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Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

Eco-Friendly DIY Earth Day Gifts for a Clean and Green Kitchen This Spring

eco friendly jute mat
Jute makes for eco-friendly kitchen accessories | Image courtesy Etsy seller Yanetinne

For the last few years, my fiancé Nick and I have taken a creative approach to celebrating Earth Day. One year, while living in San Francisco, we crafted a kitchen composter out of a coffee canister. The next year we were hunkered down in Orange County so took a trip to Roger’s Gardens, followed by an afternoon spent planting sunflower seeds in our front yard. Then came our spring in Portland, and a rainy day walk through Forest Park. We even brought that woodsy vibe home with us by crafting rustic reclaimed wood tea holders.

Showing our support for the environment on April 22nd is important to us, but it’s also a way of living we like to carry with us every day of the year. We spend more time in our kitchen than in any other part of our home and, as a result, we end up cleaning it a lot! So, we like to make sure that when we put on our Motown records and get to cleaning, we’re doing so in an eco-friendly way. Not only are we protecting the environment, but we love knowing that we could eat straight off our countertops—not that we ever have.

We always share our bounty of DIY cleaners with friends and family as Earth Day gifts. Here are the three undeniable favorites: dishwasher tabs, “un”paper towels, and a simple citrus vinegar cleaner. They smell good and feel good, so when you make them for others, make sure to stock up your own cupboards as well. Here’s to your pristine (and newly green) kitchen!

Get a Sparkly Green Clean with DIY Dishwasher Tabs

The absolute cleanest kitchen I’ve ever seen was in Austin, Texas at a bed and breakfast; the innkeeper swore by baking soda and vinegar. Since then, those two items have become my wondrous miracle workers in the realm of cleaning. When you want it bright and sparkly, they do the job best.

I love the simplicity of throwing a tab into the dishwasher when it’s ready to run, and the gratification of pulling out those sparkling, clean dishes (a trait I seemed to have inherited from my queen-of-the-clean mother). So when I started experimenting with my own dishwasher tabs, I went straight to my go-to clean everything basics: baking soda and vinegar.

You cook, I'll clean
You won’t have to get out of cleaning with these green products | Image courtesy Etsy seller MadebymamaUS

For dish tabs, I like to combine them with Epsom salt (to reduce the effects of hard water), and the natural cleaner Borax. If you’d like, you can also add 10-15 drops of an essential oil, like lemon or grapefruit, to make your dishes smell beautiful too.

What You’ll Need:

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 2 cups Borax
  • 1/2 cup Epsom salt
  • 1/2 cup vinegar

How to Do It:

  1. In a large metal bowl, mix all of your ingredients together.
  2. After a bit of fizzing, once the ingredients are combined, pack the mixture down into two ice cube trays and let them dry for 24-36 hours.
  3. When you’re ready to use the tabs, I suggest adding about half a cup or so of vinegar to the bottom of your dishwasher to ensure a clean, bright sparkle.

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk, Make “Un”Paper Towels Instead

Inspiration for the “un”paper towel came to me one evening after I used an entire roll of paper towels to sop up a carton of spilled milk. I’d recently read a statistic from the Paperless Project that if every household in the United States used just one less 70-sheet roll of paper towels a year, that would save a whopping 544,000 trees annually! I’ve always had a fondness for dishtowels and their sentimental value—a paisley print one given from my grandma, a heart-embroidered one from my mom—so why not create my own roll of reusable ones? And that is how “un”paper towels found their place in our kitchen.

"un"paper towels
Handmade “un”paper towels | Image courtesy Etsy seller AnneRiggsDesigns

These towels now fill my cooking space with seasonal prints and quirky patterns while decreasing our waste and environmental impact. I’m not a master seamstress, but you don’t need to be to sew these up. And, instead of buying new fabrics and towels, you can work to upcycle the old ones you already love, giving them new life in a loved one’s kitchen.

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 12-inch squares of terrycloth
  • 4 12-inch squares of woven fabric
  • A package of sew-on snaps

How to Do It:

  1. First, line one piece of terrycloth up with one piece of woven fabric and sew up all the sides (about 1/2 inch from the edge).
  2. Once that’s finished, if you’d like for your “un”paper towels to roll up just like the paper ones do, the next step is to add your sew-on snaps. This part is up to you, but I find it easiest to first start with placement markers, 2 each, on both the left and right sides of the cloth. Attach the caps underneath and the sockets on top on the left side of the towel, but the sockets underneath and the caps on top on the right side of the towel.
  3. The towels are now ready to be rolled and live their new life in the kitchen!

