Posts in : Crafty Goodness
I had so much fun planning the Staff Appreciation Week for my daughter’s school last year that I immediately starting mulling ideas around in my head for this year’s celebration. I think that I may like this theme even better. I present to you… Superhero Staff Appreciation Week!
All of the Superhero Printables for this event are available at Simply Styled Home on Etsy. (For those of you wondering, Simply Styled Home is my creative counterpart. Step-by-step instructions to recreate this event will be posted on SSH later in the week.)
A week and a half before Superhero Staff Appreciation Week, all of the teachers and staff received this invitation in their mailbox, along with a lunch preferences questionnaire and drink order form (more about those down below).
Superhero posters were our main decoration this year. John Wolfe, a local photographer and fellow parent, took pictures of everyone decked out in a customized superhero cape and mask from Kid Kapers. I have been eyeing those capes for months and was thrilled that she had time to make a Superman style cape with an “M” for Mann Elementary. It couldn’t have been more perfect. Did you know you could have capes customized? How fun is that?! I love Etsy.
Originally I had planned on using the pictures John took as is, but then I got the great idea (if I do say so myself) to turn them into comic book style posters with advice from each staff member to students. John transformed each photo into a comic book style poster which I used to decorate the hallways, and an 8×10 photo for the classroom doors. (Tutorial coming soon.)
Before I go any further, I want to give a shout out to the Lake Washington School District print shop. I mistakenly assumed they only made black and white copies, but oh no! They print posters, sheets of stickers, labels, color copies, you name it… And all of it is gorgeous, fast, and extremely affordable. The posters were a HUGE hit with the students. In fact, when I was taking them down at the end of the week (while wearing my awesome Supergirl shirt) a little boy said to me, “Why are you taking the posters down? You aren’t a superhero! You are a villan!” For me that was the ultimate compliment. I am so happy everyone enjoyed the superhero theme as much as I did. The moral of the story: If you are planning a school event, be sure to utilize your school district’s print shop.
The Friday before SAW, the students were sent home with “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures to color for their teacher. On Monday, the students presented the pictures and notes to their teachers, and the room moms came in and put them on the classroom doors along with the 8×10 superhero photo.
We had extra “I Think You Are Super Because…” pictures in the office for students to color. Many of them wanted to make pictures for past teachers, the music teacher, librarians, etc. There was a poster in the stairway letting them know where extra pictures were located.
Now that the groundwork was laid, I focused on the activities for the week, each one being Superhero themed, of course. I used SignUp Genius to coordinate sign ups with the Hospitality Committee and Room Parents for these activities. I made everything look pretty, but I couldn’t have pulled off an event like this without the wonderfully supportive parents at our school.
Monday: POP! Popcorn Bar
We had eight different varieties of gourmet popcorn for the staff to enjoy throughout the day. After listening to feedback from last year’s gourmet popcorn bar, we made half of the flavors sweet, and the other savory. If you have never made gourmet popcorn, don’t be intimidated! You can find all sorts of fabulous popcorn recipes on my Simply Pop! Pinterest board.
Tuesday: Hero Sandwich Lunches
The parents made “boxed” lunches for every staff member at the school. I included a questionnaire with the invitations asking the following questions: What is your favorite sandwich? Favorite bread? What do you like on your sandwich? Favorite chips? Favorite salad? Favorite dessert? Favorite drink? Favorite dessert? Any allergies? I asked that the questionnaires be returned by the Thursday prior to Staff Appreciation Week. Once I received them, I forwarded the answers to the parents who signed up to make lunches. Once again, the parents blew me away with their creativity!
TIP: The lunches at our school are staggered from 11:15-12:30 so this year I sorted the lunches by time on six foot tables at the back of the room. Sorting the lunches by time made it a snap to find the lunches, and having them on a table in the back (instead of the lunch tables) gave the teachers and staff plenty of space to eat their lunch.
Wednesday: ZAP! Super Charged Breakfast
I included drink orders with the ZAP! Breakfast Invitation, and asked that the teachers and staff return them the Thursday before Staff Appreciation Week. They had the choice of a Super Charged Smoothie (berry smoothie) or a drink from Starbucks. The drink orders were printed on 8.5×11 sticker page and cut to size. (This is SO much easier than trying to line them up on shipping labels!)
