My mom gave me a lot of advice before the Bug was born. Some of it has stuck, some of it disappeared into the sleepless ether and comes back right at the perfect moment; other tidbits have been tucked away, some forgotten. But one piece has always stayed with me:

“Your one job as a parent is to make this child’s childhood magical.”

Sometimes that’s hard to remember. The life of a modern family is hardly quiet or even-paced. Being fresh on the cusp of Friday’s tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, it seems more important than ever to remember this advice now, especially during the holiday season.

Childhood should be magical. And it’s our job to see to that.

There is time to discuss mental health and gun control; I’ve found that knee-jerk reactions after incidents — even ones as unspeakable as last Friday’s — are hardly the right time to make sound decisions. We all need a few breaths to come at those issues with some degree of common sense, no matter how high our emotions and protective adrenaline are running.

This week? Our job is to make the holidays — and childhood — magical. So we here at (cool) progeny are going to focus on that. We have a week of “no-Martha-skills-required” magic coming at you.

Because no matter how hard we might be hurting, all kids deserve that.

_ _ _

hot chocolate house cards

The Bug and I have a new Saturday morning tradition. We grab a cup of tea (yes, my three-year-old drinks tea) and snuggle on the couch with my laptop, browsing Pinterest. Usually it’s for a specific thing: what to make for dinner, a new art project, or, in this case, a special treat for her friends. She has a tendency to lean toward craft projects way beyond my abilities, and settled on this adorable Gingerbread House Card. I opted to make it more kid (and — let’s be honest — mom) friendly.

We opted for a more abstract look and wanted to be sure that the kids could eat whatever we put in the package. I give you — Hot Chocolate House Cards! It’s really a house pocket with cocoa ‘fixings’ inside — complete with marshmallow ‘snow.’ It’s one of those kid crafts that doesn’t necessarily look like a ‘kid craft.’ Older children can help punch out shapes to decorate; younger children love putting the houses together with the shapes you give them. Win-win.

what you’ll need

  • Brown Cardstock or pre-fabricated cards (We bought a value pack at Michael’s that had 40 cards for $4.00)
  • Candy Canes
  • Mini-Marshmallows
  • Packets of Hot Chocolate
  • Ribbon (for decorating and for tying bags)
  • Decorative Items (I used scrap paper and cut 3/4″ circles and 1.5″ flowers)
  • Sharpie Pen
  • Clear Gift Bags
  • Scissors
  • Pinking Shears
  • Clear Tape

instructions

Holiday Hot Cocoa Cards - (cool) progeny

Fold your brown cardstock in half to create a card (or use a pre-fab card). Using pinking shears, make two diagonal lines to create a roof shape. You could create a pattern here and use that if you feel your crafting OCD kicking in. I just eye-balled it. Tape the two open straight sides of the card to create a pocket. You have a house!

Holiday Hot Cocoa Cards - (cool) progeny

Decorate your house! We taped a wide piece of ribbon around the center and glued scrap paper dots to it, but you could use buttons, sequins — whatever the little artist in your house loves. We placed the name of the card recipient on the house roof so it could be seen easily and wrote “Hope You Have a Sweet Holiday! Your Friend, Bug” on each one. Add whatever message you like! Fill each pocket with one packet of cocoa and one candy cane. We tried to position our candy cane so it looked like a chimney.

Holiday Hot Cocoa Cards - (cool) progeny

Place the house in a clear bag and add a handful of marshmallow ‘snow.’ Tie with ribbon. Voila! Hot Chocolate House Card. Easy peasy.