Holidays

With the holiday season looming closer, it’s all too easy to forget about your carbon footprint and choosing the greener options when it comes to travel. But making eco-friendly choices during the holiday season isn’t as challenging as you think.

Here are some eco-friendly, energy-saving tips you can use throughout the holiday season to keep your carbon footprint small and your spirits high.

Choose a sustainable airline

If you travel for the holidays, you’re not alone. Although the average American only lives 18 miles away from their parents, up to 107.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home between December 23 and January 1.

Unfortunately, depending on where you live (up to 45% of homes sold in Maui in 2016 were bought by out-of-state home buyers), travel can get expensive. Your first instinct might be to book the cheapest and most convenient flight.

Before you book, consider switching to an airline that’s more eco-friendly and sustainable. In 2015 alone, there were 24,142,000 general aviation flight hours logged. But some of those hours produced fewer carbon emissions than others.

Here are a few airlines that have been reducing their carbon emissions in recent years:

  • Virgin Atlantic
  • Air France/KLM
  • Alaska Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • JetBlue
  • Delta

DIY your holiday decorations

If you’re trying to be more sustainable this holiday season, DIY-ing your holiday decorations is a great way to do it. Holiday decorations can sometimes contain toxic chemicals and the plastic they use isn’t the most environmentally friendly.

By DIY-ing your holiday decorations, you can make decorating your house that much more special for you and your family. You don’t need to go over-the-top with your decorations, either. Simple snowflake garlands are a great way to bring out the holiday cheer in anyone.

Replace your holiday lights with LEDs and use a timer

The holiday season is a time for festive holiday lights, especially with the days getting shorter and nights getting longer. But although these lights can make your house feel cozy and warm, they can actually use up to 6.6 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year.

To reduce your energy use, consider replacing your traditional holiday lights with LED lights. You can use a timer, too, to reduce the amount of time the lights are on.

Avoid cranking up the heat

It’s important to stay warm as the weather outside gets frightful. But cranking up your heat can increase more than just your utility bills. It can also kick up your carbon footprint and your fire risk.

Every year, approximately 890 people die in winter home fires. Electrical issues with lights and dry air are some of the biggest culprits for these fires. And, with the global market demand increasing by 2% every year, gas space heaters are a problem too.

To keep your fire risk, utilities, and carbon footprint down, consider bundling up instead of cranking the heat and keeping a sharp eye on your holiday lights. Never let a space heater run unsupervised.

Carpool with friends or family

The holiday season can get hectic when it comes to buying gifts and food from many different stores. But you can cut down on how much gas you’re using by carpooling.

If you don’t have friends or family nearby, consider using public transportation to save gas and reduce carbon emissions when you don’t need to carry anything heavy home. Approximately 98% of public transportation buses can accommodate wheelchair-users, too, if you use one.

When you’re focused on finding the cheapest plane tickets to get to your parents’ house or finding the cutest wrapping paper for gifts, it’s all too easy to forget to make eco-friendly choices. But by following the tips above, you can make your carbon footprint this holiday season just a little bit smaller.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Carter’s; however, all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is next week, and we’re just a few short weeks away from Christmas. This is my favorite time of year for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that I get to dress up myself and my kids in fun, stylish clothes for holiday photo ops. We love everything from Christmas PJs to fancy dresses for our yearly family Christmas card.

At Carter’s, I know I’ll be able to find fabulous outfits for my toddler at a great price for every occasion. Whether you’re looking for traditional holiday staples or a more modern, trendy looks, there’s something to fit every taste. And more importantly, I know I can trust Carter’s clothes to be comfortable and high-quality — both incredibly important when dressing a picky toddler.

Here are the three amazing looks I found:

Look 1: Christmas PJs

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My family loves Christmas pajamas. I get a kick out of picking out a pair that each member of my family will love to open on Christmas eve. Juliza loves tutus. So when I spotted this set, I knew it was perfect for my princess.

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She is in love with them, as expected. Carter’s has a ton of different styles of girl pajamas to choose from, including some made of cozy fleece. My tutu-loving child got a set that is absolutely perfect for her.

