2 Creative & Sweet Ways To Say Happy Birthday!

Are you looking for a special way to say happy birthday, or celebrate an anniversary or Mother’s Day? We’ve found 2 really creative and sweet ideas to show someone how much you care!

Celebrate With A Balloon & Photo/Note For Each Year – This is such a creative and whimsical idea from Bebe a la Mode Designs! She used it to celebrate her anniversary, (be sure to check out her blog for the adorable photos she included) but this would work just as well for a birthday! For each year (age or anniversary) fill up a balloon and tie a personalized note or photo to it. If you are celebrating a birthday, use photos from birthday’s past! Put them in a bedroom or at the breakfast table to surprise your loved ones!

Image & Idea from Bebe a la Mode Designs!

Create A Birthday Banner & Message – How sweet is this sign by Room for Dessert? She made this for her boyfriend James and decorated their bedroom with it. This would be perfect for a kid, sibling, or roommate as well, decorate their room while they are at school and surprise them when they get home!

Happy Birthday Banner Image by Room for Dessert

How do you usually tell someone special happy birthday?

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3 Recipes for Homemade Pretzels

There’s nothing quite like a hot, fresh soft pretzel! With a little salt, some mustard, or cheese dip you have a truly satisfying snack. And pretzels would make for the perfect finger food at your next party! They could work for kids and adults, we are thinking circus-themed for the little ones (maybe the adults too)! Today we’ve got three recipes from around the web for the perfect homemade pretzels for just about any dietary need too!

Homemade Soft Pretzels with Roasted Jalapeno Cheese Sauce – This recipe comes from the beautiful blog Smells Like Home! Such a great tutorial and recipe with pictures to guide you along the way!

Soft Pretzels with Roasted Jalapeño Cheese Sauce Image & Recipe from Smells Like Home

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels – This recipe and tutorial comes from the blog Gluten Free Girl & The Chef. A sweet little blog you should check out if you are eating gluten free! Don’t these pretzels just look amazing!

Gluten Free Soft Pretzels Image & Recipe from Gluten Free Girl & The Chef.

Vegan Soft Pretzels – A great recipe from Little Miss Vegetarian! Jessica recommends serving these pretzels up with a side of spicy mustard!

Vegan Soft Pretzels Image & Recipe from Little Miss Vegetarian.

Have you ever made your own soft pretzels before? How did they turn out?

Make A Birthday Wish is Wishing You A Merry Christmas!

Tree1Hello fellow bloggers, readers, and supporters of Make A Birthday Wish! It’s been a great year, we’ve helped bring birthday joy to a lot of children in San Jose and it has been amazing to spend time with such special children. But there is so much more work to do and we are excited to be gearing up for another year of birthdays for even more kids in need.

We wanted to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas! And to remind ourselves and our readers to keep in mind what the holidays are really about. Presents, cookies, and turkey dinners are nice, but this time of year is about precious time spent with the people we love and care about. So today (and hopefully everyday) hug your loved ones tight, tell them you love them, and focus on the memories you are making. One way we like to remember the real joy behind these holidays is to focus on giving. Giving more than gifts, giving time, attention, and energy to those around us. Giving to those that are truly in need. What are you giving this year for Christmas?

DIY Christmas Ornaments!

There are a ton of tutorials out there for crafting your own ornaments. Handmade ornaments not only look great on your tree, but they also make fantastic (and affordable) gifts! Crafting a new ornament each year could also be a special holiday tradition you start with your friends or family. And if your family isn’t down to craft you could see if there is a craft swap nearby where fellow crafters get together and swap handmade ornaments. Check out these tutorials for dozens upon dozens of DIY ornaments!

25 Christmas Ornaments To Make

This collection of tutorials comes from The Ornament Girl and is full of really beautiful decorations.

The Best Handmade Christmas Ornaments

We would expect nothing but the best from Martha Stewart! These tutorials are really divine and the results are awesome!

20 Easy Handmade Holiday Ornaments

This collection comes from HGTV and several tutorials involve easy-to-find natural materials!

