture of craft supplies. Yes, glitter, pom poms, pipe cleaners, etc. I put that together many, many times. I got pretty fast at it, too.

But enough about my wild teenage years…

When I started looking through Amazon, I found thousands of options. I was thrilled by this because, well, I love to shop. Since I’m also a blogger who also enjoys writing blog posts, you get a post. Yay!

Beginner Puzzles

We have these first four puzzles and my preschooler loves to put them together. He can’t do these all on his own, but that’s a fun part of preschool, making memories. Right?

And these are the ones I added to the list of potential gifts for my preschooler:

Intermediate Puzzles

These puzzles are slightly harder than above. They have smaller pieces and/or more of them.

Advanced Puzzles

Looking for a bigger challenge for the cold winter months or something to do with a loved one? These monsters are just what you are looking for.

If you are up for a REAL challenge, give this BEAST a try!

Ravensburger Disney Puzzle – 40,320 PIECES! The puzzle is over 22 feet long by over 6 feet wide! I’d love to see it actually put together, wouldn’t you?

You Might Like These Puzzles Too!

Puzzles - A great family tradition to start today.

Gifts Kids Can Make

There are lots of reasons to make gifts for your holiday gift giving. Sometimes you can save money, I say sometimes because sometimes you can also spend way too much on fabric or other supplies. What? Is that just me?

Making gifts means you can create something just for the person you are giving the gift to. You can make it in their favorite colors. You can make something practical for their specific situation, like hot pads for someone who bakes a lot or an eyeglass holder for someone always leaving their glasses around.

When it comes to kids, there are a few good reasons I think it is important for them to make gifts to give.

  • It takes their eyes off of “me” for a while. Who doesn’t need this? For kids, it seems particularly easy to get wrapped up in “what do I want” each holiday season.
  • It builds confidence. Kids need to know that they are important and that they have something to give.
  • It doesn’t involve a screen. Well, for the most part. My kids and I both like to use Pinterest to find instructions for making various things.

I am happy that my girls love making gifts for others. My older son is more entrepreneurial-minded and tends to like to make things to sell…and only then. My youngest son is only three and I haven’t really attempted making gifts with him yet. We’ll likely remedy that this year.

Gifts Kids Can Make - A great list of ideas for kids!

Gifts Kids Can Make

Let’s get on with that list. I’ve put together some ideas of gifts kids can make to help encourage the next generation of makers.

Snowflake Ornaments – These are great for kids of all ages. I made these with kids ages 2-12 and they all enjoyed it. Homemade ornaments are great gifts for grandparents who appreciate those memories.

Washi Tape Bookmarks – This project is super easy to customize for the age and interests of the receiver. For younger readers like cousins, you can include stickers of their favorite superheroes or Disney characters. For older readers like aunts and uncles, you can look for (or draw?) themes like Marvel’s superheroes, Sherlock Holmes, or Dr. Who.

Easy Felt iPod Case – These could be good for a variety of uses, not just iPods. A good, easy project for new to the sewing machine sewists.

Ladybug Bunting – This beginner hand sewing project can be done in a variety of color schemes. If you have a sports fan on your gift list, try using team colors to make a little pennant the receiver can put up on game days. This easy project is even easier if you don’t have a felt that has a print on one side to keep track of.

Pippi Longstocking Socks – This is a no-sew project that would be a fun gift for a Pippi fan. I’ve also seen that crazy socks are still a hit in general so it might be a good option for a tween.

Apple Magnets – This is a simple craft that doesn’t take a long time, but gives you a cute gift. We have had these magnets on our fridge for a few years now. This is a great gift for someone with a country theme in their kitchen.

Personalized Journals – This is a great gift for writers of all ages. A good one for friends.

No-Sew Fleece Blanket – A great gift for kids who can wield sharp scissors. These can be made for anyone, fleece comes in a wide variety of colors and prints.

Tin Can Lantern – These are super cute and would make a great gift for someone who likes candles.

