How to Incorporate Giving into Your Next Party {with Evite}

This post is sponsored by Evite. All words and opinions are my own!

I love the idea of using a momentous occasion to raise awareness, share a passion, and benefit others. I've gone to weddings where instead of presents the bride and groom ask for donations to their favorite charities. I've hosted a kiddo birthday where instead of presents, we asked for school supplies.

Many time wonderful celebrations lead to the collection of more stuff...and I'm always fighting the more stuff battle. I love the idea of being able to ask friends to consider donating instead of a present. I think it helps share a piece of who you are with your guests. Evite is making it even easier to engage your guests for good by allowing them to donate to a cause of your choice, right from the Evite!

Evite Donations just celebrating raising over $1 million for charities that its users love. They're hoping to raise another $1 million this holiday season alone!

Wondering how to incorporate giving into upcoming parties? I've got some fun ideas!

Is your kiddo in love with pets? Why not throw them a Pet Adoption Party! Kiddos get to adopt their very own {faux} furry friend. In leu of gifts, ask guests to donate to the SPCA, or a local shelter. You can do this right on the Evite itself!

Throwing a Friendgiving this year? Invite your friends to donate to a local food pantry so that others can enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

Do you host a Christmas Cookie Exchange each year? In addition to bringing along all their best cookie recipes, use the party as a chance to collect donations for a local woman's shelter.

Do you want to incorporate a giving option into your next party. Below is how you add the chance to give directly to your Evite!

Have you thrown a party with a purpose? How did you engage others to give?


How to DIY a $3 Photo Booth Backdrop {with an Evite Photo Booth Review}

This post is sponsored by Evite® as apart of their Evite Influencer Program. I was provided with a free download for the Evite Photo Both App in order to review it and provide my honest feedback. All content and opinions are my own.

I am a big fan of cheap, easy party decorations and entertainment. Because of this, I absolutely love the photo booth idea. You can make a backdrop for $3, add props from around the house {or make a few to fit the theme}, and then use Evite's new app Evite Photo Booth to capture cute, photo strip pictures. Print them out and you have fun favors and adorable ways to remember who you celebrated with.

First, let's start with the $3 backdrop {it can even be $2 if you have masking tape}.

Gathering your supplies requires a trip to the Dollar Store. If you're anything like me when planing a party, you'll be headed there anyway.

You'll need:
Crepe paper in two different colors {$2}
Masking tape {$1}
That's it!

First things first. Get yourself a cute "helper" who will try to destroy everything you do.

Find a blank wall with good light that needs a little festive something something. Now, figure out how big you want your backdrop to be. Mine came out to 4 feet wide by about 5 feet tall. I made the top of the backdrop about 6 feet high so that it would work well for adults {we're not the tallest bunch} and the early elementary set. You'll need to adjust this based on who is going to be using the photo booth.

Then, rip off two 3 inch pieces of masking tape. Now, cut a piece as long as you want your backdrop wide. I did my about 4 feet. Use the two smaller pieces to secure your long strip STICKY SIDE UP. You'll want to secure the strip where you want your backdrop to start. Do the same thing where you want the backdrop to end.

Start layering crepe paper strips, overlapping, in alternating colors. You'll stick them down at both the top and bottom. 

When you've finished filling out your tape line, trim the tops and bottoms of the crepe paper pieces. 

Now tape down the top and bottom, taping over your original piece. This adds support for the weight of the crepe paper. Add another piece of sticky side up tape to both the top and bottom. 

Cover these strips of tape with a strip of crepe paper, making a frame.

Add props, cute kids, and your iPad loaded with the Evite Photo Booth App and you're set!

The Evite Photo Booth App makes taking photo booth pictures so easy. You can pick from different photo frames based on the type of party. You can also decide how many pictures you want on a photo strip. 

When taking the pictures, there's a visual countdown so the photographer {or the selfie takers} know when to change poses. All the strips are saved to the app and can be shared via Facebook, Twitter, or email and saved to the camera roll. You can also easily print the pictures with AirPrint.

The app was easy to use and very entertaining to my five year old. I see kids and kids at heart both having a blast coming up with goofy poses. I do suggest you set up a tripod {or a table with an iPad stand} to steady the photos. And you are limited based on the quality of iPad pictures. Mine were taken on a bought the day after they came out iPad 2. It's photo quality isn't that great. But with a newer iPad with a better camera these photo strips would look great!

