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Unofficial Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

Unofficial Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

What Is The Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze?

The Ugly Christmas Sweater, has in recent years amassed so much attention, it has become a “thing”. In the unlikely event that you haven’t heard of it, the concept requires participants to compete by wearing the gaudiest, most atrocious Christmas sweater they can find. This new twist on an old tradition has inspired ugly Christmas Sweater parties, contests, and prizes, and led to Facebook pages, websites and hashtags. Amazon has dozens of coloring and how-to Ugly Christmas Sweater books and there is even an official count down to Ugly Sweater Day, which has been declared a National Holiday (December 16, 2016)

How Did The Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze Start?

When I was growing up, the ugly Christmas sweater was a very different “thing”. Each year great Aunt Ruth would lovingly hand craft her custom interpretation of snazzy Christmas apparel. Presumably Aunt Ruth’s masterpiece was intended to be admired. The word ugly was never, ever spoken aloud.

A few days after Thanksgiving a box would arrive smelling strongly of moth balls and slightly like cats. Inside the box was a monstrosity of epic proportion. Your mom would make you wear it and you would “JUST DIE! I mean honestly, there was a crooked snowman crocheted on itchy thick wool, sequins sewn on randomly and one sleeve was considerably longer than the other. The only consolation was on any given day in the weeks before Christmas, several other kids would be wearing equally ugly sweaters. Luckily this punishing tradition faded away.

Brief Come-Back of The Ugly Christmas Sweater

Ugly Christmas sweaters had a brief come-back (complete with shoulder pads) in the 90’s, thanks in part to their prominent place on the popular Bill Cosby Show TV show and Chevy Chase in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation Movie.

Current Ugly Christmas Sweater Craze

Some accounts of the current craze point back to two Canadian students having the first ucs party. I have a different theory.  I think we elementary teachers who disregarded whispers of fashion faux pas and proudly wore our sweaters to work well past their expiration date deserve the credit.

Regardless of which version you believe, I am sure you will agree that I am an Ugly Christmas Sweater aficionado and qualified to present you with The Unofficial Ugly Christmas Sweater Guide. I was, after all, an Ugly Christmas Sweater pioneer, albeit a reluctant one.

The Unofficial Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

To begin with let’s start with a good working definition of an Ugly Christmas Sweater. Any garment such as a vest, sweatshirt, or sweater that is covered with a combination of felt figures and symbols, glitter, gemstones, sparkles, tinsel and fake snow. Bonus points are given for the addition of working lights and talking characters.

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweaters

If you are the DIY type you are now ready to uglify your own Christmas sweater. This can be done in three easy steps:
1) Go to the dollar store and fill a basket with all sorts of Christmas stuff.
2) Go home and randomly glue it all on (use heavy duty glue – no need to be neat)
3) Duct tape back on anything that falls off.

If this is a little too imprecise for your taste – check out this video:

For Non-DIY People

Perhaps you prefer to purchase your Ugly Christmas Sweater there are lots of options available.

Tipsy Elves has a huge variety for men women and children

Kohls and Target also have reasonably priced options. And if you are working with something other than a teacher’s budget you might be interested in Nordstrom.com’s $600 version.

In Betweeners

Those of you that fall somewhere in between complete DIY and off the rack, may like this kit you can purchase for just $7.97 at Collection Set!

And don’t bypass the bonus points Light-Up LED Ugly Christmas Sweater Ornaments from Amazon.com

Time to Party!

Now that you have your Ugly Christmas Sweater, you are ready to rock it at a party or event. What? You haven’t been invited to one yet? Well, plan your own with these easy printables.  You can have a class party with your students or a fund raiser with your school staff.

Where to Find Some Stuff

Free Invitations, banners, awards and more from Catch My Party

More invitations and party printables from The Country Chic Cottage

Need a cake?

Easy cupcake ugly sweater cake from Purple Chocolat Home

Ugly Sweater Decorating is a fun activity for young and old. You can get your Ugly Sweater Cookie Cutter at Amazon.com. They even have a Hanukkah edition for those that want an Ugly Hanukkah Cookie Sweater!

Feel free to share your Ugly Christmas Sweater finds or your thoughts on Ugly Christmas Sweaters below.

Wishing you all happy, healthy, fun-filled holidays!!!

 

Cookie Cutter Hacks for Christmas and Beyond

Cookie Cutter Hacks for Christmas and Beyond

National Cookie Cutter Week December 1-7

Christmas cookie thoughts enter my mind almost as soon as I take my last bite of Thanksgiving pie! Don’t judge me, I like to bake (and eat dessert)! I know I am not alone on this. It is no surprise then that December 1-7 is Cookie Cutter Week and December 4th is National Cookie Day.

