Wednesday, December 12, 2018

No Sew Bendable Elf on the Shelf Hack

As my kids are getting older, our Elf on the Shelf, Luna has to start getting more creative. Thankfully my kids are still little so she doesn't have to get to creative...yet.

If you don't know what Elf on the Shelf is, basically you read a story to your children that describes how the elf works, name your elf and watch as your elf magically moves around the house making messes and having fun. Each night your elf goes back to the North Pole to tell Santa if your children have been good or bad. If the elf is touched then the elf disappears back to the North Pole. You can find Elf on the Shelf at almost any retail stores around Christmas time or buy it  HERE on Amazon (affiliate)

Most of  Luna's Adventures have been toddler friendly. She likes to hide in Christmas decorations but she came with her hands sewn together. 

At first I liked her hands being sewn together because it made it easier for her to hang on things like door nobs or a Christmas tree branch but the more creative she gets, the harder it is for her to pose and stay still for hours on end so this year I decided to cut the thread and give Luna an upgrade. 

Luna's upgrade was given the night before she got her magical powers back from the North Pole and she became mobile. Her upgrade was super easy to do and best of all it was FREE!

Luna can now bend her arms and legs more easily. She is now able to pose in crazy dance moves for hours on end, hold objects and hang in different positions than before. So far she seems to be enjoying her upgrade and I think your Elf on the Shelf will to. 

To upgrade your elf, all you will need are four small/medium paper clips or some other kind of easily bendable wire.

First straighten out all the paper clips the best you can.  

Next look for a small opening between stitches and carefully push a straightened paper clip into each arm and leg. Be careful not to pock the other end out of your elf's body. 

You may get stuck at your elf's knees or elbow. I found that it was easier to go through the knee and elbow area by wiggling the paper clip to the edge of the stitching. It may take a little trial and error but you can do it!

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I couldn't find an opening at my elf's hand but I found one at the top of her arm. 

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Once you get the paper clip in as far as you can, you can cut off the excess or grab the middle of the arm/leg and carefully pull the last little bit inside. Try your best to maneuver the paper clip inside the cotton filling to help avoid it poking back out in the future. 

Wah-la, now your elf's upgrade is complete and they can move, bend and be more creative with their midnight mischief. How cool and easy was that?! 

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If you can't find a hole between the stitching to stick the paper clip through you can carefully cut the stitches and sew it back up or use fabric glue but I personally think this way is so much easier and you don't chance ruining your elf. 

I'd love to know what your elf is now doing that they couldn't before with their upgrade in the comments below!

Here's what Luna has been up to with her upgrade:

Check out some of Luna's Adventures from last year before her upgrade HERE!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

DIY Personalized Nurse Christmas Ornament

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A few years ago I was asked if I could make a Christmas ornament for a student to give to their school nurse. I accepted the challenge and came up with this adorable nurse ornament. 

This ornament is pretty easy to make if you know how to draw and write neat. 

Supplies:
  • Clear, plastic ornament
  • Cotton Balls
  • Black and Red Paint Pen
  • Ribbon

How To:

1. Wipe off the ornament so you have a clean surface. 

2. Using the black paint pen, draw a stethoscope and the year off to the side. Personalize the ornament with "Nurse (Nurse's Name)" . Let Dry.

3. Using a red paint pen, add a small red cross in the middle of the stethoscope. Let Dry.

4. Optional - On the back side of the ornament, personalize it with "Love, (gift givers name)" so they will know who it is from for years to come.

5. Fill the ornament with cotton balls. You can use bandages, gauze, etc..., basically anything nurse related.

6. Add a tie or hook to hang it on the tree and some decorative ribbon and you're done!

Wrap it up and let your child give it to their nurse or maybe you have a nurse friend that you want to make it for this Christmas. This is a an adorable and an affordable Christmas ornament that any nurse will love. Let me know how your ornaments turned out in the comments and if your nurse friends loved them! 

I'd love to see picture of your finished ornaments. You can share them with me on: 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

30 Things to do in my 30's Bucket List

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December is my half birthday. Yay!!!! No I don't celebrate my half birthday but in about a year in a half I will be 30 so I thought it was the perfect time to share 30 things I'd like to do in my 30's. Getting older isn't something that really bothers me or at least not yet even though I'm not that old. My 20's have been filled with new and exciting adventures. I married my college love, gave birth to my three beautiful children and started my blog. I'm looking forward to seeing what my 30's include. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

15 Useful Christmas Gift Ideas for a Newborn Baby

*Affiliate links are used in this post. Please see my full disclosure for more information.
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Christmas is right around the corner and a question I see popping up a lot lately is "What do you buy a newborn baby?". I've seen the question pop up on Facebook, in a local mommy group I'm in, and I've even been asked it before. So what do you buy a newborn?

