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Need last-minute shaloch manos ideas?

I am a bit behind this year with blogging and Purim preparations with juggling my family, teaching, freelance writing, and household tasks. I am sure many of you can relate. Some years I start early and don’t have to wait until the last minute to do everything. At least I still have a week to go!

In case you are behind and want some ideas, I have a few tips for shaloch manos from those we received and made last year. Take a look!

Shaloch manos:

Last year, we made shaloch manos inspired by a teacher appreciation gift I saw somewhere.  I found the instructions by Googling “teacher appreciation water bottle gift.” I unfortunately cannot find the site I used, but if you look on Pinterest there are many similar ideas. They each vary in complexity and difficulty. I chose an easy idea that did not use brads or lots of different layers of paper. It was cute, but the holders did keep sliding off during delivery (even though they were tied on).

I used a variety of scrapbook papers, scrapbooking stickers, small labels (for the message), and my tape runner (to adhere the pocket). We inserted a Crystal Light drink mix packet and attached a granola bar to the back. A bow and tape secured it all together.

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Some other FAVORITE SHALOCH MANOS we received last year are shown below:

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Movie theme – popcorn box, chocolate bar, microwave popcorn, Coca Cola, and hamantashen. (Great idea Larry & Lori!)

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Pizza theme – a whole meal in a pizza box: hamantashen pizzas, peppers, Bissli, chocolate bar, chocolate drink and a few other goodies. (Thank you Michelle and Ephraim!)

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Red, White and Blue theme – Red licorice, white Airheads, Oreos (blue package), and hamantashen. (Thanks Wende and Don!)

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Berry theme – all foods with a berry flavor! (Thanks Shari and Rabbi!)

FAVORITE CONTAINERS:

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Nautical theme – this family always chooses a container and costume themes to match. They include a photo of the family on their shaloch manos container or label. They are amazing! (Thanks Bella and Yosef!)

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Decorative box – I loved this box so much that I use it in my classroom for treats! (Thanks Tammy and Mark!)

For more inspiration, check out my friend Mara’s (from Kosher on a Budget) awesome Shaloch Manos ideas:

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Post-Christmas shopping success!

I love after-holiday sales, even for holidays I don’t celebrate. I have gotten good at finding great deals after Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, etc.! The key is to not think about whether you celebrate that holiday or not, but to think about things that might be on sale that you could use. There are many seasonal products that anyone can use regardless of religious or holiday observances. For example, read here to find out what you can get at Easter time: Shop those Easter sales today!

Here is my wrap-up from the post-Christmas sales I hit yesterday.

My regular post-holiday trips are to Target, Michaels, CVS and Walgreens. I also look for any deals at Aldi and Schnucks on any seasonal food items, but those are normally my husband’s errands. This year the Michaels’ holiday items were already on sale when I was there Christmas Eve. I like to look for holiday craft kits that I can hang onto for the following year for my students. Here is what I got this year:

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At Michaels I found:

  • foam stickers of several types
  • an ornament craft kit for the kids’ photos (I used a wreath one this year and the kids loved it.)
  • some foam gingerbread men
  • some pencil-top holiday erasers I will give with my holiday gifts to my students next year.

Walgreens did not have anything I needed this year, but in the past I have gotten holiday cards, decorated holiday cups for my students, chocolate, stickers, and a cake decorating kit. See my post from last year: After-Christmas sales are great for everyone!

This year, CVS also did not have anything I wanted, although I could have gotten some chocolate, but passed this time! We did, however, find something my son had been wanting on his holiday wish list. He even had some holiday money to spend. He got a radio-controlled car for $6.50 (half off $12.99). They had lots of them and we even went back today to get one for the gift drawer!

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We were tremendously successful at Target. I guess I can add it to my list of Why I love Target! I found items not only in the Christmas section, but in the Home section and household aisles. Food items were 30% off and Home items were 50% off. Here is what we found:

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The food section is always full of holiday deals: (they were only 30% off now, but still a great deal)

  • holiday flavors of m&m’s (peppermint white chocolate and mint dark chocolate, two of my favorites),
  • icing (Who cares if my Shabbos dessert has peppermint icing or tree sprinkles?)
  • mint chocolate chip cookie mix
  • seasonal soft cookies (For $1.74 this makes a nice little treat for my boys.)
  • small packaged seasonal cookies (A treat is a treat no matter what shape; we can eat reindeer, too.)