Do you usually make ornaments for your tree? Feel free to share pictures 🙂

Our Top Craft Books For This Holiday Season

If you are looking for a unique, thoughtful, and purposeful gift for a friend or your children, why not give them a book? Books make wonderful gifts and today we have selected 5 of our favorite crafting books. So you can be sure that your gift will not only give the gift of knowledge but also help unlock the creative juices of your someone special! Several of the books we selected even feature “green” craft ideas and specialize in crafts suitable for younger kids! Onto our picks!

Craft-A-Day: 365 Simple Handmade Projects

This wonderful little gem is jam packed with tutorials and crafting ideas. Great for adults and kids alike, and a pretty good bang for your buck at only $16.47 on Amazon.


Drawing Lab For Mixed Media Artists: 52 Creative Exercises To Make Drawing Fun

This book is perfect for both seasoned drawers and beginners. It will help reinforce good techniques and expand any readers’ artistic side. And with 52 exercises, the book lends itself well to a year-long self-guided study in drawing. Pick it up from Amazon for $15.63.

 

Green Crafts For Children: 35 Step-by-Step Projects Using Natural, Recycled, and Found Materials

This book would make a great gift to both kids and parents looking for ways to engage their children in the arts while teaching them about environmental stewardship. A great deal at $11.73 on Amazon!

 

Sewing School: 21 Projects Kids Will Love To Make

This book is fantastic if you are interested in teaching your kids how to sew and is available on Amazon for $11.53.

The Big Green Book Of Recycled Crafts

A great collection of crafts that reuse, repurpose, and recycle materials into handmade treasures. Just $3.98 on Amazon!

Do you craft with friends or your family for fun? What kinds of crafts do you do?

 

Have A Paper Holiday: 3 DIY Paper Crafts For A Homemade Christmas!

At MABW we love crafting, reusing, re-purposing, and putting a personal touch on special occasions. Today we’ve got 3 tutorials to share with you that will have you crafting most everything you need this Holiday season with paper!

DIY Recycled Paper Tree

We love this idea! Imagine using brown packaging paper, newspaper, or magazines to make mini versions of this tree? Can you say great centerpiece for practically nothing?!!!

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Tutorial for Recycled Paper Christmas Tree by Casa Sugar

DIY Star Wars Snowflakes or Garland

These snowflakes would make any nerd proud. Such a fun idea, you could try it with different colored paper too!

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Printable Template from Matters of Grey

Free Holiday Gift Tags

These printables from Sass & Peril make adorable homemade packaging a cinch this holiday season!

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Gift Tag Printables by Sass & Peril

Which is your favorite holiday paper craft? We are partial to the Star Wars Snowflakes 🙂

Our Favorite Cookie In A Jar Recipes

Cookies are amazing any time of the year, but fresh baked cookies at Christmas time takes amazing to an all new level. If you are looking for great cookie recipes to bake up for a party or searching for a great gift idea we think you’ll love these recipes we have collected from around the web. Some of the recipes even accommodate special dietary needs (vegan & gluten free).

Cranberry Hootycreeks from All Recipes

Cranberry Hootycreeks – Recipe from All Recipes.

These cookies look great in the jar and taste delightful. You could even change out the cranberries, chocolate chips, and nuts to suit your personal tastes. Dried currants, walnuts, & white chocolate chips could be a lovely combination! This recipe would make a great gift for a neighbor, coworker, or as a hostess/host gift if you are visiting family or friends over the holidays.

Julia’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Recipe from All Recipes.

Chocolate chip cookies rank at the top of most people’s favorite cookie lists. Simple, chocolatey goodness. This recipe is very delicious and again provides opportunity for experimentation (different kinds of chocolate chips, or swapping chocolate chips for M&M’s etc..). If you aren’t sure what cookies your friend would want, chocolate chip is a safe bet.