My daughter's due date was Christmas Eve, luckily she was a week early so we got to spend Christmas with our family and not in the hospital. Thinking back I honestly don't think we bought her a Christmas gift being that she was a few days old and her due date was technically Christmas Eve but we did buy tons of clothes, a wub-a-nub, bows, etc...  so we figured those could "count" as gifts. 

I will say my daughter was spoiled her first Christmas. I don't know if it's because she was the first grand baby or because it was Christmas but at our family Christmas she had the most gifts and she slept through the entire gift exchange.

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Since then I have been blessed with two more little ones. I have thought on countless holidays and birthdays, "What do you get a baby? A baby is so little and has no idea what is going on so is the gift for the baby or the parents?"

Buying gifts for a baby that actually get used is a lot harder than you think it would be. There are so many cute baby items out there but a baby doesn't do much besides eat, sleep and poop making it more difficult to find the perfect gift. Which leads us to the question,

What do you buy a newborn?


1. Gift Cards
My go to gift when I have no idea is a gift card that way the parents can buy whatever they need. Walmart, Meijer, Target, Buy Buy Baby are all great places where the parents can find a variety of baby items.

2. Something from their Baby Registry
The chances of the parents getting everything on the baby registry is slim so check it out, see what is left and go from there.

3. Diapers & Wipes
A baby goes through diapers like crazy, especially in the first few months of life. Buy some size 1 or 2 diapers and wipes for the new parents. You can never have enough diapers and wipes.

4. Clothes
Clothes is an easy and popular baby gift. I recommend buying a 3 month or 3-6 month outfit so the parents can get more use out of it. Baby sleepers are also a great gift!

5. Baby Blanket
Not a receiving blanket, an actual baby blanket. Blankets are very versatile and make great gifts. They can be used to keep the baby warm, cover the carseat up when out, a cover for breast feeding mothers, and they are perfect for keeping baby off the dirty floor

                                            

6. Babysitting Coupon
Every parent needs a night out even if they don't want to admit it so what better than an IOU a free night of babysitting coupon. The parents get a break and you can get your baby fix.

7. Formula/Food
If the baby is on formula, find out what kind and buy some. Formula, like diapers, adds up fast. If the baby is a little older, buy some baby food/snacks. This is a very useful gift that a lot of people don't think of doing. Throw in some Cheerios, yogurt melts, baby wafers and your good to go!

8. Wub-a-Nub
This was a life savor. The stuffed animal is just enough weight to help keep the pacifier in the baby's mouth and they are easier to find.

9. Accessories
We all love a good accessory but it sometimes slips our mind to buy accessories for our kids. Some good baby accessories are:

10. Multi-Use Cover
I wish I had one of these for my newborn. This cover acts as a carseat cover, nursing cover, high chair cover, shopping cover and a scarf. How cool is that? I had individual covers for all of those things. This item totally would of saved me time and money.

11. Cloth Diapers as Burp Cloths
Cloth diapers make the best burp cloths because they absorb so much more. You can never have enough burp cloths. I even found some cute dinosaur ones when I had my youngest.

12. Learning Toys
Lets face it, stuffed animals are cute but overtime the baby will take to only one and the rest will sit there collecting dust. Educational toys are the best toys because baby can learn and play at the same time. Some good educational toys are:
13. Soothing Toys
Lets face it, all babies cry. Sometimes all baby needs is to be held and other times they just need something to sooth them. Here are some go to soothing toys:


14. Bath Supplies
As baby grows, they will most likely enjoy the water more and more so why not get them something to use in the bath tub. Here are a few ideas:

15. Milestone Blanket / Milestone Stickers
Taking a monthly picture and documenting baby's growth is a big thing to-do in baby's first year. The new thing is Milestone Blankets which are adorable. I used Milestone stickers/printouts for all three of  my little ones. It's crazy to see how much they grow each month.

There are tons of toys and baby items out there. Sometimes it is hard to resist because baby items are just too cute! When shopping for a newborn baby, keep in mind that a newborn baby isn't able to do much so the best gifts in my opinion are items the baby can use - diapers, wipes, food OR items that grow with the baby - learning toys, bath towels, books. If you are completely stumped or short on time, go with a gift card to a store like Target, Walmart, Meijer, or Buy Buy Baby so the parents can buy something they need for baby. 

If you are still stumped on ideas, check out my post, 100+ Easter Basket Ideas for Babies & Toddlers and maybe you will find something else.

