I’m sticking with my “fun and easy” life theme these days, especially around the holidays. In the past, I have had a real ability to overcomplicate crafts and make them hard to execute (and be extremely messy – remember when I tried marbling with toxic nail polish inside when the kids were 1 and 3?? Total disaster). This is usually due to me wanting to do things with my kids that are above their level (which I think there is a time and place for, tbh). Sometimes this can lead to frustrations and disappointments from all parties which can be a real bummer. But I learned during lockdown how much more fun doing less intense crafts and not caring about the end result was. It’s about the process, the connection, the fun of it all – not how it looks. So I pitched a “Cousin – Crafting – Christmas (and Cocktail) Party” to Target who was very happy to sponsor it:)
Our house was already decorated for the holidays, and relatively clean, so with one stop at the fully stocked local Target (shout out to Washington Square) we snagged their craft/ornament kits, gingerbread kits, and festive treats and invited my siblings and their kids over for an afternoon and evening of fun.
It was messy, as it should be, but also contained and the kids were able to do so much of it on their own. With the help of my friend Kaitlin (a professional photographer and neighbor who also shoots families and weddings so I knew she could handle 6 kids), we were able to capture the spirit of fun to show you, without stepping on the kid’s toes. My motto this year is “done is better than perfect, and fun is better than done” and this party was so easy, affordable, and really fun – even the cleanup was fast.
The Prep – A Simple Set Up
I knew that I wasn’t going to be able to really style the shots with six kids involved so whatever we put on the table would need to be cute and foolproof. My kids helped (mostly because they were so excited to get started before the cousins came over) and since our house was already decorated for the holidays we set up the table but that was mostly it.
We covered the table (and island) in butcher/craft paper and I wanted a little bit of unbreakable decor so I found these ADORABLE honeycomb trees in the Spritz section for $3 a bag (three in a bag) that the kids put together. Then we put out markers, craft supplies, and holiday mugs and then threw some candy canes on the table. I didn’t even cut off the white strings on the trees, which of course now I regret but I just kinda threw everything on the table and let the kids (and Kaitlin) go for it. When I was shopping for this at Target I kept everything in bright and fun colors (“Please, not boring colors, mama” – Birdie) but of course, it doesn’t hurt to have that tile and the incredible light in that room.
I added two toys (the white truck with the tree in the back and the market cart). I was so tempted to hang a wreath in every window but stopped myself, threw up the beaded garland instead on command strips, and just called it “done”.
1. Christmas Santa Mug | 2. Decorative Metal Market Cart with Trees and Mini Wreath | 3. Dog Mug | 4. Christmas Christman Tree Mug | 5. Decorative Metal Truck with Tree and Star | 6. Honeycomb Trees Décor (Set of 3) | 7. House Mug | 8. Glass Bowl | 9. Gingerbread Man Mug
The Crafting Kits
5pc Create-Your-Own Holiday Treats Art Kit | Color-Your-Own Santa’s Workshop | Create-Your-Own Holiday Craft Stick Characters Kit | Paint Your Own Wood Ornament Variety Set | Create-Your-Own Holiday Picture Frame Craft Kit | Watercolor Brush Pens
The craft kits are very, very good. As you know we are very into ornaments over here, so I bought four holiday crafting kits and these photo frames and let them go at it. Our kids are 7 and 9 and can read so they basically just did it on their own, but even Frank (my 5-year-old nephew) could do all of these as they are really simple and fun.
These are all the Mondo Llama line which is so affordable and comes with everything you need inside which makes it very, very easy on us and feels really contained and manageable.
These kits are designed to be really fun, colorful, and engaging for kids, and they truly are. I actually think that these are the best craft kits on the market (we’ve bought a lot). They allow for a lot of creativity with gems, paints, and stickers while also showing you the options you can make if you like a step-by-step. So they can really do whatever they dream up or just follow the directions.
Trying to shoot 6 kids in 2 hours without telling them what to do, where to look, etc, proved just as difficult as we thought it would be so we didn’t even get any final shots of the ornaments but they looked like little kid versions of what is on the box. It got dark so early and they rushed over to do the treats setup (understandably).