Purchasing lattes for the entire staff is a huge portion of the Hospitality Committee budget each year. The week before SAW, Starbucks offered a $5 for $10 Gift Card Groupon. I couldn’t have timed it better if I’d tried! Each person was limited to one Groupon, so I sent an email to the entire Hospitality Committee and asked them to please purchase a Groupon and email me the certificate. (I reimbursed them out of my budget.) I also did this earlier in the year with an Everything Party Groupon, knowing that I would be buying decorations, silverware, plates, etc. for Staff Appreciation Week. I was able to reduce my expenses by about $150 this year using Groupons!
I took 1/2 the orders to the Starbucks about a mile away, and 1/2 to the other Starbucks a mile the other way. (Remember, I live in Seattle. We’re surrounded.) I pre-paid for all of the drinks to make pick up easy for the 4 parents picking up the 40 lattes the next morning. The baristas loved the sticker labels. They quickly and easily made the pre-ordered drinks and attached the labels. The drinks and breakfast were waiting for the teachers/staff at 7:50am. I wanted them to have time to enjoy their breakfast before school started.
Thursday: “Soup”er Luncheon
March in Seattle is typically grey and rainy, perfect soup weather. I couldn’t resist having a SOUPer luncheon. Despite the fact that it was gorgeous and sunny (the complete opposite of soup weather) the lunch was a success. We had a wonderful variety of soups (6 varieties for 46 staff members was plenty) in addition to fresh fruit, veggies, and a few treats. I especially liked the “I Think You Are SOUPer” stickers which served as napkin rings, and the “Emergency Hydration” drinks. You can’t read the back of the water bottles, but they say, “Super powers will activate within 10 minutes of drinking.”
Friday: Dangerous Dessert Bar
I have paid close attention to what the teachers and staff eat at our Hospitality Committee events over the last year. The overwhelming majority are very healthy eaters and eat very few sweets. In fact, at the Super Charged Breakfast this year, the majority of the food I asked for was fresh fruit and Kind Bars. Yes, there were a few dozen muffins and bagels, but those were eaten much more slowly.
The Hospitality Committee outdid itself last year with the desserts. They were Seuss-y and colorful and fabulous. There was also a lot leftover. This year, I thought less would be more. I created a dessert table with a mix of bite sized treats and traditional favorites provided by some amazing dessert vendors!
A party is not a party without cupcakes, and Three Monkey’s Cakery made some super fondant toppers for the cupcakes that I purchased at our local grocery store. I added superhero printable party circles for an extra pop of color.
For those that didn’t want a cupcake (say what?!) we had gorgeous macaroons (or macarons) from The Splendid Sweet Shoppe. I have the utmost admiration for anyone who can make a beautiful macaroon. These were amazing and so colorful!
Sweet Tweets made AWESOME super cookies with an M instead of S. I was seriously impressed. I used some of them for the dessert table, but the majority of the cookies were wrapped in cellophane bags and tied with a “Thank You!” tag to take home along with their “Superhero Award” to enjoy later. (More on the Superhero Award down below.)
The highlight of the dessert table was definitely the cake pops from Decadent Cake Pops. The owner, Jaime, and I met at our children’s preschool a few years ago. I have ordered cake pops from her in the past and my girls love them. Last year I discovered that both of my girls are highly sensitive to gluten, dairy, and eggs which excludes them from all of the fun birthday treats children have at parties and/or bring to school. I asked Jaimie if she could make me gluten free/vegan cake pops, and she did! I now keep a stash of GF/Vegan cake pops in my freezer at all times. When anyone in my daughter’s classes bring in a birthday treat, I pull out a cake pop and send it with them to school. Cake pops are my new favorite thing. These superhero cake pops were the normal variety, but it’s nice to know there are delicious and fun options for those of us dealing with food allergies.
Speaking of food allergies, Wickedly Whipped made Wonder Woman Rice Krispy pops (yes, those are real!) for everyone, but especially for those staff members that cannot eat gluten. Who am I to deprive someone of treats? Who doesn’t love Rice Krispy treats?! Unfortunately the mail man didn’t deliver them in time for lunch on Friday but they did arrive before school got out for the day so I whipped up (get it? ha!) a quick display of take home treats for the staff.
The teachers and staff also took home a Superhero Award at the end of the week. They are after all, the most amazing superheros I know.
There you have it! Superhero themed Staff Appreciation Week. It was epic. I have no idea what I am going to do next year. LOL!