I hope you enjoyed this list. I tried to think of items I would of wanted for my newborn baby and items that a new parent could use. Drop a comment below with your go to baby item for a newborn baby's first Christmas!

                                                

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Elf on the Shelf - The Adventures of Luna

*Affiliate links are used in this post. Please see my full disclosure for more information.

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Elf on the Shelf has become a popular Christmas tradition for several families. I was never a huge fan of it but my mother bought it for my kids a couple years ago so of coarse my family participates in the magical elf tradition. 

If you don't know what Elf on the Shelf is, basically you read a story to your children that describes how the elf works, name your elf and watch as your elf magically moves around the house making messes and having fun. Each night your elf goes back to the North Pole to tell Santa if your children have been good or bad. If the elf is touched then the elf disappears back to the North Pole. You can find Elf on the Shelf at almost any retail store around Christmas time or buy it  HERE on Amazon. I've also seen people use a random stuffed elf they find at the store. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Safari Themed Family Halloween Costume

For Halloween this year my family went with a Safari theme. My husband was a Safari guide, I was a snake in a bush and my kids dressed up as safari animals - butterfly, lion and zebra. I let my two older children choose what animal they wanted to be and got to crafting.

A Safari theme is a great theme to for a group or family costume for Halloween or any themed party. You can add as many animals as you want to the theme. The possibilities are endless from a money to turtle, bird, lizard, cheetah, giraffe and more.

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I think this was one on my favorite family Halloween costume themes that we've gone as. The animals matched my children's personalities perfect. My son keep ROARing, my daughter kept twirling and my baby kept galloping. It was hilarious.

I tried to base the costumes off items we already had to save on money. Our Halloween costumes were actually inspired by my leaf romper. I was looking at it and thought "hey let's go as a Safari theme. The kids can be animals and I'll do something with this..." At the time I had not idea how it was going to turn out and when I told people we were going as a Safari they all just kind of nodded there heads but I think it turned out super cute and we got a lot of compliments.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

DIY Family Themed Halloween Costumes

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HAPPY HALLOWEEN mommas and mommas to bee. I hope you are having a great day. The weather here is perfect for trick-or-treating although our town's trick-or-treating was moved to last night since there was rain in the forecast. Since it is Halloween I am going to do a throwback of our costumes over the years. 

Anyone that knows me knows that I love crafting and making things so of coarse Halloween is a great opportunity for me to get crafty and create simple, budget friendly, DIY costumes for the whole family.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Halloween Baby Ghost Footprint Pumpkin

I somehow never wrote this post after my son was born, oops... better late then never right?

October 2016 I had my third baby. My family visited the pumpkin patch the week before he arrived and picked out a pumpkin for him. I had no idea what I was going to do with his pumpkin or even if  I was going to do anything with it but I wanted to have five pumpkins.

Not many people know this, but we were in and out of the hospital after my son was born due to health problems. We luckily got out right before Halloween and were able to decorate/carve/drill pumpkins. 

Monday, October 22, 2018

5 Reasons to Ditch Supermarket Pumpkins and visit a Pumpkin Patch

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It's fall which means pumpkins, hayrides, bonfires and boots. The weather gets cooler, most of the time, it gets darker earlier and Halloween and Thanksgiving are upon us. What better way to celebrate fall than visiting your local pumpkin patch. 

Now you may be thinking why should I drive to a pumpkin patch, stand outside in the heat/cold and walk all over the place when I could just go to the grocery store and grab a perfectly good pumpkin. Well that is all true but I want you to know that it's not all about the pumpkin, it is about the experience. It is about exploring, getting outside, spending time with family or friends and enjoying all the pumpkin patch has to offer. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Oh TWOdles! Mickey's Clubhouse inspired Birthday Party

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We just celebrated my son's second birthday. I can't believe my baby is already TWO, time defiantly flies by when you have kids. When my daughter was a few months old, someone passed along a few Mickey Clubhouse decorations. At the time I had no idea what Mickey's Clubhouse was but boy did I find out fast. 

If your kids haven't seen Mickey's Clubhouse, they should. It is a great learning show, very colorful and it has all my favorite Mickey & Friend's characters in it.

A few months ago I came across the Mickey decorations and thought it would make the perfect second birthday party. One of the go to lines in the show is "Oh Toodles!" or in this case "Oh TWOdles!". Just change the wording and bam, now you have a great second birthday party theme. 

Since I just invited immediate family to the party, I tried not to go all out. I had several different ideas for the party but I was only able to do a few of them. Overall I think the party turned out pretty nice and my son had a great time which is all that matters. 

The Food
We decided to have a Hot Dog, Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog bar with a few other sides. Keep in mind this was for a party of around 20 people. If you have more people, add more sides!