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Look 2: Holiday Outing

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We spend a lot of time on the go this time of year. There’s always shopping to be done or family to visit, and some days, we just want to get out of the house. This look is perfect for any of those.

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These fabulous plaid leggings are fleece lined, so they’ll still work even when the weather in Georgia turns from cool to straight up cold. And this vest is one of Juliza’s current favorite pieces. She wants to wear it All. The. Time.

There are a million ways to wear each of these pieces, so I can’t wait to mix and match them for maximum wear throughout fall and winter.

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Look 3: Family Christmas Card

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Somehow, year after miraculous year, I manage to successfully talk my family into posing for a photo, which I use to make our yearly Christmas card. Not only that — I manage to get them into outfits that coordinate with the color palette we’ve chosen for our decor. This year, we chose silver and gold (in lieu of gray and yellow to match our living room. Christmas decor in those colors is all but nonexistent).

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When I found this gorgeous two-piece set, I scooped it up immediately because I knew it would be perfect for our family photo. The fabric looks and feels luxurious, cream with a gold embroidered pattern. Juliza also chose an adorable beaded bracelet set to go with her “princess dress”, as she called it. I dare say the girl has great taste.

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The hardest part of shopping at Carter’s is choosing what to buy, because there are so many stylish options. If you’re obsessed like I am, you don’t want to miss their upcoming Black Friday deals. They’re offering a “Dash In to Win” sweepstakes, where the first 100 people to arrive at your local Carter’s or OshKosh store will win promo cards. The Dash In to Win Sweepstakes will be held on Thanksgiving or Black Friday (11/24 – 11/25) – depending on whether your local store is open on Thanksgiving. Be sure to check www.carters.com/store to find out which date the sweepstakes will be held at your store.

And because I love you, here’s an awesome coupon that you can use to make the great deals you find even better.

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You can use the coupon in store or at carters.com. You’re welcome 🙂

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Disclosure: Hello Products has provided me with product to facilitate this post, along with compensation for my time and effort in creating this content. As always, all opinions are my own.

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Since I had kids, Halloween has become one of my favorite holidays. The dressing up, the pretending to be whoever you want for a day, the candy — all of it makes it special for my family. I even make my kids’ costumes most years, though I’ve been too busy to make anything yet this year. And though I love (like, LOVE love) the candy and my kids have inherited my sweet tooth, I am not a fan of the possibility of cavities after the big day.

My husband and I not the type of parents who are super sticklers about which types of candy our kids can eat. Thankfully, there are no food allergies in our family, so aside from making sure none of the packaging is open or otherwise disturbed and making sure they don’t eat too much at one time, we’re OK with them indulging after trick or treating.

But after they indulge, we’ll have hello products toothpaste on hand to make sure they don’t wind up cavities. We’ve gotten better about making sure they “rush to brush” after they have some candy so the sugar isn’t sitting on their teeth for hours or worse — all night long, if they fall asleep.

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Hello toothpaste comes in some great kid-friendly flavors, like bubble gum, blue raspberry and fluoride-free watermelon for the toddler, so it’s not hard to get them brushing when the time comes. And for the crunchy mama in me, they’re also vegan, cruelty-free and contain no artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, dyes, preservatives, triclosan or microbeads. Basically, they’re the polar opposite of Halloween candy — exactly what we need.

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And this year, in addition to making my own kids brush after they eat, we’ll also be giving out mini tubes of hello bubble gum toothpaste to trick-or-treaters who come to our door. We can’t make them use it, but we can give them a little passive encouragement.

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So what about you? How do you protect your kids’ teeth for Halloween?

Do you go to OxfordDentalIdahoFalls.com and explicitly limit what types of candy they can eat? Do you only let them eat one or two pieces at a time? Share your tips in the comments below!

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One of my favorite things about Easter actually has little to do with the holiday itself. I really just love the fact that it is a good signifier of the fact that spring is here, and I can really begin to expect the bright colors, growth and sunshine that comes with it. So when Walmart asked me to share an Easter table decor idea, I knew I wanted to bring a little of that feeling inside.