Naturally Sweet Citrus Vinegar Cleaner

This sweet citrus vinegar smells so good that it actually relaxes me while I clean. I got this idea from the same Texas innkeeper who introduced me to vinegar and baking soda. Not only was his kitchen spotless, but it also smelled heavenly of citrus. I was convinced the scent wafting through the air in his home was a candle, or the blossoms of a tree outside the kitchen window, so was surprised to discover it was actually the citrus vinegar cleaner he made himself and sprayed the counters down with to get rid of the breakfast remnants of jam and butter. It’s now become my favorite cleaner to gift and to use—and it’s so simple!

DIY citrus cleaner
Sweet citrus cleans and brightens | Image courtesy Etsy seller CleaningThyme

What You’ll Need:

  • A mason jar
  • Orange peels (to fill half the jar)
  • White vinegar (to cover the peels)

How to Do It:

  1. First, I’d suggest making a nice batch of fresh squeezed orange juice (and maybe throw in a big breakfast of scrambled eggs and buttermilk pancakes as an added bonus).
  2. Save your peels and place them in your mason jar until it is half full.
  3. Next, fill the mason jar with white vinegar, enough to cover the peels.
  4. Let the jar sit in a dimly lit spot for two weeks before straining the citrus over a mesh sieve into a large bowl.
  5. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle, add a simple label if you’d like, and gift (or spray) away!

Celebrating our bountiful, beautiful Earth by creating hands-on traditions is both invigorating and uplifting. Over the years, I’ve found simple DIY projects that enable the joy of giving (and encourage others to do the same) to be incredibly fulfilling. The kitchen is the center of many households, so sharing eco-friendly kitchen cleaning tools is a wonderful way to spread the love of all things clean, and all things green.

Happy Earth Day from Elfster!

For more ideas on how to celebrate holidays creatively, visit Elfster on Facebook, Twitter @Elfster, and on Instagram @Elfstergram. Or, search our Gift Guide for other Earth Day inspirations.

The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

The Gifting Garden: Offering Spring’s Bounty as Homemade Gifts and DIY Edible Crafts

“Is the spring coming?” he said. “What is it like?”

“It is the sun shining on the rain and the rain falling on the sunshine…”

Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

fresh seasonal fruit
Spring’s bounty | Image courtesy flick’r user Egan Snow

In the four years that my fiancé Nick and I have been together, we’ve lived inside the flow of many changing seasons. When we first met, it was a cold winter in San Francisco and days were filled with warm cioppino stew and big pots of tortilla soup. Autumns are always spent finding any excuse we could to eat (and carve) pumpkins, butternut squash, and pomegranates. Summers came, promising homemade fruit sorbets and garden fresh heirloom tomatoes—but, first, there was spring.

Beautiful, often unexpected, but much looked for spring.

For us, the season is a time of rebirth, renewal, and transformation. It promises bountiful amounts of fruit and produce, whether from our garden or at the local farmer’s market down the street. The flowers bloom, the sun shines, and our feelings of creativity flourish.

And that is how the idea for an annual Gifting Garden celebration was born.

 

The Essence of the Gifting Garden

spring lilacs
Spring lilacs | Image courtesy Etsy seller WowBloomRoom

We’re big fans of homemade gifts during the holidays, notorious for our gingerbread loaves topped with maple cream cheese frosting. With this in mind, we started a springtime gift giving party tradition so we can intertwine our famous edible gifts with a spring twist, pulling from the season’s natural bounty and focusing on what each ingredient in the gift symbolizes. Lavender, for instance, eases the nerves, while grapefruit offers optimism for the future. We open our home to our friends and family, all toting their own homemade offerings.

We ask our guests to bring a spring wish for themselves written on a slip of paper along with their gift. The party then becomes a true exchange as we work together to choose whom each gift should go home with. Perhaps one friend had just lost a family member and needed comfort, another stability from an uncertain job. The gift each guest receives is meant to pave the way for a plentiful and inspiring spring to come.

