Free Printable: Candyland Madlibs!

candyland mad libs

Every year, as part of the annual school dance preparations, we include the making of Mad-libs. . . after including these as part of the table decor a few years ago, they were met with such positive feedback that we’ve included them ever since! Functioning as a fun ice-breaker and a laughter-filled prelude to dancing, were can you go wrong? (Well, I mean, they are mad libs . . . they tend to go gloriously wrong.) Finding theme-specific mad libs, however, can be something of a challenge. Thus, I have undertaken the writing of original mad libs from time to time, and our recent Candyland Prom was no exception. If you would like to download and use a PDF of my two Candy Land Themed Mad-Libs for use at your own sweet event, feel free to click the pink link and do so with my blessing! Also, if you want to make changes to anything or use the candy-stripe font I used on anything else (for uniformity’s sake), you can find the font available as a free download here.

If you would like to follow our example and transform these mad-libs into part of your decor by making them look like large-scale Candyland game-cards, check out the picture and explanation below for some inspiration!

madlibs - on the tables

We printed the mad-libs on cream-colored stock paper (they are formatted tw0-to-a-page) and then used a paper cutter to make uniform 3.5-inch squares of tissue paper in the requisite colors to adhere to the backs of the mad-libs (using either double-sided tape or glue sticks, depending on availability!).mad libs - game cardsTo keep with the colorful theme, I bought the brightest mechanical pencils I could find at Target (which, incidentally, is also where I purchased the polka-dotted paper cups to hold the pencils). I also bought small fake lollipops from Etsy vendor Twisted Lolly Boutique and hot-glued them to some of the pencils for an added candyland-accent!

DIY Tutorial: Tulle Puff Wands

Every year, a few times a year, I am faced with the question of centerpieces.

puffs in a row

Cut flowers are pretty and generally okay, I guess . . . but they tend to be expensive, not to mention difficult to transport, oftentimes fragile and, in the long run they’re inconvenient. They cannot be prepped very far in advance, but they also don’t last long past the date of the event – rendering them VERY high maintenance for the limited time they’re used. THUS, over the 4+ years of event aesthetics-coordination I’ve undertaken at work, I have continued to seek out new and innovative centerpieces. For example, one year, we had fish as centerpieces. Now, even though there were 15 VERY delighted new-fish families  afterward the event ended, I would probably never do that again just because of the sheer logistical headaches it caused. 15 mini-fish-bowls and gallons of water later, I decided that I should go more towards practical instead of interesting in the future. As a result, over the years, we’ve wound up doing some very fun pieces, including candy-jars, silver leaf branches and several others. This year,  with an impending Candyland themed prom, I thought I would share the latest innovations in centerpiece decor in the form of a tutorial.

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 Step 1 – start with the raw materials. You will need:

Raw Materials

Step 2 – Measure and Snip

Cut 5-6 foot strips of the tulle/gauze ribbon- each strip will make one “flower” or puff, so plan accordingly. I found that 7 of them filled a typical vase nicely!

Step 1

Step 3 – Fold ‘n Roll

This step is a little self-explanatory. I eye-balled about 5-6 inch folds in the ribbon. If it helps your measurement sensibilities, wrap the tulle around a book which you can then slide it off of. At the end of the fold ‘n roll stage, you should have a loose-yet-neat little coil (pictured below on the right).

step 2 - tulle rolling

Step 4 – Sew

Once you have your little packet of tulle, sew straight across the middle , effectively making the piece bow-shaped. I sewed from the middle out, just to make sure it was a reinforced and tight cinch in the middle.

step 3 - sewing through the middle

Step 5 – Peel Back the Layers

At this point, you just take the bow-like creations that came from Step 4 and shape them, peeling them out layer by layer so that the tulle gains some shape and starts to resemble a blossom.

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Step 6 – Hot Glue!

There is no picture for this part, because I had my hands a bit full. First I hot-glued two paper straws together for each “stem”. I put the hot glue directly into one end of a straw, and then took the second straw and creased it so that it would fit easily into the other straw, attaching them where I had just put the hot glue. That done, I dabbed hot glue onto the base of each tulle puff and held the straw-stem in place for a moment while it began to set.

Step 7 –  Finishing Touches!

Remove any loose glue-strings and arrange the stemmed tulle puffs as desired in your vase of choice. Then, step back and survey your handiwork. They are like a miniature garden of hothouse Truffula Trees!
tulle puffs!!!