When I made Juliza’s Easter basket last week, I also stumbled on a ton of other types of baskets at Walmart, and I knew I wanted to use something bigger for this project. In addition to that, here’s what I used, all shown in the photo above:

  • Square wicker basket
  • Easter “grass”
  • Six golden eggs
  • Flameless candle set

This is a super simple centerpiece you can assemble in just a few minutes with supplies you can find in Walmart’s Easter selection if you don’t already have them on hand.

First, I grabbed a bowl that is small enough to fit inside the basket. This is an old decorator’s trick — an easy way to add height to a centerpiece for more interest. I flipped the bowl upside down and put it in the middle of the basket bottom, then sat the largest flameless candle on top of it. You could just sit the candle in the basket without the bowl if you wanted, if it’s not very deep. But flameless candles are a must for this project since paper + fire = bad idea.

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Anyway, in addition to adding height, the bowl took up a good bit of space, so I didn’t need as much of the paper grass. I bought two packs, but wound up using just one. With these longer pieces of paper, a little goes a long way. Just separate the grass and arrange it around the candle so it covers the bowl and fills the basket.

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The final step is to surround the candle with golden eggs. I love spring, but I have never been a fan of decorating with multiple pastel colors, no matter the occasion. The golden eggs still say “Easter,” but the colors are more in alignment with my decorating taste 🙂

I actually filled the eggs with some treats for my little ones, which I’ll let them have after we eat lunch and dinner on Easter Sunday.

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But that’s it! Quick and simple to assemble, and it will work for Easter and for the rest of spring if you’d like to leave it on your table.

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I admit it: I’m the mom who always forgets to buy Easter baskets for the kids, then ends up running to the store on Easter morning trying to find whatever happens to be left on the shelves. Not exactly the best way to score a quality basket. I usually end up with the ones that include random toys and the candy no one really wants.

So when Walmart challenged me to build my own Easter basket for under $10, I thought this would be an opportunity to redeem myself for all the years of crappy baskets.

It’s not hard to build your own basket at Walmart. Not at all. In addition to the pre-made baskets, there are tons of items that make it easy to choose items that your kids (or whomever) will actually want.

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I decided to build the basket for Juliza, which was a bit challenging. I had to give her items appropriate for a 2-year-old. Here’s what I picked up:

  • Cute plastic bucket, $0.98
  • Easter basket “grass”, $0.98
  • Egg filled with fun-sized packs of M&Ms and Skittles, $3
  • Easter Bunny bubbles, $0.98
  • Plush bunny, $2.98
  • Two hair flowers, $1/ea.
  • Daniel Tiger book, $5.68
  • Decorative basket ribbon, $1.84

Ok. So I went a little over budget. But I couldn’t resist adding a book to the basket, and the bow was too cute to pass up. Honestly, it was hard to spend just $10 not because the items were expensive, but because there were so many great items to choose from. Honestly. It wouldn’t be hard to build an awesome basket with almost any theme, and there was a huge variety of decorative and character-themed buckets and baskets ranging from about $1-10. I chose a plastic bucket because while we may never use a wicker or straw basket again, this bucket will get a new life as a catchall on Juliza’s shelf.

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I’ve never been one of those parents who will give random, crappy plastic toys as a gift, because 99.97% of the time, they sit and collect dust. But I love giving useful items, and Walmart made that easy. Even the basket ribbon will get a second life as a hair bow for Ja’Naya.

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The assembly was like playing Tetris. I just put everything where it fit best, with bits of “grass” underneath and in between to fill it all out. I’m pretty proud of the way it turned out.

So what about you? Would you build your own Easter basket, or do you prefer to go the pre-made route?

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My daughter loves Valentine’s Day. She loves decorating a “mailbox” to collect cards from her classmates, and she loves all the candy. What can I say? She’s a kid. Plus she has a mother with a notorious sweet tooth.

This year, Walmart challenged me to share Valentine’s Day party ideas, and I decided to surprise my girls with some homemade treats. Put these three easy DIY snacks together with affordable ingredients and Valentine’s decor from Walmart, and you’ve got an instant party.