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We found the following in the Home section and Stocking Stuffer aisle:

  • a Deluxe Board Game set (regularly $20, got for $10; includes 7 games)
  • a surround-sound speaker (regularly $10, got for $5; great for our iPods)
  • two bath puffs (We always need to replace these and these may hold up a bit better than the dollar store ones. For items you should get at the dollar store, see my post Are “dollar stores” really a good deal?)

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As for holiday items you might think are only for Christmas, I found:

  • an outdoor extension cord (We needed one for lawn care and Sukkos.)
  • mini lights (great for the Sukkah)
  • a winter scene craft kit (Last year I found a Superhero scene craft kit during their summer sales and my boys loved it. It made for a great family activity one night.)

This is also the time to look for light and plug timers and any type of extension cords for around the house (good for a variety of purposes). They were all 50% off!

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They also had tons of these seasonally-labeled storage bins, expecting that people will need them to store their holiday decorations and supplies. We use them for kids’ clothing and other supplies in our basement. At $6, this normally $7.99 tub was a great deal. I did not get the green and red ones, though!

I was very pleased with all my purchases and may go back next week to see if any other items are marked down even further!

Share your holiday finds in the Comments section. This will help other people think of great ideas for what to do with holiday items!

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Disasters: What can you do to help?

Tornado

Last week, several areas of Missouri, including the area of the school where I teach, were hit badly by a tornado. There were many families whose homes were severely damaged and many who were displaced. I can’t imagine the stress and hardship these families are going through. It is during times like these that we count our blessings and are grateful for small and big things.

Thankfully there has been a tremendous outpouring of support from our school district staff and the community to help these families. It is amazing all the efforts that have been launched, from collecting donations of items and money, to providing meals and shelter, to helping clear the debris, to providing information on resources and aid.

With our technological age, it is much easier to distribute information regarding volunteer opportunities and assistance available.And for those families in the area who didn’t have access, volunteers canvassed to get them that information. For those of you who want to help, it isn’t always easy to know what website or place to go to for ways to help. Here is a short guide to lending a hand in natural disaster relief.

∞ Check the local school district’s website and Facebook page. They will often have information on how to help or how to get help.

∞ Check the local newspaper’s website for current news, links to organizations, and more.

patch logo∞ Check out Patch.com, a new community-oriented news source. On this main page, you can search for the website for your local area. They had great coverage of the local tornado and links to many local organizations providing aid and resources.

amer red cross logoAmerican Red Cross – Although most known for its blood drive efforts, the American Red Cross helps with disaster response, too. To find out more, click here.

salv army logoSalvation Army – Search the Volunteer Match website to be linked with Salvation Army volunteer opportunities. You can also donate money, household items, or clothing to help those in need. To learn more about Salvation Army’s variety of disaster services and efforts, click here.

united way logo 2 United WayVolunteer to help the many efforts of the United Way. You can learn more about general opportunities, take the pledge to join, and see local opportunities. You can also go to your local United Way website and view a volunteer calendar with specific events in your area.

* Please note: All of these organizations also gladly accept monetary donations, if you are not able to give time or resources.

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Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Passover

nissan_simaneihaseder_magidI am taking a break from my regular Passover (Pesach) preparations to think of my kids. One of my favorite new traditions is involving the kids by helping them get excited about doing the mitzvos for that holiday. I already had a reader/friend ask where my next holiday checklist for the kids was! So here is this holiday’s mitzvah checklist for your children.

Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Passover

I like to print these out in color for my kids and post them on the door of their room. They love adding stickers for each mitzvah they complete and then we go for a family reward after the holiday. Thanks again to Chinuch.org for the great clip art!

If you are still in the middle of your holiday preparations and need some tips, here are my past related posts on Passover (Pesach):

For other related posts, check out:

Have a wonderful and meaningful Passover!

 
 

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Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Purim

little_kingPurim is not a holiday that really needs help being fun, but I wanted to make a Mitzvah Checklist for the holiday anyway. My kids really enjoyed the ones I made for Rosh Hashanah and Sukkos. They loved getting to put stickers on their charts when they completed a mitzvah. We had a fun outing after we completed one of the charts and the boys earned a prize after the other.

The charts helped my kids get excited about each mitzvah that’s part of the holiday and it helped them learn all the ways they could help and participate.

Here is one for this holiday. You can print one out for each of your kids. Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Purim

Religious school and day school teachers may even want to send it home with their students as a family activity. Again, thank you to Chinuch.org for the great clipart.