What's your favorite thing to incorporate into parties? Food stations? Photo booths? A themed gift? I'd love to hear your ideas!



All About My Teacher Printable

We have been so lucky with our kids. We have had nothing but fantastic teachers. I seriously want one of Emma's past nursery room workers to be her grandma. And both Emma's and Wesley's teachers have done nothing but love on my kiddos and our family.

In turn, I want to love on them too. Those super fun school activities like Trick or Treating or Story Character Parade? The teachers love them. And they also exhaust the living daylights out of them. So I attempt to remember to bring a nice, big cup of something caffeinated on the morning of events. It's just a little something to say thanks and may the odds be ever in your favor!

Sometime near the beginning of school, but after the craziness of the first few weeks clams down, I've started sending home a get to know you sheet for the teacher. That way I know what to pick up from the Sonic window when I'm getting my own take on the day juice. I made this printable last year and just printed it out to send to Kindergarten. It lets me know where to get gift cards to at Christmas time and what candy to send along just as a surprise. Don't get me wrong...I'm not doing this weekly. I just try to treat the teachers to a little something special from time to time. And I would much rather pick up Starbucks than do something cutesy. So. Much. Easier.

Download your free printable here. For personal use only. If you share, please credit me. Thanks!


Goodness I'm reading A Lot! {more random reading updates}

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a bit of pocket change if you buy things after using one of my links. It doesn't cost you a thing. Let me know if you have questions!

My husband was out of the country for three weeks. After the exhaustive game of wrangling children all day, I tended to fall right into bed. I figured I'd binge watch all the TV I missed last year. Instead I did nothing but read. It made for lots of reading in three weeks!

Wonder is a great read for 4th grade and up. Yet, its still a compelling and though provoking story for adults as well. Auggie was born with significant facial abnormalities. The story that unfolds is about the consequence of our words and actions, the power of friendship, and the wide reaching consequences our families have on each of us. I honestly think it's a book I'll read again along with my daughter when she hits pre-teendom. It's a fantastic way to discuss differences, kindness, and the joys of good friendships.

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll

This book is totally outside of my wheelhouse and I honestly have no clue what led me to pick it up. The Luckiest Girl Alive is a bit of a chick lit thriller. Basically it tells the story in flash backs of a high school girl who survived a mass shooting. It wasn't particularly compelling or interesting. I know many have loved this book but I wasn't one of them.


I read The 5th Wave Trilogy based on the trailer for the movie. It's a dystopian YA novel, which was right up my alley. It even added alines, which led me to believe it was a book I could share with my husband. To me, the series dwindled as the books progressed. I was engrossed in the first book and by the third I was reading just to say I finished it. The initial twists and turns that were so surprising gave way to what felt like a simplistic story about revenge. If you like the genre, I think its worth a read. If you're not usually a fan, then I would look elsewhere.


I read The Year of Magical Thinking for work. Gotta love getting paid to read. As the Bereavement Coordinator for a pediatric hospice, I am working on compiling a book list to share with families. My hopes is that it is comprised of both clinical knowledge as well as stories they can identify with. Joan Didion's adult daughter spent a year battling a life threatening illness after what they thought was the flu. During this time, Joan's husband died suddenly. She goes on to share the delusional, grandiose, and magical thinking that guided her year. It was a raw, honest read about how grief can turn an intelligent, highly functioning individual into one who clings to fairy tales. 

The Ship of Brides by Jojo Moyes

My best friend recommended The Girl You Left BehindI'm having trouble hunting it down (silly library), so I read The Ship of Brides as a stop gap. I loved this fun read.Moyes was inspired to write this book based on her grandmother's experience of being a War Bride. It is a fictionalized account of Australian War Brides being transported to England on a functioning air craft carrier (which really happened!). The novel flows in and out of the consciousness of multiple storytellers. As a result, it can be a bit Tolstoy-seque in figuring out who is talking. But it is a fun, sweet read about an event I knew nothing about.

I've already finished The Cursed Child and I've nearly wrapped up The Last Letter from Your Lover. Someone give me something to read!



Surviving a Flight with Baby in Tow

On the flight home from my recent surprise trip (re: family emergency) I sat next to a wonderful mother and her heavenly five month old daughter. This woman was a wreck. I'm sure part of it was she was journeying after the loss of her father. But she was so very concerned that her daughter would be a terror. This girl was a dream. She slept the entire 3 hour flight, including take off and landing. I was actually a little annoyed. My week without my babies crazy brain wanted her to be awake so I could talk to her and cuddle her. I know....I'm nuts.