I have a huge collection of cookie cutters both plastic and metal, collected over the years and varying with my kid’s latest obsessions. Ninja Turtle, Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, Cabbage Patch Kids to name a few. And of course, the Christmas and Chanukah Collection has a place of its own.

cookie cutter

Now, I am by no means a pastry chef, but I am a fairly decent baker. Bread, brownies, cakes, you name it…I can whip it together with the right recipe and time. Somehow, using sugar cookie dough for actually cutting shapes has eluded me. Every year we would add a few new cookie cutter shapes to our massive collections and try a new “rolled sugar cookie dough” recipe. While visions of perfect edges and beautifully decorated treats danced in my head, I was the epitome of a #PinterestFail. Cookies that held together, tasted like cardboard…Cookies that tasted great would crumble or grow three sizes too big! Eventually, I tossed kid favorites in the playdough box and stashed the rest.

If this has been your experience keep reading!

 

If you have totally given up on rolled sugar cookies, try some of these crafts instead.

Press into Bread
With my granddaughter, she can be a finicky eater at times. If Minnie Mouse is on something though, she’ll eat it right up! I’ll take a Minnie Mouse cookie cutter (from Amazon) and press it lightly into bread before making a sandwich or toast. Try it with any cookie cutter! It is a simple as that! But if you really want to feel inadequate, check out how this blogging mom took this concept to the next level.
Next Level Lunches
(BONUS HACK) Ask grandma to make them! When I was a working mom I would NEVER had made these, but now as a retired grannie, I might!

Make Outdoor Bird Feeders
This project is really cool! It might not be best for tiny hands, as this is a messy project using small seeds but they will love watching the birds feed, through the window!
Cookie Cutter Bird Feeder

Make Crayons
What to do with the million broken crayons you have? I know we all have creative tricks and tips of ways to melt them down, but here’s one more! Make your own favorite shapes super easily.
Cookie Cutter Crayons

Make Gingerbread Cookies
One of the most classic uses for cookie cutters and the age old goodie, fun to make and fun to eat! They hold their shape so much better than rolled sugar cookies.
Gingerbread Cut Out Recipe

Brownie Roll Outs
This one is a little more unique but extremely yummy! Much like a sugar cookie dough, but tastes like brownies and holds its shape. Try to keep your hands off these this year!
Brownie Roll Ups

One Last Sugar Cookie Cutter Try
We have a new little one in my family now. She won’t care how they taste or look, so I am going to try one more rolled sugar cookie recipe. The best part about these is that you can “paint” on them with frosting!This recipe has tons of 5 star reviews on Allrecpes.com proclaiming “This recipe is wonderful” Disclaimer: I haven’t actually tried this recipe yet, and one reviewer did say it was “Terrible”.
Best Rolled Sugar Cookie Recipe

Santa won’t care how they look or taste either.  He will leave my granddaughter a delightful thank you note that she will treasure.   If you would like a free copy for yourself plus signs and tags for Santa’s cookies, just fill out the form below for instant access.

If you don’t immediately see the link, scroll back up until you find the santa-letter link. Click on that for your downloadable PDF.

Stay in touch! Let me know in the comments below, if you try any of the activities or have a no-fail sugar cookie recipe, Oh, and does anyone know where to find a Peppa Pig cookie cutter for my granddaughter?

Everything You Wanted To Know About Bingo But Were Afraid To Ask

Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Bingo But Were Afraid To Ask

Celebrate National Bingo Month December 1-31
Bingo Flashback

I thought I knew all there was to know about Bingo – until the night I walked into that smoky, crowded Bingo Hall. On a whim, I agreed to accompany my mom and the “girls” to their weekly game at the Fire Station.  The line was long and moved slowly, because people were purchasing 20 and 30 cards.

When my turn came, I asked the seller at the door for 20 cards.  “You might want to start smaller, dear” she said, her cigarette dangling precariously from her lips.  “Twenty please” I insisted defiantly. I mean this was Bingo after all. My first-grade students played it all the time.

Round One

We settled into our seats and the first round began. Whoa! Why was he calling the numbers so fast! Was this speed bingo? I peeked up to see if anyone else noticed he was going too fast but no one seemed distressed except me, and as a result I missed two more numbers.  The lady behind me yelled “Bingo!”

Rounds Two and Three

Round two began and focusing hard, I managed to keep up, but I was sweating! I mean literally, I was SWEATING. I wanted ask my mom for the crumpled-up tissues I knew she had in her purse, but I didn’t want to miss anymore numbers! By round three, I reluctantly admitted the octogenarian selling cards at the door was right. I gave my mom half my Bingo cards.

Round Four

Round Four. “Bingo!” I won! I WON! It must have been the pure adrenaline running through me at that point because I felt like Olympic Gold. After that it was mainly downhill, but all that mattered to me was that I won on round four! I. Won.

Bingo Now

This all happened a lot of years ago. While Bingo is still immensely popular at churches, fire stations and halls across America (minus the smoking!) online Bingo has had tremendous development since the introduction of “Bingo Zone” and “Bingo Blitz” in the late 1990’s.

Both cyber Bingo and in person Bingo are extremely popular in other countries as well, especially the U.K. where it is played with 90 numbers, 15 more than the 75 played in the U.S.