They are so colorful and bright!!!

 

One Winter’s Night: DIY Dinner Dance Decor!

I’ve coordinated a couple of high school dances over the past few years, and I always have a lot of fun with the creative ideas my creative students come up with for decorations and details! Each year, I am fortunate to have have a couple of truly fantastic students who volunteer to be on the planning committee, and 2014 was no exception! After polling the student body for ideas, we met up and settled upon our Winter Ball theme:

One Winter’s Night

Keeping our plans simple and elegant, we set out to provide thoughtful details that might enhance students’ experiences of the evening in question. Some of the things that we organized as part of this year’s festivities included . . .

Setting the Menu & Enjoying the Venue

Winter Ball FOodWe have the delightful opportunity of enjoying the delicious menu of italian cuisine provided by our venue of quality! The spread was delicious and everyone ranted about the chicken parm in particular. The food, however, was just a small organizational detail of the rest of the planning, which was far more hands-on!

Warm & Cozy Favors

What better to give as a favor for a Winter Ball than Hot Cocoa? Inspired by some adorable winter wedding favors on pinterest, we decided that it would be a fun direction to go, and we were not mistaken. We designed our own label, used some of the same cardstock we used for the leaf-creation, and put them together one chilly Wednesday afternoon. They turned out adorable!

Favors - Winter Ball 2013

They looked so pretty on the tables, as did our second focus of decor:

Twinkling Centerpieces!

centerpieces and tabletops

For several weeks before the dance, we brainstormed ideas for the centerpieces. In years past we’ve done everything from live fish to traditional floral arrangements to elaborate candy jars, and we’ve come to the conclusion that non-living centerpieces can render the set-up far less stressful! After doing some scouting and brainstorming, one of my students remembered that I had made some paper-leaf branches at one point. We looked at the paperstock available online, and decided to make our own silvery foliage, just for the occasion.

centerpieces 1

Making these branches  was a cinch, actually. First, we gathered up some sticks from the trail around the school. Then we made two different sizes for leaves and cut them all out by hand before attaching them with hot glue to the branches we had collected. The result looked quite lovely!
centerpieces in action

 After making the branches, we purchased some beautiful twinkly lights (via Amazon.com) to twine through them and the result was like something out of a fairy-tale!

Centerpiece - silver leaves

To these leafy, twinkly, not-quite-floral arrangements, we added a cut-crystal dish of navy-blue, white, and silver m&ms as well as a small glass to hold those lovely, snow-flakey pens pictured above. What might theeeeey be for, you ask? Well, I’m so glad you brought it up, because that brings us to our next element of themed fun . . .

Wintry Mad-Libs
madlibs - winter style

Mad libs are something that we make a point to include every year, at every dance. For one thing, they help break the ice and fill those occasionally stilted social moments before dinner or dancing commence. But, for another thing, who doesn’t like mad-libs? We used a paper punch to make this batch particularly dainty and then placed them at each place setting on the big night. madlibs in action

After that, as students found their way to tables and seats, all that remained was to watch as they took their snow-flakey pens in hand and general hilarity ensued! Let’s face it:

There is no better atmosphere than laughter.

I’m a [VALEN-]tiny bit excited.

love is a balloon

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When I say I love Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, I get a multitude of reactions. Most frequently some version of this:

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Occasionally, I’ll get something more like this:

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But usually it’s more like this:

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I have ranted in the past about why I think people need to get over themselves with regards to Valentine’s Day, so I don’t want to get too much into it again. But I basically love Valentine’s Day like Buddy the Elf loves Christmas.

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Things You Should Consider Doing This Valentine’s Day:

1.) Give Unexpected Compliments to Unexpected People

compliment

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2.) Watch this Video, because THIS is a great example of LOVE!

3.) If you can’t think of somebody in your life to share the love with, then find somebody who needs a little extra love in their lives and DO SOMETHING about it!

Colin's Facebook Page

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There is a little boy in Minnesota whose birthday is coming up, but who doesn’t have friends at school . . . his mom made this facebook page, and you could always take a moment to write him a birthday card tomorrow!

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4.) Watch Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!

win a date

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This movie recently came up in conversation, and I remembered just how fantastically fun a chick-flick it really is. Plus, it’s not TOO goopy for a valentine’s day, even if you are single and feeling depress-y about the fact.