1. 5pc Create-Your-Own Holiday Treats Art Kit | 2. Freestanding Wood Snowman | 3. Color-Your-Own Santa’s Workshop | 4. Freestanding Wood Gingerbread Man | 5. 26pc Watercolor Brush Pens and Blending Brushes | 6. Create-Your-Own Holiday Picture Frame Craft Kit | 7. Create-Your-Own Holiday Craft Stick Characters Kit | 8. Paint Your Own Wood Ornament Variety Set | 9. 16ct Paint Markers Bullet Tip
Holiday “Baking” Made Easy
After we finished crafting, we went into the kitchen and started the sugar consumption and no-bake holiday dessert kits. Now we also make things from scratch but when you have lots of kids and want to catch up with grownups, the kits kept it really manageable and not a crazy flour disaster. The kits were all varying degrees of difficulty and the kids could follow step by step or again, just go for it.
Our #1 Favorite Sweet-Making Kit – Chocolate Covered Pretzels
I think the biggest hit was the chocolate-dipped pretzels – it didn’t matter how messy you made them, they looked so cute and were delicious.
The kids loved these the most because you could actually eat them, whereas the gingerbread houses not so much. We bought two of these boxes (thank goodness) and went through them all – so easy and satisfying to look at.
Yes, Kaitlin did stand on the island to get that shot…
One of the biggest reasons we moved back to Portland was to raise our kids near their aunts/uncles, grandparents, and cousins. They are all around the same age and get along really well. They go to different schools and we don’t live that close, but end up seeing them at least once a month to where they feel connected. As you can see the Starke family DNA is STRONG.
My brother and sister joined in after work (at sunset which is around 4:30 – oof) and while the kids didn’t really need help, it sure was fun to have this excuse to do this with them.
The Gingerbread House Building Kits
I tried my first gingerbread house with the kids when they were 1 and 3 (real rookie move) and found out quickly how frustrating it can be to keep it together, let alone the mess. While the kids are a lot older now, these kits make it really, really easy for them to make – some more curated (like the barn), and then some were more of a free for all (the football field).
You can of course make this all from scratch but these kits simply make it much much much easier, which means that we get to have more fun and less frustration.
1. Holiday Gingerbread Barn | 2. Holly Jolly Sprinkle (Set of 4) | 3. Holiday Cookie Decorating Kit | 4. Sports Stadium Kit with Green Icing and Festive Paper | 5. Holiday Pre-Built Gingerbread House | 6. Holiday Pretzel Decorating Kit | 7. Super Strong Gingerbread Icing | 8. Mini Village Gingerbread Kit | 9. Holiday Sprinkles
Ready-Made Sugar Cookies
Lastly, we bought the sugar cookie kit that came with ready to eat with frosting options, and as you can see they got very “creative” while decorating them.
The whole night was full of squeals, a LOT of sugar (with only 2 meltdowns afterward), and it was really really easy because the kits kinda planned everything for us. We are big into crafting here and have a ton of supplies, but when you have a lot of people over there can be too many options and the crafting can be overwhelmingly messy. So if you are going to have a crafting/cocktail party (highly recommend) I can’t recommend these kits enough.
Was it chaotic? YES. But in the best of ways and to be expected when you have six kids and so much sugar. When we finished all the crafts and desserts and dealt with a couple of meltdowns, we did the only thing possible – put on The Grinch, shut the door, and the grownups chatted around the fire.
When I got the photos back from Kaitlin I was so impressed that there were so many that turned out so well considering it was too chaotic to really set up proper shots.
She even caught our kids in this moment (below) when I wasn’t there and I kinda wanted to cry. Are you joking???? I swear I didn’t set up that moment, but it goes to show what bright colors, a good photographer, and a well-lit room can create:)
Thanks to Target for partnering on this party and post. I am so grateful to have a job that gives me allows me to hang out with my kids during the busiest time of the year. xx
Everything we used is rounded up in my Target Storefront (with all our holiday decor, too)!
This post was sponsored by Target but all words and opinions are all mine🙂 #targetpartner #targetfam
*Photos by Kaitlin Green
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