Holidays

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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.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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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?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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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

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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:

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Easter is just around the corner, and my daughter always looks forward to it. Not because of Easter egg hunts or the Easter Bunny — but because she gets to dress up in a fancy new outfit. She loves the frills and colors and overall girly-ness of Easter fashion. When Walmart challenged me to share an Easter project this year, I thought I’d make an Easter dress for her favorite My Life As 18″ doll so they can both dress up together.

Tutorial: DIY Easter Dress for an 18″ Doll

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You’ll Need:

Fold your fat quarter in half lengthwise. Walmart has a ton of inexpensive fat quarters in their fabric section in a ton of colors and patterns. Use this pattern to cut two the front and back of the dress along the fold.

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Unfold the fabric and lay the pieces right sides facing. Pin along the left and right edges. Sew together, then press the seams open.

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You may be tempted to skip the iron on this project, but trust me — at this size and scale, pressing seams and hems before you sew will save you from pulling your hair out trying to hold pieces together with just pins.

Use the pattern to cut two small strips of fabric for the arm holes.

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Fold and press each strip in half lengthwise. Unfold it, then fold both sides 1/4 of the way to the center so they meet in the middle. Finally, fold them in half again and press.

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These narrow tubes of fabric will cover the raw edges of the arm holes. Slide the raw edges between the layers of folded fabric and pin.

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Sew along the arm hole fabric being sure to overlap and sew every layer. Cut off any excess left at the ends.

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Now for the top of the dress. Fold the top edges down 1/4″ and press. Fold again 1/2″, press and pin. Sew hem. It’s important to leave a 1/2″ seam allowance here, because this hem will create the “pocket” for your ribbon straps.

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At the bottom of the dress, fold 1/4″ hem and press. Fold again 1/2″, press, pin and sew.

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That’s it! The sewing is complete.

The final steps involve threading your straps. Cut two 14″ strips of narrow grosgrain ribbon. The type of ribbon is important so it won’t fray.

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Use a safety pin to thread each piece of ribbon through each hem pocket at the top of the dress, and gather the fabric along the ribbon.

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It may resemble a boring sack on the table, but it is indeed a dress.

Simply slip the dress over your doll’s head and tie the loose ends of the ribbon at the shoulders. Then cut one last 18″ piece of ribbon to tie around her waist as a belt.

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How cute is she?!

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If you can sew straight stitches, you can make this dress. It really is a simple sewing project, and if your daughter is anything like mine, she’ll appreciate being able to dress up her favorite doll for Easter.

Want to make a simple dress for your daughter? Here’s a similar DIY Easter dress I made for my daughter a few years back. The best part? It’s reversible!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

One of the things my husband and I are trying to get better at doing is exposing our girls to other cultures and their traditions, because we want them to appreciate that customs and traditions are what make people special and amazing. When Walmart challenged me to share a Chinese New Year story, I thought this would be a great time to introduce my daughters to this tradition in an interactive way.

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Each Chinese New Year is represented by an animal or animals. 2015 is represented by the sheep or goat. In celebration of that, we made a simple, DIY sheep headband with a couple of simple materials you can find at Walmart.

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You’ll Need:

This is a pretty easy project to complete, but the result is super, super cute. Start by cutting a loose oval shape from white felt. It doesn’t have to be a perfect shape. I’d say mine was about 5 inches wide, but you can make yours smaller if you want the ears to end up closer together in the end.

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Glue cotton balls to the felt to cover the whole shape, packing the cotton close together. You’ll want to overlap a bit around the edges so that the felt is invisible from the top.

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Next, you’ll want to glue the cotton-covered felt to the center of the headband. The headband has a curved shape, so even if you put the cotton balls close to each other, you may still end up with a few gaps:

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Just add a little hot glue in the gaps and add a smallish piece of cotton to fill the spaces.

The ears are up next. Lay a piece of white felt on top of a piece of pink/purple felt and fold it in half. You should have a total of four layers. Cut out an “ear” shape through all the layers at once. I think of it as a teardrop shape with a flat bottom.

Trim a little bit from around the edges of the pink/purple shapes, since they’ll act as the “inside” of the ears. Glue a purple shape to the center of each white shape so that there’s white trim showing around all the edges.

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Finally, you’ll need to glue the ears to the headband on either side of the cotton-covered felt. Glue the ear to the middle of the headband via a narrow strip of glue. Then glue two pieces of cotton in front of the ears, and two pieces behind. This will let the ears stand up straight.

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Tada! You’re done!

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Because my first piece of felt was so wide, the ears wound up being set pretty wide apart. If you want your closer together, start with a smaller piece of felt. My little sheep wasn’t complaining, though. She was too busy being cute!

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I’m really tempted to make the rest of this costume, just because. How cute would that be?

So what about you? How do you celebrate the Chinese New Year?

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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These days, baby Juliza is very lovey dovey. She loves to randomly walk up to my hubby and I and hug our legs, or bellies, or necks, or whatever is in reach at the moment. She loves giving kisses too, though we have to work on her technique. So when Walmart challenged me to share a Valentine’s Day craft project, she was my inspiration.

If you have a baby at home, this is a great interactive project that will also deliver a great keepsake for family members and friends, and you can get everything you need at Walmart for about the cost of a few pre-made cards.

DIY Baby Footprint Valentine’s Day Cards

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You’ll Need:

I spend a surprising amount of time playing with Juliza’s feet. Maybe because she likes to put them in my face while nursing, or maybe because I’m a mom who’s just obsessed with her baby’s feet. Either way, when I was considering what Valentine’s craft I could do this year, I kept thinking that putting her feet together would look like a heart. And so, this idea was born.

The execution of this card is really simple. I started by creating a basic template for the front of the card, cheesy phrase and all:

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Click here to download the PDF template

I used Avery half-fold greeting cards because they’re already perforated and fold easily, but you really could just use card stock to print the template. Fold the card in half, and you’re ready for the next step.

Remember above, when I said you’ll need a “willing” baby? *By “willing”, I mean a baby you can strap into a high chair or other contraption so they won’t get paint all over the floor. Or one who’s too little to get around on her own.

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So, I strapped JuJu into her high chair and proceeded to paint the bottom of her feet.

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I considered dipping her feet in paint, but I thought that would be drippy and messy and…just no. Painting with a brush is a lot less messy and lets you make sure you cover the entire bottom of baby’s foot. Just be sure to use craft paint, because it will wash right off with soap and water.

Once the bottom of the foot is covered, simply press baby’s foot on the paper under the phrase on the front of the card.

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You’ll need to hold baby’s foot slightly diagonal. The toes on the left foot will point a bit to the left, and the toes on the right foot will point a bit to the right. The idea is that the heels will meet to create the bottom of the heart.

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Be sure to put slight pressure on the entire foot, from heel to toes, so you get a good footprint. There will be blank spots, especially if your baby still likes to curl her toes like mine does, but the imperfect nature of this is what makes it so…well…perfect.

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Really, this took 15 minutes, including cleanup, but it is such an awesome keepsake that I don’t know if we’ll be able to part with it to give it to anyone. Maybe we’ll give it to the hubby so I can still admire it from time to time. Or I can just keep playing with Juliza’s feet until she’s old enough to stop me 🙂

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.