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The food consisted of:

  • Buns, Hot Dogs & Brats 
  • Chilli
  • Toppings - Ketchup, Mustard, Cheese, Relish, etc...
  • Fries in a cup so it's easy to carry
  • Frito Corn Salad
  • Fruit Salad
  • Oreos aka Mickey Ears
  • Strawberry Chocolate Tart
  • Cupcakes

The beverages consisted of:

  • Sweet Tea
  • Water
  • Variety of 2 liters
  • Juice for the kids

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I was afraid we wouldn't have enough cupcakes or not everyone would like cupcakes so we made a Strawberry Chocolate Tart. I tried to make the strawberries look like Mickey.

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The Cupcakes
I attempted to make the cupcakes look like Mickey. If you follow me on Twitter you may of seen my post a comparison of the Pillsbury (red) vs Great Value (white) frosting. The white frosting wouldn't hold and kept melting off the cupcakes so I had to redo the white cupcakes a few times. 

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I used new chocolate covered mini Oreos for the Mickey ears. I was going to add two white dots to make them look more like Mickey but because the frosting wouldn't harden, I didn't want to chance ruining all of them.

The white cupcakes have a crushed lollipop on top of them. I love the contrast in the cupcakes.

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The Decorations
We turned our house into Mickey's Clubhouse by hanging up all the decorations. I pulled out all the Mickey related toys I could find and set them up over the house and used them to decorate the tables. I used the Mickey pillows and larger plushes to decorate our couch. *not pictured

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I had flipped the design on the party horns and wrote "Oh TWOdles" and drew Mickey heads on them. 

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I used a chalkboard and chalk to make a sign for the food that said "Hot Diggity Dog Bar" on it in the theme's colors.

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For the entry way, I wrote and drew with chalk "Come inside, it's fun inside", "Oh TWOdles" and Mickey's pants. Chalk is an easy and cheap way to decorate outside your home, plus it washes off easily. I did something similar for my other son's Chugga Chugga TWO TWO birthday.

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We also had a Mickey photo-booth along with Mickey props if the guests wanted to pose and take pictures. 

I borrowed the Mickey photo-booth from my neighbor - Thank you! - who recently had a Sailor Mickey themed party for her son. The photo-booth was made from a foam board, paint and construction paper if you'd like to make your own.

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Overall we had a great time and my son loved all his gifts. He got a few Mickey outfits, a singing Mickey, a Mickey block train set, a Mickey blanket, a t-ball set and a walking dog pet. Needless to say my son is spoiled and loved! 


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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

28+ Simple Toddler Meal Ideas

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One of my top blog posts to date is Food Ideas: Feeding a One Year Old. I have been in the process of collecting pictures to create a meal ideas blog post to go with it for a while now. Unfortunately my computer crashed a while back and I lost all the food pictures I had taken but lucky for you, since my kids eat three meals a day plus snacks,  I was able to take better ones! 

Every family has a different routine but my kids food routine looks something like this:
Wake up & Eat breakfast while watching TV
11:30/12 - Lunch followed by snack
6:00 - Dinner followed by snack

Of coarse there are naps, playtime and milk in there somewhere and snack time was moved to after lunch and dinner because my kids always "say" they are still hungry even though they eat more then me half the time. 

My three and four year old recently started going to preschool half a day so they now get lunch at school Monday - Thursday. It saves us money but I am disappointed because the teacher usually gives them pizza two of the four days and I have no idea if they are eating their vegetables - probably not

Before we get started,
  • Theses meals were given to my three toddlers (1, 3 & 4) for either lunch or dinner. 
  • I try to change it up so they aren't eating the same thing all the time. I also make sure they get some sort of fruit and vegetable at least once a day. 
  • The best and healthiest meals are plates full of color! No that does NOT mean candy.
  • The colorful square plates used are by Re-Play Recycled (affiliate) and they are my favorite! I loved them so much I bought more. They also have silverware to match. The other plates pictured are just okay.
  • If you have a picky eater check out this link - 10 Tips to get a Picky Eater to Eat
  • If your little one just started eating solids check out this link - Food Ideas: Feeding a One Year Old
Here are some meals I've fed my children. Keep in mind, you can easily substitute out different fruits or sides with the main dishes.