Bingo Fun Facts

Want some fun facts to impress your students with next time you play Bingo?

  • Bingo was originally called Beano. An excited grannie accidentally yelled “Bingo” when she won.
  • The Queen and Prince William love to play Bingo at Buckingham Palace
  • Women named Margaret are more likely to win Bingo than any other name.
  • The most popular color Bingo dauber is purple.

And here are some facts about the educational benefits for the next time your administrator comes in when your class is playing Bingo.

  • Bingo was originally played in the 1800’s as an educational tool to teach students multiplication.
  • Bingo improves concentration and cognitive skills
  • Bingo increases hand-eye coordination
Let’s Play!

Just about any skill from colors, numbers, math facts, spelling words, science and history facts can be reinforced by playing Bingo. You can create your own Bingo games using these online generators:  Baker Bingo  or Bingo Card Generator

To get you started here is free Christmas Bingo Game from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store!

 

xmas-bingo

Now Check Out All These Free and Paid Products From My TPT Friends!

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True Story – A Box, A List and Clean Up In Aisle 7

The Box, The List And Clean Up In Aisle 7

Or Why This Post Took 2 Years To Write

This is a story. It is a true story, it is my story, it is the story of how this blog came to be.

Long before computers and Xerox machines and PLC’s, I began my teaching career without the benefit of Pinterest! Can you believe that?! Over the years so much has changed, the pendulum has swung back and forth and back again.

Some changes for the better, some not so much, but that’s a totally different topic for a totally different time. Almost two years ago, with mixed feelings, I retired at what I considered a young age.

A young woman lying on her couch talking on the phone and eating

 

The first two months were an awesome, endless vacation. I lounged on the couch in my PJs eating fast food and Netflix bingeing.

Then…I remembered …The Box! Do we all have one of these boxes? I think we do. The Box was my treasure chest of “things I would do when I had more time” i.e. when I retired.

 

The Box

Excitedly, I lifted the dusty top. Counted cross stitch of a unicorn with a peace sign? What? No!  Five rolls of film with pictures to scrapbook? Well, I’d have to get them developed and …and…nope. Rusty calligraphy pens? I haven’t updated my tetanus shot, nope! 129 things you can make with zucchini?  Hmmm, zucchini is out of season, so…nope.

The List

Sigh. I put the top back on the box and I shove it back under the bed. Next came my list “THE List”. The list to end all lists. I’m famous for my lists. Honestly, look up “lists”, you’ll see my face.

1) Write a novel (Scoff)

2) Bedazzale a purse (LOL)

3) Play the lottery (I can try, right?)

4) Dye yarn with Kool-Aid in my crockpot (uh…what)

There was more but I’ve probably overshared enough already. Needless to say, this list…THE List, wasn’t turning out to be all that much of a life changer.

The Blog

That evening I admitted to my daughter that maybe, just maybe, I was getting a little bored…and maybe, just maybe, I missed teaching…a little bit.

“Start a blog, mom.” She said to me. Me? What? A blog? But I hardly even know how to use FACEBOOK! I don’t know how to do that!

“I’ll help you!” She promised, fingers already flying over the keyboard and words like “host” and “WordPress” coming from her mouth.

Within minutes, Stars On The Spectrum comes to life and so do I once again.

student-849820_1920

“We’re all set” She tells me, with a grin on her face. I’m beaming for the first time in what seems like forever. It’s getting late now, so she promises to help me write the first blog post tomorrow, after we go grocery shopping.

I can hardly sleep, my head is filled with ideas. The next morning finally comes around and we make it out of the house our feet crunching on freshly fallen snow. I feel like something about today is going to be different, I think to myself.

Clean Up In Aisle 7

My daughter is chatting away on the car ride there and once inside aisle after aisle, reading items off a list, grabbing this, grabbing that. I am barely focusing on what she’s saying, I’m so excited about what I’m going to put up on my new website when we get home! Walking down aisle 5 she stops and grabs my arm…

“Mom, I think my water just broke!”

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My daughter is laughing, trying to waddle to the bathroom. I’m trying not to freak out and stay calm, because we’re literally in the middle of grocery shopping.

Oh, my goodness, is she going to give birth in the middle of Walmart?!

She wobbles out and she nods with her typical smirk. Within 24 hours, my very first granddaughter was born and my blog forgotten.

 

Epilogue

So, that is the box, the list and the clean up in aisle 5 part, but the story doesn’t end there. I opened my store on Teachers Pay Teachers and focused most of my energy there (and on my grandchild of course!)

I made a few feeble stabs at my blog but I was ill-equipped when it came to using plugins and software. I am also a perfectionist, so unless things are JUST right, they’re wrong. I took courses and watched as many YouTube videos as I could.

I’m writing this post because November 16th, 2016 is coming up. My beautiful, granddaughter will be turning TWO! And I, dear readers, am posting my very first blog post. Not because it is finally perfect, but because it is Time! I hope you like it!

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