All Season Hand and Fingerprint Tree – This is a GREAT idea for a gift for grandparents.

“I Love You” Pillowcase – This gift is a great way to capture that new writer handwriting. A great gift for parents or grandparents.

Hand-Shaped Ring Dish – Another for the ladies on the gift list that would love to remember the size of those little hands before they become full-grown hands.

Painted Handprint Keepsakes – Yep, this one is one that will make a mama’s heart swoon. So if you are in charge of someone else’s little one, make their day by helping their little one make this for mama.

DIY Washi Tape Gift Bags – Don’t forget to have fun with the presentation, too. Customize your gift wrapping, too.

For more ideas on crafts kids can make to give as gifts, check out this book list. There are a lot of different options in each of those books.

If you have an older tween or teen girl who would like to make gifts for her friends (or you!), check out the list of DIY Health and Beauty Gifts that I put together!

Festive Family Holiday Hop & Giveaway

Festive Family Holiday Hop and Gift Guide Giveaway

I am so happy to have partnered with a group of bloggers to bring you this blog hop. Check out the posts below for more holiday fun:

Are you ready for the first big giveaway of the holiday season? You can check out all the details for this giveaway valued at OVER $1500 on the main landing page.

You can enter in the Rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DIY Gifts for Kids Book List

DIY Gifts for Kids - a book list

Creating gifts for kids can either be exciting or overwhelming. Kids have a wide range in likes, but knowing the kid will take you far in deciding what to make. While some kids may be harder to find a gift to MAKE, the reward of giving a gift that is tailored to the receiver is always worth the effort.

Today’s Crafty Christmas installment is a list of books to help you create those perfect gifts for kids. DIY gifts for kids is the name of the game today!

As always, you can look for these books at your local library or find them on Amazon.

DIY Gifts for Kids Book List

Ultimate Papercraft Bible: A Complete Reference with Step-by-Step Techniques edited by Marie Clayton – Papercrafting isn’t just awesome cards. This may be a great book to consider using as an experience gift for a kid, taking the time to make something out of the book would be a great gift for a crafty kid who simply wants to spend time with you.

The Big Book of Socks: The Ultimate Beyong-the-Basics Guide to Knitting Socks by Kathleen Taylor – Most kids I know love funky socks. If you can knit, this could be a great option.

Pattern Making for Kids’ Clothes by Carla Hegeman Crim – If you are a sewer, making some clothes may be the option you want to take. There are so many awesome choices for fabrics – beautiful fabrics for tween girls, fun and funky for boys, and sweet prints for toddlers. You can easily customize a clothing gift to the child.

Palm-Size Softies: Patterns and Ideas for 44 Stuffed Pets and Dolls That Fit in the Palm of Your Hand by Hitomi Jakahashi, Mikiko Matsui, and Akema Tsubo – These little critters are adorable.

Chic & Unique Beaded Jewelry edited by Naomi Abeykoon – If you have a tween girl on your list, this could make a great gift. Actually, this would make a great option for just about any girl on your list.

Felt Toys for Little Ones by Jessica Peck of Sweetie Pie Bakery – I just love felt food. This book is a great collection of ideas for play sets to spark imaginative play in toddlers and preschoolers.

Washi Tape: 101+ Ideas for Paper Crafts, Book Arts, Fashion, Decorating, Entertaining, and Party Fun! by Courtney Cerruti – Washi tape has been all the rage in the crafting world for a while now. This books has a lot of fun ideas to try.

Don’t let crafting for kids intimidate you! Think about the kid you are giving the gift to and then try to find some ways to make them something special. A little extra thought goes a long way!

DIY Health & Beauty Gifts

DIY Health & Beauty Gifts for gift giving fun!

Crafty Christmas was born out of my ever-present desire to make the gifts I give. Don’t get me wrong, I love to shop for gifts, too. There is just something about adding a handmade gift to the mix that makes it extra special to me.