 

DIY Lovely Lavender Invitations

lavender party invites
DIY Lavender Invitations | Image courtesy Etsy seller WeddinglamOfficial

Keeping with the natural, tangible spring feel of the party, we like to make our own invitations using lavender from our garden. It offers a tantalizing smell, and can also withstand a trip through the mail. Keep things simple with a fresh sprig or two, a cream colored piece of cardstock or recycled material, and some raffia or twine.

Include a handwritten message for each friend, and simple print out with the invitation offering ideas for homemade gifts like rosewater, marmalade, or basil-infused olive oil (instructions below). Often, folks are intimidated by the idea of crafting their own gifts, so reassure them that homemade gift-giving can be simple and invigorating. Pinterest offers another easy way to get inspired, or encourage friends to get in touch with their roots, opening old craft and DIY gift books from their mothers or grandmothers.

 

Naturally Good Homemade Gifts

The idea of being hands on, quite literally getting in touch with the season, whether through the soil in your garden or the scents and feelings at the market, is one we like to share with our friends through DIY treats and gifts. Here are some of our favorite ideas:

Basil-Infused Olive Oil

Herb-infused olive oils are absurdly easy to make, yet also versatile with room to experiment. They’re delicious mixed into a bowl of pasta, drizzled on top of spinach with sea salt and black pepper, or served alongside hunks of cheese and a loaf of bread. Here’s my favorite infusion recipe:

basil infused olive oil
Homemade Basil-Infused Olive Oil | Image Courtesy Etsy Seller thegreekpantry
  1. Blanch 1 cup basil (briefly boil, then plunge into ice water).
  2. Blend the basil in a food processor with a 1/2 cup of oil and a pinch of sea salt.
  3. Pour the olive oil and basil mixture through a fine mesh strainer.
  4. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Canning jars work well, but, for the classic look, opt for a glass bottle with a rubber or cork stopper.

Basil, like all other herbs, is symbolic of Mother Earth. Although its meaning has changed throughout time, it’s now commonly seen as representing love and protection—two things that, without a doubt, we all hope for in our lives.

 

Grapefruit Marmalade

According to Chinese symbolism, the grapefruit offers abundance. A simple and quick grapefruit marmalade, or marmalade of any sort depending upon which fruits and herbs are available in your region, is a wonderful addition to a Gifting Garden party. It’s divine when spread on crackers with a bit of goat cheese or used as a glaze for shrimp and chicken. This recipe makes about 4 cups:

  1. Place two grapefruits in a large pot with enough water to give them a bit of room to float.
  2. Boil for 2 hours, adding water once or twice if needed.
  3. Drain the grapefruit and let them cool.
  4. Finely slice the grapefruit. This may take a while, so just enjoy the process!
  5. Throw the grapefruit back into the pot with 5 cups of sugar and the juice of two lemons.
  6. Bring it to a boil and allow the mixture to bubble for about 15 minutes, or until you reach the correct consistency
  7. Blend the jam if you’d like it to be smooth, or pour into a jar as is.
grapefruit marmalade
Lemon Thyme Grapefruit Marmalade | Image Courtesy Etsy Seller cupboardcook

Chances are, many of your friends and family have stories about homemade jams or marmalades. My grandmother, for instance, used to make marmalade from the kumquat tree in her Southern California backyard every year. That makes this gift particularly nostalgic and fun to share.

Homemade Rose Water

Homemade rose water is one of my favorite ways to celebrate spring. It’s refreshing, smells sublime, and always seems to lift my spirits. I give my face a spray before bed at night and in the morning after I put on makeup.

The rose itself is a symbol of balance—perfect for spring—and using a recipe with actual rose petals in the mix enhances this feeling. Here is my favorite recipe to brew up a bottle of rose water:

  1. Pluck the petals from a dozen fresh roses, layering them in a large pot and covering with distilled water. Bring to simmer.
  2. Cover the pot with a lid, allowing to simmer for 15 minutes or until the roses begin to lose their color.
  3. Drain the liquid into a spray bottle.
  4. Pamper someone you love.