Treat 1: Chocolate-Dipped Marshmallows

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Ingredients

  • Bag of strawberry marshmallows (though white would work too)
  • 4-8 oz. chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles
  • Popsicle sticks

Directions

My daughter brought home a chocolate covered marshmallow that a friend gave her as a gift, and I wanted to try my hand at making them myself. Turns out it’s really easy.

Push a popsicle or lollipop stick through one end of each marshmallow. It doesn’t have to go all the way through, but I suggest trying to push it at least halfway so it doesn’t fall out.

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Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler. You’ll need 4 to 8 ounces, depending on how many marshmallows you plan to make.

Dip half of each marshmallow in the melted chocolate, and let the excess chocolate drip off. Coat the chocolate with sprinkles.

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Place the marshmallows, stick side down, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. If you want to speed up the process, you can put them in the freezer for a few minutes or the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

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Once the chocolate has set, they’re good to go!

Treat 2: Pretzel Wands

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Ingredients

  • Pretzel sticks
  • 4-8 oz. white chocolate for melting
  • Sprinkles

Directions

If you have never had chocolate-covered pretzels, you need to make these right away! The combination of sweet and salty flavors together is magical. I had these at my niece’s birthday party last year, and I’ve been wanting to make them ever since.

Melt your chocolate in the microwave or a double boiler.

Dip each pretzel stick into the melted chocolate about 1/2 to 3/4 of the length, and let the excess chocolate drip off.

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You can then decorate the wands however you’d like. We used sprinkles, but you could use a different type of hard candy or something else entirely. Maybe you could drizzle dark chocolate in a pattern.

Anyway, once decorated, place them, chocolate side up, in a glass or mug to let the chocolate solidify. You can speed up the process by putting them in the freezer or fridge, like the marshmallows.

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These are SO good! And your kids will have too much fun spreading Valentine’s day magic with their wands.

Treat 3: Strawberry Roses

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Ingredients

  • Fresh, whole strawberries
  • Paring knife
  • Toothpicks or lollipop sticks
  • Optional: Whipped cream

Directions

After all that sugar, I wanted to give them something a bit healthier. This is the easiest of the three snacks, but the result is so pretty! I found this idea at Spend with Pennies and I had to try it!

Wash and dry your strawberries. Insert a toothpick or lollipop stick in the stem end of each strawberry.

Starting from the bottom (nearest the leaves), make small slices slightly angled towards the center of the strawberry, but be sure not to cut all the way through.

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This will create the rose “petals”. Use the knife to bend each piece out toward you slightly, which will create a layered effect. Turn and continue making slices. You’ll probably be able to do 5 or 6 on the bottom row.

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Move up the strawberry, continuing to cut. For each row of petals, cut between the petals you have already cut. The closer you get to the top, the thinner you’ll want to cut, so the petals will “curl”.

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That’s it! Serve right away for best results 🙂

These treats are a great start to a Valentine’s Day party, and you can find affordable themed plates, cups and other tableware at Walmart to complete the fun.

More Valentine’s Day Party Ideas

Check out these ideas from other Walmart Moms.

Simple decorating ideas from Renee at Cutie Booty Cakes

Gorgeous Valentine’s Day tablescape from Liz at Hoosier Homemade

Affordable decorating tips from Linsey at Lille Punkin

Tissue paper pom tutorial from Tara at Unsophisticook

Making the most of your party on a budget, from Heather at The Domestic Diva

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Even though I tell myself every year that I’ll go all out decorating the house for every holiday, the only one that I consistently follow through on is Christmas. Every year, we choose a non-traditional color palette. In other words, you won’t find any red, gold and green at the Petersen house. Of course, that generally presents a challenge: We can find ornaments for the tree in a variety of colors, but it can be a challenge to find anything else.

Case in point: Our colors this year are turquoise, purple and gold.

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Exactly.

So when Walmart asked me to create a fabulous holiday table setting with items from their stores, I knew I’d have to get creative. Much of the Christmas-themed tableware is of the traditional variety. Instead, I focused on putting together a look based on our colors, with a little sparkle.

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I knew I’d start with our fabulous Better Homes and Gardens square white tableware and build from there. I headed to Walmart and grabbed a table runner in a muted blue, some amazing gold placemats for just under $2 apiece, sparkly turquoise floral stems, and a few fat quarters of fabric at just $1 apiece in turquoise and purple to use as cloth napkins.