In all her panic, this sweet, hurting mama said that she would never fly with a child that young under normal circumstance. Wesley went on his third plane trip just shy of a year. His first was at 6 months and was just the two of us. We also flew as a family at 9 months. Emma and I did a solo trip at 3 months, and then family trips at 6 month, 8 months, and 10 months. She's now a fairly seasoned flyer, taking at least two trips a year.

Before taking my recent solo trip, I combed through tons of articles on how to survive. I felt a bit like that mom; terrified that there was nothing stupider than taking a little on an airplane.  I'm fairly certain I blocked everything out about my first solo flight with Emma! I feel like a took a little advice from each article I read, so I wanted to share what worked for me.

Think about your clothes:
I have never been one of those people who get all dolled up to fly. I don't wear pjs, but I want to be comfortable. I can't believe how often I go to pee and find women in the bathroom with curling irons and more makeup than I own in their "travel bag." But I digress...

When flying with a baby, simple is the name of the game. Avoid things like belts that would have to be removed for security. Wear flip flops or slip on shoes. Dress in layers. Also, be mindful that your kiddo's main source of entertainment on the flight is going to pulling on you. I always wear my hair up and put a camisole on so that it's harder for my kiddo to flash other people. I know this is harder to accomplish if you have to have easy access for nursing.

Wear Your Baby:
If you wear your baby at security, baby and you can go thorough the metal detector together without unloading. If baby is in the stroller, you have to unload, fold up, get the dang thing on the scanner, and get your kiddo loaded back up all while dealing with taking shoes off, getting out lap tops, etc. I've even worn my kiddo while still bringing a stroller with us. It's so much easier. If you wear your baby, they will wipe your hands down to check for bomb residue. They also will be checking any liquids you travel with so this check doesn't hold you up any longer than you would be anyway.

Be Willing to Ask:
People are so willing to help out families with young kiddos (remember me wanting to be the creepy stranger holding another woman's child the whole flight!?). When you check in, ask if there's any extra seats on the plane. If you're traveling alone and can't juggle a baby and your bag, ask someone to help you get it in the overhead compartment. Need to pee? Ask someone to hold your baby. It seems totally weird. But people have loved helping! I've had multiple older men hold my kiddos (often for much longer than just the quick trip to the bathroom). They all talk about how long its been since they've held a baby and how their kids are grown. Its been very sweet.

Distract, Distract, Distract:
Before about 6 months it seems like your kiddo is likely to just eat, sleep, poop, and cry. There's not a lot of engagement to be done. After 6 months your kiddo will do those same things. Plus they'll want to move! I wipe down every surface I can with antibacterial wipes. Then, I let my kid go to town. Want to look out the window and bang on it? Sure. Want to play peek a boo with the lady behind us? Have at it! I try to only bring toys that I can hold onto while my kiddo plays. Things like teething necklaces and chew toys that you can hook to a pacifier clip are great. That way kiddo can play, drop, and throw without loosing every single toy you own. Oh, and if a flight attendant offers to take your kiddos and walk them up and down the aisle, kiss the ground they walk on and then do a happy dance!

Prepare and then Prepare Some More:
Everything that can go wrong will. It's just a rule of traveling with kids. Bring extra bottles, food, etc. Delays will happen. Always travel with a change of clothes for each adult and several for the chief mess maker. I swear kids who never have diaper leaks or who don't spit up will do both at the same time all over you. I roll up a pair of yoga pants and a t shirt in the bottom of a large diaper bag. Speaking of your diaper bag...make sure you know where things are. Pack thinking about how you'll only have one hand, it will be shoved under a seat, and you won't be able to see what you're looking for.

Car Seats Suck:
Car seats are amazing. They save kiddos' lives every day. But flying with a car seat is the pits. If you can borrow car seats at your destination do. If you're renting a car, consider renting a car seat as well. Its an extra cost and that can be a deal breaker. But I cannot recommend renting a seat enough if you're traveling solo!

Just Roll with It:
Like I said before, anything that can go wrong seems to when traveling with kiddos. They scream a ton. You end up having to sprint across the airport with a car seat, too much luggage, and a sleeping baby to catch your next flight. Someone poops on you. I've encountered far more gracious, helpful people than grumps. We've all be there. And most parents are going to be more than understanding of your screaming one year old. They remember how hard it was. And they know you're doing your best!

Anyone have any great flying with littles ideas?