Last time, I covered books with ideas for gifts kids can make and give. This time, we are talking about DIY health and beauty gifts for your gift giving needs. Next time, I will cover books with ideas for homemade gifts to be given TO kids.

Now, this series may be called Crafty Christmas, but these gifts are not seasonal in nature. They would make excellent birthday or even just because gifts, too. Don’t feel limited to this time of year, spread the love all year long!

Many of these gifts will have ingredients that you may not know where to find locally. Here are a few resources for buying them online:

  • Bulk Herb Store – They sell a variety of bulk herbs and mixes. They also sell heirloom seeds.
  • Mountain Rose Herbs – They also offer a selection of herbs and other ingredients, but they also have a great selection of containers, too.
  • Amazon – They truly have just about everything you could ever need it seems.

Now, on to our list!

DIY Health and Beauty Gifts

I’m organizing these a bit to make them easier to reference. If you find one you really like, be sure to pin it on Pinterest so you don’t lose it!

Body Needs

For the Face

Bath & Shower Gifts

Health Related Gifts

Any one of these would make a simple gift for a friend or you can bundle them together in a cute basket and really make an impression. You can see these and many more options on my DIY :: Health & Beauty Pinterest board. So be sure to follow that (and the rest of my boards).

In researching this post, I came across what looks to be a fabulous resource for those wanting to make their own health and beauty products. It is an eBook called DIY Organic Beauty Recipes and you might be interested in checking it out.

DIY Organic Beauty Recipes

Crafts Kids Can Make to Give As Gifts Book List – Crafty Christmas

Crafts Kids Can Make to Give As Gifts Book List | Vicki-Arnold.com

We love to make gifts here. Every year I always say that we will get an early start and make lots of gifts. This year is no different in that regard. My kids are getting older and are able to handle more intricate crafting.

Being the dutiful Mom, I pulled some books together for them (and a few extras) the last time I was at the library alone. These are books with projects kids can create to give as gifts to the special people in their life.

Fabric Paper Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch With Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe – Projects for wearing and for decorating.

Loom Band It: 60 Rubber Band Projects for the Budding Loomineer by Kat Roberts and Tessa Sillars-Powell – These popular little bands make jewelry and the cutest little charms.

Super Simple Magnets: Fun and Easy-to-Make Crafts for Kids by Karen Latchana Kenney – A wide variety of designs in this book.

Fun and Funky Knits: Over 20 Simple Knit Stitch Projects – For the newer knitter, there is a how-to section at the front for those who might want to try something new, too.

Rev-o-LOOM-tion: A Modern Kids Guide to Rocking Rubber Bands by Liz Hum – Step-by-step photos for each project. The difficulties are Easy-Peasy (just learning), Rockin’ Rainbows (ready for more complicated patterns), and LOOM-a-tic (advanced). There is a mustache one that I think a lot kids would like.

Cool Crafts with Old Jeans by Carol Sirrine – Wearable, practical, and decorative gift options. Perfect for upcycling old jeans.

Cool Crafts with Newspapers, Magazines, and Junk Mail by Jen Jones – Not all of them would be gift ideas, but most of them are. Some really fun projects.

Cool Crafts with Old T-Shirts by Carol Sirrine – Not all of the projects require sewing, but the ones that do are pretty simple.

This post is the first in a series of posts called Crafty Christmas. More crafting fun posts coming soon!

Books for Duck Dynasty Fans

Books for Duck Dynasty Fans - For All Ages | vicki-arnold.com

We happen to be big Duck Dynasty fans here. We love to laugh and they make us laugh. With the success of Duck Dynasty, there are beards, ducks, and camo everywhere…inlcuding books. I have actually started a collection of Robertson family books.

Today, I’m sharing a list of books for other Duck Dynasty fans to consider adding to their wishlist or library list.