A Spring Bouquet

For a unique twist on a natural wildflower bouquet, ask your guests to each bring a few flowers or bits of greenery from their own yards. Combine the efforts of your friends into reused glass bottles, or wrap in a piece of parchment paper, so everyone can go home with their own floral party favors.

A Gifting Garden spring celebration has become a sweet, simple, and ever-evolving tradition in our home. It brings friends together to celebrate the season and each other, offers our loved ones hope and well wishes, and helps us to remember the essence of sharing. The true gift, after all, is being able to sit together under our favorite trees outside, sipping, eating, and learning from each other. Happy spring! May yours be filled with the magic of the natural world all around us.

Elfster loves spring, and knows you do too. Keep your gifting fresh with our food and drink gift guides. Share your own DIY inspirations on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or Instagram @Elfstergram.

A Sorbet Soirée: National Nutrition Month Party Ideas for Creative Ways to Serve Fruit

A Sorbet Soirée: National Nutrition Month Party Ideas for Creative Ways to Serve Fruit

red, ripe strawberries
Red, ripe strawberries | Image courtesy Unsplash user Artur Rutkowski

Growing up on an avocado farm in rural San Diego, fresh fruit was almost always in season. Our property was filled with pomegranates, blood oranges, apples, bananas, lemons, limes, cherimoyas, and, of course, our beloved, creamy avocados.

Early on, my parents instilled in my siblings and me a passion for fresh fruit that still runs deep. When we get together as a family, all of us “kids” often end up in the orchard, eating oranges straight from the trees, letting their sticky juices run down our hands, or experimenting with the slightly tangy taste of mini latundan bananas (“apple” bananas) in our birthday cakes. The sweet smell of vibrant tropical plants envelops us every time we return to our childhood home.

In March, we celebrate the start of springtime and National Nutrition Month. It’s the perfect opportunity to draw in friends and family to your own backyard and start a nutritious tradition. Giving kids a love, a zest, for fruit early on paves the way for healthy eating well into adulthood. A backyard sorbet soirée is a deliciously sweet way to welcome in the fruit-filled season—and show little ones that nutrition can be both silly and good for you.

DIY Fresh Fruit Costumes

I welcomed some unusual guests to my last backyard get together—a six-foot tall strawberry, a slice of walking watermelon, and a banana who could talk. For the party, encourage your guests to come dressed as one of their favorite fruits! You can even have a contest for the most clever or outrageous costume, allowing the winning piece of fruit to take home a basket of fresh finds from the local farmer’s market.

Fruit-inspired costumes are actually quite easy to get creative with. Here are a few of my favorite DIY ideas:

Giddy Grapes

baby grape costume
For a bundle, or bunch, of love | Image courtesy Etsy seller gentleness

I first stumbled upon this costume idea one Halloween a few years back when I thought I had absolutely nothing to wear for a last minute invitation. My quick-thinking best friend ran to a party store and, in less than half an hour, I was transformed into a bunch of grapes.

Materials List:

  • Purple leggings
  • A purple top
  • A green headband
  • Several bags of purple balloons
  • Safety pins

Instructions:

  1. Blow up your balloons, leaving about an inch after the tie so they can be easily attached to your clothes.
  2. Put on your purple apparel, making sure they aren’t pieces that can easily snag.
  3. Carefully pin the balloons onto the top half of your body, adding a few near your hips to achieve the grape shape.
  4. To complete your ensemble, you’ll need a green stem. I used a thick green headband, but you can also wear a scarf or piece of fabric.

Pineapple People

pineapple baby costume
Sweet Baby Pineapples | Image Etsy seller TheWishingElephant

The vibrant colors and unique shape of a pineapple make it one of the most eccentric in the tropical world—and, with its sweet, juicy flavor, it tends to be a favorite amongst even the pickiest of kids. What I love most about the pineapple, especially for parties, is that it symbolizes the feelings of home: warmth, welcome, and hospitality.

A pineapple costume is a simple DIY project for all ages to help craft. You’ll want to dress head to toe in yellow clothing, then create this easy pineapple topper using a toilet paper tube, green card stock, and a headband.

Cut your cardstock into leaf shapes of various lengths. I made 6, 8, 10, and 12-inch pieces, four to five leaves of each length. Then, starting with the longest pieces, hot glue them to the top of the toilet paper tube. Continue gluing the leaves down the tube, from longest to shortest. When you’re finished, flip the tube upside down. Attach it to a headband with glue to secure it in place. And, just like that, you’ve become the pine-apple of your guests’ eye.

