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Stomp for Joy (and wrap your gifts with love).

Perhaps you received our email today? We’re stomping with joy and excitement as the holidays draw closer. In fact, Hanukkah just started last night. So for everyone who’s in the shopping or gifting mood, it’s time to think outside the (paper) box for wrapping ideas.

Have you ever thought about wrapping gifts in something other than paper? From The Green Spot, we learned that during the winter holidays, 4 million tons of wrapping paper and shopping bags are thrown away. The Daily Green also has lots of great green wrapping tips too.

At Tea, we created our signature Furoshiki Gift Wrap not only to be beautiful, but to be reusable. We were inspired by the artful Japanese tradition of wrapping gifts in beautiful swaths of cloth.

Furoshiki Gift Wrap

Other fun ideas:

– Turn your paper shopping bags inside out and inside out and add a bit of artistry with holiday-themed sketches or rubber stamps

– Use pages from old magazines – Katy likes to do a different color scheme for each person on her list: in shades of green for one person, shades of pink for another. They usually look really pretty and have a nice cohesive feeling.

– We like to use our own graphics and prints and print them out as wrapping paper. You could even use some of the Old World Hungary inspired coloring pages we’ve been publishing on the blog throughout the fall and holiday seasons. Or simply take any of your kids’ artistic creations and turn them into wrapping paper. Wouldn’t it be fun to get a present wrapped in your own artwork? Pretty cool.

Happy wrapping! We’d love to hear about some of your creative or eco-friendly gift wrapping ideas.

Outside the Lines: Nesting Dolls

Introducing our new weekly blog series, “Outside the Lines” –  printable coloring pages for you and your children to enjoy!  Our first one is our Nesting Doll graphic, so even if you missed out on getting one of our shirts now you can download and enjoy the artwork with your little ones.

click for full res version

click image for full res version


playdate goes global

What do you get when you combine 14 crazy mommas, over 30 children, some ingenious passports and loads of sugar?

Playdate Goes Global, that’s what!

In a community where diversity is NOT a large part of our children’s day-to-day experiences, two of my friends and I decided that a cultural lesson was in order.

All invited moms were instructed to choose a country, research with their children (admittedly most of us did the work on our own), plan a craft and provide a snack – all that correlated to their chosen country.

We gathered yesterday afternoon for the result and boy was it crazy!

After each mom and kid team set up their tables (some with flags, some with appropriate fabrics, some with music and some with books or reading materials), we started the process of “clearing customs” with each family.

Handcrafted passports were handed out to each child, along with a Country Itinerary (their checklist to be sure they made it to each country).

With all of these countries to visit – Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, Poland and Russia – can you believe we made it to all of those locations in just under two hours?

Whether it was sampling mango chutney, eating with chopsticks, tasting eclairs or dipping melons in grecian yogurt, the children were given a fantastic example of what food might taste like in a different country.

No hotdogs, mac-n-cheese or pizza here! What was incredible was that most of the kids responded to their taste testing with a resounding “Mom! That was really GOOD!”

The crafts were equally as educational. Chinese lanterns, german pretzels (made from playdough), coloring boomerangs, Indian rangoli, Faberge eggs or pasta art from Italy, these kiddos exercised their creativity!

When we planned this event, we envisioned a very brief introduction to various countries and how people live on these far away places, with playtime taking up the majority of the time. What surprised us was how “into it” everyone got.

We watched kids run up to other kids and ask “Have you been to China yet?” or “Oooh, go make the craft in Germany!”

We as parents have a responsibility to teach our children not only about manners and their ABCs, but also to be more culturally aware. We owe it to our kiddos to help them understand that there is an entire world out there.

Just across the ocean, just across our borders … lies a completely different way of living. Whether it be the standard dress of a country, varied religious practices or general ways of life … it can be incredibly rewarding to watch your little ones soak up this new information.

Many schools host international/cultural fairs when children are in 3rd or 4th grade. However, you don’t have to wait until your kids get into elementary school to start expanding their horizons.

Gather some of your friends together, and host a ‘trip around the world’ for the benefit of your kiddos!