Gifts My Tween Daughters Would Both Love to Receive (a Gift Guide)

Gift ideas for tween girls (gifts my 7 & 11 year old daughters would both love)

Ultimate List of Gift Guides for Kids 2013

Today I am partnering up with a big list of bloggers to bring you the Ultimate List of Gift Guides for Kids. There are over 50 gift guides put together in a wide variety of topics. You will want to see that list and also check out the Gift Guides for Kids Pinterest board.

Over at The Library Adventure, I am sharing Books for Arty Kids. You’ll also want to see the companion list of gifts for arty kids coming tomorrow.

Here and now, I am bringing you…

Gifts My Tween Daughters Would Both Love to Receive

My tween daughters (did I just use tween in reference to my daughters?!) are 7.5 and 11 years old. This list covers a wide variety on purpose. Not every tween girl is the same. Their interests will vary. What I have aimed for is a list of ideas that will help get your creative juices flowing to find the perfect gift for the tween girl on your list.

There is a wide price range because no two budgets are the same. Also, I am using affiliate links. Let’s get to it!



My girls love dolls, specifically 18″ dolls right now. There are a few options available for 18″ dolls. We have both the Madame Alexander and American Girl dolls. Both are loved equally in this house. Some specific ideas:

Lego Friends

The Lego Friends line is a big hit with my girls. You can find a set in just about every budget. If you have a reader, there are Lego Friends books available, too.


My girls are avid readers. They like books almost as much as their mama. They like series books, stand alones, picture books, graphic novels, mystery, and, of course, American Girl books. I’ll share a few of their favorites.

Clothing & Accessories

My girls are girls through and through. They love dressing up in pretty clothes. Taste can be a tricky thing when buying for a tween, here are a few ideas and why I suggest them.

  • Boots – Most girls love boots and most girls I know don’t have enough budget to buy “enough” (yes, I know). Cute boots speak to a girl.
  • Hair Pretties – We’re partial to Lilla Rose accessories, but Etsy has a great assortment of bobbie pins, hair clips, and headbands, too. These can be mixed and matched to fit just about anyone’s style.
  • JewelryEarrings are great for tweens with pierced ears, or you could go with a necklace. Again, I recommend checking out Etsy.

Arts & Crafts Supplies

My daughters and their friends love to create. I intend to encourage this as long as possible. Hopefully, the tween on your list has an interest or hobby that doesn’t include a screen. Here are a couple ideas that work for just about anyone:

  • Papercrafting – Handmade cards, scrapbooks, journals, and smash books (don’t ask me) are all popular ways to craft with paper. Supplies for this: blank cards, cardstock, fun and fancy papers, ribbons and trims, shaped paper punches, glitters, and stickers. You can find these things at Michael’s, Joann’s, or even Amazon.
  • Jewelry MakingRainbow Looms are very popular right now to make stretchy jewelry. You can also do the “old fashion” route of embroidery floss and perhaps a how-to book.

Obviously, if your tween has a specific hobby, you will want to go that route. For knitters and crocheters, you can get yarn, looms, and hooks. For sewers, you can do fabric, patterns, and notions (buttons, thread, trims).

Well, I hope that has started your creative juices flowing. Don’t be intimidated by buying for tween girls. Put some thought into what they like, maybe even ask them for ideas, and you’ll be fine.

Gift Guides for Kids link up

Free & Frugal Gift Ideas That Work for Anyone + 3 Bonus Gift Guides

Free & Frugal Gift Ideas that Work for Anyone! Plus 3 bonus guides for more free & frugal ideas.

This holiday season is bound to be busy for you. You are also bound to run across some advertising that will try to convince you that you need to spend a lot of money to make it great. And I have no problem with spending money to buy special gifts for the special people in your life. In fact, I quite enjoy shopping for gifts for others, whether Christmas, birthdays, or just because.

However, I know most people are in the same boat as us and have a budget that they need to stretch as far as they can. It was that thought process that brought me to today’s post, which is a list of ideas for free and frugal gift ideas that will work for anyone. Plus, I have an added little bonus for you at the end so keep reading.