Fruit Stamped Invitation Inspiration

lemon stamping
Lemons stamping for DIY invites | Image courtesy Unsplash user Brooke Lark

When I first discovered “fruit stamping,” my homemade cards I love to send to friends near and far blossomed into new levels of craftiness. I started stamping with apples, oranges, limes, and, my personal favorite, lemons. To create these simple but ingenious invitations, you’ll need just three things: half of a lemon, a bit of yellow paint, and a plain white card.

First, cut your lemon in half and dry it with a paper towel to get rid of excess moisture. Next, dip the lemon into your paint and press it onto the blank card as if it’s a sponge. Make sure not to use too much paint when you dip, or the fine details of the lemon won’t show up as well. Just think of it like a stamp. Less ink is often better for detailed results. Be sure to get your kiddos involved in this; it’s a bit sticky, so they’ll love this project!

Strawberry-Guava-Grapefruit Fields Forever Playlist

tutti frutti
Tutti Frutti by Little Richard | Image courtesy Amazon

My childhood memories of food are so closely intertwined with music. Strawberry Fields Forever would play as we made strawberry jam. I Heard It Through the Grapevine would echo as we’d indulge in an afternoon snack of grapes and sliced cheese. Blueberry Hill would sound through the open kitchen on Saturday mornings when we’d measure out fresh blueberries to add to our homemade pancakes or waffles.

To this day, I have specific playlists for stirring a pot of pasta sauce, making pizza dough, or mixing guacamole. But the playlist below is the one that comes through my speakers when I’m in the mood for all things sweet and fruity. Hit play to create the ultimate fruity vibe and get all your guests grooving to their love of fruit in your backyard:

A Tutti Frutti Party Playlist

  • Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
  • Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles
  • I Heard it Through the Grapevine by Marvin Gaye
  • Banana Boat by Harry Belafonte
  • Coconut by Harry Nilsson
  • Apples and Bananas by Raffi
  • Grapefruit – Juicy Fruit by Jimmy Buffet
  • Guava Jelly by Bob Marley
  • Cantaloupe Island by Herbie Hancock
  • Blueberry Hill by Fats Domino
  • Tangerine by Frank Sinatra
  • Little Green Apples by O.C. Smith

Homemade Honied Sorbet

Easy-to-make, fruit-based sorbets will get your kids’ creative juices flowing in the healthiest of dessert ways. Fruit sorbets can be simply made with sugar, water, and your fruit of choice, but I like to make mine with honey to let the natural sweetness of the fruit shine through.

raw honey
Honey is simply sweet | Image courtesy Etsy seller thegreekpantry

For parties, I find fruity sorbets to be especially fun when given a little extra visual a-”peel” by scooping the sorbets into fruit shells before serving. Watermelon, orange, lime, and lemon sorbets all look beautiful and refreshing when served in hollowed out shells.

Lemon sorbet is my favorite party treat to whip up because the ingredients are inexpensive so you can create a big batch. The first time I made lemon sorbet with honey, I was hooked. A little bit tangy, a little bit sweet, and a lovely pale yellow in color, it’s a sorbet sure to make your springtime guests swoon.

The Ingredients:

(makes about 6-8 small servings)

  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1⁄2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (from about 12 small lemons, with 4 lemon halves reserved to use as cups)

The Directions:

  1. Combine the honey, water, and lemon juice in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring until the honey is dissolved. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  2. Pour the lemon mixture into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Or, just pour it into a freezer-safe container like a shallow metal cake pan. If you use a pan, you’ll need to stir and smash the sorbet with a fork every 30 minutes until it’s firm.
  3. To get your lemon cups, cut a small circular slice off the bottoms of the reserved lemon halves so they’ll stand up, then use a small spoon to hollow out the insides.
  4. When you’re ready to serve the sorbet, fill up the lemon cups with the sweet treat.

Once you start experimenting with homemade sorbets, you’ll find you can use any fruit you’d like, and even jazz them up with fresh herbs like mint or thyme.