I have loved Valentine’s Day my entire life. I distinctly remember choosing the perfect valentine for each of my classmates, the joy of decorating the giant heart shaped envelope for my desk, and the excitement of opening my valentines. It is safe to say that my girls enjoy Valentine’s Day every bit as much as I do, and now I get to make them too!
Today, I wanted to share three quick, easy, and adorable valentines. The good news is, you still have time to whip one of these up before the big day, should you be so motivated. All you need is a camera and some candy. It really is that easy.
Ready? Let’s go!
These are the valentines for my girls this year. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden each holding a blank heart chalkboard. I added “Happy Valentine’s Day!” in Photoshop and sized the photos to fit on a box of conversation hearts. (Two photos fit on one 4×6.) I also typed custom messages for each of the grandparents and had 5×7 prints made.
I’m sure I saw this idea on Pinterest, but for the life of me I can’t find the original source. I took a picture of Zoë and Eden holding a piece of white PVC pipe. (A kind man from Home Depot was kind enough to cut it down for me.) I added a border and text to each valentine in Photoshop. I left Zoë’s blank and had her sign each one, but Eden was only three at the time and hadn’t yet mastered her name. Using an exacto knife, I cut a slit at the top of the PVC pipe and inserted the lollipop. The finished valentine looks like they are holding giant lollipops! TIP: Tape the sucker to the back of the valentine or they will fall out.
Finally, take a picture of your child holding their hand out. Add a cute message in Photoshop and print as a 4×6. Using an exacto knife, cut a slit at the top of their hand. As above, insert a lollipop. Voila! It looks like your child is holding a lollipop. Isn’t Valentine’s Day fun?!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
I saw a photo similar to this on Pinterest (the link has since been broken – boo!) about six months ago. The moment I saw it I immediately started planning to have one taken of our family. I can not wait to have it printed on a giant canvas for our living room!
I love the turquoise print. I created it especially for our family photos and it now hangs on our inspiration wall above the piano. (More on that another day.) As a way of saying thank you for visiting my little blog, I created this print in 11×14 and 8×10 in a rainbow of colors for you to enjoy.
(For personal use only. You may not sell these prints and claim them as your own. However, photographers are more than welcome to use them as photo shoot props.)
Click below to download.
The above photo was taken by Jen of Jen Martin Studios. She is my very favorite Western Washington photographer. We drive 1.5 hours each way just to see her. She is THAT good. (She also took the photos of Zoë’s Angry Birds birthday party last year.)
Last year, I began transforming the cubby under the stairs into Pixie Hollow. I spent hours in there painting landscapes and attaching artificial flowers and vines to create a magical place for Zoë and Eden to play. They loved it, but I really should have known better than to attach large sunflowers and strawberries to the wall. It took no time at all for Miss Eden (2 at the time) to happily pluck them off.
Before Christmas I decided to commission a professional artist to give Pixie Hollow a facelift. It wasn’t terrible by any means, but I am no painter. Yes, the trees did resemble trees, but they lacked depth and fine detail. When the first muralist I contacted cancelled on me, I did a Google search and found Ann Gates Fiser. I could not have found a more perfect fit for this project. When I spoke with Ann about Pixie Hollow, she asked if I had been to her Moontoe Gallery website, I hadn’t. Not only did Ann paint gorgeous wall murals, she specialized in fantasy art and fairies. It was meant to be. She transformed Pixie Hollow into a little girls dream come true (and mine, who am I kidding).
I planned for Ann to paint for 6 hours, to add detail and depth to the fairy tree, the waterfall, and tree around the doorway, but I soon found out that wall murals are addictive. I wanted more. I had Ann come back not one, but two more times. (And if truth be told, I am 99% sure I will ask her back again after the next fairy movie comes out.) Each fairy and her talent, with the exception of Vidia, is represented in Pixie Hollow. There are the garden fairy fields, the sunflower meadows, the lilypad pond, Tinkers’ Nook, and of course, the Pixie Dust tree.
After Ann finished the murals, I painted on a coat of clear matte paint to protect them. I let the paint cure for three days, then added these Disney Fairy wall decals. The end result is completely magical. Pixie Hollow has been a huge hit with not just Zoë and Eden, but their friends as well.
If you live in the Seattle area and would like a wall mural for your home, I would not hesitate to recommend Ann Gates Fiser. Not only is she an amazingly talented artist, she is such a joy to work with. The girls and I had a wonderful time getting to know her while she was painting Pixie Hollow, and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.