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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Family ideas, Holidays

 

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After-Christmas sales are great for everyone!

Since starting this blog, I have really started to think outside the box about ways to save money. Upon reading one of Kosher on a Budget’s posts, “Why I love (the day after) Halloween,” I realized that it is easy to save on regular items you use everyday even during a holiday sale (and one I don’t celebrate for that matter). Previously I would only buy things from an after-holiday sale that I might use for my classroom. Now my eyes have opened to many possibilities. See my post on “Shop those Easter sales today.”

This post-holiday, I did really well at Walgreens and Target, and found a few last-minute items at Dollar General and Schnucks (our local grocery store). Here is what I found (on Thursday for Target and Walgreens and Friday for Dollar General and Schnucks):

WALGREENS:

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∞ Holiday candy: Who cares if the candy is wrapped in red and green? Still tastes as good!

I got two bags of Hershey’s Kisses (regularly $3.49/bag, on sale 50% off, also had a $1.10 coupon off 2 bags) = $1.19/bag. I also got two bags of Nestle candy (regularly $3.49/bag, on sale 50% off, also had a $1 coupon off 2 bags) = $1.24/bag.

∞ Stocking stuffers: Great place to look for small toy items. You’d be surprised – not everything looks Christmasy or has to do with a holiday character.

I found some small figurines by a brand I had never heard of. They may not be Legos, but for $1 each (50% off $2), they are great for our prize box.

∞ Holiday cards: Why buy them for full price? Instead I stock up each year for the next.

I normally do a photo card to friends and family, but I never seem to get them out on time. So it is always nice to have some Christmas and Chanukah cards on hand to put with a gift, food item, or send to someone if I need to. I got two boxes of cards (15 ct) for $.99 a box (50% off $1.99). Can’t beat that!

∞ Decorative items: You never know what you might find that can have another use.

I found plastic cups with snowflakes on them that were 3 for $1. With the 50% discount they came to $.16/cup. I got 25 for my students for next year (no matter what age I end up teaching) for only $4! I can use them to put their holiday treats in! This price beats the four-pack that I have seen sometimes at the dollar store.

∞ Baking items: Last year I found a cookie decorating kit (normally $9.99) for $5! It came in handy for decorating the boys’ cupcakes for their last birthday. See my post “Superhero kids’ party on a budget.”

TARGET:

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Target is my favorite place to shop for after-holiday sales because they always have a pretty good selection after most holidays.

Holiday food items: The same rule applies here as before – color or decor doesn’t matter much to us if it tastes good. This is also a great time of year to find special flavors only available during the winter season. I found:

- Two seasonal Pringles flavors: Cinnamon Sugar and White Chocolate Peppermint (each 50% off $1.52, also had a coupon for $1 off 4 containers; bought one at full price because son wanted BBQ = $.51 for each of the seasonal flavors)

- Holiday cookies: At 50% off $2.99, I got a nice after-dinner treat for $1.49 a package. These cookies were $1 to $2 more at the grocery store, even on sale!

- Limited edition ginger cheesecake sandwich cookies: We had tried these a few weeks ago and almost everyone loved them. Now at $1.68 a box, they are an even better deal!

- Baking items (peppermint icing): We enjoyed this seasonal flavor on cake this past Shabbos. It was a nice change of pace. I really should have bought two because it seems like the parve icings don’t go on sale as much as the dairy ones! The icing was $.94 a can (50% off $1.89)!

- Holiday candy: I love the new mint m&m’s and except for during the winter holidays, they are only available as a small pack or the stand-up pack size. I always get a few when they go on sale at CVS. I didn’t have a coupon, but at $2.09 a bag (normally $2.99), it was still a good deal! (Target’s holiday candy was only 30% off.)

Decorative items:

- Foam shapes: I always love to get the seasonal craft kits and foam shapes when they go on sale. In fact, just a week ago, I bought one set for Chanukah during that post-holiday sale. These are great to hang onto for the coming year for crafting at home and school. This year my students made ornaments with a set I had bought on clearance last year! (They were 50% off $5 = $2.50 each.)

- Shower puffs: Again color is not important, but at $.99 each for a shower puff, I get a nicer puff than I could get at the dollar store! I found these last year as well.