A DIY Paper Fruit Garland (and Party Favor)

strawberry strand
A DIY string of strawberries | Image courtesy Etsy seller The Shabby Scrapper

With sweetness still lingering on your guest’s tongues after digging into their sorbet, it’s time to sit and unwind with a fruit-inspired craft. At a long table covered with parchment paper, set out card stock in every color you can find, scissors, pencils, glue sticks, mini clothespins, and baker’s twine. Also set out an assortment of sliced fruit for your guests to draw inspiration from—strawberries, pineapple, watermelon, oranges, limes, and lemons.

Have your guests trace what they see, cut out the shapes, glue on a bit of greenery or seeds for detail, then attach the fruit cut-outs to the baker’s twine with the mini clothespins to create a paper fruit garland that can be taken home as a party favor. String them up in your kitchen or in your kids’ rooms to add pops of color—and remind them that fruit is fun! An appreciation for nutritious fruit is something that can be cultivated in childhood and last into adulthood.

Happy National Nutrition Month from Elfster! May it be full of goodness that fills the belly and the soul.

For more pieces of springtime inspiration and feel-good food-related festivities, join Elfster on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, and on Instagram @Elfstergram.

A Wondrously Wordy “Good Morning, Dr. Seuss” Read Across America Gift Exchange

A Wondrously Wordy “Good Morning, Dr. Seuss” Read Across America Gift Exchange

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go!” – Dr. Seuss

move mountains sign
Kid, You’ll Move Mountains quote | Image courtesy Etsy seller Inspire4you

As a toddler, my mom would drop me at my grandma’s house early in the day before she went to work. I’d spend those mornings with my nose buried in Green Eggs and Ham, Fox in Socks, and The Cat in the Hat, sipping hot chocolate while cozied up on the couch. I would sit, enthralled, still in my pajamas, while the San Diego sun streamed in through the open windows.

This was how my boundless appreciation for the wise words of Dr. Seuss began to take root as he set my imagination free to run rampant, encouraging and nurturing thoughts of kindness, openness, and creativity.

As I got older, I was gifted Oh the Places You’ll Go for my high school graduation, bringing it along as I ventured to San Francisco for college, daring to dream and take chances with my writing and career. Today, magical whimsy still accompanies the words of Dr. Seuss as I read them aloud to my niece and nephew, his cartoon drawings and the loops of his letters leaping off the page and into the big openness of their eyes and hearts. There’s a wonder, an inspiration, a timeless feeling about Seuss that has the ability to affect and inspire us all.

So, what better way to celebrate the brilliant brains of Seuss than in that same poignant way I did as a child—in my pajamas, sipping hot chocolate at a cozy morning reading get together for adults and kids alike.

An Imaginative Hot Chocolate Bar

It’s a strong belief instilled from my childhood that Dr. Seuss should always be accompanied by hot chocolate; the comfort of a good book and a warm mug will forever, quite literally, go hand in hand. Creating a wacky and wonderful blue and red-themed hot chocolate bar, inspired by Thing 1 and Thing 2 from The Cat in the Hat, is a very Seussian way to kick off our party!

seussian straws
Straws even Seuss would love | Image courtesy Target

What You’ll Need:

  • Whole milk
  • Cocoa powder
  • Milk chocolate chips
  • White chocolate chips
  • Marshmallows
  • Whipped cream
  • Crushed peppermints
  • Blue and red sprinkles
  • Blue and red straws
  • A slow cooker
  • Clear mason jars
  • An assortment of mugs (the wackier, the better)

How to Set It Up:

  1. The day before the party, prep your table. To use The Cat in the Hat as your theme, include lots of blues and reds. Use a red tablecloth, then layer with a blue runner. Fill mason jars with blue and red striped or polka dotted straws. Then, set out your mugs, seeing if you can safely stack them in some wacky way to evoke the hazardous way Thing 1 and Thing 2 would carry household items about.
  2. The morning of the party, make your hot chocolate in a slow cooker. For a party of 8, mix 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chips with 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup of sugar and 7 cups of whole milk. Combine in the slow cooker and stir, keeping on low for 2 hours until you’re ready to serve.
  3. While you wait for the hot chocolate, put out your marshmallows, milk chocolate and white chocolate chips, whipped cream, crushed peppermints (or candy canes), and sprinkles. For an added Seuss-like touch, use red and white baker’s twine to attach labels onto clear mason jars.