28 Toddler Meal Ideas

1. Pulled Pork, Buttered Whole Wheat Bread, Cheese Cubes, an Orange
2. Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets, Mixed Vegetables, Mixed Berries & Grapes
3. Beef Taco Roll Ups with sour cream & salsa for dipping, Strawberries, Veggie Straws
4. Pot Roast, Potatoes, Carrots, Vanilla Yogurt with Dried Cranberries

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5. Pepperoni, Ritz Crackers, Cheese Cubes, Fruit Melody
6. Pizza Roll Ups, Cantaloupe, Salad
7. Meatball Sub, Jello, Pickles
8. Vienna Sausages, Cheese Cubes, Ritz Crackers, Fruit Melody, Potato Salad

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9. Scrambled Eggs, Toast with Strawberry Jelly, Strawberry Banana Yogurt & Dried Cranberries
10. Peanut butter Banana Rollup, Cottage Cheese, Banana & Oranges
11. Ham & Cheese Rollup, Grapes & Blueberries, Veggie Chips
12. Oatmeal, Strawberries, Yogurt

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13. Ham & Cheese Sandwich, Banana, Pretzels with Fiesta Dip (dip leftover from a birthday party)
14. Chicken Salad, Ritz Crackers, Apple Sauce, Fig Neutons
15. Tuna & Mayo mixed, Ritz Crackers, Cubed Cheese, Apple Slices, Pickles
16. Turkey Sub, Banana, Veggie Straws

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17. Macaroni & Beef Noodles, Cheese Cubes, Mixed Fruit, Buttered Bread
18. Ravioli, Grapes & Banana, Buttered Bread
19. Spagettios & Meatballs, Orange, Cheese Cubes, Buttered Bread
20. Chicken Parmesion/Spagetti, Peaches, Cottage Cheese 

If you can't tell, I like paring Buttered Bread with pasta.


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21. Homemade Pizza Bagel, Apple Slices, Carrots with Ranch
22. Chicken Alfredo, Salad, Yogurt with Granola & Dried Cranberries
23. Taco Salad (Chips, Beef, Lettuce, Cheese), Grapes & Blueberries, Carrots with Ranch
24. Meatballs with Pasta Sauce onto, Cubed Cheese, Mixed Vegetables, Buttered Bread

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25. Beef Soup, Blackberries, Cubed Cheese, Buttered Bread
26. Broccoli Cheese Potato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Mixed Fruit Cup
27. Beans, Chicken Flavored Noodles, Mixed Vegetables, Banana
28. Beef/Bean Soup, Strawberries & Grapes, Cubed Cheese, Saltine Crackers

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I try to stick to foods I know my kids will eat. I sometimes introduce new items and make them try it. We have started letting the kids eat more of our meals now that they are getting older depending on what it is.  A few more of our go to main dishes are:
  • PB&J Sandwich
  • Grilled Cheese
  • Mac & Cheese
  • Hot Dog
  • Pigs in a Blanket
  • Pizza
  • Burger
  • Chicken Patty
  • Baked/Grilled Chicken
  • Hot Pockets
  • Chicken Noodle Soup
  • Chicken & Dumplins
  • Chicken Pot Pie
  • Stir Fry (Rice, Chicken, Vegetables & Eggs)
  • Steak Bites on special occasions
  • Several different types of casseroles
I didn't take pictures of all the meals because it slipped my mind (fussy kids = time to eat) but you can easily pair these main dishes with a fruit and vegetable. Hopefully these meal ideas help provide you with a variety of options for your toddler. Happy Eating!

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Let me know what your go to meal is in the comments below & Pin this picture for later so you can test out these meals with your toddler!

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Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Darth Vader Inspired Halloween Costume

October 2015 - I can't believe it's already been three years - my husband's teacher costume theme was Disney villains. Since Disney bought the rights to Star Wars, my husband decided that meant he could go as Darth Vader, although I don't think that is what the other teachers had in mind. My husband loves Star Wars so his mind was set plus Darth Vader is now technically a Disney villain.

My husband told me about the costume last minute so we didn't really have time to go all out and being that he is a teacher, he isn't allowed to wear a mask to cover his face so this is what we came up with on short notice and I mean short as in the night before.

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The Suit Design
My husband wore black pants and a black long sleeve shirt. I used silver duct tape to try to recreate Darth Vader's suit design the best I could. I colored the blue and red with sharpie. 

The Cape
I cut and tied a black plastic table cloth around my husband's neck. These are under a $1 at most stores.

The Mask
I found a free printable clipart image, printed it out and taped it to one of my black head bands. 

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Like I said, this was a very last minute costume but I think it turned out pretty well and everyone knew who my husband was suppose to be. The duct tape pealed off the shirt very easy and the costume ended up being costing a $1 to make because I don't think I had a table cloth.

This is a great way for you child or you to wear a Darth Vader inspired costume for school or church events that DO NOT allow masks. This is also an easy way to go as Darth Vader for Halloween if you are short on time and money. Duct tape for the win!