Gifts of Service Rock

Teaching my children to serve well is a big goal of mine. I believe it combats a sense of entitlement and can help curb pity parties. 😉 Here is a list of ways you and your child can offer the gift of service this holiday season:

  • Take someone to do their holiday shopping. Maybe you know someone who’s mobility is limited right now and could use a lift to pick out gifts for someone that normally takes them on their errands.
  • Volunteer with someone. Do you have a family member who is passionate about a certain community project or ministry? Set aside time to volunteer with that family member.
  • Clean something for somebody. Take a day to help someone get their house cleaned and decorated for the holidays. Be sure to come back and help them take it down after the holidays are over.
  • Help someone with fall or winter jobs. Perhaps you know an elderly person who could use their sidewalk shoveled when it snows or leaves raked so they don’t fall when it’s wet. Gutters need cleaned this time of year. Outdoor lightbulbs need changed so they can see better.
  • Cook someone dinner. It’s a busy time of the year, most people would appreciate a meal. And some people are just flat out hungry. Feeding someone feeds more than their stomach.
  • Contact a nursing home and see if there is a resident you can “adopt” for the holiday (consider doing this year-round).

And, as my husband reminded me as we talked about this post, if you are going to do an act of service for someone, do it well. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” – Colossians 3:23

Get Crafty with Your Bad Self

This one is my daughter’s absolute favorite. She loves, loves, loves to make things for people. In fact, she has already started on her homemade gifts this year. This one will depend on your skills and talents, of course. The frugal part will also depend on your available supplies, so that is relative.

For example, you may not have 5 18-gallon totes of fabric in your basement to work with so sewing something might not be a good option for you. But you may have a huge collection of rubber stamps and cards at your disposal. I know how you paper crafters are, I studied to become one a few years ago. Have I mentioned I have pack-rat tendencies?

Pinterest is a crafter’s best friend. Here are a few boards to get your “I can make that!” creative juices flowing:

  • DIY :: Christmas – This is my Christmas board that I pin decoration ideas to. Some are great for kids. All would make great gifts for the right person.
  • DIY :: Gifts – These are the projects that are just looking for gift wrapping and the right receiver. Things like decorating golf balls, DIY gift bags, lip balm, and key chains.
  • DIY :: Sewing Stuff – You know I love me some sewing tutorials. This is the Pinterest board I use to curate all the loveliness I find. You can also check out the tutorial round-ups I did for little girl’s dresses, women’s dresses, skirts, and maternity for more ideas.
  • DIY :: Cardmaking Craftiness – And finally, inspiration for the perfect card. Create on of these beauties and then fill it with words that bless the socks off your recipient.

Everybody’s Got to Eat

I think this is everyone’s most and least favorite part of the holiday season. The FOOD. Oh, the decadence. It’s the time of year that I make Oreo cheesecakes for me…whoops, um, I mean my family.

Here’s the thing, make your gift stand out and make it good for your gift receiver. Not so good for you that it tastes like cardboard, but something that truly nourishes a body. Have I lost you? Try these ideas:

  • A fruit bouquet or basket
  • Hearty soups or chilies to put in their freezer
  • Homemade bread dough (again, for the freezer)
  • A basket of home canned veggies – Have a surplus of canned green beans? Well, put it in a pretty package and share them with someone who understands the value of home grown food. Hopefully you know someone like that.

Memories on the Corner of My Mind

Participate in family traditions. Start some new ones. Go out of the way to include people you don’t get to see very often or those who are hurting and lonely. This time of the year is hard for a lot of people, help ease that for someone.

  • Go see a free concert together.
  • Go see a Christmas display or Christmas lights.
  • Bake cookies with someone and then deliver them to a nursing home.
  • Go Christmas caroling.

Gift Ideas from Other Awesome Bloggers

And now, your bonus! A few awesome bloggers partnered with me for this and have their own posts focusing on the free and frugal gift options this season. You should definitely check their posts out: