Chocolate In Easter Baskets

Top Reasons To Include Chocolate In Easter Baskets

Chocolate In Easter Baskets

You’re probably like millions of others, you will be preparing Easter Baskets this weekend and you’re wondering if any candy is really healthy. The good news is, yes! Chocolate is not only expected at Easter, many candy manufacturers offer the treats in adorable Easter shapes. A chocolate rabbit or egg can be the focal point of a great-looking Easter Basket.

Milk Chocolate Versus Dark Chocolate

Hands down, dark chocolate is the healthier choice. The key to its health benefits is cacao. Thanks to this ingredient, dark chocolate provides us with antioxidants. As you probably know, antioxidants provide protection against cancer-causing free radicals. But that’s not all – chocolate helps with other things too. Keep reading to learn more…

Great For Your Skin

Contrary to popular belief, eating chocolate can actually improve your complexion. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that help increase the blood flow to the skin.

Positive Mood Enhancer

Chocolate can help lift your mood – it can actually help minimize down feelings and feelings of depression. How? Chocolate increases levels of tryptophan which are converted into serotonin.

Improve Brain Function

Dark chocolate can help lower stress levels and boost your brain power. Some studies show that it can help lower the risk for dementia.

Because flavonoids can lead to the production of certain chemicals and new brain neurons, memory can be improved. For instance, after eating chocolate the brain releases dopamine – which can help with memories of people and events.

Lowers Risk For Stroke

Some research indicates that eating chocolate on a regular basis can help prevent a stroke. Additionally, stroke patients that consumed chocolate were more likely to live than those that did not eat chocolate.

Helps Stop Coughs

Believe it or not, thanks to the theobromine found in chocolate, it is an excellent cough suppressant.

Longer Life

Some studies show that eating chocolate regularly can help you live longer. This is likely related to the antioxidants.

Weight Control

Frequent consumption of chocolate can help lower your BMI. And because chocolate is filling, it can help keep food cravings in check. But keep in mind – you should eat chocolate that is at least 70% cacao or cocoa – and all chocolate should be eaten in moderation.

Debbie Allen is a regular contributor at Package From Santa blogs. She shares tips and ideas about everything from holiday treats and traditions like writing letters to Santa to ways to save money, home decorating ideas and health-related topics.

Share

Re-Use Old T-Shirts

Great Ways To Re-Use Old T-Shirts

Re-use Old t-shirts

As the weather warms up most of us decide it’s time to take a look at the clothes that are cluttering our closets. We have to make room for clothing better suited for spring and summer and at the same time, it’s a good idea to ‘weed out’ things that will probably not be worn again. However, some items, like old t-shirts, can be re-used and up-cycled to create new things. Let’s talk about some of the uses for those treasured shirts that we hate to throw out.

 Bracelets

This idea is perfect for little girls and older ones too. In fact, darker colored shirts can be used to create a camouflage-effect, which is perfect for the guys. Just cut strips of the shirt and braid. Note: use one t-shirt to experiment with the width of the strips and the desired length.

You can make small, delicate-looking bracelets or use larger strips and give your bracelet a chunky, bold look. The bracelets can be tied at the correct length and for added decoration you can leave a bit of the cloth strips hanging.

You can give old bangles a new look by wrapping them with t-shirt strips. Since you probably have t-shirts in a variety of colors, you can easily create bracelets to accessorize all your summer outfits. Mix and match bracelets and colors for an interesting effect.

Belts, Headbands And Something For Your Dog

Using the braiding technique (described above), you can also create headbands and belts. Just make the strips wider and longer.

Large, chunky braids can be turned into dog toys. Just tie off both ends of a braid 6 – 12 inches in length. The truth is, even dirty t-shirts work for this – your dog will appreciate toys that smell like you!

Rugs

T-shirt braids can be braided together to create durable rugs. Start by cutting your t-shirts in strips that are between 1 and 3 inches wide. You will have to add strips to your braid to create the desired rug size. Begin by loosely tying 2 strips together along their length. You should now have 2 lengths to work with.

Lay the strips out on a table or other flat surface. Using the strip on the right side, weave it through the others, go under, over, and under again. You do not need to create a tight weave – just ensure that it is snug enough to hold the shape.

Repeat the process using the strip that is now on the right side. Continue in this manner until your braid is about ½ the length of the total rug size desired. Now you will turn the braid so you can begin building the rug out from the center. The process is basically the same as you have been doing – Use the strip on the right side and go under, over, under, and then push the strip through the loop (from underneath) in the braid. Always braid by using the strip on the right, go under, over, under, over, under, and tuck as needed.

Add lengths to your strips by cutting slits into the old and the new piece. Push the new strip through the slit in the old one – then bring the end of the new piece back up and push it through its own slit.

You may find that you will need to skip the tucking on some spots in order to keep the rug flat – especially as you come to the ends of the curved areas. Add in additional strips by tying them onto the braid. Each time you work your way around to the beginning knot you should another set of strips. Eventually you will reach the width size you want. When that happens you should start working yourself down to fewer and fewer strips until you can finish off your rug.

Debbie Allen is a team member at Package From Santa. When she’s not creating content for websites she’s busy spending time with her family and pets.

Share

Easter Eggs

Easter Eggs With A Twist!

Easter Eggs

Easter is on its way and with that many people will be adding Easter-inspired decorations to their homes. This may include everything from religious symbols to chicks and bunnies. Easter baskets are traditional decorations that also function as containers for candy and other special treats. Easter eggs are essential decorative elements for these baskets. Let’s talk about some ways to make the eggs even more special.

Getting Started

Everyone is familiar with the concept of coloring hard-boiled eggs – you can purchase kits or make your own solution using food color and vinegar. Just add drops of food color to ½ cup hot water and 1 teaspoon vinegar. Be creative – dare to egg-periment with the colors. Keep the color wheel in mind and mix basic colors to make new shades and tints.

Coloring eggs can be messy. If weather permits you might want to complete this project outdoors. To simplify things the dye can even be painted on to the eggs; small sponge brushes work well for this.

You can use light-colored crayons to create patterns, zig-zags or to add text to eggs. Just add desired content before coloring. You can get similar results with stickers. Add the stickers before coloring. When dye is dry you can remove the sticker to reveal the design. Another option is to wrap rubber bands around eggs before coloring them. This can create awesome ribbon-like effects.

Stickers And Markers

After an egg has the basic color you might want to add a few details. For instance, you could add stickers or use markers to create special designs. This technique can even be used for plastic Easter eggs.

Paper Mache Eggs

Making paper Mache eggs is fun and it results in an added bonus – the eggs can be filled with candy or small trinkets. Kids can then have fun breaking open the eggs to find the treasures.

The supplies needed include small water balloons, tissue paper (or construction paper), liquid starch, and a sponge brush. To begin you will blow up the small balloon – which results in an egg-like shape. Then using the starch as a glue, glue on small pieces of your colored paper – take time to work all the way around the egg so except for the balloon tie every part of the balloon is covered, then allow drying time.

After thoroughly dry you can use a pin to prick the balloon – be sure to hold onto the tie as you do – then remove the balloon. Add a small slit from the hole at the top – this is where you will add your goodies.

After filling the egg you should add additional starch and paper to cover the slit. Allow to dry and then use as a decoration until it’s time to break the egg open.

Keep visiting this Package From Santa blog for more great tips and ideas.

Share

Shadow Box

Turn Your Shadow Box Into A Memory Box

Shadow Box

In today’s world sharing photos online with family members and friends that are near or far away is simple. We can easily build an ever-growing collection of photos – the images can practically tell our life story. But in most cases, photos are not quite as heartwarming as seeing the real thing. For example, seeing a favorite collectible from our childhood, such as a prized matchbox-sized toy car or truck can evoke feelings and memories like no photo ever could. And that’s what makes a thoughtfully filled shadow box so special!

A shadow box is a great way to display some of your own cherished items – and it’s also a wonderful way to ‘save’ special treasures for your child.

Shadow Box Basics

Shadow boxes, like the one in the photo, can be purchased ready-made. You can find them at craft stores, department stores, and often at garage sales and flea markets. Some come with a hinged glass door.

As you can imagine, the boxes are available in various sizes and shapes. But you don’t have to settle for what you can find in stores; shadow boxes can be made out of just about any sturdy box – in fact, many jewelry boxes and sewing boxes can be transformed into fabulous shadow boxes. Even drawers and old mantle clocks can be used.

Transforming A Box Into A Shadow Box

Shadow boxes should be eye-catching. With that in mind you might want to consider painting the box itself. In some instances you may need to add shelves that provide spaces for displaying your memory objects.

The backdrop of your box is also important. With a bit of creativity you can easily change the look of each shelf-background. You can glue fabric, wall paper, or even scraps of wrapping paper to the sections or you may choose to cover the entire backing with the same material.

Larger spaces in your shadow box may be used for large memory items or you could add small decorative hooks to hold various items. For example, a favorite Barbie® could stand in one area and some doll clothes and accessories could be displayed in another.

Adding Memories To Your Shadow Box

Ideally each shadow box you create will have a theme. One could be sea shells collected during a family vacation, another may be sewing items your grandmother used, and others may be filled with small toys.

When you create shadow boxes in this way you will find it is easier to find the perfect place for them. For example, a kitchen shadow box may be filled with things like small tea cups and measuring spoons. The background for this box could be anything related to cooking or food. In fact, family recipes could be typed or written on colorful paper and glued into place. A bathroom shadow box may be filled with things like the baby brush and comb set you used for your children, their rubber duck and other small items that remind you (and your kids) of similar times.

Creating a memory box – shadow box, can be fun for the entire family. It’s something that can be changed as time goes by – and it is a great way to display and keep certain things safe.

Debbie Allen is a regular contributor at the Package From Santa blogs. She writes about everything from home decoration to business management.

Share

Wake Up Your Bedrooms

It's Time To Wake Up Your Bedrooms

Wake up your bedrooms

After months of cold weather and being stuck indoors your bedroom (and other spaces) probably feel dreary.  It’s time for a change – and there are some simple but very effective ways to add a little pizazz to a bedroom. Whether it’s the master bedroom, your kid’s room or the guest bedroom, even a small change can make a refreshing difference.

Window Treatments

One of the most important features of any space is the lighting – especially natural lighting. However, a bedroom should have versatile window treatments – you should be able to darken the space – even on a sunny day. One easy option for accomplishing this is blinds. You can find blinds in a variety of colors and some are designed for light-filtering, others are for room-darkening. Another option is bamboo shades. The natural texture will filter light and add interest to your room.

Look Down

After you have the right window treatment you should take some time to evaluate the flooring. In some cases it may be necessary to mop and in others you might need to shampoo carpet. Regardless of the type of flooring you have you may want to consider the addition of a nice rug or two. They can be used to help carry-out a color scheme, but in addition, rugs add comfort and can even act as a sound barrier.

Storage Is A Must

Every room needs ample storage. Fortunately, there are lots of choices. You can use everything from plastic milk crates and storage bins to baskets, bookshelves and cabinets.

Color Matters

Color can add interest and it can help create ambiance. Since bedrooms are ‘private’ spaces they are the ideal place to experiment with colors. The sky really is the limit, so don’t be afraid to let your imagination run wild. Choose colors that you like and that make you feel good.  Of course, you may want to limit bold color choices to accessory items or maybe to an accent wall. But the reality is, you should have fun with colors.

There are easy ways to choose colors. For instance, you can decide on a mood you want to create – cool colors like blue and green create a relaxing and restful ambiance. On other hand, warm colors are considered more exciting. If you’re not sure what mood you want to create you might find it helpful to review home décor websites or magazines – when you see a room you like you can attempt to mimic the color scheme used.

Accessories Finish Things Off

We’ve all heard that it’s the little things that count – that is certainly true when it comes to the bedroom. For example, a few throw pillows add to your comfort and they can be used to add a pop of color or to pull together a color scheme. Having things like a , a clock and box of tissues near the bed  is not only convenient, it is essential. And while no kid’s bedroom is complete without toys, a bedroom intended for adults should also include some fun items to pass the time. A good book, some magazines, or a word puzzle can help you relax before drifting off to sleep.

Take a look around the bedrooms in your home. You might be able to make some big changes without spending a dime. How? Try borrowing items from one space to decorate another. Another option is using what you have in new ways. For instance, try using something different as a nightstand.  A bench or small bookshelf might be just the thing to give your space a new look. Use some of these ideas to wake up your bedrooms and start your spring out fresh!

Keep reading this Package From Santa blog for more home décor ideas and more!

Share

St. Patrick’s Day

Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day

St. Patrick's Day - Package From Santa

You don’t have to be Irish to enjoy St. Patrick’s Day – just take a little time to ‘go green’ and let your imagination take over. Kids love making creative decorations themed around leprechauns, shamrocks and rainbows. So pull out your craft box and get some ideas brewing!

On St. Patrick’s Day green is definitely in. Whether you’re working on some fun craft project, cooking up a special treat, or deciding what to wear – think green – but don’t forget about rainbows!

About Leprechauns

Take a little time to think about what leprechauns look like and how they dress. This is food for thought so to speak. Although the team members at Package From Santa are not leprechaun experts, they have a little helpful information to share. For example, not surprisingly, leprechauns are typically depicted as small and lively. They are smart and a little mischievous. We also know that many wear green jackets and rainbow colored socks with black boots and a matching belt. Leprechaun hats are often tall, most are green or black and feature a wide band (which usually includes a buckle).

Make A Leprechaun Trap

There are lots of ‘stories’ associated with leprechauns and with St. Patrick’s Day. For instance, it is said that leprechauns love gold – and if you can ever catch a leprechaun he may lead you to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately for us, leprechauns are not only small, they are also very tricky. But that shouldn’t stop you from building a leprechaun trap!

A box of almost any kind can be used to ‘capture’ one of the little guys. Of course, the box will have to be decorated in an appealing manner and there should be something to use as bait, something to entice leprechauns to enter. The ideal lure is gold – which can be small golden trinkets, candy in gold wrappers, or just about anything that is shiny.

Create the trap by first decorating the box in the colors of the rainbow. The top should be sliced from the center outward – this is so the leprechaun will fall into the trap when he walks across the top to retrieve the bait that is left on the top. Of course, leprechauns are very quick and tricky, so it is unlikely that you will actually catch one. However, leprechauns like clever people – so if your leprechaun trap measures up, he will probably leave a gift behind. This could be a small amount of money, some candy, or other items small enough for a leprechaun to carry.

Let Your Imagination Lead The Way

You can count on the fact that kids will want to have something green to eat and drink on St. Patrick’s Day. The good news is, a special trip to the grocery store will probably not be necessary. You can create simple ‘Leprechaun Shakes’ by adding vanilla ice cream, a bit of milk and green food coloring to your blender.

Many ‘ordinary’ foods and drinks can be leprechaunized with green food coloring. For instance, you could add a few drops of color to mashed potatoes – or you could add some green color to your cheese cake filling. Green or rainbow sprinkles can be added to cakes, brownies and cupcakes.

The point is, St. Patrick’s Day offers an excellent opportunity for having fun with your kids. This makes the day more special and strengthens family bonds.

Share

Simple Activities – Childhood Memories

Simple Activities Can Create Fabulous Childhood Memories

Bubbles

In today’s world it’s easy to get caught up in modern technology and trends. With that, it is also easy to believe that only the latest innovation will do for any situation or set of circumstances. This line of thought even impacts the toys and activities we choose for our children. And although this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can present some problems. For example, many of the ‘trendy’ toys and activities are expensive – not everyone can afford them.  The good news is, there are lots of simple activities that can create fabulous childhood memories.

Getting Dirty

Now that winter is coming to an end your kids will undoubtedly be spending more time outdoors. Spring is a great time to visit parks or to romp around in the backyard. Simple pleasures can be built around planting and growing a garden. Kids are fascinated to see real plants develop from seeds. Growing flowers or a vegetable garden is an educational experience that can be lots of fun for all.

It’s In The Clouds

Spending a little time cloud watching can be interesting and it can help children (and adults!) learn to use their imagination. Why not lay back on a blanket or comfortable lounge chair and see what stories the clouds have to tell?

Make Bubbles

Another simple activity that all can enjoy is blowing bubbles. You can mix your own bubbles using dishwashing liquid (1/2 cup), sugar (2 teaspoons), and water (2cups). A drop or two of food color will make the mixture more colorful.  Make up contests to see who can make the biggest bubble or who can keep the bubbles in the air longer.

Nature Calls

Why not spend some time bird watching or exploring your backyard to discover more about the plants, insects, and other creatures that live there? This makes ‘your’ space a more interesting place to be. You can look up information about your discoveries which may prompt additional activities. For instance, you may want to capture pictures of what you find.

Getting back to basics can be a wonderful way to learn about or re-discover fun activities. And when the family does things together bonds are strengthened and lasting memories are created.

No matter what time of year it is, you can find some great ways to spend time together – there are lots of activities that are inexpensive and fun to do. Just as you have Christmas traditions like writing letters to Santa, you should also have family traditions for other times of the year. Start now; plan something fun for this spring!

Share