Christmas Science Kiwi Crates

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The kids tackled two holiday-themed crates from Kiwi Co as we decorated for the holiday season. Check out our unboxing review below!

First up was Santa’s Light Up Workshop. Their favorite part by far was decorating the wooden sides of the workshop with markers first, Veronika delightedly scribbling and Travis taking great care to make everything red and green holiday colors.

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These pieces notch together easily in a foam base. At the same time, you’ll need to attach the strip of LED lights in the bottom of the workshop with sticky foam, and adhere the battery pack to the back wall. Well, it turns out our battery pack didn’t work no matter how we toyed with it! That was a bit of a disappointment, but there was still more to do.

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Making the roof required some very deft fingerwork! Kiwi provides thin cord to string shiny pony beads along two wooden roof pieces. Veronika couldn’t string the beads, but she could help me put the roof in place!

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For a few final decorations, we twisted the provided pipe cleaners together to make a candy cane, and piled the provided cotton balls into a little snowman!

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The second project was all about aerodynamics, using candles to heat the air on a Christmas carousel to make the apparatus spin. Travis got to learn the history behind these creations (which started with miners in Germany!) before we dove into building.

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The project is easy to fit together with wooden pieces, sticky foam pieces, and a few thick plastic nuts and bolts. Veronika loved helping decorate the mini Christmas tree with stickers. “It’s a baby tree!” she said proudly.

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There are also four little figures to decorate with stickers, and the penguin was her fast favorite. The tree and figures notch into a wooden stand that goes in the center of the wooden frame.

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We added the fan pieces on top, then placed the provided tea lights below the frame. We don’t light candles often, so the kids were thrilled seeing the wicks catch fire, and then sure enough the fan begins to spin, twirling the tree.

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Pretty and scientific!

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Family Movie Night Smorgasbord

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Chances are that at some point between Christmas and New Years, you’re going to want a family movie night, especially now that quarantines and closures are (alas) back in vogue. Here’s the perfect spread to make the night feel extra special no matter what movie is playing!

To build our smorgasbord, we relied on suggestions from Parents magazine to fill out food in four categories. All of our options below were vegan.

Smorgasbord (5)Salty:

  • Thin pretzels
  • Tortilla chips
  • Popcorn

Sweet:

  • Chocolate candies
  • Dark-chocolate raisins
  • Red licorice

Hot:

  • Spanokopita
  • Corn dogs
  • Cauliflower bites

Spreads:

  • Ranch dip
  • Marinara sauce
  • Yellow mustard
  • Hummus

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Don’t forget the holiday napkins!

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Veronika loved checking out all the offerings.

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Mix, match, and let everyone choose what they want to eat! As for the movie, some favorites around here include: Home Alone, The Polar Express and The Happy Elf. Or, if it’s just the grownups watching, we’ll probably be screening It’s a Wonderful Life and Die Hard!

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Ginger Cake Squares

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Instead of more traditional gingerbread cookies, we made ginger cake this year. This cake will make your whole house smell like Christmas as it bakes!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Earth Balance butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 cups blackstrap molasses
  • 2 vegan eggs
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 cups boiling water
  1. In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, sugar, molasses, and vegan eggs of your choice; set aside.
  2. In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, stirring until combined.
  3. Add the boiling water and whisk until well blended.
  4. Pour into a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees F for 45 to 50 minutes; a wooden pick inserted in the center should come out clean.
  5. Cool in the pan for at least 15 minutes on a wire rack, then serve warm or cool completely.
  6. We love this dolloped with non-dairy whipped cream for serving! And yes we’re going to leave one piece out for Santa!

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Yarn Ornaments

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These pretty homemade ornaments are easy enough for even preschoolers to help put together. The resulting gift-shaped decorations also make – hint hint – a great gift for friends or relatives!

To start, cut squares out of cardboard (which is also a great way to reuse boxes from holiday deliveries). You could also cut out different shapes like circles or stars, but I found that the squares were the easiest for Veronika to help wrap, whereas stars were a bit tricky.

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Use a glue stick or glue dot to make the center of each square sticky, then simply begin wrapping with yarn. We found a pretty one that changed from shades of red to pink to white and back again, which made us think of holiday candy canes!

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Keep wrapping until the squares are thickly covered and the cardboard doesn’t show. Use a second strand of yarn to tie a bow around the center, a neat little gift ready to go under the tree! Or in this case, on it.

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A final loop of yarn works perfectly to hang these from the nearest bough.

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Chewy Chocolate Coconut Treat

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Our original plan was to bake a chocolate mochi treat, using a recipe from Veronika’s latest High Five magazine, but we couldn’t find sweet rice flour at the store. In a pinch, we tried coconut flour and up with this delicious chocolatey treat!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 and 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 vegan eggs
  1. In a bowl, combine the coconut flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and baking powder.
  2. Add the coconut milk, vanilla, and vegan eggs of choice, stirring to combine; the batter will be thick.
  3. Pour into an 11×7-inch baking dish lined with parchment paper and bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes. Let cool completely, then cut into squares to serve.

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We left our treat plain, but a dusting of powdered sugar would be pretty on top!

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Dry-Erase Window Decorations

Whether you’re snowed in or rained, you can help a dreary day become a little more colorful with this simple trick: wipe-clean window decorations that will help make the day sparkle!

To start, I outlined a few “frames” on our glass patio door with masking tape, just waiting for each section to contain a work of art by the kids. I then set out a set of dry-erase markers in a variety of colors.

Veronika immediately wanted to decorate, especially when I drew one little “snowflake” to spark her creative juices. She told me she was drawing more snowflakes, presents, and more!

She was a busy artist at this unique “canvas” for quite a while.

Pretty soon, big brother Travis trotted over. He proudly added a few drawings of his own, including stick figures and writing the kids’ names.

Leave the decorations up to brighten any day. When you decide it’s time to clean up, the dry-erase markers wipe off easily with a damp paper towel.