5.) Give somebody a valentine, for crying out loud! It doesn’t need to be a sappy one!

eyes for you

Whatever you do, please remember to share the love, even in the Valentiniest  of ways! There are so many shoddy reasons that people celebrate any holiday, but what a wonderful thing it is to have an entire holiday devoted to showing the people that we care about how much we love them. If that isn’t worth celebrating, I don’t know what is.

[if you want to read more about my love of Valentine’s day, click here]

Frozen: The Must-See Movie of 2014

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I am an ENORMOUS fan of Disney’s newly released film, Frozen. I have officially seen it four times in theaters, and have it pre-ordered on DVD. Some of this might have to do with a certain little 3 year old niece of mine and her deep love of the film. . . but only a small part. This is one of the best animated movies I have ever seen. It goes right up there with The Emperor’s New Groove, which I’m fairly certain is my favorite animated film of all time. Frozen is 100% on-par with the greats. The music is incredible, the characters are endearing and surprising, the animation is beautiful, the humor unbeatable.

My adorable 3 year old (almost 4!) niece has been with me three of the four times I’ve had the pleasure of viewing the film in question. Unsurprisingly, she loves to dress up in a princess dress and pretend to be Elsa. Her favorite song?

I hope you watched that, because it will help you fully and truly appreciate what comes next. Without further ado, here is the REAL must-see video of 2014:

My niece is the most amazing of all the nieces. 

Bare it All: Taking the Mother Hubbard Challenge

One of my this-month’s-resolutions (year resolutions are just not my thing) is derived from a poem you may know. Have you read the first stanza of that old classic poem about Old Mother Hubbard and her zany pup?

OldMotherHubbard-01

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Well, I have no dog, and I don’t keep the cat food in the cupboard, so rest assured that this challenge has nothing to do with developing an inability to feed pets and everything to do with bare cupboards. Let me explain. Context: When I returned home from my Holiday at home in Ithaca, NY, old Mother Nature was kind enough to force me into hibernation with a serious nor’easter.

wicked slippery

(borrowed from a friend’s facebook wall – no other source available at this time!)

With nothing but snow-shoveling (which I avoided) and the season premier of BBC Sherlock Series 3 (ASLDFLKJS:LDKFJ!!!! I had to stop after the third time watching, just for a break from all the fangirling…) to distract me, I got down to cleaning the house . . . only to find that my kitchen cupboard situation has gotten majorly out of hand.

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That’s right.

I have too much food.

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Holy First World Problem, Batman, am I right?

So, in an effort to be thriftier, less wasteful, and also more appreciative of what I have  . . . not to mention in an attempt to begin to purge the cupboards (and the fridge and the freezer), I have decided not to buy any new groceries this month, with the exception of pet-related necessities and the occasional eggs/milk that may be required of me. I am going to try to:

(drumroll please)

BARE IT ALL!!!

. . . and by “it” I mean kitchen. 

Wish me luck!!!

The New York Sun[Shine!]

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Some of you may have read or seen the somewhat-recently popularized newsstory of young Virginia O’Hanlon. There’s a movie and book that came out not too long ago documenting the story in an endearingly artistic way. As I’ve mentioned before, the 2009 movie Yes, Virginia is the story of a young girl questioning the existence of Santa Claus. As a pragmatic young lady, Virginia wrote a letter to the New York Sun and the ensuing response has been a legacy for Christmas ever since. Check it out! This is a copy of what has, apparently, become the most re-printed newspaper article of all time.

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What I really like about the story of young 8-year-old Virginia is the idea that, by simply setting a few lines of type for an editorial, Francis P. (Pharcellus!) Church, the journalist who wrote the response, shared a brightness and positivity that I wish there was more of in the media today.

I stumbled upon a blogpost recently from a site called The Dignified Devil and I loved the way the author, Gregory Smith, describes Francis Church’s response to Virginia. “His example stands against the cynicism of every era, a caution against the magnetic pull of strict logic and constant serious-mindedness . . .”

If you hadn’t heard this story, I hope you find it as sweet and heartening as I did. Although I never believed in Santa as a kid (or as an adult, for that matter!), there is something beautiful in an established Army journalist and serious newspaper editor taking time and ink to perpetuate the magic and beauty that is so often lost as childhood becomes adulthood. Remember that “The most real things in the world that neither children nor men can see . . . Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

That is a truth I celebrate wholeheartedly this season.