DIY Toy Picnic Basket | #inspiredbyCPS

We took down our tree today and packed away Christmas, with our eyes and hearts now firmly focused on the promises a new year brings. But before it’s all done and dusted, I had to repost this photo a dear friend shared my way. It’s her niece with the Christmas gift that was inspired by the work and ideas I share here. My friend thrifted the gorgeous picnic basket and all the fun accessories for it, and then topped it off with some cute Melissa and Doug Toys wooden play food. Can you even with how perfect this gift is?! Nothing makes me happier or prouder seeing what I do trickle out into the world in such beautiful inspiring ways. Keep tagging me, sharing your stories, and making my heart so full. And thank you for believing and trusting in me! x x

Thrifting 101.

I love to thrift and I do it a lot. Thrift stores are 100% my happy place. Walking in feels exciting and like I’m about to embark on a treasure hunt. I never know what I’m going to find, but I usually walk out with something magical. However not everyone feels this way. For lots of folks thrift stores can feel overwhelming and like an endless cavern of crap, which let’s be honest, they kind of are – haha. But in this age of everyone needing to do their part for the environment, plus wanting to budget friendly, while also desiring an original ‘Insta-looking’ aesthetic, thrift stores are where it’s at! So at the risk of spilling all my secrets and everyone rushing out to buy all the treasures, I thought I’d share some hot tips on how to make a trip to the thrift feel a little more do-able.

  • First step is to go in with a plan. You obviously can’t shop for a super specific product, but you can go in saying I am looking for baskets with no handles to fit on my shelf, or I’m looking for animal figurines for small world play. This way you are focussed, can hit the specific aisles, and then can get out before you’re swallowed whole.
  • Be open minded. Sometimes you will find an item that with a bit of zhushing can meet your wildest dreams. I talk more about how to do that here.
  • In this same vain, don’t buy junk or broken things. It’s one thing to have to add some pom poms to hide a blemish, and the other to buy a toy or item that just looks like rubbish.
  • Think outside the box and look for unexpected toys and materials. I love the big section of bags filled with knick knacks and kitchen utensils.
  • Look at the electronics for old phones, keyboards, and joy sticks.
  • The linens for vintage crochet blankets and other fun old bedding.
  • Housewares for storage, from fun tins and containers, to wood bowls and baskets.
  • When shopping for toys, go in with a list so you don’t walk out with things you do not need. I have a list of certain toys I always look for. Don’t buy anything new until you have organized your child’s toys and inventoried what they really need.
  • Prioritize aesthetic! For example, when shopping for mud kitchen supplies, opt for the fun colorful or floral pot over the basic silver one. It might cost $1-2 more, but it’s so worth it for look and appeal.
  • Big mirrors are an amazing way to open up a space and make it feel larger, inside and out. Thrift stores sell them for super cheap! I love to spray paint old ugly wood mat white for a clean modern look. It’s worth the time and investment.
  • Always skim the artworks for pieces that would make your decor pop – I’ve found some amazing painted vintage mirrors and artworks in my many visits.
  • Go on sale days! Sign up for the free memberships and feel like you’re getting an even better deal than you usually are.
  • If possible, going during work hours (especially on sale days). It’s much less busy and overwhelming.
  • Take a snack and some water – sustenance.
  • If you take your kids, hit the books/toy section first and let them choose something to take home (my rule is nothing broken, nothing junky). This toy will then keep them entertained while you shop for your goodies.

And if all else fails, just hire me to do your shopping and treasure hunting for you! :)

Play spaces are not stagnant spaces!

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BEFORE the play space ‘shelf shuffle’

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AFTER the play space ‘shelf shuffle’

You’ve worked your peach off and your tiny human’s play space is Insta worthy and beautifully organized. Bravo! Sit back and reap the rewards of watching your child play, engage, and not need you for awhile. ;) But here’s the thing – remember that this space is not stagnant, and as your child grows and their interests change, so should their play space. You’ll probably know when it’s time too. Their interest in the space will wane, their need for you during play will grow, and you hear the dreaded “I’m bored” more and more.

  • You don’t have to go all out and replace and move around furniture (although it is true when they say change is as good as a holiday – haha), but you do need to be changing out toys, rearranging toy/materials layout to encourage and revitalize interest, and setting up new play invitations.
  • This can happen nightly when you do your space refresh (especially creating new play invitations – think setting up a train track for your child to find when they wake up).
  • Weekly – think the next time your child pulls everything off the shelves, instead of putting it back where it was, switch things up so new items are at their eye level.
  • Or monthly – pull and store some old toys, and bring out ones you had put away. And just like that, your play space stays fresh and full of life! :)

End your day with a quick play space refresh (your kids will thank you)!

The kids are asleep and you’re ready to turn in too, when you walk past their play space and realize your darling babies did not do a very effective job cleaning up. The temptation of course is to walk past and let them deal with it in the morning, buuuuuut I have another suggestion. Stop and spend the time cleaning up and setting out play invitations for the morning.

  • Don’t just dump things into the nearest basket, but spend the time to sort and put things away in their correct home.
  • Make sure the baskets and shelves are inviting and their play kitchen doesn’t resemble the aftermath of a huge dinner party.
  • Run the vacuum over the floor – guaranteed there are traces of snack and play still afoot.

Because here’s the thing, when your child wakes up in the morning and sees a beautiful clean space with inviting play invitations (think the start of a block tower, or a tea party set up at their little table) they are 1000 times more likely to want to play and engage with the space, which in turn increases your chances of extra sleep and a little time to spend on yourself. #everyonewins