The rest of the magic was just in putting it all together.

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The runner worked great on top of our existing turquoise tablecloth, and I put together a quick centerpiece with an old vase and some leftover Christmas decor.

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The plates looked amazing stacked on top of the placemats, with a pop of color in the center from the fat quarter napkins. I just improvised on the folding to create the look of a pocket. The sparkly stems went in sturdy shot glasses to dress up each setting.

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The overall look feels well thought out, but it’s simple enough to be done between naps, work and errands during this busy time of year. And I’m pleased because I managed to pull together a table in a color palette that I’d be unlikely to ever find in Christmas tableware.

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Now that I have kids, I really get into Halloween every year. That usually manifests itself as homemade costumes for them, like this year’s DIY Doc McStuffins for baby Juliza. But I understand that many people don’t have either the time or the inclination to make an elaborate costume at home. Or — if you’re like I was a few years ago — you wait until the last minute to pick up a costume and all the best ones are gone. Or, if you have a baby or toddler, they may just revolt against a costume altogether. In any case, Walmart and I have an idea for you: Pick up an inexpensive Halloween makeup kit and go to town on your baby’s face.

I started off with a pretty cool idea: I wanted to make Juliza a cheetah, inspired by a gorgeous Facebook friend who posted her awesome Halloween makeup last week.

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A lion may have been a little easier, but I knew the spots would be fun and cute. The problem? Toddlers gonna toddler. Which means that getting her not only to sit still, but actually let me make up her face, were going to be challenging. The good thing is that the makeup kit comes with “crayons”, which make drawing shapes infinitely easier than it would’ve been with traditional makeup and brushes. So my solution? I let Juliza draw on my face while I drew on hers. I’ll reveal her masterpiece later.

Baby Cheetah DIY Facepainting

Anyway, all you need is some makeup, and ears, if you’d like to add them.

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Beyond that, the process is relatively simple:

Step 1.

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Color the bottom third of baby’s nose black.

Step 2.

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Fill in the area between baby’s nose and mouth with white makeup. Then draw a black line down the middle from the bottom of the nose to the middle of the upper lip. Add a black line extending from either side of the mouth. You can also try to add “winged” eyeliner, but Juliza wasn’t really having it when I tried to draw so close to her eyes, so I gave up on that.

Step 3.

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Draw your spots. These really don’t have to fit any particular pattern, and the shapes don’t even have to be round. Just draw random spots, some round, some oval, some in organic shapes, from the right side of the forehead down onto the cheek and come back around to baby’s mouth. Add more spots on the left cheek, and the forehead, if you’d like. I preferred the look of more spots on one side. Fill in any noticeable gaps with more spots, if necessary.

Step 4.

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By this time, Juliza was getting more than a little impatient with me, as evidenced by the look on her face, so thankfully, there wasn’t much left to do. Put small rings of yellow in the middle of each spot, just to give them a little dimension. Then add a couple of black spots on top of the white makeup above baby’s mouth.

That’s it!

I also picked up a fox costume set that included some cute ears because there were no cheetah ears and these were the next best thing. I loved them, and I may just add some black spots on the ears and headband with a fabric marker.

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In case you’re worried about cleanup, this makeup is super easy to remove with soap and water, or if you have a fussy baby and need to do it in a hurry, with baby wipes. The only caveat to this easy removal is that baby can rub it off pretty easily too. This is why you see smudged spots on Juliza’s cheek in the last few photos. She kept rubbing her face as I tickled her cheeks with my drawings, so she rubbed a bit of it off.

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Still, the final look was super cute! So cute that I may replicate it on myself when we go trick-or-treating this weekend.

And finally, the photo I’ve been avoiding. Remember how I said I let Juliza draw on my face so she’d let me draw on hers. Well, this is the result:

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I drew the stuff on my forehead to show her what to do, but the rest is all her. Yay.

Not.

More DIY Halloween Ideas

If you loved this and you’re looking for more homemade Halloween goodness, check out my creations from Halloweens past:

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