DOLLAR GENERAL and SCHNUCKS:

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I found a few more items when shopping at these two stores. The holiday decorations are to use on my classroom window (50% off $1 = $.50 each) and the jello pudding was a pumpkin spice flavor. Sounded really good, especially for $.80. The Ghirardelli seasonal chocolate was 50% off $5 = $2.49 a package, and also included some interesting seasonal flavors like peppermint and pumpkin spice!

I had hoped to find some cake or cupcake mixes (for last-minute baking) or some holiday candy (for goodie bags for my students) this year, but no such luck. Chocolate was in abundance, but I worried about saving chocolate for a year!

I hope this post gives you some ideas on how you can save next year at the after-Christmas sales and maybe at some other post-holiday sales!

Happy New Year!

 

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I am back!

My apologies again for a long break since posting any articles or tips. This time it is for a good reason, rather than a death in the family. I got a new teaching job at the beginning of October. I had been teaching child abuse prevention and traveling to schools all over the county and city. Now I am teaching in my own classroom again – teaching kindergarten this time! I am so glad to be back in my own room, going to the same school every day. However, I had forgotten how much work teaching can be. I have been spending most of my evening time after my kids go to bed doing schoolwork.

So, needless to say, my future posts will not be as frequent as they had been before. I hope you will stick with me, though, and perhaps take some time to review some of my older posts, which can be used at any time!

I hope you are all having a wonderful holiday season and that the new year brings us all many blessings and much joy!

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2012 in General site info.

 

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Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Sukkos

My Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Rosh Hashanah was such a hit with my children that I thought I would make another for Sukkos. Again, I used Chinuch.org for clip art. They have tons of great art to choose from. I tried to include a variety of mitzvot for kids young and old. 

Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Sukkos

Your children can earn stickers for each mitzvah they do. Small round stickers worked best so that you can still see the words after your kids put their sticker on. Your kids can earn more than one sticker for each square if they do the mitzvah multiple times, but I thought it was best just to put the item on the chart only once.

I hope your kids enjoy this and that it helps make your holiday meaningful!

Please let me know any feedback you have and how your kids like it.

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Posted by on September 30, 2012 in Family ideas, Forms for everything, Holidays

 

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Kids’ Rosh Hashanah Mitzvah Checklist

Did you use the Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Rosh Hashanah? My kids loved it and it was cute to see them get even more excited about doing each thing because they would also earn a sticker. (In some cases they earned more than one like for hearing shofar, davening, and setting the table.) I told them that after this set of holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur), we would take a special outing in honor of all the mitzvos they had done! I don’t want to reward them with a prize, because we do that for their regular behavior charts. I want this to be special!

However, as we celebrated the holidays, I realized that a few changes were needed:

  • I left a few things off the checklist. I added “I benched nicely after a meal,” and “I was helpful in welcoming or serving guests.” These were two things I gave my older son extra stickers for.
  • I also reorganized the chart to have the tasks in chronological order for the holidays. This will make it much easier for me to find each item!
  • I also added clip art for my younger children to make it easier for them to find the right square for their stickers. Thanks to Chinuch.org for their great clip art!

Here is the updated result. Hope you like it. It may be too late to use it for this year, but you can save the file for next. I plan to do another one for Sukkot!

Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Rosh Hashanah

Hope you have an easy fast today and that your Rosh Hashanah was meaningful!

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Posted by on September 19, 2012 in Family ideas, Forms for everything, Holidays

 

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Thank you and Happy Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year)!

Thank you so much for those of you who read my posts and/or subscribe to my blog! I appreciate all of your comments and feedback and hope my blog is helpful to you!

I apologize for the lack of posts these last few weeks as I am now taking a graduate education class, in addition to working full-time and managing my family of 6. I hope to find a balance, so I can spend a bit of time on it all.

May you all have a wonderful new year filled with blessings, nachas (pride and satisfaction from your kids), parnasa (livelihood/earnings), good health, and happiness!

FYI, I just made something for my kids for Rosh Hashanah, thanks to my friend Amital at Organized Jewish Home. She created a Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist that is such a great idea! I made just a few minor changes – making it into a grid format, so I could give my kids stickers when they complete each one, and adding two more items: “being nice to one of my brothers” and “helped set the table.” I added these mostly for my younger three boys.

Here is my version below as well as the post with Organized Jewish Home’s original version. Teachers can also use this or create their own to send home with families.

Kids’ Mitzvah Checklist for Rosh Hashanah

L’Shanah Tovah!

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2012 in Family ideas, Forms for everything, Holidays

 

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