Gluten Free & Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies – Recipe from Oh She Glows

This recipe promises thin, crisp, and chewy chocolate chip cookies that even those on the most restricted diets can enjoy. But don’t get us wrong, these cookies aren’t really a compromise. They are kind of amazing. Angela’s recipe uses a mix of almond & oat flour to create this crowd pleasing cookie. Scroll to the bottom of her post to see the recipe!

Vegan & Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies From Oh She Glows

Gingerbread Men Cookie Mix In A Jar – Recipe from Food For My Family

These gingerbread men are tasty and adorable. We love the idea of attaching cookie cutters to the jar to really complete the gift! We love this recipe for a holiday staple! Shaina even included free printables—holiday gifting can’t get much easier!

Gingerbread Men In A Jar Recipe from Food For My Family

Have you ever given cookies in a jar before? What are your favorite recipes?

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4 Handmade Gift Tutorial Collections We Love

We hope you had a wonderful and loving Thanksgiving! But with the next round of holidays right around the corner there is little time to catch your breath. Don’t worry, we’ve collected some links to great tutorials for you and your kids to make handmade gifts this year! Handmade gifts can save money and are so much more personal. Oh and there are a lot of ways to reuse materials or repurpose scraps—making the handmade option more green! If you don’t have time to hand make gifts this year you should think about supporting artists and crafters that do hand make beautiful things on sites like Etsy! These tutorials make great gifts for kids and adults alike! We love the blog Everything Etsy, and she has rounded up 101 Simple Handmade Gift Tutorials for Kids! These would be great for your kids to make for their friends, or for you to make for them!

101 Simple Handmade Gifts for Kids by Everything Etsy

The 36th Avenue Blog has a list of 21 handmade gifts for guys! Great for husbands, boyfriends, dads, brothers, or just friends! Definitely worth checking out!

21 Handmade Gifts for Guys from 36th Avenue

The Huffington Post even came out with a list of last-minute handmade gift ideas that is worth perusing! These are great small gifts that would be worth making to have on hand for those times when someone unexpected comes over for the Holidays!

Homemade Gift Ideas: Quick and Easy Last-Minute Gifts by The Huffington Post

The blog The Tip Junkie is another great go-to gift-making guide. We love her collection of hand-made gifts you can see here.

Tip Junkie’s Homemade Gift Tutorials

 

Are you trying homemade gifts this year? Need some ideas? Let us know what you want to learn to do!

What We Are Thankful For…

Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers and friends out there. We wanted to use today as an opportunity to give thanks and show appreciation. First and foremost, thank you to all the children in San Jose that we have had the opportunity to celebrate birthday’s with. You inspire and touch us every single time. All the planning and hard work are more than worth the smiles on your faces.

Thank you to all our donors and volunteers—the people that make Make A Birthday Wish so wonderful. Without you we wouldn’t be able to bring birthday joy to hundreds of needy children in the Bay Area. We appreciate your generosity and kindness, and so do all the children that Make A Birthday Wish helps.

Thank you to our readers and supporters here on our blog. We love reading your posts and hope that you find our mission and our messages bright, fun, and useful.

What are you thankful for on this Thanksgiving day?

Bring On The Pumpkin This Thanksgiving with Pumpkin Irish Soda Bread!

Pumpkin Irish Soda Bread – Image by Luxury Recipes

There are a few things we love here at Make A Birthday Wish. First and foremost we love giving, and anything birthdays comes in a close second. If you read our blog regularly you also might pick up on the fact that we love pumpkin! And not just at this time a year. Pumpkin is such a nutritional treat, and it definitely deserves to be in more than just pie this Thanksgiving. So today we have a recipe for Pumpkin Irish Soda Bread to share with you!

Pumpkin Irish Soda Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup organic white all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup organic whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp. organic brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup organic pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup organic dried cranberries

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. n a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and nutmeg.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin puree and milk. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Stir until moistened, then add the dried cranberries and stir until combined.
  4. Knead dough a few times by hand, then shape into a loaf and place on the prepared baking sheet. Score the top of the loaf.
  5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped. Cool for at least 30 minutes prior to slicing.

What are your favorite pumpkin dishes for Thanksgiving?