In the Words of Dr. Seuss

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So get on your way!” The words of Dr. Seuss bring forth lessons on love, learning, and life with wit and wisdom for both kids and adults. Sharing my personal favorite quotes with guests makes me feel like I’m doing my part to encourage a love of reading and the written word. Plus, there seems to be something therapeutic about writing the words of Seuss out as an adult, important little reminders of the past that I can apply to my present.

seuss quote
Oh the Places You’ll Go | Image courtesy Etsy seller palaceandjames

Adorning your space with DIY Dr. Seuss quote decor is also a simple, but clever way to carry your party theme into your home. I like the modern look of plain white cardstock with blocky black ink letters, which is difficult to achieve with my left-handed chicken scratch. So I always turn to simple alphabet stencils for a little guidance.

I like to hang the quotes around the reading nook (which I’ll tell you about below) and above the hot chocolate bar. I even hang some in the bathroom for fun; the Seuss quote, “Only brush the teeth you want to keep,” comes to mind. As Seuss alludes to, the day of the party is your day, indeed, and the mountain that is waiting is the decor. So, it’s time to get on your way!

Bring out your old Seuss books and get searching for favorite quotes. Be sure to enlist your little ones for help. Here are a few of my go-tos:

  • “I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends. My alphabet starts where your alphabet ends!”
  • “You’ll be on your way up! You’ll be seeing great sights! You’ll join the high fliers who soar to high heights.”
  • “You’ll miss the best things if you keep your eyes shut.”
  • “It’s opener there in the wide open air.”
  • “So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!”
  • “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”

Then, when your party has run it’s wild and wacky course, surprise your guests by letting them pick a quote or two to take home as a party favor!

A Seuss-pirational Book Exchange

Dr. Seuss Collection
A Seussian book collection | Image courtesy Amazon

Using an online gift exchange website to organize it, ask your guests to bring their favorite Dr. Seuss book for a wordy gift exchange. The idea is a simple one: give a book, take a book, and most importantly—read a book! Theodor Seuss Geisel, best known as Dr. Seuss, published over 60 stories in his career, so encourage your guests to dig a little deeper than the most well-known classics to add something new to the collections of fellow guests.

Here are a few of my Dr. Seuss favorites:

  • Scrambled Eggs Super!
  • Oh the Thinks You Can Think
  • There’s a Wocket in My Pocket
  • Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
  • Oh Beyond Zebra
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?

A Reading Nook to Cozy up In

With a house full of books, you’ll need a cozy nook for your guests to relax in while they explore the wondrous world of Dr. Seuss.

a wondrous reading nook
A whimsical reading nook canopy | Image courtesy Amazon

First, pick a corner to transform into a dreamy word wonderland. You can use a twin sized mattress covered in a fun fitted sheet, an assortment of over-sized pillows, and even a kids’ tent or two. Drape a canopy from the top of the ceiling to create a whimsical effect or string up a curtain between walls. Hang a twinkly string of bulbs as your reading light and spell out READ with wooden letters painted in Seussian colors, which you can find at any craft store. Then just add the Seuss classics and let the imaginations of your guests take flight.

While you decorate, if you feel like your imagination gets stuck, just pull out a Seuss book to get your creative juices flowing. As Seuss himself says, “Oh, the thinks you can think up if you only try!”

For kids, the words of Dr. Seuss create memories. For adults, they bring back visions of childhood, and the importance of what it means to approach life with a little bit of humor, a little bit of wit, and a whole lot of wonder.

Throwing a Good Morning, Dr. Seuss party, complete with hot cocoa bar and reading nook, DIY quote decor, and a book exchange, will add some whimsy to your world and the world of your guests. It brings back the idea that there is, perhaps, no greater and timeless gift than the gift of a book. For in that book, new worlds can be explored, doors opened, and unexpected thoughts can be thought! Just remember,“You’re never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child.”

Happy reading!

Elfster encourages you to think imaginative, wandering, and wonderful Seuss-like thoughts when giving gifts. Explore our Seuss-inspired gift guide, download our Seussian bookmarks or connect with us on our Facebook page, on Twitter @Elfster, or Instagram @Elfstergram for more tidbits of inspiration.